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Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis)

Interview with Tomi Joutsen from Amorphis
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 17 May 2011, 8:46 PM

The Finnish AMORPHIS are on the verge of releasing their new "The Beginning Of Times" album via Nuclear Blast Records. After performing in Norway and slightly ill, Tomi Joutsen, the band's vocalist, had the time to talk to Lior Stein regarding the new album, video and his perspective of the band and its progress. 

Hey Tomi, how are you doing?

Fine thanks man. Sadly I caught the flu.

I am sorry to hear that

We were in Norway doing shows last week and I caught the flu, yet I am not dead.

Are you currently home, back in Finland?

Yes, we came back to Finland.

When is the next show?

Next show is in the end of this month, in Austria I believe

First of all, before we start, I would like to wish you well.

Yeah, thank you, thank you.

So you guys are on the verge of another studio album called “The Beginning Of Times” and a new video for the single “You I Need”. Please tell me a bit about it like recording process and such.

We started working on this album last summer. We started with the recording of a demo tape in the end of the summer. Something like fifteen tracks with rough ideas. We rehearsed those tracks for some time. Last autumn we recorded the instruments prior to our European tour in Helsinki via the Sonic Pump studios. We had a few problems with some of the sketches so we had to leave out some ideas. Then we went on the European tour to only get back to the album's vocal recording in January this year. It took a couple of months to record it but we were really satisfied with the end result.

I have to say that I was a great CD, maybe not as "Skyforger", it is the same feel that you had for the last five or six years, very atmospheric.

I think that even if we might change our style a bit, the same atmosphere is still there. One of the major reasons is that we have the same band lineup. It has been six years since this current lineup started working.

With you as lead vocals?

Yeah. We have been taking a journey with this album. In the end of the journey we wanted to reach something different that we haven't done before. I think that this is a more of a challenging album and its long, almost more than a hour. Some of the songs are quite hard to listen on the first spin as you would have to listen to them a couple of times. We are really proud of this album and we are ready to present the tracks.

Do you think that you came up with this release faster than usual? You were quite busy these past few years with touring, DVD, the new compilation.

I don't know. We don't have any problems with composing in the band as we are six guys. Almost everyone knows how to compose music. This time it was Esa Holopainen and Niclas Etelavuori who were the composers of the album from the ground up. I think it is pretty frustrating playing in a band without no one who can compose and it would have been a horrible feeling. So the current situation implies of something.

So you can say that you accomplished quite a lot for this past year and half?

Yes. Some of the guys already have ideas in their heads of computers for the next album after "The Beginning Of Times". Not something full but close. We aim to keep this band active, we are very motivated and keep on performing in various places around the world.

What about taking a break from touring, composing and stuff like that? Maybe for other bands / projects that you and guys have?

I have two other bands. One is called SINISTHRA, where I am the vocalist, and CORPSE MOLESTER CULT where I am the guitarist. With the other bands we barely play shows, maybe three or four. Of course that AMORPHIS will always be number one. Here and there we have small breaks like a year off. I don't that that it is good for us to have a break because we are motivated and although that I have a family of my own, I can still do this for a living. I enjoy being in AMORPHIS and hope I will for many years to come. Of course everything can happen but this is what I am feeling at the moment.

Is the atmosphere of your Finnish folk themes, lyrics wise and music wise, present in this album?

The themes are the same as on the earlier album that were taken from the Kalevala book. This is another story that this time deals with a hero character of Vainamoinen. There are some small stories and poems from the original book that were inserted into the lyrics. The hero crosses through the entire story. This is just another tale. Musically, it is hard to say when you are playing in a band what is going to come next. But I think that this album might be heavier than the previous one maybe even more progressive than before.

Maybe rather more extreme than before?

Well, it is true that we have a lot of growls on the album and heavy guitar riffs but still we have more sensitive stuff more of the folkish kind. However, this album sounds as AMORPHIS sounds.

What particular songs did you enjoy working on?

My favorite song was number 12, "The Beginning Of Times", I think that I am really satisfied with the overall result and my singing on this track. It was really relaxing as the song itself. Also I like song number 8, "The Soothsayer", it was really different, more oriental progressive and a very dynamic song. I don't know if we would ever play it on stage but it is still one of my favorites.

What about the single of the album?

Yeah, I liked it. I wasn't my favorite but it was a good single. Of course, when you are trying to pick a single out of a CD, you have to know that this is what radio stations are going to air. I don't know what is going on outside Finland but here there is Heavy Metal in radio stations. So it was the easiest song to play. It is a catchy Heavy Metal song.

It really reminded me of "Sky Is Mine" from the earlier album.

Ohh really!! (Laughs) cool.

When is the new video coming up? Who is behind the production?

I don't remember the name of the guy that produced it but it was shooting in Germany. The video will be in this month. After this interview I will go watch it for the first time. I am really looking forward to it.

Do you think that since your arrival in 2006 the band’s music changed around you or it was the other way around?

When I came to the band, the songs for the "Eclipse" album were already ready. I think they made some demos with the old vocalist, Pasi Koskinen. When I joined I had some ideas for the songs and we started to rehearse the new songs. I wanted to see how it goes with my ideas. It has been great since then and I thank for the opportunity. I think something happened when I joined the band as the guys were more motivated. They had a really bad time back then and maybe, not just because of me of course, something changed. I was from a small city from small bands and it was great for me as I was full of energy and motivation. I think that I brought some more power and atmosphere.

For the band it is a difficult situation to lose a lead vocalist and thankfully that there are fans that are open minded for new beginnings. There were many times before where I saw bands lose their lead singers as it was here. Pasi has a lot of fans, he has a very unique voice and a great lyricist. Sometimes, when we play outside of Finland, people would like to see Pasi on the vocals but I keep on being myself. I really like the old AMORPHIS albums and it is very nice for me to play the classics live. Sometimes I wished I was in the audience.

Can you actually tell me where Amorphis is headed musically? Maybe into a slight Metalcorish image? Not that the new image is not good.

Well, that is true. We wanted to do something new. I think that calling it modern is not the right word for it. When it sounds modern is ok. All the guys listen to lots of music and we like the foreign bands that come to play here and we wanted to present something that has some reminders. I agree that there are new elements but not of the Metalcore kind as it if not our cup of tea. None of us likes Metalcore or Emocore music for sure and I truly don't know where those came from. The album still sounds like AMORPHIS and not crossover music.

I am really glad that the other guys, with their experiences, are very opened minded. We listen to new and old bands. We have a diverse taste in Rock / Metal music. However, we can produce an AMORPHIS kind of song whether acoustic or heavy.

Why this name as a title, "The Beginning Of Times"?

It was one of the ideas that we gave for the albums. Same goes for the artwork of the album. The title suited well. The hero Vainamoinen was the first man on the earth and there were other more beliefs and stories of how the world was created. The title is very simple. Brings some new images to your brain.

Thanks a lot Tomi for the interview. I hope you will feel well and I can't wait for the video.

Thanks. The video will be something else than before and imagery will be different.


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Edited 10 December 2022

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