BraveWords Interview: NIGHTWISH – Come On Feel The Noise…

By Carl Begai

Nightwish keyboardist / founder Tuomas Holopainen would have you believe that Human. :II: Nature. is the band’s biggest and best album to date. In terms of scope the new record is most certainly the biggest, as it’s divided into two parts: nine songs on what amounts to an old schooler’s Disc 1, and a classical piece, “All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World” divided into eight parts, composed and constructed by Holopainen with longtime collaborator Pip Williams on Disc 2, envisioned and assembled as something meant to be listened to as a complete experience. As for the “best”, that comes down to a matter of personal taste, but it’s easy to understand why Holopainen believes it. Human. :II: Nature. is the band’s most diverse offering ever – sometimes shockingly so – taking them into musical territories they have perhaps only touched on in the past and, in so doing, creating a much more exciting Nightwish sound. This flies in the face of first single, “Noise”, which was as trademark symphonic metal Nightwish (read: predictable) as you can get. Second single “Harvest”, on the other hand, turned the tables completely by putting uilleann pipes player / backing vocalist Troy Donockley up front and keeping singer Floor Jansen in the background for a song that is 100% folk-oriented. And this is only the beginning, as fans will discover as they navigate Human. :II: Nature.’s bold environment.

BraveWords: Choosing “Noise” as the first single… given how diverse the album is, was that done to ease fans into the record by giving them what they want?

Tuomas: “We chose ‘Noise’ as the first single for the subject matter – addiction to technology – because we knew it would make a brilliant video. I usually don’t like to put out singles because I don’t want to take out one song and put it on a pedestal, and make it somehow special, but these days that’s just how the story goes. The only reason that Human. :II: Nature. ended up being a double album is that it doesn’t fit on one CD. There was never actually a plan to do a double album. And then, when the idea of separating the two sections came up, it made sense.”

BraveWords: I find that “Noise” makes a much bigger impact on a real sound system as opposed to watching the YouTube video, which is actually where the vast majority of people experienced the track for the first time. I was much more invested in the song after hearing it large and loud.

Tuomas: “Definitely. I’ve got this constant anticipated disappointment that people are going to listen to this album on YouTube or on their phones. It’s tragic that people don’t listen to music the way they used to. People don’t listen to albums anymore, and you really want to listen to this album from beginning to end, right from the diaphanous beginning to the end of the second disc. People should take that journey more often because it might help them in everyday life.”

BraveWords: Vocally, this is Floor’s crowning glory, but overall there are amazing performances from all three singers. Everybody shines, but it sounds like you really made them work, Floor in particular, especially on the song “Pan”.

Tuomas: “We wanted to focus on the vocal performances. It’s the Human part of the album; you need to hear the human voice. There are a lot of lyrics, there is a lot going on, but that was a deliberate decision: let’s get everything that we have out of these vocalists. Like you said, make them work (laughs). All of us are huge fans of harmony singing, so in the nine songs every single chorus from beginning to end is three harmonies.”

Troy: “And I think that was a really splendid decision – which was made before the songs were even written – to go down that road.”

BraveWords: Call it a case of, if you have the tools why not use them?

Troy: “Exactly. These tools have only become evident over the last couple tours, where we saw the possibilities of what could be done. It’s still pure Nightwish but it has changed the complexion of the band’s sound, and it’s gotten a really great response from people. I think that’s because we’ve got very different voices. My voice is a dimension away from Marko’s and Floor is stratospheric, so when you get us three together it’s quite a sound.”

Tuomas: “It was actually a revelation during the Decades tour in 2018, when we were doing songs like ‘Come Cover Me’. When they (Floor, Troy and bassist / vocalist Marko Hietala) re-arranged some of the older songs to suit three harmonies, I was like ‘Wow, haven’t we harnessed this before?’ It just sounded so good, so it would have been a huge mistake not to use these voices in this new way.”

Troy: “Tuomas dove right in there, and there’s a purity in what he does. It’s a challenge for Floor, it’s a challenge for everybody. This had to be done because this is the direction things have been floating towards for quite some time now. Now it’s starting to be realized. Hearing those three voices gave us the serious hairs-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck feeling every now and again, so we decided we needed to exploit that for our own good. It really works. Take a song like ‘Endlessness’; the harmonies on it are just so beautiful the way they work.”

Tuomas. “I’m always trying to follow the story of the song. The song ‘Pan’ – with those vocal lines you mentioned – is about the human imagination, so of course you want to have imaginative vocal lines as well. The vocals compliment the story using the music and the melodies. Everything is there for a reason.”

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