EMP Spain recently conducted an interview with keyboardist and main songwriter Tuomas Holopainen of Finnish/British/Dutch symphonic metallers NIGHTWISH. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how he came up with the concept for the band's forthcoming "Human. :II: Nature." double studio album:
Tuomas: "It came out as a result of flow of mind. I didn't have it in my mind in advance when I started doing the songs that 'Let's do an album about humankind and human nature.' After having written a few songs, I realized 'Okay, there is a theme running through all of these songs. The word 'human' appears in many of the songs.' I just took a step back and looked at all the songs and said, 'Yeah. This is going to be some sort of thematic album. This one song is about the power of human imagination. This song is about the power of human empathy. Then there is this huge nature symphony and an instrumental piece on the way, so that's the nature part of the album. Okay, I think this thing should be called 'Human. :II: Nature.'.'"
On how "Human. :II: Nature." became a double album:
Tuomas: "It's just a matter of not being able to fit all ten songs into one CD because the album clocks at about 83, 84 minutes at the moment. The maximum for one CD is 78 minutes. We were never planning to put out a double album. It just had to be done so because there was so much material."
On whether his writing process changed for "Human. :II: Nature.":
Tuomas: "Not radically. I wrote pretty much everything for the album this time. There were a couple of songs that were re-arranged a little bit, especially the song called 'Music' and the other one would be 'Harvest'. But most of the songs remained pretty much as they were on the original demo. But I'm always very careful to leave enough space into the songs so that everybody in the band has a chance to bring in their own personality. That's vital for a band so that it's not all set in stone. I don't really know what the guitar riff exactly would be there, so just let Emppu [Vuorinen] do it on his own. Same thing with everybody. It's really important that when you listen to different instruments, different band members singing that you hear their input, their effort, their heart in the music."
On the performances of lead vocalist Floor Jansen and bassist/vocalist Marco Hietala:
Tuomas: "This is an album made for singers and many people have said that. That was one of the deliberate decisions that we made already before starting the songwriting process, that, 'Let's give the vocalists more room. Let's make the vocalists really stand out and give them quite the challenge.' You can hear quite a bit of vocal acrobatics on the album. One thing also that we did for this album that hasn't really been used to its full potential in the past is harmonizing. Whenever there's a chorus on the album, it's all three singers singing throughout the whole chorus. It makes a nice little impact, a nice touch that we have never had on our songs before. Also, the first nine songs don't include the orchestra. It's only live strings and choir. That also left a lot of room for the actual band to shine."
On whether Jansen is singing "better than ever" now in NIGHTWISH:
Tuomas: "Of course, it's a personal matter and it's a subjective thing as music and art always is, but personally, I think she truly shines on this album and this is her best effort ever. She rehearsed like hell for the songs and we spent a lot of time in the studio also with the lyrics, the pronunciation, the timing, everything. We took it to a different level. I think you can hear it on the album. It's not the easy, the stuff she sings. Just try the verses of the song 'Music' for example. It's like a tongue-twister, but she makes it sound so easy and natural. It's quite phenomenal."
On whether NIGHTWISH is currently performing at its highest level:
Tuomas: "It took about 24 years to be here. [Laughs] It's one long learning process and I hope that you get better by doing, by being with your bandmates and learning their weaknesses and learning also the points where they do best and just try to optimize doing the songs so that everybody really shines. But in all honestly, I think I'm the luckiest songwriter in the world in the sense I have these people behind me. I don't really feel, I don't feel restricted at all when I write the songs because I know they can sing and play anything."
"Human. :II: Nature." is due on April 10 via Nuclear Blast. The long-awaited follow-up to 2015's "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" will be a double album containing nine tracks on the main CD and one long track, divided into eight chapters on CD 2.
"Human. :II: Nature." was recorded from August to October 2019 at Röskö campsite, Petrax Studios and Troykington castle, as well as Finnvox Studios, by Tero Kinnunen, Mikko Karmila and Troy Donockley. The mixing was done by Mikko Karmila at Finnvox, with Tuomas Holopainen and Tero Kinnunen. Mastering was done by Mika Jussila at Finnvox.