Interview with Nightwish 70

Source: Battlehelm

by Anders Ekdahl

What you say! You have not heard Nightwish. You should be ashamed for having missed out on this absolutely fabulous and quite frankly superb Finnish metal band. If I was forced to take back all the bands I've raved about I would still keep telling people how incredible Nightwish are. Nightwish have just released a DVD of concert footage and a M-CD featuring a cover of Gary Moore's "Over The Hills And Far Away". Their latest studio album "Wishmaster", which was released last year, is one of these rare albums that you just want to come back to time after time. It's so good that I can't get enough of it. Nightwish is not your average German sounding power metal band. They are way beyond that. Between Tarja Turunen's incredible vocals, Tuomas Holopainen masterful song writing & keyboard playing and Jukka Nevalainen's (drums), Emppu Vuorinen's (guitars) and Sami Vänskä's (bass) performance there's nothing missing. Due to Tuomas busy schedule it took some time to get in touch with him but once I did he had this to say.

You had quite a success with the Oceanborn album. What reactions have Wishmaster been receiving?

"Mostly very positive worldwide! In Finland it was praised in many magazines with almost top scores and also the fans seem to be very satisfied with it. Wishmaster sold platinum in December, too! But naturally the "shock value" had disappeared since the people already knew what to expect after Oceanborn album."

What did you set out to do when you started to write the new album?

"I never think much ahead of what the concept/sound/songs should be like when I start working on a new album. But mainly we wanted to keep the touch that was found on "Oceanborn" and just develop everything from the arrangements to production. And I think we managed to do that very well."

Do you feel that you've taken the Nightwish sound one step further with Wishmaster?

"Well, not really. I mean we just took a natural step forward from Oceanborn the way that Nightwish sound is even more clinic and "big". Whatta dumb word..."

When you started Nightwish did you have a distinct vision of what you wanted the band to be?

"Haha, definitely not. If you read our biography you'll find out that Nightwish was supposed to be a project band playing acoustic mood music in the vein of Ulver`s "Kveldssanger". After the 1st demo we took a huge step into metal and after that it all got out of hand. This is a total learning process, finding out what we want to do and be."

Do you feel that you've accomplished that by now?

"We've accomplished a lot but the hunger grows all the time. So there still are millions wishes to be fulfilled."

What is it that influences you to write the music you do?
"Nightwish's music & ideology is like the movie Sleepy Hollow. I mean, we have no deeper meaning or hidden allegories in the lyrics and the music is just a journey into emotion. Each song is like a small soundtrack to a story or a vision that arise from my personal experiences, dreams and feelings. Since I'm a big fan of movies and a HUGE fan of soundtracks, I draw most of my influences there. Nightwish is the best (often only) way to ease up my own being and showing what I feel."

How do you go about writing lyrics for somebody else to sing?
"It's no problem for me since we get along great with Tarja and she manages to interpret my lyrics always the way I like! I just have to be careful that I don't write stupid sentences for her to sing, like "be my wife" or something like that."

You have the operatic vocal but is that the only influence from classical music that has sneaked into your music?
"Actually yes. I don't listen to classical music at all so I draw very little influence from there. But Tarja is a huge fan so she brings the classical elements into music. Of course it's the matter of where to draw the line. Since we use lots of orchestral sounds (strings, flutes...) and some classical scales, I guess it would be fair to say we have some major classical elements."

When you write the material do you feel that you have to come up with more challenging vocal arrangements than you would with a different vocalist?
"I don't think about it much. I just have to keep in mind her range of voice. But sometimes it's fun to write something more complicated since she's able to sing almost anything... Passion & The Opera, Wanderlust, FantasMic."

You never feel that you have to be constantly pushing the limits of the vocal arrangements not to bore Tarja?
"I don't thing she's ever bored! On the contrary she sometimes complains about the difficulty of the songs. I've NEVER heard her say that a song is too easy for her."

Is there more to get out of Tarja's vocals than what we've already been presented with?
"Her voice is developing all the time so I'm sure of it. Lately I've become fond of her use of voice in the low range (Come Cover Me, Sleepwalker - heavy version etc.) and she's begun to sing more and more with emotion rather than technique."

Is it possible to for her vocals to be more operatic without loosing the Nightwish sound?
"Sure, we're trying everything. In the classical circles she has a totally different way of using her voice."

What did you feel when you realised that your Oceanborn album was a hit in Finland?

"It was an incredible feeling. A very big wish come true! The recording sessions of Oceanborn were a total hell and way too long so the success was a huge relief for us."

Was it the album or just singles that charted?
"Sacrament of Wilderness, the single was # 1 for 4 weeks in the charts and the album itself stayed for 31 weeks on the charts, at #5 at its best. Both went gold."

Does this mean that you're being recognised on the streets?
"Not that it bothers in any way. Sometimes people recognise, come and chat & ask for an autograph but that's just fine with me."

Did you feel any pressure to follow up such a successful album as Oceanborn was?
"Very much! Everyone seemed to expect big things from the album, the fans, record labels and ourselves the most. But all the time I was quite confident about it working out perfect, as I am with the next album, as well."

Is there a formula to top a success like that?
"Hard work and trust in what you're doing. Taking the music as a way of life."

Do you even think in terms like that?
"All I think is that I'm satisfied myself and that I can remain honest to myself. That way all the rest follows naturally."

Does it ever feel like Finland is this far away exotic Nordic country when you deal with the rest of Europe?
"Not really, at least I haven't noticed much of that. Finland and the whole of Scandinavia seem to have a respectful position in the music scene all over Europe."

Has it in any way worked in advantage for you to be from Finland?
"Well maybe the fact that Finland is known as a good metal country. It's easier to "follow in the footsteps" of Stratovarius, Amorphis, Sentenced etc."

With the Finnish market being even smaller than the Swedish going abroad must be vital to the survival of a band. How do you go about conquering the rest of Europe?
"We are on a good start! We have good licence deals all over Europe and we make as many shows there as possible. Our 1st headliner tour last October was a great success for us already."

What has it meant for Nightwish that magazines like UK's Terrrorizer and Germany's Rock Hard have taken a likening to the band?
"Of course it means a great deal! It's always good to be in a positive light with the media and this way the fans get interested as well."

How important is touring as a marketing tool for Nightwish?
"Very important, even more than for some others I would say. Our concept is very peculiar to someone who doesn't know who we are so touring and making a good stage show is crucial to the credibility!"

Do you feel it is worth giving up day jobs just to go on a tour together with smaller bands?

"Definitely! This is our "day job" and the whole life for us at the moment."

Have you noticed that Nightwish has influenced any new bands?

"In some advertisements I read that this band has influences from us and they have the same album cover artist etc. This makes me feel very proud even though I don't think that there's any band that's copying us at the moment. And even if there would be one, it would be an honour."

What can you tell us about the Wishmastour record?
"It was the idea of our French licence company to promote the Headliner European tour last fall. It's limited with some quite rare material on it (B-sides, demo recordings)".

What is this I hear about a new MCD and a DVD? What will be on these releases? Any goodies?

"For detailed info about this please visit our web site at Many goodies, indeed! ha ha!"


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