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[Translation] Monster: A week with Nightwish in Oslo (2004) - Interviews

translated by Norwegian Oceansoul

The Finns in Nightwish are having an enormous success nowadays, and has amongst other things topped the “VG-lista” (A norwegian hitlist).
Originally there was one gig sceduled on Rockefeller, that quickly turned into two after a recordbreaking ticketsale. Soon a third show was put up, and what do you know? This one got sold out too! For this reason the band stayed for a week, the last day with a playback-gig in Bergen during the VG-lista top 20-show.
A short week with a bunch of Finns often leads to a lot of alcoholic fluids, and the guys in Nightwish are not making fools out of their countrymen, more the opposite, something that was remarcably easy to identify with for the Monster tag-team, Pudding & Fruke.
Already after the first show, Wednesday night we hook up with manager Ewo Rytkönen, and parts of the crew, and last but not least, parts of the warmup-band Entwine, forout first dosage of finnish culture. The band itself had gone straight ot the hotel this evening. But the following evening the party was on at Elm Street (Norwegian metal-club) with the entire band, except from an ill bass-player. Drumemr Jukka Nevalainen kept himself, shockingly enough, to Munkholm (Norwegian non-alcohol beer), while the other drank more than enough to make up for it – with good help from the pyro-technicians. We learned that drunk finns aren’t a myth at all, even though the knife was kept in their pockets this evening. For some reason it seemed as if guitarist Emppu Vuorinen was terrified of fat men, so it was impossible to get anywhere near him the entire week – as soon as Puding showed his 140 kiloes, he was simply gone, every single time. And of coursel, the Monster-team couldn’t let this be, so with Ewo’s help we had great fun with putting Pudding where ever Emppu might show up. That poor thing…
After a drunken Thursday we made arrangements with Ewo for an interview-session; Friday three a’clock at their hotel. They had, just to be sure, booked their rooms in an area where east-european girls gave both mental and physical guidance, something Ewo had to make comments of.
Out of all the five members Tuomas seemed to be the only one capable of showing up, though he had to be placed in the category “trashed”. The background for this state was quickly explained:

“You see, sometimes we like to have - well, actually pretty often- we like to have theme-nights, and last night theme happened to be alcoholism.”

And todays’ theme is obviously hangovers, heh.. What other themes do you usually have on this kind of evenings?

“Uhm.. Actually, I can’t think of any others at the moment.“

Rrright.. First of all: Congratulations with the gigantic success of both Once and the single Nemo! At this point you’re even topping the Bilboards european list!

“Thanks alot! Yeah, the response has been incredible! We did think that we had something good going on, but now we’re even selling in countries we’ve never even visited, like Greece! All of our expectations had already been reached, and far more than that, so we just say a huge thank you to Nuclear Blast that has done such a great job promoting us!”

What do you think is the major reason you’re selling so well at this point?

“There’s propably a lot of reasons for that, and hopefully, without sounding like I’m full of myself, I would first of all like to think that it’s because we have made a really good album. It has songs with hit-potencial and a lot of weird shit it will take some time to digest – what I think is that the album will hold, and maybe grow as you listen more to it. There’s lots of small details on it, that won’t be noticed before you have heard it several times. This gives the listener new things to discover every time.“

So you don’t think it has anything to do with having a hot, female singer, do you?

“Hehe, of course it helps! Image is important, but only to a certain degree. If your album sucks, it won’t help no matter how hot you are. I think it has more to do with being at the right place at the right time + the fact that we already got ourselfs a solid fanbase through the first four albums. And we also did our best to make this album as good as possible. We’ve watched the market and discovered that metal is more and more in, ecspecially metal with vocals like Tarja. So this was out chance to be at the right place at the right time.”

At this point Screams magazines reporter Haakon Grav, who has been a laughing listener gets up to leave, after first to have invited Tuomas out for sushi the following day. Naturally, we grasp this chance at once, and asks if he’s really going to eat poor Nemo…

“Aaah, it had to come… This songtitle is a coincidence. I’ve yet to experience an interview where this isn’t brought up. But, it tastes yummy.“

Tihi, bon apetite – let’s hope that Nemo won’t come back up after tomorrow dinner. But talking about fish, was it you who had the idea and control over the fish-hunting-song?

“Only partly. I had the idea that the band was gonna play in the snow, and that a girl was gonna jump from a bridge and say buh-bye. But after sometime the director called and said that we had to return and change it – he mean that the video would never be played anywhere with a message containing suicide. This sounded fair enough, so we made a new version.”

What’s the next single/video?

“That will be WIHAA, which will be released in late august. The video has already been made and at this one we used the director Uwo Bohl, which also directed the video Alone in the dark. The song will be a part of the soundtrack. Actually the songs will be played during the credits, which is rally cool! It’s a typical soundtrack-video, with short clips from the movie.”

You are also a selfintiteled film-freak, and you have been saying that your biggest dream is to write music for movies. Are you getting any closer to this yet?

“No, not really. At this point I dedicate all my time to Nightwish, and I propably won’t get time to do anything else the next three-four years either. Maybe when I get old and weary of being drunk, hehehe! Tarja has also put Nightwish in front of anything else, so the rest of us can’t do any less. There are no concrete plans on the menu either. But Pip Williams who did the arrangements for Once has uttered his interest in working with me later on. The lad is good friends with all the big guys, like Hans Zimmer and Howard Shore, so I felt like there’s a door open for the future…”

Back to present time – you guys have some loooong months ahead of you with travelling and touring. When’s this tour ending anyway?

“Ooouff.. We’ll be on the road more or less ‘till november/december 2005, but I’m not unhappy about that at all! Actually I love being on tour, playing at small clubs here and there.”

Why have you scheduled for three gigs at Rockefeller, with a total of ca.5000 fans, instead of doing one gig at a bigger place?

“If you ask me, and that’s what you did, that’s the perfect way of touring. We won’t have to take the equipment up and down, so in that way we’ll get some calmer days than we would get otherwise”

With more room for theme-nights you mean?

“Yeah, that too! For my own part I like playing at small places alot more than those huge stages. Tarja loves the festivals, but I see them as something I have to go through. Festivals with planerides going here and there sucks big time! It’s like: Getting up at 04:00, be at the airport at 05:00 am, since the plane leaves at 06:00, ten interviews awaiting when we get there, with photoshoots. Then just waiting, waiting, waiting, gig starts at 23:00, have a couple of beers, go to bed, get up 04:00, and so on... It’s much better with a tourbus, and shorter distances. You got to bed in the tourbus, and wakes up well rested the following day, with the opportunity for a proper soundcheck “

You seem a lot more professional and secure at the concert this Wednesday than the last time we saw you, at Sweden Rock this summer. The watercurtain-trick during Nemo was also something new. But the pyroeffects was a little too loud don’t you think?

“Hehe, you’re right about that. Due to a tiny little fuck-up from the Swedish pyro-people, we got bombs designed for huge arenas, not exactly fit for places like Rockefeller.. But everything was in control, and we didn't really have much of a choice. The thing with the watercurtain is something we’ve only tried out one time earlier, but it’s a cool thing! Thanks for saying that we seemed professional too! As far as I can say, there’s only one way of playing, and that is live! Now we are 15 gigs in the tour, and things are starting to go more smoothly. About the gig at Sweden, we didn't have that much luck with the weather either...”

Hehe, no, it might be that you overdid it a bit with the watercurtain....

“Hahahahahaha!! (and so on) *tries to get serious again* True, true! But, lot’s of thumbs up for the audience, who actually endured it all even when the rain was at it’s worst! It wasn’t really riskfree either. The keyboards were soaked after the show, and keyboards are as you might be aware of, electric...”

Yeah, you might wanna ask Gary Thain (Uriah Heep) about that... Are you done with the festivals for now?

“Not entirely. We did Tuska in Helsinki a couple of weeks ago, and I though that was gonna be the last, but we’re gonna play at a “Female singer heavy metal “-festival some time later on. When, I can’t remember right now, but that will at least be the last one this year, thank God. At the moment I’m more concerned about the trip to Canada and USA, where the album hasn’t been released yet. We will wrap it up here in Norway, then we’ll have a few weeks off. After that the tour goes overseas, right after the release there.”

Who will you be touring with over there? Will it be Entwine again?

“No, they are only with us for these three shows. We’ll be the headliners all the way over there as well, and we’ll bring a finnish band named Lullacry, which is more of a band in the more traditional hardrock-style,also with a female singer. Entwine is one of my favourites when it comes to finnish metal, but there’s always a question of money and schedule. This didn’t work out, and I’m not really sure if their goth-inspired music would hit it off the same way over there. “

Apart from the theme-nights, what is your opinion of the Sex, drugs & Rock’n’Roll-myth? You wouldn’t say to much about during your last visit...

“I don’t care much for the kind of bands that go on tour only for the purpose of eating as much pills as possible, and enjoy as many groupies as possible. It’s alright to use the advantages you get from being a rockstar, but the music must always come first. Even though our throats tend to get really dry now and then....
(12 for dinner I’d say.. “reporters comment”) never affects our concerts, which you’ll find out later this evening. Many bands are ruined by partying and drinking, so eventually it’s nothing but a destructive force. We party together, not against eachother, type Mötley Crüe. We always find stuff to do together, like small bets. We can finally afford our own crew, and it’s of course these guys that are force to go through the sillyness, hehehe.”

An example..?

“The worst stunts are performed by my keyboard-technician. One time he bungejumped from the rig during a festivalgig with 20000 viewers, naked. For that he got 200 euros. But that wasn't the worst.. One time he drank a cup of his own piss, that too for 200 euros.“

So you’ve made the most stupid guy in the crew take care of your things?

“Hehehe, no I’d say the poorest.. “

Rrriiiight.. Do I sense low-sallary slavery here?

“Hehe, not at all. But he spends all he got on fat cars and fast women.. Or was it the other way around..??”

Hihihi, how important is it to have your own crew?

“For my own entertainment, very important! Hehe, no, to be serious, it’s really important that everyone knows exactly what to do at all times. Nightwish isn’t, to mention one thing, the easiest band to do sound for, so our regular soundguy knows all the songs as well as we do. We’re starting to get so “big” that we have to sound perfect everytime we play a gig, so we can’t afford any mistakes.”

As you said, you are now a major act. Do you feel that this has changed you as people?

“Of course it does stuff to your head. I’m more cynical than before, and don’t trust people as easily as I did before. But I also feel very honoured to get to experience the things I do, something that goes for the whole band too. There are no “big heads” in Nightwish – I really hope that no one takes us for being that. It propably as something to do with the fact that we come from this little redneck-town, and therefore knows what it is to live under small circumstances, something which is a good thing to carry with you.”

Do you think that other Finnish bands, like HIM and The Rasmus has gained some of their fame because of the attention you have drawn to yourself?

“I think it goes both ways. Remember that both of the bands in question was there before us, even though we might be going up and past them. But for other Finnish band, defienatly. “Hmm, Nightwish is from Finland, they sound cool let’s see what other bands there is from there”. Pretty much the same as with Norwegian blackmetal-bands can take advantage from the ones who were huge before them, also from Norway.”

That’s true, so true... On to something else: Have you already started to think about the next album?

“Yes, that’s a process that’s neverending. I write all the time, but at this time I haven’t thought of too much. I guess, at this point I have themes for two lyrics, with songtitles and one chorus, so there’s still a long way to go. And before you even think about asking- I won’t utter a word!”

Fine, fine.. Once is clearly a more mature album, than everything you’ve done before. Will you take another step this direction to see how long you can push it?

“Yeah, I think we still have a lot to go on, we can still get harder and more bombastic. I don’t think I’ll go for one special thing on purpose, but I think we’ll take out thing one step further. I think out best album is yet to come!”

Do you have a certain way of writing, some kind of a formula?

“Not really, but the thing that happens 90% of the time is that I find some vision of what the song is gonna be about, like a five-minute shortfilm in my head. From there I proceed to the melodies and and music that suits the theme. Lyrics and rhymes comes after that. I’ve never understood how people can write lyrics for other peoples music and so on, for me that’s a process that has to walk hand in hand from the first moment on. So maybe there is a formula after all....”

Do you allow yourself to be influenced by other bands and musicians while being on tour?

“I guess that something sneaks in, without me knowing, but originally my main influences are filmmusic. I’m lucky, cause no matter what I write it ends up sounding like Nightwish. I can write a really cheesy lovesong, and it still sounds like us, I can even write native-American songs...” you did in Creek Mary’s Blood?
“Correct. But the point is, I can get out whatever I might have of musical pervertions in Nightwish.. Hehe...”

We have no trouble believing that! You are the one doing the songwriting. Do you allow the other members to have their say?

“Absolutely. But not before I realize that I can’t improve the songs anymore myself. When I feel that a song is as god as I can get it, I lay it out for the rest of the band. Sometimes the song doesn’t change at all like the tracks Slaying the Dreamer or Bless the Child, sometimes it ends up totally different, like Nemo. To begin with it had double bassdrum-beat and a part with male vocals, and it lasted one minute longer. Times shows that we did the right thing, and I almost always think that the song improves after it has been through the “bandfilter”...”

How do you want people to remember you as a musician when Nightwish eventually are history?

“I hope that people will look at me as an honest musician! I mean, I never think of what fans, recordlabels or even what the band will say when I work on a song by myself. I can honestly say that everything I write comes from the heart, I never care about what others think when I write. It might sound like I’m on a major egotrip, but this is how it works for me. Everything up going through a democratic process when I decide to present it to others anyway. “

No matter how you twist and turn it, apart from Nemo your greatest hit is a coversong, Over the Hills and Far away – why Gary More?

“Hehe, that’s right. That’s the first song I really kicked of on in my life, as a musicvideo. I saw it on Finnish television when I was nine, and thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen –ever! Though I don't really care for the stuff he does nowadays, his three first records are great in my ears. So this cover was sort of a nostalgic-debt. The main reason we did it, was that we had to present something new, since we for quite some time were between two albums, actually it was two and a half years. And we also needed new songs to play live. WE never expected it to be a hit!”

Nowadays you also play Megadeth’s Symphony of Destruction live. How do you think the audience will take it at the gig this Saturday? Do you think the kids (The gig is with no agelimit) will understand what’s happening?

“Hehe.. We feel a little parental-responsibility you know.. Tarja needs, as you know, a break in the middle of the show in order to take care of her voice. Actually we were meaning to do The show must go on with Queen or something by Ozzy, but it didn’t work out. Marco (Hietala, bass) came up with the idea of doing something by Megadeth and that worked out like hell! The fans seem to like it too!”

Yeah, and speaking of fans, have you ever experienced anything uncomfortable with them?

“Not really, but it has actually happened that fans has showed up at my door back home in Finland. Imagine it, I live in the middle of nowhere, and all off the sudden the doorbell rings. I open up, and there I see a bunch of fans, often with flowers, that tells me that they love my music. I accept whatever they might have brought with them of course, and signs whatever they want. And when they’re about to leave they go, “Oh, and btw, we’re from Germany!” It’s flattering, but also very weird! And not least, a bit scary, though they are completly harmless. But I am in the phone-records, and since I’m such a fucking smartass I put my address in the AFF-booklet... (Tuomas Holopainen, Potoskaavarantie 46, 82500 Kitee, Suomi, reporters comment).., so all in all it’s my own fault. But still, I could never imagine myself standing at the doorstep at Hans Zimmers place with flowers. Or James Hetfield for that matter! “

Yeah, it would be kinda weird to show up at a mans house with flowers – in San Fransissco!! (Insert two minutes of hysterical laughter here). But to wrap this up – the last time we met you said that you’d have an orchestra with you on stage sometime during the tour. Any more info on that?

It’ll defienately happen, but when or where is more uncertain. We’d like to do two or three gigs on a bigger stage for classical music, something like Royal Albert Hall in London, but that would in that case not happen ‘till the last part of the tour, next year that is. We’ve already discussed the idea with Pip Williams, and we’ll arrange the entire Once-album and some of our older songs with full orchestra. We’ll also have Johnny Two Hawks with us for Creek Mary’s Blood. And of course, there’ll be a DVD out of it all. “

That doesn’t sound bad at all! Now we are also accompanied by bassist Marco, and he seems to be in remarkably good shape. He lets us know that he’s caught a slight cold, and therefore he chose Spiderman 2 and a good book the previous evening, instead of sticking to the theme. We just about get the time to inform them that a friend of us lost his virginity a short while ago, with a Nightwish-condom – before Emppu, true to his habit – runs like his life depends on it, past us and out to the street. They are going to have a photoshoot at Akershus castle, and we are quick to get a few shots of Tuomas and Marco after they’ve finished to laugh at Frukes t-shirt. A hangoverish Tarja rush past us with a short “Hi”, while a dead-tired Jukka (drums) takes the time to greet us properly.

Later that day we are witnesses to Beatles-like conditions during their signing-session at Egertoget, something that leaves the band baffled. Gigs are done both Friday and Saturday, and the band takes a well-deserved day off on Sunday. That there are no “big heads” in Nightwish are proven Monday evening when the entire band comes to Elm Street for a goodbye-beer, before they depart for Bergen the following day to do the VG-lista-concert. As the twits we are, we practicly beg them to do something to fuck up the playback, like switch out the instruments or something. The answer is that it would propably piss some people off, and that they will propably fuck it up anyway. After an entire week in “Grey, dull and sad” (which is Norway) they were finally going home to the land of a thousand lakes for a small vacation, and to celebrate Marco’s wedding.
Monster wishes him the best of luck!

added by Lonnie on 15.05.06article also available in:  | printer friendly version

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