Interview with Nightwish 124

Source: Soundi 08 2006
Translation and scans by Afrodite

Lost pic 2 | Lost pic 3 | Lost pic 4 | Lost pic 5 | Lost pic 6 | Lost pic 7


Doing the following album of a giant popular Once would be stressful also without the vulures of media. Tuomas Holopainen secured the peace of working by introducing his new songs to the band in a secret place. Three medias got a change to see Nightwish's summer camp, and Soundi was the only Finnish one of them.

A new darkblue Toyota Land Cruiser runs in a southern Finnish country scene. We have just turned from Suodenniemi towards Sävi, and the weather couldn't be better. Behind the wheel is sitting Tuomas Holopainen. A little while ago he has put to his car's player a cd-r, that contains demos of songs from Nightwish's next album.
It's the 11th of July in 2006 and the songs are approached with a strict "need to know" principle. The demos haven't been showed to the outsiders, or to any journalists before. Holopainen has done demos at home with sequencer and they are instrumental.
Your reporter has been picked up half an hour ago politely in front of the front door of home. As a Holopainen's aide-de-camp with us is Jens Johansson. Keyboard player that has lived in New York for a long time spends the days between Stratovarius' European tour in his native country Sweden and in Finland.
The things that are needed for food, and strings for acoustic guitar are bought around Tammelantori in Tampere. Thanks to some afternoon papers, a normal human on the street recognizes easily Holopainen. Besides a black Pirates of the Caribbean-shirt, green army-pants and sport sandals, songmaker yet wears stubborn that pretty well known stetson. He has decided that he won't be hiding. And that's just good, for Tuomas has nothing to hide or to apologice.
After five songs the car arrives to our destination, to the yard of an old school. Tuomas hosts confidenly, shows the places and takes a ghettoblaster to the barbecue. We listen yet the other half dozen demos.
This man is still not doing music to the drawer, and he says his song making-machine never quiets down. Maybe more that ever before, making the music is a way to understand and process his own life, surronding world and that where those two meets. Tuomas will the 30 on this year's Christmas and he defines himself as a "life style song maker".

About what is the song we listeded first during that car trip, that was nearly 15 min long, winding, proge song, where someone clearly dies?
-That song sums actually all that bad feeling, that I felt during the end of last year and before it. The song was born in one moment and I know already now that it will be our best one of all our songs. And it's true that someone dies in it - nice you understood the main point of it with only one listening time. But let's return later to that who it is. It clears up easily from the lyrics.
Does the album have some "work name" or even the real name already?"
There's no work name, nor a real one. How about "Twice"? The songs have of course had nams for a long time. But I don't want to reveal those yet. We'll start recording on September. And maybe even in this year we'll go to London againg to record the orchestra parts. Band and Pip Williams have already been booded. The release of the album will happen on these times on next year, maybe even on the spring, no later that on the Fall 2007. So let's return to the names of the songs after ahalf a year.
You have done some 50 songs for Nightwish already. What is your worst side as a composer?
-Too much everything all the time. That's what I've heard.
The others have maybe said that, but it seems you haven't followed the advise, for the matherial here don't seem to become more simple. If this is others option, what is your own? -Well, let's then say an inclination... to fanatic bambast. And thinking the latest abbum, your con't find any king of red line there. Once goes so much from the theme and feeling to another that there's no sense. But maybe it's a bit like our thing.
-I'm sometimes asked why I don't do a solo album. Why would I do? I can try everything what I want with this band. We are not victims of any format, and under Nightwish's name I can fulfil all my musical ambitions. And perversions. With some Kotiteollisuus or Trio Niskalaukaus it's a bit different. To their album can't suddendly be drawn an orchestra or a female singer.
So the colourfullness and deversity is a weapon. No one can say that this doesn't sound like Nightwish.
-Exactly. Like this I've been thinking for a long time. We can do a real heavy song or a beautiful, piano-accompanied ballad or for example play in Eurovision. And so it goes.
- The most frghtening moment in this process was when I played for the first time songs from demo for the other band members. It could be said it doesn't matter for me what media or even fans like about my music, But if guys don't like it, it's depressing.
Maybe the scenery had an influence on your state of mind, but there seemed to sound clearer than ever that you're coming from Finland. Is it like this?
-Nothing that would sound like finnish I didn't at least consciously start to do. These are still for me like spirit world things. But maybe that I've lived in the back woods all my life brings also to my music that scandinavian melancholy, that connects all our music from rock to pop songs. Myself I would say that the new songs are more organic than before.
We have talked before about how you listen to all kind of music. Has this changed and have you found something new?
-I still listen to music really much. Some musicians want for example after a tour to just listen to silence, but in my case the stereos are playing all the time. At home and in the car. And I concentrate mostly on songs, not on the genre.
-I still like for the most heavy and film music, but if there comes a good song from the radio, then it's good. Regardless of the genre. Though I don't listen to radio that much, sometimes to Radio City. But the main point is that some Backstreet Boys have many really good songs.

The camping centre of Sävi, a renoved yellow school building with its cafeteria building, can be rented by anyone, and there have been confirmation camps and weddings. Nightwish summer camp has had the premises since the end of May, and there's still three weeks left. This has been a good place to shut up to do the following album of Once that was released about two years ago and has sold a million copies already.
Though it maybe couldn't been believed, secret has stayed as secret and there have been no need to be pushing away paparazzi-photographers or other uninvited guests.
From the training and arranging has been moved on to make a demo, so now on Jukka Nevalainen's drum back grounds have played their own parts guitar player Emppu Vuorinen and bass player Marco Hietala. As a sound recorder is Tere Kinnunen, who has been with Nighywish from the beginning.
Holopainen's sequenser-demos were ready on March, and after that the band members were learning songs at their homes. After they had came here, Nighywish trained, arranged and rearranged songs for a month, 3-8 hours a day. 15 tracks were chosen for the demo.
It seems that for the first time on Nightwish's next album is coming also music, that is completely by someone else than the band leader. With Holopainen's songs are taken a track from both Vuorinen and Hietala.
Now the first mentioned comes out from the cafereria building. He arrives to greet, lits a cigarette and says that he has just got recorded some pretty difficult parts. The happy guitarist returns to his work. And we continue the discussion with Tuomas.

What does demo-making teach you about the songs?
-The guys opened my eyes with many melody and riff. I've grown so close the songs that someone is needed to show me their weak points. But I think it mighy sometimes when we are training, be frustrating, because only I know, what the song will sound likewith orchestra, choir and vocals. It needs belief to train for example that 13 minutes long song, when guys have only heard my demos. Sometimes I need to say that "trust me now, this will be really good".
-Though the elements in Nightwish's music are simple, sometimes there happens really much in a song. But guys have managed well me and this way of working. And there was nothing new that four guys are playing songs without a singer. There haven't been a singer ever before, when Nightwish's has trained. Never. So, also that there would be a singer in the same room training with others is a new thing that would be nice to try now after these ten years.
-I can truly say, I've listened that demo 300 times. I mean when it have been ready, so in addition to that 300 making the songs and finishing them. The other guys have been an irreplaceable help. For they'll say, if some riff isn't good. That's why Nightwish is a band with big B.
Would your bandmates be confused, if you'd sometime bring just few riffs and say "let's start to do it based on these"?
-Sometime it would be cool to try that as well. Exactly like that we start to develop idea and see what we'll get like that. But maybe it isn't just our thing. Or haven't at least yet been.
Do you ever think that for example now we have enough songs with middle tempo, let's do now one faster song as well, or do you just start to do songs without advance thoughts?
-I never think like that. Though there's also now coming the hardest, heaviest and fastest Nightwish's song ever, it has born to be like that. I haven't thought that "now we need that and that here". Calculating is a cancer of music. And music is above all stream of consciousness, like we have talked before.
Has the hard music gotten hard lyrics with it?
-This is really over worked phrase, but making music is for me writing my own diary. And has always been . So what happened in the end of October, will be found somehow in the lyrics of the album. Songs and lyrics reflect the moments in life. But I didn't start to do any theme album about some people.
-I myself think that these songs are more relaxed and more unprejudiced than those I've done before. And that have also some other people told me.
Before Once you had some kind of "writer's block". Did you have this again or did the songs born easily?
-That tour lasted for one and half year, and on the time from the end of last October to the spring of this year I made 16 songs. The speed was confusing even from myself, because I've never done songs this fast. And no composing nor writing the lyrics have ever been easier. Where it comes from, must be that there was so much feelings and dramatic in my life. When I make songs, I create that my own world, where I can escape. From the media and also some other things.

Already now Nightwish has done work faster that planned, but still the guitar seems to be playing that well that Vuorinen, Hietala and Kinnunen goes to get one more song ready. So Tuomas will have a lot of time to record keyboards.
Jens, who went to sleep when we arrived, have woken up. He arrives with Masahito, who's spending his vacation in Finland, to play football. "Masa" lives in Garmany, but he's a japanese music journalist, who is visiting our country for the sixth time already. He is an old friend of Nightwish and now here only as a tourist. But as an effient man Masa is learning with his laptop the basics of Finnish and studies with Jens help the local swear words.
Besides them, there has also visited some other Nightwish's friends. On the midsummer party there was about 30 people on the school and on a sauna nearby. And on the videoblog on band's website, can be found for example Kai Haito, who's talking about tuning drums in one part. And really for a reason, Holopainen laughts.
He lists the reasons why they came here. It was good to be together and let the dust settle a bit. The band leader tells there was three points in the aim: to have fun together, to train the songs and to make the demo. Besides the work has moved on, Tuomas says the gang has gotten everythig on the mental side that they dared to wish.
There has also been searched for something else on the camp. As known, Nightwish has been without a singer since the 22nd of October. The band has gotten over 1000 demos and the best singers have been driven to Sävi to show their skills. Tuomas tells avoiding that there have been both Finnish and foreigner singers.

What kind of experience the auditions have been so far?
-The feeling is like I would be doctor Frankenstein. It would be nice to get some quality from someone, from someone else some other and so on. It's a bit like searching a perfect wife: If I'd get the brains from that one, the ass from that one and the tits from that one. But when we wouldn't like to do compromises, so let's wait still some time. There's no hurry. We can do the instrumental parts ready first, if we don't find a good one instantly.
Has the well known artists taken contact as well?
-There has been also those who are already... pretty well known. But I don't want to tald about them. I still feel remerse for that Marika Krook thing, though I really don't know where from that thing came to publicity. Not from us. These things should be extremely confidential, and I won't tell to anyone, from who we have gotten demos.
What is the furthest place, from where have been sent demos?
-Tapes and cds have came from every mainlands and about from 50 countries. It surprised. For there's so big boots to be filled that couldn't have believed this many people to have courage to try. On the best times we got over 30 demos a day. Now it has slowed down a bit, we get 5-10 demos a day. And it can be seen, how this Idols-phenomenon is normal. We have gotten many letters like: "I know I'm still very young, but I know many people that are young and famous".
-To those who have made an impression we have sent an instrumental version of Once and asked to sing threee optional songs there. So we have gotten the the picture how the girl's voice would sound like in our songs. If for example Nemo doesn't sound goo, we move on to the next one. Because when the voice doesn't fit the music, the thing doesn't work.
You've told before that you'd be happy if you got the singer by the Christmas. Has it any meaning where she comes from or where she lives?
-It depends on a person. But somehow I think that the nearer Finland the better. Way of thinking and culture... But if a perfect person lives in Antarktis, everything can be arranged. Tarja lived many years in Germany and we made tours as normal.
Some day the choise must be done. Has the record company set a dead line?
-No. And we can change the record company if they start to pressure us. We have still been really hard-working band for ten years - five albums, three dvds and a book. If the break lasts for four years in stead of three, it doesn't kill anyone.
Is it you who decides in the end who will be Nightwish's new singer?
-In the contradictory situations about music, it's me who says the last word. And I also decide what songs will come to the album. But in this singer-thing we try to get as democratic result as possibe. Everyone has now 25% vote. If three of us is absolutely sure, but one is not, then we'll talk.
Have you been able to do the new songs as "blinded" like that the voice that will bind them together will be found?
-We just have to believe in that. I know that the right woman is somewhere there. And the new songs have been done for Tarja's scale. Her scale was a good help. So we won't go higher or lower that that.
-And I hope that people understand we are not searching any Tarja-clone or just classic singer. Some rock or for example celtic voice would be nice thing. For if we'll leave to the new way, we'll leave there properly. We don't demand classic background, but it isn't any damage. All the time we have to think also the old production. In the singer's voice have to be force for singing the old songs as well.

Later around the camp fire we listen to some anonymous singer's demos. There's some really impressive demos, and for pure fun to the player is put some really terrible ones from the other side of the scale. Before this, Tuomas took care of cooking. Mushrooms, olives, garlics, bacon pieces and spices that were bought earlier today changed in his hand into excellent garnish for the traditional grilling food.
Holopainen, who has been the whole day on the good mood, but quiet down when the group has grown bigger and speaking volume louder, is sitting with his band mates around the camp fire, as once in Kitee. The words "new beginning" are hanging in the air like a thundercloud. Tuomas improves the fire and tune the ghettoblaster to a channel that plays Finnish pop-music.
After he has first showed his skills on cooking, the song maker of Nightwish takes a pack of cards, and stars to entertain with card tricks our group that has grown bigger by Tero's girlfriend Sari. Tero, Marco and constantly happy Emppu have already seen the tricks, but others are astonished.
Then the flagpole that stands empty next to the gate starts to disturb Jens. He founds easily a friend to come with him to the expedition to a cleaning cupboard. Soon the two happy men has done from a black garbage bag and white rouder tape to the flagpole a flag what have on its other side a big letter N and on the other side a skull and crossbones.
The evening change to the night of stories and to the small hours. As always around the camp fire. Before going to sleep Jens challenge us to a "what can be done from a rouder tape?"-game, with what have been killed time often in Stratovarius' - and sure in many other band's - tours. After many different imaginative things, to the winner of the game is announced Jens.
On the next morning Tuomas changes from the film-t-shirt to the other. Now his chest is as The Crown-movie's advertisement. After some moment here will arrive a new singer candidate, so the guests must leave. Stratovarius' gig on Tullikamari is a good adress to recover from being the guest of Nightwish. But there's still time to return with Tuomas to the interview we did yesterday.

Besides Nightwish, you'd like to make film music. It's somehow contradictory, for in film music you need to do compromises all the time.
-I think I have too romantic picture about film-composing. I've read about is lately, and understood how much the director decides. You can think yourself you've done a really good part, but if the scene lasts only for third of the music, then the heart will bleed. But still I wish I could try it some day. Even for once.
-It have been clear for me for a long time that first we'll look how we'll do with Nightwish. The worst possible thing that could happen now would be that Peter Jackson would tell tomorrow that he wants from me music to the "Hobbit" and would give me time half a year. Because Nightwish would be more important, but is would depress.
What the gigs with Kotiteollisuus and Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus have given to you?
-They have more than once brought me back by reminding, what the band-things are for. So that we are together on the stage, feel the music, play and have fun. Touring with other bands I understand that maybe Nightwish isn't the thing that fills the whole world.
Is Nightwish for you bigger than life?
-Yeah, thinking that I haven't any plan b. Everything is here. From last Christmas to May my life was that I drank a bit coffee after I woke up, played synths for ten hours, watched some movie and went to sleep. There was no social life, and nothing else than making music didn't interest me. My whole identitety and soul from the last year is in those songs.
-And when the album will be ready, I want that feeling I've given my everything. Was the result anything. This maybe have an influence to that dedication with what I drown myself to the songmaking. The amount of blood, sweat and tears must me huge while doing the songs. Only then you can say you did everything you could.
A man works with the taste of blood in his mouth. Like his last album.
-Yes. It was well said, because every album, even every song have to be done with that thinking it can be the last one. Only then you can look behind and see you've given everything.
-So I have to sometimes remind myself that people have families and they are still always more important that some syphilitic rock band. To the choise of this place had also an influence that here's so good accommondation space. Both Jukka's and Marco's families have spent time here, and so have Emppu's and Tero's girlfriends.
And you just fight there amoung others against getting older like Peter Pan?
-Exactly like that. That was well said. Like Peter Pan... 30 is getting closer... But still I must say that this has been as great summer as possible. We have done terribly much work and both I and the boys think that the songs sound good.

There, in the peace of Sävi, has also been time to think how big avalanche the firing of Tarja Turunen created. Tuomas escaped the uproar first to the Iceland and spent then on February a couple of weeks in Florida with his brother and his brother's son. Before it, the songmaker recalls he has been on the real vacation two or three years ago.
Holopainen has gotten few excellent denying victories from the yellow press, but the latest stories made him to see red. In those was said that Turunen was fired because Tuomas was in love with her, but didn't get response to his feelings.

What thoughts those headlines awoke in you?
-It was really a hit under the belt. The very last trump card. And why did they use it not until now? Yeah, for the same reason we fired the former bass player. I felf really horny for Sami, but I got the brush-off from him. -One more good thing in this summer camp has been that we get along as a band better than ever. As you have been able to read, we don't speak much about things in Nightwish. So we have practised a bit also that. Few times has really exploded - first time in ten years. It's really welcome. Because from here you can't just leave home to sulk, or to sit to the bar. The nearest cafe is 15 km away.
-The last half a year has been more stressful than the former two years together. Few times I had a feeling that I wish I'd get to the tour to relax. What is your option about the yellow press now?
-In this thing also the meager harmony is better than a big fight. The part of media is a necessary evil. It's not wise to say anyone that you are a shitty magazine, I won't give you an interview, go away. If you do like that, they can for sure pay back. I'm rather just quiet and let it be. And besides, I believe in average readers and their thinking that they don't believe everything.
-And in some way I understand that the reporter gets to his/her job to write a story that sells. So it should be pretty interesting and a bit exaggerating. But I wan't to highlight that though I understand this kind of way of thinking, I don't accept it. For when the papers play with people private life, the play gets pretty hard. But of course the media isn't just bad thing, the part of advertising is big, own thoughts can be bringed out and so on.
But it seems you haven't gotten much change to talk about music for these papers.
-About that kind of things they aren't... They are interested about dirt and shit. Nothing else. That what annoys me most is that how careful and cynical I've become with some things. Now I think twice if I would go on the night terribly drunken to Lostari to fool around. Because on last year my face became familiar even to a normal people on the street. In some bar can happen anything. Even going to the grocery store is a bit different thing than before.
Can you usually be in peace?
-There isn't any real anxienty. But they know me everywhere. And it doesn't matter because 99% of come to talk are really friendly. Those who come to ask an autograph and ask how I'm doing. But I don't like it, when someone on the street starts to follow me and whispers something with his/her friends behind my back.
-But maybe after a couple of years I've learned to ignore this. It's pretty hard school we have went through.
But somewhere the line must be drawn.
-I'm really bad to say no, but I've decided that I've no reason to give an interview to these three questionable papers. Afternoon papers are ok. Because I'll get a reputation of a selfish person if I'll say that I won't give you an interview, because on the last time you hurt my feelings. Let's try now to get along.
-I like really much to talk about music and Nightwish, but if some paper for example want's to come to look my house to do a story about it, there's no need to come. Doesn't matter what paper asks.
You have lived in busses, airports and hotels for a couple of years, but now you are really building a house to Kitee. Is it important to stay in the sceneries of home?
-Home is an important thing in life. The band and my own life is now in a bit chaotic stage, so it feels good to know that one big thing is taken care of. By the Christmas I hope I'll be able to move to my own home. I drew it myself on the paper and one log house firm realizes the plan. Now the foundation has been laid.
That you build a house to Kitee seems to answer to the question if you've thought to move away from Finland.
-No, I really haven't. There will be build a house to Kitee and that's where I'll leave. I have long-term plans for Finland. I have never even thought to move away. I like really much to live on the countryside and especially in Kitee. Though I enjoy travelling and have all the time a terrible wanderlust, home is here. Luckily I see so many new countries and places for my work that the need to be going is partly satisfied with that.
You are one of the first Finnish musicians that have gotten here, at home to the teeth of the yellow press also because of the international success. Is this setting to a some kind of precedent? Do you feel that you have an obligation to be reached more than you'd like to?
-Absolutely. It's a continuation for that I have to give autographs and talk with people. One part of this job is also giving interviews for example. As you join a rock band you sign a deal that obliges to this kind of jobs.


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