Prior to AMORPHIS's show in Bratislava, Slovakia on January 29, bassist Olli-Pekka Laine spoke with Rocker.sk. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how AMORPHIS strives to maintain its relevance:
Olli-Pekka: "I think the main key is to stay open-minded to different music styles, and kind of learning about music constantly. We have had a really good production team — Jens Bogren and good songwriters. We were working quite hard for the arrangements after the last tour. We had around two months [where] we went through the songs and went through the material. We're quite strict about the material — like, which songs are allowed to go to the album. That's the way AMORPHIS has always been. Even since the '90s, we were really harsh for ourselves when it came to the material. Even when we arranged music at home before presenting to the guys, we wanted to make sure that you could stand behind it at the end of the day. That's the basic recipe, I think."
On the "big" sound of the group's latest album, "Queen Of Time":
Olli-Pekka: "That's one part of this band, of trying new things. It's been [like that] since day one. I think we will continue on that track from now on, but since we've tried this orchestrational things and choirs and stuff like that, maybe we try to do something else the next time. It seems to be the trend nowadays that metal bands are flirting with orchestral things, because it's kind of an easy thing to do even at your home studio. You can have a sampler and make huge arrangements for strings and horns and whatever. It makes the music sound more bombastic of course, but that's what we've been doing since day one. Even when we were putting out our first demo, which was pure death metal, we had choirs there as keyboard pads. That's nothing new for us. We [will] probably use those in the future as well, but I'm really happy that Jens did it in such a stylish manner that he didn't just poison the entire stereo picture with choirs all the time like many bands [do]... I think he's pretty sensitive about AMORPHIS and our style and our limits."
On the challenge of choosing a setlist from so many albums' worth of material:
Olli-Pekka: "We start with the most obvious songs — the video songs, and the songs which have been most present in the Internet. Then we start arguing about the rest. There are three guys who are mainly making suggestions for the set list, and we basically mostly agree with it. In a way, it's hard, because AMORPHIS has such a long history and large back catalog, but still, there are songs we have to play. There are those video tracks, and if we have 13 albums, if you take one from each, you have already quite a long set there. Now, since we are promoting the new album, we are naturally playing more new stuff. Therefore, it's easier to combine the set list because we have to play, say, four or five new songs. Then there's space left for maybe seven old songs, which would be video songs, basically. Next summer, we are playing special shows with 'Queen Of Time' — we are playing the album in its entirety in Finland. We have a little bit of a challenge there, because we haven't played those songs [since] the studio session. It's going to be interesting."
On "Skyforger", which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2019:
Olli-Pekka: "It was such an important and successful album for AMORPHIS. Now, because we are in the middle of the touring cycle for 'Queen Of Time', I think we don't have time to concentrate on any other separate albums right now. Maybe we'll do it later on. We have some plans for a special tour next year, but I can't reveal anything more about it yet."
AMORPHIS will perform "Queen Of Time" — which was released last May via Nuclear Blast — in its entirety at select festival performances in the group's home country of Finland this summer, including Provinssi, which takes place on the island of Seinajoki, and Tuska, which is held each year in central Helsinki. They will be joined at the shows by former THE GATHERING singer Anneke Van Giersbergen.
"Queen Of Time" — the follow-up to 2015's "Under The Red Cloud" — includes the use of real strings, flutes, orchestral arrangements and even choirs. In addition, this is the first time that people are able to hear AMORPHIS lyricist Pekka Kainulainen on the album, as he contributes a speech in Finnish.