Interviewer: Jeffrey D. Adkins
It's been many years since I became a
fan of Amorphis. With albums like "The Karelian Isthmus,"
"Tales From The Thousand Lakes," and "Elegy" they
grabbed my interest right from the start. This Finnish metal giant
has been putting out great music for years and there are no signs
of that stopping. They have progressed in a lively and entertaining
manor all arriving at their latest release "Silent Waters."
In his early teens, Tomi Koivusaari picked up the guitar. The first
band he was involved with was Violent Solution, which also includes
current Amorphis band mates Esa Holopainen (guitar) and Jan Rechberger
(drums). Not only was Tomi playing guitar for the band, but he also
did the vocals, much like his original duties in Amorphis. Tomi was
also in Abhorrence before the formation of Amorphis, once again playing
the guitar. More recently Tomi was in Ajattara.
I invite you to come to the "Silent Waters" as Guitarist
Tomi Koivusaari chats with me about Amorphis, their new album, concerts
and much more. This interview is a must read for any true metal fan.
So what are you waiting for? Read on!
Metal Fanatix: Hello Tomi! How's everything
Tomi Koivusaari: Hello, everything's
fine, Silent Waters just came out and we started small tour here in
Finland. So far response has been great!
Metal Fanatix: You, Esa Holopainen,
and Jan Rechberger started Amorphis years ago. Are you happy at your
accomplishments? Is the band where you expected it to be?
Tomi Koivusaari: When we started, I
couldn't even imagine that we will still have this band after 17 years.
In that time death metal was very marginal music, and we didn’t
even expect that we would get record deal. So now I've been in Amorphis
half of my life, so it really is big part of me, naturally I'm very
satisfied with all accomplishments.
Metal Fanatix: How would you describe
Amorphis to a perfect stranger during "The Karelian Isthmus"
days? How do you perceive Amorphis today?
Tomi Koivusaari: Karelian Isthmus is
quite average melodic death metal album, after that we started to
have more and more our own sound. So influences from past has always
been there someway, but journey has been quite amorphous. We have
always looking for something, but today we feel like we have finally
found our thing, that doesn't mean that we will stick on it but some
basic things are clearer than ever to us, can't really explain what
it is. Especially with this line-up.
Metal Fanatix: There has been some lineup
change over the years, from various reasons. Who has been the hardest
to continue without?
Tomi Koivusaari: No one really, things
has always been quite bad before somebody has quit, I mean lack of
motivation and so on. So it has never been surprise to us, and continuing
in that kind of situation if somebody don’t have any motivation
would be hard to continue with. Of course when Pasi left, it was really
the only choice as well, but of course it is not very easy for fans
if singer is changing, but we trusted that we will find the right
guy, and we did. We are still very good friends with all past members.
Metal Fanatix: Amorphis has to be one
of, if not the first band to use a sitar for a part of a metal song.
Whose idea was it to include a non-traditional instrument for a metal
band in your composition?
Tomi Koivusaari: I think it was that
time we listened quite much oriental folk music, I can't remember
whose idea it was at first. When we recorded Elegy, Petri Walli from
Kingston Wall, which was band we took lot of influences those days,
was supposed to play sitar in some songs, but he died during the session,
which was really sad. Anyway we had to play that by ourselves. I bought
sitar myself and tried to learn how to play it, I still play it but
not too good, it is very difficult instrument, but i love the sound.
Metal Fanatix: Do you think Amorphis
has benefited by using by using these types of instruments?
Tomi Koivusaari: Nowadays our listeners
might already expect some "strange" instruments in our albums,
so it might be that we are kind of benefited. When Tuonela came out,
some people were shocked to have saxophone on it. But to us it is
not that weird, we have listened so much 70's progressive bands, Pink
Floyd, Jethro Tull, Piirpauke etc etc.
Metal Fanatix: There has been so many
great tracks in the Amorphis catalogue that it's hard for me to pick
favorites. Each album has an assortment of metallic gems. Do you have
any favorite tracks? What's your favorite on "Silent Waters"?
Tomi Koivusaari: My favorites are changing
all the time, depending moods, but some long time favorites would
be like "Castaway," "My Kantele," "The Orphan,"
"Tuonela," "Rusty Moon," "Summer's End,"
"Alone," "Smithereens," "Leaves Scar,"
"Smoke." From "Silent Waters" might be songs like
"Towards and Against," "Weaving the Incantation"
and "Silent Waters."
Metal Fanatix: Tomi, how did the recording
process go for your new record?
Tomi Koivusaari: It was very easy in
a way, because we had same recording and mixing crew, same vocal producer,
same studio and same line-up for the first time ever than on previous
album. We still had Eclipse session on our mind when we get to studio,
so it was kind of continuing from that.
Metal Fanatix: Did you try any new approaches
when writing the new album?
Tomi Koivusaari: we didn't try any new
approaches, at least consciously, but Tomi Joutsen of course had more
self-confidence this time to try little bit more of his own interpretation.
Anyway there is in my opinion some new flavors in music as well, like
Enigma. It's just that we never thinking too much what kind of stuff
we are doing when writing new stuff.
Metal Fanatix: In your opinion where
does your new album, "Silent Waters," rank in the Amorphis
Tomi Koivusaari: It is too early me
to say, but now it feels like it is going to very top.
Metal Fanatix: Was any material written
for "Silent Waters" that didn’t make it on the track
list? If so do you have plans for these tracks?
Tomi Koivusaari: We have one leftover
from the session, I don't know, probably we’re gonna put it
somewhere someday, I don't know yet, very good song written by Niclas,
it just was quite different mood than other tracks on Silent Waters.
Metal Fanatix: What is the first you
think of when I mention these songs:
The title track Silent Waters: Lake
in somewhere middle of Finland, by night
Brother Moon: Quite happy-sounding track...
Also there was great TV-show in Finland on 80's, directly translated
Greed: We started some festival show
with this track in Germany few years ago, there was sun shining when
we started, but in 1 minute there was huge thundering and raining,
and it was totally dark suddenly. So we had good lightning guy that
day, probably it was Perkele, god of thunder :)
On Rich And Poor: When recording guitar
parts for it in Stockholm I had bad hangover. Good song.
Drowned Maid: Before Tales… session
I heard melody of this song when I was sleeping, I woke up and recorded
it to my tracker to remember it. Still have no idea where it came
from. Hopefully not from radio :)
Metal Fanatix: Tomi, what do you remember
from the first concert you played with Amorphis?
Tomi Koivusaari: Not much, I think we
were quite drunk that time on gigs. Not anymore thou. I remember it
was in Riihimäki, little outside from Helsinki, there was some
small festival where was also playing bands like Sentenced, Xysma,
Funebre and Disgrace, if I remember right. That must have been late
Metal Fanatix: The summer festival season
is just getting over now. What were your favorite festivals this year
Tomi Koivusaari: Wacken was nice; it's
so big of a festival, and well organized. Also Ilosaari-Rock in Finland,
there is always very good spirit in that festival, and I saw Porcupine
Tree for the first time.
Metal Fanatix: With all the great tunes
that Amorphis has, do you find it hard to include all the songs you
want on a set list for shows?
Tomi Koivusaari: Yes sometimes it is
hard, but we try to do few different kinds of setlists, and changing
it once in a while. We should do 2.5 hours show to include every song
we would like to setlist.
Metal Fanatix: Amorphis has gone on
many tours over the years. What band has been for favorite to tour
Tomi Koivusaari: We have had good luck
with bands we have toured with, every time we have had most nicest
bands and got along together perfectly. If I have to pick some bands,
it might be Moonspell and Opeth, may be because those tours we traveled
in same bus, so we became good friends. But honestly I don't remember
any bands that we had some troubles.
Metal Fanatix: What do you miss the
most when you are on the road?
Tomi Koivusaari: My family, I have 2
kids, and it is not easy to stay long time on tour, away from them.
Metal Fanatix: The first time I saw
your live show I was blow away! That was back back in 1999 at March
Metal Meltdown in NewJersey. Not that its in recent years but do you
remember anything from that show?
Tomi Koivusaari: I remember it well,
good afterparties! Show was good, but we didn't have any sound check
so it was quite chaotic on stage, sound-wise. But we had a good time!
Metal Fanatix: Tomi, tell me about your
axe! What is your favorite guitar?
Tomi Koivusaari: I played like 15 years
with Gibson Les Paul, now I have ESP's customized models, and I'm
very satisfied with them, good sound, good to play and doesn’t
break that much strings that I used to do with Gibsons.
Metal Fanatix: What is your favorite
thing about playing guitar?
Tomi Koivusaari: It is so multifaceted,
you can always learn more.
Metal Fanatix: What bands or musicians
influenced you in how you play today?
Tomi Koivusaari: I think all stuff
what I have ever heard, in someway. My long time favorite is David
Gilmour, but I really don't know if I'm taking any influences from
anyone, at least I don't know it. I like quite simple way to play,
never liked fast guitar solos or stuff like that.
Metal Fanatix: How do you think Amorphis
has influenced metal today?
Tomi Koivusaari: In Finland there is
nowadays lot of metal bands who are using these folk elements, I would
like to think that it came from us someway. Also bands has started
to have very unique sounds, and not sounding like other metal bands
Metal Fanatix: Where do you see Amorphis
10 years down the road?
Tomi Koivusaari: Hopefully we are still
making music, like Esa said in some interview, we probably are doing
some demos when we are 60 years old, when nobody wants listen the
old farts anymore. But to us this way of life, and can't even think
life without making music. We'll see.
Metal Fanatix: I have one more question
for you Tomi. Do you have any final words for the Metal Fanatix of
Tomi Koivusaari: Thank you for all
our fans who has supported us over the years, given us strength too
keep going. See you on tour!
Metal Fanatix: Awesome, thanks for the
Tomi Koivusaari: Thank you, take care!
To keep up with all the latest news & much
more on Amorphis check out the following websites:
- Official Amorphis Site
- Amorphis MySpace Site
© Jeffrey D. Adkins September, October 2007 Not to be re-printed
in any form without written permission.