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Nightwish’s Tuomas Holopainen Discusses New Album, Feature Film + More

Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish
Liz Ramanand, Loudwire

Nightwish have already has a very busy year with their latest album, ‘Imaginaerum,’ taking off and a full length feature film to accompany the disc. With a busy touring schedule on tap, 2012 will be a whirlwind for the band and their fans.

‘Imaginaerum’ is the band’s first album since 2007′s ‘Dark Passion Play’ and the second featuring powerful songstress Annette Olzon, who proved the forcefulness of her vocal cords at a show in Los Angeles. That gig kicked off the ‘Imaginaerum’ World Tour — for our full review and photo gallery go here.

At that show, we had the opportunity to sit down with Tuomas Holopainen, who is the keyboardist, composer and lyrical mastermind of Nightwish, and he talked about ‘Imaginaerum,’ touring in 2012, some of his favorite movies and much more.

Congrats on the new album ‘Imaginaerum.’ What does the titled of the disc mean to you?

Well sanitarium is a place where you go and heal your sanity so ‘Imaginaerum’ is a place where you go and heal your imagination — that’s the idea behind the word.

Where did the concept of the album come from?

Well, back in 2007, when I was listening to ‘Dark Passion Play,’ I thought, “What’s going to happen next? We need to find a new angle for the next album.” Then it just occurred to me, let’s do a movie or actually first it was let’s do twelve short films. So, I wrote these twelve little stories on paper, like this song is happening in a ghost circus and all kinds of weird stuff is going on and I had these twelve ideas and just wrote the music on top of those stories just to bring them alive. The jazz club song obviously needed to be jazzy and that’s how ‘Slow Love Slow’ was born. Deliberately we wanted from the beginning we wanted to do a more uplifting album, compare to the previous one. ‘Dark Passion Play’ sails in such dark waters that we never want to go back there again, so we wanted to do something that is really beautiful and weird and twisted that brings a smile to your face.

What are some of your favorite songs on the album?

It’s really hard to say because I could say it with any other album I have a favorite but on this one, I really can’t say. In a way for me it’s one long song with 13 chapters but ‘Slow Love Slow’ is definitely the most positive surprise on the album. I mean we didn’t know what was going to happen with this song and I thought, “Nobody in the band really knows how to do jazzy music but let’s just give it a try.” It ended up being really nice and it’s a lot of fun to play live as well.

Is there a specific date when fans can expect the film ‘Imaginaerum’ to be out?

Well the deadline for the movie to be ready is mid April so I would assume the premiere, if it has any kind of theatrical distribution, would be sometime in the fall.

Is the band in the film at all?

A little bit, we are seen in two different scenes as a band, playing in the background. That’s something that I really emphasized to the director, “please don’t put the band into the movie,” because we want to do a believable story and we have no idea how to act. We are not actors so if your give us some lines and we tried to act, it would look goofy. He insisted to put us into the movie because it’s out brainchild, so we’re just playing in there as a band, it’s a good compromise.

Can you explain what the film as a whole is about?

Basically it’s about this old guy who use to be a composer and he’s really sick; he’s lying on his death bed in a hospital and he’s going through his life, through his dreams — that’s the basic story line. It’s all about praising life and life’s beauty, imagination and all the strife and the bad stuff we have to face.

Did you come up with the storyline?

That came from the director; I just had the twelve ideas, the twelve visions. He basically wrote the script and storyline around those originally visions and the only one we had to leave out was the ‘Ghost River’ part because we didn’t have the finance to realize that vision.

You said you were a fan of films; what films or directors do you admire or even take inspiration from?

I love all kinds of film, it has nothing to do with the genre, obviously I like Tim Burton, Peter Jackson, James Cameron. Peter Weir is one of my favorites. ‘Dead Poets Society’ is one of my top three movies of all time. Frank Darabont, he’s amazing, ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ ‘The Green Mile,’ M. Night Shyamalan ‘The Village,’ ‘Sixth Sense,’ unbelievably good. Mel Gibson has done some good stuff, the movies he directed ‘Passion of the Christ,’ ‘Apocalypto,’ those are great.

What are some of your touring plans for 2012?

There’s going to be Finland staring the beginning of March, followed by Russia, Ukraine, European festivals, North America, South America, Japan, Australia, Poland. The U.S. tour should be happening in the fall, we don’t have the exact dates or places yet but August, September, October, something like that.

With all of this touring, what is one thing you must bring on tour with you? No electronics.

That would be my notebook; I always have a notebook and a pen with me, just in case I get poetically inspired. I need to have that. [Laughs]

Watch the Nightwish ‘Storytime’ Video

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