ENVOYEZ VOS INFOS :

CONTACT [at] RADIOMETAL [dot] FR

Interviews   

« Religious enlightenment : I think it’s all bullshit. »


Come on, be honest: who ever really paid attention to Tarot before Marco Hietala and his two-headed beard joined Nightwish? And yet Tarot has been knocking about unpretentiously for over 25 years. Very quickly, the Finns traumatized the Metallica roadies with their inordinately heavy and cumbersome amps. Their new album, « Gravity Of Light », is about religious oppression on non-believers. On the occasion of this imminent release, Metal’O Phil got to talk to Marco.
The good little snoopers that were are couldn’t help trying to glean a few information on the new Nightwish album, which won’t be released before 2011. Speaking of which, we asked Marco about his recruitment in the band – which was not all that easy…

« Look at Osama Bin Laden and George Bush, for instance. When they send people to kill other people, they say that god is on their side. And I don’t think that it has anything to do with religious enlightenment: I think it’s all bullshit.
»
Radiometal: The press release for the new album Gravity of Light states: « The album feels like meeting an old friend. Some things are the same, but your friend has gained weight. He shows new scars, and tattoos. The beard is longer and he projects a meaner and faster temper. At the same time there’s still a big heart at the centre ». Is this something you went through recently? Have you seen an old friend again and thought this?

Marco Hietala (bass/vocal): No, not in the recent times, but I know what you mean. Our press release was inspired by that kind of experience. Such things have happened to me, and I suppose they have happened to anyone of us.

This statement sounds like a confession: Tarot has not simply evolved musically, it has also grown, matured and consolidated its style. Gravity of Light sounds like typical Tarot and does not surprise the listener. Was this a spontaneous process or is this because you didn’t wish to deceive your eldest fans?

No, with the guys we just go for what seems good to us. The song writing process has been going on for a while: I started writing some stuff while I was touring with Nightwish, because I always keep an acoustic guitar in the backstage. When we got together after the Nightwish tour, we started putting things together, especially the four songs that we liked most. That’s how they ended up on the album.

Did you ever question your style? Did you ever feel the need to change radically?

Well of course, there are situations where you tend to look at things differently. I mean, there have always been some elements that we have not used in the album. But we try to find things worth doing. We listen to the music of the moment and we get ideas for how to use sequences, or industrial elements in a subtle way. These are things that we have been using in some places. But we mostly do music the way we like it.

In a few of your albums you are assisted by Tommi « Tuple » Salmela on vocals. In fact he is even more present on the latest album. Your voices are actually very similar… Why did you choose to include a second voice?

We used Tommi in many situations, to take up the harmonies, for instance. Since we’ve been touring together for at least 15 years, I think it was only fair for him to come to the front as well. He’s been singing in the background for all this time, so I thought it was logic to include him in the group. It gives you a chance to create some kind of oppressive vocal work, as if gunshots were fired continuously. I like it very much, because it really gives you the impression that you are running short of breath. I like the oppressive feeling of it. Since Tommi is a good vocalist, we can use him that way: we have stronger live sets, and we can include some musical variations.

Actually the first time I listened to his voice, I thought it was yours!

Well there’s actually a little secret in the cover work that will help you differentiate our voices: if you look at the lyrics, you’ll recognise that mine are written with an italic font, whereas Tommi’s are regular.

This play on the vocals seems to relate to the album cover which represents a star with two faces… Was this intentional? Does this two-faced monster represent you and Tommi?

I did not really think of it that way, but it’s nice of you to find this comparison. It’s a good one! (laughs)


Harvey Dent (Double Face) on Gravity Of Light
The left part of the star seems to represent the moon whilst the right side represents the sun. Why did you make this association?

I was thinking of the title of the album, of what could represent it. The light theme illustrates the discomfort, the heaviness you feel when somebody else tries to enlighten you with philosophies or religious things. That light becomes oppressive and if you look at this face, this mix between the moon and the sun, you’ll realise that this thing is not going to make flowers grow!
Normally, when this type of face is represented, like Batman’s Two-Face for instance, one part is kind and the other is evil. However, on that cover, both sides seem very aggressive. Why is that?

Like I said, it is because of this theme that goes through quite a few of the songs. I wanted the face to be nasty, because this enlightenment, this light that many people here on Earth want to share with other people, is for me arrogant, oppressive. I find that it is really something that we could get rid of. Look at Osama Bin Laden and George Bush, for instance. When they send people to kill other people, they say that god is on their side. And I don’t think that it has anything to do with religious enlightenment: I think it’s all bullshit.

Tarot have had a long career and managed to be successful despite the fact that you have never explored the international side of things. This began to change with the previous album, Crows Fly Back, which could be found in French shops more easily than the other albums. How can you explain this? Is this linked to the problems you had during the time of Suffer Our Pleasures, when your album suffered a poor promotional campaign?

That’s the reason, yes. Suffer Our Pleasures was done with Spinefarm Records, who had good contacts, but who at that time had just sold their majority to Universal. That severely hindered our success outside of Finland, because they had to go through their Universal channels which were really badly organised in Germany, for instance. As it was such a hassle, they did not find it worth doing. Since we’ve started working with King Foo Entertainment, they license it to Nuclear Blast, and it has been a lot better. Before that, we had problems to promote our albums mainly because the companies that we used did not have the know-how or the manpower to build up things internationally.

Is this period over? Is your deal with Nuclear Blast satisfactory?

They are doing a good job: with the Crows Fly Back album we saw really good results in the international sales. Now, they’re releasing the album through their USA office. I’ve been doing quite a lot of interviews as well, so I think they’re doing a good job!

[/urlb]

 » (About Nightwish’s albums) No, I was just unsure about these power metal roots, with a lot of double bass drums and fast stuff, and this kind of mathematical precision in the music. It almost seemed like you could guess beforehand what would happen in the song. »
Did you feel a « Nightwish effect » on Tarot’s album sales?

Of course, I am not in people’s heads, but I would not be surprised if there had been one. It is obviously easier for people to come to something when they already know something about it. It is easier if you don’t have to jump into the unknown, so to speak. I don’t mind that phenomenon. If you know that this guy who was playing in this band that you liked now plays in another one, then you check it out. I suppose it always comes down to whether you dig the music or not.

At the start of your career, you were releasing albums and live albums at a much quicker pace than today. Nowadays, we hear about you every 3 years when you are about to release an album. Does your implication in Nightwish slow down Tarot’s development?

Yes, it could be that, but we’ve also taken our time finishing things in the past, before I was in Nightwish. We just go with the flow: whenever we feel that we have something worth publishing then we work on it. At the moment with Nightwish, we’re planning to make an album and to tour in the north. It’s now scheduled that way, that whenever one band is on a break, the other is touring or doing stuff, and when that one’s done, then the other band gets active again. For me it’s a pretty good system. We also have the same management and the same booking office, so those guys already know pretty well when we can do what. I don’t have to worry about it that much!

All of Nightwish’s members have side projects and make episodic appearances in diverse artists’ albums. Do you need all this to stay inspired?

I can’t talk for the other guys, I think some have been pretty lazy during this last year, after the last tour winded down! But when it comes to myself, I just cannot stay that long lying on the couch at home. I need some work to keep my finger on the pulse of things.

A few pieces of information about the new Nightwish have already appeared. According to Tuomas, some songs are ready. Did you help compose them? If not, have you heard them? What can you tell us about that?

I have not heard that much of what Tuomas has made yet, but I know he’s already demoing some of the stuff. We should hear that in a few weeks. I have myself demoed some stuff, and it is 99% sure that one of the songs will appear on the album. We’re going to start rehearsing next summer, so when we get there, we’ll probably be a lot wiser about these things. Other than that, I have not really heard much of what he’s done.

You took a more important place in the band as singer. In fact, you are the only one singing on two tracks from Dark Passion Play. Can we expect that the distribution of the vocals parts will become more fifty/fifty?

I could not know about that. I mean, with this band, the front woman concept is pretty established; I would not really want to change that.

Tuomas stated that this album will be the opportunity for him to fulfil a childhood dream. But is this not what he says every time an album is released over the years? We find it hard to imagine what could possibly top the massive orchestration on Dark Passion Play…

(laughs) well, we have plans, but if I told you, I would have to kill you! (laughs)
Is there not a risk of exaggeration when you constantly try to top your previous albums, by different means?

Well that’s a risk. You always have to keep your feet on the ground and concentrate on the value of whatever song you are working on, in its musical and lyrical way, in its ability to grasp people and take them away from this world for a little while. You’ve got to keep that in mind. You can’t really make orchestra, choir, or whatever element you choose, the purpose of a song. The purpose of the whole thing is to have a dynamic and good song.

In Nightwish’s official biography, we find out that at first you were not too sure about joining Nightwish because you were not a fan of the previous albums. But apparently, Tuomas promised you a musical evolution which would suit your influences better. Are there any elements in today’s Nightwish that still put you off?

No, I was just unsure about these power metal roots, with a lot of double bass drums and fast stuff, and this kind of mathematical precision in the music. It almost seemed like you could guess beforehand what would happen in the song. Tuomas talked about a change to a heavier, darker, moodier atmosphere which made the project more interesting to me. It does not mean that I was not into the albums of the band before, because there already were pieces that I liked a lot. I was just unsure about the whole thing.

So now, you’re a hundred percent satisfied?

Yeah, pretty much…

Please answer honestly!

(Laughs) yes, I’m satisfied, because I think the band has evolved a lot musically, it’s able to pull off some really soft stuff although it’s also heavy and aggressive. It’s something which I really like, it’s a band capable of really ambitious things. This is what I love about playing with Nightwish.


«Very often, when people put up a Marshall wall on the stage, they just order empty cabinets from the company. Well, we were young guys, we did not know that, so everything that we put on stage was full and the Metallica roadies were really impressed by that! When they started to put up the wall in this one festival here in Finland in 1986, they suddenly realised; « oh shit, all these cabinets are full! They’re really heavy (laughs). »
I can imagine that between Tarot and Nightwish, Tarot must be THE band with the most sentimental value to you…

Well, with the sentimental value you’re right, because those guys have been my friends for over 20 years. We have our first album’s 25th anniversary next year, so of course, I consider them my oldest and best friends. There is a certain chemistry within the band that I always find easy to slip into: in a way, it’s like coming home. But it’s not really different with the Nightwish guys, because I’ve been in the band almost ten years now, and we’re really good friends as well.
The stupid question of the interview: You are known for having rather large equipment. So much that even Metallica’s roadies were very impressed. Was this in order to compete with Lemmy’s (Motorhead) stack of Marshalls?

These were the early days of Tarot. Currently, we’ve cut down a little bit on the equipment, but then, we had 12 Marshall cabinets, 4 for each of the guys on stage. It’s not much if you compare to some of the walls that some other artists have put up on stage. Actually, it just happened by accident. Very often, when people put up a Marshall wall on the stage, they just order empty cabinets from the company. Well, we were young guys, we did not know that, so everything that we put on stage was full and the Metallica roadies were really impressed by that! When they started to put up the wall in this one festival here in Finland in 1986, they suddenly realised; « oh shit, all these cabinets are full! They’re really heavy! » (laughs)

Were you playing that loud, like Manowar or Motorhead, that you could actually compete with the noise of an airport?

Well I have to admit that we tried it a couple of times, but it’s not really that nice. I think the most important is to have a monitor equipment opted to put the voice upfront loud enough so that I don’t have to scream my head off! I occasionally do that anyway!

Interview made by phoner on april the 12th.

Myspace de Tarot : www.myspace.com/tarot
Myspace de Nightwish : www.myspace.com/nightwish




Laisser un commentaire

  • Arrow
    Arrow
    Alice Cooper @ Paris
    Slider
  • 1/3