Esa Holopainen (Amorphis) interviewed

How will the new album, Circle, differ from Beginning of Times?Esa Holopainen: Our producer Peter Tägtgren has brought lot of old school ideology back to band. I guess that we have needed sort of encouragement to go for slightly more extreme sound world. It is more low bass-ed, guitar-oriented and there’s shit load of varieties on Tomi’s vocals.

Sounds like you’re exploring a bit more. Longer, more progressive, and possibly heavier songs? Is this a return to mid-‘90s era Amorphis?
Esa Holopainen: [Laughs] This is what people has asked after every album we’ve now done. I wish I could say so, but we have to keep focus on what’s happening today and that’s what counts most. I mean we did some great things in the past and wish to keep that same spirit up in the band, but same time we want to go ahead and take new challenges. I can say that we are highly influenced on what we did and during recording process we did compare to the old albums like Elegy or Tales… I know that Peter is trying to get some of that old shit on the album, so let’s see how he succeeds with this.

How’d you end up with Peter? And why Peter Tägtgren, by the way? You’ve been pretty comfortable with the Finnish dudes—Mikko and Marco—since moving on from Simon.
Esa Holopainen: We needed refreshment. Four albums that we’ve done with same team, Marco producing vocals, Mikko mixing the album and recording at the same Sonic Pump Studios was formula that we needed to break down. We sat down last spring and went through with different ideas with different producers and usually the good ideas are much closer than you think. This was the case with Peter. I remember talking with Peter years ago about him producing us or going to his Abyss Studio to record something. We met him at 1994 when we did a tour together with Hypocrisy and been friends since them. Swedes are our neighbors, so we generally get along well with them. He always told that if he would produce us he would come up with this ’70s ideology mixed with the brutality and melodies that we carry.

How many farm animals appear on the new record? Those sheep from the studio report sounded brutal!
Esa Holopainen: I think the only animals on the album are six of us in the band. We had a blast in Petrax Studio where we recorded the drums. It’s located in the country side of Finland and is surrounded by a farm. There was nothing else to do that focus on last arrangements and recording. Plus eating and drinking.

Did you record the album in a jam room environment or was it sectioned off by member?
Esa Holopainen: Not really no. We had pretty clear structure on most of the songs, but some of the intro parts we came up with [were after] getting stoned and jamming.

OK, what part of the Kalevala will you explore this time?
Esa Holopainen: I think Amorphis and the Kalevala are intrinsically tied at this point. We didn’t want to take any particular story out from Kalevala and gave Pekka Kainulainen free mind of coming up with a theme and storyline. The lyrical subject is modern storytelling inspired from the Kalevala. Timeline goes from dusk till dawn and tells about desperate man who gets hope from old spirits.

Just who is Pekka Kainulainen?
Esa Holopainen: Pekka is Finnish artist who does performance art, paints, writes poems and besides this he is an art teacher. In his art he uses mythological methods to construct a story. We met him through Tomi Joutsen and really liked his art in every form and started to talk about him writing for Amorphis.

The workrate this time around has been quite quick. One year after Beginning of Times. Are these totally new songs or things you’ve been working on for a while now?
Esa Holopainen: These songs we started to rehearse [this past] summer. I started to write first songs in the beginning of 2012. It helps that we have lot of members who write and come up with ideas, so it’s not just one guy who does everything. But once you’re focused on what you do it’s easier to keep up the pace of work and motivation than writing piece of a song and coming back to it a year later.

What do you want fans to walk away with after hearing the new album?
Esa Holopainen: Getting new experience and after listening the album having the feeling that they want to share the musical trip again. Today, kids don’t have passion for albums anymore, they want everything fast and immediate. I wish that some kid, blessed with brains would listen the whole album through, getting something from it. Old fans do, I’m pretty sure of that.

Any working titles for songs you can give?
Esa Holopainen: Typical, really stupid ones like: “Mehtä” (forest), “Nosestuff” (nose tobacco), “Pelimanne” (gypsy folk player), “7jarko” (seven Jarkkos), etc.

Oh, and what’s the title of the new album?
Esa Holopainen: We don’t have title yet but you can call it Stabbing Gypsy Folk Player. [it’s called Circle—CD]

** Amorphis’ new album, Circle, is out April 9th on Nuclear Blast Records. “Circle represents integrity. Back in the days, when there was something special to talk about, wise men used to sit in a circle. Not everyone was invited to join them. But in this story, the protagonist was invited among the wise men’s circle,” says Tomi Joutsen. Yeah, that sounds rad.

** Visit and like Amorphis on Facebook.