Tomi Koivusaari - Amorphis, Ajattara, Abhorrence, Violent Solution - Back
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 discography?

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:

Tomi Koivusaari:

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 "Brother Half-moon".

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 1990.

Metal Fanatix: The summer festival season is just getting over now. What were your favorite festivals this year and why?

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 with? Why?

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 overall.

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 the world?

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 interview!

Tomi Koivusaari: Thank you, take care!

To keep up with all the latest news & much more on Amorphis check out the following websites:

http://www.amorphis.net/ - Official Amorphis Site
http://www.myspace.com/amorphismusic - Amorphis MySpace Site

© Jeffrey D. Adkins September, October 2007 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.