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Eind mei verscheen 'The Beginning Of Times', het vierde volledige Amorphis album in vijf en en half jaar. Met daarnaast nog de release van de eerste DVD ooit en het uitbrengen van een CD met opnieuw opgenomen oude nummers ('Magic & Mayhem') mag je gerust stellen dat het goed gaat met het grootste Finse exportproduct. Oprichter en gitarist van het eerste uur Tomi Koivuusari maakt dan ook een tevreden indruk. In het geschreven vraaggesprek dat LoM met hem had reflecteert hij bescheiden op de huidige hoogtijdagen van de band. Tomi lijkt een rationele rasmuzikant te zijn met een gezonde focus op het hier en nu.

Door: Richard G. | Archiveer onder prog / sympho metal

How is Amorphis doing at the moment?
Fine thanks, for the first time in five to six years we have a break of a few months, so we are feeling quite relaxed and prepared for upcoming summer festivals and tours. Right now we have done quite a lot of interviews for the upcoming album, and we are feeling anxious how our fans are gonna like it

The new album is to be released soon, how are you anticipating its release? What is the coolest reaction you have had so far? What are your expectations for it?
These last few months when we have had the album ready felt very long, and now when the reviews start to come I feel excited, in a good way. The coolest reactions have come from some 10/10 reviews, and also what some journalists has told to us about it. So far don't know how fans are gonna take it. I'm very satisfied how the album turned out, we'll see. I don't have any special expectations, that way I won't get disappointed, I'm happy with our current situation.

The 'Skyforger' album was very successful indeed, yet the new album appears relatively quickly after it. Did the success of the previous album put any pressure on the writing process for the new album?
No, we always start from blank table. Albums we did in the past are still our albums, and we don't have to remake the same kind of albums. We look forward instead. The writing process happens very naturally as always, without thinking too much that there is anything that could limit us.

Having recorded so many albums already, does the recording process get more boring with every album? Is there anything that you do to keep it fresh?
We are trying to keep our minds open when making music, which keeps it fresh and interesting for ourselves. I never get bored in the studio, it is great to see and hear how songs are taking their final shape after every instrument is recorded.

I would say that at the moment Amorphis is probably going through the most successful phase ever. What have been the main factors contributing to this in your experience?
For the first time in our career we have had same line-up for four albums (plus a DVD and 'Magic and Mayhem'), before this we never even had it even for two albums. Also when Tomi Joutsen (vocals, RG) joined the band, his motivation and energy affected us as well, by that our live performances got better and better all the time. For the first time in our history we could imagine recording a live DVD. I have to admit that Tomi is a very good front man. That has to be one reason for this current situation as well. Also we haven't been too lazy when it comes to touring and making albums.

Compared to when the band just began, what are the biggest differences? What are the (obvious maybe) biggest perks of enjoying the status that comes with being the successful metal band that you are now?
Well, the biggest difference must be that we're not sixteen-seventeen years old anymore, but basic things has been quite the same, I guess. I think we have been some kind of odd-bird in metal scene since we started. People never seemed to know what to think about us. Now is probably first time when I can feel that we do have some respect from all we have done in our past and present. It's hard to think what the biggest perks are, as this band has been a big part of me more than half of my life and all of my adult life. When we started, we trusted the wrong people handling our financial things, and we paid a big price because of it. Nowadays we have learned and we are keeping things more in our own hands.

And following this, of course, what are the biggest downsides of the success (if any)? Screaming groupies maybe?
Screaming groupies are definitely one of the upsides :) ...if we have some of course.. I cannot find any downsides really, I feel privileged that I can do the thing that I love the most, and even can live with it, cannot complain as long it lasts!

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The material on 'The Beginning Of Times' sounds very familiar and displays the Amorphis style that you have developed since Tomi Joutsen joined the band. What did you want to do differently on the new album?
We didn't try to change, and not trying not to change either with this album, it all happened very naturally. I think we wanted to refine our sound and arrangements more than before. We'll see what's happening in future, but it feels that we have found some sound now what we have been looking for, but we also wanna keep our view to new things as well, would be fun to do something totally different as well. But it happens if it happens...

One extra element that can be heard is the addition of female backing vocals. Why did you decide to add this touch? Who is performing these vocals? How did you come into contact with her?
We thought the album needed some extra freshness by female voice, it sounded too “leathery” without it :) The singer's name is Netta Dahlberg, she is a friend of ours and our studio-manager's (Nino) girlfriend. We had like one day before starting to mix and we asked if Nino knows somebody quickly. She did a great job in such a short time. Actually it wasn't the first time either we used female singing, there were already some additional vocals on the 'Eclipse' and 'Silent Waters' albums.

'The Beginning Of Times' tells yet another Kalevala story, this time the one of Vainamonen. His story is quite pervasive in the Kalevala, was it difficult (for your writer) to narrow his story down to the limited number of songs that is available on a metal album?
Pekka Kainulainen, who wrote the lyrics, concentrated more on the story, but kept them more as chapters, and he wrote everything in Finnish. Then Erkki Wirta translated them to English and finally Marco Hietala and Tomi Joutsen arranged those to fit to the song. So in some point of that trip it got the right shape to fit.

What is your favourite aspect of the Vainamonen story? What do you like best about his character?
I like best his humanity. From the story I like it when he is chasing a young girl who doesn't want to marry him, and she would rather drown herself.

The new album is the fourth one following the template of re-telling a certain Kalevala story. Is this the way that you will be going for the rest of the career, or have different ways to write albums been discussed in the band? If so, what options have been discussed?
Hard to say yet, one option is continue with Pekka, but with totally different story, made by us or he. It's too early yet to say, as we haven't thought that far. But it is very hard to continue with same style, as Väinämöinen might be biggest character from Kalevala and it's hard to top. Anyway basic things could be the same, as story's timeless, nature etc. We'll see about that.

The timing of the album release is perfect for the European festival season. You guys have played quite a lot of those of course, which ones are your favourites and why?
I like festivals sooo much! It is great to play such big audience outside, and also meet lot of friends from different bands there. A few beers of course... First festival which comes to my mind and treating artists and audience well are probably Wacken, Roskilde, Graspop... There are such many great festivals out there these days. Can't wait!

What is the craziest situation you have gotten yourself into at a festival?
Well I remember one case, when I was actually just as a guest in Roskilde Festival, ninety-something. We came little bit late to festival area, it was already dark, and we just put our tent very hurry because we wanted to see The Prodigy. After The Prodigy we realized that we had no idea where our tent is, with all my stuff and everything. I was lucky I had my passport with me. There are crazy things still happening every summer.

Besides festival appearances, what are the other plans for promoting the album? Have any cool shows and/or tours already been planned?
Yes, after summer-festivals we do seventeen club shows in Finland, then we are heading to Europe for two different headlining tours. Between them some shows in Russia. After that there is some plans to go to South-America for tour, some shows in States as well. And will be continued..

These were my questions for now, thank you very much for your time and answers. If you have anything to add for the fans in Holland, please go ahead!
Hopefully see you on tour, buy new album of course! Thanks for this interview!

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