Luxi Lahtinen of Metal-Rules.com recently conducted an interview with NIGHTWISH singer Anette Olzon and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Metal-Rules.com: What are your uppermost feelings right now when it's finally been officially announced about a week ago that Anette is the new singer of NIGHTWISH? I mean, it must have been kinda hard to keep her name under a rock for this long…
Tuomas: The uppermost feeling that I have at the moment, is relief because we don't have to hide her anymore. And it must be a huge relief for her as well because like keeping her in a cave all the time, wasn't that much fun. But it was something that needed to be done. And now, we finished mixing the album last Friday, so we have the album ready. She's out, so in that sense I feel really, really good. Also, the people, the band and the media have welcomed her in a really nice way. I personally expected "the barbeque" to be much worse! (laughs) So, everything's looking good; it's really looking good…
Metal-Rules.com: When did it actually become crystal clear for the band that Anette would be a perfect choice to step in NIGHTWISH as the new vocalist of the band? I mean, you did receive well over 2000 demos from all around the whole world, so going through all that massive pile of demos must have been a hard task already in itself — just to pick up that one final candidate and eventually ask her to join the band…
Tuomas: It's was in the end of January 2007. We had a very long discussion within the band members about our final decision for the new vocalist because we just wanted to go thoroughly through everything really, like you know, turn every rock. But I mean, she was one of the very first ones to send the demo to us. I think she was amongst the first twenty ones or so, and she sang "Ever Dream" — just this one song, and made a huge impression on us by even that song already. I think she really managed to set the scale for the rest to come. So, she was present, like from the very beginning of this process.
Metal-Rules.com: The forthcoming NIGHTWISH album will contain 13 songs all in all. What could you say, are the biggest differences between these new songs - and the songs on "Once" from your point of view?
Tuomas: We recorded 15 songs altogether. Out of them 13 will end up on this new album. As far as differencies go, I think the biggest difference is sitting here next to me, so it's the vocals. I mean, musically I don't think the new album differs that much from "Once". There's some new elements on this new album — like there's Celtic instruments, there's a voice of sopranos, there's a gospel choir and all little details here and there. But the overall feeling that the songs have, is a natural sequel fromwhat "Once" was. We didn't wanna do anything too radical because she already is a radical change to our sound.
Metal-Rules.com: How was it different this time compared to the last time when you did those kinds of things for your previous album, "Once"?
Tuomas: Pretty much the same even if I also need to say this time recording those orchestrated parts was a bit bigger. There were 66 musicians in the orchestra this time. And in the choir, there were 33 people and 12 in the gospel choir. We were recording these orchestrated — and choir parts eight days altogether in the studios. Just amazing time…
Metal-Rules.com: Would you consider this particular song as one of your most ambitious works to date during the whole career of NIGHTWISH?
Tuomas: I think it's my personal number one favorite song at the moment of all the songs that I've ever done. It is just that. I mean, for me it's easier to do long and epic songs than 4-minute songs. To be able to do a song in 4-minutes long that could be even interesting, is much harder. It's easier for me to do these long epics. This song is definitely also the most ambitious song that I've ever done. It's like… It's not even a song; it's more like a theatre play type of song.
Metal-Rules.com: I guess it's kind of easy for you to write these lengthy, epic songs because you're a big fan of soundtracks and such kind of things as far as I know…
Tuomas: Yes, that's where I get most of my inspirations from. I try to think our songs like a soundtrack play. But the amount of material "The Poet and the Pendulum" has absorbed, with the orchestra and the choir; and there's the Celtic — fill, there's the voice of soprano, there's her singing and there's Marco's signing — and there's even Marco growling plus all the sound effects created by Mr. Jussi Tegelman in Hollywood. It's a really big song, I can tell.
Metal-Rules.com: Then you will head to the U.S. soil, starting this U.S. tour from Springfield on October 15th (which is a sold-out show already), and will be doing over 20 dates over there. What is a bit odd to me, why did you choose this U.S. tour first instead of touring here in Europe for this album first? Or, does it really make any difference where you tour first?
Tuomas: There's a very simple reason for that. We are not that known over there in the U.S. We get to play in relatively small places there, and we really need to run her in for singing, and it means that we have make 23 smaller shows first to adjust her in.
Anette: I also think it's a good idea. And after that I think we will be really together like as a band I think when we get back to Europe and do bigger shows here. Then I believe we can give more from ourselves to the audience.
Metal-Rules.com: After that you'll have 14 dates in all the Scandinavian countries which I bet is something you are really looking forward to as I believe playing in front of your home crowd is always something that kind of fuels your "machine" for bigger flames, right?
Tuomas: Yes. This Scandinavian part will include 8 shows in Finland, too. However, playing in front of my home crowd will make me scared as fuck.
Anette: Me, too. Actually I don't feel so scared of doing these shows in the States.
Tuomas: Me neither, but the Scandinavian shows will get me on my tiptoes a bit more, that's for sure.
Anette: Of course all of your friends will be in certain shows. When ever there are some of your friends in the audience or family or people who know you, it's even worse to go onstage.
Tuomas: I mean, here we are big — and because of that we are under everyone's magnifying class. You need to be perfect to do like… Or, let me put it this way: This is the band everybody's talking about, so we try to be as ready as possible for these shows.
Metal-Rules.com: What else will happen for NIGHTWISH touring-wise in 2008? Have you any dates scheduled for 2008 already?
Tuomas: Nothing has been agreed, but there will be an European tour coming up, another American tour, maybe Japan, Australia also — and a lot festivals of course in the summer. We are in Finland, so we have lots of possibilities to play at these summer festivals. But those will come later, so I don't have much to say about them yet.
Metal-Rules.com: What about you, Anette? What kind of challenge has it been for you to learn all of these other NIGHTWISH songs for the tour, expect the ones you sang for this new NIGHTWISH album?
Anette: It's always a challenge when you get to learn new songs. First time to try something new out, is always a very challenging time before you become completely familiar with the songs; get to know the lyrics the way you can leave the paper and just sing without looking at the paper. Of course adjusting my voice to old NIGHTWISH stuff that the band's former singer did, is a challenge itself how I can sing the songs properly, in my own way. That's of course the biggest challenge for me personally.
Tuomas: To be honest, she's been singing really, really well the old songs; even the songs she made for the demo and sent over to us for audition. We will play those songs live as well that Anette sang for the demo. I mean, the songs she did for the demo, sounded really good.
Read the entire interview at Metal-Rules.com.