EMP Catalogue Interview with Tuomas Holopainen

“Showtime, Storytime” = a great show and an interesting story!
An interview with Tuomas found at the EMP Catalogue Magazine (pages 146-147).

Nightwish’s 1,5-year-long Imaginaerum tour turned out to be quite an experience both to the band itself and to the endless fan masses. The secrets of this rollercoaster like world tour will be revealed once and for all at the end of November when Nightwish will release the extensive “Showtime, Storytime” dvd. In addition to the Wacken gig, that was recorded in front of tens of thousands of people, the package also includes a two-hour-long tour documentary, that was made earnestly.

Tuomas Holopainen, the Imaginaerum tour, that included over 100 shows and 34 countries, came to an end at M’era Luna festival at the end of the summer. How are you feeling about the world tour that started in January 2012 and ended in August this year?

Like the Imaginaerum album the tour was quite a circus. We experienced unbelievably wonderful moments on the road, and then at times the whole group hit rock bottom. But when I now think about the whole thing afterwards, the band survived the worst ordeals surprisingly elegantly. At the moment I can only hope that all the parties are now happier than in the fall 2012… Yes, surely we wanted to see all the possible cards with Anette (Olzon, the former singer of Nightwish) – already because we had parted ways with one singer before – but then we simply couldn’t continue our cooperation anymore.

But every cloud has a silver lining. If we talk about, for example, Anette-era studio albums “Dark Passion Play” and “Imaginaerum”, the vocalist does an excellent job. Would someone have interpreted those songs better? I don’t think so. I stand behind every vocal and song 100%.

Let’s stick to this topic. When you think about the beginning of October 2012 – that is when Anette was rapidly replaced by Floor Jansen in the middle of the tour in USA – what comes to your mind?

All the events of those moments will be shown on the “Showtime, Storytime” dvd, which includes a long “Please Learn the Setlist in 48 Hours” documentary. The incomprehensible thing here is that Ville Lipiäinen, the person who is making the documentary, happened to be with us when we changed our vocalist – Ville wasn’t with us all the time. Someone of course thinks that he arrived at the place to immortalize moments that were planned beforehand, but this certainly wasn’t the case. Ville had booked his USA flight already months before, but to make the documentary succeed he showed up just at the right time. Thanks to this coincidence Nightwish fans are going to see what kind of emotional rollercoaster there was for the band because of the sudden change of the singer.

I still want to remind that at the gloomiest moments of all that uncertainty and misery the feeling in the band remained positive and confident in many ways. When we made the final decision on changing the singer, the group felt a certain peace. It was like “okay, the situation went like this and after this things are going to work out fine”. Floor Jansen of course deserves a very deep bow. I can’t believe that any other singer would have done better job than Floor in those extremely challenging moments she had as a new vocalist of Nightwish in the fall 2012. The Nightwish fans, who certainly didn’t abandon the band at the difficult moments, also deserve a bow as deep.

Let’s speculate a little: what would have happened if Floor had refused?

Honestly, we didn’t have any plan B. If Floor had refused to join Nightwish, we would probably have tried to continue the tour with the singers of Kamelot who toured with us then.

I have to mention, by the way, that I have heard comments like “I wish this change of singers had happened earlier on… Where would the band be if Floor had been the singer of Nightwish all the time”. This kind of talking is absurd. The different things have happened because of the certain reasons and every decision has been made according to the circumstances at the time. An unknown path has led Nightwish to this moment and to this situation – end of story. I recommend not to make any kind of speculations – this band would never have reached this day without everything that has happened in the past.

That’s all about the past. Let’s jump to this moment and to the world of “Showtime, Storytime” DVD which will be released in the end of November. Why did you decide to immortalize exactly the Wacken Open Air festival concert?

At first we were planning that the dvd would only include a long documentary about the Imaginaerum tour. We were thinking back then that we would shoot the long-planned “Nightwish featuring orchestra and choir” gig on the tour that would come after the next studio album. That is we would release an extensive live dvd not until then.

So, the thought about recording an Imaginaerum concert came really late – in other words, sometime around the beginning of last summer. The timetable had its limits, since we only had a few festival gigs left at that point when the decision on recording a concert was made for good. Admittedly, it would have been great to plan everything a little more and think about all kinds of special things for the gig that would be recorded…

The suggestion to shoot the gig came from Nuclear Blast and personally I was a bit skeptical towards this idea at first. Nuclear Blast then pointed out that the mere documentary dvd won’t sell, and to make the package interesting to the public there should be a full-length concert included as well. Then we rapidly decided to make it a fifty-fifty release which will be called “Showtime, Storytime”. So, there will be a great show and an interesting story. I emphasize once more that this isn’t a live dvd which has a documentary as a bonus, or vice versa, but both parts are completely equal in this package.


How nervous were you about the Wacken concert?

We had played a lot of concerts with pretty much the same setlist earlier in the summer, so the routine level of the band was very high. In other words, I wasn’t nervous almost at all. I just thought that let’s do a normal gig and enjoy it – and if there are some mishaps on the stage, they will just look comical on the record. Floor surely was the most nervous of us, since she considered the Wacken gig to be some kind of last and biggest chance for her to show that she can do it.

Tell a bit more about the “Please Learn the Setlist in 48 Hours” documentary.

Ville Lipiäinen was with us already when we started the tour at the Key Club in Los Angeles and he then filmed us all over the globe. I can assure that a lot has been invested in this documentary. It also dives pretty deep into the world of Nightwish and into the band members’ heads. Surely, there are also familiar elements in the documentary: live, drama and crazyness.

I guess I should also mention that Anette won’t be seen or heard at all in the whole documentary. Ville had actually edited the first version of the dvd already – I mean a version where the former singer was normally there with us in all the happenings. Then we got a message from Anette stating: “any video or audio material that’s related to me can’t be seen or heard in this dvd release”… Anette hadn’t seen even one second of the material that was on the dvd, but she still wanted to remove everything that’s related to herself.

We then had to think a few times what we are going to do with this thing. Finally we decided to cut her off from the documentary even though that took several weeks. Luckily Ville is extremely gifted editor and he made the story work without Anette. Someone might surely wonder in the beginning of the document where the vocalist is hiding, but hopefully this question is forgotten while watching.

Let’s take a look into the future. How does the future look for Nightwish?

As it’s known, I’m working on my own “Music Inspired by the Life And Times of Scrooge” album during this fall. When this album is finished, I will focus on writing material for the next Nightwish album. We’ll start to rehearse the new songs next July and the album should be ready before the end of 2014. The album is probably coming out in March-April 2015.

How are you feeling about the new Nightwish material?

I have written four songs at the moment and they sound a bit… well, more relaxed. I truly feel right now that the next Nightwish album might sound a bit more down to earth. For the last ten years the direction of the band has been without exception like “bigger, greater, more massive” and I’ve been thinking recently like “how would it feel like to make at least one album with a bit more old-school touch”. On the other hand, I can reveal that the next album will include the longest song in Nightwish history. The theme of this piece will be such that it will certainly take about 20 minutes to tell the story.

Can you say yet how refined demos you are going to write this time? Or will there be more room than before for other Nightwish musicians’ arrangement suggestions?

I’m not sure if my psyche can ultimately take that, but I’ve truly been thinking of leaving the preliminary demos a bit more open. Surely, the songs have changed in the rehearsals also before, but with the next album I think the tracks could be refined in the hands of the band even more than before. We could now start working on some songs by thinking like “here’s the riff and here’s the chorus, let’s start working on it”. I think some new perspective would certainly be found from that!

The timetable of the Imaginaerum tour was clearly more humane than the Dark Passion Play tour. What will the next Nightwish tour be like?

These are things that the band and the management have to think through together, but personally I liked the pace of the Imaginaerum tour and the amount of gigs. The Dark Passion Play tour, that included about 200 gigs, went admittedly a bit overboard… But then again, the current plan is that the next Nightwish tour will start in April-May 2015 and it’s still quite a long time to that. The band will certainly be full of energy then and will think like “just book as many gigs as possible”, so we’ll see…

The last question: in what countries would you like Nightwish to perform in the future?

I think Iceland is on top of this list. We had a gig booked there once, but it was cancelled unfortunately. It would be great to play in South Africa – and you could say that you have performed on the continent of Africa. I have also heard such a story that some bands have been able to play in Greenland. That would be quite wonderful!

Translated in English by NWForum member 10thMan.

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