Sweden's Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with NIGHTWISH mainman Tuomas Holopainen. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Metalshrine: How many [people] auditioned for the lead singer spot?
Tuomas: There were about 2,000 demos that we received from 55 different countries, so that was amazing. I was expecting something much less and out of those 2000, 50 were promising enough that we sent them a reply and out of those 50 we met about 10 in person. That's the statistics for you.
Metalshrine: Wow! Did you listen to all those 2,000 demos?
Tuomas: Yeah we did. Every single one of them. You have to do that and it was a lot of fun actually. It wasn't that much work as it may sound. It took about a year, so we had a lot of time to listen to those and at some points it was a lot of fun and then some demos you only needed to listen to for ten seconds. It was the worldwide "Idol" syndrome where everybody thinks they can be stars.
Metalshrine: What was it that Anette [Olzon] had that made you decide that this is the one, because I read that you first told her that she didn't get the job?
Tuomas: That's true. For a change the rumors have a truth behind them, so this part of all the rumors is true. It was only because of her having a child. I got a little bit scared about that and I remember, I guess I was a little bit drunk (laughs) and I acted spontaneously. We already knew each other for months via e-mail and she was really nice and she had a great voice. Then she sent me an e-mail, "By the way, I have a 4-year-old son!" and I was still in a bit of a shock of what happened with Tarja [Turunen, previous singer] and everything so I kind of wanted everything to be as perfect as possible. That was like the initial thing. I didn't think, I just sent her an e-mail, "I'm sorry, this is it!" It was totally my mistake and I'm just glad that she was stubborn enough. But the first thing that really impressed me was her voice, of course. I just felt that it came out so easily and it's something we are looking for. It especially fitted the new songs perfectly. That was the first thing. We had no idea what kind of person she would be, but after we met her for the first time, we immediately clicked. She's definitely the most positive person in the band. She talks a lot, she laughs a lot. You get an easy laugh or cry out of her. She's really emotional and very honest and down to earth with everything. Things that I respect. She's different from us but she kind of like feels the unity of the band.
Metalshrine: Did you ever think that you would go for a well known singer or was the idea from the beginning to take someone that was unknown?
Tuomas: You know, the thing is that we really didn't care at the time. We were just keeping all the options open to see what kind of demos we had. Whether it was a well-known person or an unknown didn't really matter. The same thing with the nationality. It didn't matter to us at all whether she came from Greenland or South America or Finland or Sweden. We were just looking for a good girl.
Metalshrine: I was kind of wondering... I know that Tarja is putting out a solo album and she has some fancy guests on it. Do you think she'll sell any records? Do you think the old NIGHTWISH fans will buy it? Do you think she'll make it?
Tuomas: I have no idea! Even though if I have some opinions about this I think it's better not for me to have any comments about anything. This is something really juicy for the media, this tragedy that happened, so if I say one bad word it'll be in the headlines. It has already happened twice in Finland. In an interview in Spain I just mentioned that I sent Tarja a Christmas card, and that's the only thing I said. The next day in the tabloid, the biggest Finnish newspaper, "Tuomas tried to make up with Tarja and she still hates him because she didn't reply!" And then when you read the story it's all about me sending a Christmas card. So I'm being really, really careful about that.
Metalshrine: Even before NIGHTWISH, was that something that you had any idea of happening? Being in the tabloids and TV shows? It seems like in Finland there's tons of that stuff every week.
Tuomas: God no! There is and we really hit the big time. We dug our own grave with this (laughs). Honestly, I didn't think that we would be such an interesting band. Maybe the whole scenario with this dramatic... nothing is more interesting to a human mind than when other people have problems and especially with relationships. It totally blew me away. I can't believe that this is such a big deal. Even the prime minister of Finland had something to say about it. Every single talk show in Finland was talking about how I need to find my feminine side (laughs) and it totally got out of hand. Like a public soap opera. It has calmed down a little bit, but it's still like that. Every week there's something in the papers.
Metalshrine: Amazing! Another thing I was wondering about, since listening to the promo, do you have any saying...the promo I got includes voice-over... do you have anything to say about that or is it just the record company? When you review records it really pisses you off.
Tuomas: I totally understand, but I also think that you can get the big picture of the album still, so... I understand it pisses people off but it's still a thing you need to do because this album has already been on the Internet for a month and a half. It being a voice over on the Internet, I think helps a little bit. If it was the actual album it would be a disaster, so it's just something you need to do in the Internet era, I'm sorry to say for you guys. The other thing is that you can do it RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS or METALLICA style and not give it to anybody, but I think that would also be wrong.
Read the entire interview at this location.