The Band - Diary
Nightwish's diary


Finnvox Studios / Helsinki, May-June 2011

 

After three years of brainstorming and songwriting, over a year of rehearsing, arranging and studio work, this triumph of musical passion and piety is finally ready to be mastered. Yesterday, after a six-week mixing session in Studio C at Finnvox, I listened the whole thing from start to finish alone for the first time, and couldn't make heads nor tails of it. It's the same old story - the same feeling of bottomless emptiness that has marked the completion of all previous albums. We could have honed the songs till Armageddon, but at some point you just have to let go and start admiring the scenery. This time, the landscape consists of 13 songs totalling 75 minutes. I think I'll probably be able to savour the end result only after a couple of months of mixing detox, but the encouraging comments by those near to me assure that it is a decent album. One person who heard Imaginarium called it "the greatest adventure he ever heard with his two ears".

There's clearly more grin to the new album than on the last one, more funfair, Moomins, smoky taverns, and twisted landscapes. It equals the Milky Way in width and breath, even according to our standards.

As Markus Selin put it: "Now you've really gone and emptied the bag of tricks!"

We're now going to get some distance to the album before mastering it later in the autumn. Meanwhile, we're going to be busy designing the cover, completing the instrumental and orchestral versions of the album, planning the upcoming tour, shooting the movie, and digesting the audio bloat. An excellent cure for the latter should be peaceful country atmosphere, fishing, and following the games of the current pesäpallo season. (By the way, during the home games of Kiteen Pallo, the entry music will be a remix consisting of the main riff and chorus of song number 11 off Imaginarium.)

Big thanks and bear hugs to the whole band for their patience; to Mikko Karmila and Tee Cee Kinnunen for their forbearance, craftsmanship and enormous amount of work; and in advance to Mika Jussila for the finishing touch! It's been a magnificent journey so far. Big thanks to you, too, for living with us through this process and having faith in what's to come. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Tuomas

Kitee 5th of June



Written by Tuomas Holopainen on June 10, 2011

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Finnvox Studios / Helsinki, April 2011

Last time I wrote a studio diary was back in 2007 after 3 weeks of recording my vocals, hiding out in the deep forests of Finland. No one knew my name as the new singer of Nightwish. Today I read through it for the first time since then, and well, I must say that I recognize a lot and laughed even more while reading it.

Things were naturally a bit different in 2007 compared to today. I went into the studio with a radically different starting position. I am not a secret anymore, I know the songs really well and have already recorded them in a demo session in Röskö. The songs were made for my voice and this time I could sing them with much more confidence. This also made my time in the studio much shorter than last time and we all worked really fast and efficient, like a racing team - we all knew our positions ;=)

We started out on Monday and I took a cab from the hotel, knowing that I had visited Finnvox Studios only once before. Then it was for a listening session for Dark Passion Play. What I didn`t remember was that it was far out in a factory area hidden between lots of other grey buildings. This famous studio looks kinda greyish and not so special when you first get closer, but when you get inside and see all the gold records hanging in the hallway, all the photos of famous musicians in the stairs you know this is the place for big things and big recordings. Of course Imaginarium needs to pass through this pit stop, too!

After hugging and having a short brief with Tuomas about practical things with Imaginarium tour and future plans, he took me to "my room" and when I entered I was so surprised! The room looked like my own little "Shangri-la". Lots of candles burning, pink and red carpets and fabrics that were hung to make it comfortable. Candy, teas, coffees, nuts, fashion magazines, a cosy lounging chair, a big framed poster with us all, and lots of other little things to make me feel at home. Teemu, our dear pyro tech had been there to make me feel welcome and get into a nice singing mood. So thanks to Teemu & the guys, my days at Finnvox got even nicer!

We took a great song to start with and even if my rib still gave me some pain my singing worked well. A little bit of tiredness from flying two days in a row, but still the whole day floated well and it was simply a great start for me.

Our goal was to do one song per day but we actually made something like 1,5 per day and were done in 8 days. We started at 10 and ended around 15 or 16 every day. Took shorter breaks but mainly we just worked and worked. I like to be efficient and when I start to sing I get into the mood and then stopping and taking a long break can just make me loose the feeling and cadence. And Imaginarium has a lot of different feelings in it, different ways for me to interpret the songs. Tuomas, Tero and Mikko were there to guide me to sing even better and to create those little things in every song that make it "historical", as Tero always says, haha!

Every time we were about to start recording a song, I first just sat down and listened to the songs with the orchestra, choir, solos and everything else I hadn`t heard yet, and I must say that I got the shivers every time. From recording the demo to getting the whole package with everything added is just a thrill! And I can hear that Pip and Tuomas just get better and better in using the orchestras, different instruments and voices.

After having listened to a song and heard the new things, I went to "my studio", did some warm-ups and then we started with the recordings. We took it in parts and mainly did the verses first. I sang the part over and over for a couple of times until we felt we had it. Then I doubled and tripled the whole thing if we wanted a fuller sound, as we did mainly in the faster songs. Then it varied if we did the harmonies for that specific part directly or if we continued and recorded the lead parts for the whole song before doing the harmonies. It also depended on my mood and how good my voice felt. I got food poisoning one day and threw up for 9 hours straight, affecting some parts of my voice. I was tired and weak so the day after I didn`t feel my high soft voice was perfect and therefore we didn`t take those high harmonies until the next day.

After 8 days of recording all the songs were recorded and all we had left were some harmonies here and there to fix, and then we just jumped from song to song and added what Tuomas felt was missing. Tuomas is great to work with and he is really clear with what he wants in every song. He is so devoted to the album, to getting every little piece perfect and I know he won`t sleep or rest well until the whole album is mixed and mastered and put into a safe somewhere. When I was done, I felt that little "empty" feeling I get when I have completed something. A little bit sad `cause I had so much fun and I just love to sing in the studio, this album being such a thrill for me. So many songs, all of them very different and I just gotta love the challenge. To get more out of my voice than before and to be part of this massive music where all of us, every musician that plays on it, is the key to make it work. To make Imaginarium come alive! And believe me - it will be one hell of a ride for us all;=)

On we go! Next step for me is to do some acting in the movie, but let´s take it one step at a time. Now I´ll enjoy the summer before all that happens! All best to everybody!


Anette


Written by Anette on April 22, 2011

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Petrax Studio, March 2011, part III

Time to add the final touches for Imaginarium while waiting for Anette to get well. This means the celtic magic of Mr. Troy Donockley with his pipes & bodhran, the smoking fingers of Mr. Pekka Kuusisto with his violin and some additional percussion & tribal drums.
 
I picked up Troy at the airport on Saturday night while Jukka and Kai (Hahto) were generating some new percussive ideas and boozing at Petrax. When we returned they had already nailed all tambourines, shaman drums etc. Satisfied with the day`s work we celebrated the Cumbrian - Carelian Dead Poets` reunion by entering the realm of the ultimate alchemic magic potion called Salmari. Jari (Sinkkonen of "Kotiteollisuus") also joined us during the night to do a new tattoo for Jukka.
 
It took one and a half days for Troy to record his pipes and bodhran. He even ended up doing some singing in one of the songs, which was a killer of a last-minute-idea. This particular tune has grown up to be one of the highlights of the whole album. Saturday evening was filled with the much anticipated Troy`s magic show, sauna & a youtube medley consisting some of our all-time faves like the ultimate tenor fail, cat vs. printer w / translation, Sony releasing a stupid piece of shit that doesn`t f...ing work, etc.
 
Pekka`s violin virtuosity stunned us once again when he joined us on Monday night to play a couple of leads. His hand-written notes make medical doctors` prescriptions look like Rembrandt`s art. A true genius of a musician with a big heart.
 
A huge thanks and eternal gratitude to all of you fellow imagineers contributing to this album! A special appreciation goes to Tiina & Petri, our studio hosts, caretakers and dear friends at Petrax.
 
At the moment we are recording Anette`s vocals, 7 songs done so far. She hasn`t quite cured from her broken ribs yet but fortunately it doesn`t affect her singing at all. She`s never sounded better. Time to enter the lair of Mr. Karmila now and start devouring song # 8.
 
Greetings from the rainiest & grayest Helsinki,
 
Tuomas


Written by Tuomas on April 9, 2011

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Petrax Studio, March 2011, part 2

Hello dear people and fans!

I've been here at the studio for a couple of days trying to sing. Amateur that I am seems to get nothing done right. I've been crying and laughing. I've been jumping down from the roof into the snowpiles. The guys have been whipping me on but the only thing left to show the world are the scars on my butt. Mikko shot a very nice picture of them.



To be honest I'm actually almost done. I've been spewing out words and notes like a radiostation. Just one song left, an overall check if I need to fill in some places, and my work is over for now. The mummy's curse Tuomas mentioned seems to have lifted a bit. I sailed under it to Thailand and back and got better. Stand back please, I'm spitting over my shoulder! Trying to hit the undead curselaying old fart of course.

At the moment my responsibilities are writing this report and getting the sauna warm for the evening. So... Is there something else I should tell you about before we get all naked and sweaty? Ah-ha! No more questions! Hold that image!

Cheers!
Marco.

P.S. Check out 25th anniversary video "Wings Of Darkness" from Tarot! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xD1q21dr8tw


Written by Marco on March 24, 2011

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Petrax Studio, March 2011

A week or so ago I felt the Curse of the Mummy was cast upon us. The vocal recordings were set to begin on Monday March 7th but Anette fell at her home just a few days before that and broke her rib. Thinking positive, luckily just that, from the sound of it it could`ve been much worse. So now she just needs to rest and heal well before we continue, the new vocal recording date set to the beginning of April. We`ll take our time and do nothing half-way at this point.

So we called Marco to enter the studio for a couple of days before he left for winter holidays with his family. We figured we need to make the best of the booked studio time anyway. The first thing he told me on Tuesday was that he`d slipped on his front porch and hurt his rib, not sure if he`ll be able to sing. At the same time Mikko (Karmila, the recording engineer) was lying in bed, sick to the core.
On Wednesday Marco was still hurting, Anette hadn`t improved at all, Mikko was still sick in bed and Tero (Kinnunen, the other recording engineer) was run over by a horse and a cart (!)

There was 3 more weeks of studio time left and I was alone sipping some Shiraz by the studio`s mixing console trying to come up with a counter - spell to put the poor mummy`s soul to rest.

Now, a week later things are looking much brighter. Marco was actually able to sing a couple of tracks thanks to Mr. Burana, Tero hurt his pride worse than his body, Mikko is back from the dead, and I just heard Anette was able to go outside for the first time in two weeks. Wonderful news! I also got all my keyboard, piano & hammond - parts recorded, we got majority of the soundscapes a`la Mr. Jussi Tegelman put in place and Mikko already started the editing process. So no studio time wasted after all.
Now it`s all about waiting for Anette to get well, getting Marco to record the rest of his vocals, and flying Troy over to record his pipes and show us some of his legendary magic.

In the meanwhile, a beautiful springtime to everyone. I`ll write more soon.


Tuomas


Written by Tuomas Holopainen on March 19, 2011

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Angel Studios, London

We arrived at Angel Studios in Islington, London in the evening of Valentine´s Day and had a most friendly welcome from studio engineers Steve Price and Mat Bartram. They`d already set up everything for next day`s recordings, which would include 3 three-hour sessions with a 53-piece orchestra, most of the players being familiar faces from the "Once" and "Dark Passion Play" - sessions. Pip (Williams, the orchestral arranger) joined us at the hotel and we were all excited and ready for a week of long days and for witnessing some superb musicianship.

A heartwarming feeling of reunion and nostalgia filled the air when we met the session musicians on Tuesday morning. We started off with "Goat`s Liver" (working title...probably), followed by a couple of more epic pieces and all the rest that required a large orchestra. The musicianship of these people never ceases to amaze me. They`ve never heard the songs before, they haven`t had any rehearsals, and still they nail all the songs, even those in the hardest imaginable key, after just one or two run-throughs. Their prima vista - playing is something out of a science fiction story... Respect.

Mr. Thomas Bowes did a fantastic job as our orchestra leader, Mr. James Shearman was a most superb conductor, and once again, Pip topped himself with the arrangements. We had put much more effort and thought into them than on the previous two albums, too.

On Wednesday we continued with the orchestral recordings, last of the day`s sessions being with a 20-piece string / harp - section. Some new working titles were also born, such as "The Birdie Song", "Teriyaki" and "Haunted Mansion Ride".

Thursday was the day for percussion and ethnic drums. This time we decided to record all the rhythmic instruments separately from the orchestra to make it easier for the mixing process. Because some of the sounds the percussionists came up with would literally blow your eardrums off.

The highlight of the day was when we let loose Mr. Paul Clarvis & Mr. Stephen Henderson with their ethnic percussion arsenal. Paul`s 350-year-old taiko-drum really did the trick for me, as did the 5-foot hammer and a dustbin. We put all this into a one 3-minute instrumental, and the result is breathtaking and madly passionate.

Friday was booked for choirs. Again that sensation of nostalgia when The Metro Voices entered the building. We had 13 titles to sing and they did it in less than seven hours, prima vista. Utterly gorgeous stuff!

A childrens` choir is something we haven`t tried on a Nightwish album before and its turn was on Saturday morning. The Young Musicians London, led by the wonderful Mary Poppins - like Lynda Richardson were simply heartbreaking. These kids have immense talent, they are future superstar musicians and we are proud to have them on our album. Their sound was beautiful, innocent and in parts very, very scary. And that`s exactly what we were after.

During the evening we had two more guest musicians, Mr. Dermot Crehan (of The Lord Of The Rings - fame) with his hardanger fiddle and Mr. Dirk Campbell with his zurna. Both performances were stunning and added a nice little ancient touch to two of the songs.

Our most humble thanks to all the session musicians, the Angel Studios staff, Pip, James, Thomas, Lynda, Dick the music copyist and Jenny the choir mistress. It was a huge honor to work with you all and to have such talent and spirit captured on "Imaginarium"!

We miss you all dearly already and try to be faster with the next album.

 

Tuomas, Hilton Islington 20.2.2011



Written by Tuomas Holopainen on February 20, 2011

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Studio-update from Marco

Good evening ladies and not so gentle men!

At the moment I have most of the bass tracks for the new album recorded. I started already a few weeks back, but I've been taking my time with the recordings. It's the luxury of having your own equipment and a former job as studio engineer. For now I've been taking it pretty easy for the last two weeks. The holiday season and all that goes with it, you know...

Right now I'm collecting my inner plutonium for the critical mass again. I always do that before recording something. After all we're not a pop band, and these songs need some really serious explosives. Too bad you can't hear them yet...  

I just had to twist the knife here. I'm a sadist also. The songs are really good by the way...

Of course we all would like to see this project finished, released and out for all the world to hear. The success we've been blessed or cursed with is demanding in its own ways. Everything has to be planned in long term. All the parts of releasing albums, videos and tours have to match carefully when you get to this stage of things.

And so we all get fed up with the waiting. Try to be patient and we'll do our best to reward you later on.

And so we come to this: I hope you all had a nice holiday time. Also all of those people who don't really care about that stuff. It's a new year 2011. Let's make it a good one!

Always with respect!
Marco.


Written by Marco on January 5, 2011

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Update from the studio

Emppu is nearly done with his guitar recordings, having done 4 comp tracks to all the songs plus half of all the leads. (The solos and acoustics are best left to record AFTER the orchestral and choir sessions). Marco is also finished with his bass recordings so now we basically just wait for Pip and Tuomas to get the orchestral arrangements sorted out for the London sessions in February.
 
It`s coming together, slowly but surely, going into such monumental and uncharted spheres that it`s hard to keep our pantyhoses on. Stay tuned!


Written by Nightwish on December 29, 2010

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Emppu, guitar, huge pike and more...

Hi, gang, it’s been a while. I guess it’s my time to write about what’s going on in the studio.

The summer Rock Camp is now behind us, and we’ve been busy listening to demos. Jukka even managed to complete his drum parts for the album. Right on… There was such a nice vibe at the summer camp that this time I’m going to try a different approach to recording my stuff. Last time it was more like working nine to five, busting my ass in the studio, but this time I took the recording equipment home and will try to maintain that laid-back, jamming feeling I had during the whole summer, when we were rehearsing and demoing the songs with the guys. In a way, I guess I have succeeded -- I have now been laying down rhythm tracks for a week, and as a bonus, I caught a 5,14-kg (11.3 lb) pike !

Anyway, Tuomas and Mikko Karmila (Koo-Mikko the Comedian) were here a while ago. We messed around with the amps for a day, trying different sounds, and I’ve now completed about half of the rhythm tracks. It’s hard to say whether my job is 30% or 5% done, because if old signs hold true, the guitar parts just keep on increasing. Meaning that just when you’re  about to pop open that bottle of champagne, you realize that, damn, this and that part still need something. In other words, having learnt something from previous sessions, I’ll keep the champagne on ice at least for another six months.

That’s about it for the moment. I’ll try to snap a few pics from the session at some point, so later, folks -- rock on!


Written by Emppu on November 9, 2010

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All the drum tracks are recorded!

I usually find recording sessions stressful and just want to have them done as fast as possible, but this time it was all different. The whole session was extremely relaxed and we didn't hurry at all. We took the time to try some different approaches to some of the songs and didn't make any compromises. As one of the pictures shows, Tuomas literally whipped the very best out of me. But I'm sure he did it with love...

Songs have again a massive variety and mood changes from lunatic circus to a hazy jazz club. It was a great challenge to try to get the right touch to each of the songs, but my "humble" opinion is that we nailed it. Today we finished the session by recording witch drum to the starter of the album and by playing brushes to a classy ballad in the spirit of David Lynch. Drums were recorded to ten songs all together and it couldn't have been any better - perfect location, great guys around to work with and some excellent music to be created.

 Now it's time to raise my glass and say "cheers" to the guys. It's Emppu`s turn to give his contribution to the album and I'm sure you'll hear something of him soon.

Yours,

Jukka



Written by Jukka on October 20, 2010

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Drum Recordings - The Beginning

After spending an intensive summer camp on Finnish countryside and putting a final touch to the demo, we started recording the drums for our next album. We gathered together yesterday and set up the drums and all the recording devices. Today was mostly spent just perfecting the sounds. Just like with our last album we got some back-up from Mr. Kai Hahto (Swallow The Sun & Wintersun), who is known to be able to conjure godly sounds by tuning the drums. The legendary duet of Mikko Karmila and TeeCee Kinnunen are taking care of the engineering again. Tonight ended with a complete take of the first song, so the recording session has now officially started! Jihaa!

Cheers,

Jukka


Written by Jukka on October 15, 2010

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