Intervju med Tuomas Holopainen i Nightwish!
Igår, fredag, hade jag nöjet att få ta ett snack med Tuomas på Warners kontor i Vasastan. Först blev det lyssning av kommande plattan "Imaginaerum", som låter väldigt mycket som ett soundtrack, vilket det också är.
Jag hann även snacka lite kort med Anette Olzon om våra hemtrakter. Anette är ju som bekant från Helsingborg och själv är jag uppväxt i närliggande Ängelholm. Det visade sig att Anette i tidiga år deltagit i samma talangtävlingar som Jill Johnson och My Blomqvist, två välkända och på 80- och 90-talet, konkurrerande sångerskor i Ängelholm och precis som jag och många andra, hade hon då trott att My skulle bli den stora stjärnan, men så blev det ju inte.
Nåväl, Tuomas var återigen mycket trevlig och sade sig inte ha några som helst problem med att under en hel dag sitta och svara på frågor, vilket han gjort denna dag.
Samtalet kom givetvis att handla mest om nya plattan och filmen.
First off! If I´m not mistaken it´s been four years since your last album?
Tuomas Holopainen: Yeah, it was since September in 2007.
Right, so it´s getting close to the style of Def Leppard!
TH: (laughs) Even Guns N´Roses! (laughs)
What´s the reason for it taken so long? Was it that you just took a break or was it a difficult album to make?
TH: Basically for two reasons. The first one is that we had a two year tour after “Dark passion play” and I´m just the kind of personality that cannot do two things at the same time. I guess I´m a typical male, (laughs) when it comes to stuff like that. When I´m on tour I can´t do songs. I can gather ideas here and there, but the actual songwriting doesn´t suit me if I have in the back of my mind that I have to go out on tour in a week, so we had to wait two years and then start the actual songwriting process and at the moment we have this movie project going on and it took a lot of effort to get the financing for that figured out, so this is basically why it took so long.
When it comes to recording an album, the sequence in the way you record the songs, is the first song you record the first one on the album or is it just random?
TH: No, it´s whatever. The way we work is that I always do this rehearsal tape for the whole band. All the songs that I´ve done, as professionally as I can because the music that we do is really, really complex and when you try telling the guys and the girl what the song is gonna sound like in the rehearsal room… you know, “Play this riff and there´s gonna be horns and choirs!”, it just doesn´t do the trick. Nobody has that imagination, so that´s why I do it like that when we start rehearsing. Then we rehearse the songs with the band and do a demo and then after the second demo, we start doing it.
The way the songs end up on the album, the order of them, do you have that long before you start recording them?
TH: Oh yeah! Especially for “Imaginaerum”. Before we even started rehearsing the songs , I knew the order of the songs for the album, because the movie is so heavily based on the album, that we needed to know the order of the songs and that was quite a challenge actually, to make the drama work even though we didn´t know how they would end up sounding.
What came first? Did the movie idea come first or the album?
TH: The movie idea came first. It was the very first thing that came into my mind. It was the summer of 2007 and we had just finished “dark passion play” and I started to think “What´s gonna be next?”. This is so insanely diverse and big that we need to come up with something original for the next album and it just occurred to me that we have always been on the cinematic side with things so why not put it into realization and do an actual movie and make a soundtrack based on the movie? That´s how the original idea was born.
Cool! I´ve only heard it just now, but for me it is a bit more theatrical sound wise and there´s songs that are quite diverse and I wrote down that “Slow love slow” has a bit of a jazzy feeling to it and then “Turn loose the mermaids” has a bit of a Western feel to it…
TH: Yeah, Ennio Morricone!
Exactly! And then you have “Rest calm” with some pretty heavy riffing at the beginning and then it kind of mellows out and the riff came back.
TH: I like to think of it as a free and twisted and warm album. There´s a lot of light at the end of the tunnel on this album, unlike “Dark passion play”. But it´s also really weird and twisted. This is because all of the songs were made for the movie and there´s a scene in the movie that takes place in a jazz club, like a 30´s jazz club and some weird stuff is going on there so I just thought, “Ok, this needs to be something like David Lynch and ‘Twin peaks’! Ok, we´ve never done a jazz song so let´s try it!”. (laughs) And there´s a scene in the movie which happens in a ghost circus where everything is really weird. It´s like a nightmare of this little kid, so… “A circus, ok!”. (Tuomas starts singing something similar to circus music and claps on his knees. Editor´s note) That´s why the songs sound what they sound like. They were made for certain scenes.
Did you write the script as well?
TH: I had the original ideas of the scenes, but we actually had to hire a professional screenwriter, because I have no idea of how to write a script, I just had the idea and the story. A guy called Mikko Rautalathi who did the transcript.
Is it different making a movie than an album or is it kind of the same?
TH: It´s kind of like creating emotions and visions out of nothing, so there are a lot of similarities, but it´s even a bigger hassle. We were two weeks in Montreal shooting the movie, just about a month ago, so it´s all filmed now. We just got a glimpse of what making a movie is about. It was an unbelievably interesting experience!
Well, you read about movies that sometimes the shoot the last scenes first…
TH: That´s what they did now! Everything was scheduled to the minute. “This scene requires these actors and they will be picked up at this hotel, by this driver at this hour and get make up by these two hairstylists and these makeup artists.”. It´s an unbelievable puzzle and I don´t know who handles it all, but everything worked and everything was on schedule and within budget, but just the whole hassle of everything, so interesting. And just really long days. We had to be there at six o´clock for makeup and then the acting started and they were building sets all the time.
Sounds like a lot of people were involved?
TH: There was like 40 people all the time. One guy just building the props. The director says “We need a compass that spins all the time and we need it in about four hours for the scene. Can you do it?”. So the guy just went and made one and came back, “Is this good?”. “Yeah, it´s good but just make it a bit more brown!”. And there was just one guy working the smoke machine all the time. That´s all he ever did. There were two guys who just drove the band and that´s all they did. People Just had their things that they were doing. They were proud of it and they did it perfectly and that´s why everything worked. I was just standing in the corner, “Four years ago I had an idea! Fuck! I never ever thought it would come to this.”.
That´s gotta be pretty cool, to see it come to life, so to speak? To have an idea and then see it come to life in front of you?
TH: It was one of the most emotional moments in my life, because to be honest, getting the finance for this movie and getting it altogether, getting people convinced, was harder than anything I´ve ever done. Especially the finance . At one point everybody almost gave up . I had to go to the band and sell my house, almost. I wanted to do this movie and if it came to selling my house, I would do that. A lot of drama involved. Finally we got the financing and we got the production and we were there doing it and it happened. It was just “Wow!”. Then it turned into melancholy. We actually got this done and so, “Now what?”.
Well, that figures!
TH: The journey´s always more rewarding than the destination.
Probably! Are you guys doing any acting as well?
TH: Not really and that was something that I emphasized to the director and the screenwriter from the very beginning, “Don´t put us there!”. This is supposed to be a credible and believable drama movie with a lot of fantasy, “So don´t put the band there!”. He insisted that we were shown because it´s a Nightwish movie, so in two scenes we play as a band and then I have this very little role of an older guy, but none of us have any lines, but you can see us in cameo roles.
The plan for it then? Is the plan to show it in movie theatres or is it going to be on a DVD? Is it going worldwide?
TH: They´re hoping for the best and I think it´s gonna be a theatrical release at least in Finland and Canada since it´s a Finnish – Canadian production, but I have my doubts about the commercial success of this because it´s a bit more on the cult side. The main thing is just that we get it done and I think it´s gonna be a really good movie, but I don´t really see a big commercial success to it, but you never know. When it comes to distribution, all the people just want to see the trailer first, before they make any decisions if they take it to the theatres. We´ll have to wait until January for that.
It´ll be really interesting to see.
TH: It´s a really weird concept.
The title of the album? I read somewhere that there were rumors saying it was gonna be called “Wind embraced”. Is that true? Was that ever a title?
TH: No! It´s the first time I hear this. I´ve never heard of it before.
Ok, we blame Wikipedia for that one! Where did the title come from and were there other titles floating around?
TH: No, it was “Imaginarium” from the very beginning. I wanted to make a thematic movie and album about the power of imagination and the roller coaster of life. All the wonders and all the good stuff and all the bad stuff and it just occurred to me. Originally I thought of something like “Imagine”, but “No, that´s the John Lennon song and that´s too obvious. Something to do with imagination… imaginarium, that´s it!”. Then we had some troubles with that word from a couple of companies and they asked us if there was any way that we could change it, so we just changed a few letters and it was “Imaginaerum”. That´s the story.
Later on when the album is released and the movie is out, will the movie in any way be represented in the live show? Actors, theatrical stuff?
TH: We will try to bring the movie alive in some way in the live shows, but nothing concrete because the movie won´t be ready until April or May and we start the tour in January. I would assume that there will be some props from the movie onstage and there might be some screenshots from the movie if we bring screens, but nothing too big.
Are you gonna start in Finland?
TH: The album release show will be in Los Angeles on the 21st of January.
TH: The Gibson Amphitheater. After that we´re gonna do a tour in Finland and Europe and Russia. Then comes the festival season and then America, South America, Japan. That´s the plan.
So you´ll be busy for another two years?
TH: One year! (laughs) We decided in the band, "Let´s cut it in half!".
Yeah, I guess it takes its toll on you to be on the road for two years?
TH: It was a bit too much. It´s real easy to admitted now that we were all a bit naïve when it came to touring last time, but we had a new singer and the pressure was huge, concerning her and then we decided to do this insane tour and then there was her divorce at the same time. There were a lot of different things within the band and the crew. People started dropping like flies at some point, so we decided it was worth the effort and we had a lot of wonderful times, but at some point it just felt like it was not worth it. I have no idea how Metallica did it after the “Black album”.
Well, they later on did “Some kind of monster” and needed therapy. It´s fascinating and I recently talked to Gilby Clarke and the “Use your illusion tour” was one crazy thing that lasted for three years and you read about all the craziness and he said that you kind of live in your own world where there are no rules and no obligations and you pretty much do what you wanna do.
And you take advantage of it and do stuff that you might not have gotten away with in other places.
TH: Yeah, and then the fact that three out of five band members have families with many kids and you call them and they say “Why are you not at home? Don´t you love us anymore? When will you be home?”, so all this combined with living in this fantasy world, it really messes with your head.
And then you´re gonna play in Sweden?
TH: yeah, we´re gonna play in Gothenburg and it´s gonna be the first show on the European tour.
TH: The schedule is so limited and there´s a whole planet to tour, so we just basically do one show in many countries and this time it´s Gothenburg.
Ok, Tuomas! Nice talking to you!
TH: Nice talking to you!