A conversation with Esa Holopainen (Amorphis) on debut Silver Lake album

Posted by on June 21, 2021



The debut album of Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen (Amorphis) finally arrived last month via Nuclear Blast. The record has landed in worldwide charts with #1 in the physical charts of Finland and #30 in Germany. We caught up with the guitarist to discuss the record, guest musicians, and more.


SIlver Lake is a fantastic record. I think you have a little bit of everything in this album. I’ve heard classical, to Amorphis, to even a small hint of Phil Collins. Can you talk about the variety in this record?

Well, it’s pretty much a musical map inside of me. There is probably everything that I love about music and what inspires me. So it’s super versatile. The song is its own case. And I still try to do, that there is some red line, that it’s not just the mixture between random songs sung by random singers. Everything that can be heard on the album is pretty much what inspires me as a musician and what kind of music I enjoy listening to.


How was it working on this project during the pandemic?

It’s weird to say, but it was super relaxing. The vocals we recorded, although most of the vocals, they had their own home studios or studios nearby where they recorded their parts. I guess traveling which still was pretty tricky at the moment to cross the border. So everybody recorded their parts in their own studios. All the musicians got to the studio. So we got a proper studio set up here in Helsinki, where we recorded all the instruments.

Writing songs, arranging songs with my producer was pretty easy because we live close to each other. The studio is close to where I live. So it was all right. I think everything else besides that was locked down and you’re not allowed to go anywhere. So it was something that we had to keep focused on all the time, that we wear our face masks all the time. Not in the studio though, but everywhere we went. And the typical thing I guess that happened everywhere. 


How has the overall experience been like between the pandemic to working with so many guest musicians?

It was quite funny to realize that all the musicians were left in the same situation. Everybody got their tours and the live shows canceled. And all the musicians that I worked with were super creative last year and they are still because you can’t tour, you can’t do any live shows. The other way that channels your creativity is to write music and work in the studio, writing music, or some people do their own YouTube channels. That was something that you obviously realize that even if there are no live shows, the musicians still want to do some action and to be somehow acting. So I think that was one of the main reasons that I got all of these musicians involved here, because everybody was super happy to work with something. And it was just a lot of emails, phone calls, WhatsApp messages, and file sharing. And that’s how this project got created.


Well, it worked out. Everything connects well together, but it’s also different and unique in each track. I think the song, “In Her Solitude,” and this isn’t intentional because of Tomi Joutsen as the guest singer for that song. Can you actually talk more about the song?

Yeah. It’s got Tomi on vocals and Tomi was quite necessary, not necessarily, but all the others to have Tomi on this album. And I wanted him to sing one song. Not just because he’s my band mate from Amorphis, but I really respect him as a vocalist and artist. Well, it’s no secret that if I write a song for Tomi, it will turn out a little bit like an Amorphis song. But I’m super happy with this song. It’s one of the heaviest songs, but there are so many other elements in there as well. It’s a solid band song, there’s a lot of guitar, solos, keyboard, lines, solos, proper tromping and everything. It’s a super musical song in that way. And it really shows everything from these musicians on this album as well. So I’m super happy how it turned out.



Are there any songs that were more challenging for you to write?

I don’t think there were any challenging songs. For me, the hardest songs were probably the songs that I didn’t play that much guitar. And I felt like all the other two songs were too naked in some way. It’s too less guitar. What I was thinking, like the songs like “Ray of Light,” which is, it’s got almost like a poppy feeling in there. And the first single Storm, there was not actually that much guitar playing going on. Guitar is more or less repeating some vocal lines that are harmonious. And on “Storm,” I did some historic guitars during the vocals with some delay of guitars underneath. And there was just one guitar at the end of the song. These songs don’t really sound like they are made by a guitar player from a metal band. I think that was the hardest thing for me to switch myself into the total song writing mode. I don’t really care if there’s not that much guitar. I wanted to just do songs based on these vocalists and do songs that I truly enjoy to listen to myself. And at some point I had to pause myself not to record that much guitar.



Do you have any plans for a livestream for this record?

Actually I haven’t thought about streaming. That could be doable. I got contacted by a couple of promoters who asked if I would be interested in doing this project in some selected locations, selected cities in future when the world goes back to normal again. But I would love to. Logistically it would be a little nightmare to try to arrange all the singers and everybody to the same place, but live stream, that would actually work. You’re the first one who’s been asking this and I haven’t thought about that before. Yeah. Why not? I have to ponder on that.


Maybe a fun quarantine session, just everybody from their home getting together. It’d be cool to see.

Yeah, exactly. That could probably work.


For Amorphis, I know you said that you’re working on the album, are there any updates that you can share to your fans?

Yeah. We are in the middle of the recording process. So far we recorded all the drums, bass and rhythm guitars. There are still lead guitars, keyboards, vocals, additional instruments and whatever our producer has in his mind to be recorded. But the album should come out next year. So we’re in the halfway, I would say, of the recording process at the moment. And I’m really  excited about how this album is going to turn out because it has a little bit more, perhaps slightly more progressive touch in there. And the same producer we worked with for Queen of Time and Under the Red Clouds. So I’m pretty sure that he will come up with some strange additional ideas again.


Is there anything else that you wanted to say or add about the album?

Yeah, I think it’s really hard for me to describe what the music is like. As you said, you have to listen to it through and make your own mind. But it’s totally music that will not be into my world. And I love the music that inspires me and the music that I generally love to listen to. There’s a lot of elements in what I love about music and it’s definitely not a typical guitar player, it’s our album. So it’s more or less a  musical trip into my world.




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Categorised in: Interviews, Releases