OSA- Cadence ocean

Live to Tell the Tale

The story of Nightwish: in their own words!

Part 5: 2004-2005

2004- Kitee

Nightwish has not been a band known for resting on its laurels, so it was no surprise to anyone that shortly after the release of End of Innocence, word got out that they were going back into the studio at the end of the year to work on their fifth full-length album. They would be incorporating many new sounds into their already-varied style that had not been heard before. Each song delved into a new frontier musically for all members of the band. This exploration in experimentation would result in Once, their most ambitious album yet.
 
Marco Hietala:
"...Because of all the variety and all the musical elements, different atmospheric things that we have on there due to the orchestration and choir stuff and all that. To some people it might even be scary...I was a bit scared myself! When we were still in rehearsal and demo stage I was thinking will this be too much?"
(Pretties for You online magazine, April 2004)

Tarja Turunen:
"With this album, I'm especially very excited about at the moment because of all Nightwish albums I'm personally most satisfied and happiest with Once so far. I would be lying if I said the band wouldn't think the same way. So yeah, I must say that I actually feel pretty confident about this album and hopefully our fans would like the album specifically. Now I feel like my voice on Once is as natural and relaxed as it can be in the first place and I don't sound 'forced' or 'artificial' as I partly tend to sound on previous albums. And this is actually what I tried to acheive for Nightwish albums for so many years already...I feel very comfortable with my vocals on Once for the very first time in Nightwish and that's the thing what really makes me happy."
(Metal-Rules.com, June 2004)

Tuomas Holopainen:
"At the moment, I'm very happy. The biggest dream for me to ever come true was when I had the final master copy of Once in my hands. When I heard it, I thought it really was the best effort that I could have done at that time. It was a big highlight for me last year to have the album finished, and to be that proud of it. From the fans' perspective, I think they had very high expectations from us on a musical level, so I really wanted to do my best, without any compromises. That's why we hired the best possible orchestra (who were the London Academy of St. Martin's in the Fields Orchestra) and choir that we could get. That was also the reason why I had (Native American) John Two-Hawks perform on "Creek Mary's Blood". We didn't want to make any compromises on Once. I also wanted to meet my own expectations. That to me is always the most important. It's always the quality of the music that matters to me. Of course we wanted to be able to top the previous album in sales too, and be able to tour some new places, which we had never been able to do before with that success. Fortunately, all that happened, so we couldn't be happier."
(Metal Forge, February 24th, 2005)

2004- Once small

Once ran the musical gamut, crossing over one musical barrier after the other with every song. It seemed there was something for everyone on this album. Techno-inspired rock songs such as "Wish I Had an Angel". A touch of what seemed the rap-rock element in "Romanticide". The marriage of Nightwish's bombastic sound to the powerful orchestra on songs like "Ghost Love Score" and "Planet Hell". A nod to their Finnish roots with lyrics in their mother tongue on "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan". Middle-Eastern influences on "The Siren". Undoubtedly, one of the most experimental songs on Once, however, was "Creek Mary's Blood", inspired by Native American culture and music. The song featured Native American musician John Two-Hawks, who not only played flute but also had a spoken part by translating a poem Tuomas wrote in English, to his native Lakota language.
 
Tuomas Holopainen:
"I've always had this strange fascination for Indian culture and spirituality. He speaks a poem that was written by me in honor of his ancestors. I don't understand a word of what he's saying but I trust his translation skills." [laughs]
(Metal Hammer magazine, May 2004)

John Two-Hawks:
"...When Nightwish called and said that they wanted to do this and we heard the music and read the lyrics, I was excited because I thought this is fresh and a great opportunity to express the joining of two very different musical genres and kind of wrap them together in a braid. I think the end result is absolutely powerhouse, incredible."
(Beyond Ear Candy, August 2004)

Even though the band had been taken on a musical journey like one they had never been on before, there was one element on Once that stayed close to their hearts, yet in many ways was another endeavor into musical horizons unknown. The final track, "Higher Than Hope", was written as a tribute to a dying Nightwish fan, Marc Brueland, who would fulfill his final wish to see the band perform live, but would not live to hear the song that his struggles had inspired, though his voice would live on as a spoken part within the song. This was without question one of their most emotional and personal songs ever. It combined beautifully the melodic melancholy and heroic bombast that encompasses Nightwish's music: a fitting tribute to a life lived and fought bravely, but gone all too soon.
 
Tuomas Holopainen:
"Well, I'm very close with the whole family...We've grown to be really close and I followed his story for like 3 years altogether before he finally died so it was just something really touching and I just felt like I needed to make a song about this. He [Marco] did almost all the music. I did the lyrics and some of the music but it was the last song we did for this album and Marco came up with this song. By the demo I had these melodies and 'OK,' I said, 'it perfectly leads for the idea of these lyrics I have that I want to write about Marc Brueland.' So we just did it together and the result is what you get...I just thought that this would be the perfect immortalization of him to put his words on this part of the song. I really didn't want to make a heavy song part of his story and I didn't want to make a, like, cheesy ballad and this song that Marco had was perfect like in-between it's kind of like half-ballad, but has a really, really hard punch in it, so I think it fit perfectly."
(Beyond Ear Candy, September 2004)

NW- old era

With an album as diverse as Once, it seemed only natural that the new sounds would take the band to new places. They would embark on their first tour in the United States in the summer of 2004, but not without its difficulties. But in typical Nightwish fashion, the rewards would be far sweeter than the toils once they finally did get acquainted with their American audience.
 
Marco Hietala:
"...When we came to Atlanta and New York to play, our guys at management had an agency that helped us. We had to pay a certain amount of money per person and would help getting the people there faster. This time we got the papers forward between March and May. The agency said that it would be ready in about four or five months, they said it would be OK and they would come in time, but they didn't."
(Metal Underground, August 25th, 2004)

Tuomas Holopainen:
"I mean the reaction from the fans is close to what it would be in South America. They're really passionate, really wild over the music and we never really expected anything like this. I knew the sales were going pretty well. They even know the songs from the new album even though it's not released yet. I guess that they have some imports or something. I mean that's the biggest surprise; the fans, they're so nice, so passionate."
(Beyond Ear Candy, September 2004)

Tarja Turunen:
"There is no certain stereotype Nightwish fan. They vary from babies to grandpas. Actually it has been wonderful to find out, and then meet these people along the road."
(Radio YLE-2, Finland)

The story continues...