Tarot is a heavy metal band from Finland. Maybe many of you discovered them only when Marco Hietala became the bass player of Nightwish, but their story dates back to many years ago, in 1986...
Hi Zac, thank you for this interview!
As you know, the purpose of our blog is to spread music in Italy, trying to raise awareness of various bands in our area, ranging between genres. We try, in our small place, to give back to our readers the soul behind a music project. Obviously you are not in an emerging band, but I think it is also crucial starting to understand what it means to have the music inside.
So… here are our questions!
LFdM: In the mid-80s Tarot played mainly British Metal, and Hanoi Rocks glam rock, both movements from England. Today we see a lot of bands drawing from Finnish music the basic elements to start their career. Can we finally talk about a Finnish music scene?
Zac: In our opinion we played NWOBHM and kinda do it still. We just wanted to wear American glamrock clothes back then, but the music style was European.
Although we have develop our own style to play metal and surely it’s Finnish metal.
LFdM: Please, tell me more about Purgatory. What drives two brothers to form a band?
Zac: Marco and I started the band at early -80’s and it was easy start with bro. We both liked same kinda metal and bands, so it was natural to work together.
LFdM: Tarot project has its roots in a time when all the members of a band were used to close themselves in a cellar, began to strum putting down ideas and songs and then got a cubic ass (pardon the colorful expression… I'm a metalhead inside, hope you don't mind!) to bring their work in front of producers who, perhaps, will often shot the door in their face. Today there is a totally different climate: internet, social networks, the ability to do most of the work with a computer and then send a simple email to the right person. This evolution has affected the way you make music or are you still the guys you were yesterday?
Zac: We haven’t live together in any cellar or training room and don’t call Tarot as a project.
When we got the material ready for the album, we of course trainend our asses of, but one reason we have been active more than 25 years, is we don’t hang around in our free time.
We mostly see each others, when starting to do new album or training for tours.
Me and Marco did all music, arrangement and lyrics before Janne came in the band. After that he’s been with us doing music. We have always have kinda unique way to compose new material. All of us three does riffs, choruses, bits and pieces by our own and then we go together in the studio, to putting things together. We have never ever done songs by jamming together or so.
Of course sometimes we all have so strict vision of the own particular song, so it’s almost ready for demo or even recording. That time others do only some arrangements. Now on Marco does all the lyrics for years, so I don’t have to do them.
|(c) Jarkko Tiitinen|
LFdM: During the years there have been some changes in the line-up and "a correction of the sound"with Janne Tolsa on keyboards and Tommi Salmela to the sampler. Keyboards and samplers have certainly helped to give a more modern sound to the band. How these choices have really affected your natural path as we see and hear it today?
Zac: Janne came in the band -88 and Tommi has been with us since the beginning. nhe was one of our roudies and got the own band, so it was natural to him to start sinning backing vocals on stage and later on the albums, as well as leads.
Janne has only two hands, so we want to show all vocals tracks, which been recorded, on stage as well, so Tommi play them out from the sampler. We don’t want to start to use tapes or hard disk. Keys is very important instrument of old school metal and we should use them from the beginning, which obviously we didn’t.
LFdM: I saw you live during the Ankkarock 2011, and I was struck by the warmth of the people and the friendly atmosphere between you and the audience. At that time I still did not know these wonderful people. I could not help but notice how many people in the crowd wore Nightwish t-shirts, it seemed to me I was at their gig rather than in front of Tarot. In this regard, I wonder how the entry of Marco in a band with such a strong impact and reputation like Nightwish has had an impact on the reputation of Tarot: something has changed or the interest of people towards you is independent from all this?
Zac: We always have warm feeling with the crowd and we don’t want to be too tough or theeth grinned on stage, playing metal should be fun indeed.
Nighwish success has helped us surely, but you have to remember, Tarot started 1986 and Nw 1996, they even started as warming up act for us back then.
If you sell millions of albums, you will sell T-shirts as well, He he!
LFdM: It's tough having to always compare with this reality or are these two opposed worlds that are able to coexist in spite of this legacy?
Zac: Not actually. This is not the sports. Just rock ‘n’ roll
LFdM: I admit to having met you through Nightwish, but this didn't stop me from appreciating your music: indeed, it was a moment of musical enrichment for me. I remember (or maybe I imagined it) a raised edge of wonder in your eyes to see a 24 year old girl in the midst of large group of diehard metalheads who knew your songs. Is that music's or Tarot's power?
Zac: We have a strong group called Tarot, we play well and we have decent songs, so there are very strong basement of fans now. It’s been grown with us and I think we have our little place in metal sky.
LFdM: Almost all the band members carry on side projects of great value. Consider for example Turmion Kätilöt, always very active especially live, or to the most recent draft of Lazy Bonez. How do you reconcile to everything? I mean, Finnish people are perfectionist by nature, so where do you find the time and energy, what is the sec Just rocret of your success in everything you do?
Zac: We all, except our drummer, have side projects, other bands or so. It’s refreshing to do something else time to time. I released A2Z guitar solo album last summer and another one is on it’s way. Janne is really busy with Turmion Kätilöt. Tommi has done few demos for Lazy Bonez and with Marco they will start soon Raskasta Joulua (Metal Christmas) tour, so next Tarot album have to wait a little bit longer we expected. Of course Marco has been doing forthcoming Nightwish album this summer as well.
Actually we have about 10 new songs for Tarot written already, so hopefully all time schedules will turn out great and all the albums are coming out someday.
LFdM: How would you describe your journey as a musician? Each of us knows deep in his soul what is the favourite path to take: your love for music: has always been clear or is it something that has matured over the years, which has evolved over time?
Zac: Learning. I have work as youth worker at the same time I’ve been musician, so there’s great balance between these two professions.
Sometimes it’s hard to do two full time jobs, but if you love what you do, you’ll stand it.
LFdM: The thing I think is most fascinating about being a musician is being able to meet theaudience during live shows, but I guess it's also one of the most delicate moments: do you feel "naked" in front of your fans or, sometimes, you're forced to wear a mask?
Zac: Not really. As an artist you shoud be bit scared, when hit the stage, until you don’t get adrenaline flowing and do you best. But naked…masked… not. I love to be naked, but not on stage though…
LFdM: How do you experience tours and festivals? What are your feelings during these events?
Zac: I love to play live, it’s the most best thing in this profession, surely.
LFdM: During these years have you gained more familiarity or there is the same excitement of the early days?
Zac: You always find something new from playing live, different countries, cultures, places, you can name them. Never get bored or too used to it.
LFdM: What are your plans for the future? Gravity of Light and its tour come from 2010/2011. We are in 2014. Just to say: do we have to wait for you for a long time? :)
Zac: Hopefully not. The next album is on it’s way as I said earlier, but we all have so much to do, it will take the time, sorry.
|(c) Jarkko Tiitinen|
Until now we joked with "usual questions", but I'm also your (big!) fan, so, I would like to get a little more personal, if you do not mind!
LFdM: I read that Marco has a really diverse musical training: he studied jazz and then began his vocal training at a school of music, however, he was unable to continue his studies because he had already released two albums with Tarot, and was thought to have sold his soul to the Devil. How much of these rumors are true? Have you ever had real problems from this point of view back in the eighties?
Zac: Never heard such a story. In -80’s all religious people here in Finland said we have tyo be satan worshippers, but today no no… Rumors are rumors and we don’t care them, cause they are not true at all.
LFdM: Is there any funny story you want to tell us regarding your beginnings? Stage fright, hysterics or simply afraid to have taken a wrong path?
Zac: There are so many funny stories in such long career, but I might not tell them here, they are not for innocent ears, he he!
LFdM: If the Hietala brothers had not decided to become musicians, what they would do in their lives? The audience sees only what he wants to see about people on the stage, but I am sure that under the surface something really different hides (and certainly not Satan ;) )
Zac: Cannot say about the boys, but surely I would be youth worker as I do. We don’t regret our choice of career and I’m sure we all are happy with this.
LFdM: There is a dream that, being part of the Tarot, you have not had the chance to carry on because of too many commitments, or just because you've become famous? Have you achieved all the achievable?
Zac: Always we can get more of this and never be too satisfied of what you have achieved.
Try to get higher, sell more albums, play more and better gigs, etc. Way of life.
LFdM: I visited the lake area in far and wide. I was struck by the breathtaking scenery that your land has to offer all year round. Have you ever want to drop everything and retire from the scene for a quieter life in a cottage by the lake, with a boat on a side and a fishing rod on the other? Or Tarot still have a lot to say through music?
Zac: We all except Tommi, are more or less city boys. Tommi has summer cottage and like to spend time there, when possible. But I love cities and I’m not eager to go in the woods or lakes.
Thank you so much for your time and for your patience. And I also thank all of band members for what they have been able to give over the years with their music. I hope you'll go on this way. (Come in Italy whenever you want, I'll be there for sure!)
With huge esteem,
Dora for Les Fleurs du Mal
Tarot is a heavy metal band from Finland whose members are:
Marco Hietala - vocals, bass
Zachary Hietala - guitars
Pecu Cinnari - drums
Janne Tolsa - keys
Tommi Salmela - vocals, sampler
For more informations visit their Official Website!