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Interview with Floor Jansen


Interview by Dave Scott

Nightwish are just coming to the end of a lengthy touring schedule in 2018 that has covered North and Latin America, the summer festival circuit and now a six week jaunt across Europe to close out. The band have returned to the UK to not only play Wembley Arena again, but with additional dates in Birmingham and Manchester. Rocktopia took a brief trip backstage before the London show to sit down for a quick chat with the band's vocalist Floor Jansen.

Nightwish Floor Jansen Rocktopia Interview

(photo by Ville Akseli Juurikkala)


Here we are, one of the last few dates on the tour. You are playing Wembley tonight and this time two more shows across the UK before you head to Finland and call it a day. How have the shows gone for you all on your travels since I last spoke to you before you played Bloodstock, specifically the European leg you have been on since early Nov?

Very good indeed. We started five weeks ago; on 4th Nov we had our first show in Gothenburg, Sweden, so the travelling now is by night-liner. No airplanes needed, even though we fly from Manchester to Finland because for the last two shows we won't have our buses with us anymore – that is not necessary. It means the majority of the time we sleep in a bus, which I really like, then like yesterday we had a day off here in London and we slept in a hotel. It goes really, really well, so we kind of keep the balance and that, and that also keeps us fresh as it is a long trip.

The shows themselves have gone well?

They have gone really, really well. We have sold-out many places and we have increased in numbers everywhere we went.

I know you were excited about doing the extra Manchester and Birmingham shows here in the UK for this tour.

Yes, it meant that last time, we basically took a bit of a risk to say, instead of several shows in the UK we are going to do one show and make it big, and we are going to play Wembley Arena... and then we even sold it out. To almost do that again, we are not going to quite sell it out, well maybe, I don't know. There were only about four hundred tickets sales left. It is not far off it, we are talking a few hundred on twelve thousand or so. It is great, it means we can do this and we can come back, and we can even do two more cities.

I guess the plan next time would be to go from three to five maybe?

Let's see yes, it depends on the growth and how happy everybody is with what we are bringing.

What was your favourite memory from that sold-out show at Wembley?

We have the DVD and so I saw that of course, and we went through the footage which does cloud the memories in a positive way, but you are not sure if it was an actual memory from then. However, when I came back in this place, there were a lot of memories... "Oh yeah, we had dinner with Richard Dawkins here." I sat next to him and he even helped me with something; he is very gentleman-like. We had a very interesting talk because he had no idea about our world, I had no idea about his; that was a very interesting thing. Of course, his speech, but then again, those things are clouded slightly by the footage afterwards. I remember the excitement of it, coming in here. I felt the same thing today, even though it has been five weeks of playing arenas almost every day. It brings something special, this place... the legacy even though the stadium has it more, but this too. All of it, it is very special.

You are on tour promoting your 'Decades' album, which goes right from the beginning to the very present day. How does the 2018 version of Nightwish play stuff from Nightwish of the late nineties?

You will hear it; in the approach, we stick with the song, we didn't change arrangements or anything but we added more things, I would say. For example, we have Troy Donockley with his multi-instrumental possibilities, so he can add colours in a different way or he can play solos along with Emppu Vuorinen (that were doubled on the album) or add harmonies that were never possible before. Just that is a change that is noticeable. He is there all the time, playing either his flute, his bouzouki or his guitars. He has a beautiful PRS guitar. He also sings and that is another element – we have three singers – instead of recording tonnes of backing vocals, which we used to do in the past to kind of create that sound that you hear on the album, there are a few recorded things but the majority are sung live by the three of us. That changes the colour, and of course, the way I approach the songs. I want to stay true to how it is written but not to how it was sung by someone else because I am a different person. I am too much my own person to be able to copy, it would not fit, but the most important threat to follow is the song and that is always the thing that needs to grow on you because indeed you have heard, especially the old songs, I have been hearing them for decades as well. I also grew up with that, already having my own band, but still, I know them well. You have to kind of forget how it was done – approach it new but with respect.

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One last question on the tour. How have you gone about choosing the set-list. I think I can guess but having not looked so as to keep some surprises for the show later. I am not certain but am I right in assuming it is pretty much the 'Decades' album?

Yes, it is, although it is not exactly the same as the album. We have made a nice little shuffle and we have even had a little change within the set-list within this tour, but all the songs that we play are that 'Decades' album.

You have four dates after this and then it is time to head home, recharge. There is Christmas and New Year, then you have already mentioned focus will turn to the new album. Has Tuomas Holopainen told you anything about what he has in mind yet?

More in the sense of what it's about, not really in the musical sense.

Are you allowed to give any insight into these ideas?

No. no ha-ha.

For the last album, you went and spent time together at the Rosko campsite. Are you going to do that again because I know Tuomas was very positive about the experience?

Yes, indeed.

Are you looking forward to that and getting to work on the new album or is there anything that you feel a bit "urggg" about when it comes to recording a new album?

No, I mean it is like with touring, sometimes you wish that it was a bit more varied. We have now been doing the same set for five weeks. You go into a good sense of routine, that is the positive side of it. The downside is that you want to be fresh every night because for your audience it is a new night every night, for you it isn't. Fortunately, the fun of the playing, the fun we have together and the freshness of the audience bring this, but you sometimes wish you could just go home for a week and do it again because that brings a freshness in itself. It's the same with recording, when you start it is "Yeah", but after a couple of days it turns into Groundhog Day because it is so intense that you have to focus and it takes a lot of everything. That is the only thing I can come up with, for the rest, I really enjoy it. Every aspect of being in band and making music has these things and you need to go into it. What we have done with the previous album, what we will do again, is rehearse extensively and that was really great. By the time you go to record it, it is already part of your system, other than here are the songs and practise for a short while. I never have done that because I have always been a writer, however, to really rehearse it with a band is something else.

Just one quick question to close out our short chat. Were you pleased with the response to your Northward release earlier in the year?

Yes, very much so, I still can't believe it... especially in the UK, and I am not just saying that. The big responses came from here.

So, you are super happy about that?

I am mind-blown because I had... I don't know if I told you in the previous interview... I had not so many expectations because I was really selfish in the process. This was my child, it is a ten year old released into the world for the first time and I already know everything about it. I was also in the middle of something else already by the time it came out, in the middle of this Nightwish tour. Then it was out there and the reactions came in and it was like, "Oh God, people really...", as if it was the first time I had made an album. I mean, how many have I released in my career haha. For some reason I did not expect it as far as you ever may, but to see that it would really blossom as it did, I am super proud and very happy.

Floor, thank you so much for your time, good luck with the show tonight.

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