About Me

Interview with Amorphis

In the realm of metal, Amorphis has carved a distinctive path since 1990. From death metal roots to a fusion of folk and progressive elements, their journey is a testament to artistic evolution. In this exclusive interview, we explore the inspirations and transformations that define Amorphis’ unique sound, from mythical tales to melodic innovation. Join us for an insight into a band that continues to shape the narrative of modern metal.
Tomi Koivusaari talked to us about the live album and the future projects for the band.

M.I. - Let's start by talking about your journey. You've been making music for over three decades. How do you feel your sound has evolved from your early days to now?

Well, of course, when we started, we were like 16, 17 years old boys and all we listened at the time was basically like death metal. And of course, when you get older, you start to search different kinds of music as well. So, I think we started to take influences from other music as well and combining it to our music, so most of the progress has been very natural as we got older and more experienced. But I also think we have found a more unique sound in this journey. 
When we started, we tried to sound like Paradise Lost or that's like what we were admiring. But nowadays we try to sound like us, Amorphis.

M.I. - You were the first vocalist for the first three albums. How did Tomi Joutsen enter in the world of Amorphis?

Well, before Tomi, there was Pasi. Pasi was in the band for like 9 years, I think. And when our ways went apart, we were searching for a new singer for quite long and we were almost talking about maybe doing an instrumental album or something, but when we found Tomi, it was the start of a new era for the band. Because it was the first time we started to look back as well, what we have done. We just take some of those elements with us as well because Tomi wanted. Tomi was a fan of Amorphis so he wanted us to play some old stuff and we got excited about that as well.

M.I. - Your music is known for its fusion of various metal subgenres and folk elements. Can you tell us about some of your major musical influences and how they've shaped your unique sound?

Well, when we started, it was like the death metal thing because we were in the tape trading scene and so we were listening to a lot of bands who didn't even have an album yet out, just like demos. And then it went to a more extreme musical taste. But suddenly it dropped. We started to listen to 70s, progressive music, Pink Floyd and Carmel, bands like this, and then at the same time there was some bands like one Finnish band called Kingston Wall and it was kind of 70s rock and in some of their songs there was a saxophone player called Sakari Kukko. We started to search for what he had done and he had this 70s like progressive folk band and we started to like folk music more and started to search more and more different countries folk music. And that's how it came to our music as well. We started to take those influences and I think there weren't too many bands who have done that before us, at least in the metal scene. So, it came from that and at the same time we had an idea to use Finnish national poems like Kalevala and that fit very well to folk elements. So, it was kind of coincidence, but it stayed.

M.I. - You released a live album in in October. Why are you releasing a live album?

Yes, special live album to 0 audience because it was the COVID when we recorded. It felt like a fun idea because we didn't have any gigs. I think we did one or two stream gigs and they didn't feel so live to us, of course, but we were happy just that we could get together and play a show. And we filmed it and it was kind of fun and I think we were more focused in playing than anything else normally because there was no audience. So, I think personally it would have been better to put it out like immediately back then, because then everybody still remembers those COVID times when there weren't any concerts. But, of course, now it feels a little bit strange to remember those times. I think it turned out good anyway, right? Good sounds and looks nice. But maybe hopefully we will do a normal live album someday.

M.I. - In your live performances you pass a lot of energy and a lot of passion for what you do on stage. So how was it like to play with no audience? Did you bring that same energy to this live album as you bring to the live performances when you have an audience? Do you think that energy passes through the live album even without an audience?

Well, I think we just have to pretend that there's people or cameras. But at the same time, it was a good lesson. It's about the audience and that's how it works. You cannot do it by yourself. It's very important to have the audience there. So, it wasn't still feeling like we are in a rehearsing place and just practicing it. We had this stream gig, couple stream gigs before, so we knew about how it would be like. And it also felt normal at some point. You were cheating yourself that it's a show, but when the song was finished and there's no one there it's like “OK. What’s next?”.

M.I. - How was it to pass the pandemic without playing to a live audience? Was it hard for you guys?

It was, but we were lucky because we just finished our Queen of Time Tour before that. We had to cancel a few shows, of course, but we focused on doing the next album, so I'm glad we did a whole album in a pandemic time, so it wasn't just a waste of time. 
But it was strange because we have been touring so much lately, like the last 15 years. Suddenly your calendar is empty and you have to be isolated in some countryside. But I have to admit there was this small part of me who was enjoying having a break.
Because when it started, we didn't know how long it was gonna be. I was thinking it's like maybe three months or something. So, I was like, OK, let's take it as a holiday, but when it just continued, it wasn't that funny anymore. But we had the album recordings, we had something to focus on. It wasn't just relaxing. It was like you had some time to focus on different things. Like I'm almost missing everything because every weekend I'm somewhere else but of course there wasn't anything happening at the time. But anyway, I felt like a normal person.

M.I. - Over the years, you've collaborated with various artists, for example Anekke in the song Amongst The Stars. Are there any dream collaborations you'd like to pursue in the future?

Well, normally we don't actually come up with guests. Normally it happens in a moment when somebody had an idea, like “Let's do this” but we don't like trying to think about who it would be because we tried to do most of the things as a band. But of course, there's a lot of artists that we like, admire and would be great to have some cooperation, but nothing comes to my mind that we haven't thought about it. But it only gets great when it fits the song very well. But it's always a little bit difficult because when you go to tour you cannot take the guest with you and if you pull it from the background, people are like “ohh it's a playback “.

M.I. - Do you have any funny stories to tell of all these years that you've been touring?

Not everything comes to my mind at the moment. But, of course, there are funny stories and weird stories specially from the early days. There was more happening in the 90s than nowadays. What's our backstage before show? Everybody has Netflix here. But not in the 90s when we didn't have this kind of practise. But nothing comes to my mind. We have done thousands of gigs so there is some strange things. The first thing that comes to my mind is that, on our first American tour, our bass player was right next to me and, two seconds after, he wasn't there because there was in a hole on the stairs. His head was showing and his hand like he was trying to play there in the hole. And I remember his face. He tried to be like, cool, but still…

M.I. - What do you think about the digital platforms nowadays for passing music?

Too late to complain about it. But of course, that was a big change for the music industry, especially to bands and artists, because you can get music for free. It's handy as well, I have Spotify if I'm going somewhere. I used to have 1 bag of CDs when I went somewhere.
So of course, it's more handy, but it's not the same. You have to do more gigs and everybody is touring a lot more because that's where you get your living from, in a good and in a bad way, but there are lots of bands on tour at the same time, same city, so, it affects income. We are lucky because we have a long history and some of our fans have all our previous albums, so they wanted the physical copy as well, maybe from the new one, but some newcomers, they don't necessarily have a physical form of album at all. But what can we do? You have to be there. It wouldn't work if we take our music away from Spotify. It's just bad for us.

M.I. - Do you have a new album coming soon?

We just have a plan to start checking the new stuff with the band in January and going to the studio this year. So probably the new album will be out in 2025, most likely. We still have a lot of tours. It comes fast. It always takes a regular company that wants to master at least half a year before putting it out, it always takes time. But now we're searching for a producer because the last three albums we have done with Jens Bogren and so we want to change a little bit the formula.

M.I. - Are you planning on touring this year?

In the spring, we will tour in South America. Then summer festivals, then… I cannot talk about that actually yet. But some tour in one year and at the same time we should start the studio. 

M.I. - And what do you think of Portuguese fans?

Oh, they're great. Like very energetic and passionate. So yeah, and I love the country as well and the weather especially.

M.I. - One last question, do you want to leave a message to your Portuguese fans?

Yeah, we’ve been missing you. It would be nice to have a couple of weeks, maybe in Porto or Lisbon. Force your local promoters to take us. We want that. It would be great! Thanks for supporting us for all these years! Take care.
Listen to Amorphis, on Spotify

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Isabel Martins