Interviews : Nightwish – “The most important thing is to just follow your heart” (An interview with Tuomas Holopainen)
Nightwish – Tuomas Holopainen
After the departure of vocalist, Anette Olzon. NIGHTWISH were left in a rather desperate situation. Either cancel the entire Imaginaerum world tour or bring on board a session vocalist to finish the tour. Thankfully, NIGHTWISH chose the latter and bought on board Floor Jansen, a Dutch soprano singer who is also the lead vocalist of symphonic metal band AFTER FOREVER.
NIGHTWISH are currently touring Australia with special guests SABATON appearing in Melbourne and Sydney. Metal Obsession had the pleasure to speak with keyboardist, Tuomas Holopainen, over the phone before sound check in Brisbane . We chat about the Imaginaerum world tour, Floor Jansen and the future of Nightwish.
Metal Obsession: Hey Tuomas. How was your flight?
Tuomas Holopainen: Hello Anwar! How are you?
It was a very long flight. It took us roughly 36 hours to get here. I’m glad to be here though. We’re about to do sound check before we play Brisbane tonight. Everyone is really excited.
MO: I take it with all this free time in Australia. You will be checking out some of our local wineries?
TH: [laughs] Yes, very much so. As you may know, I’m a big wine lover and have always said that Australia produces some of the best wines in the world.
MO: Speaking of wine, Nightwish released a limited edition batch of wine to coincide with the release of the ‘Imaginaerum’ movie. Can you tell us a little about that?
TH: I got a lot of inspiration from when I visited Napa Valley in California. They produce some great wine. We’re all wine enthusiasts in the band, so we thought why the hell not. [laughs]
MO: I take it the wine is a good representation of Nightwish. Full bodied with a palette of flavour?
TH: [laughs] You could say that. We’re all pretty proud of the wine and we hope everyone enjoys it.
MO: What kind of setlist can fans expect on the Australia/New Zealand tour?
TH: We decided to stick with the more recent material as this is still the ‘Imaginaerum’ tour. Naturally we just wish to stick with that for now so Floor [Jansen] can really perfect each song. Perhaps when we rehearse in the studio again we can try out some older Nightwish material. I think for the time being we will just stick to what we all know and go from there.
MO: It’s been roughly 3 months since Floor Jansen joined Nightwish. A lot of Australians have yet to see or hear Floor perform live. How would you best describe her?
TH: Well, she’s a real amazon on stage. She has an amazing stage presences and she’s trained really well as a vocalist too. She can beautifully pull off the old, operatic style of Nightwish as well as the new. She’s incredibly versatile. When you think about the short notice she had, which was only a couple of days to learn these songs, it’s absolutely phenomenal. She is the best of both worlds.
MO: I have to agree with your “best of both worlds” comment. She nails the operatic and melodic style of Tarja, but also the poppy, upbeat elements of Anette.
TH: That is exactly right. We’re very proud of her.
Nightwish performing ‘Storytime’ in Brisbane, Australia at The Arena on Friday, 4th January 2013. (Credit: Dallas Handcock)
MO: Is she still nervous on stage or is she quite confident to carry the band?
TH: She’s very confident now. At the first couple of shows she was very nervous. We didn’t know what would happen or how the fans would react. But every single show we have done for the past 4 months has been amazing. We are doing better and better at each show. There are no worries at all now.
MO: A lot of people are still in shock over the departure of Anette Olzon. I know you don’t wish to talk about her departure. Hypothetically speaking would you like to see Floor Jansen become a full time member of Nightwish?
TH: Well, it’s not really a situation for us at the moment because we don’t really have to think about it just yet. We have discussed it with the band and Floor. I said let us date for a year or so and see if Nightwish and Floor are ready for a marriage. Because nothing needs to be decided yet. We’re going to go into the studio in the summer of next year which is still another 18 months away. We have a lot of time to break and regroup and see what happens in the future.
It is possible, but nothing has been absolutely decided.
MO: You must have been fearing the worst after Anette left. Did you always have Floor Jansen in mind as a replacement?
TH: It came down to just two choices. Either cancel the entire tour or go on tour with Floor. We thought she could be the only person who could pull this off on such short notice. We have known her for years and she’s a massive fan of Nightwish, and we’re fans of her works as well. She knew the majority of the old songs but she didn’t know much of ‘Imaginaerum’ when we called her, so she basically had to learn all those songs during her plane trip from Amsterdam to Seattle. It was either those two options and we decided to give Floor a shot.
MO: Has the time with Floor Jensen on tour given you the opportunity to collaborate with her on more than just a session musician?
TH: At the moment we are just emphasizing the current tour with her. As you know we recently got over a large crisis and I think everyone feels a lot better now. Everyone in the band is generally more happy so we’re just trying to enjoy the moment and not think to much about the future. I think after the festival season finishes this year we will start to think about what will happen.
MO: The Imaginaerum movie was released in selected theatres in Europe. Can Australia expect to see the movie in cinemas or a DVD/BLU-RAY release?
TH: Absolutely! I think we’re looking at spring of this year for a release. Roughly 4 or 5 months. I should be released on Blu-Ray and DVD worldwide.
MO: Were you given as much creative control over the Imaginaerum score as you have had with previous Nightwish albums?
TH: It was pretty much the same process as writing a Nightwish album. The only difference now is all the ideas I had for a perfect score became a reality in the form of a movie. I wouldn’t say it was much different to writing a score for a Nightwish album.
MO: You were recently quoted saying “Nightwish is like a carousel which needs to keep on spinning, no matter what”. I take it you have no intention of stopping Nightwish anytime soon?
TH: We’re unsure what the future holds for us. We honestly don’t have a clue what the new album will sound like or what kind of direction we will take. The most important thing is to just follow your heart and do the kind of music you enjoy doing. Obviously you always want to challenge yourself, your fans and the band as well so you don’t do the same thing twice. That is the most important thing, I believe.
That quote “…like a carousel which needs to keep on spinning” was from the other guys when I was feeling really low about all this crap. I thought to myself, “why is this happening?” and “what is going to happen to the band?”. They came to me and said Nightwish is such a huge institution and it means so much to so many different people around the world that we need to keep this ride spinning no matter what.
MO: Are you surprised at how much of an impact Nightwish has made on the world?
TH: It doesn’t surprise me as much as it use to. This is just my personal diary. It’s my own child which I have raised with so many people. Nightwish is just a way to express my feelings and the fun and excitement of being in a band, playing together and touring the world without any expectations. The success we have had with this kind of formula is really overwhelming and surprises me every single day.
MO: Do you find it hard to keep the innocence and child like delight so fresh after so many years?
TH: I think its actually getting easier. Because you’re getting more confident within yourself each time. Ummm….I guess that is the only reason, self confidence. You see and experience so much that you don’t feel any pressure or anxiety anymore that you may have had in the past. I’d say it has been very easy to keep the innocence alive based on experience.
MO: We all know 2012 was a big year for heavy metal and music in general. What were some of your top albums of 2012?
TH: Ahhh…good question. Well, three of the best albums for 2012 I think would be SABATON‘s new album, ‘Carolus Rex’. Second would be SONATA ARCTICA‘s, ‘Stones Grow Her Name’ and finally MY DYING BRIDE‘s, ‘A Map of All Our Failures’.
MO: Good choices!
MO: You must be pretty excited to be touring with Sabaton in Melbourne and Sydney on this tour?
TH: Yeah! We can’t wait to play with them in Sydney and Melbourne. I saw them in Helsinki before Christmas and it was amazing. One of the best bands to see live.
MO: I better let you get back to soundcheck, mate. See you in Melbourne.
TH: Thank you my friend. See you soon!
Catch Nightwish on the rest of their Australian tour. Dates and ticket information below.
Nightwish Australia / New Zealand Imaginaerum Tour 2013
Tuesday 8th January – The Studio, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Tickets from www.chaosnz.com / Real Groovy Record store
Friday 11th January – The Enmore Theatre, SYDNEY (All Ages)
Tickets from www.metalmassacre.com.au / www.ticketek.com.au
w/ Sabaton (Sweden) & Darker Half
Monday 14th January – The Palace Theatre, MELBOURNE (18+) – SOLD OUT!!!
w/ Sabaton (Sweden) & Eyefear
Tuesday 15th January – The Palace Theatre, MELBOURNE (18+)
Tickets from www.metalmassacre.com.au / www.ticketek.com.au
w/ Sabaton (Sweden) & Black Majesty
Friday 18th January – HQ Complex, ADELAIDE (18+)
Tickets from www.metalmassacre.com.au / www.venuetix.com.au
w/ Eyefear & Black Majesty
Sunday 20th January – The Metropolis, FREMANTLE (18+)
Tickets from www.metalmassacre.com.au / www.oztix.com.au
w/ Eyefear & Black Majesty