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2004: Interviews during the Once tour


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I'm posting this interview here because it's interesting and it's from another website that has gone offline in the recent years.



Nightwish 2004 Tour Feature
by Ann Marie Reilly

Tuomas Holopainen Interview

On September 5 [2004], BeyondEarCandy.com 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 really..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 BeyondEarCandy.com.”

TH: Ok

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

TH: Is that ok?

BEC: That’s perfect!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's one with Tarja this time, from June 2004 during the Once tour.


Nightwish - June 2004

Written by Silvia Deurwaarder

Published: 19 February 2005

Interview with: Tarja Turunen

There are moments in life for which you are longing, no matter how short they give you a feeling you want to hold on to forever. This is the case with the interview with Nightwish; who literally showed me another world with the release of ‘Over the hills and far away’. The success of the band from Kitee, Finland seems as much of a fairytale as the world they create with their music. They established themselves with early adaptors with the release of ‘Wishmaster’, but the commercial success came with the album ‘Century Child’. This album was in many ways the turning point for the band and with the release of ‘Once’ they have reached yet another height in the fairytale called Nightwish.

The interview with Tarja will be a moment of pause to look back but also forwards. Don’t expect a elaborate background story, but a emotional story of singer who still dares to dream. Tarja walks in hastily and apologises for arriving to late. There were some trouble with the van which was to drive the band form a signing session in Nijmegen to the festival. Still she looks fit, no thanks to the tensions concerning the show of that evening. “This festival is very strict and we have only one hour. Too much fireworks have been ordered, so all songs will be full of it.” The show on Dynamo Open Air this evening will be the kick off for the ‘Once’ tour which will last until the end of 2005. They will play many familiar songs but also some new ones to see how the audience reacts to them.

The singer of Nightwish has a very clear opinion about performing on festivals and speaks about it energetically (she even takes her sunglasses of for it). “Of course we prefer concerts, but they both have their plus points. Especially with concerts you can rely on the technique. With a festival there are loads of people to see you, you loose time with the sound check and uncertain about how the show will go you enter the stage. Still, the first song has to be perfect, but it is always nice to see so many different people have come to see us. It feels great to see familiar faces in the audience; that is fantastic”

Tarja talks soft to save her voice. She has picked the corner of the dressing room farthest from the stage but still the sounds from Children of Bodom reach us, we can clearly hear they are finishing their show at this time. She moves closer to be able to keep speaking with such a soft voice.
Regularly she apologises to either blow her nose or take a sip of water. “No, I don’t have a cold but my voice is my weakness, because it is my instrument I have to be very careful with it.” Now and then band members walk in, they all seem very busy. Tarja explains that their will be another signing session at the festival later on and their not really looking forward to it because they expect a huge crowd."

With ‘Once’ the band has proven again to be able to easily extend the famous Nightwish sound with new elements. Tarja smiles proudly after this remark. “Yes of course we will stay the Nightwish you’re used to, but I think the band has more of a live sound with these heavy guitar riffs. It is more grand as well, due to the cooperation of the ‘London Symphonic Orchestra’ with which we created an entire new world of sound. There’s less keyboard in the songs now but on the other hand it is still easy to listen to”
After a silence in which she stares pensively she ads: “I think it’s amazing, hopefully we’ll grow more and more in the future."

With this said, the dreamy side of Tarja surfaces. With passion she talks about the classical world she is in now. “Since our start in 1997 we have been able to reach more people with each album and that is great. Al of a sudden we have so much success you almost don’t dare to dream anymore”.
Choosing her words carefully she continues: “It may be funny to say but it really is a dream come true. It all went so fast and we’ll just keep on going following our dream one way or the other.”

Still everything has it’s downside. Tarja also feels there are two sides to all things and she obviously has trouble getting used to the fame: “it is hard to handle the success. In Finland for instance I can’t walk down the street without being recognised or being stopped for an autograph. It is funny that we sell more over there than Britney Spears. It is hard for it is an honour of course but it is not easy to live with these two faces. Oh well I can’t complain, it is my profession and I’ve got the chance to make music.”

What keeps her going? A smile appears and without any doubt she says: the classical music and Nightwish. After this there is no holding her for she really wants to tell about her enthusiasm for the combination of these two styles of music.
“Those two go hand in hand. When I grow in classical music, I grow in Nightwish and the other way round. It is the same media but still in two different worlds. With classical music I have no sound amplifiers and I feel totally naked, then I have to give myself more because you hear my real voice. You’re a singer every day, you get sick easy and there are many things I have to take care of, it is a lifestyle.”

Still the conversation leads us back to ‘Once’. Tarja dampens her voice and Is careful about the message the album is carrying. “Actually there is no message for all songs, more than on the other albums, are separate songs. They are mostly songs which come from the diary of Tuomas. He is no big fan of a concept album or telling people how to live their lives. It is about sharing emotions. If you listen to the radio these days there is hardly any music which touches me and I need that. We really want to share our emotions.”

According to Tarja the source of inspirations is the inner world of Tuomas, who is sitting opposite of her and doesn’t want to say much about it. The question comes to mind whether it is not hard for him to translate his emotions in to a song. Tarja thinks about this and then nods.

“He is very open in his music. He tells what he really feels. You can read the lyrics and that will be enough. I try to feel that and reflect these emotions. Some songs are easier than others of course, but I interpret them in my own way. It is the soul of everybody in the band.”

When making the album these emotions surface again: “Everybody makes their arrangements for a song. We all talk it over with Tuomas and usually I am the last one to go to the studio, but the rest of the band really works hard together. We have a very strong connection.”

According to Tarja the contribution of the new bassist Marco, who first appeared on Century Child, has to do with this as well. “We are really close now and you notice this when you see us on stage.”
Tarja laughs at the question to take a peek in to the future. “We are booked full until the end of 2005. Tuomas will keep on writing, he is probably thinking about his musical ideas now, for he is very close to his lifestyle now and we will see how tired we are when we get back. Of course the story continues … If we don’t get sick of each other during our tour” she ads laughing.

We'd like to thank Tarja, Nuclear Blast, Janis of Mojo concerts, Ewo, Toni and Nightwish.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's another interview from the Once era, while we're on the topic of the Once Remaster.


Nightwish - February 2005

Written by Silvia Deurwaarder

Published: 06 April 2005


Interview with Marco Hietala

When Marco Hietala (vocals and bass) became a new band member of Nightwish in 2002, the year 'Century Child' was released, the people were sceptic because they were afraid Tarja wouldn’t sing that much anymore. None of this happened; the clean vocals of Marco were a good contrast to the beautiful opera voice of Tarja.

After that it went very fast with the band, because the record was a huge success (within two days gold in Finland and in two weeks the album was platinum).  The band did a lot of shows and Marco became a good right hand of Tarja; it seems that everything was complete. The mega success of Nightwish exploded this year and with the “Once” tour the band is doing the longest tour ever to promote the latest album 'Once' (2004). In total more than 150 concerts in one year. In this hectic period I have the chance to speak with Marco before their show at the Heineken Music Hall.


At this moment the band just had one month a break to be at home, now they continue their tour. How can you go on, night after night, without the chance to see your family, that’s what I wonder. When Marco tells about it he’s very open, sitting behind the table in the cantina, but relaxed.
“It’s hard sometimes, but it isn’t as bad as, like Iron Maiden did for example, to be on the road for one year. So we basically take it for 3/4 weeks and than things get weak and we take some rest at home. We had whole January off so I could stay at home and spend some time with the family, so we try to concentrate on that, try to keep people like healthy, focussed, spirits and physics. You can break down and I have seen it happen to people. Also you get the symptoms as well when people start to stress out. I guess so far we’re still here together, so we been able to kind of recognise these things for what they are. It’s like standing by each other and when they talk about things sensibly, we come to see each other as well;  it’s something to look after for.”

I can imagine that when you’re in the music business for so long things get routine, even with these kind of feelings and emotions. 
“Well personal relationships never get routine. There are things you’re used to do with people, but still strange things can happen. With the people I know, when somebody goes crazy, mental at something, and has to put this away for some weeks. You would never believe it in a normal life and you have to be careful with it; look at them and see what’s going on under the surface. Especially in this job, which is kind of stressful, you have to be aware of what’s going on. We have to be very close together. There are times that even we don’t see it this way, because we’re that close to the thing. When you put an outsider between us he can see the connections going. That’s what you said about routine, we don’t see that. I think a lot is routine and at least it’s a constant decision try to see beyond that.”


With the new record 'Once' it was the first time that Marco could bring in a lot of things.
“Of course I was already doing “Century Child”, but I was a little bit green and had to find out how things were being done here. The sound was pretty different from my other bands like SINISTRY or TAROT.” The making of a record is a very long process and it’s hard to understand how all the members put everything together. Marco explains: “At least it took a long time, but I think when we started to rehearse things for the demo and arranging the whole thing together, that was when the chemistry was very strong in the rehearsing room, because we really stayed there for long hours. We talked things over like; what thing happens here and what if this bass line doesn’t work out, what shall I do?

Everybody was checking out things if everybody was ok with it, so that could also be a reason for arguments, but not this time. Basically everybody was aiming to find the most perfect and impressing result. In that way we worked well. Also the people in the band have strong egos most of the time, like ‘that’s my idea and I want to do it’ now we really got over that. We have no trouble like that at all; it was really refreshing to do things this way. This album took a long time, but it went very natural and easy going. It was great to hear it grow every time you got your hands on it: from the rehearsal till in the studio, hearing new parts and when you came in touch with the stuff it was like getting bigger and harder!”


The production of 'Once' has not very strong bass lines: they are not very noticeable and they are in the base of the song, but not always very clear to hear in comparison with other melody lines. Marco can imagine that:
“That’s exactly something I did not have part in when things where on the mixing table. When I would have been there I probably would have said something: Bass up louder! It might not serve the whole purpose of doing things, because when you get a few people in the studio, you’ll end up with arguments. I can trust these people with what they do and how you get a punching riff and when the orchestral part comes in. When I compare it with Century Child the last album isn’t that dark. Again you do have a contrast with the lyrics and the melody lines. The band is heavier with all the riff stuff like the drums. I think that’s a contrast where we’re unconsciously aiming for. You have a real punchy metal band underneath the whole thing and then the atmospheres from the keyboard and the orchestration and choirs. We are lucky bastards! The band found his legs this time.

When Tuomas made the Century Child record he really was in dark moods and making the record was very hard for him. He didn’t know what to do. Then again:  it was purified for him to finish it and to start the tour. Then I saw him freshen up like: the band is working again. In the past the records were a bit over expressed, so with this one we managed to focus more to the essentials you have in a song. You have the whole band playing, then you have to put a guitar solo loud, because it’s essential. In this way there’s space lot the right things who come across and that means that the band has grown to understand these things in order to be able to hold back when you need to do that. When you do things long enough you start to understand what’s fundamental.”

When I wonder if that maybe has to deal with the fact that he came in, he’s very shy about that:
 ”In a way I brought a more relaxed attitude to them: whatever you do, no matter how big worlds you’re moving around within the songs, it still is a rock ‘n roll band to play live.” It seems that he feels no pressure at all, but he does: “I do feel pressure, the bigger the band gets the more I feel it, because people expect a lot. The main thing is still that, even it’s more tiring than before,  you’re still a human being and to focus on that. I mean if you’re no god or something you don’t put up a show for them. You don’t have to act the role of a rock star. I am a person who hooked up with something and now I am doing it.”

Marco also composed “Higher than Hope”:
“I play the acoustic guitar in the intro of the song and I wrote those lines. The melody lines of the vocals of the choirs and the verse are mine as well. I wrote a lot of stuff, not only the bass but the whole thing. I do write a lot of music when I am at home. I have a lot of things going on in my mind and I just put some things on a demo and gave it to Tuomas to check it over; see if something would have the Nightwish style. I immediately had the reaction when I wrote “Higher than Hope” that this would be great stuff for Nightwish. The intro part has been with me for at least 3 years, but I had no song where to fit I into."

Sometimes Marco need some time to think about things, also when I ask him how he gets the ideas for a song. 
“There’s no clear recipe for it. Sometimes the easiest way is when you play something and you find a riff. I have to remember it and put it on a demo and give it to other people to make something out of it. Sometimes you’re on an airplane or a bus and get a thing going on and have bass lines, thinking: I wish I had an instrument now. It can happen anywhere.  I don’t need a special mood, because I think the mood comes over you at times and then in happens. Of course there are times when you have timetables for rehearsal in the studio, when you sit down and try to find something. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Most of the time Marco is an easy talker and very open about things. His long hair covers his eyes at times, but he smiles a lot. He really enjoys what he does. Marco studied classical and musical studies. When I ask him if this knowledge helps him to create songs, he hesitates a bit, but then answers:
“Well it helps a bit to understand harmonies: how the layers of things that you have from the base bottom to operate like the keyboard parts and all that. So it helps you to understand the whole process of how the things harmonize together, but also to understand basic music rules, but it can be a chain. It can put you in a musical prison: you can’t do this because it’s not right! The main thing is when you know the rules It’s time to break them. You can remember that you play rock ‘n roll music and that’s meant to move people and not to analyse it. So it’s about the right time, right place within the song and at the right moment. The main thing to work on is to find an expression and I want to translate some kind of feeling.” In the classical world music rules very strict Marco tells and he had a hard time dealing with it: “I studied musical theory and all that.  It was hard for me, because I was looking to the lines too much: how do they harmonize and does it sound good? You have to look at the whole thing and not only the separate lines.”


Like Marco said before, he wants to have an important feeling in every song. Also he tries to have that feeling again on stage to get the energy:
“When you go play live you have the basic intensity already going through you before the show. When the time that you have to go on stage gets closer minute by minute, you really get that like ‘yeah I am gonna do it again’. In a way it’s kind of a sinister. You have the bottom intensity going, but of course there are sensitive places at the show. There are a lot of different movements, so I have to prepare for that. You have to be able to find those mood swings and work with them. Of course you can simulate some feelings, but it’s always more expressive when you can make it to yourself like a real experience to be able to relate some lyrical lines. That’s the first thing you do when you get a new line to sing: try to focus on the feeling and what are the lines which effect you, because those are probably the lines which effect people when you’re singing."

Bands are a kind of mystery in the way they prepare their show. Marco tells me that Tarja starts very early with her warming up, sometimes more than an hour before the show. In comparison to her he calls himself a bit lazy:
“I do a couple of exercises and try to get into a kind of bass - court and then also some secret stuff what nobody can hear, because I already do that during the first song. After the entire whole band is punching out and I don’t have to sing, so I do a lot of vocalising then so when I have to sing it comes out.”


When Marco became a member of Nightwish it was very natural: it was like he had always been there. He can understand this and for him it was very natural as well:
“The chemistry was there really fast. I guess it also helped that we knew each other a little bit from before when I was playing in SINERGY: we did a tour together for five weeks. At that time already I was also going on stage with Nightwish, because Tuomas asked me to sing 'The Beauty and the Beast' because he didn’t want to sing that anymore and the people were asking for it. The guys called me: “Hey would you like to come over and talk about, maybe you can play for Nightwish.” So I said: “Let me finish my coffee” and Tuomas told me that he wanted to have heavier stuff and at least had songs with men lead vocals, so that sounded good for me. When it wasn’t me than probably Tuomas would have had another bass player and Toni from SONATA ARCTICA for the vocals. I went to the rehearsal room with the guys and we recorded some stuff which was very relaxing.”


Now the band has a lot of success and Marco is still very down to earth:
“I know that it will stop one day. That’s what happened to every band. There are exceptions like the ROLLING STONES. I don’t really expect something like that. If things happen and we can go for it, make everything bigger, that’s alright. I do have my feet on the ground in a way to be able to realise that these things don’t necessarily happen. You don’t make things happen just by wanting it to happen. Of course it helps to want things and to be able to work towards that goal, but this is an imperfect world. I have to be realistic, but I am happy with the way things are going right now: the band is really doing well and I love the last album. There’s more heavy stuff with a lot of atmospheric things as well. I am proud of it and I am happy that we were able to do it. I also hope very much that we are able to do that again, but I also know that things are not always possible.”

When I ask Marco what his is goal to work for, he has to think about it. He is an expressive person and when he starts to talk his hands are moving, together with his face. He sounds very enthusiastic when he realizes what he wants:
“What is going on right now is to be able to have this tour going well and to be able to make new fans. That’s the point of touring. Then again, after that we start to write new stuff and rehearse that. The main thing is to rehearse some really good music. Not try to get over the last one, but something to satisfy us: which is impressive by itself and not make a hit song like “Nemo”. To keep things honest, I guess that’s the way to be expressive to other people. So they can hear that you have your mind and hart into it.”

Marco never thought that it would come this far with the band:
“I didn’t know how it would happen or when, but I do try to become a musician and from the beginning my goal was to have success in a rock band. For now it’s good, so I am a happy man. I still have to remember as well that I was very lucky to be asked by a band which was in a rising position. It’s not that I am responsible for that. I am just happy that I am a part of making it better. Well the other side is that two little boys miss me…it’s a survival attitude for me. It’s me who’s the head of the family so it’s a responsibility in a way. After this tour I go home and go back to TAROT, because they are my oldest friends. We have demoded some stuff. So we do an album next year. Last time it went very fast, but that was nice, and also a bit strange. I am very close with my little brother and the keyboard player so it came out very natural.”

After this Marco needs his rest to prepare the show. I want to thank him for the great time and also the other band members and crew.


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  • 6 months later...

Interview with Tarja Turunen from Nightwish

by Yiannis Mitsakos, 05 October 2004


Selected excerpts:

It's no secret around here that I am a big fan of female vocalists in metal bands and Tarja Turunen from Nightwish is my favorite lady. The interview was taken a couple of days before the band leaving for the North America tour [August-September 2004] and it's really interesting with info about their next album, the 2005 tour, her future plans and much, much more.

[The album Once] was a huge success especially for a heavy metal band. What were the elements in your opinion that made Once so successful?

Oh, that’s a good question. Well I believe that it has to do with our background that we’ve already worked for like 7 years. We had created a fan base in so many countries around the world, so they already knew us but basically it’s a music business and there are new companies working with us very well. With the promotion and the hard work we have done, traveling around the world promoting the new album etc. All these campaigns you can get with the TV, the media generally. Then of course, we have a great album in our hands, so…\[laughs]. So I guess probably that also has something to do with the media. It’s a package you know, it’s a package and I think that we were ready to take this challenge.

You’ve conquered Europe and the band is bigger than ever. Do you feel that perhaps your destiny lies with Nightwish after all? I mean, a few years ago your top priority was to be an professional opera singer.

Not actually that. I’m a chamber singer, a lead singer when I’m making that kind of church music, I’m on my own lead concerts but my goal with Nightwish is still as long as we’re having a good time, as long as we’re doing this music with Nightwish I’m going to be the singer of the band. But on the other hand Nightwish needs to give me time to do my own classical career, I mean the thing with the concerts because I’m not studying anymore in order to be free and concentrate on all the concerts, the touring and stuff like that on my own. So this means that I’m still concentrating on those things too because they keep me going, they keep me healthy – mentally. I don’t think I’d be healthy if I only were a Heavy Metal singer. I am still concentrating on both things. Of course priority number one is Nightwish now.

In Once you’re using a much softer voice, less operatic. In my opinion it sounds much better than Century Child. Considering though that your area of expertise is operatic vocals, did you feel weird or perhaps uncomfortable?

I feel very comfortable with Once because I have tried to change my singing style with Nightwish already since Century Child because Tuomas requested that, the songs requested that. Also it’s easier for more people to listen to this kind of voice. It has been hard work and I didn’t manage to do that on Century Child, I was not very happy with it. On Once it’s all very natural, how I’m singing and what I’m singing. But as I said, it has been really hard work because I’ve been a classical singer for the last ten years so it was hard to start over again and think of different styles. Of course I’m always singing with my classical techniques, I never sing with my poor speaking voice – I cannot do that anymore\[laughs]! So now I’m very comfortable with what Tuomas has done because he was able to write for my voice; it was also a lesson for him as it was for me.

Many people consider Once to be a once in a lifetime album. How easy do you think it will ever be for Nightwish and especially Tuomas to top Once in the future?

He has already written three new songs for Nightwish! \[laughs] [...] Yeah and he has told me that it’s going to be a really better album than Once. Do you believe me??? he asked me and I said Yes I do! If you say it’s going to be a better album, I do!. \[laughs]

I couldn’t help noticing that the entire theme and lyrics of the album were a lot darker than the previous ones. What inspired Tuomas and perhaps the rest of the band to take that turn?

Well yes, the album’s completely more heavier and darker yet still I think that Century Child was like a shock for everybody to read the lyrics because it was really rough writing and deeply darkly emotional album. I think Once has more light in it. The lyrics are mostly from Tuomas’ diary; he’s really very honest with his music – he’s writing from his diary, his own experiences, ambitions, his own dreams.He’s like an open book! It’s amazing that somebody can write like that.

How do you feel that metal fans have been towards you all this time?

Amazing. I mean, as a female singer in Heavy Metal…it’s not easy being a female singer in Heavy Metal. It’s not easy being a woman in  Rock or Pop; you need to take care of your looks, you need to take care of your attitude. But for me when I entered the Heavy Metal circle people already knew my background, that I was not a Heavy Metal singer or Rock singer, they knew that I was a classical singer. I have kept that attitude and I have kept that classical side besides Nightwish and they know that. They really respect me and that’s amazing. It has been an amazing experience for me to be with Nightwish and tour around the world and meet people. They really appreciate what I’m doing and that’s what keeps me going!

So do you think that people would have the same attitude towards you in other kinds of music, if you were Pop or just Classical?

If you think about Classical, there are many Nightwish fans coming to my Classical concerts. It’s interesting for them to really hear my real voice.

The full capability of your voice…

Yeah and they go wow, this is your voice? We only hear 1/3 of your voice in Nightwish concerts, so it’s interesting for them.

Some of the people who probably discovered Nightwish a couple of months ago,  compare you a lot to Evanesence, which has pissed off a lot of your fans. They even compared the cover artwork of Once to that of an Evanesence single…

It was not meant to be like that, it did not have anything to do with Evanesence’s cover. We just realized that afterwards, you know. Hey if people think that this is similar, so let them think. It has nothing to do with that really. I can also mention that when Tuomas heard Evanesence’s music for the first time, he was completely pissed off. He was pissed off by the fact that it’s a totally different style (that of Evanesence) and because they had a woman singing and because it had a little bit of metal inside it…but it’s a totally different style and kind of music. People tend to compare our music to Evanesence and it’s very funny because there are not that many elements there that we have in common. \[laughs]

With your North American tour on mind, how are things there? (The interview was taken a couple of days before that tour).

It’s a very hard market area. Our albums have been released in USA but nothing big happened there…

Perhaps it’s due to the MTV industry of nu-metal.

Yes and you should really be there to work hard for three or four months in a row and we have time to be there one month. It has to do a lot with promotion, it’s very hard for European bands to win the US.

Can you see yourself having a family and still touring with Nightwish in say…ten years from now?

Not touring like this, I don’t think so! \[laughs] We have been thinking about it, talking about it with the other guys in the band and well…some of us already have kids and wives waiting at home so like if Nightwish is still alive in the future…it’ll probably be like two concerts every year or something like that! \[laughs]

Maybe you’ll be just a studio band?

Yeah, maybe that or everyone of us will be doing something different and we’ll just be getting together again for some concerts or who knows. Nightwish has always been a band that doesn’t look or think much ahead into the future. Right now we only know what we have to do until 2006 and that’s enough for us I think.

Full interview here.

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