Nearly no other band of the traditional metal genre is as successful as the Finnish newcomer Nightwish. They got enthusiastic reactions from the fans and the media for their last two albums "Oceanborn" and "Wishmaster" and their concerts are all sold out. In Finland "Wishmaster" even reached platin status. So it´s time that Nightwish thanks their fans with a special album. It is called "OTHAFA". In a phone interview I talked with singer Tarja Turunen about the album and the DVD "From Wishes to Eternity".

Already at the beginning of your talk Tarja complains about her hard lot. "At the moment I have a flu, since the weather in Finland always is so cold. The sun is shining now indeed, but this is very rare here. I hope that I will be able to sing again without any problems." And here memories about the Wishmaster Tour are quite similar. "It was a long tour. Five and a half weeks in Europe, Canada, South America and then back to Finland. Especially for me as a singer it was quite strenuous, because my voice had to be in good shape every evening. In Germany we had to cancel a show. We were really sorry for that, but we all have been so sick that is wasn´t possible to do it. It´s always the same. You always get sick on tour. But you can´t avoid risk factors like hot venues and late concerts."

However, Tarja is absolutely enthusiastic with regard to the Nightwish fans. Nobody in the band exspected such a great feedback. And to say thank you Nightwish will release a special compilation with "OTHAFA" as a bridgeover to the next studio album. The idea arose from a concert the band recorded in the end of last year for the Finnish fans. "Because of money reasons we compromised that we will record one whole gig for the live album. It was recorded on December 29 last year in Tampere/Finland. We were under great pressure because there was a large camera crew there and everthing had to be perfect at the first try. So we were very nervous. There were about 1200 people there and we have used lot of pyrotechique and a big live show. It was a big spectacle never seen before in Finland. all 15 songs we played have made it on the Finnish CD version and on the DVD."

The version released in other European countries is somewhat different to the Finnish one. It just has six live tracks on it, but is upgraded because of four new studio tracks that haven´t been released before. "Because so many people from abroad showed interest in the live album, we had to make a compromise since we couldn´t just release the Finnish version all over the world. The four studio tracks are only released as a single in Finland. In other countries there´s another version of "OTHAFA" with the four studio and six live tracks. On the DVD "From Wishes to Eternity", however, also the German fans can watch the full concert. Apart from the full concert there´re also interview with Tuomas and with me on it, all our video clips, promo videos from Canada, live videos from Buenos Aires and some of our very first pictures. It is a real big package exclusively for our fans."

It you listen closely you can also here some other voices on the CD apart from Tarja´s wonderful singing. Tarja negates the question firmly whether the concert has been reworked in the studio: "Obviously I can only do one singing part live. That´s why the choirs etc. are coming from a mini-disc-player. Otherwise we wouldn´t be able to do the complex studio recordings live." The opener of "OTHAFA" is the title song and cover version of Gary Moore, a song that seems to fit perfectly to Nightwish. "We have been thinking about covering this song for a long time. We aren´t really fans of Gary Moore, but like to listen to his music from time to time. It is a pity that a lot of young people don´t remember this song anymore, even though it´s from 1987. And even though "OTHAFA" has been something completely new for us, I think we managed it quite well to make it sound 100% Nightwish. It really was great fun." There´re also another two new songs on the CD: "10th man down" and "Away" as well as a reworked version of "Astral Romance" whose original version is on the debut album "Angels Fall First". "The studio tracks are all completely new. We just have recorded them. In Finland they haven´t been released yet."

On the cover artwork of the European version of "OTHAFA" you can see an impressive concert scene in front of huge mountains beneath a red sky. Tarja confirmed my assumption that it was digitally reworked: "Drakkar is responsible for the cover. This time we didn´t work with them because Tuomas and me have been too busy. The live pictures has been taken in Sao Paolo/Brazil and the included the mountains afterwards, since the concert took place in a hall. In Finland the single will be light blue. Our bassist Sami took the picture in Chile while the plane was landing. It was great especially because of the mountains and the clear blue sky."

As Tarja mentioned before she had a lot of stress recently and also at the moment she has a very stressful time which she doesn´t like at all. I wanted to know what she does in her life apart from Nightwish. "At the moment I concentrate myself fully on Nightwish and I can make a living from it. Now we have a five months break and I will concentrate on my music studies again. From time to time I also do classical concerts." Before Tarja got involved with Nightwish she only sang classical pieces and didn´t have a clue about heavy metal at all. "Tuomas wanted to have a classical singer and I was the only one in the area. From this moment on everything happened very fast and we were very lucky. We never performed for 20 people before. But we also had to find a way to handle all the success and the whole situation without going mad. That wasn´t easy." Apart from Nightwish Tarja prefers softer sounds when it comes to music. For Legacy she takes a look at her music collection also including Vangelis and Sarah Brightman. I got used to listen to melodic metal. But this is the music we play and that´s why we don´t listen to in so much in private. You should be open for everything. Of course, I listen to classical music very often, especially with regard to my career. But I also like soundtracks and quiet, melodic songs."

What are the greatest differences for Tarja between a classical concert and a gig for Nightwish ? "When I sing classical pieces in front of an audience, I´m very strict to myself. Everything has to be perfect. If it is not, I´m insufferable after the concert. It is really terrible (laughs). It is more fun to perform for a metal audience, because there´s a constant communication between the band and the fans. It was a just wonderful experience for me when I realized that the people accepted me. I didn´t know anything about this music before, so I actually was thrown in at the deep end." Wasn´t it a quite difficult as thrown in at the deep end." Wasn´t it a quite difficult situation to do a tour with a metal band for several weeks , since Tarja has been used to totally different people before ? "Oh yes ! I was the only woman in the crew, but this was kind of funny. Sometimes I feel like a guy myself (laughs). But I often felt very lonely on tour, even though you meet many people. That´s why I like talking to the people. I also do some sightseeing, and I read a lot and listen to music to kill the time."

At the end of our conversation I wanted to know how things are with the new studio album of Nightwish. "Tuomas is composing all the time and we have plans to enter the studio next year in January. It seems to be a great project and it surely will take some time to arrange and organize everything. The difference between our ballads and the bombastic songs will be even bigger this time. When I read Tuomas´ mind correctly he´s working on a concept album. But I don´t want to reveal too much."