The interview was held with Esa Holopainen from AMORPHIS, on 1 November 2023, before the concert in Zagreb held with Lost Society and Sólstafir.

Q: So how are you feeling?
Good, really good, it’s like the first week of the tour so everything is fine.
Some of the people suffered from a massive flu, but I have survived so all is good.

Q: So nice to hear. And what are the expectations from tonight?
Yes, definitely, it’s been too long since we played in Zagreb for the last time. So absolutely I think it’s gonna be really nice. It is a great venue, we like it.

Q: Well, it’s nearly sold out and by the start of the concert all tickets might be gone.
Yeah it’s great! And it’s a great package with the Lost Society and Sólstafir.
Definitely, we have moved away from the concept of one main band and one opening band and nowadays we have mini-festivals with up to 4 bands we are all very eager to see!
Yeah, absolutely.

Q: How are the relations among the band members? Some have just recovered from the flu. Is it exhausting to go on tours or do you still look forward to it?
It’s not exciting but it’s not exhausting either. It’s something we are always looking forward to, after a while- to go on a tour. Especially for the European tours where you don’t have to travel as much. It’s pretty easy to get along with a bus. Flying is more complicated as you have to manage the time and go to the airports early in the morning to get to another place to play a show and that’s really exhausting. But this is super easy as we have a great crew and great bands play with us, we are having a good time. But, you can ask after 3 weeks how we feel (LAUGHS). Yeah, all is good now.

Q: What are your impressions, do you still feel the impact of post-corona times? Do you feel the different feedback from the audience?
Not anymore. I think we have gotten back to normal. Pretty much. The audience reacts the same way they used to. It’s the same thing with the bands, there are no distances whatsoever. I think corona is just one flu that is now with us. So, yeah, we’re good, all Is good now. But of course, it took some time. When we did the first gig after corona. First tour was actually a North American tour, after we had just released the “Halo” album and there were restrictions, like on meets and greets you had to wear a mask, sometimes the audience members had to wear masks also. The festivals were cancelled also and it was really weird.

Q: But our mentality here was different as we managed to go around the rules, and during the complete lockdown we managed to find a way to socialise, we didn’t go to clubs or pubs, we went to the shops or similar venues:)
Yeah, it was the same for us also and the majority of people I know. But, now, I think we almost forgot how it was back then. Everything is normal again, so:)

Q: What are your impressions regarding different mentalities from the audience from all the different countries you visited? Do you have a favourite kind of audience? Do you notice the difference in mentality from the audience?
I don’t have a fav kind of audience as people react in different ways. It’s really nice to see people reacting to the music that you play, but people react in different ways like eg. in South America – they just go nuts. And I found that people in most parts of Europe are more laid back but you can see that they really enjoy the show. Whenever you can see that there is a good feeling between the band and the audience it’s great! But, there is for sure a great difference in people’s mentality.

Q: Can you tell me something about the shifts in genres and styles you went through during the years? And how do you function as a band, what is the creative process? How do you manage to get to an agreement about the direction you are heading?
I guess it gets a bit more difficult after every album. We are not searching for new elements, it’s something that just happens as you evolve as musicians and songwriters. And use different producers. That’s an element that always makes a little difference. But since the very beginning of the band, we wanted to have some melody with the music and go from there. And that one of the most important things to us is to play interesting music to perform and play and the one that catches up with what we want. The more you evolve as a musician, the more you understand about arranging the music and little tricks you can do here and there to get where you want.

Q: Do you also allow different influences to make you think about new approaches? Even something you never thought about maybe 3 years ago?
Yes, that’s right as you can’t plan your whole life or career ahead, you can’t block yourself out. If something good comes up- we never think: “we can’t do this, it’s not metal enough”. (LAUGHS)
But it’s a way we function as a band and what makes it Amorphis music.

Q: What is the importance of the lyrics in your opinion?
Yes, the lyrics are super important to us. We have an outside lyric master and poet: Pekka Kainulainen who writes a big part of our lyrics, with whom we have been working since 2007 I believe. He has been inspired from the Kalevala stories (note from author: the epic poem of Finland) and he is a guy who really believes what he writes. He’s a very artistic person, let’s say that for the least. He’s the perfect guy for us to write the lyrics as the lyrical themes have always been the same and covered the same topics, traditions and ways of life, people used to live, about nature and all that. Not any political stuff.

Q: What about the recordings in the studio? Do you make changes and to what extent? What is the process like? Do you come up with new songs maybe?
No, we never come up with new songs in the studio. I think we are a very prepared band when we go to the studio and we prepare everything beforehand with a producer and do a pre-production session with the producer, so we sort of prepare everything beforehand what is going to happen there and then. Our current producer is like crazy with the guitars and he wants to do 3 weeks of just recording the guitars (LAUGHS). Yeah it’s really crazy, but you come with different details and different sound work and expand your ideas in the studio but generally we are really prepared when we go to the studio.

Q: So, you come with a list of songs already prepared and record them or you change bits and pieces or add new stuff?
It depends. For the session we usually go with 12w or 13 songs and we already know that it’s gonna be 10 songs in the actual album.

Q: Yes, that would match up as the duration of the album would hold up to 10 songs.
It is also not about the time but the fact about which songs really do match up together. We also look for them to match Theme wise and music wise, of course. That’s how we pick up the songs for the album. But we always know beforehand which songs will match up. Some songs are being put in a category of bonus tracks but we feel it beforehand.

Q: Do you have an example of a song that became a huge hit and it hit you by surprise as you didn’t expect that?
I think the song “The Bee”, as it’s a lot like an Amorphis song, but it was that kind of typical Amorphis song when it came out. WE knew at the time that it’s going to be a very strong song and one of the single songs. But at the end of the day we were pretty surprised how well people reacted to the song and now I believe it’s one of the most popular songs that we have now.

Q: Is there something you always bring on a tour that sets you out maybe, something you can’t go without?
Yeah, I have my earplugs. It’s the ones that are moulded to my ears the most so I get the most isolated feeling. Some snore at the bus and there are weird noises so….
It truly helps with sleep.

Q: You must change those as the shape of the ears change?
Yeah, that’s right, they get loose and change is necessary after some time…
Regarding plans for the future, maybe something the fans still don’t know
It looks like we will be touring a lot next year, but we are also starting to write and record some of the new Amorphis songs during the next year. That’s something we are really looking forward to

Q: Do you have time for yourself, for your family?
Yeah, but my family has their own thing going on so trying to match the holiday together is pretty much hard sometimes. But usually after the tour, when I come back home, we try to spend a week together or something.

Thank you so much for your time!
Thank you!

The interview has been conducted by PH-Pit representatives: Pavao Hodap and Kristina Hećimović.

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