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Tuomas Holopainen Interview

Tuomas Holopainen Interview
Performed in November 2013 


As the saying goes, all things go in cycles, and so it was for me in regards to Nightwish’s Imaginaerum tour. I began the journey at the same time as they did: at the opening shows in Los Angeles, where fans heard the new songs live for the first time. It was also where I conducted my first interview with Tuomas Holopainen; he answered fan-submitted questions and did not shy away from anything his audience wanted to know. I found him charming, pleasant, and easy to talk to; he knows how to put people at ease and there is a way about him to where you do not feel as though you are giving an interview. You just get to talking and there is a natural flow to things that each answer gives way to another, and then another after that until your time is up.


So I found it an honor to be able to end the voyage in the same place where it began: interviewing Tuomas for the Showtime, Storytime DVD; which chronicles the Imaginaerum tour from beginning to end, but mostly the latter 10 months of the tour when vocalist Floor Jansen stepped in after the abrupt departure of the band’s second vocalist, Anette Olzon. It was great to get another chance to talk to Tuomas and hear his thoughts on the tour now that it was all over, as opposed to his thoughts when he was first starting out. A year and a half had elapsed since then, and there have been a lot of changes in the Nightwish universe. But for all the hard times, the band is now on top of the world; officially procuring Floor Jansen as the band’s full-time vocalist and finally declaring Troy Donockley, “the master of the Uilleann pipes”, as a certified bandmember too.

Tuomas called me from Nuclear Blast headquarters in Germany to talk a little about the DVD, the two newest additions to the band, his upcoming “solo album” based on Scrooge McDuck, his plans for the future of Nightwish, and a few other interesting things. I am usually not one to get up at 7:30 on a Saturday morning; but for Tuomas, I will make an exception!

(Interview conducted on October 12th, 2013.)

C.:  Congrats on the new DVD, and congratulations to your two new additions to the band! Everyone seems to be happy about that.

Tuomas:  It seems like that; the band definitely is. I mean, it’s really good to finally come out with this, because we already decided this thing back in June. Well, in June, we had the courage to go and ask Floor and Troy whether they would be willing to continue in the band, and we got an immediate ‘yes’ from both of them. Then we decided that maybe we should just keep this quiet and come out with the information next year. But then, because of the release of this DVD and all of these interviews that we are doing; it’s just easier for everybody [to announce this now]. We announced this thing a few days ago [October 9th].

C.:  Yes, I interviewed Floor about 2 months ago, and she sort of hinted that it would be a major life-decision for her; but she already knew at that point. She’s really good at keeping secrets!

Tuomas:  Well, that was the agreement that we had, to keep it a secret, until three days ago.

C.:  Any reason why it took so long to officially recruit Troy?

Tuomas:  [laughs] We just thought it wouldn’t make any difference if he was an official member of the band or not, because he was gonna be with us anyway all the time. I mean, he’s such a wonderful personality and musician…there was no way we could do the shows without him anymore, so it was just a formality to make him an “official” member.

C.:  You’d think that, but there was some confusion among fans as to whether or not he was in the band…”should I ask for an autograph?”, etc.

Tuomas:  Actually, that’s a good point. There was some confusion, because he would only be onstage for 3, 4, 5 songs, and we would never introduce him [onstage] or anything like this. So he was a bit of a mystery, but now it’s clear for everybody.

C.:  Did you know you wanted Floor to stay from the beginning, or was there a particular moment when you remember thinking to yourself, “this is going to work”?

Tuomas:  She grew on us, week by week. When she first came, in the beginning of October of last year, there was something going on immediately. Well, we had known each other for over 10 years anyway; but still, there was something going on. I think it was sometime during last spring that we started to talk aloud, me and the other bandmembers: “What do you think about Floor? Should we ask her to stay in the band?”, and all of that. It took a few months, and we just came to the conclusion that she’s as perfect as it gets, in every single way.

C.:  And everyone seems to like her, too.

Tuomas:  Yeah, the transition was incredibly smooth, and the fans were so incredibly supportive from the very beginning. I mean, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I think that had to do with the fact that she already had a reputation and a long history; people knew her and respected her from her previous bands.

C.:  Since you decided to announce Floor officially a little earlier than originally planned, can we hope that means the new album will come sooner too?

Tuomas:  I think we need to stick to the original plan, because I don’t really have any songs done just yet. Just a few ideas, a few demos. What I’m gonna do is go into “deep hibernation” within a few weeks and stay there until June, because we have the rehearsal place reserved for July, August, and September. So I need to have all the songs done by then. But, if everything goes as scheduled, and everything goes smoothly, we should have the ready album in our hands by the end of the year [2014]; which means an April/May 2015 release.

C.:  That actually opens up the discussion a little bit about your Scrooge project and what you’re doing with that. Will you be touring or doing any live shows for the album?

Tuomas:  No; this is just a one-time side-project. I have no ambitions at all to go solo or do any live shows for Scrooge. Just the album release, and that’s it.

C.:  Would you ever consider another album like this or another “solo” project?

Tuomas:  I think it might be just a one-time thing. It kinda depends, because so far we’ve been able to fulfill a lot of those musical ambitions that we have under the name “Nightwish”. But this Scrooge [project] just felt like we can’t do it as Nightwish because it’s such a personal thing. So that’s why I decided to do it under my own name. If in the future, there comes a similar thing that we can’t realize under the name “Nightwish”, so then maybe yes. But I think this might be one-time only.

C.:  You already announced some guest vocalists/musicians for the Scrooge album. Would you like to reveal any other guests right now?

Tuomas:   can’t do that just yet, unfortunately, because I think we’re gonna have some kind of press statement coming up.

C.:  I had to try!

Tuomas:  Yeah, I know you did. [Laughs] But I have to say no, at this point.

C.:  Now about the DVD: it’s a chronicle of the Imaginaerum tour, which was really unique because you not only started it outside of your home country, but you ended it the same way. I didn’t ask you back then, but what was the reason for opening the tour in Los Angeles?

Tuomas:  Let me think; I’m not even sure I remember. I think it had to do with the fact that we still have the most to achieve in the U.S. I think that made a nice little extra boost for the band, for the album, for everything; to start off the tour in L.A.

C.:  On the same token, why did you choose to end the tour on the festival circuit, as opposed to doing the big send-off at Hartwall, like you’ve done on previous tours?

Tuomas:  Well, we didn’t want to be typical this time.

C.:  I’m going to ask you a question…you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but I was curious to know…back when you named your previous singer in 2007, you said it came down to her and another singer that was well-known on the scene. Was it Floor?

Tuomas:  No, it was not Floor. I have to be honest about that, we never even considered her because she was very busy with After Forever, and we didn’t want to steal anybody!

C.:  I’ll never ask who the other person was, then.

Tuomas:  Thank you for that.

C.:  With the two new bandmembers, this has given Nightwish a sort of “international flavor” now. Is it a new challenge for you, or are you already brimming over with ideas for songs?

Tuomas:  The whole world is open now. Troy, with his musicianship, he’s also a third singer in the band. We now have Floor with her versatility; able to do pretty much everything, even growl. So the table is pretty well-set.

C.:  Fans have come to expect certain things from your DVDs, like the bandmembers goofing around. What sorts of Nightwish standards can we expect on this DVD? More Marco pranks?

Tuomas:  [Laughs] What we really wanted to do with this documentary was to be a bit more serious; to give people an impression of the more serious side of touring, and of our personalities. Of course you need to have the occasional comic relief there; which, if you have seen the documentary, you know what I’m talking about. But, it’s definitely more serious than the stuff we have done before.

C.:  What are some of your favorite moments on the Showtime, Storytime DVD?

Tuomas:  Well, out of the documentary, it’s really difficult to mention just one, because it’s a 2-hour story. You need to watch it from beginning to end. I don’t know, I don’t really have any personal favorites from the show either. I really like the ending, “Last Ride of the Day”, because of all the fireworks and the explosions and stuff. But every song is a diamond.

C.:  I was really impressed by how fast the finished product came together; you did the show in August and now we’re into October and it’s already finished and ready for release.

Tuomas:  Yeah, I’m really surprised too; but I wasn’t involved in any way. I saw the live concert for the first time about two weeks ago.

C.:  The Imaginaerum movie has since been released to DVD, but I’ve noticed that some countries are still having theatrical releases, etc. Are there any other countries that might be showing the movie in theaters, or has it sort of run its course?

Tuomas:  The weird thing is that I have absolutely no idea what’s going on with the film. I haven’t heard anything about it for months. I don’t know where it’s being presented; whether the DVD/Blu-Ray has sold any copies, or any of that.

C.:  The movie was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, but if a similar opportunity ever came up again, would you consider doing something like that?

Tuomas:  Yeah; I’m not, like, traumatized by the experience, even though it was a bit more difficult a task than I originally expected it to be. But no; why not? Not on the next album, that’s for sure!

C.:  Now for sort of an “off-the-cuff” question…a while back, you mentioned that you’re working on a book that you’ve had in mind for a long time. How is that going? Any plans to do anything with it in the foreseeable future?

Tuomas:  I do have some plans, yeah. The publisher is actually really keen on publishing it, but I need a few more years. I have about 10 stories written down now, and the publisher really enjoys it and she wants to do something concrete about it. But I haven’t done a new story in about 2 years, so I need to find the motivation for that. For about 6 months, I was just writing and writing. I really enjoyed it, but then it just went away.

C.:  I understand what you mean; sometimes you get “in the zone” and want to write all kinds of stuff, and then suddenly you hit a block and it’s hard to get back into it.

Tuomas:  Being “in the zone”; that’s very well-put. That’s how I felt, really being there; and then just, snap! I didn’t feel like writing anymore.

C.:  Fan-submitted question (Falyssa; Lawton, OK): Your lyrics are so meaningful to so many fans. Do you ever think about the impact that your lyrics will have on others when you write them?

Tuomas:  No. I don’t, I really don’t. This might sound more selfish than it actually is, but I never think about anybody else when I write music or lyrics; not even the other bandmembers. That’s the only way to keep the whole thing perfectly honest and “pure”.

C.:  Thank you so much! This has been great. Thank you for all your love and support towards us over the years. Good luck with the Scrooge album and the new DVD. Can’t wait to hear the new Nightwish stuff!

Tuomas:  Excellent. Thank you very much. Take care!



All photos taken by C., courtesy of Oceansouls of America.
Special thanks to Robin Stryker of Sonic Cathedral
Extra-special thanks to Loana of Nuclear Blast USA