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Imperiumi's interview with Marco

6 posts in this topic

Word of warning! : Marco goes really philosophical in places. Sometimes hard to understand what he means, let alone to translate it.

So please, don't take it word by word :) . 




Album releases involve great deal of promotional work all over the world for a band with NW's magnitude. However, on Friday the 13th of Feb.  bassist Marco Hietala doesn't seem to be tired at all when he sits down to be interviewed in the hotel lobby in the city centre of Helsinki although the man has toured Europe with Floor and Tuomas for almost two weeks to discuss about the new album with journalists. He seems to be relaxed and while smoking his e-cigar he mentions at least 7 countries they visited when they were promoting their 8th studio album EFMB.


It's quite easy to predict that the album, which will be released at the end of March, will top the album charts soon after its release at least in Finland. That has happened to every album of theirs since Wishmaster, released in 2000. The band will be 20 next year and their career has been pointing constantly upwards without major hiccups which is uncommon to a band this old. Marco thinks that it's not only about ability but partially about good luck too.


- We are privileged that we've got into a  relatively good position by doing music that we first and foremost like to do. And now we are in that position that we don't need to listen to instructions from the label what we should do or trucle to any kind of mainstream rules, yet there is a firm fan base who digs the band just the way we are. After all, the music is always created that fact in mind what we would like to listen to ourselves too. There is certain assertiveness and honesty but after all that has come through our own work and because of that people can trust to receive stuff from us that might have a little more substance than the latest radio hits have.


The main thing that has stayed in his mind during his 15 year career in NW are the events that led to the change of the singer in autumn 2012.


- Those rather hellish depths without light that we entered during our latest North American tour are fresh in my mind. Then Floor stepped in and we were on a survival mode and took one night and one show at a time. Especially the speed of recovery and how every show was better than the previous one, the rise from the darkness in such a triumphant way. It's one of the most horrible but at the same time the most beautiful things that I've experienced in my life. I don't want that again but I think that that sort of spectrum of emotions in such a short period of time leaves its marks to a human being permanently.


For the bassist who turns 50 next year, music is still one of the most important things in life.


- Playing the music and listening to it are the essential parts of my mental backbone. Nevertheless I've tried to keep my eyes and ears open to the fact that if this begins to feel lame, I'll try to step aside as soon as possible. I've listened to and loved music from a very young age. If that for some reason or another turned paler, it would feel better to walk away altogether than remain beside the corpse of your loved one, Marco says.



Endless Forms Most Beautiful


As traditional the whole band retrieved to a summer camp to finalize the new songs. However everything didn't go as planned since Jukka had to make an announcement in the middle of the rehearsals that he can't participate in upcoming tour or the recordings of the album. According to Marco Jukka's decision was not a total surprise.


- Jukka has suffered more or less from insomnia for almost 10 years. Already on the previous tour there were a few tricky situations like in Japan where Jukka didn't sleep at all for 4 days. The head begins to be really messed up and already then Jukka told if it continues to be like this, he can't go on. The drummer should be able to keep one and two apart from each other and Jukka told that he can't even think about that anymore.


- When we were preparing for the rehearsals of the new album, and put up the gear and began to rehearse, Jukka was awake for a week and after that he felt like there was a wasp nest in fire in his head. Then it became clear. We did hope all the time that Jukka would regain control of the problem and we tried to talk about things and all that but you can't cure the illness by persuading. Then Jukka told that he had made a phone call to Kaitsu about the possibility of things turning sour and in that case Kaitsu replacing Jukka at least for the upcoming album and tour. There was nothing more to do than stop the unnecessary persuasion and accept what's happening, Marco remembers.


There were no other canditates who were considered at least seriously to replace Jukka.


- Well, we thought about what kind of potential possibilities there are. We have known Kaitsu already for a long time and we know he's a very capable and nice guy. When Kaitsu said he can do it, so ofc we took him in, Marco explains.


In addition to a new drummer and a singer there is also Troy Donockley as a new member. He has toured with NW since 2007, but on EFMB he is for the first time as an official member in NW. According to Marco, Troy was allowed to bring his own arrangement ideas into the songs just like everyone else.


- The arrangement of the songs has always been democratic and open procedure. Even now when we began to look over all the  structures and other stuff, there were ideas also from Troy and Floor, like everybody else. Lots of little nuances and some new angle came along and everyone had real motivation and eagerness.


Exactly a week before the release of the new single Élan, things began to happen around the band: the song had leaked on the web. Leaking the music without band's permission get's no sympathy whatsoever from Marco's part.


- Certain disappointment arouses from the leakage. Our objective is to release stuff we have written with a certain schedule and with the biggest possible impact. And when we see that the fans are waiting for it like Christmas and then there are people who seem to lack the general caring, empathy and respect towards that. They just want it immediately. It's sad.


- Then there are people, who are whining on forums how "this is so common these days, what are they moaning about". goddammit, it's our music and we should have the right to decide what we do with it and when.


The contribution of orchestra and the bombast in NW music grew album by album until the last one released. If the band's aim had been to take it even further, they would have moved well outside the boundaries of metal genre. The first taste from EFMB is however rather subtle in that regard. The choice of the song as a first taste was rather clear decision, according to Marco.


- Well, there are quite long songs with a lot of stuff, so it's obvious that Élan is the most radio-friendly one. It also has a relatively simple structure and a slight, continuous crescendo towards the end. Those are the primary reasons. And we liked to play it a lot in the rehearsals and I sing long archs in the backround of the lead singer. When we began to the get right the elements and feeling to it, we thought this might be a good choice. But there are other potential singles on the album too.


Even internationally speaking it was quite remarkable that they got evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on the album. And it didn't require too much persuasion.


- The negotiations didn't take a long time. Tuomas has read those books and those have had an influence on his worldview. Tuomas sent a hand-written letter to Dawkins who replied after a couple of weeks that this is interesting and asked a little about us. We had to enlighten a bit that we are a band, who has music. He might have even asked if he had to sing, Marco laughs.


Dawkins didn't visit Finland, but Tuomas and Mikko Karmila travelled during the orchestral recordings to Oxford to meet Dawkins and to record his share in a local studio. NW informed about Dawkins's guest appearance last October and that resulted quite a hassle and some people even stated that they would stop listening to the band because of this. All this before nothing had been said about the character of the Dawkins's part on the album.


- The amount of response did surprise us a bit. We knew that Dawkins is a rather contradictory person and publicly at the forefront of the atheistic movement. His role on the album stays within the evolutionary story and it's not about atheism. In the end we don't sign under anyone's beliefs, at least I personally don't, in one direction or another. At least for me it's totally appropriate that Dawkins is on the album, Marco tells.


Tuomas has always been NW's main composer and lyricist, although both Marco and guitarist Emppu have brought some of their ideas to the albums. There are parts composed by Marco again on the upcoming album but it's exceptional that there are also lyrics written by somebody else than Tuomas for the first time during NW´s existence.


- About a year ago I had been recording all kind of material in home studio and I thought that these certain things might be suitable for NW. I wrote some lyrics as working texts so I could represent my recordings to Tuomas. While writing these texts I noticed that it had become rather serious and that there were a lot of stuff I have to use somewhere.


- When I showed my recordings to Tuomas, he checked those and lyrics and suddenly said that he has been looking for the way to tell these stories and you nailed it perfectly here and asked if we can use these. I told him that, in principle this has been his territory earlier but if it feels so that these fit in, so let's go, Marco remembers.



Gybernetic future


There are naturally many different themes on the album, but because of Dawkins's guest appearance, album's name and other references, the science related references are the most evident ones. Dealing with these kind of subjects from this angle of approach isn't very usual in metal music. The main themes of the album come naturally from Tuomas's visions but also Marco shares his interest in science and through that the wondering of life. Marco has been interested in these kind of subjects since his early childhood.


- I have been an astronomy freak since I was a little kid. I don't remember whether it began when I learned to read at the age of four and saw a lot of scifi-stories and such. I checked up many astronomical books and my farther had books from Life magazine and one was Universe with brilliant pictures of galaxies and stardusts. I learned name of the asterisms by heart. This kind of approach suits me really well. But you can't assume this album to be some kind of preacher's book with "a truth" in it because that's what it's certainly not. They are stories looked at from a certain angle.


Richard Dawkins has told that he has often been asked how he manages to get out of bed in the morning, since he doesn't believe life has some specific meaning because of his scientific approach to it. A book called "Unweaving the Rainbow" was written to those questioners and it has been some sort of inspiration for EFMB, for there are some spoken quotes by Dawkins directly from the book on the album. Marco agrees that the increasing amount of scientific information doesn't make this world a meaningless place.


- Without science we couldn't deduce that it would be good thing to get rid of oil and coal so it affects us constantly. And scientific worldview doesn't make this world a meaningless place because there are lot of great things going on here. If a human being is built in a right way in the framework of this universe, you do take care of your nearest ones and that applies globally too. That's what the moral aims at. With pretty simple deeds you can prove that you have a place in this world and that you would like it to remain that way to those after you. It's rather simple.


- In a way science is humble. It presents the matters how they probably are before stronger evidence. I think it's shameful that human egoism is so insanely big that it experiences itself as eternal and infinitely important to this universe, which is however so large that understanding it, is the same as bacteria trying to figure out whether it's on dog's or human being's skin. In other words, in front of such greatness it would be better to be more humble and grateful that we are here now, because it's such a privilege to exist.


- The last song on EFMB, the 24-minute long The Greatest Show on Earth, refers to evolution. The name is directly from Dawkins's book about evidence of evolution and in that song Dawkins has his biggest role on the album. When mentioned about the theme, Marco begins to ponder on the future of the mankind.


- Now we are on the area, which is quite exciting with the present view of the world. If we'll survive as a species, whether it's tens, hundreds or thousands of years, we're going to be totally different creatures, with the modern technology, with artificial joints, hearts and limbs and so on . So the next step in modern evolution could be a cyborg.



Sweat and snot


After the release of the album NW will be going to present their fresh music at gigs in different places around the world. The setlist is still under planning but it's obvious that the new album will be strongly presented. North American tour in smaller clubs starts in April and lasts a little over a month. After that there are a festival season and two big shows in Finland. For the end of the year there are shows abroad, the most prominent one apparently being at Wembley Arena. There is a big contrast between the places but it doesn't make a big difference to Marco.


- I have to say I like to play anywhere but smaller places are my favourite ones. If we're talking about smaller clubs where beer is sold and people are relaxed and near each other, almost face to face, that's where the feeling is more intimate, "sweat and snot" so to speak.


- Then the sound is much better in more compact space because the big halls are acoustically worse in a certain way. But on the other hand there is always a certain charm to play at a gig whether it's for 1000 or 80000 people like in Wacken.


The last question that must have been asked hundreds of times since the release of "Once". Are we going to see a concert with orchestra during this tour?


- Every time we have thought about it, it has seemed to be a good idea because we've got the music which is like a precision weapon for an occasion like that. On the other hand the whole idea about a rock band playing with orchestra has been diluted over the years because so many bands have done it. There would be a lot of people involved and to arrange everything with them (rehearsals and so on) would require a massive amount of work. And it would have to be a little different, so you had to invest in the visual side of the show. Ofc we'll think about that in future too but at this point we've run out of time. Album is coming out and rehearsals starts next month. So at this stage it's not possible, because when the touring starts it will be an unbelievable hassle anyway, Marco concludes.

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Twister, if you translate it, it will be awesome!


I looked at this article and tried to understand what it wass about using google translator but quite failed. Finnish is really not that simply. 

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I looked at this article and tried to understand what it wass about using google translator but quite failed. Finnish is really not that simply. 

It's not the language, but just the Google translator that makes a poor job. No one has bothered to write the software properly.

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I don't agree with his answer on the prospects of doing a show with an orchestra. Making such show is like having sex - the more you wait to do it for the first time and search for Mr(s) Perfect, the more likely you will remain a virgin while everyone else is getting laid. :P

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