Heart of Steel: Interviews

Tarot Interview with Marco Hietala

Intro, interview, &  live pics by Luxi

 

Finland's own longest running yet firmly ever-walking Heavy Metal dinosaurs Tarot, have reached their 6th major stop in a respectable long career that they have baptized by the noble name SUFFER OUR PLEASURES. It is also Tarot's first ever full-length album for their new label Spinefarm Records which hopefully will mean a whole new era for them in so many positive ways.

I decided to use my opportunity and called Marco, both luminary vocalist and bassist of Tarot, and arranged a meeting with him at a pub in the downtown of Hell(-sinki) and let the tape roll while we were chatting...

The following chat between he and I is mostly about Tarot's latest album, but since we had a plenty of time in our hands, we decided to stretch our topics under discussion to Nightwish and other matters.

Marco also used his opportunity in a respectable way and spoke out a very detailed way what he had on his mind in the mid of June 2003...

 

 

THE SIXTH ELEMENT: SUFFER OUR PLEASURES

Your new album has been out for some months here in Finland. In the week it was released, it went straight to the official Finnish album chart, reaching as high as #10. I assume that must have felt good for you and for the whole band?

Of course it felt really good for us to see our new album there - and even going straight to the position 10. To be honest with you, we didn't have any kind of expectations about this high position for our new album SUFFER OUR PLEASURES even if we somehow knew that it might go to the list, reaching probably positions between 20-40, but definitely not being in the 10th position right after the first week it came out. That surprised us all, I can tell you.

 

 

So, none of you in the band were  like "if our new album doesn't reach the TOP TEN charts, then we have either done a fuckin´ shitty album or Spinefarm Records hasn´t done their promotion for it well enough", he?!

He-heh... let´s just say that we of course had some expectations for this album as we knew that we have made our best album so far, but none of us really thought any kind of list charts or anything like that, how up or down it would go eventually. It is of course really damn cool and all that if people are really buying your albums, but it always depends on so many things as to how to get your albums out for as many people as possible. I know this in reference to past experiences in getting our albums circulated all around the world and it´s not easy at all. It doesn't  matter how great an album you do if you don´t have any proper distribution channels to get it around for people. It has happened to us many times before which is indeed kind of sad.

 

 

Has your new album been released in any other countries yet?

Not yet, but it should be released in some European countries next, I think.

 

 

And probably in Japan, too?

I don´t know for sure whether it will come in Japan any time soon... We, however, have gone through some conversations in that direction, but nothing is sure yet. What I know now for sure is that  at least one or  two known Japanese labels have turned our offer down to release it domestically over there. One of them was JVC ´coz they wanted to release our back catalogue entirely in Japan, but then Zero Corporation stepped into the same picture and got the rights to release our previous albums in that country. I guess some people at JVC are still a bit bitter at us ´coz they couldn't get this deal with us back in the day. But in all honestly there was really nothing we could do about it any more. If they want to sort of retaliate on us now for not getting the deal for our previous albums in the past, well, just fuck them!!

 

 

Talking about a Japanese label Zero Corporation a bit more next. When they eventually released your first two albums in Japan, do you have any clue how big (or small?) were the editions for them ´coz they still seem to be quite hard items to get these days?

Huh, I wish I knew. I really have no idea at all.  But as far as I can guess, I think each of our previous albums got an edition of 10.000, maybe...?! It´s pretty damn hard to remember any more... I think TO LIVE FOREVER was, however, the very album the Japanese liked the best. When we got our next album from that released over there, titled STIGMATA, it wasn't a well liked album amongst our Japanese fans for some reason.. For .ex. when they compared TO LIVE FOREVER to STIGMATA in the famous Burrn! Magazine, they gave it like 10 points less than the successful TO LIVE FOREVER album. Even our live album, TO LIVE AGAIN that has only been released in the Japanese territory, got more applauses than the STIGMATA album. The same thing was with our FOR GLORY OF NOTHING album there. It was also less successful there compared to our successor, TO LIVE FOREVER.  Maybe the timing wasn't right for us to release our kind of stuff over there ´coz other types of Heavy Metal music had already become popular in Japan and we didn´t want to follow any current trends at that time. We continued doing music that felt right for us back then.

But there´s no sense trying to please your Japanese fans only either, he-he...

He-he... there is no sense trying to please anybody else other than yourself first. Otherwise you are about to loose motivation and interest for the music you do.

 

I assume that a big ´thank you´ should probably be directed to Spinefarm Records for doing a very good promotional job for the new Tarot album  before the album came out; do you agree?

Yes, I definitely agree. Our new album has been released on September 1st by Universal in such countries as Canada, Holland, England, Germany, Sweden and in a few other countries as well, so everything looks good so far concerning that.

 

 

As far as I know, when Spinefarm licenses their own releases to some territories of the world, they kind of want to make sure their releases could be available in every damn store, so even if they could rush things for their own releases a little bit, they do it a very premeditated way...

I have understood it exactly the same way as you have. I think that is why they even had a release date available for our European release long before than I even became aware of it, so they are absolutely doing a great job for us. Cannot complain too much, tho.

 

 

How was it anyway to do this new album from start to finish; making songs, recording them, mixing them, etc. - all these tiny pieces together if we f.ex. take your previous album, FOR THE GLORY OF NOTHING in comparison with the new album of yours? Would you have guts to claim SUFFER... was even easier to do than FOR GLORY... well, let´s just say at least partly?

It was both in an equal measure, I guess. As for the previous album, FOR THE GLORY, what we had "in store" in advance was lots of ideas and rough song parts available before we even started working with it full-time. We had recorded some rough parts, like some drum machine tracks, full rough songs, etc. that were stored into some tapes at our rehearsal place. Other than that, we had lots of time on our side to think over carefully our song structures for the F.T.G.O.N. album compared to all that time we had while we were working with the songs for the S.O.P. album. For instance we went through a rehearsal session that lasted a whole month where we rehearsed our songs for the F.T.G.O.N. album. We only kept tiny breaks between these countless rehearsal sessions, having a beer or two every once in a while in order to ease up our tension a little bit while still keeping the main focus on the album. I can tell that we were just spending so much time working with the songs for it, so we had definitely got all that time on our side. There´s just no question about that. Sometimes even I remember when we trained the songs for the F.T.G.O.N. album and went out for a few beers, we may have come back to our rehearsal place and start jamming some Black Sabbath -stuff just for our own fun in order to reach a more relaxed level spiritually. And after we had jammed enough of our old favorite Sab -tunes, we may have gone to a bar again to drink some more beer. This was pretty much the way we were working for a month or so with the songs of the FOR GLORY... album. So when the time came to enter the studio to record the album, we already had ´almost´ the finished versions of the songs in our heads. And even working at the studio was an easy and relaxing experience for us, so our previous album was quite a painless album for us to record all in all.

With this new album, SUFFER OUR PLEASURES, it was pretty much other way around for us with tight studio schedules, etc. - touring with Nightwish being one of those reasons for stretching time-tables at the studio a little bit. If I remember correctly, I was touring with Nightwish ´til end of the September 2002. It was kind of exhausting to be on the road back then ´coz this tour with Nightwish was pretty damn hectic time for all of us with relatively tight schedules due to long flights and so on. After the tour I basically said to many of my friends that I wanted to spend some time with my family and so I did. I took a months break from everything, just enjoying a normal family life a bit and stuff. After this break, I guess it was in the end of the October 2002, we started working on songs for our next album and we were told that our recordings for this new album were supposed to start between January/February 2003. In other words, we had like 3 months to make songs for our next album. We luckily had some ideas for our songs, but it still felt like a big challenge for all of us. Also, the end of the October 2002 was actually the first time in a long while that we had all gathered together and started seriously to think about this forth-coming album with all four of us going through some of those ideas and what we had in store both for the actual music and lyrics. I have to say that for our luck we were pretty damn creative in the very beginning of the whole song writing process and after some hard practicing we noticed that we had already finished 4 or 5 songs within a relatively short period of time. That helped us a lot to get rid of some of the burden from our heavy shoulders because at some point each of us surely thought how were we ever going to get our songs together for the album during the time we had got in our hands? It was honestly a pretty tough time for us, but luckily, we kind of maximized our creativity during all these sessions and got lots of stuff out of our heads for this forth-coming album.

 

 

So you didn´t have any ´leftover material´ at all from any of the sessions of your previous album, FOR THE GLORY OF NOTHING, which you probably may have used for some of the songs on the SUFFER OUR PLEASURES album?

No, no, no... or wait a second. Actually we may have had some riffs or melody parts or some rough ideas for lyrics that even existed when we did the FOR THE GLORY... album. But nothing remarkable or totally finished anyway that we could have ripped straight, the way they probably were in some tapes, to some of our new stuff that was in the works at that time. I can reveal you that much that there surely is some bits in our new songs here and there that we may have come up with like 4-5 years ago already, tho. But most of the stuff that you have heard on this new album, was made during our rehearsal sessions between November 2002 and January 2003. As a tiny curiosity thing for our fans that would want to know, we did record a couple of new Tarot songs after the times FOR THE GLORY OF NOTHING has been released, but we never used them for anything ´coz we thought they didn't represent the direction of SUFFER OUR PLEASURES album well enough, so we simply abandoned them totally. Those two songs were kind of shitty songs anyway, so we let them go.

 

FROM THE UNKNOWN TO HELL (-SINKI)

When you moved from your ex-hometown Kuopio to our capital city Helsinki almost 10 years ago, it seemed like every band wanted to hire you as a session musician for their different projects and you actually participated in a few of them, too. I guess many came to ask favors from you at some pubs when you were hanging around with a bunch of your friends and basically having good time with them, correct?

Heh, some of them surely started from those kinds of situations, so I can at least partly agree with you. But overall all these ´projects´ that I have been involved with one way or the other, are pretty much professionally thought out and I haven't rushed into them just like that without thinking about ´consequences´, he-he!! I have even got paid for them, so they have all been done a professional way. Let's take for example Virtuocity. The original plan for it was that I was only supposed to sing some background vocals for a couple of songs on it. This was a deal I made with Spinefarm Records, but then Mr. Goodman, the main vocalist of this ambitious project band asked from me whether I would have been interested in doing all the lead vocals alone for a couple of songs ´coz he didn't have any vision how the vocals should be done for them. So I took the opportunity and sang the lead vocals for a couple of songs ("Eye for an Eye" and "Speed of Light" that were) on that Virtuocity album. It was a nice experience for me to do all in all.

 

 

Let´s talk about ´sharing a load´ (heh!) in the Tarot -camp a little bit next. As it has become very obvious during these past years, it is always you who is responsible for all the lyrics for Tarot since you are the vocalist in the band and therefore it is of course easier for you to take care of them alone?

Yes, indeed... I have to say that it is better this way ´coz I really don't need any middleman between my thoughts and my throat...

 

 

Now when you are not only a part of Tarot, but Nightwish as well, I guess you have been trying to make your band mates understand that it would be really cool if they took more care of the actual song writing process and shared this ´heavy load´ more with you?  

Yeah, I have been trying to make the other band mates of mine  realize that I cannot stretch myself too much in too many directions constantly. I have partly jokingly told them that since you guys are surely spending your time at our rehearsal place in Kuopio, please try to come up with those goddamn riffs, strange noises, etc. and try to record some of them into a hardware, tapes, whatsoever as long as you get something done out of your collective minds. Then that´s fuckin´ cool and I´m happy. And I have to say that it has worked for the guys ´coz SUFFER OUR PLEASURES is definitely more like an album done by all of us and not only some of us. It is a more democratic album than any of our previous albums, too as far the song structures on it are concerned.

 

How was the song writing thing shared between each of you on the FOR THE GLORY OF NOTHING album then? I guess it is easy to claim that it wasn't that democratic album after all?

You're right, it wasn't! We were definitely heading toward a more democratic direction on that album at that time if we draw a comparison between that particular album and our previous albums from that. The other guys´ involvement in composing songs has become stronger and stronger all the time which I find as a pretty damn important and cool thing for the band. In the past, it was basically me and ´Saku´, my big brother, who did most of the work for our previous albums. And when Janne was hired for the band as a permanent member, things started to become much easier for us ´coz he also had some great ideas for our songs. Janne brought many cool ideas especially to the STIGMATA album that he created by the abuse of his keyboards for it. He-heh... I remember when we took Janne into the band as our permanent keyboard player, many seemed to be afraid that Tarot´s sound would become lighter and less heavy back in the day. But we were thinking of him as a creator of some new in-depth atmospheres for our sound and not like he could lighten our sound the way it started to sound like Europe or something alike. Fuck, no way... ever!!

(*laughs*)

 

 

You mentioned previously that you started composing songs for SUFFER OUR PLEASURES around  the end of October -> in the beginning of November. Can you still remember what was the first i.e. the oldest song that you got completely finished for this new album?

Hmm... that´s a hard question. Let me see... Well, one day when we had already finished the day as a whole band by recording some things for SUFFER OUR PLEASURES, both me and Janne Tolsa, our keyboard player, decided to stay a bit longer at the studio when other guys left us and recorded the very first chords for one song called "Of Time and Dust". Then on the next day, Saku joined us and we recorded quite a few parts for the 1st song titled "I Rule" . And much to our own surprise, we noticed by the end of the evening that we had nearly a new, finished song in our hands as we had recorded all the guitars, bass, drums and even some of my vocal parts for it. Those two songs are probably the first songs we finished for the new album.

 

 

And can you even remember, what was the last song you finished for SUFFER OUR PLEASURES?

I'm not so sure, but before we entered the studio, I suppose we were probably rehearsing very intensively such songs as "Riders of the Last Day", "From the Shadows" and "Painless". Those we the last three songs we were working very hard with before going into the studio to record them. I remember us working with them a week or two before we were supposed to start our recordings. It was kind of tough every once in a while, I can tell you. Luckily we already had clear visions in your minds how the rough versions of these three songs would eventually turn out so we didn't have to panic a bit with them at all. As a single trivia detail for a song, "Rider of the Last Day", the chorus part for it was originally made like 4-5 years ago. It was originally, I mean when we did some parts for it back in the day, a pretty much slower song and we added some new things into the song during our latest rehearsal sessions for it and it actually turned out quite differently than we expected first.

 

 

Did you either consciously or unconsciously have this great master plan in your heads to make this album even  heavier and probably even a bit straighter album than what your predecessor was musically?

Hmm... even more harder questions from you, he-heh!! But you are right; in a way I had some kind of a vision coming out from my head that SUFFER OUR PLEASURES might be a bit heavier album than our previous album FOR THE GLORY OF NOTHING. But naturally we had to go through first what kind of songs we had done for the album. I mean, we kind of had to see the whole package of songs first and make some improvements right from there for the new album. I have to say that the first week was a really crucial point for us when we seriously started concentrating on the songs for S.O.P. Thank God we were inspired and devoted to this album at that time ´coz we did half of the songs within a week for the album and they even happened to sound all good to us. That left us some space to breath more freely and got us a good opportunity to concentrate on the rest of the songs for this up-coming album. All this time I was thinking that this particular album is going to be our heaviest and most powerful album yet. But I also have to point out that it really wasn't any kind of an obsession for us to make as heavy and ´brutal´ material as possible for SUFFER OUR PLEASURES. We just wanted to use our very best ideas we had got for it at that time and it just turned out to be our heaviest album eventually.

 

 

Excuse me by stating the following next, but in my opinion SUFFER OUR PLEASURES is also your darkest album thematically, having more of that darker vibe in it both musically and lyrically. If I'm allowed to be this curious, did you have some sort of a ´dark era´ in your life at some point after FOR THE GLORY OF NOTHING was released? I´m talking about that kind of period in your life when nothing seemed to work out for you; all days were rainy, grey, etc. - you know the feeling, don't you?

Well, yes... you have learnt somehow your lessons well again. My personal life was pretty much fucked-up at some point after we had recorded the very album off which you just mentioned about. The whole year after the F.T.G.O.N. album, was a really difficult year for me personally in so many different ways. Luckily it's been a long time from those days since I was struggling in my life, so it´s really hard to say whether that period of my life may still have had some kind of an effect or impact on me when we were working with the song structures. It possibly did have some impact on my writing style for the album, but I still would like to claim that SUFFER OUR PLEASURES turned out darker and heavier because it basically represents our normal attitudes that we have in us as individuals; those attitudes that have been stuck in us since the beginning, the way what we are, what we will be and what we have always been. Besides, it needs to be said, but we have always wanted our songs to be heavy, dark and beautiful... all that in a good measure, of course!! To create songs that could be catchy, memorable and have this tendency to ´hurt´ your feelings some way... and a positive way naturally!! So why to punish people with a feather-pillow if you have got a heavy battle mace in your hands in the first place...

(*laughs*)

 

 

Yeah, I know what you meant by that. It´s also been noticed that you haven´t included any ´ballad´ type of songs for SUFFER OUR PLEASURES...

Nope... and I honestly have to say that we didn't miss them for this album too much either. I have to admit that I did have a couple of alternatives in my pocket that were potentially ballad type of songs, but I never gave that serious shot for them, tho.

 

 

So, when you finally got all the songs done for this album, did it ever cross your mind one way or the other that SUFFER OUR PLEASURES might even be a bit ´too heavy´ for some Tarot -fans and probably one balled song on the album overall would have lightened and given some contrast to a relatively dark and heavy atmosphere in it?

Yes, we were talking about that inside the band a little bit, especially after we had recorded rough versions for them for some demos we made in advance for the album. When we went through the songs as a whole, we were like: "Oh gosh... this shit sounds damn fuckin´ HEAVY indeed...!!" But we were truly happy how the songs turned out for the album, just probably laughing ourselves a bit ´sadistically´ with twisted grins in our faces as we managed to record such a heavy sounding album after all by measuring it with Tarot´s own familiar standards. You see, if we are thinking the whole metal scene nowadays and how heavy, dark, evil, whatsoever! stuff some bands are doing these days, we certainly cannot compete against them in these particular factors by any means. But as a more ´traditional´ Heavy Metal band, I think we can be considered as s pretty damn heavy band, tho.

 

 

Also I´m a bit curious to know that how much, if any, your previous album FOR THE GLORY OF NOTHING was haunting somewhere there behind the background when you started thinking of the songs for SUFFER OUR PLEASURES. I mean, did were you afraid at all that your new stuff might be drastically different compared to the stuff on FOR THE GLORY?

No, we didn't bother to waste a thought for it at all. Otherwise, I also have to point out in the very same breath that it's been written in the history already that as we have had the same 4 guys in the band for so long, it's always going to sound Tarot, no matter how different songs we would try to do either intentionally or unintentionally. It's still Tarot as long as all the guys will stay in the band. Everyone's involvement for the Tarot -sound is important. We do have our own certain melodies and harmonies in our songs, how the songs have been built up, etc., so I'm pretty damn sure that everyone who has been listening to songs off from our albums earlier, will surely realize the songs as our songs without giving it even too much hard effort. We have some of our typical recipes for our songs that should tell you right away that it's us; it's Tarot once people get a chance to hear our songs. Also, my vocals are more or less quite a clear and strong trademark for Tarot's basic sound, so I guess people should at least recognize my vocals easily if nothing else when they hear our stuff.

Also, as far as your original question is concerned about being possibly afraid if our songs differ drastically from each other from one album to another album, I have to say that I'm that type of person who doesn't look behind too much when coming up with new stuff for the band. We basically do our album under those circumstances, terms and tools that we have got in our hands at that particular moment. That's definitely the right way for us to work with our material how we feel and live through certain periods of time and how they may influence or inspire us concerning our song writing and stuff, y´know? I bet none of us has ever been worried about whether we can do this or that thing musically even if it even might sound quite drastically different from the songs that may have had on our previous releases. As we were discussing a while ago about how both difficult and easy it is to make an album, I think it's always easier if you don't stress too much about how your new album should sound like. Don't look behind you with concerned thoughts and trying to obtain similar sound that your previous albums possibly had. One of the main reasons why SUFFER OUR PLEASURES was a pretty easy album to do for us, is the fact that we didn't set any kind of expectations or pressures for ourselves and basically wrote songs for it that felt good to us at that time. And that's the most optimal situation for us ´coz without setting the bar too high for yourself, you don't get a forced feeling to push your songs through a certain ´standard´ mould and are actually able to be stretch your ideas as much as you want if you know what I'm trying to say. Even if it's been 5 years from our previous album, I honestly have to say we don't sound that different on SUFFER OUR PLEASURES at all. The same basic Tarot -elements can be found from our new album that we already had on FOR THE GLORY... or STIGMATA or TO LIVE FOREVER albums. They are all there. I admit that our sound has been modernized a little bit, tho. Now we sound a bit like ´the new millennium Tarot´, he-he!!

 

 

As for the lyrics on SUFFER, could you say that you were inspired by totally different things for this album lyrically if we drew a comparison to Tarot´s previous album, FOR THE GLORY...?

Yeah, you could pretty much say so. The basis for doing them, have been changed pretty radically indeed.

 

 

You weren't that inspired by some sci-fi themes on this new album any longer as you might have been on your previous works...

Well, of course I still am inspired by sci-fi, but that sci-fi element may not be that superficial on SUFFER OUR PLEASURES. I need to tell you that I used to pay quite a lot attention to tell about those sci-fi themes as artistic way as possible in the past as I have always been a huge sci-fi fan, but nowadays I'm more like a storyteller with my lyrics. So in that sense those sci-fi themes are still there, but they are more like stories nowadays than ever before.

 

 

OF CONCEPT ALBUMS...

Has an idea about a certain concept album ever crossed your mind, having just one story line there that connects songs tightly together, let's say, the way like Ronnie James Dio has been doing his albums lately?

Good question. Of course this type of ideas for concept albums have paid a short visit in my mind, but I think if I'm ever going to come up with such a lyrical content to make it a concept album, a story for it should be really inspiring and interesting and there should be at least a good carrying story on an album so that I would be into it. Otherwise there's just no sense to start doing one if a story for an album is lame and uninteresting, full of mumbo-jumbo words that don't mean anything and should look and sound ´artistic´, whatsoever! to a listener. In my opinion Queensryche´s MINDCRIME album is a very good example of a relatively well-made concept album even if conceptually it also has its weak moments here and there as well. Some of the stories on that particular album are really good and inspiriting really, but some of them unfortunately fail to be that good in my opinion. Also one funny thing about that album is that even if the main story has been written well for it, the story progressing with the songs on it very nicely and effortlessly and all that, you don't necessarily have to read all the lyrics ´till the very end of the album as you are about to guess the whole story how it all ends eventually. It would be definitely cool idea to try it once in order to see how it would turn out eventually and kind of prove for myself at the same time as well how ambitious attempt it would be to do all in all.

 

I'm sure that if Tarot's lyrics would deal with dragons, rainbows, knights and such things as Ronnie James Dio wants to write his lyrics about, it necessarily wasn't that convincing...

No, I don´t think so either, he-he!! It would work for us as well as it does for him. I don't have anything against well-written fantasy stories either as Tolkien has always been one of my fave writers. I have read some of his books in the past and there is no question he's definitely a great writer.

 

Let´s have a word about your choices for cover songs next, tho. You just did a Genesis -cover song called "Mama" for your last single UNDEAD SON and before that you had a Jethro Tull -song, "Locomotive Breath" on your AS ONE single. Quite ´interesting´ choices if you ask from me... What actually made you to choose those two particular songs for your cover songs? Did you kind of think that there is not  much sense in making cover songs out of  classic and well-known Heavy Metal songs ("Smoke on the Water", "Long Live Rock´n Roll", "Paranoid", etc.) and stick to some of these ´ordinary´ and ´safe´ choices, but rather do a cover song from some non-metal song as it's a more challenging and interesting thing to do?

Yes, you are right. It is always a bit more interesting and challenging for even yourself if you choose to cover some song that has nothing to do with Heavy Metal and finally eventually see how it would sound like as a metal version. It would be actually so easy to do a cover version out of some immortal and evergreen Heavy Metal classic song.  It is always better if you look into some other music genres and try to do a cover tune from some particular non-metal song. Also, I need to state that none of us has ever been so-called ´straight´ Heavy Metal guys, listening only this type of music what we do, for instance. Everyone of us has had our own personal favorites from some other genres of music as well. Prog-Rock/Metal as its own single genre, is probably one of the most influential genre for us where we have found many of our favorite bands from, from the top of head bands like Jethro Tull, Yes and Genesis as good examples.

 

 

Whom or whose idea was it to include "Mama" for your UNDEAD SON single in the first place?

Actually it was me who was thinking that particular song first. I remember that we had already started to record some songs for this new album and  I just came up with this idea that it would be cool to try out Genesis´ "Mama" as a cover song for our up-coming single. I was telling the other guys about it that having some song for that single as sort of bonus that wouldn't be a part of the album, would be a cool idea to do. As you know, we have played lots of covers from such bands as Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Rainbow in our gigs. All the so-called ´hit numbers´ from these bands, so we left those ´obvious choices´ outside of the list on purpose ´coz we simply had played them more than enough during all these past years already. We thought it pretty much this way that what's exactly the point to do covers out of some metal songs if you already play in a metal band? Then you should probably try to make at least a heavier version out of some particular song or simply change a song structure for a chosen cover tune dramatically in order to make it sound at least a bit interesting both for yourself and for a listener. "Mama", that famous Genesis off which we decided to make a cover song for UNDEAD SON, was a good challenge for us because the original version of it is so different structure-wise if you compare the song to some structures of Heavy Metal/Rock songs how they have been built up differently. On the other hand I think "Mama" also has some really dark atmospheres in it, so it was really damn cool to add some heavier guitar and bass parts into it and made it sound almost like a real Heavy Metal song. I honestly think that we gave it a pretty nice and heavy treatment after all, he-he!! And I guess we managed to maintain the song's original, dark atmospherein our version which feels good to us, too.

 

 

Now when we are in the middle of talking about some cover songs, I happen to know that you have had a wide selection of cover songs from Priests, Sabs, Rainbows, Dios, etc. as a part of your live sets in the past and like you already said a bit earlier, you have jammed some songs from these old legendary Heavy Metal bands countless times during your own rehearsal sessions and so forth. I guess you could even make a whole tribute album out of those songs that you have played with Tarot either as encores for your crowd or just for your own fun. Has this type of thought possibly ever crossed your mind even occasionally?

Ha-ha-ha-ha... it would be a somewhat cool idea to record them on one CD some day, but it need s to be said that it is kind of a trendy thing nowadays for bands to have all these countless "tribute this, tribute that" -albums out. It's actually a very worn-out thing, so I don't think that we want to be a part of that current trend at all. Not any time soon, tho. If we did it like 10 years ago then it might have been a totally crazy thing to do and even might have worked out, but not these days any more, I'm afraid. Now I'm just thinking it also would be crazy to do it kind of into a ´tongue-in-cheek´ vein, using our own well-distinctive Finnish slang language called "Sawwoo" for it. Then it might even work out, even for us and mainly our Finnish fans for a very obvious reason.

 

As you know, we have quite a few Finnish metal cover bands that only concentrate on playing songs from some other metal bands. Like Sapattivuosi playing and singing Black Sabbath songs in Finnish and Mauron Maiden playing Iron Maiden. Sapattivuosi, for example, just got their debut album out a while ago, full of some Sabbath´s classic songs sun in Finnish. How do you like them?

At this point I need to confess that I haven't ever heard them so far, so unfortunately I don't have an opinion about them. But as far as some other opinions about them are concerned, I have heard only positive feedback from these guys and as some of these people happen to be good friends of mine. I need to believe they are quite a special band indeed and have managed to cover an album full of Sabbath songs with a good taste and all that. It's therefore quite a respectable thing if you even have some sort of an ambition and devotion to do it seriously and respect the old classics without raping them too drastically, I think.

 

 

The funny thing about Tarot is that your music connects many generations. Well, let´s take an example. When I was watching your record release party for this new album at the famous Tavastia Club here in Helsinki, I noticed that there was under 20-year-old fans in the audience as well as I saw people who had absolutely seen the best days of their life (over 50 and something, ha!), so I bet that must feel quite flattering for you?

He-he... it really does and I admit it that it's great that so many people from both younger and older generations actually dig our music and come to see us on our gigs. Besides it was Friday and it was our first gig for a relatively long time, so it really had its own special feeling to us. The audience was really supportive towards us during all that time when we were onstage and tried our best to entertain them. It was definitely a special event for us all in all.

 

 

I heard from someone today that there were about 600 people at Tavastia Club at that night, witnessing Tarot playing live the first time in a long time...

That's a really respectable amount of people at our gig in my opinion. But I also need to confess that we had a relatively long guest list there as well. I guess you can very well imagine how my mobile phone kept on ringing constantly as many of my friends, known and ´unknown´ asked from me whether I could still add her/his name to our guest list... plus one... or plus even two, he-he!!

 

 

As for some single details about your fans, can you still remember the oldest person that have come to you, grabbed from your jacket's sleeve and thanked you afterwards for a hell of a gig?

Hmm... let me recollect my thought a little bit... (*thinking*)

Well, can you at least remember where it specifically might have happened?

Yeah, it was in a town called Kajaani as far as I remember. This fellow was ´a regular visitor´ at this certain bar and I'm not that sure about his age, but I suppose his age was somewhere between 60 and 70. He came to talk to me after our gig at this particular bar and he told me how he was truly amazed by our gig. So was I by hearing such flattering words from this ol´ guy, I can tell, he-he!! Then I heard from the owners of the bar that this rock hero regularly pays a visit to this bar when they have arranged a night for a live Rock music as he is supposed to be a big Rock -fan or something. It's of course great that even this old guys respect that type of music and even our type of stuff we do.

 

 

As for your live line-up, I'm sure your crowd has noticed many times that you actually have a 5th member in the band, a guy who is known by his nick name "Tuple" by some of us. "Tuple" plays some keyboard parts and does some backing vocals on your gigs, so do you somehow consider him as Tarot´s "5th member" or does he simply belong to so-called group as "behind the scenes" -members?

He-he... hard questions continue!! Well, that's a really tough question ´coz its really hard to say do we consider him as the 5th permanent member of the band or is he just a guy who helps us out a little bit in a live situation. But I suppose he falls somewhere between these two alternatives...

But he doesn´t participate the song writing process of Tarot anyhow by giving ideas for your songs or anything alike?

No. he doesn't. As we are for ex. talking about some background vocal harmonies in our songs, they usually come from my head anyway. It's no denying that Tuple´s contribution to our live sound is however rather remarkable and visible as he throws some sample sounds into our songs here and there in a live situation and indeed does some strong back ground vocals as well. But back to your original question, I still haven't found the right word to name his position in the Tarot -organization whether he's our 5th member or just a live session musician, I cannot tell.

 

 

But since he isn't involved with your song writing thing as you said there already, then it would be drop him to the latter mentioned category based on that fact, I guess...?

Yes, like you stated yourself, he still might be closer to that specific category than being our 5th permanent member ´coz all we four of us do all the music and lyrics for Tarot. But however, it's really damn hard to define his position as a part of Tarot nowadays.

 

 

Having a word or two about playing live, what's possibly the biggest crowd you have ever played to and where did it happen?

Let me see... I bet we have to go back to the golden era of the ´80s ´coz I believe we played our most successful gigs back then. One of our gigs took place in my ex-home town Kuopio. Our gig was a part of some larger event at that time and we got opportunity to play an open air gig in the heart of Kuopio, at the market place of Kuopio and there was like 6000-7000 thousand people there at that time when we played this show for all of those individuals. There were even a great bunch of people on the roofs of some buildings, so it was really awesome to play to that big mass of people. Then we played at the same stage with Twisted Sister at some Rock festival here in the ´80s, so probably those two gig are the ones that are more memorable for me personally. However, I also need to remind that during the ´80s we didn't have too many bands with our caliber here in Finland that had done albums besides us, so I suppose people obviously considered Tarot quite an unique Heavy Metal band in Finland back in the day.

 

 

Even if you have been around since the beginning of the 80´s, under the Purgatory -moniker, tho, you haven't played many gigs outside of Finland... why's that?

No, unfortunately we haven't. I have played only in the Scandinavian countries thus far; two gigs in Denmark and two gigs in Sweden and that's all, I'm afraid. We did those gigs sometime in the beginning of the ´90s, probably around ´92-´93, but I cannot be too sure about the specific year. I guess it was on both sides of the times when we were doing our TO LIFE FOREVER album or had already done it. Probably we have just been a bit too lazy concerning gigging outside of Finland in the past, but hopefully that thing is about to change a little bit in the future.

 

 

Now when your new album has been released, do you have any intentions to tour for this album in the central Europe as well?

Of course we have our hopes high concerning this matter, but I still think it´s better to keep our feet firmly in the ground in order to avoid any bigger disappointments, he-he!!

 

 

Has your label manager Ewo been trying to kick your butts lately toward gigging in countries like Germany, Holland, Switzerland, France and so on...?

Of course we have discussed with him about it a little bit, but overall we just need to find suitable time-tables for each of us as for ex. I have my family, Nightwish, etc. and the rest of the guys have their own things going on with music related things as well as outside of music in general. It always depends on so many things whether it's even reasonable or possible at all to arrange some gigs for us in those countries. One of the really important things is at least a properly organized promotion for us ´coz otherwise there's simply no sense to go there if people generally don't know who you are and where you come from, y´know. So a so-called ´ground work´ needs to be done well before we can even think of doing gigs in some of those countries we have never been before. I think that's one of the main priorities for us ´coz it makes no sense if only a handful of people bothers to come to see our show. A well-made promotion is surely one of those things that enables to get us on tour for sure. Also I honestly have to say that we are quite an experienced band gigging-wise that we simply don't want to rush into any that kind of tours where 2 or even 3 bands share the same tour bus and you have got like 30 glorious minutes per night to play your songs onstage and are even possibly entitled to have your breakfasts, lunchs and possibly even a couple of free beers from someone's else pocket in every new place you go and that's all. Touring like that 4-5 weeks in a row would be out of question for us these days as I know that some of us would certainly burn their sleeves in some part of that type of tour when you necessarily don't get paid for anything and are spending money from your own pockets to get some food for yourself. We have seen that type of tour life more than enough already when we have been touring all around in Finland in the past, so we will need a bit better circumstances than that in order to hit on road once again. And we are all very reasonable people; we don't want to suck you dry, hah-hah...!

On the other hand, shorter tours for us would be much easier for us to arrange, like being on the road for 2-3 weeks maximum, like doing a warm-up for some bigger and more established band. That would work more painlessly for us, I think.

 

 

I remember both you and your brother ´Saku´ going to Japan together doing promotion for the STIGMATA album 8 years ago. You also played an acoustic set there for some Japanese TV-channel if I haven't got the wrong information...?

Yes, we indeed played one acoustic set with my brother for a local Japanese TV-channel that was arranged by a true Japanese Heavy Metal ´guru´ Masaito for us. We played a couple of songs acoustically and were honestly kind of nervous and pre-occupied how it would turn out for us. But it went just great, I think. Originally we were thinking to play acoustically that Jethro Tull song "Locomotive Breath" in our debut Japanese TV-gig, but then we skipped the idea ´coz it's not our song.

 

 

Have you gotten any other invitations from Japan for SUFFER OUR PLEASURES that they would want you to travel over there to promote your new album for a local media?

Nope, we haven't yet ´coz we are in the middle of negotiating a license deal for SUFFER OUR PLEASURES for a Japanese release. That's why our hands are pretty much tied concerning this, but let's just hope that we could get out new album eventually licensed to the Japanese music markets. We'll see...

 

 

I bet Spinefarm Records has sent a bunch of promos from this new album to some important Japanese media people, people in the music business and so forth...

Yes, I think so.

 

 

Have you already been able to see some reviews of SUFFER OUR PLEASURES at some local magazines?

Nope, I haven´t yet, but I guess I will probably see some of them sooner or later for sure.

 

MARCO HIETALA - A HARD WORKING FELLOW

I noticed some time ago already that there is a band named Evemaster that plays some sort of "Dark Metal" with lots of keyboard elements in their sound and all that - and they released their 3rd full-length album titled WITHER through a domestic LOW FREQUENCY RECORDS.  They had done a cover version of the Tarot ´hit song´ called "Wings of Darkness". You also did some lead vocals for that particular version, so what's the actual story behind their version of that legendary Tarot song there?

Well, Evemaster´s guitarist Tomi just phoned me and asked my permission whether it would be ok for me if they made a cover version out of the song for their forth-coming album. I simply said to him that I don't have anything against it, just go ahead and make your best you can with it. Then during the same phone call he mentioned like: "By the way, Jaska Raatikainen from Children of Bodom, is doing drums for our next album? As far as I know, you know the guys quite well already? You would mind for doing some vocal parts for your own song then...?". I was like: "Uh... well... actually I could if you paid my travel costs to the studio and I got some money for a few beers and stuff like that...". Then the other day I noticed that I was sitting in a train and heading my way to Astia Studio and the rest is basically history.

 

 

So, how do you feel about the final version now when you have assumable heard it yourself, too? It is ´quite´ different when drawing a comparison to the original version isn't it?

Yeah, it is. In my opinion the guys did it a good version out of the song by spicing it with some growling vocal parts, inverted some riffs to sound more straight and on the top of that I found a more ´dramatized´ version for this certain guitar solo in it rather hilarious indeed.

 

 

You also visited to Emppu´s (Nightwish) solo band called Altaria and did some vocal parts for their INVITATION album?

Yes, I did some backing vocals for that album and spent one day at the studio and did some vocal parts for it during one session. There also visited a bunch of other people at the studio to record background vocals to some of their songs on INVITATION. So it was like a real ´invitation´ for many of us who were involved with it in one way or another, he-he...!!

 

 

TAROT VERSUS NIGHTWISH

Then I need to ask something about your relationship between both Tarot and Nightwish as you a permanent member in both bands nowadays. A rough reality should be faced, is it so that when Nightwish starts touring, there's no other alternative available for Tarot, but put the band ´on hold´?

Unfortunately that's how it is in reality even if I personally don't do any kind of, let's say, ranking order between these two bands myself or anything like that whether one of these bands is more important to me than the other. I simply don't do that, but both bands are on the same label nowadays; we have the very same booking agents for the gigs and so on - and when it comes to gigs, Nightwish is clearly that band out of these two bands that actually earns some money both for the band and for our booking agency. So there is no debate over which of these bands can actually make some profit for a bunch of people, this including both band members and our partners around us.

As for Tarot, I actually consider our latest album SUFFER OUR PLEASURES as a new start for the band after 5 years break. We'll see how this album will do amongst the metal crowd eventually as this is our Spinefarm debut and we know that we are in better hands than we have been for many years. Along with our new deal with Spinefarm, I honestly believe that we even might gain something for the band that we have never managed to gain for Tarot before. But like I said already, only time will tell...

Anyway, I'm glad for the fact that I don't have to put these bands in order for myself at this point of life. Nightwish is definitely the much bigger and popular band out of the two in every possible way and all those people from the music business, surely take care of these kind of things for me if we roughly, but still purely talk about selling these two bands for gigs.  It's really damn rare for many bands that some of them actually spend a year or even longer, touring the world. As I have been on tour with Nightwish on these relatively extensive tours, it's always great to come back to home and probably start spending time without doing a single gig for a month or two. These breaks naturally allow you to look around a little bit, leaving you a good opportunity to sharpen your pen for both song - and lyric writing. During these breaks you have a chance to plan the most ideal gig schedules for both of your bands at least a little bit, etc. and basically things like that.

 

 

When Tuomas from Nightwish asked you to join the band as a permanent member, did you have to think your decision over night or even longer?

As a matter of speaking, I honestly have to say that I made my decision rather quickly about joining them as a permanent member. However, I asked Tuomas to give me a couple of weeks ´coz this will probably be one of the biggest decisions I will ever do in my life. I also have to say that I really didn't know much about being on road for like a couple of months in a row, traveling around the world from one country to another country. I had already done 5 weeks with Sinergy in Europe, so I already had a clue about how joining Nightwish would change some routines in my life for good. Touring with Sinergy opened my eyes a little bit more to what it would be like being on tour for a long time and doing gigs for bigger crowds. This tour with Sinergy was a really pro-thing from start to finish, so that gave me a good reason to believe it would be very much the same with Nightwish as well. Tarot actually played with Nightwish for the first time when they just got out their debut album titled ANGELS FALL FIRST. That happened in a very small town called Siilinjärvi which is located in Central Finland. We were the headlining act at that time and Nightwish opened for us. If that had been my last contact to them, then I most probably would have turned Tuomas´ offer down. It also was the first time that I saw them onstage and they didn't impress me a bit by their stage presence which seemed to be ripped straight from some slow-motion movie. Tarja standing in the middle of the stage in her leather pants and looking a poor loner, Tuomas standing miserable-looking behind the keyboards and hardly making any moves at all and the whole band almost standing still during their whole set, he-heh!! But since I did this tour with them in Central Europe last time and realized how professional both the band as well as the whole tour organization was behind Nightwish, it was actually that thing that basically made me to accept Tuomas´ proposal to be as a member of the Nightwish -camp. Other than that, I also got an opportunity to hear some new stuff from them and I really liked all that what I heard. At first the only thing that made me a bit concerned, was their music as it was so different from what I had been doing with Tarot during all these past, last years.

 

 

What kinds of elements in their music were particularly unfamiliar to you first then?

I have always been digging very powerful, heavy and very masculine sounding Heavy Rock/Metal in general and in Nightwish I faced these certain kinds of romantic and even kind of ´heroic´ elements that are supposedly originally rooted from the Teutonic ground musically and that's something I have been trying to avoid a bit even on purpose. However, luckily Tuomas told me in a very detailed way about his principles what kind of stuff he had been doing for Nightwish and what kinds of ideas he had in store for the forth-coming Nightwish stuff. And that's what gave me a true spark to join them as a full-time member. At that time Nightwish was heading toward a heavier, more guitar - and bass orientated sound, so it was rather easy for me to say "yes" for all that Tuomas had suggested me earlier.

 

 

And what even made Nightwish´s sound even heavier on their latest effort, CENTURY CHILD, was to split vocals between Tarja and you. Hearing the 5th song off from that album, "Slaying the Dreamer" for the very 1st time, I hardly believed it was a Nightwish song at all!! Damn, that was one heavy fucker indeed...!!

He-he-heh... That song was honestly very fun to do as a matter of speaking. It was sort of my debut for them to sing in that particular Nightwish song. I admit that it's actually one of my personal favorites on CENTURY CHILD due to its very heavy moments at least by Nightwish´s standards.

 

 

Now I need to ask from you if you don´t mind, we all know that Tuomas is the ultimate leader of Nightwish; he has done all the music and lyrics for Nightwish´s previous works thus far and obviously he´ll be both the main song -and lyric writer for Nightwish in the future.  I believe that Tuomas is still a very democratic dude. If anyone of you has some cool ideas he/she would like to contribute in Nightwish either music - or lyric-wise, Tuomas just isn´t that type of dude that automatically turns those ideas down right away unless they are really bad and simply don´t fit to the Nightwish -concept either musically or lyrically. So, is it so that each of you however, has got a pair of free hands to present your ideas to him, but he'll surely tell you honestly after hearing them first, of course whether some of those ideas might be useful for the band or not?

Of course... it's only natural that he's the ultimate boss of Nightwish and surely will be all that as long as Nightwish exists. I have had no troubles to accept him as the leader of Nightwish ´coz that's what he truly is. There's no denying it a bit. It is also quite relieved ideal situation for me to be sort of a ´rank-and-file´ member in the band only, let's just say, for a change. Anyway, I have been discussing with Tuomas quite a bit about these things earlier and he has nothing against the fact if other members want to bring their own ideas to our rehearsals. Of course Tuomas wants to keep this certain focus on the band both musically and lyrically, so it's definitely him that eventually will be the judge as far as other's ideas for Nightwish are concerned. It's still a fair game that we all are playing in Nightwish. Every game should have a fair and democratic judge and we have that in Nightwish as well.

 

 

Do you believe that your voice will be heard more and more on the forth-coming Nighwish albums, let's say roughly that Tarja would do a half of all vocal parts for the up-coming Nightwish stuff in the future and you would do the other half?

Well, this is quite an impossible question to answer right now, but my fair guess is that it most probably is going to be pretty much in the same way as it was with CENTURY CHILD, Tarja doing most of the lead vocals ´coz her voice is a major part of Nightwish´s trademark sound anyway, so I think I'll continue doing just some both lead - and background vocal parts for some up-coming songs. So supposedly there won't be any drastic changes in sight as far as sharing vocals together with Tarja are concerned. That's just my honest guess, tho. Tarja is without a doubt both the true face and voice of this band and I strongly believe that 80-90% from all the success and fame that Nightwish has been achieving for themselves from the fans during these past years, has been based on Tarja´s voice and her magnetic personality as a great singer and splendid appearance in a live situation. Without her absolutely unique voice and face Nightwish hardly would have achieved all that they have been achieving for themselves as a band, I guess. That's why it's only fair for her that she will stay as a lead character of the band and will do most of the lead vocals for the up-coming Nightwish songs in the future, too.

 

I just printed out tour info of Nightwish today and to me it seems like you are going to have some cool and crazy time with them from this summer forward ´til the end of the September 2003 as many of your dates have been sold out in advance already.

I know it looks even worse than it's going to be in reality. Most of these gigs will be done during weekends even if there's also this ´mini-tour´ to do for us where we will be a headlining act at ProgPowr Festival in the States 5th of September. From there we have one date in Montreal, Canada which will be the next day from that 6th of September and then we will travel back to the U.S.A. and play at L´Amour in New York 7th of September from there again we will travel to Mexico and do one gig at a place named Circo Volador in Mexico City which is going to be a sold-out show. But as I said, most of these gigs will be done during weekends, so we will always travel back to home after have played these weekend dates. Therefore our tour schedule doesn't scare me a bit; it actually looks very cool to me.

 

 

By the way, what's up with Virtuocity nowadays? Are those guys still being active and recording some new stuff?

Now I honestly have to confess that I have no idea. We have had some talks about the 2nd album, but now I have come to this conclusion that if Jaron, the guitarist and creator of this project, ends up making another album, then the line-up will be pretty much same on it, too, possibly Mr. Goodman and me splitting the vocals for it again. But it's a little too early to talk about that now ´coz I'm not that informed about the second Virtuocity album yet. Besides now it will all depend on my other activities with both Nightwish and Tarot. I don't want to feel over-worked ´coz it's a good way to kill your motivation and burning creativity in this business, so I'll just have to see if I'm going to find the time to do some vocal parts for him again. At the time when I did my vocals for the first Virtuocity album, the situation was much different to me as I had lots of time in my hands for many type of things. Nowadays both Tarot and especially Nightwish have kept me busy in many different ways. Also, I have my own family with a wife and kids to take care of and what's also important I'd better to take care of my head as well in order to not feel that stressed and exhausted while working with all these bands.

 

 

Back to Tarot again, tho. Have you ever thought that if all the members from Tarot would have moved from your ex-home town to Helsinki many years ago you would have had a better change to hit it big with Tarot much earlier? As raw and cold as it may sound , all the most professional people behind the scenes of music business, mostly are located here in Helsinki? I guess you have been pondering the same question together in the band countless of times already, am I correct?

Yes, unfortunately you are and after wisdom is always the most stupid wisdom if I could put it this way, he-he...!! I think all of us in Tarot have always been so pig-headed traveler of our own way and have believed in the next day through all these years that if we won't raise waves by our choices by doing things this or that way, so be it. That can be heard from our music and seen basically from everything we have done thus far. And what's the most hilarious thing really, if I had never moved out from Kuopio to Helsinki about 10 years ago, I bet I would have never gone this far in my musical career as I've been doing during the past few years or so. Let's be honest... If I hadn't ever moved away from my ex-home town Kuopio to Helsinki in the beginning of the ´90s, I would hardly have had these opportunities with either Nightwish or Tarot, for instance. That's the cold reality, I guess. On the other hand, a bit ironically I also feel an urgent need to spit it out now that if we are thinking locations of each member in both of the aforementioned bands as most of us are living outside of Helsinki anyway, I'm just thinking what the hell actually keeps me in Helsinki? Everything is so expensive here; I could live somewhere else as well... hell I could!

 

 

Now as most of us should be already aware of your membership in Nightwish, do you think that your involvement in Nightwish has helped to get Tarot´s name around a bit more and actually more and more people have wanted to check out Tarot based on their own curiosity?

Hmm... hard to tell yet. It's of course possible, but according to the hits by visitors in our official homepage (http://www.wingsofdarkness.net ) and messages they have left to our message board, most of them have known us for years, obviously knowing and digging us since our first releases, so in that sense I could say ´no´ to your original question. But it's also even possible that some Nightwish -fans that have liked what I did on the latest Nightwish album, have also become curios about Tarot and how they are musically and whatnot. That's of course very nice and all that. Both bands definitely do their own brand of Heavy Metal, sounding completely different from each other, so hopefully some fans start digging us and find our sound appealing and interesting via Nightwish and why not, even vice versa. That would be kind of an ideal situation for us, I think. I'm just hoping that surfing from one band to another band could have some certain positive impact amongst fans, probably bringing more fans to dig both of the bands and so forth.

 

 

Then just a couple of words about re-issues of the Tarot albums. Since your first three albums seem to be so hard items to get nowadays, there has been some talk about getting them all out through a small Finnish label called Bluelight Records due to a huge amount of requests toward them. What's the situation with them right at the very moment? Please enlighten me...

Sure... Mika Myyryläinen, the owner of the label, released that Tarot double collection-CD in February 2003 already, so basically all those people who haven´t heard our music before that collection definitely provides a very good opportunity to check out our earlier material for the beginners that we did particularly on our 1st three albums. Now I guess we just have to wait and see for a while how people are interested in buying our new album ´coz that's the only way for us to find out whether there's still some interest toward Tarot nowadays. If your albums don't sell, then there's simply no reason to re-release your old stuff at all. It's actually as simple and raw as that. Personally I'd like to see them re-released some day again. We have come along with Mika very well through all these past years and I feel some sort of loyalty toward him ´coz he was the one who signed us at that time when our style of a heavier music was kind of ´out-of-fashion´ here in Finland for a while meanwhile when different musical trends were raising their ugly heads back in the day and bigger Finnish record companies seemed to turn their backs to us and signed all kinds of other (crappy) bands instead. I remember when we were recording some demos for TO LIVE FOREVER album in 1993. We sent some demos of those songs on that particular album to some more known and established Finnish record labels, but no one seemed to be interested in signing us back then. It was really frustrating time for us ´coz some of them even didn't bother to listen to our type of a heavier stuff at that time.

 

 

How did your deal with Spinefarm happen in the first place then?

It's an old story... really. It originates from the times when we had already done our 5th album, FOR THE GLORY OF NOTHING, and every time I have seen Ewo, Spinefarm´s label manager, mainly at some pubs and bars, he always suggested to me what if they would sign Tarot as their next new artist. I remember always saying to him many different times something like: "Well, give me a call tomorrow and we can talk about it a bit more...". This type of situation basically lasted a few years between two of us due to a number of different reasons (Sinergy, Nightwish, etc. amongst others...) until we finally decided to sign Tarot with them after things were settled down for me a little bit.

 

 

Was Spinefarm the only label that was interested in signing you or were there possibly some other labels there as well that made some serious offers to Tarot at that time?

No, Spinefarm was the only potential label that was seriously interested in signing us. On the other hand, I guess we would have eventually signed with Spinefarm ´coz I already knew the staff there via my other activities in some other bands like Sinergy and Nightwish. So it was quite easy and even natural to make a deal with them instead of possibly some other label. Of course we could seriously have started to promote our band to some other and possibly some bigger labels outside of Finland as well, but signing a deal with a domestic label is always safer and much easier than making a deal with some label where probably all people are completely unknown to you and communicating with them might be hard on daily basis. It's always much cooler in my opinion if you even share the same language and are able to talk to them daily, so naturally also trust between both parties should be on a firmer ground. I personally have never been keen on signing a deal for major labels because you most probably would be just ´one band from Finland´ amongst hundreds of other bands under their roof, being like a little fish in the middle of a vast ocean, metaphorically speaking. There is always a bigger risk to get ripped off totally by signing multi-album deals, so I rather stick to those people that I know well so that I could to give all my trust to them and count on whatever they could do for the band.

 

 

For how many albums do you have a deal with Spinefarm Records?

We just did a deal for this album only. We just thought in the band that let's do this album first for them, but let's try to do as good album as possible and if everything goes well, then nothing stops us to continue doing our next album for them as well. But of course it depends on the selling of our album, too. If it won't sell well enough, they naturally have every right to not continue our deal with us any further. It's really up to them as well. However, I'm sure everything between them and us will happen in a good understanding as there is definitely 100% trust between the band and the label.

 

 

As the fact goes, there´s a 5-year span from your previous album FOR THE GLORY OF NOTHING to this new album SUFFER OUR PLEASURES. I assume we won't have to wait the next Tarot album until 2008, he-he...?

Ha-hah... not necessarily!! I have been trying to keep some of my focus on the next album  in order to get it out much earlier than in 2008. Luckily we all have some equipment at our homes for demo recordings and stuff, so we are able to record our ideas for tapes ´coz we unfortunately cannot rehearse together every weekend due to our distances. So it really doesn't matter even if the rest of the guys live in Kuopio and I live here in Helsinki. A rather long distance isn't any restrictive thing between us after all ´coz you can also be creative by using all that modern technology that you have got in your hands. The most time-consuming thing for me has always been to find time for making lyrics. That's a real ´pain-in-the-ass´ thing from time to time, I can tell. Nevertheless, I have luckily succeeded in doing them all in time, tho.

 

 

I guess it is quite hard, even impossible to do them when you are on the road because you are so deeply stuck with that touring life. Is that correct?

Unfortunately yes, at least partly ´coz I may get momentary inspirations for doing them every now and then, so I always try to stick to that opportunity as much as is possible on the whole. This kind of situation happens to me most often when I travel with bands from one place to another place either by bus or plane. I'm always trying to keep both pen and a pocket calendar available near by me ´coz when I get inspired by these sudden perceptions, I don't want to loose them, but try to write them down onto my tiny calendar. Most often those ideas are the ones that give me that missing red line for some of my stories in lyrics. It's really spontaneous for me all the time ´coz you just never know when you get inspired by some cool ideas. And when you get inspired by something, I have always had this natural need to write them down possibly for a further use. I simply just cannot sit down and force myself for a lyric writing ´coz it doesn't work for me that way at all. I need to get inspired by some ideas first in order to get some decent written down. I'm afraid that there's just no other way for me to do them and I really cannot ´fake´ my lyrics for myself either by trying to convince for myself these lyrics are good enough for this or that song even if they could be crappy from the beginning to the end. That's why I have learnt to use those momentary inspirations for some sort of documenting. It helps...

 

 

Ok, I guess I let you go now ´coz this was chat between us turned out ´a bit´ longer than I originally planned. So thank you Marco (* a friendly handshake *) for your time and try to keep your voice ´clean and healthy´, he-he!!

(*laughs*)

Thank you very much, too. It was my pleasure to talk to both you and Metal-Rules.com!!


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