The History

Taken completely from Oceansouls of America

From acoustic mood music to movie score metal, Nightwish has experienced a career as epic and emotional as their music. From the small town of Kitee, Finland to international superstars, the members of Nightwish each recall their humble roots and their first exposure to music...  

Tuomas Holopainen:

"I've been living in an imaginary world since I was a little kid. That pretty much answers the whole question. I'm a huge fan of fantasy: literature, movies. I'm a collector of Walt Disney items, and I love Disney cartoons and movies and stuff like that. I just find myself living in a constant fantasy land, so that reflects to my lyrics as well."
(ProgPower interview, 2003)

"My mother---who also teaches piano playing, had put me to clarinet and piano classes to the Middle-Carelia music institute. Besides of playing skills I of course learned music history and theory there. But it didn't feel as the thing for me...Going through those etudes alone with your clarinet felt very mind-numbing. I got school-leaving certificate [from music studies] in 1992, when I was 15  years old and that's all the musical education I've ever had. Although I did do several gigs with the musical institute at that time.
      "Then I went to Wichita in the state of Kansas as an exchange student. During my "Yankee year", the music really hit me hard...In U.S.A. I joined the local school big band, which performed in football matches and other occasions, but starting my own band or joining some other did not occur to me at that time. A funny thing happened when a friend of mine, who had this band called Carnification had made a demo called Satanic Rebirth. I was very proud of my friend and was showing this tape with its handsome cover art to my music teacher. He got mad and gave me a long scolding and even sent a letter about it to the host family in U.S.A. Well, maybe the picture of Jesus hanging upside down on the cross in the tape cover had something to do with it."
(Soundi interview, September 2004)

Tarja Turunen:
"...My mother often tells me this story. I'm supposed to suddenly start to sing. My mother then sat me on the table, for no one would have seen me otherwise. That must have been the first time I sang to an audience.
      "The choir appeared at all possible causes in the region and I was always hardworking with them. That was always a great pleasure to me. My greatest idol was Whitney Houston. I always wished to be exactly like her, and often tried to imitate her. My vocal teacher liked that. He always told me that I would be the next Whitney Houston one day. But one day I started to make an education in classical singing. He never spoke a word to me again. I think he was very disappointed about my decision and would have wanted me to go on singing soul."
(Metal Heart Magazine, November 2003)

Emppu Vuorinen:
"I guess I picked up my first acoustic guitar when I was 11 and I played at home very many hours every day. I really didn't have any formal education."
(Metal Underground, August 25th, 2004)  

Jukka Nevalainen:

"In drums I got by accident because I was going to this music-class and my teacher told me I should start playing some instrument. He told me there is going to start a percussion teaching in music-school and he told me to try to get in. I did and rest is history. I've listened to rock/heavy metal music more or less forever but final blast came in 1996 (I guess...) when I saw Stratovarius in summer festival. That was great."
 (Cursed With Oblivion, October 10th, 2002)  

Sami Vanska:

"I started playing a private study. At that time I've played in a few bands which have been mostly from the metal genre."
(Nightwish member profiles)    

So then with all this diversity in their musical backgrounds, it is no surprise that the beginnings of Nightwish were just as unique as the personalities that made up the members of the group.

Tarja Turunen:

"I was very surprised when my schoolmate Tuomas politely asked me to sing on his demo, because we never really talked before. He was a very shy guy who played clarinet and would wave at me when we met in our school band. His mother was also my piano teacher and he had also seen me singing at events in our hometown, Kitee. As I had never listened to metal before, Tuomas' songs were weird to me, but somehow I liked them and decided to sing for him."
(Terrorizer Magazine, December 2004)

Tarja Turunen:
"I was very surprised when my schoolmate Tuomas politely asked me to sing on his demo, because we never really talked before. He was a very shy guy who played clarinet and would wave at me when we met in our school band. His mother was also my piano teacher and he had also seen me singing at events in our hometown, Kitee. As I had never listened to metal before, Tuomas' songs were weird to me, but somehow I liked them and decided to sing for him."
(Terrorizer Magazine, December 2004)  

Tuomas Holopainen:

"I've played in a couple of metal bands, and I wanted to do something on my own. I was always a fan of new-age acoustic mood type of music, and I just wanted to try something like this, so I formed this band called Nightwish. The main reason we went from here to there is that it was too damn boring, just have acoustic guitars and keyboards. That's the main reason. All the guys in the band had a metal background!"
(ProgPower interview, 2003)     The result of this experimental project became the band's first album, Angels Fall First. The making of the album was just their first attempt at bringing together the eclectic blend of musical styles that would make Nightwish special.   Tarja Turunen: "I would have to say that it was overall a completely new experience for me to sing on a heavy metal record. I hadn't ever done anything with that type of music before. I was just started taking lessons for a classical singing and it felt kind of strange that I got this somewhat extraordinary opportunity to be a part of something like this, y'know. I wasn't even quite sure what I was doing back then when I was singing my vocal parts in the studio for Nightwish's first album. I was really skeptical about myself whether I can even sing my vocal parts for all those songs on that album. I was honestly kind of lost, heh! But luckily everything still went well for me now if I'm looking back to those times. Somehow this once so little classical music student managed to sing her vocal parts for that particular album quite successful way indeed. And I think it was a very unique thing back then to have a female vocalist for a heavy metal album who even sang classical music." (, June 2004)   "We started in 1997 as a project-band, the same year we recorded our first demo. I went to the studio and sang, and they were happy with my work. At that time without a record deal wasn't a band, so in 1998 we signed it. Then everything went so fast, we recorded our second demo, which ended up as an LP that fans know as Angels Fall First. We never thought about this big success. It can be labeled as the Cinderella's Tale." (Cursed With Oblivion, July 8th, 2002)     But unlike your typical fairy-tale, Nightwish did not have a "happily ever after" at first. The differences in the personalities of the bandmembers and differences in their approach to making music would clash during the making of their second album, Oceanborn.   Tarja Turunen: "Now when I'm thinking of those times concerning Oceanborn, in my opinion Tuomas wasn't that capable of writing song compositions that were especially meant for my type of vocals. That's what made it a very hard and difficult album to sing. He wasn't even aware of a wide range of my vocal skills back then. I think if you are a singer, it's very important that a composer of songs has also ability to pay attention to certain vocalists' needs to be able to sing his creations 'coz vocals are one of those instruments there just like guitar or drums are.      "[...]I remember when I was singing my vocal parts for Oceanborn, I was sitting and crying on the floor and the other guys were yelling to me: 'Sing, dammit!' [laughs]      "It was quite a tough experience for me after all to get my vocals recorded for that album, but on the other hand the songs on Oceanborn are also quite complex and difficult structure-wise all in all, even for us.[...]" (, June 2004)   Tuomas Holopainen: "The recording sessions of Oceanborn were a total hell and way too long so the success was a huge relief for us." (Battlehelm interview, 2001)       Amidst the turmoil of the Oceanborn recording sessions, a diamond would emerge from the rough and become a Nightwish classic...   Tuomas Holopainen: "We had a song called "Sleeping Sun" that was our nominee for the Finnish qualification for the Eurovision Song Contest and which we recorded in London, this unnamed 'mega-producer' taking care of the production for it and so on. Unfortunately the production for it was kind of 'so-so' and in my opinion it's the worst-sounding Nightwish song we have ever done!" (, March 2002)   Tarja Turunen: "Our song "Sleeping Sun" was one of the nominees for Finland and just like you mentioned, it was chosen as No. 1 song out of all nominees by majority of votes given by the Finns. It still was a good experience for Nightwish in this kind of 'questionable' song contest, but eventually I think I should be glad that we weren't chosen to represent Finland to that particular song contest because those type of competitions have not been meant for a band like us. The positive thing was that we got a great bunch of new fans for Nightwish by the help of that song, so in that sense it was worth it." (, June 2004)     It was only the beginning of the Nightwish juggernaut, which would start the band going on full speed with the release of their 3rd album, Wishmaster (and considered by many to be their "breakthrough" album), the success of which would culminate into a live DVD entitled From Wishes to Eternity...   Tarja Turunen: "Heh, if Oceanborn gave this type of 'Wow!' feelings to people, then Wishmaster's whole era was ended to a certain burst of different problems inside the band. We had been touring like hell for that album, got very exhausted for touring and even got tired of seeing each other's faces at that time. Eventually every one of us thought that things just didn't seem to turn out as smoothly and effortlessly for any one of us as we were hoping for and all this was culminated pretty heavily into the recording of Wishmaster, the mother of all our troubles that we channeled right into the stressful studio sessions of this particular album. We kind of managed to get rid of our shitty feelings right after we had finished the recordings for Wishmaster and because of that it was much easier and more comfortable for us to start doing gigs again. Because of our somewhat shitty feelings during the recording sessions of Wishmaster, it turned out to be a damn dark and even scary album both musically and lyrically in my opinion." (, June 2004)   Tuomas Holopainen: "I think that it pretty much came naturally, we just wanted to do a natural sequel to Oceanborn because I think that with this record we had found the style that we want to do. We wanted to improve everything, for I think that Oceanborn is a great record, but it lacks the good arrangements and at some point Tarja sings too high and things like that. So we only wanted to make things a little better and in my opinion that is just what happened." (Battlehelm interview, 2001)   "I guess the most memorable thing for me with Nightwish has been our gig in Tampere, Finland...which was filmed and came out as a DVD titled From Wishes to Eternity. Particularly that very moment when we all knew that it went just great and our label manager Ewo from Spinefarm Records brought us platinum albums (for the Wishmaster album!) to the stage. I think that's one of those very memorable and special moments for all of us in the band that we have acheived with Nightwish thus far. I have to admit some of us had tiny tears in our eyes because it was indeed kind of a 'touching moment', ya know? It was overall just an indescribable feeling." (, March 2002)     Wishmaster would be the biggest test of the band's career. For despite all the happy times that came with their success, many unresolved conflicts were coming to a head. The 2001 release of their mini-EP Over the Hills and Far Away brought even more success and touring, but less time to focus on these issues. The result was the departure of bassist Sami Vanska, and the future of Nightwish was uncertain.   Tarja Turunen: "We had many music disagreements, and discussions started to appear. We tried to avoid them and talk to make things go better but Sami was who decided to leave the band. But he left it in a pacific way without problems." (Cursed With Oblivion, July 8th, 2002)   "At the time, I was in Germany and didn't know what the hell was going on, when somebody called me from Finland and told me that Tuomas wanted to end Nightwish. We all had a bad phase and I honestly don't know what went wrong. Maybe we were just tired from all the touring." (Terrorizer Magazine, December 2004)     However, a breakup wasn't necessary. It seemed that all Nightwish really needed was some new blood, which would be provided by Tarot bassist/vocalist Marco Hietala...   Marco Hietala: "Well I guess I started beating up my father's old acoustics when I was like 11 or 12. After I played for a couple of years, I got a personal tutor for a couple of years then went into musical college where I studied some musical theory and classical guitar. So there's the basic education I had, though I had some lessons after that, but it was some pop jazz concert stuff, which wasn't my thing anymore. I had an hour lesson a week, or a couple, and I kinda figured out that I figured out things faster than they could teach me. Then I just started playing with the bass and that sort." (Metal Underground, August 25th, 2004)   Tuomas Holopainen: "For me personally he was basically the only thinkable alternative to replace Sami because I expressly wanted to include some male voice for our next album in order to get some contrasts to Tarja's voice. I thought myself that the best alternative for us could be a guy who's an experienced musician in a band already; also for doing gigs with us. And to hire some guy for this slot only helping us out with gigs was out of question since at the earliest stage of my thoughts. And as I have always considered Marco as the best heavy metal vocalist as well as bassist in Finland, I wishfully asked if he would be interested in taking that vacancy in Nightwish permanently. He gave me his answer the way I was hoping for, and now he's our permanent vocalist/bassist in the band." (, March 2002)     Now the band would take the new lineup into the studio to see if the magic was still there...   Tuomas Holopainen: "Definitely some sort of a pressure was haunting there behind my back all the time after the success of our previous album Wishmaster. That was haunting somewhere in the depths of my mind all the time, however I knew somehow that I could beat Wishmaster content-wise and make even a better album. I just had to think that I need to do better, catchier and greater songs than we had on Wishmaster. That was the only way to think for me really. You always try to push yourself towards even better and better things constantly and that's exactly what I did with the songs for our new album, I guess...When you write and compose new material, of course the main priority is to do it for yourself first and get pleased by it. You cannot think too much what your fans might think of your new stuff, 'cause in my opinion that's always a secondary thing. If they like it, then that's fine. But if they don't, well, it's not my headache a bit then, let it be then." (, March2002)     All was well again in Nightwish camp, but the dark and gloomy sound of the album that would become Century Child almost seemed to belie the positive chemistry that was within the new line-up.   Tuomas Holopainen: "Every album I make is like a diary from my own life. I write about my feelings and things that happen to me or things that interest me at that point in my life. The first three albums were happier, there were a lot of fantasy things, historical and Biblical things. When I was writing Century Child, I had just had the worst year of my life personally so I just put all that shit into that album, and that's why it ended up being...I don't know if I should use the word dark, but a real dark album." (ProgPower interview, 2003)   "Ya know, we are all very ambitious musicians by our nature and a bunch of real perfectionists. We wanted to have a very 'big-sounding' album right from the very start, with pompous and epic-like atmospheres, ya know. I wanted Century Child to be like the biggest sounding, very variable heavy metal soundtrack album. That was my personal goal since the very beginning---no less than that. If you listen to our song "Wishmaster" off the previous Nightwish album Wishmaster, that song worked out kind of like as a good stepping stone for me for Century Child. I wanted to get the same type of epic-sounding thing for this new album as that particular song had. That was part of the reason why we took both the whole orchestra and the choir in for the recordings of Century Child. I wanted it to sound like 'a very ultimate thing', so we just kept pushing ourselves constantly towards that goal and I believe we acheived it as well. It was the main idea for all of us in the very beginning---I can confess it now." (, March 2002)   Tarja Turunen: "Unfortunately I was sick and had no voice in the studio. Surely I wanted to give it my best. It was difficult for me because I sang in another way than on the old records." (Orkus Magazine, February 7th, 2003)     Century Child was a smash, achieving gold and platinum success in many countries. The band would even perform for the very first time in the United States, at the ProgPower festival. To strike the iron while it was hot, and to give the band enough space to have time for themselves before working on a new album, the band released another DVD, this time more personal and more detailed. The DVD's title was homage to the overall theme of the album: End of Innocence.   Tuomas Holopainen: "The whole thing was coincidence, to be honest. I mean what you see on the documentary is me and Jukka, talking to a guy who's writing a book about us. That's why we are so open. We never thought that this would end up being on the DVD, in a visual way. The author, he brought a cameraman with him, who filmed the whole thing. When I saw the footage and when the record label saw the footage, we thought that this would make a cool documentary, actually. It's all like a souvenir for the bandmembers. I could also imagine that it is boring as hell for people who don't know the band. Or who don't like the band. But for the fans, it's something really unique." (Cursed With Oblivion, May 12th, 2004)     Nightwish has not been a band known for resting on its laurels, so it was no surprise to anyone that shortly after the release of End of Innocence, word got out that they were going back into the studio at the end of the year to work on their fifth full-length album. They would be incorporating many new sounds into their already-varied style that had not been heard before. Each song delved into a new frontier musically for all members of the band. This exploration in experimentation would result in Once, their most ambitious album yet.   Marco Hietala: "...Because of all the variety and all the musical elements, different atmospheric things that we have on there due to the orchestration and choir stuff and all that. To some people it might even be scary...I was a bit scared myself! When we were still in rehearsal and demo stage I was thinking will this be too much?" (Pretties for You online magazine, April 2004)   Tarja Turunen: "With this album, I'm especially very excited about at the moment because of all Nightwish albums I'm personally most satisfied and happiest with Once so far. I would be lying if I said the band wouldn't think the same way. So yeah, I must say that I actually feel pretty confident about this album and hopefully our fans would like the album specifically. Now I feel like my voice on Once is as natural and relaxed as it can be in the first place and I don't sound 'forced' or 'artificial' as I partly tend to sound on previous albums. And this is actually what I tried to acheive for Nightwish albums for so many years already...I feel very comfortable with my vocals on Once for the very first time in Nightwish and that's the thing what really makes me happy." (, June 2004)   Tuomas Holopainen: "At the moment, I'm very happy. The biggest dream for me to ever come true was when I had the final master copy of Once in my hands. When I heard it, I thought it really was the best effort that I could have done at that time. It was a big highlight for me last year to have the album finished, and to be that proud of it. From the fans' perspective, I think they had very high expectations from us on a musical level, so I really wanted to do my best, without any compromises. That's why we hired the best possible orchestra (who were the London Academy of St. Martin's in the Fields Orchestra) and choir that we could get. That was also the reason why I had (Native American) John Two-Hawks perform on "Creek Mary's Blood". We didn't want to make any compromises on Once. I also wanted to meet my own expectations. That to me is always the most important. It's always the quality of the music that matters to me. Of course we wanted to be able to top the previous album in sales too, and be able to tour some new places, which we had never been able to do before with that success. Fortunately, all that happened, so we couldn't be happier." (Metal Forge, February 24th, 2005)     Once ran the musical gamut, crossing over one musical barrier after the other with every song. It seemed there was something for everyone on this album. Techno-inspired rock songs such as "Wish I Had an Angel". A touch of what seemed the rap-rock element in "Romanticide". The marriage of Nightwish's bombastic sound to the powerful orchestra on songs like "Ghost Love Score" and "Planet Hell". A nod to their Finnish roots with lyrics in their mother tongue on "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan". Middle-Eastern influences on "The Siren". Undoubtedly, one of the most experimental songs on Once, however, was "Creek Mary's Blood", inspired by Native American culture and music. The song featured Native American musician John Two-Hawks, who not only played flute but also had a spoken part by translating a poem Tuomas wrote in English, to his native Lakota language.   Tuomas Holopainen: "I've always had this strange fascination for Indian culture and spirituality. He speaks a poem that was written by me in honor of his ancestors. I don't understand a word of what he's saying but I trust his translation skills." [laughs] (Metal Hammer magazine, May 2004)   John Two-Hawks: "...When Nightwish called and said that they wanted to do this and we heard the music and read the lyrics, I was excited because I thought this is fresh and a great opportunity to express the joining of two very different musical genres and kind of wrap them together in a braid. I think the end result is absolutely powerhouse, incredible." (Beyond Ear Candy, August 2004)     Even though the band had been taken on a musical journey like one they had never been on before, there was one element on Once that stayed close to their hearts, yet in many ways was another endeavor into musical horizons unknown. The final track, "Higher Than Hope", was written as a tribute to a dying Nightwish fan, Marc Brueland, who would fulfill his final wish to see the band perform live, but would not live to hear the song that his struggles had inspired, though his voice would live on as a spoken part within the song. This was without question one of their most emotional and personal songs ever. It combined beautifully the melodic melancholy and heroic bombast that encompasses Nightwish's music: a fitting tribute to a life lived and fought bravely, but gone all too soon.   Tuomas Holopainen: "Well, I'm very close with the whole family...We've grown to be really close and I followed his story for like 3 years altogether before he finally died so it was just something really touching and I just felt like I needed to make a song about this. He [Marco] did almost all the music. I did the lyrics and some of the music but it was the last song we did for this album and Marco came up with this song. By the demo I had these melodies and 'OK,' I said, 'it perfectly leads for the idea of these lyrics I have that I want to write about Marc Brueland.' So we just did it together and the result is what you get...I just thought that this would be the perfect immortalization of him to put his words on this part of the song. I really didn't want to make a heavy song part of his story and I didn't want to make a, like, cheesy ballad and this song that Marco had was perfect like in-between it's kind of like half-ballad, but has a really, really hard punch in it, so I think it fit perfectly." (Beyond Ear Candy, September 2004)     With an album as diverse as Once, it seemed only natural that the new sounds would take the band to new places. They would embark on their first tour in the United States in the summer of 2004, but not without its difficulties. But in typical Nightwish fashion, the rewards would be far sweeter than the toils once they finally did get acquainted with their American audience.   Marco Hietala: "...When we came to Atlanta and New York to play, our guys at management had an agency that helped us. We had to pay a certain amount of money per person and would help getting the people there faster. This time we got the papers forward between March and May. The agency said that it would be ready in about four or five months, they said it would be OK and they would come in time, but they didn't." (Metal Underground, August 25th, 2004)   Tuomas Holopainen: "I mean the reaction from the fans is close to what it would be in South America. They're really passionate, really wild over the music and we never really expected anything like this. I knew the sales were going pretty well. They even know the songs from the new album even though it's not released yet. I guess that they have some imports or something. I mean that's the biggest surprise; the fans, they're so nice, so passionate." (Beyond Ear Candy, September 2004)   Tarja Turunen: "There is no certain stereotype Nightwish fan. They vary from babies to grandpas. Actually it has been wonderful to find out, and then meet these people along the road." (Radio YLE-2, Finland)     Just when it seemed the Nightwish train could not possibly be stopped, Tuomas slammed on the brakes in the most unexpected way: moments after the final concert of the Once tour, a letter was delivered to Tarja from Tuomas and the other bandmembers, dismissing her from Nightwish and forever splitting the Nightwish community into two separate entities. Although it was Tarja getting the walking papers, it was clear that it was someone not even in the band that caused the rift...   Tuomas Holopainen: "It's not really Tarja that's the main problem, it's Marcelo, her husband. I think it's tragic that one of my best friends from elementary school has been brainwashed by an Argentinean mafia-dude. Marcelo is scary! He can talk you around his finger, and is a manipulator of another world[...]she's too good for this serpent!" (Scream, November 2005)   "This letter includes it all. I have to put it to the internet in a moment. My biggest wish is to continue Nightwish with a new singer. At the moment I'm not sure who this is going to be. I'm still shocked and the situation has to calm down first. Then we can go on planning the future. This decision is the biggest tragedy of my life."   "Actually I thought about disappearing from the scene and going on holiday but that would be the easy way out. I want to defend the band and I want to tell the true story. That's what I owe us and the fans. When you are on a stage you take responsibility. We never disappointed the fans, not even when we were ill or tired or just in a bad mood. Unfortunately Tarja had a different attitude towards this matter."   "I already suffered the whole year. It can't get any worse. Actually I'm really happy that I finally talked about all of this. At the moment I have a real chaos of feelings inside of me---it's a mixture of sadness, of hope and of relief. I'm sure that Tarja suffered from this situation as well. It's not easy for both of us and it won't be easy for a long time. But in spite of everything that happened I do not hate Tarja. I'm just completely disappointed. Nightwish will go on with a new singer and she will cause a stir with her solo-projects." (Rock Hard, December 2005)   Tarja Turunen: "I was naturally enough both shocked and surprised. I was shocked that I was left out there without a chance to defend myself. That's what stuck as the strongest and most bitter reaction. I could have understood the content of it a lot better if I'd been confronted with it face-to-face, and thereby had a chance to defend myself, and straightened out misunderstanding that lies behind it. I never got that opportunity, and that really hurts me. I didn't think I deserved such treatment after all of these years." (Scream, November 2005)   "There were many things that were very private, talks about my personality and me. In that letter, they try to put words in my mouth, thoughts in my head, and feelings in my heart without giving me a chance to talk or respond in any way. I need to face this situation now, as the Tarja I have been, and that Tarja I am and that is that person that is not accusing or attacking with anger. I cannot do that." ( press conference, November 14th, 2005)       Upon the break between Tarja and the members of Nightwish, they each went their separate ways: Tarja, to release a Christmas album to tide fans over as she made her much-anticipated solo album; and Nightwish, to find a new singer. To the fans, for whom obviously the recent events were a huge shock, they would at last see for themselves the bittersweet final moments of Nightwish when the DVD End of an Era was released, and learn every detail of their tumultuous relationship with Tarja when the long-awaited book Once Upon a Nightwish made its way to bookstore shelves.   Tuomas Holopainen: "When I saw the film for the first time, I had to forget all the negative aspects of what happened these last months. You can really see in the documentary that the band suffered, all suffered, so did she. We all say to ourselves, though we don't say anything, that it isn't happening. It's like a bad dream. We look depressed, tired, make out well on every member of the band's face the trial we are going through. But the band's identity in its whole still exists. We do form a band. If we search another positive aspect about what happened: the trial has brought us together. We four are united. We have a good basis for a new beginning and I never doubt for a single moment that this band have the future ahead of it."   "I've read it [the book] once and I insist on saying it's not an autobiography. It took the author four years for writing it and I have the feeling to be an interviewed person among dozens of others. We don't feel really concerned about this book but however, when I read it, I sometimes cried and even laughed...This book brought me back the whole lot of human feelings." (CryptoGoths, May 2006)     Once the world got over the initial shock of Tarja's departure, the next obvious questions were: who would the new singer be? Who could possibly replace Tarja? The band held an "open audition", inviting women from around the world to send in demo tapes and show if she had what it took to gain the most enviable, yet most difficult position: stepping up to the microphone and becoming the new frontwoman of Nightwish. The band would give the fans a tease by releasing the song "While Your Lips Are Still Red" as part of a Finnish movie soundtrack, with only Marco on vocals, but as far as who would take over as the new feminine voice of Nightwish, it remained one of the biggest mysteries on the current metal scene.   Tuomas Holopainen: "I know that there are a lot of people outside there who will never accept the new singer---no matter how talented and charismatic she will be. Our new frontwoman has to have the biggest self-confidence in the world because she will have the hardest job in the world. Everybody will talk at length about her and she will have to take a lot of criticism. Honestly said, I do not care if the next record will sell 50,000 or 1,000,000 times. The most important thing is that we get along with our new singer and that we can lead a normal band's life again as it used to be."   "The first demo I got one day after I published the letter on our homepage. Until now I received about 400 applications. Most of them are from Finland, Scandinavia, and Germany. I am still surprised about the amount of letters. I never thought so many women dare to follow in Tarja's footsteps." (Rock Hard, June 2006)       After over a year of endless speculation, countless auditions and many months of secretive silence, the band finally made their decision and in May 2007 the new singer would at last be revealed to the world: 36-year-old Swedish vocalist Anette Olzon, mother of one and former frontwoman of the band Alyson Avenue. Although Anette's demo tape was one of the first to reach the ears of Nightwish, the band would not instantly name her their new member. But Anette refused to take 'no' for an answer, because it appeared that from the start, music was her destiny...   Anette Olzon: "I've been singing my whole life and was born into a family of musicians where everyone from my mother's side has worked as a musician. My childhood was full of instruments, playing and singing. My mother is also a singer so I've toured with my parents in the tour bus ever since my early childhood. I started singing with a band when I was 13. [...] Then my mother got married for the second time for ten years. Her new husband had a son named Niklas and I went to sing some backing vocals to the demo of his band. I was seventeen at that time. That band was called Alyson Avenue. The boys of the band were so impressed with my voice that they asked me to join the band. At first the band also had a male vocalist who was later kicked out of the band so I had full control of the mic. I think it was the year '89. From that moment on Alyson Avenue kept rocking until things cooled down about two years ago." ( interview, May 30th, 2007)   "I liked this music right from the beginning. But I never envisaged the fact that an e-mail with a positive reaction would arrive only a few days after I sent my application!" (Metal Hammer, July 2007)   "At first I felt like I should send them a demo even though I can't sing operatically. But then I thought, 'Nah, I'll pass.' The sound technician of Arrival ranted at me: 'But you must send them that demo, you have to send it right now!' After he had persuaded me for a while, I finally asked Niklas and the guitar player of Cloudscape if they could help me to record "Ever Dream". We recorded that one song in one day and sent it forward. I received e-mail from Tuomas almost instantly. He had liked my singing very much and asked me to send three songs more. I even sung "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan" as a bonus! I thought the band would make the decision quickly so I recorded this second demo in a hurry. I think it was January when Tuomas already had all the songs I'd recorded." ( interview, May 30th, 2007)   "It wasn't really helpful that the whole band was watching me during the demo-recordings. But they were all really nice to me. Finally not only Nightwish have chosen me---I have chosen the band as well." (Metal Hammer, July 2007)   "Of course I can't please everyone and I'm not even going to try. But I think the band will now gain some new fans who haven't liked them before. Some just didn't like the opera-style vocals. If the band had chosen a new operatic singer, it could have been their doom because Tarja is so extremely good at what she does. Her sound can't be copied and it wouldn't make any sense to try. The change can be welcome as well." ( interview, May 30th, 2007)   Tuomas Holopainen: "The uppermost feeling I have at the moment, is relief because we don't have to hide her anymore. And it must be a huge relief to her as well because like keeping her in a cave all the time, wasn't that much fun. But it was something that needed to be done. And now, we finished mixing the album last Friday so we have the album ready. She's out, so in that sense I feel really, really good. Also, the people, the band and the media have welcomed her in a really nice way. I personally expected 'the barbecue' to be much worse!" (, May 31st, 2007)   "Anette convinced us right from the beginning both with her voice and her personality, but we absolutely wanted to play safe and took up a lot of time with the search and the decision. But all the others always had to compete with Anette who sent us one of the first applications. She was and is a real lucky choice." (Sonic Seducer, July 2007)       Now that the long wait was over and the era of Tarja firmly behind them, Nightwish turned the page and entered the next chapter of their career with Anette. The album Dark Passion Play was another peek into Tuomas' diary: the lyrics ranging from sadness and regret towards the split with Tarja on songs like "Bye Bye Beautiful"; anger towards the outside parties that caused the split on "Master Passion Greed", anticipation and hope for the future in songs like "Cadence of Her Last Breath". Again, the band brought back the orchestral sounds, and as usual, tried to bring new elements to the table, as if a brand-new voice wasn't enough for fans to digest. In unorthodox fashion, the album kicked off with the 14-minute opus "The Poet and the Pendulum", one of the most epic Nightwish songs ever written and lyrically, an emotional rollercoaster that laid it all out on the table and left no doubts to any listener as to what the past few years had been for Tuomas.   Tuomas Holopainen: "We recorded 15 songs altogether. Out of them 13 will end up on this new album. As far as differences go, I think the biggest difference is sitting here next to me, so it's the vocals. I mean, musically I don't think the album differs that much from Once. There's some new elements on this album---like there's Celtic instruments, there's a voice of sopranos, there's a gospel choir and all little details here and there. But the overall feeling that the songs have, is a natural sequel from what Once was. We didn't wanna do anything too radical because she is already a radical change to our sound."   "I try to think our songs like a soundtrack play. But the amount of material "The Poet and the Pendulum" has absorbed, with the orchestra and the choir, and there's the Celtic-fill, there's the voice of soprano, there's her singing and Marco's singing---and there's even Marco growling plus all the sound effects created by Mr. Jussi Tegelman in Hollywood. It's a really big song, I can tell." (, May 31st, 2007)   Anette Olzon: "The soundscapes Tuomas makes make some of the songs really difficult. They are all difficult but some of them are so hard that you need to be an experienced singer to be able to sing them. I don't think I'd be able to sing them when I was 20. [...] The new album is not Once 2, it's something completely new. We've tried all kinds of stuff on the album, for example in this one horror movie song that Emppu made. It's a guitar song where everything, the melody, the rhythm of the lyrics and everything has been composed with a guitar. It's a really difficult way to make songs, I've tried it myself. For me it's much easier to compose melodies with keyboards." ( interview, May 30th, 2007)   "I don't think that there's a generic storyline. All lyrics treat different subjects, although there might be certain similarities in some songs. It's a lot about emotions in 2005 when the band was going through a hard time and there was a lot of bitterness. Some songs are about certain Celtic things and cultures. [...] This is indeed very hard for me to answer, so I'll just give you my opinion as a listener. I think Dark Passion Play is a continuation of Once, which at that time was Nightwish's best album to date. Dark Passion Play is more bombastic with bigger orchestration and a lot of special instruments and even a gospel choir. Furthermore I also think that Tuomas has even more matured as a songwriter." (Lords of Metal, September 2007)     So now that the hype and excitement had lulled and the album officially released, it was time for Nightwish to take their new lineup on the road and introduce Anette to the sometimes-overzealous fans, many of whom were still loyal to Tarja. Sometimes it would not be easy. To show that the Nightwish past was not fading away, at the same time as Dark Passion Play hit store shelves, Tarja released her highly anticipated solo album, My Winter Storm, only garnering comparisons between the two vocalists all the more. Anette would be met with both praise and criticism everywhere she went. While Anette's cheery, bubbly personality was a stark contrast to the aloof Tarja, even the most upbeat people have their rough moments and it would come out at a gig in Brazil, when Anette walked offstage (later stating that she was affected by the onstage smoke machines) and sparked rumors that are still being debated to this day...   Anette Olzon: "I'm certainly not going to try and imitate here, because she [Tarja] was so damn good. Furthermore, our voices are very different and I'm my own person so it's really no use to try that. I'm practicing the songs at home already and a lot of the old material also suits my voice quite well, it will only sound a bit different because of my distinct style. I've got more of a rock voice than Tarja."   "We talked about this and I'm sure that things like this will happen during the tour. Actually there's no good solution for coping with this. I'm just gonna keep my head up high and hope that those people will adjust. Other bands have succeeded in replacing their lead vocalist too so why shouldn't Nightwish be capable of doing that?" (Lords of Metal, September 2007)   Tuomas Holopainen: "We scheduled 160 gigs for the first year and it might be overmuch. We made this decision because we just couldn't hold it back, we wanted to get out there and perform. We had a new vocalist and a new album, and we wanted to see if we could make it. We couldn't hold ourselves back from touring. We wanted to see the reactions, to understand if we won the bet or lost it. The truth is that the very first months of the tour were amazing..."   "But, for sure, this was just the visible reason during a period which was very difficult for us. And it's totally reasonable. People break down, it happens. But the smoke-machine is not the only reason. We were all tired, we were jaded. We were nervous and fed up. Especially Anette, it was unfamiliar for her all that. We dropped her into the ocean and she made it really well. Lots of times we said to each other, 'I would never expect she could hold on for so long!' But she did. She disproved all the predictions. She made it very well with such a long tour, and she had a lot of times the crowd against her. Her breakdown at the end was normal. And let me tell you, during that gig, there were guys with middle fingers in front of her who were shouting many things...If you keep in mind all that, you can't be surprised with the incident." (Metal Hammer (Greek version), March 2009)     As the Dark Passion Play tour rolls on for what will be over 2 years by the time it makes its final curtain call later this year, all the ups and downs of the tour will be chronicled in the DVD Made in Hong Kong (And Various Other Places). But once the tour is over and the band returns to their everyday lives, what then? What does the future of Nightwish hold?   Tuomas Holopainen: "I have plenty of material for the new album. I think the stuff is typical Nightwish, but there are new elements as well. We have booked the training local for two months in the spring 2010 and then we will begin work with the album. I imagine that it will be released in the end of 2010 or early 2011." (Stara interview, March 5th, 2009)   "I have already started preparing some things. We have much time to work on the new album though. When this all comes to an end, we have to meet each other and discuss, to see who wants to stay in the band and who don't. I hope everybody in the band understood that too." (Metal Hammer (Greek version), March 2009)     ...But no matter what may happen in the future, no matter what turmoils the band has endured, no matter whether it is Tarja or Anette out in front, it is clear that through the ups and downs of Nightwish's career, they have made their mark on the music world, and they have won the respect of many all over the world, fans and fellow colleagues alike.   Peter Buck (of R.E.M.): "Too bad that the schedule is so tight, that I hardly have any time to visit a record store. When we came yesterday from the airport to the city I heard a really interesting song on the radio. It was the Finnish band Nightwish. The thought of mixing heavy metal and opera doesn't seem very exciting, but the band sounded really great. If I have time, I'll go to the record store and buy their album." (Rocket 95.3 FM, Stockholm, Sweden, November 2003)   Tony Kakko (of Sonata Arctica): "I'm not as deep as Tuomas when it comes to songwriting. I'm trying to live my personal life along with my musical one; I try to mix them equally. With Tuomas, in my opinion, it's more with you is an on/off thing. You're totally into it or completely not into it, and with me it's a constant thing but not nearly as deep as it is with you [Tuomas]." (Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles Magazine)   Simone Simons (of Epica): "I am in Epica because of Nightwish, when I discovered Nightwish I knew that that was what I wanted to do." (Heavy Law metal webzine, 2004)   John Two-Hawks: "What I really loved about Nightwish's music was that they were passionate. When I read the lyrics, which I understand Tuomas writes, I thought, 'Here's a guy writing with passion!' The music is also incredibly ingenious and passionate. You can tell just by listening to the music that it says something, it means something. I like when the listener has to think and Tuomas makes you think with his writing. He writes in a way that makes you have to dig a little bit. The lyrics in the song "Creek Mary's Blood"; oh, they mean something. What he wrote really comes from his heart." (Beyond Ear Candy, August 2004)     Did the members of Nightwish "ever dream" themselves how far this mere "acoustic mood music project" would take them? Perhaps the answer can be found within their own Finnish modesty...   Tuomas Holopainen: "We've accomplished a lot but the hunger grows all the time. So there still are millions wishes to be fulfilled." (Battlehelm interview, 2001)     Pictures provided courtesy of Nightwish France with permission.


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