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Interviews : Amorphis – “Good music is good music for me” (An interview with Tomi Koivusaari)

By on September 12, 2013

Amorphis 2013 Photo By Terhi YlimäinenAmorphis – Tomi Koivusaari

Amorphis return with the release of their brand new album, “Circle”, a story of survival. The album is now available via Nuclear Blast Records. Amorphis are currently gearing up for their first ever tour of Australia this October.

Metal Obsession had the pleasure to speak with guitarist Tomi Koivusaari, about “Circle”, working with Peter Tägtgren and the band’s first ever tour of Australia.

Metal Obsession: How did the recording process for “Circle” begin?

Tomi Koivusaari: Well we are always writing music, so eventually the time came when we had enough material that we were satisfied with and we booked the studio time. We knew we wanted Peter Tägtgren to produce it and bring out a darker, heavier sound and a bit more guitar orientated this time. And we were very satisfied with how it came out.

MO: That’s great! And what role did Peter Tägtgren play exactly?

TK: Peter knows a lot of stuff about guitar reamping, things along those lines. He also brought a lot of new methods of recording that we have not tried before. We chose Peter because we knew he could do heavier stuff and we knew that was the directing we wanted to go with this album. We’ve known Peter for about 20 years now, so we knew what we were getting when we started working with him.

MO: So the goal was to make this a heavier album overall? Was the whole process different from your previous albums?

TK: Peter was involved from beginning to end and that was definitely different for us. There was someone outside the band who was helping to keep the strings together, in a way. And also we went to the countryside to record it with everyone working together on it the whole time. With previous albums every body in the band has sort of just gone to the studio and taken care of their parts. We wanted this to be more like a band album again.

It was nice because we would sit down and have a few beers and listen to what we had recorded. We were able to come up with a lot of new ideas that we would not have happened with the other method of recording.

MO: So for this album was it a lot more of a relaxed process? Did you have a lot of time to do all the recording?

TK: We had a lot of time because we did the bass and the drums, all the basic things in the countryside studio and then we were using our own studios as well. Three of the band members have studios so there was no hurry or schedule because we didn’t have to worry about paying for the time. Peter had to go on tour at one point, but apart from that we had a lot of time and it was a fun way of doing it.

Click here to pick up your copy of “Circle” today!

MO: How do you think you have been able to stay together for so long? Over your career it seems like Amorphis has been strong the whole time.

TK: Well, I think the most important thing to us has been that we do what we want. Musically speaking, we didn’t want to put any limits on anything and wanted to keep doors open. I mean, if something sounds good, then it sounds good. We don’t want to make the same album again and again. On top of that it has always been important to keep it fun. That’s why we are always trying different things. And I think all that has satisfied our audience. If it hadn’t been this way then we would have broken up a long time ago.

MO: And how did you form Amorphis in the first place?

TK: I had my first band when I started to play guitar, “The Animals” or something like that [laughs]. When I was like 12. So after that I have been playing in a band all the time. It just became natural to play in a band all the time. When we formed Amorphis we were listening to, well now they are Old School bands, but at the time they were upcoming, bands like Carcass, Entombed and Napalm Death. We were listening to a lot of extreme metal music, but by the time the first Amophis album came out we were already listening to a lot of different music, like Pink Floyd, bands like that. We were all good friends, so it was just natural to make music together. Now we get to go on tour and there are people that are into it, so it’s still fun.

MO: How much of time to you spend on tour?

TK: Well we have been releasing an album every two years. So after that there is a period of about one year. Like, right now we have been playing festivals since June. After that we are going to Russia for about two weeks, then on to Australia, Japan, China, then Europe for about five weeks, then Finland and then next year it will continue. There’s always two or three longer tours and then just some gigs or festivals.

MO: When you first started touring, did it take you long to get used to the lifestyle?

TK: Oh yeah. When we did our first tours there was a lot of heavy drinking [laughs]. Of course we were like, 18 or 19 so it wasn’t that bad, but that’s how it was back then, I couldn’t imagine doing that anymore, because it’s too much. So it’s more professional nowadays, not drinking that much, but of course sometimes you have to party a little bit. It’s always been changing. But when we started it was like, this is what bands are doing on tour, drinking from the morning to the night [laughs], but that was in the very early years, now we want to make good shows of course and that’s the main thing on tour.

MO: Can going on tour for so long take it’s toll on your body?

TK: Well, something happens in your brain when you are on tour, it becomes very hard to concerntrate on anything other than the next gig. All you are doing on tour is reading books or watching movies, of course you try and see some of the city or wherever we are so we can move around a little bit you know, maybe get a little bit of sport in or something like that. It can get tiresome actually traveling so much, so concerntrating on the gig in the evening and getting to look around where we are can help with that. Sometimes though it’s only forests or airports, it can be very numbing.

Amorphis-national-tour-poster

Amorphis “Circle” Australia Tour 2013

MO: Is Australia somewhere you have wanted to come for a long time?

TK: Yeah it’s great to finally be coming there because like, 15 years ago we started to push our agent, if it’s possible to go to Australia because we have never been there, no one from the band had ever been there, so it would be nice to see what it’s like there. Hopefully we have some spare time to see the place. We don’t really know what to expect from the audience, if there is an audience!

MO: Well I’m going to be there!

TK: Oh great [laughs] at least one!

MO: Do you prefer to play big outdoor festivals or smaller headline shows in clubs?

TK: They both have their sides, but musically I think that I like the club tours more. But of course if there’s a good feeling at the festivals it’s nice as well and you can reach a new audience, so it’s a good place to get some new fans. But of course in clubs you have better sound tech and longer sets and everything so show wise it’s much more fun to play at clubs.

MO: I’m a big fan of your Magic and Mayhem release. How did that recording come about?

TK: The idea came because we have been playing the older songs all the time. And when Tomi (Joutsen) joined the band we were seeing that there were new fans at the shows that had no idea about the older songs we were playing. So we were thinking, “Why not re-record it?” The reason wasn’t to replace the old ones because that is something that you cannot really do, you cannot get the same feelings that the originals have. We wanted to have a compilation for our 20th anniversary and we decided that this was a better way to do it than just a normal compilation CD. We also had a small tour in Finland with every past member involved in the shows, so that was really fun.

MO: Oh wow, that sounds awesome! How do you decide which songs you are going to play live?

TK: Well it’s not easy after eleven albums to choose the setlist. Even inside the band there are already a lot of opinions about it, and within the audience as well. We are trying to play songs from the early days up to today, and of course focusing on the latest album. Since we have never been to Australia though, I think that the set will be like a compilation from all the albums, something like that. But yeah, it’s not easy, we still have arguments when we are deciding what to play and what not [laughs]. So we’ll see. But yeah, as wide a scale as possible.

MO: And just finally, what sort of music are you listening to a lot these days?

TK: Lately, I’ve been listening to some old metal bands, but also Muse, The Cardigans, 70’s progressive music. Well, there’s so much of it so it is hard to name it all, but I like a lot of different types of music. Good music is good music for me.

Catch Amorphis on tour in Australia this October.

Friday 11th October – The Factory Theatre, SYDNEY (18+)
Tickets from www.metalmassacre.com.au  / www.factorytheatre.com.au

Saturday 12th October – The HiFi, BRISBANE (18+)
Tickets from www.metalmassacre.com.au  / www.thehifi.com.au

Monday 14th October – Billboard The Venue, MELBOURNE (18+)
Tickets from www.metalmassacre.com.au  / www.moshtix.com.au  / www.ticketek.com.au

Wednesday 16th October – Capitol, PERTH (18+)
Tickets from www.metalmassacre.com.au  / www.oztix.com.au

For more information go to: www.amorphis.net

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