BW&BK Interview: NIGHTWISH Bassist / Vocalist MARCO HIETALA – From Iron To Imaginarium

By Carl Begai

Marco Hietala is best known these days as the bassist / male vocalist for Finnish bashers Nightwish, but since hooking up with the band in 2002 fans have learned of his other outfit, veteran straight-ahead metalheads, Tarot. In actual fact, he’s been hammering out albums and low-key tours with Tarot for over 25 years, a truth the metal world has learned more and more about since their international release of the Crows Fly Black album in 2006. A breakthrough that can be credited to his Nightwish day job. Following is an excerpt from my recent interview with Hietala about Tarot’s new and remagined album, Spell Of Iron MMXI, and the forthcoming Nighwish epic, Imaginarium…

With one new album under his belt for 2011 (Spell Of Iron MMXI), Hietala’s focus is now on Imaginarium. Still a work in progress, it’s not expected to surface until early 2012.

“I’ve recorded all my stuff,” he reveals. “All my vocals and basses are done, a couple acoustic guitar things. And the mixes for those parts have also been done, already.”

With regards to the extended wait for Imaginarium, Hietala admits he’s in the same boat as the fans and is chomping at the bit to hear the final product.

“That sucks for me personally,” he says of the wait, “but the reason for that is we still have the movie in the works as well, and it’s going to take some time for it to be finished. The album and the movie go pretty much hand-in-hand because the whole movie is built around the music of the album. We decided to push the release so that we can put them out together.”

Imaginarium is the next blockbuster step of the Nightwish legacy, guaranteed to put the buzz surrounding the previous album, Dark Passion Play, to shame when it hits. Things have gotten to the point where it’s not hard to imagine Hietala considers Tarot a needed vacation from the insanity of being part of Finland’s biggest ever metal export.

“Yeah, that’s true. With Nightwish, I’m all for the ambition that’s behind the whole thing. It’s really interesting to do all that. I’m waiting with my tongue hanging out for all the personal shoots for the movie, but Tarot gives me the chance to put my feet back on the ground, playing clubs where the people are right in front of my face. I’m actually able to put the cables in my own bass gear, which is a nice change (laughs).”

“I love playing anywhere, don’t get me wrong, but I still love the clubs. It’s close and intimate, it’s where you get the best vibe and the best groove. And, of course, with the clubs you usually get the best sound… depending on the equipment (laughs). The big halls are always problematic.”

Asked to give folks an idea of what’s in store with Imaginarium, without pissing off the powers that be by letting too many cats out of a very big bag, Hietala does his best:

“I have an idea of it, but I’m not sure how to put that into words (laughs). Big and bombastic, there’s going to be that stuff. People will be able to recognize the music as Nightwish, but I think if there’s something we managed to do differently this time it’s overcome the preconceptions of what this band should sound like. There’s a hell of a lot of musical variety on the album, and for myself I can honestly say that when we were doing Dark Passion Play – rehearsing and all that – I was sure it was going to be a good album. This time around, when we started rehearsing these songs, I was immediately sure about the same thing maybe ten times more (laughs). I just have a feeling it’s going to be a killer album.”

Go to this location for the complete interview.

– Live photo by Carl Begai. All rights reserved.