Here's a translation of a Tuomas interview from Helsingin Sanomat last week which I found a nice read. Finnish original here: https://www.hs.fi/kulttuuri/art-2000005569581.html?ref=rss
Latest record sucked out the creativity from Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish - it was brought back by crosswords that also became a sidejob
Having stepped away from the world of fantasy metal to science side, Nightwish returns from a year and a half long break.
Tuomas Holopainen still considers Nightwish a metal band even though his own inspirators are mostly from outside the field of heavy rock.
It is lonely at the peak of most internationally successful Finnish bands. When HIM called it quits at the end of last year, only Nightwish remained.
By autumn of 2016, future was not looking too bright for that either. Artistic leader, keyboardist and songmaker Tuomas Holopainen was fed up with music.
New songs had been constantly born for the last 20 years but now there was nothing.
"There were no stories to tell and I could't have cared less about the keys. Neither about listening to music", Holopainen recalls.
He's sipping morning coffee at a hotel at Vantaa. After the interview, a rehearsal days lies ahead. As has been for the last three weeks.
Nightwish has come back.
In the beginning of March a compilation album will be released and the band will fly to the States. The world tour starts from Atlanta and lasts until the end of the year.
For the setlist, the band is now rehearsing newly-arranged versions of it's early songs. Many of them have not been performed in 15 years.
For the same Nightwish-rush, a new book called Nightwish - We Were Here written by Timo Isoaho, was just released. Book documents the phases of making the latest record and the subsequent world tour.
There are not that many albums or tours that would function well as a subject for a great story, but Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Nightwish from spring of 2015 was a significant step out from the decorative format of symphonic metal.
After wallowing for 20 years in different fantasy worlds, Holopainen made a record inspired by the evolution theory of Charles Darwin and especially The Ancestor's Tale written by Richard Dawkins in 2004 that follows the evolution of human and life backwards in time.
Holopainen says he's been thinking about the conflicts between evolution and religions for ten years already. He describes himself as an agnostic atheist.
"If one asks if I believe in god, I answer no. If I'm asked do I know that god doesn't exist, I answer no. Nobody knows. I always call for healthy skepticism, questioning and discussion."
The book by Richard Dawkins made such an impact on Holopainen that he wanted Dawkins himself to guest appear on a Nightwish album.
77-year old British professor had no kind of concept about modern rock music but he happened to have an assistant who was into Nightwish.
"Dawkins said he liked Elvis", Holopainen says.
Dawkins was attracted to Holopainen's way of popularizing the accomplishments of science. He undestood that Holopainen sees poetry in evolution that can be turned into music.
Dawkins appeared on Endless Forms Most Beautiful -album as a narrator and did the same on a sold-out Nightwish show at Wembley Arena of London.
12 000 people fell silent as Dawkins stepped on stage.
Holopainen and Dawkins gave interviews together and ended up on the covers of not only rock magazines but also mainstream media like The Times.
"It was totally thanks to Dawkins", says Holopainen.
Along with the mainstream media, the subject matter woke the interest of some fundamentalist Christians who believe in creation that are also well-represented on Nightwish's large fanbase.
As the strongest opposition, an American fan shared a video on social media in which he/she burned his/her Nightwish albums.
Holopainen says that the reaction from extreme Christians has been exaggerated. Nightwish has a vast amount of fans in the Catholic countries of South-America and Europe, but there were only a handful of cases of negative feedback based on belief and those were from the States and Finland.
"Vakaumus (belief, conviction) is the ugliest word in Finnish language."
Born on Christmas Day of 1976 at Kitee, Tuomas himself was baptized into membership of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, as most of the children were at that time.
"Religion is defined by which time and place one happens to be born", he says. "If religion was true, it wouldn't be geographically and culturally bordered."
In Finnish rock scene, Tuomas Holopainen has played the role of some kind of a subdued hermit.
Outside touring he spends his life at Kitee with his wife, singer Johanna Kurkela.
The couple has recently finished their co-album that has been long in the making. The line-up is called Auri and is completed by third member Troy Donockley, the multi-instrumentalist from Nightwish.
Going well with the hermit culture of Eastern Finland, Holopainen and Kurkela like to solve crosswords at home on their spare time. Now they are not only solving, but also making those.
Since January 2017, Holopainen and Kurkela have been frequent assistants for the crossword magazine Punainen pelikaani. Their crosswords have also been published on Ilta-Sanomat and Soundi.
Holopainen makes up the words and clues, Kurkela is responsible for the layout and drawings.
Few years ago in the middle of a tour, Holopainen realized that he has read all the books and solved all the crosswords that he had with him.
"It occured to me that could I make some crosswords by myself", he recalls.
According to him, designing crosswords and writing songs have a lot of in common.
"In both cases you create experiences for people and yourself out of nothing. When you can make those long words meet in a way that makes fancy words go everywhere, it's art at its finest."
Because of the longer break, making the Auri record, and possibly even the crosswords, Holopainen has been able to make music for Nightwish again as well.
Seven new songs are already done and the rest will come after this tour. In two years time we may have a new album at hand.
"It opened up like a ketchup bottle - as I believed it eventually would."