Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Tuomas Holopainen

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Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
Pictures by Luxi Lahtinen
(+press photos from Spinefarm Records)

Nightwish´s 4th full-length album titled CENTURY CHILD has reached over 300,000 copies worldwide sales thus far.  Obviously many more albums will be sold, as it should be finally out officially in the United States by now.

I got an opportunity to talk to Tuomas Holopainen in March 2002 about the band´s forthcoming album, and many other things. Lady Fortune seemed to be heavily against me for some obscure reason, because the tape where I got the whole chat with Tuomas recorded, simply disappeared from my sight for many months until I found it by accident. Most of the info in the chat that was between me and Tuomas (and partly with some unexpected guests), is already badly out-dated. Then again, it´s Nightwish, and we do have many regular readers in Metal-Rules.com who are true fans of them and are eager to find out what kind of process it was for the band to get the whole album done. So, call it "reminiscence on the past" or whatever really, but here´s the whole chat in its absolutely uncensored length, and it´s full of interesting points and views spit out exclusively by the true heart, brain and soul of these ´Opera metallers´ Nightwish´, Tuomas Holopainen. Keep on reading as Tuomas enlightens us about being in the burning point of the band, gold/platinum albums, the future´s side projects (For My Pain, Sethian, etc.) and so on. Now, enter Tuomas…

The making of CENTURY CHILD

You guys started recordings for your new album at Finnvox where you actually only recorded the drums for the CENTURY CHILD first; then you continued your recordings in Kitee where you are originally from. After those sessions you returned back to Finnvox where you finished the vocals for the album and as far as I have understand, you are also a half way through the mixing process with Mikko Karmila. Does that sound correct Tuomas?

Yeah, you´re right. We still need to finish the mixing for it, and I guess we´ll get it all done by the end of the week. Like you just said, we are a half way through it already.



You also recorded your previous album titled WISHMASTER here in Finland as well. The recordings were done at Caverock Studios and the mixing and mastering were finished at Finnvox again. Did you ever considered recording this new album somewhere else than here in Finland?

To be honest with you, we thought of it less than ten minutes, and then all agreed to record it here again. We just thought that why should we risk anything, cause we do have some great recording studios here in Finland and we are already familiar with them and have found them as very good studios to record your albums there. We kind of wanted to keep everything in our own control and felt totally comfortable to record CENTURY CHILD here in Finland again.



So there was noboby that suggested you record your next album with a different producer?

nightwish-pic2.jpg (18027 bytes)No, that alternative wasn´t even taken into consideration at all, cause in my opinion, we do have some of the best, most talented and skilled producers and most professional studios in the whole world, so why go outside to catch a fish cause there´s a plenty of them behind your own corner. Actually I can throw you a concrete example what happened to us when we tried to record outside of Finland. If you remember, we had a song called “ Sleeping Sun “ that was our nominee for the Finnish qualification for the Eurovision Song Contest (Nightwish cleared the first round of the qualification, but the final position was second despite an overwhelming win in the public televoting - ed. note!!) - and which we recorded in London, this unnamed ´mega-producer´ taking care of the production for it and so on. Unfortunately the production for it was kind of ´so-so´ and in my opinion it´s the worst sounding Nightwish -song we have ever done! Therefore we will be counting on both Mikko Karmila and Mika Jussila in the future, too, cause the guys seem to have the best understanding for all that kind of sound we are after for our albums. I think recording studios are pretty much equal these days, so the production in the very end more or less depends on a guy who produces your album, y´know? A producer must have ability and skills to listen to bands how they want their albums to sound like, and of course he must know all the equipment in a studio environment 100% and how to use them properly to get the very best out of them for a recording.



The darker realms of CENTURY CHILD…

Could you explain us how this new album CENTURY CHILD will be different from your previous album, WISHMASTER? Are there any radical changes there on this new album?

First off, I want to point out that it´s going to sound 100% Nightwish, so our fans don´t have to be worried about that. But on the other hand, we have used some new elements there on this new album as well that weren´t on our previous album WISHMASTER. It´s gonna include more of these "soundtrack" elements than ever before, I think. We have always had some soundtrack influences in our music, but now there´s just even more. I also wanna point out that it´s our heaviest album so far. Since the very beginning we thought that we should get both a guitar and a bass sound more in the forefront. Also now when we also have Marco Hietala (of Tarot -fame!) doing some vocal parts for this album, it will definitely add more heaviness into the whole thing. Also my lyrics have a bit darker vibe in them as well than before. I deal with more hopeless and darker topics this time around; in fact, the album´s atmosphere is quite dark and oppressive indeed, in my opinion.



When you started working with the lyrics for this album, did you actually have some sort of a concept in your mind that you might use for CENTURY CHILD?

Well, to tell you the truth, all my lyrics kind of reflect my own life. All those experiences I have gained through my life one way or the other. On CENTURY CHILD, I basically reached my own extremity by my lyrics. In fact, the lyrics reflect my life within the past year. All those negative thoughts that I have dealt in my mind and so on. I haven´t been this pissed-off ever, and it really shows in my lyrics. I can tell. The on-going year has been rough, and tough time in my personal life, and it´s no wonder at all if I have put some of those negative feelings into the lyrics of CENTURY CHILD. To write lyrics is a channel to vent my innermost feelings on this new album for me.



How tough (or easy?) was it for you to write some ideal lyrics for some certain songs on CENTURY CHILD? I mean, if you have a rather heavy yet aggressive sounding song, I guess it also needs aggressive enough lyrics in order to  - get the message straight - if you know what I mean…

nightwish-pic3.jpg (19983 bytes)Yeah, I know what you are saying. Writing lyrics has always been a hard task for me - and probably will always be that as well. It wasn´t any easier this time around either. In fact, I needed to soften some parts in my lyrics, cause I cannot use too extreme phrases for the lyrics of Nightwish. There just needs to be a certain limit how far I can go with my lyrical approach cause our music is indeed far from being extreme, if you know what I mean. I did sow my hatred and gave vent to my temper enough on them already, I think. That´s how I felt when I was writing all those lyrics for it.



Me being a megalomaniac… how come?!

Also, you have added more strings into this particular album this time around…

Yeah, very true. In fact, Joensuu City Orchestra was fully involved in five songs on this new album -meaning, there were 32 musicians in that orchestra who took part for the 5 songs on CENTURY CHILD. We wanted to have more of this soundtrack approach for our album and I personally am very happy with their contribution on this new album. The cold fact however is that nowadays it´s possible to create 95% by using a synthesizer only for creating the same thing that a whole orchestra could be capable of doing. I know that´s the fact. But instead of using synthesizer too much, I rather wanted to get a whole orchestra for this album than create the same thing with my synths only. I guess I have this ´bad´ tendency to be a bit megalomaniac person, he-he!! I have always thought that riding by a moped is funny, but if you can do it by Harley, then that´s even better, if you know what I mean. I really am damn pleased that we hired the full-orchestra for CENTURY CHILD, even if I need to admit honestly that I was a bit skeptical at some point how it all would eventually turn out for the album. In my opinion, the whole orchestra played just fine and I´m really thankful for all the musicians of Joensuu City Orchestra for their absolutely great contribution on CENTURY CHILD. Then we used a choir called ”Tuomas” that contained 35 members in it and they did some background choirs for a couple of songs on our album. Have you heard of them before, by the way?



No, I haven´t… shame on me!

Never mind then. But anyway there are many new things used on CENTURY CHILD that we haven´t tried out before on our previous albums. All the ideas that I was originally thinking to use for CENTURY CHILD didn't seem to be enough for me. I went one step at a time - then another step - and so on and so on, when realizing that there´s a great chance for all that I might lose the control over things if I didn´t stop early enough. But I guess I did and I have to admit that everything on CENTURY CHILD sounds somewhat ´big´ as we have a narrator, a real choir, split vocal parts both from Tarja and Marko, real percussion, a whole symphony orchestra - on the album.



But I assume that orchestra was hired for the recordings mainly to create this soundtrack feeling for the whole album. Is that correct?

nightwish-pic4.jpg (15849 bytes)Yeah, I agree with you. I thought it would be great to get them for CENTURY CHILD in order to achieve this more ´soundtrack´ feeling all over the album - more pompous atmospheres and all that, ya know? Like I said before, I´m very pleased with what they did in some of the songs on CENTURY CHILD.



Was it kind of hard to start this song creation process for this new album? Because of an undeniable fact your previous album could be considered as some sort of a cornerstone of Nightwish´s career as it´s the highest selling Nightwish album thus far. It basically got lots of extremely good reactions everywhere, not to mention it was a huge success for you as a whole band, too. As we know by now, people always have rather high expectations towards some certain bands follow-up releases.

Definitely some sort of a pressure was haunting there behind my back all the time after the success of our previous album WISHMASTER. That was haunting somewhere in the depths of my mind all the time, however I knew somehow that I could beat WISHMASTER content-wise and make even a better album. I just had to think that I need to do better, catchier and greater songs than we had on WISHMASTER. That was the only way to think for me really. You always try to push yourself towards even better and better things constantly and that´s exactly what I did with the songs for our new album, I guess. I can deny that fact either that sometimes I found myself thinking alone how our fans might react when hearing our new songs off CENTURY CHILD cause these new songs will be a bit different compared to the songs on WISHMASTER. Heavier and stronger, I could say. When you write and compose new material, of course the main priority is to do it for youself first and get pleased by it. You cannot think too much what your fans might think of your new stuff, cause in my opinion that´s always a secondary thing. If they like it, then that´s fine. But if they don´t, well, it´s not my headache a bit, let it be then.



When you started recording CENTURY CHILD, did you have a clear vision in which order you would record all the instruments for the album, and when the mixing should be done at the latest?

Yeah, we had some sort of a timetable for all that when and where we would record all the instruments, etc. for this album, in fact right from the beginning. But like I mentioned to you earlier, things started to get ´a bit bigger´ at some point than I originally expected. The whole recording almost blew out of our hands as the orchestra, the choir, solos, etc. took its own time to record them all for the album. At some point I felt like this is not going to end. I admit it was a damn long process to get it all done, and it was a heavy recording process for myself personally, too. I was rather exhausted from time to time, but I promise the result was very much worth of all our efforts.



So, exactly how much time did the entire recording take?

We started recording it 11th of January and we still have two more weeks to go (note that this interview was done around March 2002). We haven´t spent all that time at the studio only, but have however still been working with the album all this time, though.


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Like you said before, you took a couple of bigger steps forward with your kind of ´megalomaniac´ ideas for CENTURY CHILD by hiring both the full orchestra and the choir for the album. Did it ever cross your mind that you might slip away too far from the original idea or concept of CENTURY CHILD? 

Well, that didn´t really happen to us at all. Ya know, we are all very ambitious musicians by our nature and like a bunch of real perfectionists. We wanted to have a very ´big sounding´ album right from the very start, with pompous and epic-like atmospheres, ya know. I wanted CENTURY CHILD to be like the biggest sounding, very variable Heavy Metal soundtrack album. That was my personal goal since the very beginning - no less than that. If you listen to our song called “Wishmaster” off the previous Nightwish album WISHMASTER, that song worked out kind of like as a good stepping stone for me for CENTURY CHILD. I wanted to get the same type of epic sounding thing for this new album as that particular song had. That was the part of the reason why we took both the whole orchestra and the choir in for the recordings of CENTURY CHILD. I wanted it to sound like ´a very ultimate thing´, so we just kept pushing ourselves constantly towards that goal and I believe we achieved it as well. It was the main idea for all of us in the very beginning - I can confess it now.



Are you saying that you wanted every song for this album to reach that level musically that has a word ´epic´ written all over it?

Well, yes and no. One of those things I wanted to concentrate on the making of this album is the fact I wanted it to have variation song-wise. I mean, a general sound for the whole album sounds very ´big´ and somewhat rather pompous, but the songs are still quite different compared to each other. We do have both quite lengthy, epic songs on CENTURY CHILD, but also some more aggressive and heavier elements can be found out of some songs as well - not to forget that we will include a ballad song for it, too. So, it´s gonna be our most variable album thus far without a doubt. In fact, it´s very dynamic album after all and I´m really happy about it as a whole.



Talking about Nightwish´s song writing process just a little bit more: As it´s a written rule already, it´s been basically you who has written both the music and lyrics for Nightwish on your previous releases.

More or less, yes…



… and as I assume, that fact hasn´t been changed on CENTURY CHILD?

No, I have written everything for it; both the music and the lyrics again. Except there´s one ´epic´-like song on CENTURY CHILD for where Marco Hietala did the first part of the song. He actually had all the frameworks done for it and as it sounded so great, we decided to use it for that particular song the way as it was originally. Otherwise, I have done the rest of the material by myself from start to finish - as well as both music - and lyric-wise. Also we will do one cover song for CENTURY CHILD; it´s A Lloyd Webber´s and T.Rice´s “The Phantom of the Opera” and it´s gonna sound really majestic.



Winds of change on the horizon…

You went through some drawbacks in the Autumn 2001 when your previous bass player announced that he´s quitting Nightwish due to some personal matters. And Marko Hietala (that Tarot -fame mostly!) entered in and took Sami´s place with a pride and a burning ambition. Was he the only alternative to master 4-stringer in the Nightwish´s troops then,  or did you check a bunch of other talented candidates out for this purpose as well?

For me personally he was basically the only thinkable alternative to replace Sami because I expressly wanted to include some male voice for our next album in order to get some contrasts to Tarja´s voice. I thought myself that the best alternative for us could be a guy who´s an experienced musician in a band already; also for doing gigs with us. And to hire some guy for this slot only for helping us out with gigs, was out of question since at the earliest stage of my thoughts. And as I have always considered Marko as the best Heavy Metal vocalist as well as bassist in Finland, I wishfully asked  if would he be interested in taking that vacancy in Nightwish permanently. He gave me his answer the way I was hoping for - and now he´s our permanent vocalist / bassist in the band.


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So, you weren´t scared of his involvements with his other bands, such as Sinergy, Tarot, Metal Gods (a cover band), that may eat some of his time off Nightwish?

No, because I told him that Nightwish could be his main priority after that and he should agree with it, too. I told him that I would understand if he said ´No thanks…´ to Nightwish because we only were after for a guy who could dedicate all his time for Nightwish only. There were no compromises at all. Of course I became thrilled when he agreed to become a full-time member for our band.



Also, I honestly think that you just couldn´t have chosen any better, knowing how talented both a songwriter - AND a lyric writer Marko is. I remember him being a big fan of sci-fi / fantasy literature where he got some killer ideas for Tarot´s lyrics from. His voice is beyond words - really…

I just couldn´t agree more with you. Marko is simply an amazing songwriter, vocalist, bassist and all that. As we were talking about his skills for the future efforts of Nightwish, of course I´m open for his ideas if he will be willing to contribute our song writing for Nightwish in the future. I bet when we lay all our ideas on the table concerning our next album with Marko in the line-up, it´s more than obvious that there will be his mark in our future material for sure. However, I consider myself such a tyrant bastard that it´s going to be me only in the very end that will decide what songs will be chosen for our albums and so forth as I´ve always been the main songwriter for the band, but I´m quite positive that Marko´s suggestions for Nightwish will be more than useful. I´m actually very positive about that already. I do connect with him every possible level very well as I consider both of us kind of perfectionists as far as the song writing generally is concerned. In other words, I assume there shouldn´t appear any problems between two of us at all - obviously time will tell for sure!


Marko Hietala (by the words of Tuomas Holopainen)

Let´s continue talking about him a little bit more. It´s a written rule that many (metal) people consider him as some sort of ´a metal icon´ - a true face for the Finnish Heavy Metal scene. Mainly because of his long running band Tarot - and overall his incredible use of voice and great song writing skills. Now when you have got to know him better as I assume, could you say what are his best qualities both as a member of the Nightwish troops as well as a friend?

Well, first off I must say that he´s one of the easiest working guys on the face of the earth - Really! Everyone just comes along with him greatly. You can actually talk to him just about anything. He has lots of great ideas as far as music is concerned and he´s just so professional musician than I can only admire him what he is and what he has done in the past. He´s both a fantastic vocalist and an amazing bassist and I´m glad we have him now in Nightwish.



Besides, he´s a great ´show man´ who knows how to entertain his audience…

Yeah, I definitely agree with you!! The guy looks just impressive onstage - especially when he decides to headbang during a gig. It seems like he covers the whole stage by his long hair, -ha! Besides, he´s verbally a very talented guy, so we´ll probably take some advantage of that when start doing gigs again, that´s for sure.



"Only innocence can save the world…"

CENTURY CHILD will be containing such songs as “End of All Hope”, “Slaying the Dreamer”, Beauty and the Beast”, “Ocean Soul”. Would you kindly shed some light on the songs on the album?

nightwish-pic7.jpg (24337 bytes)Sure… CENTURY CHILD will be some kind of a theme album - NOT a concept album, but every song itself contains a concept of its very own. For me, Nightwish´s lyrics are like a diary of my own life; what has happened in my life within a certain period of my life. The last years of my life have been, without exaggerating a bit, the toughest time in my life - full of very negative feelings that have made me pissed off. I have felt like everything has been against me one way or the other as odd and strange as it may sound like to your ears now. In fact, I have felt more than occasionally a growing, little chaos inside my head; a bad self-esteem is tormenting me - and blah blah blah… All the songs on CENTURY CHILD are results of my negative vibes that were caused by the things I just explained you just recently. You kind of start to hate yourself because of what you have become, ya know? The innocence is gone - and in fact talking about the innocence a bit closer - it´s actually the main thing that connects the songs on our new album. We will indeed have a motto in the center sleeve of CENTURY CHILD that has a sentence that goes like this: “Only innocence can save the world…”. That´s the main theme on CENTURY CHILD and every song on the album more or less refers to that topic. A song called “End of All Hope” is a good example of losing your innocence. When you lose your innocence and honesty, then you basically lose everything. You are nothing after that. That´s what that particular song tries to tell.



That´s interesting… I was just starting to wonder now when CENTURY CHILD will hit the stores. Do you believe that some of the fans may get rather surprised by a slightly heavier musical approach and darker lyrics?

Yeah, that´s quite possible as a matter of speaking. I cannot help it if they may feel that way cause it´s a quite different album both lyrically and musically than our previous releases. Marko´s vocal parts make a big difference compared to our previous offerings. I also have to say that when I compose songs for this band, I always try to stay loyal and honest for myself; trying to please myself first and foremost - and not trying to think too much what our fans might hear from us. I don´t follow with that close eye at all what´s going on in today´s metal scene or what´s ´in´ or ´out´ these days or anything like that. Nightwish represents innocence for me in that sense. All the songs that I do for this band, mean a world to me.



Was it easier to come up with the songs for CENTURY CHILD compared to your other creations for your previous albums? Or was it just all the same agony of creation with this album as well?

It´s always hard to be 100% satisfied with your own songs if you have this tendency to be a perfectionist what I truly am myself. I cannot say it could have been any easier this time around either. It´s always damn hard to please yourself 100%, ya know? To write new material is very time-consuming, and so it was with the material for this album as well. And all the songs on CENTURY CHILD were as hard to make. I cannot think of any song at the moment that could have been easier to make than the rest of the songs.



Back to school…

Lets get some facts straight. There´s been some talk in different medias that after you have toured for this album, you need to take a year break due to Tarja´s studies in Germany. Well, the following that I´m about to say is just speculating and nothing else, but what would happen to Nightwish if Tarja announced after the forthcoming break that she is done with Nightwish and her final decision is her opera career? Would that mean that Nightwish has traveled to the end of the road and will now cease to exist?

Luckily I don´t have to think that far into the future at the moment… yet! But anyway, our decision to have this year or so break off Nightwish was decided because of Tarja. Everybody of us understood that she needs to concentrate on her studies in order to finish them some day. Let´s face it: We have been together more than 5 years now, done 4 full-length albums within that time, a great bunch of singles, so in the other words, we have really been a very productive band during all this time. So, I think everyone of us really deserve to have this break. It´s actually a welcomed thing in our life and hopefully shouldn´t be any affect our doings in Nightwish in the future. I also need to say in the very same breath that none of us are exhausted at all; on the contrary, we are full of energy and having a burning desire to get back on the road again, but it´s only reasonable for everyone of us that Tarja finishes her studies first and then we´ll look further into the future again and let things evolve step by step concerning Nightwish. It´s a rather pointless to say more before some concrete things will happen, ya know?



Crazy fans make life worthwhile…

Where do you think the most devoted, die-hard Nightwish fans are coming from these days? You have been touring the world a lot lately (especially for the WISHMASTER album!), so what countries particularly have stuck in your mind with the craziest fans, the wildest venues and stuff like that?

Hmm… this is a bit tough to answer cause almost every country where we have played so far, has had many great Nightwish fans and the supports from them has totally been overwhelming. But what has especially offered us some extraordinary good memories, then in that case I have to mention the South American countries. Those countries have probably the craziest Nightwish fans in the whole world!! When we were touring there for our WISHMASTER album, at some point I started wondering do they think that The Beatles have arrived in town, he-he!! It was just incredible to play in those countries. Seems like we indeed are a damn popular band over there and that of course feels fuckin´ great!! Now I´m only thinking whether things will get even crazier for us when we will tour there again for CENTURY CHILD. Time will certainly tell…



I can imagine how it was like: Wherever you went to, wherever you stayed at or wherever you played at, the most devoted Nightwish fans had already been waiting for you guys for hours there. Was it all like this in those South American countries?

As crazy as it may sound like, but that´s exactly what happened. Even some of our fans were waiting for us outside of our hotel all through the night that I couldn’t understand from my own point of view. And when we arrived from our gig back to the hotel, they were already there waiting for us and all that felt really amazing and strange for us at the very same time, too. Heh, I even remember some of them running behind our bus wherever we headed our way to. It´s really absurd and totally crazy, I can tell. Those countries (i.e. Brazil, Chile and Argentina) over that part of the planet have the greatest fans in my opinion according to our experiences with them. We may be more popular in such countries as Germany and Finland, but in the South American countries they really show their innermost feelings the strongest way towards their ´idols´ if such a word is allowed to use.



From a hobby to a seriously touring band…

I was just pondering when you decided to form Nightwish in 1996, did you ever dream of an enormous success like this that you have gained for the band thus far?

Not at all!! I bet every artist would answer the same way to your question for sure. I formed Nightwish as some kind of ´hobby´ thing. At that time, I was studying at a university. My main goal was to gain some sort of an academic career and a boring life for myself. But then out of my little ´hobby´ called Nightwish grew up something extraordinary ´big´ of which I never dreamt about in the very beginning when I started the band. I honestly have to admit that I´m still having some hard times to understand all that success and fame that we have achieved by this band thus far. In fact, I don´t consider Nightwish as that big metal act yet. Our music is actually far from being mainstream stuff cause there are not too many bands that sound like us. It really makes me wonder sometimes that there is an enormous bunch of people in the whole world that like what we do and buy our albums. But maybe time has come to me and I should accept the reality how is it for us nowadays. All this success feels great, of course!!



It goes without saying that a major part of the success you have achieved with Nightwish thus far, was to create so-called ´a winner´s recipe´ for the two important elements where Nightwish is based on: metal and Tarja´s opera singing. It´s a very unique and original combination and truly offered people something new and quite unheard at that time when ANGELS FALL FIRST hit the markets.

Yeah, I can only agree with you again. People who get fed up with one certain genre of music, normally move on and look further whether something ´interesting´ or ´unique´ could be somewhere in the horizon. I bet everybody who gets a chance to hear us, will probably get something stuck in their minds out of our music because we obviously have kind of an unique sound - like it or not. In our case, it could be said that people have created some sort of phenomenon around Nightwish and I consider that as a really cool thing for us, of course!!



When did you exactly start believing that Nightwish could really grow up being something rather ´big´ some day?

I guess when seeing some of our singles in top 30 charts here in Finland made me believe that we were actually doing quite damn well at least in out own home country, but also after we did some of our first gigs, cause then you realize that people actually pay in order to get a chance to see you playing live. And I started believing in this band even more when I got to find out that our single was even listed in Germany´s top charts lists as well. It felt really great as seemingly all of our efforts for this band really started to pay off at that time. It´s just natural that you kind of start thinking quietly in your mind how you could make even a bigger impact on a bit larger audience; then sell more albums, get more gigs and basically get your name known in each and every country. Your hunger sort of becomes bottomless, ya know? These kind of thoughts, in fact, appeared in me somewhere between the ANGELS FALL FIRST and OCEANBORN albums.



What kind of achievements do you rate highest as your personal favorites?

I guess the most memorable thing for me with Nightwish has been our gig in Tampere, Finland so far which we did two years ago - and which was filmed and came out as a DVD titled FROM WISHES TO ETERNITY. Particularly that very moment when we all knew that it went just great and our label manager Ewo Rytkönen from Spinefarm Records brought us platinum albums (for the WISHMASTER album!) to the stage. I think that´s one of those very memorable and special moments for all of us in the band that we have achieved with Nightwish thus far. I have to admit some of us had tiny tears in our eyes because it was indeed kind of a ´touching moment´, ya know? It was overall just an indescribable feeling. On the other hand, it feels great that you are actually able to play gigs far away from Finland - like we just did in the South America. Even a thought of it was beyond any words for me when this opportunity was offered to us for the very first time. Like we did this one gig in Panama. It was totally unbelievable for us - like an ultimate thing to do really. By doing gigs is an excellent way to see the world, too. It´s one of the highlights as far as touring itself is concerned. The more obscure places we are able to play gigs, the better, of course!!


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You haven´t played in Japan yet, but have you already been offered a chance to play there?

Yeah, we were offered a chance for it, but our schedule was already so tight at that time, so those gigs were forced to cancel.



Now when the new album CENTURY CHILD will hit the markets, do you believe that it´s gonna be that kind of a ´step´ for you to get Nightwish placed to the same league with such bands as Manowar, Rage, and W.A.S.P?

I have to say that luckily I haven´t thought that too much and have managed to keep my thoughts somewhat chilly regarding that matter. While you have a new album in the works, you cannot think that kind of things too much cause it may easily ruin and fuck up your own concentration and focus from the main thing totally. Now when we have recorded everything and the mixing is done, I still haven´t given a thought for it at all. But of course you except that you could even top your previous album both content - and sales-wise and that´s exactly what we have done - sold more albums with each new album we have put out, gained more success and fame for ourselves and matured a couple of steps forward as a band as well. Also, I need to admit that it would be disappointing if CENTURY CHILD didn´t do as well as our previous album WISHMASTER. At least I know I´d be disappointed. I honestly believe that we do have every chance to reach a next level with CENTURY CHILD according to all those wishful signs we have had with our previous releases. OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY has been 44 weeks in a row in the Finnish single charts that is absolutely amazing in my opinion. Therefore I strongly believe that CENTURY CHILD may well be a very potential breakthrough album for us that will make us recognized even better and largely in the world map. You also need to be a bit ´lucky´ in this business because as we have already seen many times, even if you make a good album, it´s not always enough if you don´t get the right channels to promote it, ya know?



While you are in the middle of the song writing process and possibly play your songs probably hundreds of times in order to get them right, I guess you kind of become somewhat ´blind´ for judging your own songs whether they are 100% perfect or not. So it´s better and pretty much wiser to leave all the judgment for listeners at that point, cause they are the ones who will make it eventually anyway, right?

Exactly!!! Right at the very moment we do have like 5-6 songs mixed completely and I have to say I cannot decide whether I´m satisfied with any of them or not. But now when a group of people has already heard them, at least it´s a big relief to me personally to hear that at least they have liked the songs very much. You kind of lose a healthy perspective towards your own material at some point if you get a break out of it all for a while, ya know?


Apparently a length of the songs on CENTURY CHILD varies rather radically between the songs. Is there going to be any so-called ´epic songs´ on this new album that reach the length somewhere between 8-10 minutes - or even more lengthy songs than this?

There´s gonna be one song that is long as hell. It´s called “The Beauty and the Beast” which is also going to be the closer tune on CENTURY CHILD and lasts over 10-minutes. The shortest songs will last something like 3-4 minutes. It´s hard to make a ´fool-proof hit song´ that could last less than 4-minutes. I haven´t been capable of making it so far, he-he!!



Going to solo projects…

Then let´s go a little bit backwards in the interview and continue with one of my previous questions. We just talked about this a year break off Nightwish, and I was pondering in my mind whether you consider to contribute any project bands while all of you will be taking some time off Nightwish?

Marko Hietala indeed has some sort of a solo thing going on, but I don´t know much about it at all. As for the rest of us, we have some solo projects going on at the moment. Emppu, our guitarist, has some Rock-orientated band and they even do some club gigs every now and then. I have For My Pain where I play synths just like I do in Nightwish. I, in fact, have had this solo thing in my mind for many years already, but don´t know yet when I can do some recordings with this band.



You had the Joensuu City Orchestra and Tuomas choir contributing on CENTURY CHILD. Have you ever been thinking of using both of them when doing shows with Nightwish? I mean, it would kinda special to play a show or some shows if you got a full orchestra and a choir behind you, giving something very special for your fans just like bands like Metallica, Therion and Rage have all been doing almost recently?

Of course it´s been haunting somewhere in the back of my mind all the time. It would be really great to do so, but then you somehow start to think it more carefully and realize that it demanded so much effort from you to make it happen some day. Naturally you start to ponder how the whole orchestra would work out if you played an open air show; or what the Tuomas choir would sound like if they played with us at some gigs? It would be a hell of a lot work to organize something like that for sure. Like you said, Therion, Rage, etc. have all done it before and even rather successfully, too, so it ain´t any new thing anymore. If I got a chance to do something like that some day, I would rather prefer to do it at some concert hall because of acoustics. It would be much easier to control the sound and make it all sound at least decent for the audience, ya know?



Then you hired Ewo, that successful label manager of Spinefarm Records, for the manager of the band. What were the reasons you picked him?

Well, we hired him at the same time when we were looking for a new bassist for our band; it was last autumn, I think. It was sort of ´1+1=2 solution´ for us as I was going through pretty hard times in the fall of 2001, cause I worked my ass off for this band, composing and writing lots of music and such things for Nightwish. I also did take care of many other things as well. It was a tough time and I was close to lose my sanity for all of that. So, I started talking to Ewo about it and he suggested me that it would be wise to have an official management and booking agency, and King Foo Entertainment (www.kingfooentertainment.com) was formed in the beginning of 2002 because of that. Now Ewo is taking care of booking us to gigs both nationally and internationally, so contact him from now on if you wanna see Nightwish playing in your area.



So you didn´t have any tour manager before Ewo?

Nope. We were probably the only band of this size here in Finland at that time that didn´t have a manager of its very own before. Our drummer Jukka and me were the ones who took care of all the practical matters concerning Nightwish. And it wasn´t easy at all cause it basically started to kill our interest towards the band, so by having Ewo to take care of these things instead of us, was really the best possible solution for all of us, definitely!



I guess you must have felt that like 24 hours in a day was not enough to take care of all things for Nightwish?

Yeah, you are pretty much right about that. My main priority is anyway to write as good songs for this band as possible, but as I had to put lots of my time and effort to all these other ´shitty´ things that are not related to song writing and such things at all, it really started to be kind of burden to me, killing off some of my inspiration for the main thing, ya know? We should have hired Ewo much earlier to take care of this kind of thing. It was our own fault that we didn´t act any earlier.



The Finnish metal scene: Still getting bigger and stronger…

As we both have obviously been keeping our ears open for the Finnish metal scene for some years already, we cannot help admire how many great and internationally known bands are coming from our country these days. Bands like Amorphis, Sentenced, Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Waltari, Impaled Nazarene, Children of Bodom amongst many other bands, have really established their names all around the world. They have been selling a decent amount of albums in many countries and have gotten a chance to tour the world like any other so-called ´big´ metal band. Can you explain the success of some these Finnish metal bands, and why they have managed to establish themselves amongst countless of other metal bands in today´s metal circuits?

Huh, that was a tough question. But like you said yourself, we have always had lots of great, many talented musicians in many Finnish metal bands. What is very unique also in the Finnish metal bands, they pretty much sound different from each other without any exceptions. You can hardly find any Finnish metal band that is a straight copycat from some other Finnish metal band. That´s at least very rare in my opinion. If you think of Nightwish, there´s no other band that sounds like us, so what we do with Nightwish is new and unique both here in Finland and abroad as well. Or if you listen to Children of Bodom, they started a whole new thing here in Finland musically, too. Or take for example, Amorphis, who are very original and unique globally with their imago based on our national epos “Kalevala”. I could give you a pocketful of same kind of examples about all these Finnish metal bands that have always been having their very own thing going on. Both Waltari and Apocalyptica (metal with cellos!) have their very own thing. Finntroll is an extremely unique musical combination of many different styles - and the list goes on and on. I could give you heaps of other examples about how original metal bands we do have in this country. The main thing is that every band has its own, very distinctive sound and what they do, they do it really well and basically don´t leave anything half-finished, ya know? I think that´s also the reason why they are appreciated and admired highly by different medias, fans, etc. It´s also great because if you are actually able to make an impact on people by your music, and gain at least a decent following by all of it, it really encourages other, young new bands to come up with something off which people could say you guys have really maintained a sound of your very own and your music comes across as very good and all that, ya know? You basically work out as a ´role model´ for younger bands, giving them some ideas and just proving them that if you are devoted to work your ass off for your band and give it some time to develop and mature, it really starts to pay off some day if a certain amount of luck is with you there as well.



Some of these successful Finnish metal bands (Nightwish, C.O.B., Sentenced, Stratovarius, etc.) have become somewhat famous, even on an international scale due to the fact that some successful albums have been recorded and mixed by real sound gurus, both Mikko Karmila and Mika Jussila.

Yeah, I totally agree with you again. In my opinion Mikko Karmila is the best producer in the whole Europe nowadays to produce and mix albums of especially Heavy Metal bands. I haven´t heard anything but praises about his works for some certain albums. He´s the man, really…



So, Hiili Hiilesmaa didn´t have anything to do with this album?

Nope. Mikko Karmila mixs the album and we as a band, produce it by our own.



What´s a personal dream you´d like to reach with Nightwish some day? Somehow I believe your appetite for even ´bigger things ´still hasn´t been fulfilled yet…

A question with many possible answers… Well, a concrete wish could be that one of our albums could reach a gold record status in some other country than in Finland. That would be really special for me, absolutely!! In Finland it seems like we can rather easily reach that status by each of our album and single, so it would be really neat and special if one of our releases reached a magical gold status in Germany or in Sweden or just about in any other country besides here in Finland. I would personally rate that very highly in the Nightwish´s career for sure. In Germany you need to sell 150,000 albums to go gold and for singles it´s 12,000 sold copies. Both OCEANBORN and WISMASTER albums have sold 60,000 copies each there thus far, so we still have a long way to go to get those gold albums from that particular country. I believe it´s not impossible even if we are still rather far behind from those sales.



Conquering the States

Hmm… what about the States then? Have your albums been released there as well?

I have to say that I´m not too aware of how many copies our first three albums have been sold there thus far. I only know that Century Media´s U.S.A´s department put them out there like a year ago or so, but they unfortunately haven´t kept us informed about those selling figures at all. What we have noticed we have started getting some more feedback from that direction, so I guess at least a bunch of people have been interested in our music anyway. I wish to hear more from that direction how our albums have been sold there up to this day, tho.



You haven´t played in the states yet either?

No. We did two gigs in Montreal, Canada, though. It was great to play there, too.



The general opinion is that it´s really damn tough to make yourself known especially in the States by your music cause that country is large as hell and they have always had their own culture for the trendiest bands. How do you honestly think they will understand your music there?

To be really honest with you, I think that probably our songs have ´too much´ information for them, he-he!! Well, seriously again… I think for many American people it´s really important that bands could be true for themselves and they are able to do gigs all around the country. I honestly think it starts from there already; from a ´root level´, ya know? No doubt, it would be extremely vital and important even for us to get a tour arranged there. But according to the album sales for our first three albums over there and basically our own schedule these days, I think it won´t be happening any time soon.



So, you have at least a tiny figure about the sales of your albums in the States?

I wish I had, but I simply don´t. Ewo, do you know anything about this…?

Ewo: About 10,000 copies have been sold for the WISHMASTER album through Century Media over there this far.

Mape: Oh, that ´much´ already?! I had no idea… It´s quite much actually(!). Are you serious Ewo by all this info now?

Ewo: Yes I am. That´s how I have been informed by them just recently anyway.



What about the first two Nightwish albums Ewo? Have they done any good in the States at all?

Ewo: Hmmm… 4000-5000 thousand copies together, I assume. Many of those copies have gone there as imports, ya know.

(Mape is the editor in chief in the biggest Finnish-written metal webzine, and he just called www.imperiumi.net)

Mape: And now Ewo you are certain that you didn´t count the sales from Canada to those numbers, eh?

Ewo: No, I did not. I guess Mape is the right guy from us who can answer the best possible way to your questions about Nightwish´s future in the States as he has assumable followed it with a more closer eye than I have thus far.

Mape: I wish I had done that, but I have left my homeworks undone lately… shame on me, he-he!!

Ewo: Anyways, I have to admit Nightwish surely ain´t a very easy nut to be cracked for people in that particular country, but hopefully more and more people could find their albums from the stores over there and start digging them as much as we Europeans do. Time will certainly tell…



Well, I guess that´s the whole interview, so thank you Tuomas for your time and let´s hope that CENTURY CHILD will get you recognized in even more obscure countries around the world. Here´s a Metal-Rules.com t-shirt as a promotional gift for you, for a well-done job with the interview. Wear it  with pride and honor, he-he!!

Excellent!!! I just thought I could be in the serious need of a clean shirt for myself right now, he-he!! And thank you Luxi very much for this great chat, too!! I really appreciate it!!

Band Website:  www.nightwish.com
Label Website: www.spinefarm.fi