Tarot Interview with Marco Hietala
Intro, interview, & live pics by Luxi
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!!
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.
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
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...
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
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.
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
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
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"
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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!!
Thank you very much, too. It was my pleasure to talk to both you and