Amorphis on entertaimnet

Cologne, Essigfabrik: It’s a rainy cold evening. The chill in the air signals with oncoming march of winter. In other words, perfect conditions for a night of Finnish Metal and folklore. I caught up with Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen on the first stop of their “Circle” European tour.

Interview: Leo / Photo by courtesy of Brainstorm First of all, congrats on winning German Metal Hammer’s „Album of the year“ award.

Tomi: Thank you. Was there any particular source of musical or lyrical inspiration behind Circle?

Tomi: Not really, it’s not like we go “OK, let’s write a real heavy metal record” or “let’s make a real prog record“. We write what comes naturally for us. How does your writing process work? Is the music written in the rehearsal room or are songs written by individuals and are then presented to the band?

Tomi: Most of the songs are written by the other guys at home and they send the rest of the band the MP3s files. We then work on the arrangements in the rehearsal room, which is where I work on the vocal lines. It is quite difficult because most of the music is already written and I have to work around the instrumental parts. The lyrics are written by Pekka Kainulainen, someone outside of the band. Are the vocal melodies written before the lyrics or vice versa?

Tomi: I usually hum the vocal melodies when we’re writing. We then have to work Pekka’s lyrics around the melodies. Also Pekka’s lyrics are originally in Finnish, so they have to be translated in to English. The whole process fucking complicated! Could you maybe explain some of the lyrical concepts of this album? Is the Kalavela still a major lyrical influence?

Tomi: This album is less about the Kalavela and more about a journey. Pekka knows the book really well but this time the lyrics are about looking back on your life with all that happened in it and finding out who you really are as a person. That’s what the album means to me. On „Circle“ the guitars seem a lot more up front in the mix. Was this a band decision or come from Peter Tägtgren (Producer)? There is a bit of a Hypocrisy vibe when the low chords are being played. 

Tomi: That came mainly from Peter. He wanted to have to the keyboards a little lower and guitars louder in the mix. He also used this cheap, piece of shit guitar pedal that he’s used on all of Hypocrisy’s albums. Also it is the first time we are using a 5 sting bass, so there is a lot more low sounds. Tonight is the first show of the European club tour. Before that you did a run of the European festivals then a tour of Russia, Australia and the Far East. How is touring in those places compared to Europe?

Tomi: It was a cool experience. In Russia the standards are not like here in Europe but they are slowly getting there. Australia was actually like a big holiday for us. We’ve been to Japan, I think, about 4 times now. China was a bit strange because we have never been there before. There were so many people that I was actually a bit scared and you could also really feel the pollution in your lungs when you inhaled. But as a whole it was great experience Any plans to play in more „exotic“ places like for example India or Indonesia?

Tomi: We actually got an offer to play in India but at the last minute there were some money issues. We’d love to play in such countries but it has to make sense, money wise. Who made your elaborate microphone and what’s in it?

Tomi: I designed it with a friend of mine and he built it. I wanted it to look it was from the Soviet era. Also that thing is fucking heavy, so you can really feel it when screaming into it. Originally we had a Shure SM7 in it but now it’s something from Audix. What’s it like to share a rehearsal space with HIM?

Tomi: (laughing) It’s great, the room is decorated with gifts from fans from all around the world and they brought in a nice selection of amps and other gear. Actually in the end it’s a shit hole, just like every other rehearsal room that I’ve ever seen, with rubbish and empty bottles everywhere. Thank you for the interview.

Tomi: You’re welcome!