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Interviews

Amorphis (Niclas Etelšvou)

by: ZOLTAN KONCSOK - 2006-1-26 8:40:23

email: zoltan(AT) metalexpressradio(DOT)com

Niclas

Your previous singer decided to quit the band after the release of your previous album. Why did Pasi leave the band?

There were a lot of reasons, but in the end he just didnít feel very motivated anymore. We wanted to continue to work harder as a band, but he was just wasnít motivated, so we had a talk and we came to the decision that we have to part ways and find somebody else.

Was it a shocker for the band?

Not really, because he had been talking about it for so long. It was just the matter of time when this decision was made. It was his decision to leave in the end.

Are you still in touch?

Yes, pretty much. We see each other every week. Heís doing good and heís in a band as well.

When was the main criteria for the new singer when you started looking for a replacement?

Well, he had to have a wide voice range to be able to do growling and clean vocals. And he had to be somebody that we can get along really well on long tours. You have to live together for weeks for 24 hours a day, so he has to be a nice guy.

Did you audition many guys?

Yeah, we received like over a hundred tapes from singers. Then we auditioned some of them, but neither of them really worked out well. Then weíve heard about Tomi Joutsen and we give him a call and asked him if he wanted to come down and try himself out.

What was his initial reaction?

He was quite surprised. Actually he wanted to send his demo for our audition, but he wasnít brave enough. (Laughs) Thankfully someone mentioned his name as a good singer and thatís how we called him up. Then he came down and it worked out really well. He was the right guy. He knew all our albums from the first one to the latest one. There were other auditioned singers who only knew one of our albums, but Tomi was an Amorphis fan ever since the band started.

Was he in any other band?

He had a band called Sinisthra. As far as I know theyíre still together and working on it occasionally.

Now, you had three singers in the band. How could you compare them?

They are all quite different. I think Tomi Joutsen is more of a natural singer. The other guys have started out with growling at first and later turned into singing, but Tomi has been a singer all the time.

And how about your other Tomi (Tomi Koivusari), the original singer. Did he completely finish with vocals?

Well, he only did the growling vocals in the past. I donít know... he hasnít done that for some time. Maybe in the future heíll do it again.

How did Tomi Joutsen settle in the band?

It went really well. He had a very tough job, because when he joined the band we almost left right away for a US tour. It was five weeks altogether and we havenít met him before. Neither of us knew what would happen, but it turned out excellent. Of course he was nervous in the beginning, but thatís normal.

Did you also involve him in the song writing process of the new album?

Well, most of the songs were already written when he joined the band. But he was working with the vocal parts, of course.

So, when did you start writing the songs?

Most of the songs we started writing almost a year and half ago. When ďFar From The SunĒ was done we started to write this one right away. Of course, some of the stuff were newer, but basically thatís when we started working on the songs for this album. We pretty much sit at home alone and then we take our ideas to the rehearsal room and then we start to arrange together with the band.

Did you decide about the style of the album prior to the writing?

No, we didnít. We donít work that way. Everybody just comes up with different kinds of ideas. Like this time weíve had about 17 songs to choose from and then we just picked the ones that suited the concept the best.

Whatís gonna happen with the ideas that didnít make the album?

Well, I donít know. Maybe theyíll make the next album. Weíll keep them, because itís not that they are any worse songs than these, but we just didnít have the time to finish them all and they didnít fit the concept of the albums.

The new album is the closest thing you ever did to Elegy. How did you end up bringing back the growls and the uptempo songs?

When Tomi came down to the audition we didnít know that he can do such good growls, but he said that one song he wanted to do with us even if we donít take him to the band was ďSign from the North SideĒ. We havenít done that for years, so we had to practise that ourselves. Then we did the song and it was so good with him that we decided that we would end up having some of that on the album as well.

Since you joined the band, this is the first Amorphis album that is really heavy. The last few records were more psychedelic. How do you like this change personally?

I like it a lot. Itís like what I wanted to do all the time. (Laughs)

So, youíre kind of a fan of the old Amorphis sound?

Yeah. Iíve been following the band since the first album and I liked all their albums. Also with my old band we used to do shows together in Finland. We had a band called Kyria. We did three albums.

What would be your favourite Amorphis album?

If Iíd have to choose from the ones that I played on, then I would say itís definitely the new one. As for the old ones... itís hard to tell. I like them all, but I think it would be Elegy or Tales.

BTW, how did you get into the band back then?

I had a band that was more like a jam project where Tomi and Santeri were playing too. It was when Olli decided to leave Amorphis and they tried out some guys to replace him and one day they asked me. Of course I was very happy to join them. Amorphis was my favourite Finnish band.

Is there any story behind the albumís title ďEclipseĒ?

I think it was Esaís idea. He came up with the name and it was Travis Smith who did the cover artwork. We didnít really have a name for the album, but then we got the artwork and looked at it and it just came. Travis had so many great ideas for the cover and this one was the best and really fits the band and the album.

We already talked about the music, but how about the lyrics this time? It was Pasiís territory in the past...

We had many of the songs with Pasiís lyrics, but since he left the band we decided not to use them. These lyrics were based on the Kalevala. Esa wrote the lyrics of two songs and the rest is from this book. Obviously this book is in Finnish, but thereís a translation of it in English and thatís where we got the inspiration.

It must have been very difficult to fit an already written lyrics to the music.

Yeah, it was quite hard. But it worked out really well in the end, so it was worth the work we put into that.

How long have you been in the studio?

I think it was about 3-4 weeks, but we did it in small parts. First we recorded drums, bass and guitars and then we had a few weeks break and then we started to work with the vocals. Then we had a break again and then we mixed it and a month later we mixed it again. (Laughs)

Did you produce the album on your own?

We produced the album, but for the vocals we had help from Marco Hietala, the Nightwish bass player, who produced the vocals. We are very satisfied the way we produce our albums. Iím not saying that we wonít work with a producer in the future, but many of us in the band have studio experience, so it works out find this way for us.

Did you shoot any video clips for the album?

Yeah, we just finished it. Itís for the song ďHouse of SleepĒ. It was filmed in a place one hour north of Helsinki. Itís a pretty basic performance video, but itís very nice, kind of Salvador Dali if you look at that picture. (Laughs)

Are you also going to release a single for this song?

ďHouse of SleepĒ has already come out as a single here in Finland last week. Actually yesterday it was number one on the singles charts. Iím not sure if this will also be released in other countries though.

Your previous album was released through EMI...

Yeah, we did the last album for EMI, but it didnít work out that well. In Finland and in some countries it did very well, but then there were territories where they didnít even put it out. In North America we were waiting a year and a half to get it released, but they didnít, so finally it was Nuclear Blast releasing it.

And howís your relationship with Nuclear Blast going?

Itís great. It couldnít be better at this moment. Our albums were out on Relapse in the past, but Nuclear Blast had the license for Europe, so we are working together for quite some time now. We have signed directly to them for three albums.

Including a live one?

Maybe. We have been talking about it for many years now, but we should get now some DVD out, but we should check out about what shows we could film. I hope itís going to happen soon. We have a lot of material that we did with our handycams from our previous tours, so thereís a lot of bonus material to be released.

What are your touring plans for 2006?

Weíre starting our tour here in Finland in March. Then we either do a North American tour or one in Europe. Our booking agent is working on this right now. Then weíll do some summer festivals all over Europe and then in the autumn we plan on a club tour.

The promo CD has shortened tracks again. How much harm do filesharing and downloading make to a band like Amorphis? How do you see that?

Well, I donít really know how much it affects us. In some cases it can even be positive, because in some countries itís hard to get records and if we do a show there at least theyíve heard it. But on the other hand itís a pity as it takes away our bread. (Laughs) But I think many of the fans that download the album from the Internet will buy the album when it comes out anyway.

What kind of media you prefer? Web based or printed magazines?

I pretty much used to web nowadays. Iím carrying my laptop everywhere I go and itís easier this way. Also itís more updated than printed magazines.

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