By Carl Begai
The day after it was announced that Nightwish touring vocalist Floor Jansen (Revamp, ex-After Forever) had been made an official band member, BW&BK was given the opportunity to speak with keyboardist/mastermind Tuomas Holopainen about the band’s forthcoming live/tour documentary DVD Showtime, Storytime. Good thing they took care of business before press began, because if they hadn’t most of this conversation would have consisted of yours truly telling Holopainen he would have to be a special kind of insane to let Jansen slip away. But really, it’s no surprise that Jansen was asked to stay considering her monumental efforts since coming on board at the last minute to replace the booted Anette Olzon back in October 2012.
“I know it didn’t come as a surprise to anybody,” Holopainen says of the news. “We wanted to make it official at this point because we knew we were going to do a lot of promotion for the upcoming DVD. It’s just easier to do things this way; we don’t need to keep our mouths shut.”
The documentary portion of the DVD begins appropriately with footage from Denver, Colorado as Nightwish makes a mad scramble to put together some semblance of a setlist in the wake of Olzon falling ill. With their singer unable to perform and an audience willing to stick around for whatever the band can come up with, Nightwish enlist support band Kamelot’s backing singers Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist). The rest is a pretty amazing piece of history. Holopainen is caught on camera after the show stating that he’d never been as scared as he was two hours earlier.
“That was the truth,” he admits. “The whole day is just a hazy dream to me now. It was such an awkward moment. A big hand to Elize and Alissa… they were amazing. But that’s what doing live shows is all about. Sometimes these things happen and it’s really memorable stuff; a mass karaoke with those two lovely girls joining us, doing some instrumental stuff as well. It was something different and I don’t think anybody left the venue upset or annoyed.”
Olzon, on the other hand, was genuinely upset and took to her official website to air her feelings. She made it clear she thought the band was wrong to go ahead without her. On October 1st the band released a statement announcing Olzon’s departure and that Jansen would be filling in for the rest of the tour.
“We got quite a bit of criticism for doing the show without Anette,” Holopainen reveals. “Some people asking us how we could be so selfish and do the show without her. It was quite the opposite. We had to think about the 1,600 fans, the promoter, the crew, everybody. Seriously, if something happened to me or any of the other band members, I’d do anything to still make the show happen. We offered the money back from the tickets. We told the fans how the show was going to be, so of course if they wanted to leave they should get their money back. It was seven refunds out of 1,600 so that was pretty good.”
Nightwish haven’t elaborated on the reasons for firing Olzon and it’s doubtful they ever will, even as they move on with Jansen.
“The split is like a divorce and nobody likes to talk about a divorce publicly. We released a statement, with Anette, and that should be enough for everyone.”
Suffice to say, there’s a certain amount of bad blood still floating around. The documentary begins with a disclaimer stating that “due to the circumstances surrounding her departure, the former vocalist insisted that she would not be seen or heard in the documentary.”
“That’s something I can clarify,” says Holopainen. “It did come as a surprise to all of us. The documentary was about 80% finished and Anette was in it giving interviews, there was nice live footage of her, but in March this year we got an email from her manager saying that we needed to cut her out of the documentary, audio and visual. That’s something we didn’t expect, so we had to decide if the documentary was even worth doing anymore because it was an essential part of the tour. The director, Ville, told us to give him a chance. He wanted to take a few weeks to see what he could do with the editing. And now when I see the footage I’ve got to give it to the guy, he’s a wizard. It’s beautifully crafted. The drama is there, the beauty is there. Occasionally you might think ‘Okay, where’s the vocalist?’ but when Floor comes in you can really enjoy it.”
Jansen has fronted Nightwish since October 2012 and has had a much easier job winning over the band’s legion of fans than Olzon did. Take a cruise through the library of live footage on YouTube and you can watch her grow into the role of being front and center on the Nightwish stage.
“I have to agree. The first couple of weeks that we did with her were good and she was really impressive, especially with the time that she had to prepare. Looking at her now – and I only saw the Wacken Open Air footage for the first time only two weeks ago – I’m thinking ‘Wow!’ Watch the DVD and you can see that Floor owns the stage and the audience.”
Asked if he remembers when the band came to the conclusion Jansen should be fronting Nightwish permanently….
“Yes I do. It was spring, about six months after Floor came in. We agreed that she was a lovely person and that she really could sing, but I was wondering if we really needed to be talking about all that stuff just yet because I was having such a good time on tour. It eventually got to the point where we said ‘Why not?’ It was after the Sauna Open Air Festival in Finland at the beginning of June, after the show in the hotel lobby, where we encouraged ourselves to go to Floor and ask her how she would feel about continuing with us in the future. She gave us an immediate ‘Yes.’ We didn’t think it was going to be an ‘of course’ answer, though. We didn’t take anything for granted, but she was really happy and really motivated. And right after that we asked Troy Donockley (uilleann pipes, low whistles, vocals) about joining the band as well. He said yes too, so it was a happy evening (laughs).”
Go to this location for the complete interview.
Check out the live clip of ‘Storytime’ from the Showtime, Storytime DVD here.