Interview with Amorphis (Tomi Koivusaari)
RockaRolla: There are only 2 weeks until the new Amorphis album – Skyforger will be released.We had the opportunity to listen to the album sample on Nuclear Blast website. So far if I remember well, Silent Waters and Eclipse were available for download almost 1 month before the album release. Do you think that the campaigns against music piracy achieved a much better result than few years ago? Is, in a way, music piracy good for promotion, in your opinion?
Tomi Koivusaari: For some bands and some cases it can be good promotion, some cases really bad for band itself. To very small bands I think it is good, as they can spread their music easily and maybe grow fan-base. To bigger, bands who sell millions of records, it doesn’t really matter as they anyway sell millions, of course record labels are pissed off because major labels only think about money they lose. Worst it is to bands in the middle. Normal deal is that all the studio, promotion etc expenses are taken from artist’s royalties. So those are not small amounts of money, and you really have to sell few records before you start to get paid from your work. Record companies are somehow anyway getting their money back from smaller sell, but artists themselves are not getting paid. That sucks and eats band’s motivation or possibilities to continue 100%:tly making music. In these cases it is not about greed, but simply make your living as musician. There is always two sides of everything. I can understand it if someone cannot buy it anywhere, because of simply don’t have any money, or you are going to buy it later. But as I said, it is very difficult to say what’s wrong or right, I cannot judge that. We also have had great concerts with huge crowd full of fans in countries where we haven’t actually officially sold hardly any records, so those fans have got our albums from net…But if someday none pays for albums, that will be end of lot of bands, if anything new system cannot be offered.
RockaRolla: Since Tomi Joutsen is part of Amorphis something changed in your music. The new Amorphis music is more lyrical, full of atmospheric sounds. Does this change have a special motivation? Is there about Tomi’s style, the band’s maturation or it’s only about another chapter in the Kalevala epic poem?
Tomi Koivusaari: Everything affects everything. When Tomi joined, whole band’s motivation growth ten times. He brought so much good spirit, energy and motivation with him. Also he used to be fan of Amorphis music since we began, so he wanted to take some of very early material to our live-set. And rest of us realized how much fun it was, so we kinda founded our roots again. Of course natural progression is happening all the time, and more we play together, better we get. So all these things matters. But I also see these three records, Eclipse, Silent Waters and Skyforger as some kinda trilogy, so that might have been affected our way to make music little bit similar on those records. I mean trying to this style best we can before continuing to the next chapter. But everything has been very natural, unconscious progress.
RockaRolla: Regarding your new album, Skyforger, when was it recorded and where?
Tomi Koivusaari: We started to record it on December ’08 at Sonic Pump records, Helsinki again. We have get use to that studio, as it is quite near where we live, and it is very nice in every way. Plus there is sauna! We had quite same team than with previous albums, Marco Hietala was producing vocals, Mikko Karmila mixed, Mika Jussila mastered, Sami Koivisto recorded and so on.. It was very easy and relaxing session!
RockaRolla: If I would make a resume, Amorphis has a strong connection with nature and astronomy. You’ve released Far From The Sun, Eclipse, then Silent Waters and now Skyforger. Silent Waters is an obvious extension of Eclipse. Is there any powerful connection that you wanted to reveal through these albums? Does Far From The Sun make the best connection between the Old Amorphis and the New Amorphis?
Tomi Koivusaari: I see Far From The Sun more as some kind of separated chapter, kind of swansong of that line-up. I like the songs, but I can personally hear some tiredness and lack of motivation from that album. As it indeed was end of some chapter, as Pasi had to leave after that. I don’t know if there is any albums which could be consired as some line between old and new, as I don’t see it that clearly. Way I see it is that there is like 3 albums chapters, Karelian.., Tales and Elegy are 1, Tuonela, Am Universum and Far From… are 2, and these three newest are 3. So probably after Skyforger some new chapter begins. But you’re absolutely right, nature has always been very important to us, and one of the biggest influences and source of inspiration.
RockaRolla: We would listen to the entire album after the official release, but until then, what can you reveal to us about this new album? Is there something special regarding the lyrics, the music?
Tomi Koivusaari: Lyrics are based on Kalevala, this time there is story of blacksmith Ilmarinen, forger of sky. So that way it also continues this trilogical theme. Musically I feel that we have gone forward, not changing style that much but more like tuning it. We have concentrated more to sounds, dynamics, arrangements and compositions. Also I think this album sounds most organic we’ve ever done.
RockaRolla: I really like Silver Bride. It sounds like a compilation of all songs from Silent Waters.How did you choose Silver Bride as a single for Skyforger?
Tomi Koivusaari: Normally we live those decisions to people from our company. Of course there is certain limits when picking single song, if it is going to be played on radio there can’t be too much growling etc. We had like 4 options which we told to our company, and that obviously was chosen. I think it is good song for that, because reasons you mentioned. It is always quite difficult to choose song which some kinda represents whole album some way, as our songs are often very different comparing to others.
RockaRolla: Will you continue with Kalevala in the future? Is there any other Finnish folk story you would like to compose about in your future albums?
Tomi Koivusaari: I don’t know, it’s a huge book, so there is still lot of stories we haven’t touch. I think those stories fits our music very well, as those are very timeless and emotional. Mostly Kalevala is about human mind. So we’ll see..
RockaRolla: Regarding the video for Silver Bride, do you think that videos, in general, are really useful for metal bands? People into metal music are not so mad about videos, actually they prefer to watch a live concert on DVD. Any plans for a live recording DVD?
Tomi Koivusaari: Not that important, in my opinion. That’s why we don’t want to spend too much time and money for those, when music itself has always been most important to us. Of course it is nice if there is at least some kind official video on net. We have planned that for years, somehow we haven’t managed to make it happened. But most likely we will shoot something on our forthcoming tour this year, as it is our 20th celebration year next year, live DVD would be least we can do for fans.
RockaRolla: I know you toured in USA . How was there? Did you feel any difference between the audience in USA and the audience in Europe ?
Tomi Koivusaari: It is different, it is huge sized country. We have had good times there, as we have had good times in Europe and everywhere. I don’t see audience that much different anywhere.
RockaRolla: You’ve been in Romania twice: once in Sibiu at ARTmania Festival (2006) and once in Bucharest with Haggard (2008). People are still waiting for you to perform here and we know this will happen at the end of October this year. Do you remember something about Romania and your gigs here? If not, how do you think the new meeting with your Romanian fans will be? Will they know the lyrics from Skyforger?
Tomi Koivusaari: We had great time there, of course we remember as they were first visits to us ever there! When we played in Sibiu , we were amazed about big crowd we had there, it was great. Also playing festival in middle of city was unforgettable. When we started our set sun was shining, and during the set it turned to darkness, it looked beautiful. Audience were one of the best we ever had. We are looking forward very much to come back to Romania . Most likely they’ll know lyrics and sing along
RockaRolla: Thank you a lot for your time. I can’t wait to listen to Skyforger and see you live again in October.
Kiitos paljon! Näkemiin!
Tomi Koivusaari: Thanks for this interview, see you soon!