INTERVIEW: Floor Jansen – Nightwish

The meaning of life according to Floor...


NIGHTWISH is one of THE great ‘Live’ bands with a sound and production that fills the senses and compliments and augments the bands huge sound rather than overwhelming it like some big productions can. After touring their “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” album for a year and a half throughout every corner of the world the time has come for Nightwish to immortalize that tour on DVD. “Vehicle of Spirit” out on 16 December 2016 features not only two concerts in full length, but also plenty of bonus material. We spoke to Floor Jansen all about the DVD and the next steps for a band that truly has conquered the world.

Mark: Thank you so much for talking to The Rockpit today we’ve interviewed the band many times over the years but normally we get to speak to Marco so it’s great to talk to you today about the new DVD. Before that we’ve had so many questions put to us – I know it’s on record that it’s not, but so many are worried that this ‘year off’ might be the end of Nightwish: can you put their minds at rest so we can get that one out of the way?

Floor: Oh what drama queens! Taking a goddamn year off! We’ve communicated all that there is to know about the year off, if people are still worried, please get a hobby! We’re doing this because things are good. When you can leave things behind with a good feeling that everything’s going to be fine when you come back after a year that’s a luxury – that’s a good thing to have. Instead of worrying people should say “good for you, take your time” because in 2018 we have something great in mind for everyone, so please tell them not to worry!

Mark: It does seem to get better all the time for the band and there are gaps of two or three years before albums, so enjoy! And the DVD is the perfect way to leave us hanging and wondering what comes next! Two wonderful shows on there and a great tile too, ‘Vehicle of Spirit’ it seems to sum up the music perfectly?

Floor: Thank you, I agree, it was actually a friend of Troy’s who came up with that “It’s a vehicle of Spirit that defies category” a bit before my time, but it’s been used a lot to describe the band and it seemed right for a DVD like this where you see where the band is today. And it’s not just the two shows, there’s an extra DVD with bonus material from all over the world to really give the impression what Nightwish looks like on a world tour in lots of different settings. (laughs) I can tell you agree.

Mark: I do, it was a massive tour and we got to see you back in January. It must be amazing not just to tour the world but to one night play Wembley and a little while later come and see us at a little venue in Fremantle, Western Australia and get the same kind of crazy fans but a very intimate atmosphere?

Floor: Yeah, that’s the beauty of it, it’s all really diverse, different people different cultures, different reactions. It seems to be regardless of where people are from or whether it’s a small club or an arena show, the intensity is the same. Some people scream more, some people listen more, some people don’t even move, they just stand and take it all in with their eyes shut, it’s however people want to experience it, and it (the music) connects everyone on this planet.

Mark: its wonderful music and we love that you come to Australia to see us so often. Nightwish these days seem to just get bigger and bigger, one of the best-selling Finnish bands ever, bigger albums, bigger tours, what could be next for the band? You aren’t going to give us any hints are you?

Floor: No! (laughs) Sorry!

Mark: (laughing) I tried, I can tick that one off the list!

Floor: (laughs) All I can say it’s going to be very cool and every Nightwish fan will truly appreciate this.

Mark: Looking at the DVD which I’ve only just finished – there are almost four hours just in the first two shows you see some bands with big stage sets and all the special effects and it sometimes seems to mask the music a little; but for Nightwish it really does seem to enhance the music and the mood of the songs? It’s a wonderful production. What’s it like interacting with that one stage? Those wind machines look pretty fierce!

Floor: (laughs) it’s nice they’re pretty fresh! I’s nice when it’s warm, which of course it wasn’t in the summer in Finland! It really is an enhancer of the show as you say but not the thing that makes the show. In Tampere we’d only used that production twice so you have a little more to think about because you can’t just go anywhere with the pyros as they won’t go off when you’re in the wrong place. But by the time we played Wembley Arena at the end of the tour where we’d had the same production with us every day, then you’re a little more familiar with it, so you don’t have to think about it as much. It’s as much part of the show when you come to Australia and you don’t have that and you miss the sound of the CO2 as it’s become integrated!   But the Tampere show was a little different where we had the huge ramp and the elements moving in the ceiling there was so much happening there was more thinking but you know what is going to happen.

Mark: It was great to get the two shows and see the differences, most bands put out one show but the two were a real treat for fans. Even though we’ve seen the two concerts, we’re yet to see the bonus material – you mentioned there were scenes from other shows you’d played around the world? Is it songs from other venues or the band on tour fooling around in airports and hotels?

Floor: No it’s songs, we recorded one in Vancouver, one in Buenos Aries, one in Mexico City, two in Finland, one at the Masters of Rock in the Czech Republic and one in the US. We also recorded one on our cruise – an acoustic version of ‘Edemah Ruh’. Then at Rock in Rio where every band that plays there has a guest on stage – we had Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica doing ‘Last ride of the Day’ with us. And we have ‘Elan’ from Sydney and a Richard Dawkins interview so it’s a whole full DVD! (laughs)

Mark: One question I have to ask you as I particularly loved them is, you’ve drawn the line under ReVamp – is that for good?

Floor: Yes. Unfortunately life unfolds as it does and you can’t do everything at the same time, and you can’t do some things if you can’t spend the time. So in a band like Nightwish with the intense touring that comes with it and then to have another band that would deserve the same input it’s impossible. So it was already a band in between other things, and when we started to talk about taking this year off I thought about Revamp and thought it could go two ways – I could have a lot of time for ReVamp but that would mean another album and another tour which I’ve been doing non-stop for the last four or five years. So I thought it would be nice to do something else and then of course there was the drive to start a family life, to have a family and two bands is simply impossible. I had to make a tough decision.

Mark: So in your time off with the family will you still be doing anything musically? Or just have a complete break and enjoy that experience?

Floor: Well the idea is to be home and really enjoy that special time with a newborn. But not to have music would be unnatural to me! In 2008 I wrote an album with Jørn Viggo Lofstad the guitar player in Pagan’s Mind, he and I wrote a rock album, but we were never able to release it, and we’ve picked up our ambition to do this. So without any tight planning we might be able to fit that into the year off.

Mark: Just going to the reader’s questions for a moment: what sort of music do you listen to on a day to day basis? Are you very eclectic in your tastes?

Floor: It depends, if I’m travelling I tend to listen to film music, when I’m working out I like to have the heavier stuff – Pantera, Soilwork, stuff like that, and when I’m home I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, I don’t really like Pop Music but maybe a song here and there. I like Sting, Seal and a British band Florence and the Machine.

Mark: Taking it all the way back now, when did it all begin for you, when did you know that music would be your life? Was there a defining

Floor: Between knowing and knowing I guess is a gradual process, but feeling wise it came after I joined a High School musical, so I must have been about 13, 14 years old. That was the first time I realised that I had a voice that actually works really easily – we did a school musical and I got one of the main parts and after the show I realised “Wow!” I want to do this more, so I joined the school band, then we moved unfortunately so I had to start over and then pretty soon after I moved to the new City I met the guys from After Forever back in ’97. So around that time I knew I’d love to become a musician, but I didn’t really know how. Like every teenager I suppose you can have this dream but how realistic is it? I first thought that concert touring was a great idea but then I thought it was either too Classical or too Jazzy for me and the real education that would fit for me didn’t exist yet! (laughs) funnily that came for me one year later in ’99. So yeah I knew that from the first moment on stage, but to actually realise it took a few more years to see it all.

Mark: And I’ve loved all of your music with all of your various bands, I’m so glad that we got to hear your voice, which in my opinion has to be one of the great rock voices of the last 20 years.

Floor: Thank you for that.

Mark: And to close the two questions we like to ask everyone. If you could have been a fly on the wall in the studio for the creation of any great album, just to see how the magic happened and how the musicians interacted – what album would it have been for you and why?

Floor: I’d have loved to have been at a Queen recording. You know how did they do all those harmonies and all that experimentation without all the Pro-Tools sets that we know now? That would be so cool.

Mark: I know, just to see that! How they could achieve it with what they had then, it must have taken them forever to get some of those effects!

Floor: Absolutely!

Mark: And the easy question we close with – what is the meaning of life?

Floor: (laughs) Well, I have no answer for that! I think you might know when you are on your death bed, hopefully at the age of 90 or something! I don’t know, I think we reason that out far too much. On a primary level we are really here to reproduce just like any other animal on the planet. But we think so much so we would like to have an enjoyable life, so in that sense I would say you strive to be happy. And if you can’t manage to do that you would probably have a miserable life. You are not always in charge of the factors around you that would provide happiness unfortunately but that’s an arrogant thing to say from a wealthy Western perspective but I don’t think that happiness is something you can buy per say with money – I think you get it from being safe and being loved.

Mark: That’s a very thoughtful answer, you’ve got me thinking now. It’s always interesting to ask that question of various different people, and you can always tell the people who have thought of the answer but never really considered the question.

Floor: Yeah I think it’s so difficult I’m in a very privileged position I would say but that doesn’t mean I’m always happy, and I question myself “Why am I not happy?” and it has nothing to do with being rich or poor, it’s that sense of safety. I think if you were to ask a child in Syria right now what she or he needed to be happy I think safety would be the first thing they would mention, not wealth in that sense . I mean I would like to have a lot of money right now (laughs). Money does come with its own kind of safety and ease when you know that there’s enough that you don’t have to worry about it, which is a massive luxury that a lot of that a lot of people don’t get to have ever. But is that the key to happiness? No there are a lot of factors and it’s far too complex to sum up I one sentence anyway! (laughs)

Mark: And I do think it’s different for everybody and changes as life changes. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today it’s been a pleasure: enjoy 2017!

Floor: Yes, I surely will and same to you, I’ll be back in touch I’m sure in 2018! Bye, Bye!


Floor Jansen spoke to Mark Rockpit December 2016

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