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[Original] Tuomas Holopainen Interview (2004-09) - Interviews

author: Ann Marie Reilly

On September 5, reporter, Ann Marie Reilly called Nightwish manager Ewo Rytkonen before the final show of the tour Seattle for an interview with Tuomas Holopainen. After several attempts to locate Tuomas, Ewo decides to call back when his search has been successful. Finally, the call goes through.

TH: Hello, it’s Tuomas

BEC: Hi, Tuomas how’re you doing?

TH: I’m doing fine thanks, how are you?

BEC: Great. Have you had to do a lot of interviews?

TH: Well, a few it’s not that bad, actually.

BEC: I'm looking forward to getting your impressions on the tour now that it nears the end, but first I’d like to tell you, I had a chance to talk to John Two-Hawks last week.

TH: Really!? On the phone or ?

BEC: On the ‘phone. He was in Arkansas. I’m in New Jersey. I talked to him for about and hour and a half. He’s fantastic!

TH: Really, that’s awesome. I haven’t heard from him for ages. How’s he doing?

BEC: He was great. After such a fascinating interview I decided to do a feature on him too. I’ll send Ewo the link so you can read it.

TH: Oh, that’s cool!

BEC: He said he was going to try to meet up with you somehow on this tour. I guess you didn’t get a chance to speak with him?

TH: No we didn’t. I tried to call him a couple of times, but I couldn’t reach him.

BEC: He said that the outcome of Creek Mary’s Blood was exactly how he wanted it. He felt that was because you were musical soul mates. Did you feel the same thing?

TH: Yea, we kind of were. In the studio it was close to magic because everything he did, you know, he agreed, I agreed and some things that wasn’t so good he immediately told me, ‘This wasn’t good,’ and I told him ‘That’s right, it wasn’t,’ so it was really like a mutual thing going on between the two of us.

BEC: He also said, he thought in the writing of CMB, that you became like an American Indian. He said you sort of stepped into their moccasins. Did you feel like that? How were you able to relate so well to these people?

TH: Yea I did, but actually I still take that as a compliment. I think that I have kind of like grown creatively into their culture because I’ve been reading a lot of books about their history and their culture and I watched “Dances With Wolves” like a hundred times and all this so I have like a little bit of understanding what they’re going through what their mind set is about.

BEC: Yea, John had a lot of really nice things to say about you and the music.

TH: I’m glad to hear that.

BEC: About giving you the Indian name, he said that was the first time he’d ever done a naming ceremony. Did you know that?

TH: Yea that’s what he told me and that really was an experience, I mean, that was incredible. I truly felt something when they did that ritual and I was so honored. I even like.. I’ve always been so that I’d never will get a tattoo but this is something that I would think about maybe on the arm or something and there are already so many fans that are calling me “Shadow Wolf” instead of Tuomas.(laughs)

BEC: That’s really kind of cool!

TH: Yea, really it is.

BEC: Another song on the Once album that American fans have really be able to relate to is the “Higher Than Hope.” Of course the story of Marc Brueland is very moving, but how did you become inspired to write a song about him?

TH: Well, I’m very close friends with the whole family, actually they are with us here (on the west coast) the whole time for four shows and tomorrow they’re flying with me to Finland. They are spending like ten days at my place with my parents, with my family. We’ve grown to be really close and I followed his story for like 3 years altogether before he finally died so it was just something really touching and I just felt like I need to make a song about this.

BEC: I understand Marco co-wrote the song with you. What was his contribution?

TH: He did almost all the music. I did the lyrics and some of the music but it was the last song that we did for this album and Marco came up with this song. By the demo song, I had these melodies, and “Ok,” I said. “It perfectly leads for the ideas of these lyrics I have that I want to write about Marc Brueland.” So we just did it together and the result is what you get.

BEC: Whose idea was it to include the voice of Marc in the song?

TH: That was my idea actually, I just thought that this would be the perfect immortalization of him to put his words on this part of the song. I really didn’t want to make a heavy song part of his story and I also didn’t want to make a, like, cheesy ballad and this song that Marco had was perfect like in between it’s kind of like half ballad but has a really, really hard punch in it, so I think it fit perfectly.

BEC: Where did the phrase, “Red Sun Rising” come from. Is that a Tolkien reference?

TH: That phrase to be honest came from Lord of the Rings Part 2, Legolas is saying, ‘Red sun rising.’ (blood has been spilt this night.) That’s a perfect metaphor. But I prefer ‘Drown without inhaling.' because I was on the ‘phone talking to Marc like ten minutes before he died. All I could hear in the ‘phone was this gasping sound I could barely make out the words. That was horrible. That really was so bad.


BEC: What has been your reaction to the success of the U.S. tour and the response of the fans?

TH: I’m kind of confused personally, (laughs) but in a very positive way because we never expected anything like this from the fans. I mean the reaction from the fans is close to what it would be in South America. They’re really passionate, really wild over the music and we really never expected anything like this. I knew the sales were going pretty well. They even know the songs from the new album even though it’s not released yet. I guess that they have some imports or something. I mean that’s the biggest surprise; the fans, they’re so nice, so passionate. The tour altogether has been so much fun because there are new places we’ve never been in so everything’s new and since we are pretty much nobody here there’s not like a similar pressure that would be when we would perform for example in Finland or Germany. So it’s been quite a relaxing tour actually and a lot of fun.

BEC: Do you know if any of the other dates were sold out besides NYC and the cancelled Canadian dates?

TH: I think Los Angeles was sold out. There was a couple of others, I can’t remember for sure. Anaheim was sold out as well.

BEC: What was your impression of the New York show?

TH: That was probably the second to the best show on the tour. It was really awesome and I was kind of proud that the Road Runner people just happened to be there, (laughing.) I really liked the show and having Jens Johansson play one song that was also like an honor for us so I really remember that show and the Anaheim show. They were the best ones so far.

BEC: Were you concerned when the barrier collapsed and the fans were so close to that narrow stage?

TH: It was a little bit scary but you know there was like this big security man standing in front of us. Actually we were more worried that they would stop the show or something, but I’m just glad they let it go and I don’t think anyone got hurt or anything. To be honest I felt kind of like a (perverse) satisfaction of the whole thing because it just showed that people were so passionate. It was kind of cool to have this going on with this audience.

BEC: Was it distracting to have the fans pulled up on the stage?

TH: I don’t care about that kind of stuff at all. It doesn’t matter. Do what you have to do.

BEC: Did you take a bus for the entire tour across the country or did you fly at all?

TH: We flew from San Francisco to Seattle this morning, that was the only plane flight that we took. Yea, I forgot to mention why this tour was so much fun, that’s because of the bus. I truly hate airports and all the hassle with bureaucracy and all those things. You know you can go to the bus after the show have a few drinks go to sleep and wake up the next morning at the next venue so, you know. I love this kind of vagabond life. I love buses; traveling in buses.

BEC: Did that enable you to see a lot of the countryside, or were you asleep most of the bus trip?

TH: (Laughing) Sleeping most of it but during the days there was some fantastic sights. Things for example like in Colorado and Arizona. I love the barren beauty of the desert in Arizona, Death Valley kind of things and the Rocky Mountains in Colorado so just sitting on the bus and looking out the window and all that there’s a certain amount of romance in that stuff.

BEC: I know there was some problem with Lullacry’s bus. Any “tour disasters” for Nightwish that hopefully you’ll be laughing about later?

TH: Yea, they were like two days going and already the third bus and the third driver for Lullacry and then there were a lot of problems with our bus as well. For example the air conditioning went off in Arizona. You can imagine how hot it got. I think everything has been really smooth excluding the stuff with the bus, the air conditioning has been broken down like half a dozen times, but who cares, that’s what touring is all about.

BEC: Did Tarja travel on the bus with you or did she have special travel arrangements?

TH: She flew the longer distances but on the shorter ones she stayed in the bus with us.

BEC: Does this effect the chemistry of the band?

TH: Not at all. We’ve come to understand that, you know, you have to be really careful about really small things and I understand her completely. For example, the air conditioning in the bus can be the worse thing for your voice. It sounds ridiculous maybe but it’s true, because I’m already feeling sick and I have a sore throat and being on an air conditioned bus and air conditioned rooms really gets to you and you know it doesn’t matter for us guys, we can play when we are like close to death, but singing is a whole different thing.

BEC: So did you get a change to go to Disneyland?

TH: I spent the whole day. I walked around for 13 hours. It was open from 9am 'til 10pm so I just walked around the whole time and had the time of my life and spent too much money on all kinds of shit. I bought just some stupid stuff like statues, characters, things that I love to collect.

BEC: Did the rest of the band go with you?

TH: No Actually, I was the only one to stay there, the rest of the guys went to little clubs in L.A. (laughing), yea you know the whole rock and roll thing, but you know I chose to hang with Donald and Goofy. (more laughter)

BEC: Did you go to the park alone?

TH: I was there alone from the band but the Brueland family was there with me.

BEC: What was your favorite part?

TH: I just love the overall atmosphere in there. You now I really know that it’s really commercial and all that, but I still love it being so neat, so free and everybody seems so polite. I love the atmosphere and, of course, I am a Disney fan. Hell, I’m a Disney freak, You can call me that if you want, I’ve been since I was three-years-old so that’s a really special thing for me there. I never get tired of that place.

BEC: Did you go on any rides?

TH: Yea, I went on Splash Mountain, that’s my favorite ride. I love the Song of the South, that’s kind of based on that. There’s a real nice drop in the end and you get really, really wet. I’m not that much into rides altogether, I just really love the atmosphere.

BEC: Some of the guys were talking about seeing Dream Theater in Massachusetts. Did you see the show?

TH: The rest of the guys went to the show. Just me and Marco we stayed in the bus and had a few drinks and went to sleep.

BEC: With so many tour dates since the kick off of the tour in Kitee and with so many more scheduled before the end of the year, how do you keep your energy up and keep the music fresh?

TH: I really don’t know, this will sound corny, but everybody in this band including the crew really loves doing this, what we are doing, and of course we have bad days, and we have good days, but still.. it’s still a thing we love to do and a feeling really comes from the crowd. It’s an interaction between the crowd so if they’re into it you immediately get into it even though how tired and sick you are. Yea it’s work then because you can feel really, really tired like 10 minutes before the show, you know that throwing up and being sick and then you get on the stage you see the audience, you start playing, everything works, you have the time of your life for and hour and a half and that after the show, you are cured. It really happens. (After the show) I usually always feel better. It’s a healing power the whole of the music and the crowd interaction.

BEC: Are there any songs you are tired of performing?

TH: There are two, Wishmaster and Over the Hills and Far Away. Those two are like the live hits and the fans favorites and there’s no way we can throw them out. This Wishmaster we have to play until the end of Nightwish so that’s really, you know, you don’t get on the mood playing them.

BEC: Are you planning on adding new songs to the next part of the tour?

TH: Yea we are , you know, just to keep the whole thing interesting for yourselves you will add some new songs to the set. So when we get back home we are going to take like a weeks break and after that go to rehearsal really before the Finnish tour and maybe train like two or three more songs to the set list. We’re definitely going to do “Ghost Love Score.”


TH: Yea, we’re going to try even though I don’t know how we’ll do it. Everybody’s asking us, you have to do it. It really has become the fans’ favorite of the album, so at least we’re going to give it a try.

BEC: Any possibility of playing with a live orchestra?

TH: I thing it’s going to be more than a possibility. There’s no concrete plans just yet but we’re hoping to finish this tour off with maybe like three or four shows with an orchestra and choir and of course John Two-Hawks and playing the whole album, Once from beginning to the end and then maybe like 5 or 6 old songs and film the whole thing and come out with the live DVD. I’m sure that at some point this will definitely happen. Well, at the moment we’re talking about the end of next year. Maybe like October or November of 2005, yea. Definitely not before that. I can’t tell you anything else because I don’t know yet. I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen before the end of 2005. Definitely in Europe and in the same place (all of the shows) we’re not going to do a tour with them that would cost too much money and be too much hassle. So it would be once with the same orchestra like three nights in a row, something like this. Maybe like Germany, England, you know, London, Berlin something like this. I really don’t know yet.

BEC: Were there any other special shows on the tour besides Anaheim and NY?

TH: Oh, I’m trying to think. There has been a couple places, when you went to the venue and you thought that, ‘Ok…we suppose to play here?’ because there is like no toilets, no backstage, nothing and still the show turned out to be really awesome because the fans and everything worked, so for me this has still been the most surprising thing from the whole tour.

BEC: I know the cancellation of the earlier dates were a big disappointment for the fans, and surely for you too, are their plans to reschedule them? How about Philadelphia?

TH: Definitely, but it will not happen this year. There are some plans to do the whole thing again maybe in like May, um.. I’m sorry, March or April, to do a tour. And there’s actually a pretty good chance that we will do it since the record has been out, has been a few months so we’ll come here again. And the Canadian shows also will be done I think before Christmas. We hope to play Ghost Love Score there.

BEC: One more thing I would like to ask of you. Feel free to say no if you don’t want to, but when we interview bands, we like to ask them to say a few words that we can play on the radio. The listeners really love that. Would you mind?

TH: Sure! What would you like me to say?

BEC: Just say your name, from Nightwish and something like “You’re listening to”

TH: Ok

“Hello out there! This is Tuomas Holopainen, the keyboard player and songwriter for the Finnish band Nightwish and you’re listening to”

TH: Is that ok?

BEC: That’s perfect!

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