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Tomi Koivusaari (Amorphis)

Interview with Tomi Koivusaari from Amorphis
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 10 April 2008, 5:28 AM

AMORPHIS have already announced two shows in Greece to support the very good Silent Waters album. Metal Temple thought it would be nice to ask the band some question and Tomi Koivusaari was kind to answer them. So, read what he has to say.

First of all congratulations on your two gold awards for Eclipse and Silent Waters. Did you expect this reaction from the Metal scene?

Thank you! Finland is Metal-country, previous albums had been close to gold limit, but never reached before. Of course it feels good to have gold from Finland finally after all these years. After all, it comes from the buying audience. But never could even imagine that when we started back in ?, those days metal was very marginal here.

Fans always asking whether you will return to the Death Metal sound that you had in your prime works. Can you clear this out for our readers?

I think in some way we have, as taking influences from our own past nowadays as well. But I really don’t see the point of trying to copy some album we have done when we were like 18 years old.. It is very important to us, to our motivation to keep going, to go forward, and not to stock to some level we had in a past. Or does death metal sound mean same that bad quality or what, I don’t know. We are standing still behind everything that we have done, we also play live stuff from every album we have made.

Expanding the above question do you think that a band should go for another name when there are severe sound changes?

No if they don’t want to, why should they? It’s clearly up to the band itself who created the band at the first place, so they decide it. Fans are very important to every band of course, but they have of course the right to choose what they are listening to. As being a band-member it is so big part of your life that you have to listen first yourself what you want to do. Anyway, I think it is fair to fans as well to make music with your heart 100% within, than trying to do something that some people are maybe expecting from you, and doing that only for the money and without any desire.  I also think that you cannot create anything own, new or interesting without giving yourself a chance to progress. When we for example released Tales From The Thousand Lakes back in those days, some people were thinking we are sellouts, it is funny nowadays that same people are asking why we have changed the sound from that. In our case, AMORPHIS name has anyway warned about some possible changes…

You have already performed live in Greece (I think 2 times); what are your memories from those gigs?

There are very good memories indeed, warm people, great audience, beautiful country, good weather, good gigs. Looking very much forward to come back, specially with this line-up, which will be the first time!

Where do you prefer to be; on-stage or in the studio and why?

TBoth are great, live-shows are in the end why we are playing music, but also it is very giving to being in studio to see how the songs are getting builded, when everyone is doing their part for it. On live you get immediate response from the audience. Good gig is better than any drug.

Ok, let’s go your latest album; it was released only one year after Eclipse; did you have tracks that did make it there and thus you got them on the new album?

On the Eclipse album we recorded every song we had and put them to that album. The songs in Silent Waters are all made after that. We had a very good vibe inside the band and were very inspirated, so we just realized soon after Eclipse that we have 11 new songs already made. So we booked the studio while we had couple months break from touring. I don’t remember any case on our career that we’d been using any leftover material on next album. Songs which doesn’t go to album, B-sides or bonus-tracks, are going to a trash can.

On this album there are some musical references to your prime works; did this happen intentionally?

In some way yes, when Tomi joined the band, he wanted us to play lot of old stuff on live as well, so of course it affected to us someway, because it was fun. But we were not planning this, it all happened very natural way, as always. Tomi have so much diverse and different variations in his voice, so it would be a sin not let him use it 100%.

What is your working process? Do you have in your mind how the album should sound prior to the songwriting process?

We are just doing new songs, and nobody have a clue what is it like. Normally at the point we are mixing the album, it is the first time that we are getting some idea how it will sound. There are always very different kind of songs comparing to others, but the main mood on album comes from the sound, the order of songs and the feelings of that period of life, when music is composed. Lyrics are also very important to make the album as a whole, but they are coming as well after the music is composed. That is one thing about I love in music, you cannot explain everything, and there is always somethings coming and going by accidental way.

So, this is the second album with Tomi Jousten on the vocals; things seem to work very good with him. How did you choose him as the new singer?

Things are great inside the band, actually it is first time in our history that we have same line-up on two albums, hopefully more in future of course. We had public searching of the new singer and we received couple hundreds of tapes, but we didn’t find the right guy from there. There is so many things you have think of searching new guy, not only his voice and charisma, but also his personality, as we have to spend months in same bus and so on. We almost gave up hope and were talking about doing instrumental album, when a good friend of mine told me to try his band’s singer. I was quite surprised of that kind of kindness. When Tomi first time came to rehearsing place we knew immediately that he is our guy. His voice and personality was exactly what we were looking for, and also he use to be fan of amorphis, having all the albums, so he knew what’s going on.

How did the fans react to this singer change?

When Pasi left the band, there was some talk like so that is the end then, but after people saw and heard him live, have heard almost only positive reactions from all fans. It is not normally very easy thing to change singer, but in our case things were going easy. Can’t see that happened with some other guy, but he just is in my opinion perfect to us.

When you are writing music do you think of the fans? I mean does the name AMORPHIS set restrains in you artistic freedom?

We are respecting fans in a way that we are doing stuff what in first place pleases ourselves, that way it can please somebody else as well. We are not thinking directly what people are thinking about it too much, cause we are not like some paid wedding-musicians, if you know what I mean. We are doing music which comes 100% from our heart, that way we know that we cannot betray our fans trust either. Of course it is impossible to please everyone, no matter what we would do.

You have planned a US tour? What are the differences between the European and the American fans?

I don’t see that much differences between fans nowadays, no matter where they are coming from. Some places have more fanatic audience, some more those who are more just listening music. Nice people everywhere.

There has been an increase in the vinyl album releases; how do you feel about it? Do you agree with the opinion that music sound way better on vinyl than on CDs? (personally I do)

Vinyls rule, they have better sound, not mention the covers. But nowadays unfortunately I mostly have time to listen music from iPod.

What are your thoughts on the current condition in the Metal scene with the significant decrease in album sales? Bands have turned towards to live concerts to make a living instead of working in the studio.

Well free downloading of music hurts most smaller bands, they will not get paid from their work, and that sucks. On other hand smallest bands might even get good promotion out of that. Huge bands are selling anyway millions of records. I don’t know if there is anything to do with that with doing more live concerts than working on studio, never thought of that. That might be true in some way, why to pay expensive studio costs, if people don’t want to pay for your music, but getting it from the net for free. I think listeners should support instead of ripping smaller bands to keep them alive.

Are there any thoughts of making a live recorded DVD?

Yes, we have planned that quite a time, hopefully we will shoot some live shows this year to make it finally happen.

When do you plan to return to the studio? Can you write music while on tour?

We already have some new material, and probably heading to studio end of this year. Nowadays it is quite easy to compose new stuff on tour, when everyone is having laptops with Protools and stuff  on bus. There is so much just waiting time on tour so it is great if you have at least something to do.

You have once again inspired by the Kalevala book; so do the lyrics come first and then the music or you try to write music that suite the stories from Kalevala?

Music comes always first, and after that Tomi is arranging lyrics to songs.

How difficult is to write the lyrics in English when Kalevala is in ancient Finnish (if I am not mistaken)

Well to us not too difficult, we use translators to do that job. It would be quite difficult, so we think it is better to give somebody who can do it as it should be. It is ancient finnish, you’re right, sometimes I understand better the english version than finnish.

I will leave the last words to you, in case you’d like to add something or say a few words to your fans in Greece and Metal Temple zine

Thanks for the interview Dimitris! See you on gigs, we are looking forward to come there after  many years!


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