Arto Mäenpää of Finland's Kaaos TV recently conducted an interview with keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen and drummer Kai Hahto of Finnish/British/Dutch symphonic metallers NIGHTWISH. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how Holopainen emerged from writer's block to write the band's forthcoming "Human. :II: Nature." studio album:
Tuomas: "I just started doing songs one by one. I didn't have an idea of how the whole album would sound like. Already at that point, I knew there's going to be a long, orchestral song. I had the idea for the thematics of the songs 'Music' and 'Noise' being the first two tracks of the album. It gives a nice contrast. 'Noise' was one of the first songs I did because I felt so strongly about the subject matter that the song deals with. It had to be done in this time and age. But, yeah, the songs came one by one and at some point, I realized that, 'Hold on, almost all the songs are about humankind.' The word 'human,' the word 'nature,' they appear a lot in the lyrics. Somehow, it's a concept album without intending it to be. Then, at some point, it became clear to me that 'Hold on. Clearly, nine songs sang by a human voice about humanity about humans, then we have the nature epic, the instrumental second point. How about calling this album 'Human. :II: Nature.'? There's also a lovely little wordplay because it's also about human nature, how we are as species."
On whether it was intentional for NIGHTWISH to separate the tracks into a double album:
Tuomas: "Absolutely, as a whole album. It's just because the album clocks at 85 minutes or something like that, so you cannot fit it into one album. The idea was never to do a double album, but because we can't fit all the material into one CD [laughs], you have to have another one. It's simple as that."
On whether "Human. :II: Nature." is a more of a band effort than previous NIGHTWISH studio albums:
Tuomas: "We left the full orchestra for the first nine tracks, so that left a lot of space for the instruments and the vocals. That was a deliberate decision. Then, the orchestra comes full-on for the last symphonic epic. But I think when it comes to the process of doing the album, the formula was pretty much the same as the previous albums. I tried to do the songs as finished as possible on my own, then I introduce them to the band, then we start the process from scratch again."
On the prominent contributions from NIGHTWISH's three vocalists: lead singer Floor Jansen, bassist Marco Hietala and multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley:
Tuomas: "It's a result of many different things. We just realized that we hadn't really fulfilled the full potential of the three vocalists in the band because all of them have their unique sound, all are truly incredible singers, so why not do a vocal-oriented album, especially the first half of the album? Let's do an album for singers. Do every single chorus in three harmonies, and that's what we ended up doing."
On the amount of work Jansen had to put in to record her vocals on "Human. :II: Nature." :
Tuomas: "A lot. Really, really a lot. But she took the challenge; she really enjoyed the process and in the end, she made them sound so easy. But, when you start to listen to them, you realize that it's not an easy task because she's not only singing them beautifully but also telling the story. You become hypnotized by her interpretation, especially if you have the lyrics and read the story and understand what the songs are about, especially songs like 'Music', where the lyric is really important. But, also Marco and Troy — just incredible work throughout the album."
On whether Holopainen "pushed" his bandmates for their best performances:
Tuomas: "Yes. It's not like I was like the dictator and whipping them. [Laughs] I mean, everybody seemed to truly enjoy the process and wanted to give it their best. Also, with the engineer, the mixing engineer, mastering engineer, ToxicAngel [Janne Pitkänen], who did all the cover artwork. He worked with them for about 18 months. So everybody put everything into this album…it's just the ultimate feeling to have, the dedication that people have."
On the concept behind the "Human" part of the album:
Tuomas: "It's nine songs that have some connection to the species of human. I'm not going to go into them one by one, but there is a connection. For example, song number five called 'Pan' is an ode to human imagination. Song number six ['How's The Heart?'] is an ode to human empathy. And so on."
On the instrumental that comprises disc 2, "All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World":
Tuomas: "It just occurred to us that in the NIGHTWISH catalog of songs, we have never done a big, fully orchestral piece. Now it was the time to do it because you have nine songs about humans, then you want to go out into nature and relax there without the human voice. So, it was the perfect timing to do this kind of song. It's our love letter to planet earth."
"Human. :II: Nature." will be released on April 10 via Nuclear Blast. The long-awaited follow-up to 2015's "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" will be a double album containing nine tracks on the main CD and one long track, divided into eight chapters on CD 2.
"Human. :II: Nature." was recorded from August to October 2019 at Röskö campsite, Petrax Studios and Troykington castle, as well as Finnvox Studios, by Tero Kinnunen, Mikko Karmila and Troy Donockley. The mixing was done by Mikko Karmila at Finnvox, with Tuomas Holopainen and Tero Kinnunen. Mastering was done by Mika Jussila at Finnvox.