Black Winter Day. Finland's epic Kalevala. Thor's Hammers and other various Viking-era imagery. Folk-inspired death metal. Amorphis, a band with a memorable past history and theme, return to the U.S. with more powerful songs and a matured musical approach. All pre-conceptions are to be forgotten. The only expectation that can be trusted is perfection.
A simple interview would have been sufficient in sharing this notion. But perhaps as important as how Amorphis feels about their music, is how their music makes others feel. Amorphis' passion-rich melodies have reached my soul, and continue to complete my existence. Thus, my tales…
It had been over five years since Amorphis had last toured in America. An entire portion of their career had been nearly neglected in the meantime. How long were we supposed to wait and anticipate their extended return? We were first given the false hope of their supporting slot for the Mercyful Fate/ Nevermore tour, and though that package may not have been the most appropriate for them, it was still devastating to find out that it fell through, and I had lost a lot of faith in whether they'd be given another opportunity. After seeing how unmoved a majority of the March Metal Meltdown '99 crowd was at their performance, I assumed there was no way possible that they could do a successful headlining tour in North America. Rumours escaped for months prior of possibilities of a tour, and finally, in March, their 19 days of May were confirmed, and I can actually recall myself gasping and shrieking out of excitement, probably terrifying most of the people who were in my home at the time.
Shall I explain my hyperventilative reaction? Sure, I'd consider myself a scene enthusiast, and am always excited to witness the happenings of it. And always, always will I remain a fan foremost, and not allow myself to become a spoiled representative of the industry who'd prefer to stay home, or sit and drink at shows, instead of being a part of the bands' powerful live performances. However, this transcended the simple fact that I love going to shows. This was AMORPHIS.
Just saying I love this band isn't enough for you to understand the experience, so I'm going to share with you the processes that led up to such devotion. Well, admittedly, I was a late bloomer to the underground scene, and I regret every day that I missed that I could have been listening to it. Amorphis was among the treasures I hadn't yet discovered until their MMM '99 show. This was NOT the best way to first be exposed to a band of such depth. Dealing with minimal sound attention while trying to win back the American crowds with the softer, more emotional vocals that Pasi had added over the last two albums, didn't go over will to the death-metal masses, and this was understandable. Well, it wasn't what I was expecting either, and due to the lack of clarity of the more complex leads and many other sound defects, the music came off as being kinda bland to the untrained ear.
So afterwards, I really thought very little of them, and recall harboring misdirected disliking towards them because Hypocrisy, who played next, had their set cut short and Amorphis hadn't. It wasn't until months after it came out that I finally received the Tuonela promo, and I decided that I'd at least give it a chance. From the first listen, I couldn't understand why they were a Relapse band, and also didn't get why they were marketed towards an extreme audience. I wasn't used to this kind of sound, but soon realized that its relaxed tones made for good resting music, and after a week, couldn't sleep without it.
After another week, I realized I couldn't sleep with it, because each melody had attached itself so strongly to my thought waves, that I studied and dissected every riff, every beat, every vocal line, and the saddened beauty of it frightened and excited me. Tuonela represented every contrasting aspect of what I love about music -- dynamically powerful and sullenly doomy; thought-provoking and mind-relaxing; heart-warming and soul-emptying. A lot of music is good, but so few have this kind of mood-altering power, and everyone finds that in different places. I had found mine in Amorphis.
I hastily sought out any of their earlier material that I could find within my home. The "Black Winter Day" video from an old "Rock Video Monthly" I had found laying around, was the first thing I realized I owned. I was absolutely shocked by the changes they went through since then, and I think it took a couple of times through the video, trying to retrain my mind to realize it was the same band, but very quickly I fell in love with the song (years after everyone else had already forgotten of it.) Then "In The Beginning" off of a Relapse sampler I had laying around, came as the next surprise. The clean vocals at the beginning threw me, and I kinda laughed them off at first, but I quickly grew quite fond of every aspect of the song, and I listened to it enough to wear out the data in that part of the CD!
Elegy was next, the album that gapped the songs I had become familiar with, and that, too, took a while to sink. The Kalevala-inspired words of "Better Unborn" were so strongly identifiable with, conveying life's hopelessness in too convincible of a way; the tragic theme of the title track backed by the most heart crushing gentleness brought tears to my eyes too many times; and the upbeat dance-club segued middle of "Cares" was so unexpectedly amusing and perfectly plotted. Moreso than the individual excellently crafted songs was the fact that everything -- EVERYTHING -- these guys did, they did meaningfully, they did flawlessly, and they did unlike anyone else.
Even when I went as far back as "Privilege of Evil" and "The Karelian Isthmus", two CDs that everyone warned me I'd not be as enthused in, I was amazed! Granted, the production of "Privilege…" is sub-standard, and the mere mention of the CD makes the Amorphis guys laugh, yet still did they already claim a sound of their own, a raw, evil, dark sound, that was headed towards the doominess of their "Tales..." era. "The Karelian Isthmus" was such a great CD for a band at that early stage in their career, and though not as progressed as their later material, it provides a well-produced sense of doom that is perfect for the right occasions.
Along certain steps of the way, while appealing to different groups of listeners, Amorphis seems to have lost some people. A lot of fans resented their "Elegy" attempt to be more exciting or their "Tuonela" attempt at progressed musical growth. A lot of newer fans look back and can't appreciate the deathier, doomier, or rawer sounds or the growled vocals that they later grew apart from. But very few seem to appreciate this band's sole intention to create awe-inspiring and enjoyable songs for their fans, and that they've been doing that as well as they could for as long as they've existed. Very few understand that if a band releases the same material year after year, it means that they haven't learned anything or grown as a band. And few recognize the fact that everything Amorphis has ever done has been new and amazing, and shouldn't be compared in quality to previous efforts, only respected and loved for its excellence.
So, it's this excellence that I had come to expect from Amorphis that provoked my uncontrollable nerve-collapsing enthusiasm at the news of their tour. I recall my throat choking up as I ran downstairs in a complete state of unbridled energy, yanking on my brother's arm, managing to get out "they're coming!" The next thing I did was to leave open the first two weeks of May so that I wouldn't miss this glorious happening.
I realized that seeing them once in my home locale of Philadelphia would only make things worse, serving to tease -- not appease -- my senses, so I decided to attend the first seven of the shows. Alright, here's the part where you think to yourself 'Well, must be nice to have enough time and money to just take off for a week and follow a band around' and my response to you is, how many people would actually be willing to do what I did, to drive alone in my Camaro for 2500 miles, sleeping in the front seat for seven nights, while the bright 95ºF sun would wake me up at 8am just so I could drive another 5-7 hours to the next show in a city where I knew no one? The next response would doubtlessly be, and I heard this too many times, 'You'd have to be insane to go through with that.' Think as you will, but let me just say that each sacrifice seemed insignificant when compared to the benefits of the experience.
The first show of the tour was in Philly, home of some of the most cynical and hard to please crowds you'll ever run into. The Kovenant was the tour opener, and I wasn't excited to see them after hearing their Animatronic disappointment. I felt like they were the weak link among the tour package, and wasn't looking forward to seeing them seven times. Watching them the first time, they seemed so out of place. Here four guys took the stage looking so overdone in shock value that they seemed more suited for the rebellious children crowds that MTV has created. But it wasn't their appearance, their speeches, or their bible burnings that was the problem. What lost me were all the samples and overdubs. Sure, we saw four musicians on the stage, but it felt like they didn't even need to be there because a lot of it was recorded in the background. The electronic beats and samples, the female singing, and even some of Lex Icon's vocals were sampled in, and it just seemed like cheating to me. I didn't hear a single positive remark about them that whole night.
I think it took until the 4th or 5th time seeing them that I started to think differently. These songs really started to catch! I felt like I was holding back on enjoying them because I had already convinced myself that they were sell-outs, but once I cracked through that defensive mind-barrier, I looked at them more objectively and let it sink in. I felt myself moving to their simple yet energetic and creative riffs, enjoying the sharp sound of the guitar harmonics, and just thoroughly sharing in their enthusiasm.
I didn't understand what he was trying to say at first, and it appeared to also go over most people's heads as he said it, when Mr. Icon would introduce "Spaceman" by saying "This is a song about being commercial... because money is the root of all evil" he was implying that this was his way of justifying their more pop-friendly sound by convincing us that it was the 'evil' thing to do. I take this as an amusing justification, with a relatively valid point that's not to be taken too seriously. But we are not to judge music by its commercial value, rather by whether or not we enjoy it, and after overcoming that mental block surrounding the "sell-out" phrase, I grew to appreciate them as a band and even found myself re-listening to their CD after the tour, and enjoying it.
Next up was Moonspell, whom I had already seen a handful of times as they supported the In Flames tour, so I was expecting much the same. I think this tour was much better suited for them, with a more appropriate audience. They appeared to use this to their advantage to feed off the crowds moreso than before, putting on a much more powerful presentation.
Their set list changed a bit from last time. Having already used the last tour to promote "The Butterfly Effect," they played a greater array of old classics like "Vampyria" and "Full Moon Madness" where Fernando would stand up on the drum riser during the vocal break and assist by energetically hitting the cymbals along to the song. They also included a very unexpected cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" which few were familiar with, though Moonspell made the song stick as though I had heard it a million times prior. Then there was "Eurotica" off of "Sin/Pecado" where, having a connection to the theme of the song, at a musically climactic moment they would launch out huge earth-designed beach balls into the audience, which would then get pegged back at them while they were trying to play, which was always entertaining to watch. I've always been impressed by Moonspell, and every time I saw them the experience would only get better.
Besides just their live show, Moonspell as a musical entity is such an inspiring force, but I don't think it's just by hearing their music that you become aware of this. I gained a lot more respect for them after reading their lyrics, reading interviews they had done, and by visiting www.butterfly-fx.com. There's enough at this site to keep you occupied for hours, learning about the philosophical aspects of the lyrics and the meaning of the music, and why the music is so important to them, that they take such care in making each song into a thought or experience for the listener. You can't listen to Moonspell in the background and achieve the intended effect of it, and it's this required depth and dedication that makes us learn and grow from it. So few of us take out the time to do so, but those of us who have can understand this concept.
And finally, to Amorphis. I was more excited than ever, waiting with heart-stopping anticipation, but I didn't know what to expect. At March Metal, the sound was horrendous, and I didn't want to think it, but wasn't entirely sure that it had nothing to do with their playing ability. I suppose I was afraid that they'd not be good enough, and I didn't want to be disappointed by the band I held in such high exaltation.
With fluty, folky, pixies-dancing-through-a-misty-forest atmosphere playing in the background, they made their way to the stage, and already my nerves went hyperactive, merely by their presence. First things that caught my visual attention were their extremely non-metal look, dressed casually in jeans that slightly flared at the bottoms and black t-shirts, Tomi & Esa with their Les Pauls, Pasi with his new clean-shaven look, and new bassist Niclas playing his first show taking over where Olli-Pekka left off. The next thing to be noticed was that there was only one mic this time, as for the first time ever, all vocal duties were taken on solely by Pasi. Honestly, I'd have liked to hear Tomi give us a couple of growls here and there for old times' sake, but Pasi did a fantastic job with them.
Anyway, let me just come right out and say that Amorphis was absolutely breathtaking! Not a single disappointment. Their set list, in most cities, included songs ranging from "The Castaway" to "Greed" and songs they hadn't played at March Metal which I was particularly thrilled to hear, being "My Kantele" and "Summer's End." They'd then come back for their encore with "Divinity" and then end the night with "Black Winter Day." Each song was ultra-tight, moreso than I had expected, and the performances were flawless.
A couple of things that are particularly worth mentioning: Niclas did a great job on his first Amorphis tour, and I think he should be commended, as the bass had a strong predominance at the most appropriate times, and, especially considering that he really didn't have that much time to prepare for it, I don't recall hearing any mistakes. Pekka's drumming was perfectly timed providing the needed backbone to insure that no one lost their place between changes, something I noticed happened a few times at their March Metal show. Sande made all my doubts that the songs wouldn't sound as full live disappear as the keyboards filled in every moment perfectly, though slightly different from the CD, but more suitable to a live setting. Among my favorite moments of the show was always the end of "Tuonela," where Sande would extend the enchanting ending for a few additional measures, as Esa would play over it in the most gentle way. Though I had never taken much notice before, Esa is an amazing musician, and particularly in the intro to "The Way" he played the individual notes with such absolute precision, and I was mesmerized with how razor sharp and perfect each note rang out, and how quickly and precisely his fingers moved on the fretboard. Normally that's the kind of thing you'd expect to sound noisier when played live, but it was so perfect. At the Pittsburgh show, due to a technical problem with Tomi's guitar, I recall the four of them on stage waiting for the problem to get solved, so instead of just waiting around they started to improvise, and it was just really amazing to see how they were all on the same level that they could pull that off, and I was almost pleased that the problems occurred, provoking this interesting and inspiring moment.
Pasi's vocals had greatly strengthened since their last visit, being able to convey the clean-sung passages with much more conviction, and also his take at Tomi's old vocals was almost unnoticeable, because it was just so appropriate that you'd almost forget they ever sounded different. He also seemed more at ease with his role as a frontman. He always had the perfect stances between vocal lapses, as he would often look off to the side with his eyes closed, as if so drawn into the music and his surroundings. He'd also conduct the crowd in a sort of way, prompting their reactions in the most subtle ways. When the crowds were responding with enthusiasm, you could see Pasi's approval of their reactions, and feel him feeding off of it. Another thing I loved was watching the way Tomi played his guitar. Most chords were played entirely as down strokes, and his arm movements seemed exaggerated in a dramatic way, extending far below the strings on down strokes and then being lifted much higher than necessary on upward strums. And he played with so much energy, most noticeable on "Summer's End" which sounds like such a tranquil song, but seeing him so involved was inspiring. It was funny, too, because he had to have strings replaced on his guitars a couple of times each night, but seeing him play so aggressively and whole-heartedly, his playing style made up for it.
Every musician in Amorphis exceeded every immeasurably excessive expectation I could've had for them, and when brought together, the outcome of their efforts was absolutely sacred. The whole week was the most blissful period of my existence, fabricated fully by the strength and depth of their music.
The tour did better in attendance than I had anticipated. Though clubs like Phantasmagoria in Maryland and Club Laga in Pittsburgh were scarcely filled, the turnout at L'Amour in New York was impressive, as were the Canadian shows. The Canadian scene definitely left an impression on me. Aside from getting used to driving in kilometers, buying gas in liters with Canadian dollars, and soft drinks being referred to as "pop" and not as "soda," there was also a large difference in the attitudes of the fans. Both in Montreal and in Toronto the shows had many more attendees, traveling from larger distances and seeming much more enthused by the event. I liked that; people seemed to have more devotion to the art instead of just being there because it's an excuse to get out of the house. The other two differences there were that I was finally carded and allowed to get in (drinking age of 18!) and of course getting used to people in Montreal trying to talk to me in French. Everything seemed so foreign, but seeing Amorphis there made me feel like wherever I was was where I belonged.
I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to spend some time with Amorphis, which helped me separate them from their pedestaled status and realize them to be humans just like any of us. Walking through a mall in Worcester with them, as some of them would try on sunglasses at a dollar store, or watching them using one of those crane machines to try to grab a prize, was just unreal! Some of them were such tourists, and it was refreshing to see that they still had that curiosity for life.
I also got to hear tons of stories of how different things are in Finland, how their shortened days of Winter cause such depression and antisocialism, and how people don't talk to each other any more than they have to. In America, people along the streets who had no idea who they were would just say "hi" to them, and they thought this to be such a strange occurrence!
When it came to the last of the seven shows, the Pittsburgh show, I was so drained of life, but at the same time, I didn't want the experience to end. I'll never forget when they played "Summer's End" at that show, and it just hit me so strongly that I couldn't stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks. I didn't want that to be the last time I'd hear them play that song! Judge me as you will for that, but honestly, their songs and energy were so pure and soul-filling that it saddened me to be separated from that feeling.
So, once I got home the next day, I ordered myself plane tickets to Texas to see the last two shows of the tour, Dallas and Austin. It was a very hasty and expensive decision, yes, but one that I'd have never forgiven myself if I had passed up on. Why I'm telling you this and sharing all of my experiences with you is not to brag and say 'hey look at what I've done that you haven't,' but rather I do this to give you close to an idea of how much their music means to me, and I know there's a lot of you who probably can't relate, but if you open yourself to it half as much as I have, maybe it will unlock your mental barriers, which we all have, and let you experience some of what I live for.
The Texas shows, as well as a few of the shows I had missed along the way, were headlined by Armored Saint. Okay. Whoever's bright idea this was either had too much to drink that day, or never heard any of these bands. It was two different crowds they were appealing to; the people who wanted to see great bands, and the people who wanted to see 'John Bush's other band'. Alright, maybe that's a little bit harsh, but it didn't seem like anyone there really knew or cared about Armored Saint.
The other truth was that at most of the shows, half of the attendees would leave after Amorphis, not bothering to stick around for Armored Saint even though they were already in and wouldn't even have to pay extra. With this in mind, at the Dallas show, it was decided that Armored Saint would go on before Moonspell and Amorphis, though still being the 'headliner,' and getting a full set. If that isn't admitting being washed-up, I don't know what is.
I'm sure I'd have considered it less cynically if they were playing on their own -- which I've heard that on the shows that they played alone they'd had attendances lower than 50 people -- my expectations were raised through the roof for Moonspell and Amorphis, so I suppose I was rating them on a greatly distorted curve of excellence. When comparing, they just couldn't cut it. Here they were on stage playing thrashy songs that all sadly sounded the same. Worse than that, these songs sounded like something that your below-average local band would come up with, with little creativity or uniqueness, that were musically trapped about a decade behind. Even back in that time frame it was done better than this.
For those who are fans of their music, they did put on a good performance, though not moving around much (usually because of tiny stages, but still…) They had energy and a tight, clean sound. They were even able to catch one of their songs in my head for a few days, and I recall it being a half-decent song. But mostly it was just a long, dull hour that was unfitting in comparison to the other bands.
What really got to me was that Amorphis was forced to play a shorter set because of them, even though they were the last to go on. When thinking how much money and time I spent flying all the way to Texas for this, my blood began to boil… but as soon as Amorphis began to play, all other thoughts seemed meaningless and I was once again tranquillized by the rich and vibrant melodies.
The last show of the tour was in Austin, Texas. It was about a three-and-a-half hour drive in my cozy rental Ford Probe, and the city was much nicer, newer, and more spacious than Dallas had been. The only thing yielded by the city of Dallas was a cute conversation between some of the Amorphis guys about the love lives of the characters of this out-dated soap opera (Dallas), even more amusing having come from the mouths of Finnish guys, who appeared to be taking the conversation a bit too seriously!
For whatever reason, at this show, Armored Saint chose to be last to go on, so even on this last night of this glorious tour, Amorphis had their set cut shorter than on any other night I had seen them. But Moonspell was first to hit the stage, and they were impressive as always. In seeing them 13 times in about half a year, it still never got dull, and that is a difficult feat. They stopped using the blown-up earth designed balls somewhere at the beginning of the tour, because I think they somehow got destroyed along the way. But since it was the last day of the tour, and they'd be parting ways soon after, Amorphis came on stage during Eurotica as part of a sort of 'hazing' stunt, and pegged Moonspell with a bunch of beach balls and floating devices when they least expected it. It was all in good fun, and Moonspell laughed it off.
When Amorphis played their way-too-short set, you just knew from Moonspell's attitudes that they'd have to come back with some kind of foolery. Towards the end of the set they came onto the stage with cowboy hats that Esa and Nico had apparently picked up while in Texas, and placed them on their heads as they played, and Moonspell's drummer Mike walked around the stage with a serving tray of beers. Maybe you'd have had to be there to appreciate it fully, but when seeing their reactions to each other's stunts it just spread such a healthy, warm feeling.
While they were playing their last song of the night, the fan favorite, Black Winter Day, their sound tech came on stage with towels, covering up all the guitar pedals in mid-song. I was thinking, isn't it a bit premature to start packing up already? Then after they finished the song and prepared to walk off stage, out came Champaign bottles exploding everywhere on stage, at the crowd, at the band… and I think this is where I lost it and it hit me. This was it… they were done, and they were going home, and there was nothing I could do about it. Seeing them nine times may have seemed like a lot, but after having the most fulfilling month of my entire life, the most meaningful and powerful period of my existence, I'd only be able to look forward to things being less than perfect. My standards of music and life had more than tripled, and there's just no competition. So all their celebration at their great touring experiences and friends made along the way saddened me because it was over, and unlikely to ever occur at this level again.
I do realize that not everyone is or will be affected by their music in quite the same way as I have been. Musical tastes vary… But Amorphis in no way fit into my musical tastes. I don't listen to anything else even closely resembling Amorphis in any stage of their career. It grew on me, it was an acquired taste. There was a time not too long ago when I hadn't been introduced to their music yet, and my passion for music was slowly dying. Music served only as a break from silence, and there was nothing else to it. "Tuonela" had changed this. It had reminded me what I loved about music, it reminded me why I've dedicated my life to supporting and promoting that which gives me a reason to wake up in the morning, that which comforts me when I'm down, that which excites, motivates, and inspires me. Finding this in Amorphis helped me rediscover it elsewhere as well.
It's only fair that I should share these experiences and thoughts with everyone, that maybe a new light will be cast on their offerings, or someone, like myself, will be first introduced to their intensity and brilliance, and can be inspired by it in the same way that I was. If reading this article brings even one person to question their values or opens even one person up to the incomparable sounds of Amorphis, then I'll know that my time laboring over this expansive thought-collection was not in vain.
After they're Maryland show, I caught up with Amorphis for an interview. So now that you've read all of my Tales… you get to hear theirs.
Enslain: So this is your third time to the U.S.?
Tomi: Yeah, third time, like, playing.
Enslain: You've been here for other reasons?
Tomi: Well, some interviews or something. One year ago we had this festival gig…
Enslain: March Metal Meltdown…. How would you say that went?
Tomi: Uhh… not good.
Enslain: I noticed things were kind of off when you guys played, I think people were out of sync with each other.
Tomi: Yeah, I don't know but the sounds were like awful on stage, and it was like, I think the whole festival was like a total mess.
Enslain: Usually festivals here are, I don't know how the European ones are, how are they different there, are things run a lot better?
Tomi: I think it's a little bit more organized, like it was more like chaos here, just like, 'okay, it's your time' there isn't any stop really.
Sande: In Europe you probably have a one hour or maybe half an hour to switch a band, but at March Metal Meltdown it was so quick, we had like 20 minutes so we had to put the stuff on the stage when the band was playing before us, and we had jet lag, we just came to the country and like drove in a van for four hours and then came there… shower 15 minutes and then play, it was so quick that everything… I didn't like it, it was pretty bad. But we did our best, so… In Europe if you go to a festival there's a maximum of 10 bands on the stage in the whole day, but here there's 20 or 30, it's a very fast change.
Enslain: How about touring, how's that different in Europe?
Sande: I think it's pretty much the same, same kind of things like…
Sande: waiting, waiting, waiting… and then sound check, and then waiting, waiting, waiting.
Tomi: Last time we did tour in America it was in a van, and seven weeks and seven people in a little van, so that was like very different comparing to Europe, but now it's nice bus, so…
Enslain: So is this tour going better so far?
Tomi: Yeah, so far… it's been two days… [laughs]
Enslain: How would you say the audience response has changed from the "Tales…" era to now?
Tomi: Well, of course it has changed, but there's like maybe twenty percent of the audience, I don't know, people who has been listening us since like beginning and still thinks that like we are going the right way, like growing with them or something, other way around. There is of course the hardcore death metal audience, I think they have like, left the band, but it's okay to me because if that's like the thing of music, if it's not death metal so I don't like it, it's the same to me because I think music is music, you don't need to categorize it.
Sande: It's a very interesting situation because you don't know, even if there's an audience and a lot of people, you don't really know what they are coming to see and what they expect because you have a different set of material, and you don't know if they like the first album or the last album. In the end it really doesn't matter because if you perform well and you play a good show then you see.
Tomi: I think one, about when you asked about the touring comparing in Europe, I think audiences are different so far, in Europe I think people are more like listening music, and I think it was the same today, but yesterday (in Philadelphia) there was like a mosh pit going around, and that feels strange to me, and I feel like, I personally like more audience like, when I see that they are listening what's happening, enjoying the music.
Sande: Everybody liked it yesterday, but it's funny when you play a pretty mellow song with a nice mood atmosphere and there's a mosh pit going on, you're thinking like, 'hell!' I don't know if I were in the audience, would I do it like that way, but it's just difficult to get the vibes of what's happening.
Tomi: Of course it's okay, everybody does what they feel like.
Sande: You don't get the feeling that people are feeling it, they are really enjoying it, because that's how it looks like, like if there's a mosh pit, of course you have to like it like it, but Americans they take it like, very strong. In Europe, they would stand there and look like, listen to music.
Enslain: So why has the music gotten different, like gradually to where it is now, did you ever see it going towards this direction?
Tomi: It's like very natural for a person because we never thought like what kind of music we should do next or what kind of music we are doing now. If it would be like that, we'd have broken up like eight years ago, so that's why we are enjoying making music with this band, because we are doing music that we like at the moment, and what is right. I think there are so many bands that have this one line and they just try to do it, and I think it's boring. I like the bands that are more changing.
Enslain: So do you still listen to death metal or do you still like death metal or have you grown away from that?
Tomi: Well, actually, I used to like death metal when I was like 16, and never in this Amorphis career or whatever I haven't listened to any death metal, except a few, say, Entombed is death metal…
Sande: Maybe the lyrics are death metal, but the band…
Enslain: Do you still like your older songs, and do you still enjoy playing them?
Tomi: Yeah, of course if you see like if the crowd likes it, of course it's a good feeling to play, but it's always that the newer songs are fresher, like if we play "Black Winter Day", we have played too many times maybe, but if the feelings is good, it's very nice to play.
Enslain: Why don't you play different older songs, just to freshen the set up a little for you guys?
Sande: I think we have done it with some very old songs, but there's always this, maybe the band plays "Black Winter Day" and these kinds of songs because the audience is waiting. But we have changed some of the songs but very little.
Enslain: So will you be playing the same set throughout the whole tour?
Sande: Probably not, but most of the songs are the same, but I think there will be little changes, of course, because we will get bored pretty soon!
Enslain: So what's the next album going to sound like? Do you have any of it written?
Tomi: Yeah, we are going to the studio in August, and we have almost all the songs done, and like always it's very difficult to say what it sounds like before, it's like a surprise always when you're in the studio and then you realize what's happening in the song, so… I think it's, I don't know, I think it's a little bit more powerful, maybe, in some way
Sande: It's powerful and it's, more… I don't know. It's pretty simple, like, because in all the older material at the shows there was a different kind of vocals and stuff like that, but now it's like coming together, everything's pretty simple… I like it. Very melodic and massive stuff.
Enslain: [to Tomi] So why did you stop singing?
Tomi: After "Tales…" I haven't enjoyed it… because like one reason is because I don't like any band who has this growling thing, and I can't take the bands too seriously if they have like growling vocals, so it just doesn't make sense to do it like yourself.
Enslain: But how about for the older songs, like when you played at March Metal Meltdown last year, you were still doing the songs that you used to sing, but you stopped doing that?
Tomi: Well, yesterday it was first time when Pasi did this. It just feels more natural to us if Pasi does it because he is the singer nowadays, and it's more nice to me also.
Enslain: So you won't be singing on the whole tour?
Tomi: No… [a few laughs are exchanged, and a puzzled glance appears on my face. He clarifies.] … singing…!
Enslain: [I smile, considering my choice of words] Well…
Tomi: Yeah, well…!
Enslain: Well I liked it! So anyway, how did you end up finding Pasi?
Tomi: We were recording Elegy, and we were looking for some singer to a band and we had one going that tried and that he was like awful, like very 80's heavy metal singing, and Pasi was… we knew Pasi from some bars from years ago and we knew that he had some band and we were listening to his demo tape and it just seemed to fit to the music, his voice.
Enslain: What band was Pasi in?
Tomi: Yeah… St. Mucus, nowadays it is Am I Blood, he was the former of that band, actually. But he wasn't in the band at the time, for two years he was doing nothing with any bands and he was like decided that he never will play in any band again.. but…
Enslain: Do you like not having to worry about being the frontman anymore, like not having all the attention focused on you?
Tomi: Yes, I love that! [laughs] I never liked that… Because we have always been like a band, so when I was like growling, and there was like photographers, you always have to be in the front…
Sande: You want to be a guitarist, not a singer.
Enslain: With the older albums especially, there was a lot of Finnish symbols and lyrical content… is there any reason there was so much emphasis on it?
Tomi: I think it was just our interest came like very strong to folk music, and like this national poems and whatever at that time, it just came, I don't even remember how, but it just came into the picture. Now it doesn't feel so right anymore, and I think Finnish magazines only, when they wrote about us, it was only because of like the Finnish national book, they are using it, and it's like, selling better that much in words, so…
Sande: Amorphis became a mascot of this national stuff…
Tomi: We were like, we are not any kind of patriots or any kind of like… it just didn't feel right.
Enslain: People were paying less attention to the music and paying more attention to the fact that you had a theme…
Tomi: Yeah, definitely. Nowadays when Pasi… Pasi is very, uh, big fan of these books and… it's more natural that he writes these lyrics and it's not like we have to do it, it's very natural. He's very into these mystical things and sometimes he's like half a year in some forest with himself
Sande: He's living the whole thing so it's perfect that he writes the lyrics by himself, because it's very natural.
Tomi: Before that we just picked up some things that we felt is like, it felt right, and what's like important to us, and well it's good if he writes his songs.
Enslain: When you first started in the band, did you know a lot of English or did you learn it along the way?
Tomi: Well it's been like now, I have always speak this bad English, it's not getting any better! I have always understand it…
Enslain: Was it hard singing in English?
Tomi: No, because most of the bands we listen are in English, so, it's like the language of… [in a sort of mocking tone] rock…[we laugh at the way he says it]
Enslain: So how is it in Finland? Do you like it there?
Sande: Finland is very nice…
Tomi: I would never move out of there…
Sande: I could move out of Finland in the wintertime, but in the summertime, I would come back.
Enslain: What about it do you like?
Tomi: Things are working, it's [my cell phone starts to ring, as if on cue]… there's mobile phones…
Sande: Finland is nice, everybody is very civilized, like they know what's happening in the world because they read newspapers and they know everything that's happening in Europe, and main things what's happening in North America, and what's happening in Asia. It's a nice country, it's very safe, there's no dangerous things anywhere. It's the safest place in the world, even the suburbs of the capital, Helsinki… Finnish people, they don't talk anything, so it's very easy to go anywhere, you don't have the social pressure, you can go anywhere, and you don't have to say anything…
Tomi: But I think, we are talking about Helsinki, because I wouldn't live anywhere else but Helsinki.
Sande: But it's a very nice place…
Tomi: In summer. In Winter it sucks…
Sande: Winter is so cold, it's difficult to be there, but you get used to it.
Tomi: Of course, because we were born there, it feels like, safe and nice. Helsinki is like capital, and it's the biggest city, and it's still like, very small.
Enslain: So, say someone were to visit Finland from the US… like me… would a lot of people there speak English?
Sande: Yeah, everybody speaks English, we learn it in school. I knew English from seven years old, and I started to speak it when I was twenty.
Tomi: In Finland there's like, Finnish and Swedish, second language, so…
Enslain: So you know three languages?
Tomi: Well, two, [being a little modest in his ability with the English language] but it's like what they are teaching you in school after like, 5 class or something, or 3rd class.
Sande: I started in 1st class, but in 3rd class it started right away, like nine years old.
Enslain: So what have been some of the high moments in your career?
Tomi: Well I really don't know, it's always nice when you get a new album out, we have always been like satisfied at that time of the album, and then touring…
Enslain: Do you like the traveling?
Tomi: Yeah, but not too much, like one month is enough and then…
Enslain: So how much touring do you usually do in like a year?
Tomi: Well after Elegy we did like, too much, maybe nine months, and that's the one reason we had this long break, because it was too rough for us. One month is good, like then if you are two weeks or one month home then you are ready to go back.
Enslain: Is it odd being on Relapse Records, seeing as how they have such a different market from what you do, and then it causes people to expect you to be more of the death metal thing from you, do you find it to be a problem?
Tomi: Yes, we used to have that problem, I think, but I think Relapse realized this problem also, and at one time we told them that don't book any Relapse commercials in same with like other Relapse records because it's like, when I look at this like six bands and there's strange words and there's strange names, of course people are thinking that's like basic death metal also. But I think they have done as good as they can do.
Sande: Now it's a good tour because there's Moonspell which is like, gothic scene, I think, and then Kovenant, which is turning from Black Metal to industrial thing, so it's very good for us because we don't have to play for the just death metal crowd, this is like the people who really want to see different kind of music maybe.
Enslain: What kind of bands do you tour with in Europe?
Tomi: Mostly we would be touring like ourselves, but…
Sande: Yeah, we've been headlining so there's not many people who comes to see the supporting act. But yeah, last time it was like a crossover kind of band supporting, it was very, very unknown band.
Tomi: Bands that has been supporting were like Therion, and… what else…
Sande: Paradise Lost…
Tomi: Yeah, we were supporting them.
Sande: I don't think it was death metal, sort of rock, more like rock…
Tomi: But I think that was a good tour at that time, after "Tales…" and Paradise Lost were like, changing a little bit their style.
Enslain: So what bands do you guys listen to?
Tomi: There's so many. Uh…
Sande: I don't listen to any kind of music, but I like all old stuff, like 70's kind of stuff, like lets say heavy bands, but nowadays they are more like rock or pop bands.
Tomi: I think it depends what periods of your life, like sometimes I like to listen to seventies music, sometimes….
Sande: It's difficult when you play all the time and you concentrate your life to music. I haven't been listening music since five years, like in home, I don't dig any music. It's impossible because it goes away, and of course you go to see live shows, and if it's a good show you like it even if it's, any kind of music, it doesn't matter, but I'm lost in listening music. It's impossible, I can't listen any kind of thing.
Tomi: Yeah, it's easier to listen to something like a very different kind of music than you are playing because that's like, you can listening to music, otherwise you are just like, comparing it to what you are doing… Not meaning you are thinking like, you are doing something special, but it's just like, listening too much what's happening.
Sande: If I'm home, I don't listen any music, it's always silent. Always.
Enslain: So what do you guys do?
Sande: Rehearsing [laughs] Not with Amorphis but with other projects.
Tomi: We have lot of projects, so it's, just playing.
Sande: Playing music, and working with music, and thinking like what to play next show with like Amorphis or with some other…
Enslain: So Niclas, the new bass player, is he just filling in live or is he a member of the band?
Tomi: He is the new bass player…
Sande: He played yesterday the first show… in his life, and…
Tomi: [humorously repeating] in his life!
Sande: Yeah! First show with Amorphis, and today was the second day. I think he's good, and he's fitting the band perfectly.
Tomi: He's from the same band that Sande used to be before Amorphis, so we've known him like ten years or something.
Enslain: Is he still in Kyyria?
Tomi: No, no, they split. So it was quite natural choice, we couldn't think of any guy just like, we didn't know before, would have been quite strange, to have a total stranger play, but he is like, mentally he's like us.
Enslain: So what happened to Olli-Pekka?
Tomi: [moment of slight laughter and consideration] uh…
Enslain: Why is this humorous?
Tomi: No, it just like, happened, uh, well. We had some musical differences, I don't know. He had a family and… blah blah blah… it just happened.
Enslain: So after he decided to leave, did you ever consider the band ending, or did the thought never cross your mind?
Tomi: Well, uh, yeah we had some meetings about that, and uh, I think we all agreed that we all have a choice to do this, and it doesn't feel like we have to do some records, it doesn't feel like work, so, we're going to keep going. Like, when we are 60 and nobody buys our record… but as long as it feels good and it feels right…
Sande: I think it would have been perfectly stupid to quit, because the band was in perfect shape, and only one guy wanted to quit, and like, no way it would have been… totally stupid. If things are working and everything's going, why the hell you should quit because one guy does not want to play anymore. It doesn't make any sense.
Enslain: So everyone else is just as into it as they ever were?
Tomi: Yeah, and it wasn't like… there was many problems, but it's always very hard to explain it, because, uh, to us it wasn't like a surprise. To us it was maybe the only possible option to keep on. -- Lady Enslain