Zapraszamy do przeczytania wywiadu z Marko, którego udzielił Ocean Souls tuż przed swoim solowym występem we Wrocławiu.
Wywiad w wersji angielskiej zamieszczamy poniżej, wywiad w wersji polskiej już wkrótce w oddzielnym wpisie. Rozmowę przeprowadziła Paulina.
Marko, I think we can start?
So, first, a very important question. Have you found all your stones already? Are they rolling?
I… My stones are very intact and safe.
Okay, that’s good. So Marko tell us, please, what’s the story behind “Stones,” the song.
Oh, you know, it’s a kind of a continuum. It started out with the idea of a song I had, this kind of slightly Mediterranean sort of thing, and then I realized I can fit very easily in like a very traditional blues melody over it. Which then also defined the lyrical thing, with this kind of blues writing repetition where you go a little bit tongue-in-cheek, and at the same time it’s very present. So the song, it’s not very deep, it’s just that, well, everything’s gonna get fucked up no matter what. Basically, what I wrote is about what is left after your life; there’s going to be some bunch of useless, lifeless stones.
And you’re not there.
Okay, so about the melody and styles, I feel like there are so many different sounds and styles on this album, you put together heavy guitar riffs with some synth sounds in. Where did you find inspiration for it? Are there any bands that specifically influenced you while writing the songs?
I have to say that what we tried to do with the guys, when I had the raw things, like the verses and the choruses and things like that, and pieces and all that, then I asked the guys to come over and if they would be interested in doing some arranging with me – I’m talking about Tuomas and Vili in the band. They came over, they really got into it, and then it got really personal and everything, and the whole thing was so fluid, and the guys were doing a lot of work, Tuomas especially, he has also a part-ownership of a studio in Helsinki and all that machinery and stuff in there since that we’ve been really putting them into the songs.
We’ve been talking about this things; how about this and how about this and I just… It was like “yeah, this is just written.” So it’s… by the end, the whole album and what kind of atmosphere and all those things we put into it is also very much work of Tuomas and Vili. I may have written the basic stuff like melodies, the verses, choruses, and chording for them, and some arranging, but the guys brought in a lot of that stuff, too. Since they’re versatile musicians, I’ve known them for a long while, and I knew I could trust them to come up with good things – they did.
Yes, they did. And what inspired the title of the album?
Well, that’s kind of a personal thing, you know. It sounds grim, but at the same time it’s also kinda, you know, it’s just life. I’m chronically depressive, I’ve been going through some really heavy shit now and then in my life and they do affect me. When you get shit from the universe it tries to affect you, and I’m of the opinion that whatever happens, no matter who does what or whatever… If I’m to stay true to the strength of my spine, they’re not going to affect my principles, I will not give up on them. Therefore I try to blur the black hole.
The next question is about the languages on your album. What made you decide to record the album in two different languages, Finnish and English?
Because I had songs in both. The actual ratio on the album is that 6 of the songs were written in Finnish and 4 were written in English. And then I translated them criss-cross. Because I could have done a mixed language album or just translate some of the Finnish to English. But then I figured that it tickled my sense of humor to translate the English to Finnish as well, and because English is the international language of rock and roll, you get all the international audience and all that with this marginal stuff but Finland is a six million people tribal language.
And this is a very beautiful language.
Yeah. But in that way it tickled my sense of humor. Like, okay I’ve got this chance to do this album also in my mother tongue. It felt good, it’s by no means a commercial decision, not at all, the opposite. But I did it.
So let’s continue about languages, did you find that you had to alter the lyrics much between the Finnish and English versions for them to keep the same meaning?
In some places you’ve got to go different routes. Some of them are metaphors, you have another language, and when you just translate them, they just don’t work. You can find other routes, and then you find some ways of saying the same thing almost the same way, then you of course use that too. So it’s a mixed bunch of things to take into account when you do that, but of course I had that edge, I was already the original writer, so I knew kind of the stories, and the reason, and that there’s point A and there’s point B, and this is the route we take to it. That way it was pretty easy for me to start, like, keeping the story intact. To start translating, and I knew where to use something totally different.
And a very interesting thing is that at the end of your album booklet it is mentioned that Troy helped with the editing of the lyrics. Can you tell us something more about this? Are there any funny stories about this?
No, not really. I just gave them to Troy and this other guy James to check out because the guys are native English speakers, I’m not even though I’m fluent, I still have to watch out so I don’t… Yeah, guys use it daily in their own environment, so they’re more aware what are the street-wise things, if there’s sometimes something that if I say in English in the street language it’ll mean that I have my balls in a bear trap or something like that. That is what I wanted to avoid. Especially, for instance, in something like “The Voice of my Father” where you want to avoid any kind of comic or cheesy things. That song was really sharp, so I wanted to avoid all the possible cheese, no Hollywood value. It’s a sensitive subject, and I didn’t want it to be syrup. No over-sweet things, no.
About the music on your album – did you get any new or special instruments for the recording of the album, or did you just use the gear you’ve already had?
For the first time I did record some cello. But the actual part that is there is not something you can that much hear, I mean I use it on the song “I Am The Way,” in the long notes and then put them through this filter sequence in order to give it a little… change it into something good. It’s there and all going a-a-a-a-a-a. But it’s a kind of organic sound because we have a bow and how it scratches the strings, phases it, and all that. That sequence of sound has that which is natural, you couldn’t do it with a synthesizer.
Marko, please tell us what made you decide to start a solo career? How are you feeling now, when it’s happening?
I am feeling pretty good. Because these shows have been really nice, people have been really great, how they’ve been taking it. And it’s nice to play clubs again, you get the close-up and you get the vibe and intimacy and all that.
That’s great because this also answers the next question about the audience of these gigs. Because you’ve already played a few gigs on the European leg of the tour. The difference between huge arenas and small clubs seems… well, huge. How does it make you feel right now? Did you miss the more paced way of touring you’re experiencing now again?
Let’s face it. Nightwish is way too big for these kind of places, and it wouldn’t make much sense for us to come all the way here because there would be ten thousand people going “we were left outside.” So we’ve got to book big venues. Now I have a chance to go back to smaller ones with this, and just like smaller venues, better sound, better contact with the band mates, better contact with the audience. I love it.
Are you planning to record another solo album in the future or it was just a one-time thing?
There are plans. Because we kind of started to grow a band out of what’s started as a solo project, and for everyone it feels like we should probably do something to include everyone. We should.
You’ve worked with many Finnish bands and musical projects and had the chance to try your hand at quite a few styles and genres. Did you ever have a creative idea that would completely differ from anything you’ve done before, but you abandoned it for some reason?
Oh, that billions of abandoned ideas. Usually because there were not good. Nothing to do with the music or style or anything. Yeah, well, sometimes you can dress old music in a lot of ways, pop-ish or rock-ish, or whatever. If there’s something, if I find a good melody or good arrangements or something, it usually ends up being used. It’s just the matter of how we usually arrange these things. We don’t use the mainstream recipes, they’re boring.
What makes you the most excited about long worldwide tours? What do you dread every time you go on tour? The question is about both small and big tours.
Well, every time there’s that thing when do I run out of underwear and socks. On this thing, they actually had a laundry machine and a drying drum, really good. That’s why, by the way, I’m in all this morning stuff.
But it’s cozy here.
It is very cozy. There’s a lot of stuff there in the band dressing room that is actually hanging on the counters and on the little drying racks.
This next one is a very interesting question. We asked a very similar one in our ticket giveaway competition for the fans. If you could pick any place on Earth where you’d love to play a live show, what would it be and why?
I think I’d go beyond the Earth. To be the first to play on the Moon or Mars would be actuallygreat. Let’s see. We did send an e-mail to something galactic a few years back. Hey, if we can send this thing to the orbit, me and my friend Mr. Holopainen would be interested to pick up a battery piano and an acoustic (guitar) and come over to play a song. They haven’t answered.
But you know, I think Elon Musk could agree with that. Say come on guys, let’s play a gig on Mars, it’d be really interesting.
Yeah, even though the atmosphere is pretty thin, so we’d have pretty loud for the sound to carry
Or maybe on some space station.
That would be easier. Wouldn’t involve so much equipment.
How could everything fit in the small space there?
We’d have to do it acoustic. Battery piano, small acoustic.
Almost every band member has been involved in some side projects. Apart from solo album work, you and Floor often give guest performances with other artists, as well as Emppu, Kai and Troy; we also know that Tuomas is developing new ideas. How does it affect the band dynamics, both in the studio and live – do the experiences you gain with other musicians help you get along better as a group, or solo?
To get better as a group is of course about many factors. You got to take care of the personal chemistry. Talk to people about hardships and good times and all that. So, yeah, making music with different people… You usually come away with “Oh, he did it that way. I never thought about doing that before.” It always happens. Of course for instance on the Nightwish side, me and Tuomas will be writing things separately and together quite a lot. So I do notice that there are things where we start to feed each other some things, and it changes some things that we write and all that. It enhances your typical musical vision to have a lot of inspiration from people.
During all the years you spent on stage playing with different people, who did you enjoy working with the most?
The thing is that I take enjoyment out of all of it, and so far I haven’t anymore in long, long years… I haven’t done any shows with anyone I wouldn’t actually like or the music I wouldn’t actually like. Because I don’t want to stress myself out because I’d have to do some shit and be convincing about it. That’s the thing, I’ve got to be able to stand behind the things I do.
Among your favorite bands and musicians, the Nightwish website lists Jethro Tull, Rainbow, Kate Bush, Deep Purple, and Pantera. And what about new music? What artists from this last decade do you appreciate the most?
Last decade, 2000s.
Maybe some time before.
Hmmm. I don’t know. It’s just too bad what happened with Chris Cornell. What he was doing was absolutely brilliant. The first album from Audioslave was absolutely brilliant. And the rhythm section from Rage Against the Machine, they’re titans. So these kind of things. I did listen to some of the songs for instance from Linkin Park, all these things with the machinery and metal and all that. There are a lot of interesting combinations that have been coming up but I’m still looking for… The studio technology is actually something that’s unpersonalizing a lot of bands because everybody’s got a chance these days to build a full, big sound and all that. Which is kind of, and maybe makes it even truthful because I like the way when I hear, okay there’s depth and kind of edge to the bass playing, it’s him. And these things are smoothed out, the more we thought of mixing recipes, that this has to be the bass drum, this has to be like this, blah blah blah. It’s happening more and more. So, yeah, I’d say that more open and more personalized mixing would be good for a bunch of, loads of bands.
It’s interesting that you mentioned Linkin Park because for many years they’ve been my favorite band alongside Nightwish so two kinds, two different genres.
I have my industrial side as well. I mean, I’m not like into Tool but of course I’ll listen to my NIN and Manson stuff, I know that, too.
If you like industrial things, I think Ania can recommend some things, like Lord of the Lost.
(Talk about stuff)
Do you have any small, casual pleasures? Things you enjoy in a free time in your everyday life?
My everyday life? Books, video games, movies, films, sitting at a well watching over the lake.
That sounds quite good…
Maybe having a coffee. These kind of things.
This one is really interesting, I think. Did your hair or beard ever get tangled in your guitar strings by accident?
Yes. And not just once. And not just my guitar strings. Sometimes it gets caught with your mates’ on stage.
So I think we’ve got it, thank you. We’ve got really tons of questions from our fans 🙂
Anna Raczyńska (nagranie, korekta), Cornelia P. Wojewoda (transkrypcja)
fot. materiały prasowe Nuclear Blast – Andrea Beckers