Interviews & articles
Interview by Unknown
31 Aug 2007
Interview with Nightwish's Tuomas Holopainen
Nightwish is nowadays Finland's greatest music export which competes against Lordi. The state of the affair isn't quite balanced because all eyes are now on Nightwish. The new album Dark Passion Play will be released next week and the tour starts in October. Even the smallest daily papers are following the band's news. However, the biggest question is “what power takes the thing forth?” The singer or the composer?
Let us focus on the most important person of Nightwish: without Tuomas Holopainen we wouldn't have Nightwish or anything to talk about. Elsewhere most of the Finnish media is reporting about the new album, about the new singer, about the expectations and the band's change, but we wanted to meet this man from behind the scenes. First we saw of Tuomas Holopainen was an old sailor's smile and a piercing gaze – after that, being in a surprisingly positive mood, Tuomas turned out to be a bit more exeptional person. And then this shy boy, every goth girl's dream, told with his calm dialect about his favourite drinks and his woman of dreams.
Hi, how's it going?
Nothing special. I just haven't waken up yet, but it'll pass.
Did anything extraordinary happen yesterday?
Not really. We were rehearsing with the band. Actually I went to bed at ten.
So how's the band? Getting ready for the album release and the tour?
Well... Everything's going very smooth... I mean everyone seems very excited, even a bit scared about the coming gigs and how they'll go. Anette is doing really well at the rehearsal. The band is still completely out but we still have time (laughter)...
Of the new album's songs Eva touches me the most. What can you tell about the song?
I've always written songs about childhood, innocence and childhood's happiness so this time I decided to do a song about the other side of childhood. There's no real story behind Eva, she's just a girl who's bullied at school. She's the most sincere, perfect human being you can imagine, who goes to school every day not knowing what the day will bring. A sad little story.
But you don't have such experiences?
No, but I've seen it happen. I've never been bullied, so to speak.
Let's talk about childhood a bit more. You've always said how perfect your own childhood was, living and growing up in the countryside. But on the other hand, isn't it important for children to grow in a more social environment, with other children?
Of course that is also important. I had this kind of side in my childhood. I had lots of friends at school when I was little.
You've also said that you don't like to explain the meanings of songs and albums but among the new songs there are some that send a very clear message, like Bye Bye Beautiful...
You can tell about them, but I don't want to explain them word by word. It's no secret that Bye Bye Beautiful tells about Tarja. It's our farewell to her. I don't know where the title came from. It just came. The song is made in good spirit. It could be called Bye Bye Ugly One but that would've been very insulting, wouldn't it (laughter)?
In the end of the older Ever Dream is mentioned that it tells about your two dreams, one of which came true. What about the other one?
Never (laughter) no...
Is it true that you'll re-record Angels Fall First-album with Anette?
No. It's just a rumour. We aren't going to re-record old albums, that's for sure. Maybe we'll record live versions of some older songs, as bonus tracks in example, but nothing in a studio.
What's the next single and video?
Bye Bye Beautiful. It's quite surprising, something you'd never have expected to see on a Nightwish video. It's rather shocking, everyone who has seen it has been like “what the f*ck”. And you know, I think it's quite ironic. It's also funny, in a way, although it's not one of my favourite videos.
In what state of mind were you composing the new album?
Well... Bitter, very sad, dark...
Have you got over it?
Yeah!!! (really happily) It's actually a funny thing because every song on the album has been composed in 2005 and in the beginning of 2006. I saw things very differently back then. Now it feels really strange to rehearse songs like Poet and the Pendulum or Bye Bye Beautiful because I can't get into the same feeling anymore. Now I sort of hear them like an outsider. But though feelings have changed since then we can still play those songs.
Many things have happened during the past year. Big changes. Do you feel like you've evolved as a person and as a musician in the process?
Things have actually changed very little. The soul of the musician, my persona, hasn't really changed. Maybe I've become more cynical, I can face certain things in humour and I don't get insulted so easily. The media rumba of 2005 taught me a lot in that. Maybe I'm also a bit more broadminded and I don't take things so personally and seriously. But the shyness and the self-esteem issues still exist. Perhaps I believe in me a bit more, but just a bit.
Then, what do you still miss in your life?
Let's say balance... (long pause). I feel like all things are going up and down inside me but I wish they'd get balanced. Or that I could forgive myself the matter that I'm not perfect in all ways. I'm also very impatient so patience is the virtue I'd like to have. 'Cause everything has to happen here and now, like with little children, so...
What do you think on stage, when you are performing?
On stage you feel like you're in your own micro cosmos. You really live the songs there, you don't just play them, you sink into them. You're like in a totally different world. You don't really think about it. I like to play with my eyes closed because when I look at the audience I go rigid as shit. This of course depends on where you play and how you feel. Usually a gig is a two-hour escape to your own little world, at its best it's a huge mutual orgasm between the band and the audience.
Which do you appreciate more, the making process or the result?
Definitely the process. It's a thing you have to remember. We've been doing this album ten months in studio. You just wait the day when the finished package and the master tape is in your hands. The feeling is relieved every time that happens, “finally it's done”. But then hits the depression. “It's over already?” - so the journey is always more rewarding than the arrival. You keep that in mind.
Speaking of making albums, what was the best and what the worst feeling you had when making this album?
Hmm... In many ways this was the easiest album of all. I mean that there wasn't a spiritual jam in any point, the chemistries were working constantly, everyone was really self-confident. So even though it was a big process, it really was the easiest. We had also very fun in the studio. I can't think of anything bad...
Maybe the fact that it took so much time. So the worst part was that I was married to these songs for two years. I thought about them each day, every moment. When I finally got the master in my hands I couldn't make anything out of it the first time I listened to it. After that I couldn't listen to the album in weeks. That took some time but I can listen to it now and it feels good.
Were you able to take a vacation after the studio sessions?
I had a week off a couple of weeks ago. I had finally time to move in to my new house.
What's it like?
It's great (smiles). It's the first residence I actually own. It's truly fantastic to own something own. I don't often get the urge to take an actual vacation. As a musician I'm never at work and never on a vacation. The boundary between the two is very fragile.
And then something totally different. Here are a few objects. Choose a couple of them, the ones that mean something to you. Then tell us what they mean or represent to you.
There was a mask, a dwarf figurine, Disney's Beauty and the Beast figurine, a five Euro bill, Oceanborn-cd, a compass, a small bottle of whiskey, a leather whip, a tea bag, an old black-and-white photograph, a needle and a key in the basket.
So what ever comes to mind? Well, those two (dwarf figurines) instantly caught my eye since my mother calls me her own little house elf. So whenever I come home from anywhere there's always a card in my room, saying “welcome home, my little house elf”. I think that's quite cute. I love her, she's great! I love these kind of elf and fantasy figurines.
This other elf is a cook, the other takes care of himself.
Oh yes. I like to cook and eat... Though I don't take very good care of myself. I dye my hair time to time and put on some kohl now and then, but that's pretty much it.
The next object is definitely this whiskey bottle. See, when it comes to liquor, whiskey is my favourite drink!