Esa Holopainen is a Finnish musician, currently the main songwriter, occasional lyricist, founding member and lead guitarist of the Finnish metal band Amorphis. He was also formerly the guitarist of the bands Violent Solution (1990) and Chaosbreed (2003–2004). Here are “Ten Questions” by Esa Holopainen!
What made you want to become a musician?
Seeing first live-shows from Iron Maiden, Deep Purple etc. at Helsinki Icehall was a mind blowing experience for a young kid like me.
The energy at the venues was insane. Good thing about being a youngster is that you believe that everything is possible. Meeting friends, sharing same passion for music and starting first bands really started everything for me.
School was just something where you needed to be and the main focus was getting to rehearsing flat with your bandmates. 90% stupid decisions but very essential.
How would you describe your music?
These days I write everything I feel good about. I love to play with different rhythms and time signatures. With Amorphis the root of everything is of course metal but the musical influences are very versatile. If you disassemble our songs or try to approach them from a different musical perspective you realize that it’s not even that metal.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
There’s a lot of things I would change but what needs to be changed is the sharing from streaming sources. Spotify is the worst example. It does benefit all the stock-holders but not the artists who are actually creating the content. If that’s not ripping-off someone then I don’t know what is. All the artists are depending from live-industry and now Covid-19 pandemic shut it down for approx two years. Maybe more, who knows. The positive side is that in metal-industry all the fans and listeners are extremely loyal and really want to support their artists by buying merchandise, physical albums etc. That is absolutely wonderful.
What is the saddest song you’ve ever heard?
That’s hard one. There’s so many great sad songs but I would put Leonard Cohen’s song You Want It Darker. He recorded his last album while suffering from leukemia and died quite soon after the release.
Beside that Brothers In Arms from Dire Straits is a classic.
What is your best music related memory?
One of the highlights is seeing Pink Floyd live in Lahti, Finland at 1989. Another ones are probably opening up for Iron Maiden, Metallica or Volbeat. Huge crowds.
What is the most useless talent you have?
I don’t know if it’s useless but I have always being a good drawer. On tour I sometimes amuse people by drawing caricatures.
What’s the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
I haven’t received any that good advices from colleagues. It’s usually like medical advices, drink recipes or how to survive on tour type of talking. I guess I have learned mostly from our own mistakes and bad decisions.
Has there been one particular moment in your musical career that you’re most proud of?
Not any particular moment. Amorphis is 30-year old band and I am extremely grateful and proud on what we have achieved together.
What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?
Drawing caricatures. I have never had any other options. At one point during my career I realized that it’s too late to press the break.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I am happy where I live. Finland is sometimes rough but the pros outweigh the cons. Although I could imagine spending my retirement ages in a some nice Caribbean island.