How does a band from rural Finland become big enough to headline an arena in the UK? Tuomas Holopainen (keyboards): I wish I knew! Maybe it’s persistence. We’ve been around for twenty years, and this is the first time it’s really been bubbling in the UK. I think the sincerity of the band is our biggest strength.
It’s a long way from entering a competition to become Finland’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, which Nightwish did in 2000.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. The audience voted us number one, but the judges hated us big time and we ended up coming third. Looking back, that was a good thing.
Nightwish have a spectacular stage show. How much of a pain is it to cart around on tour?
Oh, there’s a lot of stuff – big screens and stage props. I have an old tree for a keyboard stand too. But a Nightwish show would look weird without a big production.
Can you remember Nightwish’s very first gig?
New Year’s Eve, 1997, in my home town, Kitee. We played the first album, Oceanborn, from the beginning to the end, almost. That’s all we did. It lasted thirty minutes. We were shit-scared but we had a good time. I was even doing some vocals back then, which is weird to think of now.
**Is it true that you used to be a teacher?
A stand-in teacher, yes. In the high school of my home town. Oceanborn had just come out and I was totally broke. Whenever a teacher got sick they would call me in. I pretty much taught anything. When I was younger I always wanted to be a scientist. I was intrigued by nature and biology. I want to know what’s real and what’s not. How does the world work? Where do we come from? How do living organisms work? How is the universe crafted? All that.
**Talking of which, Professor Richard Dawkins provides narration on your latest album, Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Will he be making an appearance on stage with the band at Wembley?
I honestly don’t know. We have invited him to the gig, and I hope he will come, but I’m not sure if he will join us on stage. We will have to see.
Nightwish play Wembley Arena on December 19.