The Road To Download 2016: Nightwish

Nightwish's Floor Jansen at Rock in Rio on September 25, 2015
(Image credit: Raphael Dias\/Getty)

Download is just two weeks away and we’re catching up with some of the biggest and best bands on the bill.

We spoke with Nightwish vocalist Floor Jansen to find out what the symphonic Finnish six-piece have in store and which bands she’s prepared to cross the festival site to watch…

Nightwish have played Download before, back in 2012, before you joined the band, but will this be a first trip to the festival for you?
“Actually no, I played with After Forever many years ago, but this will be a rather different experience. Back then it was one of After Forever’s first shows in the UK, and certainly on a huge festival like that, so we had a tiny slot at like five o’clock in the morning playing to three people, but I remember later that night I saw the big stages and it gave me goosebumps thinking ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great to do that one day?’ So when I think of that and then look at where we are today, I think it’s going to be a blast to reach so many people. We had such a great time at our show in London at Wembley Arena but this brings it to a different level again and we’re very excited.”

The December show at Wembley was obviously a huge occasion for the band, and got fantastic reviews, but what memories do you have of the night?
“It was very special. It was obviously a huge step forward in terms of the amount of people we could hope to draw with our own show in England and so we were thinking ‘Are we going to get enough people in to make this cool?’ So then to sell out a 12,000 arena was very exciting. And then Richard Dawkins said yes to our invitation to come onstage with us – and the odds weren’t in our favour there! – so that was amazing. We’d been on tour for months and were a well-oiled machine at that point, and very prepared, and so we were into it entirely, and the audience were into it entirely, and that created the special kind of magic that you can only dream of. I will never forget that night.”

The obvious next question then is how are you going to top that?
“There’s such a difference between a festival show and your own show that I don’t think we really see this in terms of ‘topping’ it. We will bring a similar show but of course with the festival vibe and the fact that we’ll be outside it will be completely different in feel. But I really hope that we can bring that magic again.”

You were filming for a DVD release at Wembley Arena: is there a scheduled date yet for when that might emerge?
“Well, Wembley wasn’t the only show we filmed, we’ve been filming in different parts of the world on this tour, including our first stadium show in Tampere in Finland last summer, so we have a very rich amount of material to draw from. I’ve heard that the Wembley footage is really something else though, and I’m really happy that that magic was immortalised so it’ll definitely be a big part of the DVD. We’re looking at bringing it out later in the year and I think it’ll be pretty special.”

Back to Download, you’re playing beneath Iron Maiden on the Lemmy stage on June 12. Did Maiden mean much to you growing up?
“Honestly, for me, no, but I have a huge respect for the guys, and I really appreciate what they’ve done. For me personally though I was never much into their music.”

Is there anyone else you’d be prepared to walk across the site to see on June 12 then?
“I heard Ghost are playing, and they’re interesting, so it’d be nice to see them. I saw the list of bands and thought ‘Oh yeah, it’d be great to see that, that and that’, and then my brain goes somewhere else and I forget about it again! I know there’s a huge amount of great bands playing though, so I hope I have the time and energy to catch a few.”

Are you a big socialiser at festivals?
“It really depends on the facilities and the amount of energy I have; it isn’t always the best idea for my voice to be screaming loudly over music outside all day. But I do like to meet other musicians – how often do you run into other people that do the same thing that you do if not at festivals? So if I can, I’ll get out there and hopefully meet some new people.”

What are you most looking forward to about the day?
“The few seconds just before you walk on to a big stage like that are always really exciting, especially at a festival like Download where there’s going to be thousands of new people who probably haven’t seen us yet, or have only heard rumours about what we’re about. I remember from my previous visit with After Forever that there’s so much media at Download, so I know it’s a huge thing, and I’m just looking forward to seeing how people will enjoy us… or not! If we can take Download with us on our musical journey it’ll be another really memorable night.”

Nightwish play the Lemmy Stage at Download on June 12. For more information, see the festival’s official site.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.