Interview with Tuomas Holopainen about "Dark Passion Play" promo, their new singer Anette Olzon, their concerts from their next tour and many more....
M.S: Hi, pleased to meet you, how was the trip?
T.H: It was fine.
M.S: First of all, let me tell you the album is amazing, it sounds very strong and elegant at the same time...
M.S: Do you think it’s the natural evolution of Once?
T.H: That’s exactly how I feel. It’s surprising how many people think of us like the Nightwish before and after, like “This is a completely new start for you a beginning of a new era”. I see it like a natural sequel for what we’ve been doing for the past 11 years, just one member of the band has changed. So I don’t see it like a big gap, a new beginning, it’s just we continue doing things like we used to.
M.S: A few days ago you shot the “Amaranth” video, how was the experience? What can you tell us about the story behind the video?
T.H: It’s made by Antti Jokinen, the same guy who made the “Nemo” video, and he had an idea... there’s this very famous finnish painting called “The wounded angel” by Hugo Simberg that is like a national treasure for finnish people, about 2 guys carrying an angel who is dying. And so we took that idea and recorded the video based on that. There’s 2 villagers who find a dying angel by the river, and try to save it, and then the other villagers come and try to burn the place... It’s a very sad story, but a very beautiful video, and the band had a lot of fun recording in Los Angeles. It’s a very nice experience and I think it’s going to be the best video so far.
M.S: What can you tell us about “Bye Bye Beautiful”? Does it talk about someone?
T.H: Yeah, it’s a farewell to Tarja. It’s not a secret, but that’s what it is. But it’s made in a good spirit.
M.S: All the album has a very elegant line, and very sober in some songs… But when you get to listen to “Master Passion Greed” you find that this one is very heavy and very fast, why this change? Is it that different or maybe the difference only lies in the fact that it’s sang by Marco alone?
T.H: It definitely is the hardest song we’ve ever done. It came out naturally. When I was writing the song I kind of put all of the wrath that we’ve been through. It was supposed to be sang by Anette, but then we started to think about the meaning of the song and the lyrics of the song, and Marco said “I’m sorry, I don’t wanna be selfish but I need to sing this song alone, it would be unfair to mix Anette in all this” and that’s why Marco had to sing the whole of it.
M.S: What were the reasons to place “The poet and the pendulum” as the first song on the album? Isn’t it a bit risky to put a 13 minutes song to open the album?
T.H: There’s actually 2 reasons. Because if you have a long song you have to put it as the first or as the last, there’s no other way for it, it wouldn’t make any sense. And we had the song “Meadows of heaven”, which for me is the perfect last song for the album. So you cannot put any song after “Meadows of heaven”, and that’s why “The poet and the pendulum” ended up being the first one. And I thought doing so would be cool beacuse it would shock people, we’re always trying to avoid cliches and a cliche is to put a long song as the last. I know it’s a bit risky but let’s see how the people react.
M.S: I was a bit shocked at first, but as you said “Meadows of heaven” is the perfect last song, so putting “The poet and the pendulum” the first one is a good choice.
T.H: Yeah, it gives the end of the album a little of hope.
M.S: It’s also curious that “Last of the wilds” is an instrumental song, beacuse you had non since “From wishes to eternity”... Is there any reason for you to think now it’s the right moment to put an instrumental song in a cd?
T.H: We didn’t think about it like that. It’s just like we start doing songs and we don’t think about the album much. When I start doing song I always look for some new things that we haven’t done in a while or haven’t done ever. On this album for example we’ve used the celtic influences for the last songs, there’s an instrument we haven’t played for a while... just little things here and there.
M.S: “The islander” is an acoustic song, with a medieval style close to the music played by bands such as Blackmore’s Night, what can you tell us about it?
T.H: Again this is something different, we’ve never had an accoustic song since the first album. This is actually a song by Marco the bass player, it’s his song, I did the lyrics. He just came to me like 2 and a half years ago, I remember it because it was before a show at the backstage, with the acoustic guitar, he said to me “listen to this, I have a song” and I was like “wow! That’s celtic, that’s a story about a lighthouse keeper”... so it ended up being an acoustic elegy about a lighthouse keeper. And what’s distinctive about this song lyrically is that it’s the first time that I tell the story like it is, like an elegy, there’s no symbolism, no allegories.. it’s just a sad story about that man.
M.S: In the previous tour you started, at least in Spain, to play in bigger venues and you used some pyros and a great deal of lights… After changing the singer, are you going to play in the same venues, or do you think you’ll go to smaller ones? Because you know some fans are still not sure about this “new Nightwish”...
T.H: You know, it’s not up to us. The funny thing is that our management has beeing selling shows until the end of 2008, but they started to sell the shows before anyone knew about Anette. And I think the european venues are very much the same size as in the previous tour, so the local promoters are renting the same venues. That means they still trust us, which is very flattering. If I was a promoter, I wouldn’t dare to do that, I’d wanna listen to the album first and see how the people react. So it’s really flattering that they think this way.
M.S: Which old songs are you rehearsing to adapt to Anette’s voice? I guess you won’t play much of the old ones, but a few of them...
T.H: It’s gonna be pretty much actually, like 50-50. We haven’t started the rehearsals yet, but we’re gonna play some songs we think are the best. I’m sure we’ll end up doing “Wishmaster”, “Everdream”, “Nemo”, “Wish I had an angel”, “The siren”, “Sleeping sun”... and maybe a couple of surprise. But honestly, we don’t really know yet.
M.S: A few weeks ago you gave your first date for Israel. How did it happen? How did you think about Israel for your first concert?
T.H: Never played there. They’ve asked fo us to play there for years, and this time we decided “ok, let’s go there”. And was the only possible weekend in the next year and a half that was available, so that’s why we decided it. It’s gonna be our first show ever with the new singer. It’s gonna be exciting, playing in a place like that.
M.S: I know it’s a bit early, but do you have any idea about Nightwish coming to Spain, when would it be??
T.H: All I know it’s gonna happen during the europan tour, which starts in February, and there’s gonna be 3 shows in Spain at the beginning of March. I can’t remember the places, i think Madrid and Barcelona and somewhere else.
M.S: If you weren’t a member of Nightwish, what would you do for a living?
T.H: I think ... I’m trying to look for the english word for it... like these guides from woods that take people from cities and show them around, go hiking and make fire... I’m a passionate of hiking and of woods... so I think I’d do that.
M.S: What can you tell us about the tour? Any hints of how the shows are gonna be?
T.H: There’s gonna be some visual stuff again. Actually we’re talking about it all the time: the lights, the pyros... I think there’s gonna be a waterwall this time on stage, maybe some screens. We don’t really know yet, but there’s gonna be some. I love this visual bombastic stuff on stage, I think it fix the music really well because it’s very cinematic and visual, so, the more it comes around the better.
M.S: Do you have any ideas of what you’re doing after this long tour?
T.H: We’ll have to see how we fell then, but I guess this is gonna end in the summer of 2009, well take maybe some couple of months of break, I’ll start writing new songs and then we’ll go to the studio again. I don’t know. We’ll have new stuff coming up at some point.
M.S: How did you keep the Anette’s secret so well for so long? All these fans were looking for anything on the internet, any pictures...
T.H: It was a lot of luck. We never went to the same hotel, we never were seen together publicly, she always booked in different hotels with different names, so it was like a game. And the reason why we did this was that we wanted to give the fans and the media something to listen to at the same time that we revealed her face. I mean, we could have said at the end of January “This is Anette, this is the new singer” and then people had to wait for months to listen to her because we had nothing to give to you by then, so people would have formed their opinions about her by what she has done in the past and what she looks like. We needed to give people “Eva” at the same time, that’s why the hidding.
M.S: And also you had to change “Eva”’s release to some days earlier than you thought.
T.H: Because it leaked, yeah. I don’t know how it leaked though.
M.S: How’s Anette getting along with all the band?
T.H: It’s really really good. I mean, she’s a really open person, she brings some light into the darkness of our lives, us guys of the band. She has a really really good selfsteem, which is what shee need at the moment. She’s not afraid to much, she’s really humble but she’s not afraid of the future as many people would be, at least she’s not showing it. I’m very confident.
M.S: Wasn’t she a bit overwhelmed with all the people expecting her? I would be at least...
T.H: Well, she was, but she’s really smart, I mean, she’s 36 and she has seen life, so she has a lot of life experience, and you can see that as well. She doesn’t get easily shocked about things. And she has a very good sense of humour as well.
M.S: What do you expect from fans when they listen to this album? Do you think they’ll give it a try, or they’ll reject it because it’s not old Nightwish...
T.H: I don’t really expect anything so I won’t be disappointed. I just want people to give it a chance, not listen to it just once, but 3 times or 5 times. I think it doesn’t open up easily, it grows on you. It’s a bit of a shock. Eveybody that I have played the album to, like my friends or family said “What the hell is this, it’s too much, I can’t take it, play it again” and this is the most healthy response that you can have.
M.S: Well, that’s it, thank you very much, and good luck with your new album!
T.H: Thanks to you! We need the luck. Thanks again.