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Nightwish Interview 2008

 Nightwish Interview May 2008 / New York City

Jason Levine sits down with Tuomas Holopainen & Anette Olzon

Jason:  This is your second time coming to the United States with the new lineup. Today is the first day of the new tour. How did you enjoy the first trip?

Tuomas:  The first one was really good. It was more like a rehearsal tour to be honest. We started off out here for a reason. So that we could kind of like introduce her (Anette) to the mysterious life of rock and roll. Because nobody really knows us here in the US. Hopeful yet. So it was kind of like an easy landing for the band. Especially for her to start it out here. Now when we came back, of course we have a little bit more expectations and like you said earlier we made a little bit of an evolution from that last tour. It was. It felt at least for me really fresh. Really good tonight.

Jason:  (to Anette) In the first tour you had a get out there and sing vibe. Now you go out there with a whole show you bring to the table. How much have you worked on your performance aspect of the shows?

Anette:  Well I just think that when I was here the last time I hadn’t played with the guys so much. It takes some time for me to relax and enjoy the ride. We have had so many shows now that I can concentrate not only on the voice. I can jump around and think about the people too. I think I did that before too. But you know. I was quite nervous and under a lot of pressure the last time we were here. So it’s much more easy now. It’s very good.

Jason:  For the band it’s kind of important to break into the US. I know in the past you wanted to play more in the US and there were issues. Are you now wanting to concentrate and expand more in the States?

Tuomas:  As much as we can actually. Yeah. Because for me it’s not all about breaking in the US. It’s more like this is the hardest market in the whole world. Especially for music like this when you come from outside a native English speaking country like from Finland and Sweden. So if we would make it out here at least on a smaller scale. You can give yourself a real nice pat on the head that you have achieved something that few people can do. So the US market. We take it as a challenge. Like this would be the ultimate goal. But it’s not like we’re out here to conquer the whole country. We just do the best we can. As many tours as we can and see how far it gets us.

Jason:  When you play over Europe you’re used to playing to thousands of people a night. What kind of experience is it to play these more intimate shows over here?

Tuomas:  Everybody in the band is in flames at the moment. I mean it is a whole different experience to play 11,000 people in Europe and it’s like equally good. You get the same kind of vibes. But here playing in Poughkeepsie for 700 people in a really small rock and roll club, you can really feel and smell the sweat and slime and beer and rock and roll. That’s also a whole new experience. Personally I enjoy these kind of small venues even more than big arenas.

Anette:  Yeah. I think it’s more intimate. I can see all the faces almost. Even persons in the balcony. When there’s 15,000 it’s quite hard. I like to have this intimacy with the people. I want to take your hands. I would like to see them. Because I want to sing to them. Of course it’s nice to be in front of 15,000 too. But this is enjoyable like Tuomas said. This is how it should be in a way.

Jason:  You came into a situation where you weren’t sure how the fans were going to react at first.

Anette:  Uh huh.

Jason:  Is it nice to be in these kind of places where you can really get in touch with the fans?

Anette:  Yeah. And you know, when you have a nice feeling like tonight, you feel very welcomed. I think for me America is a bit safer of course than it was in Finland for example. I really like America. I must say. We go in the bus and it’s such a family thing.

Tuomas:  Road trip.

Anette:  It’s a road trip. This is how touring should be. When we’re in Europe we have hotels every night and then you don’t get so much together. Here you really have to sit on each other and that’s nice. Really nice.

Tuomas:  There wasn’t a single working toilet today.

Anette:  No (*laughs*).

Tuomas:  You know, for example, that. No backstage. Nothing like that. That’s the beauty of it in a way.

Anette:  In the first tour I had to make my, you know, needs in plastic bag like the second day or something. This is how touring is (*laughs*). I’m mean in a way this is how it should be. Even if it’s of course comfortable to live in nice hotels and stuff. But this is true rock and roll.

Jason:  Stopping at the rest stops along the way.

Anette:  Yeah, but really. Of course sometimes you feel like oh maybe we should have a good meal of food. But you know, there’s something nice with this really.

Jason:  With Dark Passion Play you started off the album with a 14 minute song. That is very different than what most bands do. What was the thinking behind that?

Tuomas:  I think the thinking behind that decision was that we didn’t think too much. It just felt like the right thing to do. You always try to avoid cliches to the maximum. A cliché would be to put the longest song as the ending track of the album. It just felt right to do it exactly the other way around. Putting it as the number one and it truly works.

Jason:  The song you used to introduce Anette was Eva. Was there a choice behind picking a ballad rather than one of your more upbeat songs?

Anette:  I think only Tuomas knows, because I didn’t have anything to do with the choice of songs.

Tuomas:  I think it’s a nice song. To play it live, for me personally it is one of the most boring songs. But in a way this song I think introduces her, really fits with her voice really well. So that’s why we decided to put it as a teaser for the new album.

Anette:  And it’s quite, you know. Even if it’s a very simple song many people can say. It’s very hard to sing it with emotions. I think a slow song really puts you to the test. Especially when there’s not so many instruments. You really have to lift the song. It may sound simple, but it’s not that easy. It’s easier actually to just sing. Scream and sing (*laughs*). You have to interpret it and go in with a feeling. It’s a very sensitive song with the lyrics too.

Tuomas:  Yeah. This particular song is a perfect example of her at her best. Because what I like the most about her voice and singing is to be able to tell the story. Eva is a short, very short sad little story. She really brought it to life. I think that’s one of her finest moments on the album even though the song itself is not that outstanding in my opinion.

Jason:  You have a few ballads on the album. Meadows of Heaven is another. In general it seems that you changed the style a bit for Anette. Had you thought about that when you decided to go with a new singer?

Tuomas:  Personally I don’t think that we changed the style at all. The sole image of the band remained exactly the same as it has been for the past 11 years. One concrete example to prove this fact is that we had all the songs done and recorded and we still didn’t have a singer. So the whole Dark Passion Play was already recorded without the female vocals and we didn’t have a singer. Then we decided that she would be the one. Invited her over. Had a couple of rehearsals. Then she came to the studio and sang her parts. So in that way, there was no way that we could have influenced into the songs with her voice in our heads, because we didn’t know who was going to sing this.

Jason:  It all worked out well, because your voice goes great with these songs.

Anette:  Yeah. But this album I didn’t have any say. Luckily the range worked. Of course there were some parts where you had to sing with different voices, etc. I think next album will be easier because I will be there. But I just had to go and use my voice as an instrument like in an orchestra. I think that’s how many bands work on projects.

Jason:  Have you guys started working on any new songs together yet?

Anette:  I don’t know if Tuomas has any ideas.

Tuomas:  I have some ideas but it’s far too early to talk about that because the preliminary plan is to go to the studio in 2010. Start rehearsals early 2010 maybe. Something like this. So it’s still very much in the planning stage.

Anette:  And we have so much touring going on that I think it’s hard to find some inspiration at the moment. Still I must say I love all the songs from the new album. So it’s hard to think about something new because I still love to sing all of them. I feel them.

Tuomas:  Yeah. It’s like when you’re a songwriter you think about it all the time. So I have this notebook with me and I think I have like 45 pages of text at the moment. Some riffs and some little stuff. But absolutely nothing concrete yet. So ask me again in about a year.

Anette:  Yeah. I think in a year. Because then we’re going to end in September or something.

Tuomas:  Yeah. This tour is going to end in September 2009.

Anette:  Next year. So maybe it’s time to ask him them (*laughs*).

Jason:  So you plan to go for another year and a half of touring for this album?

Anette:  Yeah.

Tuomas:  A bit over a year. Yeah.

Anette:  September.

Tuomas:  2009. Which will be the last shows.

Anette:  Sometime there about...

Jason:  Over your career you’ve put out quite a few live albums and DVDs. Is there any plan to do something similar for this tour?

Tuomas:  No. We’re not going to do that. None of us actually is like a big fan of live albums or live releases. So we have already released two live albums in 11 years I think. That’s enough for a while. The big, big plan is to do a show with a full orchestra and choir sometime. We really, really want to do that with her. But I also think that we need another before that with her singing before we can do that. Also, what can we do after that. If we do like this massive, massive show with everything it’s going to be the coolest thing ever. So what would it be like.

Anette:  Then we go to acoustic. Then we just play acoustic guitars (*laughs*).

Tuomas:  It’s all about extremes. Go to extremes.

Anette:  Yeah. I think we have to test everything. I think Nightwish is about trying things.

Tuomas:  Yes.

Anette:  That is what I have done for the band. I thing we all are a little bit crazy. Some crazy things we have to try.

Jason:  It seems like there is a lot of good chemistry in the band now. It comes out in your stage performance as well. Do you feel more creative and passionate about things?

Tuomas:  Yeah. I really, really do. What I love about this band is that the music in itself. It deals with some really heavy shit. It’s really dramatic. Majestic. Creates fantasy worlds. The whole image and concept of Nightwish is something really deep in a way. But then the guys and the girl in the band, we’re the most normal people. On stage we just fool around. Do a rock and roll show. Have fun. There’s nothing overly dramatic about it. These controversies that came up a lot about this band. You do music with the biggest heart and about some really, really serious issues. About killing yourself. About young girls getting teased at school. About love and death. God. Everything. But you can also perform all this stuff with a little bit of the tongue in the cheek way and you can see that on stage.

Jason:  (to Anette) What has your experience been like? It’s been a whirlwind. There’s was a big, big deal made about an opening in Nightwish in the female metal community. What has your experience been through this journey so far?

Anette:  Yeah. But I come from totally not metal (*laughs*). So I didn’t know so much about Nightwish. I’m quite happy about it. But of course it’s been turbulent for me. And also to tour and you know my voice. I didn’t sing every day and now I sing 6 days a week almost when we are doing heavy tours. So I have learned so much about myself and of course I’ve been a pain in the ass sometimes. Very negative and down and the pressure. I mean yeah, I have been. Of course we have had our blowouts. But I have learned and they have learned and it takes some time. I must say that it’s been a hell of a last year. I didn’t have time to think and now I’m really feeling that it’s so nice. I have time to think what I’m doing and I’m enjoying it now. Last year I was so stressed (*laughs*). I didn’t have any. Too much thinking. Now I’m enjoying the ride and having a nice time.

Jason:  The band seems to be enjoying it as well.

Anette:  Yeah. I think we have melted together as a group after some hard trials.

Tuomas:  We hit the rock bottom a month or two ago.

Anette:  Yeah, we did.

Tuomas:  But it wasn’t that bad. In a way.

Anette:  But you have to have some conflict on a bad day.

Tuomas:  There were some conflicts and it wasn’t that bad. It took some talks and it took some realizing things from all the sides. That was inevitable as well. We knew it was going to come some day.

Anette:  Yeah. And you know I’m a girl and I have been in the bus with them and there will be difficulties. Also since I’m Swedish and they’re Finnish. Even if we’re very close, there are some big differences. I think the main thing is that I’m a girl. I have my days (*laughs*). But they have their days (*laughs*). But I think it’s good because we have learned to talk about things.

Tuomas:  What we take for granted because we have seen it for 11 years, she has no clue what to expect.

Anette:  You know, just handling the fans and normal things like. I have never done that. I had to tell them how I felt, because for them it is normal after 11 years. They’re like “yeah, yeah”. For it me it was like “ah”. Being this singer in a big band it’s not so easy to just adjust from a normal person. Doing a normal job and getting into this situation.

Tuomas:  She’s exactly like me when it comes to people. I’m really. I don’t feel comfortable with bunches of people. But I’ve learned to kind of cope with it in 10 years. Now I kind of enjoy it. But in the beginning it was really, really hard.

Anette:  Yeah.

Tuomas:  You know, get the attention. Get the crowds of people. Now she has to start from point zero. The same thing. So I really understand.

Anette:  But maybe it was hard because I was quite tough in the beginning too. I was like “yeah, I can handle everything, you know I’m a strong girl outside”. I didn’t let them in. I didn’t tell them how I felt. Usually that is the thing you don’t do. So now they all know and I know. It feels good.

Jason:  Coming to America is a training ground for the fans also, because you are getting smaller crowds than over in Europe that mob you.

Anette:  Yeah. But like every crowd in every country is very different. We were in France and it was crazy. They were crazy. Wonderful. I mean they were like. I don’t think I. Like in Paris I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that.

Tuomas:  It was the best so far.

Anette:  It was so much love. So much people. And you know, France. You don’t think about France like that but I must say they are great (*laughs*). And here in America I feel very welcomed and people are very polite. I mean they are standing in line there. They don’t go here (near the bus). They can just go here but they are so polite. I really like them. People are really loving here and polite and well behaved. If I can say it like that.

Jason:  So your future plans are to keep touring for the next year or so. Do you plan to come back here to America again?

Tuomas:  In September, yeah. Together with some of our friends.

Anette:  We start on the tour at the end of August.

Jason:  Can we expect more songs, different songs. Are you going to change the setlist up a lot?

Tuomas:  I think there is going to be some changes. You can get really bored with the songs yourself playing them over and over again. So two or three we change every now and then. It keeps the whole thing more interesting.

Anette:  We don’t have so much time to practice (*laughs*). We are doing the same songs that we have done but we change now and then.

Jason:  Hopefully the next time you’ll be able to play Eva.

Anette:  Actually I have said for a long time that I really want to do both Sleeping Sun and Eva. The slow songs too. I think even if you know you want to rock. I think many people like to just stand and listen. You know Eva is a very special song for many people I think because it touches you in the heart here. There’s so many people that can feel that song. So I hope we will play it.

Tuomas:  But we will.

Anette:  I know the guys want to have their fast songs (*laughs*).

Tuomas:  No, no (*laughs*). It’s not about the fast songs. I just think Eva is a bit boring.

Anette:  Yeah, yeah, yeah. But people love it you know.

Tuomas:  But it’s a personal opinion (*laughs*).

Anette:  We will play it some day I guess. If I.

Tuomas:  We will play it on the next tour.

Anette:  I will harass them (*laughs*).

Jason:  Whatever you choose is always great. The show tonight was great.

Anette:  Thank you so much.

Jason:  You guys do a great job on stage.

Tuomas:  Thank you.

Anette:  I was actually a little bit nervous today. I don’t know why. It’s so.

Tuomas:  First show.

Anette:  Yeah and it’s different.

Jason:  It must have been tough. You had problems with getting your equipment over here so you missed a couple of shows. Did that get you off rhythm?

Tuomas:  Well there was a lot of being pissed off. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Hotel rooms. Can we do a show. I don’t know. Stuff is not here. So the energy was compacting and it all got out tonight.

Anette:  Yeah and like today also the crew bus broke down. So it was like another thing. But now we’re here and I think there will hopefully not be any more problems (*laughs*).

Tuomas:  Thankfully.

Anette:  But it felt very good and like I said we were very sorry that two shows were cancelled. We felt very bad and we hope we can make it up to the fans someday. Somehow.

Jason:  Everyone will come back the next time and you will get bigger and bigger crowds here in America. We’re just glad to have you here.

Anette:  And we are happy to be here.

Tuomas:  Definitely.

Anette:  Very much.

Jason:  We’re looking forward to a good future for Nightwish in the US and thank you from everyone at Sonic Cathedral for the interview.

Tuomas:  Thank you.

Anette:  That would be very nice. Spread the word.

For more Information: www.nightwish.com or www.roadrunnerrecords.com