Nightwish have capped off a massive two year world tour and its timely to immortalise their Endless Forms Most Beautiful album with the release of their brand new DVD Vehicle Of Spirit. What an awesome package with two full length concerts and bonus extras which were recorded on the world tour including one from Sydney. It was a huge privilege to be able to speak lead vocalist Floor Jansen about the DVD and the future for Nightwish.
Congratulations on the DVD Vehicle Of Spirit, it seems like the perfect way to cap off a massive world tour over the last couple of years.
Yeah! We wanted to document the world tour, the idea behind the DVD was not only to show one concert but to give an insight of what it looks like when we’re touring the world. There are three DVD’s and the third includes material literally recorded all over the world. It gives a complete impression there and we had two very special shows that became obvious such as our first stadium show in Tampere in Finland, so we went arena to stadium and the size made everything bigger. Bigger stage meant bigger pyros and lights and then when the Wembley Arena show got confirmed we thought that was something that should not be missed either.
Does that create extra pressure for the band having to have the ‘perfect show’ knowing that the shows are being recorded for DVD?
Of course, you know that this is the moment but in order to get it right I think you need to forget about it again and try to do a show as usual. That sounds very boring but to keep your head from spinning off that was the right approach for us.
Was there a lot of planning involved for each show that was going to be filmed?
Yes, I wouldn’t say playing the show was the easy part and if that is not done well then the DVD is pretty useless. There is a lot of planning that goes in to it such as how do you want to film it, what do you want to show, are the lights we have working for the DVD and the cameras we are using and the set list is another matter. Afterwards the choice in material we have a lot of different cameras filming in many different angles so the director comes with the first cut of all of that and we go through that, give our opinions and that gets done again and again. Then there is the music and the mix so there is a lot of work.
Given that everything was fairly well planned out was there much scope to improvise a little bit particularly not knowing what the crowd reaction would be like on a given night?
I don’t think it was an option to use the material or not because the expenses were huge. Imagine what it would cost to film a stadium show when you have a big crane over the audience and drones in the air with cameras on them. The audience is what it is but we are extremely spoilt with our audiences being loud and appreciating what’s happening. I don’t think it is something you can adapt to.
How hard was it picking the set lists for these shows?
For sure, this is the end of the Endless Forms Most Beautiful world tour so the emphasis with the live show was on that. At the start of the tour we created a standard set up of the set list because we have a massive production and we can’t just free wheel when we feel like it but also not being stuck to the same thing for all those shows. We had sounds that could vary so both shows are different then the bonus material had a lot of extra songs that are not on it as well.
What did you think when you watched the final version for the first time?
For me the greatest joy was not the finished product but the raw material. We didn’t change anything or re-record it, left it unmixed and it had its charm which you can see what is happening. I enjoyed the process of it all because it shows that without any technical solution we really did well. Things can be tuned if it is a little bit off but you can never make a bad show sound good but in both cases they were great shows which made me so proud. I think we really pulled it off there.
Is it hard sitting back and not critiquing your own performance wishing that you had done this or that?
I think that is impossible to watch it without doing that. No one is objective about their own performance so you do that.
How big a task was it going through all the bonus material and working out what to include and possibly leave out?
It was and it wasn’t like we recorded every show we did and watched all the material from all of the shows. That would be financially impossible and too much on our plate. What we did want to cover was as much of the show as possible and looking at particular parts of the set list. We included Elan from the Sydney show and when we were in Rio we recorded Last Ride Of The Day with Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica which was the most special moment on that night. That’s how we worked out what to cut so it isn’t like we recorded a crazy extra amount.
Where to next for Nightwish in 2017?
Well, we announced a while back that we would be taking a year off which means no writing, no touring, no Nightwish, no nothing… a real break. This is the first time in twenty years that we are taking a break after being non-stop during that time. Things are so good right now that it would be nice to step away from it and it is the right moment to do this. In 2018 we have all kinds of plans but have not communicated that with anybody. I can tell you that fans will really appreciate what we have in mind.
What are your plans for 2017?
Everyone in the band will be off doing other things. I’m six months pregnant and my main focus will be on family life. I did work on a rock album in 2008, one I wrote with Jørn Viggo Lofstad from Pagan’s Mind which was never released. Without any real timeframes it would be lovely to actually record and release this album in 2017.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Vehicle Of Spirit is out on December 16.
Here’s a taster from the Wembly Arena show