Mark Holmes of Metal Discovery conducted an interview with guitarists Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari of Finnish melancholic dark rock/metal icons AMORPHIS on November 27, 2011 in London, England. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Discovery: The new album, “The Beginning Of Times”, hit the top spot in the Finnish album charts and you got your highest ever position in Germany at No. 16. Even though you’ve been going for twenty years, is there still a sense that you’re still trying to raise your profile with each new album and trying to make it bigger in different countries?
Esa: We don’t think about it that way. I think we’re happy if we can keep this whole thing on a level as it is now. And the charts, we know that in Finland it always does well; we’ve sort of got a reputation there that it always does well. But everything else, I think, is just extra and it was a big surprise for us what happened in Germany. But we don’t look that much to that charts. As long as we keep the wheels running and tour, and people go to shows, I think that’s what matters.
Metal Discovery: And chart-wise, I guess a higher position now equates to less CD sales than ten years ago anyway.
Esa: Yeah, and who knows what will happen in the future. Bands start selling less and less albums and I think the record companies are in trouble when they start to think about what will happen in the future.
Metal Discovery: There’s a female voice on the album again, and you’d previously used female vocals on “Eclipse” and “Silent Waters”. Is that something which will feature on future AMORPHIS albums or will that depend on the nature of the material you write?
Tomi: Yeah, we didn’t plan it at all; it was just an idea one day before mixing starts, to bring a little bit of freshness to the sound.
Esa: Yeah, and in the studio we started to talk with the studio manager because he’s a friend of ours, and we started to talk about it would be nice to have female vocals that would fit there and there but there’s probably not any good vocalists available for such a short period of time. So he said that he’s got a new girlfriend who is a very good singer and we were like, “Yeah, of course she’s a good singer.” [laughs] But we gave her a try and she’s really good.
Metal Discovery: You’ve had the same lineup now for four albums which is the most you’ve ever recorded with the same lineup. Would it be fair to say that lineup stability has enhanced creativity?
Metal Discovery: Or at least productivity?! [laughs]
Esa: Well, we always try to come up with some new ideas but the reason our sound changed a lot in the past is because of the members changing in the band. Everybody always brings something new. Nowadays, it’s easier for us to write music because everybody knows what other people are doing. We hope to bring some freshness and new ideas into our music as we don’t want to be stuck with a particular formula. Even though we’ve used a lot of the same people producing the album and the same studio, we always try to come up with some fresh ideas and some new elements that really fit the whole concept.
Tomi: We already started to talk about what’s happening in the future that something has to be changed, like maybe it’s the studio or the way we are doing the album. Four albums the same, I think this is the last album with this formula.
Esa: Yeah, yeah, a little radical change! [laughs]
Metal Discovery: When re-recording the old material for the “Magic Mayhem” album, was there a temptation to change parts of songs more than you did to fit how you’ve developed as players and to suit band members’ styles who didn’t originally record the tracks?
Esa: I think for us, at least, not really, no. We played pretty much how we played before. But some little things; I think Santeri, at least, did some additional keyboards for some songs that didn’t actually have keyboards. But, yeah, it was a fun thing to do. We didn’t want those old albums to be replaced by this because we play these old songs live and we have a lot of new fans, kids or whatever, and they’re always like, “What is this; what are these songs?” So having an updated album…
Metal Discovery: Did you have to relearn any songs, maybe some you hadn’t played live over the years?
Tomi: I think most of the songs we’ve played live at some point. For us it was easier. We just went into the studio.
Read the entire interview from Metal Discovery.