Interview by Alessandra Cognetta
You probably saw the live report we did of the show Nightwish recently did in Rome. As I mentioned there, I also had the chance to do a quick interview with Marco Hietala before the concert, which you can read right below. Marco was very engaged during our chat and he even offered some interesting and spontaneous insights whenever my input was a bit more loose. The interview was quite short, because due to some issues with the venue we ended up starting way later than scheduled, but Marco still managed to deliver a few thought-provoking answers on the music industry and some very nice words for Nightwish fans!
Hello and welcome to Femme Metal Webzine, Marco!
This is not the first time you played in Italy, but is it the first time you play in Rome? How do you feel about it?
That is a fact, as far as I know. I wasn’t in the band originally, so I cannot say for the years from 1997 until 2001, but for me it’s the first time. Of course it’s nice to come to a new town, meet new people. From what I seem to remember about Italian shows, you got that Southern European vibe, so it’s usually very good! People know how to sing along and I’m kind of expecting it will be the same here.
You’ve also been doing some festivals up to now.
Sure, we’ve been travelling something like three and a half weeks already. We went to Russia and Ukraine, and then started the festivals from Germany. We’ve been going to quite a few places now: Czech Republic, Austria and now Italy.
Speaking of Austria, during the Masterclass with Floor she mentioned that before the show there was some kind of flooding on the stage?
The rain came down really hard, it was pissin’ down! For instance, all the pyros got wet, so the guys collected them away and we forgot about those, but in the end the festival and the other bands were lenient about that, so we tied in a little bit of schedule changes and we didn’t have to drop more than one song.
Is it something that happens often?
Not really that often so that you would get that heavy a thunderstorm that you would have to cancel, or almost cancel – luckily we didn’t have to do that.
We were asking Floor about some tips on vocals, but since you’re also singing with Nightwish, do you have any tips, or something that you do when you have to sing, or do you just go for it?
I pretty much go for it! But of course there are some essentials: no matter how loud and high you go, try to do it – this sounds like a contradiction – try to do it as relaxed as you can. Singing is also a matter of developing your physical abilities along with mental faculties, it’s both. So you need a bit of courage to hit the high notes and you also need to build up a bit of a physique to hit the high notes. But basically, the more you do it, the more you should be able to find out how to do things. And of course it also helps if you got good coaches who can show and tell you things. But I’d say: do it a lot and stay as relaxed as possible. You cannot learn to sing loud unless you sing loud!
One more thing I’d like to ask is about monitors and in-ear settings. Some artists choose what to put in the in-ear, because otherwise it gets too confusing. Is it the same for you?
I got the in-ears, but I also got the so-called “ambience pack”, which is a little bit more of an expensive system than the others use. These things are actually earphones and there’s two on both sides, so you can hear the direction of different things, but at the same time you got the crispiness of the sound coming directly to your ears. For me the mix is usually that I take a bit of the whole band, but somehow the bass and my own vocals are the loudest!
This is more of a general question about your latest album: what is “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” to you?
I have to say that my feeling and what I see from the other band mates is that this album was probably the most relaxed and fluid thing to do. We still did a hell of a lot of work by rehearsing and arranging and going through all kinds of different stuff, but because everyone was really into it we got a really good energy and vibe. It was painless and easy. So far, with the touring it gets really chaotic, like for instance travelling through the USA and Canada in the middle of winter: everybody from all three bands and the crews got sick at some point in time! That kind of stuff happens, but otherwise I’d say it’s been really good – since the making of the album until this one year of touring.
That’s good! I think that chemistry among band members is really important and it definitely shows in Nightwish.
True. That much I can say, that good band chemistry, good personal chemistry between people, between the band and between the crew, it basically means that you bring in something good. That is a really good thing, I think people are picking up on it quite a lot.
Are you going to keep touring after this or are you going to take a break? Because you’ve been touring quite a lot, right?
Yeah, a little bit over a year now. Still doing these festivals and a few shows also in September and October, but after that I think we’re gonna be done for a year at least (laughs). We’re gonna take some serious time off!
So, the interview is basically over and I don’t wanna keep you here too long, but if there’s anything else you want to say… (laughs)
Yeah, I actually have! Now, we all know that the future for all the music and its business is that everything moves onto the net. We already have the legal streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and all that. Except, for instance, Spotify: they’re not really open on how they split the money between they own company and record companies, and record companies are not very open too. So I think that what people should do is that if you wanna put up a good streaming system and start collecting artists by paying them openly and fairly, the artists will flock to you. We need competition and as a matter of fact I’m not into Spotify, but just to be feeding the competition I subscribed to Tidal and Apple Music, but I will not subscribe to Spotify. I want to build up the competition to find the one who pays the artists, then we go there. Everybody will go there.
I’m actually very interested in this issue, but I’m always afraid to push too much by asking about it during interviews, so I think it’s really great that you mentioned it.
This competition thing between streaming services and all that, it’s not something that they talk about publicly. I say: let’s talk about it publicly!
Yeah, and there’s been a lot of protest over Spotify not paying enough revenue.
The guys at the top of that are just spending their days at the Bahamas and after a few hundred thousands of listens we get three cents (laughs).
So that’s it! If you have any greetings for the readers…
Greetings, readers! (laughs) Really, for the fans, wherever they are, they are the ones who are keeping things alive. It’s fun to make music. No matter what, if the band goes down, I’d still be sitting on my porch and playing guitar and singing stuff. But to be able to live on this, to be able to make good shows and albums and all that, that’s because we actually have fans. We have people who are interested in the music. For that, very much respect and thank you!
Photos by Ville Akseli Juurikkala