Amorphis interview (Tomi Koivusaari)

"We needed change, not only to have something new to our sound, but keeping ourselves inspirated"

05/04/2013 @ 14:26
The great new album of Amorphis, “Circle” was a good chance to talk with them. The guitarist and founding member of the band Tomi Koivusaari was more than happy to talk to us about the new album, the differences in comparison with the previous ones, Peter Tägtgren's contribution, the relationship between the members of the band, but also when to expect them to pay a visit to our country.

AmorphisHi Tomi. Congratulations on "Circle". Although I enjoyed your latest works, I believed a change was necessary, and it came. I'm glad the growls are still there.
Thank you! We started to think before recording this album that maybe we should change the process of making album this time, as last four albums we did at same studio with almost same crew all the time. We needed change, not only to have something new to our sound, but keeping ourselves inspirated. So we wanted one same guy to record, produce and mix the album, someone who would be aware as us what's going on on process and so on. Also we went to countryside all of us to record, mainly because we wanted peaceful place, that nobody is hurrying home or anything but staying at same place 24h for week or so. That's how we did our four very first albums back in the days. Recording all separated felt too clinic way to do it this time. Working with Peter Tägtgren was great, we've known him for ages, he's cool guy and had great ideas and made great sound for the record.

AmorphisIt's already your eleventh album. Did you believe back in 1990 that you could make it so many years?
I would laugh if someone'd tell that back then! When we formed the band we were like 17 years old, and on that age even 25 years old is OLD. But here we are, not complaining, have had great opportunity to do what I love all these years. To us most important thing to keep going has been that we can do any kind of music we like, not putting any limits to ourselves musically.

Personally, I believe that "Circle" is a move away from the style you introduced mostly with "Skyforger" and "The Beginning Of Times". Do you agree? Was that a choice?
I think so too. We wanted more darker and heavier sound for this one, also wanted that whole album would be more compact, not having any filler songs and not too long. Also I think that Circle is less poppy. When we were composing songs that wasn't conscious, as we never plan what we should do next. Obviously we anyway wanted to go darker direction. Sound is much more heavier and guitar-oriented than for a long time.

AmorphisFor "Circle" you decided to change your producer and go with Peter Tagtgren instead. Judging from the outcome how do you believe this has changed your sound?
Marco Hietala produced only the vocals on last albums, we produced music by ourselves. This time we wanted someone to be like outsider-ear, because we have 6 guys in band and everybody has his own opinion, sometimes different ones. Peter brought more modern, heavier and guitar-oriented sound. Also he had some good ideas concerning drums and vocals specially.

And after many years Kalevala is not the theme of this album. What's the story about?
It started to feel that we'll need anyway some kind of breakaway from methods we did last four albums. On "The Beginning Of Times" the story was about Vainamoinen, probably biggest character from Kalevala, so we figured out that is hard to top. Anyway some of the same stories has been circling around in our albums, so it felt cool to try something else. Story itself could be taken from Kalevala though, the atmosphere and style. To me it feels little stupid to try to explain lyrics overall, not only because they are written by somebody else, but also because personally I think good lyrics are offering different things to different listeners. I don't like myself to read somewhere what my favourite song's lyrics are about, that way they'll become more personal. Of course I know the story behind "Circle"'s lyrics, but I am anyway thinking those on my own way on every song. But here's what Pekka Kainulainen who wrote the lyrics is saying about the theme shortly: "The protagonist has been dealt a bad hand at birth. He's always felt himself an outsider with strong potential to become marginalized. Through an accident, after a crisis, he finds a connection with his inner powers. A guide is sent to him, from another time and place. He gets a chance to take hold of his own life and change his destiny. From the past of Carelian Finland he finds his own spiritual tribe and the power to turn the course of his doomed life. This is a story of survival." The best way to find out what lyrics are about is to listen to the album.

AmorphisDo you consider Pekka Kainulainen to be a member of Amorphis?
Because he writes our lyrics? No, not really. Pekka is not playing any instruments as far as I know and he's like 60 years old. Maybe he could do some performance on stage (laughs).

You recently did an acoustic performance for a Finnish radio station, if I'm not mistaken. There were extra instruments such as flute and saxophone. How was this experience? Would you do a full acoustic show someday? Or perhaps an album?
We did that with whole tour in concert halls here in Finland. That was very nice and different experience. It was quite challenging, as it is very different to play acoustically, and audience is sitting on their chairs. That was something we wanted to do for a long time. There was with us saxophone/flute player Sakari Kukko, who played on "Tuonela", "Am Universum" and now on "Circle" album too. Also we had female singer Mari Multanen, who guests on "Circle" album as well. We will play this acoustic set at Wacken this summer, so far that might be the last one, at least for a while. Acoustic album would be fun to do someday as well, but that's not our priority right now.

AmorphisWhich is your favorite Amorphis song and which your least favorite album you've been a part of?
My least favorite would be "Far From The Sun", not because I'd think it's bad, but just atmosphere when we were making this album comes to my mind. It was last times with Pasi in band, and he's motivation was gone already. That could have been much better result with those songs. My favorite song, hmmm... that's hard, as it changes all the time, depends on mood. Some songs we have played like 1000 times on gigs, so I cannot listen to those that much. Let's say "My Kantele", that song sums up quite much what we are all about.

What went wrong with "Far From The Sun"?
As I told above, Pasi's motivation affected to all of us, feeling wasn't that good inside the band that time. I think you can hear it on album as well. I don't think it's that bad album though, just sounds little bit tired and lazy. Also with that album we went to EMI and things didn't work out too well with major label.

AmorphisHow do you get along with the other band members? I mean, there are always disagreements and problems, but did you ever reach a point that you considered breaking up or leaving the band?
I think we all are anyway wiser nowadays as getting older, we know better how to handle things by talking. We weren't too good in communication between us in past. Also I think chemistry works very well between this line-up. Everyone have same goals and having same ambition concerning to band. I've never planned seriously to leave or break-up the band though. But of course sometimes it is hard, like at every work or relationships.

You've been around for many years now. At what moment will you be able to say I'm happy with what I've achieved and then just enjoy writing good music?
I think I can already be happy what we have reached, this was what I wanted when I was like 12 years old. But relaxing is not easy, as we still have ambition to make our best record.

AmorphisI expect that you will tour extensively for your new album. Is Greece still in your plans?
There will be massive touring ahead. First we do summer-festivals all over the Europe, then on fall we will tour at South-America, Australia, Europe, Japan, least. Greece is not on first leg of European tour, but I'm sure it will be on second, which will happen early next year. We have always had great time and great audience there, so we will never forget Greece!

To end the interview, please send a message to your Greek fans.
Get the new album and hopefully see you soon on tour! Greece rules!