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INTERVIEW – Niclas Etalävuori, Amorphis – September 2013

| 18 October 2013 | Reply

INTERVIEW – Niclas Etalävuori, Amorphis – September 2013
By Shane Pinnegar

100% ROCK MAG: Hello, Nic, how’re you doing?

Nic: Well, we’re looking forward to come there.

100% ROCK MAG: And we’re looking forward to having you! This is the first time you’re going to be touring Australia – are you looking forward to seeing or doing anything special while you’re in the country?

Nic: Yeah hopefully I get to see a lot because I never been there. I don’t think any one of us has ever been to Australia before. The band has a long history and we’re gonna play there for the first time, so we gotta think about the sets really carefully so we get a little bit of everything.

100% ROCK MAG: Yeah, I wanted to ask – with such a large back catalogue of ten or eleven albums spacing over 25 years, is it difficult for you all to sit down around a table and agree on a set list?

Nic: Yeah, here it’s not so difficult because we play here so much. Every time we’re making an album we pretty much play the new stuff and then some old classics. Now, Australia and some places we’ve never been before we have to get a wider, from all the albums, on the set list.

100% ROCK MAG: So it’ll be a little bit of everything?

Nic: Yeah, I guess so, ya. A little bit of everything, but there’s so many albums so sometimes we have to leave some things out. But usually it is from the beginning until now.

100% ROCK MAG: Of course. When you’re on tour in a new country do you like to get out and be a bit of a tourist or is it all business with you guys?

Nic: I dunno what the schedule is, pretty tight maybe, so I don’t know how much we get to see, but at least something if we have one day off or something and I get to see the kangaroo and koala bear, I’m happy!

100% ROCK MAG: All nine of your albums since 1996 have gone top ten in Finland, and four of them went to #1. Are you basically pop stars in your native country?

Nic: I dunno, because we have been an underground band since we started, but now we have more success in Finland on radio and commercially, but I dunno – we still feel like we are the same as before. I don’t think it has changed so much, but of course it is nice that finally after twenty years we are noticed here!

100% ROCK MAG: Are you noticed – recognised in the street, for instance? Is it that level of being of being famous?

Nic: Well Tomi [Joutsen] our singer, his appearance – he gets noticed everywhere, but I can get around [without that]. It depends where I am, of course!

100% ROCK MAG: How has the latest album been doing outside of Finland – I read that it’s going well in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. How about America, England and Australia.

Nic: It seems to be taken very well. In America, we haven’t been touring for many years, we just go Bam-Bam one or two shows, we did a one-off show with Nightwish, and then the Caribbean cruise, but we haven’t toured there very much for years.

100% ROCK MAG: The band like to experiment using different instruments – just on the last couple of albums there’s saxophone, flute, sitar and more. Do you go into the studio pre-prepared with what you’re going to play, or do you jam around and someone will say, ‘hey – you know this song needs a saxophone – go get one’?

Nic: Yeah pretty much it’s like that – we have the structures ready and the band knows what we are playing pretty much. But all the other stuff comes in later. Sometimes we might have demo of a keyboard that sounds like a flute, but in the studio we’ll get a real one.

100% ROCK MAG: Right on – and you, on this one, you played a 5 string bass that you tuned a step down from usual. Was that hard to get used to – did you have to work on that awhile before being confident enough to go into the studio using it?

Nic: Well I think it did took a while to get used to it but not THAT long. I mean on the new album I think that was one of the big differences – it sounds much deeper and much supercharged anyway. There is more frequency between guitar and bass and previously we were playing pretty close to each other. I think that made a huge difference in how the album sounds.

100% ROCK MAG: Well yeah, I was gonna ask if it opened the sound up the way you wanted to, because it sounds really good on record.

Nic: Yeah I was planning to do that already at [2011 album] The Beginning Of Times, but there was no producer or anything and we just did what we have done before, but now when the producer said to me right away that it would be cool to try it, I was already prepared to do it.

100% ROCK MAG: Is that something you’ll keep on with – to keep those sounds a little different between the guitar and bass?

Nic: Yeah that’s why we get the updated sound for us – I mean, we are same band and we write the songs in the pretty same way, but if we perform them differently then there is a difference to the sound. And it’s like little things but it makes a huge difference.

100% ROCK MAG: When a band has been around for so many years and reached the level of popularity that you have, especially in Finland, do you feel it’s harder to be experimental? Is there an obligation to fans of your previous work to stay true to that?

Nic: I dunno, we don’t really try to be experimental, we just try to not bore ourselfs to death with doing the same stuff every time! I dunno – we try a little new things here and there and sometimes it works out and sometimes it didn’t, but I think this one worked out really well, what we did now.

100% ROCK MAG: It’s a bit unusual because for the past few albums your lyricist has been Pekka Kainulainen, which is unusual in that he’s not actually in the band. How does it work for Amorphis to have an external lyricist?

Nic: Yeah it’s fine for us. The lyrics have been before from the Kalevala [An epic poem saga which chronicles the legends and history of Finland], and we kinda just wanted to get rid of that for a while, so Pekka has been working with the Kalevala pretty closely.

100% ROCK MAG: You mentioned the Kalavela here – the last three albums were based around that ancient Finnish folk lore, but the new record is an original story which Pekka wrote. Can you explain just a little bit about the story of The Circle?

Nic: Yeah it’s kind of focussing on one day in the life of this man who is the main character in the story of The Circle, and how he survives one day and the circle is finished.

100% ROCK MAG: I see – and he gets some help from the old Finnish Gods?

Nic: Yeah, kind of a spiritual guide, portrayed on the cover of the album.

100% ROCK MAG: The songs are quite deep in the folk traditions and Finnish lore – are you all very serious people, is the idea behind Amorphis to keep things serious and focussed on these ancient traditions and values?

Nic: I dunno, I’m not that serious! People can take it seriously if they want, but we’re musicians and we need lyrics, and they are good stories, and I think in all types of music, if you have your culture in Australia or Finland or wherever, if there’s something in your culture you can use, then why not use that if it’s going to be a bit unique.

100% ROCK MAG: Of course! I’ve heard your side project Grease Helmet with the legendary Andy McCoy of Hanoi Rocks. I guess that you get your party rock side out there and focus on the heavy stuff with Amorphis?

Nic: Yeah, that’s right. Grease Helmet is really for fun.

100% ROCK MAG: What’s happening with that band? Are you planning for a second album at some stage?

Nic: Yeah actually I’m demoing new songs this week and when the Amorphis tour is over we’re gonna record them.

100% ROCK MAG: I’m sure that will be awesome. One last hypothetical question for you Nic. If you could magically go back in time to be a part of the recording of any record in history, which would you choose?

Nic: Any one record in history? If I could I would record High Voltage. AC/DC have been the favourite band of mine from birth probably.

100% ROCK MAG: Excellent – you will have to check out Bon Scott’s statue and gravesite when you are here in Perth

Nic: I definitely need a photo of that and me

100% ROCK MAG: Thanks for your time Nic

Nic: Thankyou, see you


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Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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