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Tuomas Holopainen: “Nightwish fans linked by extreme emotions”

Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish fame felt awkward giving his first autograph back in January 1998. Since then, he has encountered fans in dozens of countries in four different continents. It is, nonetheless, hard for Holopainen to grasp what his band has been able to offer to its fans.

“A documentary of this sort comes in handy. Personally, I’m interested in seeing what exactly have we been able to offer to the fans,” expresses Tuomas Holopainen. He is referring to the documentary entitled “To Nightwish with Love,” a joint effort between the fanbase and Yleisradio. Holopainen was interviewed this June, and he has not seen the production as of yet.

Fans hailing from over fifty countries participated in the documentary project. They share their love for Nightwish’s music, but the way they display their fandom is culturally dependent.

For Holopainen, the cultural differences become obvious in concerts. “In Japan, an audience of one thousand remain silent during the intro. Once the song begins, it’s a complete jungle out there, but come stage banter, it’s all quiet again,” he explains.

Asian demeanour presents itself as immensely proper, whereas the fans in Latin America are up close and personal. Elaborates Holopainen: “The fans’ love is sincere and extremely charming. It bridges cultures, and it requires consideration from both parties.”

“The mutual aspect linking the fanbase is loyalty for the band coupled with extreme emotions,” muses Holopainen. He continues: “99.9 per cent of fan encounters are positive, warm, and even funny every now and then.”

Holopainen declined to meet his own idol

Holopainen admits to understanding fan feelings: “Meeting Richard Dawkins, Don Rosa, and Esko Valtaoja have made my pulse race during recent years.”

The musical idols for Holopainen come from cinema soundtracks: Hans Zimmer, John Williams, and Vangelis.

This spring he had the opportunity to see Mr. Zimmer after a concert in Prague. “I was somewhat jittery about it, too,” Tuomas confesses.

After an impeccable concert, however, he had a change of heart, deciding not to ruin that experience by meeting his hero. “It turned into a textbook example of how you sometimes wish to preserve the ‘idolness’ of those who have had a vastly positive effect on your life,” he expounds.

Musical integrity as the greatest duty

Nightwish is currently on a world tour, performing in all for 1.5 million spectators. The band members meet up their fans on concert days. They receive a multitude of gifts during these encounters, but what touches Holopainen the most are the letters they get from the fans.

The correspondence is touching, as well as dramatic occasionally. A few weeks before this interview, Tuomas received a suicide note. The music had saved its sender several times, but now the only thing left was a final song, Ghost Love Score. Conversely, numerous stories have been shared on the documentary website on how the music has made it possible to keep on living.

As for the documentary, Tuomas expects it to provide some explanation for the fans’ passion for the band: “What makes you a fan, and what makes you even a fanatic in some cases? It will be interesting to take a peek into the personal lives of the fans, to see where they come from, and what lies behind their fandom.”

Does Tuomas then feel a responsibility for his fans? “I’ve thought about this. My greatest duty is to make music with integrity, and this has always been important for Nightwish.”

To Nightwish with Love documentary will be available on 20 August at yle.fi/tonightwish.

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