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Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish)

Interview with Tuomas Holopainen from Nightwish
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 09 June 2008, 6:43 AM

This interview took place just before NIGHTWISH's final concert for this US tour leg. I had a really nice talk with Tuomas Holopainen about almost everything! This excellent interview could not happen if there wasn't the help of Amy Sciarretto from Roadrunner Records and the band's manager Ewo (thanks for the t-shirt!)

 I am from Greece so my first question is about your latest gig in Athens; how did it go?

Everything that could go wrong went wrong! But the fans and the people were really nice.

 Did you have problems with the sound? Because some fans complained about its poor quality.

We had the wrong equipment there was no schedule; we started with a time delay of 2 hours and then they came and ask to shorten our setlist. There was no backstage no food or drinks for anybody during the whole day. If you have to work all day like the technicians and you don't get al least a sandwich and this affects your mentality. I don't know what happened because these guys had organized shows before so I guess the just had a bad day. Fortunately the people were very nice even though they had to stand there all day.

 Ok, I think we can move on. How difficult was or still is for Anette to handle all this pressure from the fans and the media?

She is doing better day by day and I think she has really found her role when it comes to the live performances. She is really nailing it and having a lot of fun but she is very concerned and also a little bit scared about her privacy. She sometimes gets scared from people like for example when we are in a signing session some fans come to give her hug and she is kinda why are the doing this to me? So, this is what troubles her but if you think what she has gone through during the last year I say she had done great and I give an A+!

How difficult was the search for the new singer?

It was very long but relatively easy now that I look back at it. It took us about 14 months and two thousand demos…

You said easy?

(laughs) In a way it was easy. Every two weeks or so we gathered around a card box full of demos started listening to them. It was a lot of fun because there was a great variety.

 Did you get any strange singers?

A lot of them, I mean between the ages of 12 and 66! There were some cute efforts there. We managed to narrow the search to ten persons with whom we personally met. There were three very strong candidates and we picked Anette by voting. All the band members were in favor for here.

The idea to change the vocal style for NIGHTWISH was a decision that you have made prior to the auditioning sessions?

Yeah we had decided to change from the very beginning. Although we didn't know what we wanted to do exactly we were sure that we didn't want to try to find another Tarjia in the band. Because Tarjia was so good in her singing style that it would be blasphemy to try to imitate her. So, the idea was to find something different with the same amount of power and emotions in her voice.

So, did you have all the music ready before the addition of Anette in the band?

Yeah and it is kind of funny; because not only the music was ready but it was already recorded. So, we had everything done except from the female vocals and some orchestras.

 I bet this should be very difficult for Anette to get her voice in your music. Usually it is the other way around; the music is built around the singer's voice.

I know man and for the next album I am totally aware of her vocal style so it will be easier. But for Dark Passion Play I had prepared all the vocal lines, all the lyrics and the harmonies so when she came to the studio I told her exactly what to do and we did in about three weeks. She did an excellent job!

You had to cancel some US shows; what happened?

We canceled two shows in the beginning of the US leg and our stuff was left in Mexico due to a flight cancellation. So there was no way that we could do these two shows.

You have been on the road for a long time, how difficult was being on a heavy tour program?

The start has been infernally hard! We started in October and we did 115 shows and this show is the last one for the US. It really gets to you and now you can sense the atmosphere in the band and the entire crew. Although everybody is tired I think is also relaxed and already drunk! We are gonna have a party tonight! Even though this time period was lot of fun every one is happy that we are getting home.

You also booked John Two-Hawks for a couple of shows. How did you contact him?

It all started we Creek Mary's Blood that is about the massacre of the Native Americans. So I wanted to bring some live Indian music and chanting so I just googled native American musicians and the first link was about John Two-Hawks. So, I said him an e mail and he replied the next day! I then said him the lyrics of the song to see if he was interested in doing this and eventually he was. I think today will be the fourth time we are doing something together.

 You are really interested in Native Americans' history?

Yeah, maybe I was an Indian in a previous life…  I like their respect to nature and their understanding to the circle of life. Nowadays we have totally lost our connection to nature.

So, how important are the lyrics for you?

I would say fifty-fifty with the music. Lyrics are very important to me. Nowadays, many bands put a lot of effort to the music and then somebody just writes something for the lyrics. I want to tell stories and create images. Actually, I am dealing with the same subjects with many other bands like love, hate, dreams wishes but there are so many ways to do that. You know language and poetry are two of the most beautiful things in the world; I think in the lyrics you have to find a kind of cryptic way to say things. For example, I really hate the lyrics of Always by BON JOVI; for me it lyrically represents the ultimate crappie way to talk about love. It's a very good song but there are many way to talk about love and not just punch in the face with oh baby I will always love you

What comes first the music or the lyrics?

Actually, the theme of the song does come first and then I think about the music. What music fits better the story I wan to tell. So, the music comes always first and the lyrics very last.

 You did a new video clip for Islander; were you in any way involved in the making?

We had some ideas about it; I wanted to have a lighthouse, the sailor dragging a boat and then the director had the idea of making the boat float. Actually this was a really cool idea! I also wanted to have a camp fire and the band to play around it but again the director thought to do this the other way around and this also turned to be very good.

 I am wondering what is happening in Finland and the Metal scene is so strong?

I wish I had an answer for that. I think all the Scandinavian countries have strong Metal scenes. I think we have Metal in our blood; it comes naturally for us; like Hip Hop for the Americans or Reggae for the Jamaicans. I think that Scandinavian people are really honest in what they do and this is way they earn the fans respect.

Yeah I totally I agree with you. How did you decide to produce the new INDICA album?

I was asked! Simply as that (laughs) I knew this band from the start and I believe that INDICA are pretty underrated. During our Scandinavian tour they were supporting us and this is how we became friends.

 Are you interested into the producing albums for other bands?

Absolutely not; and this is why it took me a lot of time to decide to do this with INDICA. I am not interested in producing anything except from NIGHTWISH!

 In 2000 you participated in the semi finals of the Eurovision contest but you did not make it…

Thank god we didn't!

Have you ever been proposed to do it again?

Actually yes! One time after 2000 we were asked for a song but we said no way!


The Eurovision contest is kind of stupid; it's more like a political than a music contest. It's really fun to watch but… name just one artist that became big after winning the contest since ABBA I guess.

Do you have plans to make a live DVD?

We were thinking of ending this tour with a live DVD but then we decided that we wanted to have another album with Anette before that. So this will not happen before the release of our next album.

Now that you mentioned it, do you have any thoughts about the next album?

We have booked the studio for the spring of 2010. I have a lot of lyrics and ideas, one song but the thing is that I a person that cannot work while on tour. I want my solitude and peace to work for weeks and weeks.

What differences can we expect in the new album now that Anette is with the band?

I don't feel that there will be so many changes; I believe that it's wrong to think what the music will be like before actually write it. You need to let the mind flow and create the music that just feels right. The only thing that I have already decided is about the last NIGHTWISH album. It will be totally acoustic because this is where we started as a band.

When did you decide to change from acoustic to electric?

It took a few months only because there aren't many things that you can do with keyboards and acoustic instruments. It was just plain boring!

 Have you ever thought of making a full acoustic live show?

It's been asked so many times… maybe I don't have the courage to do a full acoustic show; for some songs like the Islander or even Nemo I can work. But there are so many elements in the music that I don't think we can pull it off.

My last question comes from a personal interest; I loved the vinyl edition of the latest NIGHTWISH album, so will you continue to release your music on vinyl?

Absolutely yes. It's a a totally new visual aspect for us. I have all our albums on vinyl even though I don't have a player to listen to them.

Not only they look better but they sound better!

Yeah people say so. I think I will buy one record player in the near future.

Thank you for your time please feel free to add anything here.

Well, I can take the opportunity to say I am sorry if we offended anybody in Greece with the last show that we did. Some bad things did happened and we got pissed off but not with the fans that were really great so I hope nobody was offended!


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