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Amorphis Interview

A Conversation With Vocalist Tomi Joutsen

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Amorphis

Amorphis

Nuclear Blast Records
Updated June 18, 2009
For nearly two decades Amorphis has been one of the most popular and successful Finnish metal bands. From their groundbreaking 1994 album Tales From The Thousand Lakes to their current release Skyforger, Amorphis’ sound has evolved over the years. This is current vocalist Tomi Joutsen’s third album with the band. We spoke about Skyforger, their use of the Finnish national epic as a lyrical inspiration, their tour plans, his beginnings as a drummer and the return of his other band Sinisthra after a hiatus.

Chad Bowar: Is Skyforger musically similar to your last CD Silent Waters?
Tomi Joutsen: I think so. We continued with the same people we had on the last album. We composed the music first, then the lyrics. We didn’t want to do a totally different style. We wanted to continue with the style we found a couple years ago.

Is this one more accessible and melodic?
I guess you’re right in a way. It’s difficult to say, because I’m so close to that album. Of course we tried to do our best, and we have found something that works well.

Was your writing and recording process similar to the last couple albums?
It was pretty much the same. One thing that was different than last time was the guy who was mixing. It was the first time we worked with him in the studio. It was great. He’s a good friend of mine and knows how we should sound. We used different microphones in the studio, and it was exciting to work with him.

You used the Finnish national epic Kalevala for your lyrics again this album. Do you anticipate using it again in the future?
I guess we have to do something completely different in the near future, but this time it worked well again. The same guy who wrote the lyrics for the last album did the lyrics for this one, too. He took one story from the book and wrote his own version of the story. We are really satisfied with the results. I don’t want to write lyrics, because I’m not good at it. It’s good that we have a guy that can do it.

Which is easier for you, the clean vocals or the growling vocals?
The growling vocals are much easier for me. When I started vocals, I started with death vocals, so I’m used to that style. But I also like clean stuff. I’m happy that I can do both, because when we play live it’s nice to use both styles. Of course sometimes it’s hard on your voice when you’re touring, finding the right energy and right technique. You can really express yourself. You can be brutal or sensitive.

Your clean vocals have seemingly improved each album. Is that something you’ve been working on, or is it just experience?
I guess it comes with experience, because I haven’t studied at all. We just play shows. It would probably be wise to take some lessons and improve my technique, but I guess I’m just too lazy for that! I just go with the flow.

Your last two albums have gone gold in Finland. Does that raise the expectations for Skyforger?
I don’t know. Things are very good at the moment. We’ve gotten some really good reviews and people seem to like this album. I guess it’s going really well here in Finland, and I hope we’ll get some new fans. But anything can happen. I just try to be optimistic and hope for the best.

The single “Silver Bride” is doing very well.
Yes, but the market isn’t that big here in Finland so you don’t have to sell so much. But we are number one on the singles chart, which is a good thing.

How was the video shoot for “Silver Bride?”
We shot it here in Helsinki. I think it’s funny, and it’s good to laugh in heavy metal. You can always have fun with music. The main character in the video is quite funny with a big nose and big beard. It’s a good video, and I like it.

You’re playing a lot of summer festivals. Are there any you’re particularly looking forward to playing?
I’m looking forward to Midsummer Festival here in Finland. It’s a huge party, and everyone is really drunk. We also have a couple shows in Europe, and it’s always nice to play outside of Finland. We have 11 festivals here in Finland, and I really like summer. It’s quite short, and I try to enjoy the whole summer.

You’re going to Europe in the fall. Are there any plans to play in North America?
I really hope we will come there, but there is nothing scheduled at the moment. We are maybe coming there next year.

What was your experience like playing in the U.S. for the first time?
It was quite a big challenge for me, because I just came to the band six months before, and I was really nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, because I was the new singer in the band. But it went well, and last fall when we were there it was easier. The people knew me already, so it was quite easy. But for some reason I always have problems with my voice when I come to the U.S. I don’t know if it’s the air conditioning or what, but I’ve always lost my voice. It’s happened two times. I hope it doesn’t happen next time.

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