The Roadrunner Records web site has been updated with a brand newinterview with bandleader and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen of Finnish/Swedish symphonic metallers NIGHTWISH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Q: Anette [Olzon] sounds like she’s having a lot of fun singing [the material on the new NIGHTWISH album “Imaginaerum”]. Were the vocals recorded fairly quickly and easily?
Tuomas: Funny that you should mention, because to me that’s one of the biggest changes on this album compared to the previous one, is her vocal performance, because it sounds so much more relaxed and diverse and easy, in a good way. And this has the most to do with the fact that maybe for the first time ever she felt confident in being in the band. She could really be herself — she knows the guys in the band now, she knows the guy behind the mixing console, so she was just really relaxed. And also the fact that when we did the demo for the album, she came over to Finland and we told her, you know, this is just for a guide line, just sing something, here are the lyrics, here’s the melody, and it was that relaxed atmosphere that actually ended up being on the album as well. I think like 40-50 percent of all the vocals from both Anette and Marco [Hietala] come from the demo sessions, a year and a half ago.
Q: What was the practical working relationship like between you and Pip Williams, the guy who did the orchestrations? Did you sit down at one computer together and plot everything out? How was it actually done?
Tuomas: It was really hard work for four months. Pip Williams took a leave of absence from the university he was teaching at, for four months, just to concentrate on these arrangements. And what happened was, we made a demo, I sent it to him, and then we were on the phone every single day for four months just talking to each other about new ideas and he’s playing me stuff, like, “What about if this melody goes like this?” and “What if I use the clarinet instead of the oboe here?” and “For ‘Scaretale’, I have a whole new idea for the ‘C’ part,” and then he would send me files through email, his demoings and stuff from the computer program, and I’d go, “Yeah, that’s really good, but what if that chord is different?” So it was like this kind of close collaboration for months. We did it through email and phone.
Q: Is it a challenge to incorporate these orchestral and symphonic elements while still keeping a rock band at the center of the music?
Tuomas: You know, this is one of the biggest issues that people bring up when they hear “Imaginaerum”, is the use of the orchestra and choir, because it’s so dominant there, and you know, that’s just the way we wanted this album to sound. It’s not even rock anymore, it’s something like Hollywood landscape metal, decorated with distorted guitars, or something like that. But this is what we wanted it to sound like. Maybe next time we do an album it will be without the orchestra, maybe we’ll do an acoustic album, whatever. But to bring these stories and visions alive on this album, just for us as a band, required this kind of sound.
Q: On January 21, you’re doing a one-off show in Los Angeles. Will that be a full performance of the album? What are you planning?
Tuomas: We just finished a three-day rehearsal here. We just finished about three hours ago. We had a dress rehearsal for that show here in Helsinki. No, we’re not going to play the album from beginning to end. I never liked that idea, of any band doing that with a new album. For some reason, I just don’t like it. So basically we are just mixing up new songs with the old songs. I would say maybe 50 percent of the show will be songs from “Imaginaerum”, and the other half from the older albums.
Q: And is that what you’re planning for the larger tour, to present a large amount of new material?
Tuomas: Yeah, it’s called the “Imaginaerum World Tour”, we want to play the new songs. These are the songs we’ve never played before, so we want to do them, we want to promote the album and it just feels natural to put a lot of emphasis on the new songs. But we’ll never forget the old catalog as well.
Read the entire interview at this location.