Interview

AMORPHIS (2019 - English Version) - Tomi Joutsen (Vocals)

Windy and cold is the weather in Lyon. Sure it's winter but still... And finally I donít mind because guys from the north are here to get things a little warmerÖ AMORPHIS and SOILWORK are in town for their co-headlining tour with JINJER and NAILED TO OBSCURITY. Earth will shake tonight. But before the war begin, I had the opportunity to meet Tomi Joutsen for a quick interview.

SBM: Hello Tomi! How is the tour going so far?


Tomi Joutsen: Oh itís been amazing, thereís a lot of sold out shows and great venues. I was thinking that this would the best European tour for us so far. In the past we had something like two or three sold out shows but now itís like 80% or something.

Whatís awesome! Even tonight is almost sold out!

Yeah it has been great everywhere and itís nice that people are showing up during the first bands and Jinjer has been doing an amazing job and so is Soilwork. Itís very nice because itís not always easy to be an opener so itís great!

I can understand it! But weíre here for them too! Actually my girl friend is mostly here for Jinjer.

Oh great!

If Iím right itís a co-headlining tour.

Co-headlining yes.

How have you decided youíll play last? Shortest Straw? (Laugh)

I think itís gonna be the same that we had with Dark Tranquility in the States, it was half and half. But I actually donít know what happened on this tour. Maybe Soilwork guys did not want to be headliner you know (Laugh)
Sometimes when two bands are playing, when thereís on the same level, it sometimes happens that people leave after the second last band, so headliner is not always the best sport to be.

Iím sure people will stay! You always do a great job!

On this tour itís amazing that people are not leaving you know. Because with Dark Tranquility, in some places there were some people leaving. Not always but sometimes. But I get that.

Actually thatís the whole point to have two great bands playing: to see them both. And it happens more often now. A month ago Behemoth was here with At The Gates, Powerwolf with Amaranthe. Do you think itís the new way of touring now? Co-headlining tours so more people could show up?

Itís actually new for us, but in a way itís really nice because somehow, for me personally, thereís less pressure sharing the head spot. Weíre playing like 75 minutes whereas if itís a pure headlining tour itís 90 minutes. As a singer 75 minutes is ok you know (Laugh)
Itís easier for me to share the head spot. And we also share the bus. So I donít know how people react to this co-headlining tour but for me itís great. Of course it depends on the band youíre touring with. Soilwork guys are quite from the same era, so they know how to behave, how to react, theyís great guys.

Itís just a great family ! (Laugh)

Yeah! But you know, sometimes if youíre sharing the bus with the guys, if they are different, if they have different routines, if they like to party until the morning it could be a very long five week trip. But with Soilwork guys itís been very nice.
And itís also nice that theyíve released an album, and so have Jinjer and Nailed to Obscurity.

Thatís true youíre the only one who did not just released something! And I want a new album! (Laugh)

Oh noÖ Next oneís gonna beÖ I donít know when but we have some plans already.

Usually there was three years in between albums and now itís getting closer to fourÖ

I donít know letís seeÖ We have some plans for a tour next year, in Europe maybe, and after summer we probably start doing something, like a new album. But we never know, if thereís a great offer, something like opener for Slayer, of course weíll go there! (Laugh)

(Laugh) You canít refuse that!

Yeah! For example! We like to tour and the records weíve released in the last years are at a decent levelÖ So we tour and we tour.

More than decent! The last ones are amazing!

Oh thank you!

ďQueen of TimeĒ is great, itís bigger. So I assume that composing an album like that takes more time! You used ethnic instruments, even a great choir. How have you chosen this particular choir ďHellscore ChoirĒ?

The idea came from the producer Jens Bogren. When we started the album we had no ideas about using choirs or an orchestra but I guess Jens is really into these kind of things like oriental stuff, which is a great match for us because we have used those kind of melodies.
So yeah it makes music richer but for me personally Iím not a big fan of orchestras and stuff like this, so I was like ďWell I donít know...Ē when I heard his ideas. But when I listen to the album now I feel more comfortable, itís not to big or massive, thereís just some pieces there and there.

Absolutely and it fits really well this the Amorphis sound, Jens did a good choice. But actually how do you deal with this: As an artist, you have more freedom now, you can choose to experiment moreÖ But on the other hand, as you said in an interview, you have to do what the producer wants. How to you handle this during the creation of the album?

Oh itís not a problem, I think itís good that we have a boss on the project! (Laugh)
Weíve done some albums without producers, except for vocals, and sometimes there are too many ideas, sometimes you might lose the line to follow. And thatís the job of the producer, he has to take lead and you have to follow that. Of course sometimes you have to do some compromises, but when we released the album I thought it was really solid and hiring Jens Bogren raised the level a little bit.

Itís true that heís a great producer! He takes decisions you canít take being too much into the process.

Yeah and sometimes he want to keep things really simple when there are too many layers. But I think that all the ideas we had in the beginning are there, but not on the top, itís all about mixing it. It was fun working with him because heís really a hard working guy and when you travel to his place youíre kind of isolated and you can concentrate on what you are doing.
Itís not easy every time but itís worth doing it.

The result sounds great for me! Who had the idea of the saxophone on ďDaughters of HateĒ?

Actually itís not the first time, we used flutes and saxophone before, but the idea came from Jens.

It felt strange at first but actually itís quite great! Some bands are starting to include saxophone into their music, which reminds me, personally, of jazz. Do you think, as an artist that metal bands are heading toward that influence?

Well I think it has somehow always been there and Iím not a big fan, thereís too many notes for me. (Laugh)
I think some bands that are playingÖ djent you know, they have some difficult rhythms and I think this might come from jazz...

As Jinjer for example.

Yeah for example or some fusion kind of metal which I donít understand at all! (Laugh)
For me saxophone is more somethingÖ eighty, cheesyÖ guys with fuckin muscles! I think there was a scene in ďThe Lost BoysĒ movie, do you know that?

No sorry, Iíve never seen it.

I think there was a scene with a muscled oiled guy with a saxophone, I was fucking cheesy.

You have muscles maybe you could play saxophone? (Laugh)

Yeah maybe a little saxophone! (Laugh)

This part of the album is also the part where Pekka narrates a part of his lyrics. First he writes the lyrics, now this. What is the next step? Kicking you out and replacing you as lead singer? (Laugh)

HumÖ I donít know! I could not replace him for the lyrics thatís for sure because I really suck! But we have talked a little bit about the future and heís really into the idea of working with us but heís not really getting younger, heís 60 or somethingÖ

Oh I thought he was youngerÖ

Heís a great guy and itís always interesting to have those ideas and lyrics from him and I think fans also respect him, every time he joins us on stage people go really mad and crazy.
You can feel that people really respect the guy and itís nice that he also sells in his oil painting shows, for those who want to get deeper into Amorphis feelings and philosophy, they can have more from Pekka.

I didnít know that, I guess Iíll check it out!
Thereís also the come back of Olli-Pekka in the band. Has he brought some old vibes from the old Amorphis time?


Yeah of course, he has a total different bass style than Niclas. Itís great heís back because when he left, the carrier was going slowly down in a way and those days werenít really joyful, there was a bad chemistry in the band. And now that heís back, and the band is on a little bit higher level, itís great that he can enjoy this new Amorphis because heís an original member.
And I respect Olli-Pekka because he had a really good day job and heís no younger anymore. It takes a lot of balls to leave all this behind and jump again into this touring life.

Of course he brought the old sound back and heís also a great composer so it would be nice to hear more of his work in the next album. He did some songs for this album also but they were released as bonus tracks or something.

I heard them I think and theyíre great!

Yeah! And Iím happy heís in the band again because weíre quite the same kind of guys, we do a lot of sport and stuff like this together! So yeah Iím happy heís back!

Itís good you have time for this! Touring can be very long far from home. Youíre still able to deal with touring and being with your family after these years?

Yeah Iím used to it. The worst moment is when you have to leave home and the first couple of days. But Iím used to it, itís like a second life in a way, you have some routines, unless youíre sick itís quite comfortable.
And of course the last days on tour weíre already willing to get back home, sometimes itís like ďOk Fuck it!Ē

Please donít fuck our show ok?!! (Laugh)

No, no, no!!! Iíve been in a good shape on this tour, itís been quite easy but itíll be good to get back home. Iíll be there two weeks and then weíll have our Russian tour and then South America so itíll be quite intenseÖ

Sure as hell youíll be busy!

Yeah! But June is freeÖ We have nothing there and then the festival season starts.

And youíll be busy again! You will be able to spend time on your Instagram account (Laugh). You seem to be there a lot. Is it because youíre the singer of a successful band? Or is it just because you enjoy it?

Well, I havenít been really active these days because everyone is posting Amorphis stuff. To be honest Iíve been a little bit bored with Instagram but I try to get myself together with that one. The good thing with Instagram is that you donít have to talk to people and Iím not a social guyÖ Sorry this can be rudeÖ

Oh no donít worry Iím quite the same now! (Laugh)

I donít feel comfortable talking to people I donít know at all. I get some requests and stuff like this but to be honest I donít want to talk that much. I somehow have to do this because itís related to Amorphis. Itís business-wise so of course I answer butÖ Iím a selfish bastard I guess (Laugh) Iím too lazy.
But if I post something, I try to post something you wonít find anywhere else, some personal or interesting stuff.

Youíre right! Actually I asked this question just because every time a metal band post a photo or something I always see ďTomi Joutsen liked itĒ (Laugh)

Yeah when I see #amorphis or #amorphisband I always like it!

You liked two of my pictures from your show at the Hellfest 2018 so Iím really grateful!

Actually Iím following too many people, something like 2000, itís too much. But when I started on Instagram, I found so many interesting sites about tattoos, biker stuff etcÖ

But really quickly youíre overwhelmedÖ

Yes but I found for example some arts for T-shirts, some clothes, some jewelry, so itís a nice community in that way.
Facebook is more for people who would like to be more active with fans and stuff like this.

Iím not a big fan of social medias and this one in particular. But sometimes you have to live with your time!
Well clock is ticking so I guess weíll have to conclude. So I leave you the final words if you want to do do it or say something to the french fans!


Hum I donít know, itís very difficult to figure out something legendary in the endÖ (Laugh)

You donít have to if you canít! (Laugh)

Did you visit Hellfest last years ?

Every year man!

Did you see the ass of Nicko Mc Brain?

Iím sorry what ? (Laugh)

He showed his assÖ It was nice! There was these giant screens and there: Nicko Mc Brainís ass!
And after that came the guy from Manowar, very masculine and he was like ďWeíre gonna fucking destroy !!!!Ē and people were (He claps his hands slowly looking bored)
Thatís when I thought that French people are now that much into Manowar.

Apparently they donít really like French people eitherÖ

Oh really?

Thatís that Iíve been toldÖ

Theyíve released great albums but I think the plan was people to go crazy here and then they brought him on stage but it felt more anticlimactic you know (Laugh)

I wasnít there for the announcement but I can picture itÖ Actually this year Iím really looking forward to see Kiss again.

Oh yeah thatís cool! Hellfest has really raised up, we saw Iron Maiden, we had time to walk around, to visit the merchandise booth, the decorations etcÖ

Itís still amazing year after year! And that year you did a great show!

Oh thank you!

Youíre one of the few Iíve been able to watch entirely!

Oh thatís cool! Thanks!

Well thank YOU for that and giving me a piece of you time today! Have a nice show!

You too! Thank you!
 
Critique : SBM
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