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27th November 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: You did the ‘Magic & Mayhem’ shows in Finland last year with some previous members of the band…
ESA: Yeah, we had four of the shows.
(Tomi Koivusaari on Amorphis' more 'dedicated' fans)
"Some of our fans have moved to Helsinki because of us..."
Tomi and Esa on their tour bus, London, UK, 27th November 2011
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2011 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Amorphis Official Website:
The Karelian Isthmus (1993)
Thanks to Jaap Wagemaker for arranging the interview
Amorphis Official Facebook:
Amorphis Official MySpace:
Tales From The Thousand Lakes (1994)
Elegy (1996)
Tuonela (1999)
Far from the Sun (2003)
Eclipse (2006)
Silent Waters (2007)
Am Universum (2001)
Skyforger (2009)
Magic & Mayhem (2010)
The Beginning of Times (2011)
MD: Was that like a big nostalgic trip, re-visiting the old songs with the old members?
ESA: Yeah, great fun, especially with some of the members, it was like time hadn’t disappeared anywhere. It felt like playing with them as it was.
TOMI: Some of the guys we hadn’t seen for seven or eight years but it felt very natural.
ESA: But it was fun because everybody was in good spirits and a good mood.
MD: Did you get time to rehearse with them much before or did they just turn up to the shows and do their thing?
ESA: We didn’t rehearse that much.
TOMI: Yeah, maybe once.
MD: I read something about Pasi [Koskinen]turning up in Tampere wearing a…
MD: Ah, you know what I’m gonna say… wearing a bit of a dodgy t-shirt, but none of you realised that at the time though…
TOMI: No, but that reminded us, “oh, that’s Pasi”!
ESA: We didn’t think much about anything or look much about what he was doing when he came on stage but later on we found out he was wearing a Josef Mengele t-shirt. Basically, he’s got a good heart but he wants to provoke people… especially German people were really pissed about it and we had to do a statement…
MD: Yeah, I’ve read that actually. It seems like it’s damaged his own reputation more than Amorphis’ anyway.
ESA: I think so, yeah, and we apologised to the people and won’t allow him to come on stage with us anymore.
MD: You got your highest ever position in the German album charts so it’s done no lasting damage!
ESA: Yeah, yeah, yeah!
TOMI: The other gigs he handled very well and was very into it, singing almost better than ever before. But the last gig…
ESA: Yeah, I think that was the aftershock if you can say, like what we heard after. But he spoke in the show, and there were underage people, like kids, and he started to talk about taking drugs that he’s gonna take. It was really lame and stupid but he had a conflict with our old drummer there and he was about to punch Pasi… it was like old Amorphis!
TOMI: Our booking agent started to discuss with us that we could do the same tour in Europe and we were like, “okay, let’s not, that was enough!” But it was fun.
ESA: Yeah, it was fun.
MD: When re-recording the old material for the ‘Magic & Mayhem’ album, was there a temptation to change parts of songs more than you did to fit how you’ve developed as players and to suit band members’ styles who didn’t originally record the tracks?
ESA: I think for us, at least, not really, no. We played pretty much how we played before. But some little things; I think Santeri, at least, did some additional keyboards for some songs that didn’t actually have keyboards. But, yeah, it was a fun thing to do. We didn’t want those old albums to be replaced by this because we play these old songs live and we have a lot of new fans, kids or whatever, and they’re always like, “what is this; what are these songs?”. So having an updated album…
MD: Did you have to relearn any songs, maybe some you hadn’t played live over the years?
TOMI: I think most of the songs we’ve played live at some point. For us it was easier. We just went into the studio.
MD: So twenty one years in existence now for Amorphis – what’s been the most memorable moment or can you pinpoint the biggest turning point for the band?
ESA: There are quite many, I think.
TOMI: The first one maybe, ‘Tales from the Thousand Lakes’. When it came out, we had our first tour and there were a lot of sold out venues. We were just like, “what’s happening?!”
ESA: We didn’t expect anything when that album was released, then we got good feedback from the label and good feedback from the critics, and “this is something different” and so on, and we went out and played it and that’s how it started.
MD: And here you are now, still going!
ESA: Yeah! [laughs]
MD: You have quite an avid fanbase, so what’s the strangest encounter you’ve ever had with a fan?
ESA: Nothing too weird.
TOMI: Some of our fans have moved to Helsinki because of us and that’s a little bit…
MD: …a little bit weird. That’s a bit stalker-ish!
ESA: A little bit, yeah!
TOMI: But yeah, I think that’s the strangest. And having some strange text messages sometimes but that’s part of…
MD: …part of being in a band, yeah.
TOMI: Yeah, but nobody recognises us when we’re in Helsinki. At least nobody’s coming to say anything!
MD: The final thing I’m gonna ask – because you’re all in your late thirties now and have been doing this for just over twenty years, do you see yourselves in another twenty years’ time still blasting out metal tunes at shows and festivals around the world when you’re all approaching sixty years’ old?
ESA: Yeah! Look at Anvil!
MD: Yeah, you need a movie too, ‘The Story of Amorphis’!
TOMI: If somebody would have said to me twenty years ago that I’d still be playing in the same band when I’m forty, I would have laughed.
ESA: There are some bands and players which are very old.
TOMI: Yeah, if you’re at some German festival, you feel like, “ah, we are the youngest band”, if there’s like Saxon and…
ESA: We played the Loud Park Festival in Japan a few years ago, and I think there was Saxon, and then the other bands there, we were like, “holy hell, we are not old!”
MD: I think I’m more intrigued as to what the fanbase will be like in twenty years’ time because if you go and see Iron Maiden now then it’s 50/50 – you’ve got really young kids there and then people in their sixties.
TOMI: When we started there weren’t any people over twenty years in the audience but, nowadays, in Finland, for example, there’s like grandmothers there!
ESA: Yeah, the parents take their kids to our shows so that’s good.
MD: Metal seems to be the only genre that keeps bringing in new generations the whole time while keeping hold of the older ones.
ESA: Yeah, there are always people who moan about metal music has lost its face and it’s not like what it used to be, all the anarchy and what it was against your parents, and everything…
MD: Oh, that’s still there, and that’s one reason why kids get into it.
ESA: Yeah.
MD: Like Watain…
MD: “They’ve got dead animals, my parents won’t like that”!
MD: So when you’re sixty, if your fanbase is waning, bring in the dead animals and you’ll be sorted!
ESA: I’ve started to think about my boy and if he wants to come for a show and brings some pig head with him!
TOMI: So when he starts to listen to some music, you have to be like, “oh my god, scary shit”!