Tarot history by Marco and Zachary [length 32:00]

(The unofficial transcript and translation. Provided by The Enigma.)

The Early Years

0:00 (These are min:sec referring to the timing of the interview on the DVD)

Marco: When putting up the band in the beginning, nobody dared to start singing. Then I started singing and since we have always played a little bit heavy metal, so I started singing heavy metal.

Question: Isn't it hard to sing this kind of music, doesn't it affect your voice? Isn't it quite hard?

Marco: It's hard, it's heck of hard.  I'd say to anyone willing to enter the business they'd put  an unbeleavable amount lot of work for it.

Marco: The time Tarot began, the climate of Finnish heavy music was in - both are wrong but also right words - high and low pressure, let's say the situation was gloomy but on the other hand it wasn't gloomy enough regarding the quality of the music. In other words: there were no [heavy] bands, only sunny poppers...

Zac: - and "Hurriganes"!

Marco: I think that our British oriented style... It's mainly because of our roots. I mean we did involve ourselves at very young age with the [Deep] Purple, [Black] Sabbath, the old Dio-era Rainbow and [Judas] Priest styles.

Zac: Yes, our first cover songs before we had enough of our own were all taken from Deep Purle - Black Sabbath line, and also from Rainbow. We just found out that this was our thing, the British "chugga-chugga".

2:02
Marco: When thinking about our humble point of origin; we - me and Zac - come from a village of 2500 people which wasn't really the most optimal surroundings for this kind of a band to grow.
... especially considering the time - we are talking about the late 70's early 80's here - when everywhere in Finland this peculiar "rockabilly"-boom was in at the same time with the punk-scene. At high school I was a complete "strange bird" of the flock.

Zac: I recall that you gave really good feedback to them and soon you didn't have too many good friends but despite of it, we had to go for it; we will make heavy metal, the others may say whatever they want but this is our thing and we will find out what will come out of it.

3:20
Marco: When we were founding the first school bands there were constant changes. Actually we had a drummer and a bassist, I played the 2nd guitar and sung, Zac played the lead and when the drummer took off we pushed the bassist to play the drums and I took the bass. This way we kept a full power-trio together. There simply weren't enough people to play with. Then at a point we enlarged the circles and invited a 2nd guitarist from the neighbouring village and the drummer came from Kuopio.

Marco: The things started growing a bit bigger and soon we moved the band towards Kuopio where we then got the whole thing to the point when... it was when "Spede" (= Pecu Cinnari) became our drummer in -84 and after one year we moved our training place to Kuopio and within one year we also had a record deal. At that point it got serious. The training and our attitude towards the songs and blabla, and also we should have taken a serious attitude towards lyrics... actually I did - as much as I was able at the time. [wry smile]

4:40
Marco: ...the core of the band coming together... Zac and I had been playing for years together, then we hired the 2nd guitarist from the neighbouring village, and the drummer came really... like he really called and I was at home, heard the phone ring, went to answer it and heard someone asking: "Would Zac happen to be there?"
I said nooo.. no, this is Marco.
"well, you'll do then... You know, you have a shitty drummer, I could patch his place!"
Oh yeah?

I agreed to meet him at his training place not too far and we went there, saw a huuuuge double-bass Ludwig drumkit which at the time was totally unusual. Then we just kept watching the drums with our jaws dropping and thought that based on the drumkit this guy definitely thinks he is something, so let's hear him hammering some. Then he started and soon we were like yeah... you're welcome to the band.

5:39
Zac: We were forced to ask him when and how we can move his drums immediately to Tervo and start training because the first gig would be in two weeks. For the fact we didn't have to draw straws.
Then we took and gave him a light styling to prepare him... I took and trimmed his pants tighter with a sewing machine and did all kinds of little tunings...

Marco: When remembering the first single's cover, didn't we all look extremely stylish!

Zac: Indeed!

6:10
Marco: I think that our outfit was some kind of collective monster... Even our music was British heavy metal we for some strange reason pulled the fucking leopard tights on ...and hairspray, the fucking hairspray was consumed in such insane quantities that it's a miracle none of us has got a lung disorder yet... actually we might have, who knows?

Honestly, it was clearly for reaching the shock factors. I recall us considering consciously that while our music is of British style and we add the outfits, will there be any additional asskicking value for us. Come to think of it now, I think there wasn't so much of it and we could have succeeded by playing in more comfortable costumes.

Actually, the reason why we purchased a huge amount of gear was that we wanted get the wall of Marshalls like can be seen on a Maiden video or something similar. At that point we were unaware of the fact the those guys had maybe 2-3 working speaker units there and the rest were plain cardboard boxes.

We went on and ordered the whole fucking pile. Like, see. we have two guitars and a bass, each would get four units, we'd have a dozen of them on stage and we'd put the drumkit between them. Sure it looked cool but it also wasn't cheap! In other words... it may be that there was involved our lack of knowledge added to enormus amount of ambition... but it sure looked cool as hell!!!

8:00
I happened to write a text which was a little nose-twisting for all the religious circles aroud who at the time were tagging us satanists: It was to see where we can reach with it and we did reach something. You know, they are believers, so they will believe anything.
I think it was a relief to them, because they didn't have to fight Kiss and Maiden and they felt they got a respectable sized domestic opposer near their home which was easier to attack.
It wasn't really serious, but made with tonque in the cheek and we knew we wold make a boiling pot out of it ...and we did.

Zac: Therefore we put Pecu speaking backwards on our first album in the "Pharao" -song, it was clearly indicating: this is for you!
[Pecu says there in Finnish: Arvasin että kuuntelisitte tätä takaperin, perverssit! engl: I knew you'd listen to this backwards, perverts!]

Zac: The reason why we - Janne had come in the band a while ago - started changing our style includes a small funny anecdote. First, our bus was stolen and all our clothes disappeared except the few pieces which were home for a wash. Badmouths in Kuopio keep telling that our own roadies stole the bus in order to get rid of watching us in those outfits. Nor needing to smell them! This has left me in infinite doubt because even if I have tried for decades listen and follow all rumours, nobody has ever confessed posessing a single piece of the clothes we used during the time of our first two albums. Like put something hanging on the wall for example. They must have been dumped with rocks in the Kallavesi-lake or have been burned in a midsummer bonfire a long time ago.

10:08
Zac: Indeed, after the first two albums the record label's comments - which had been like: yeah yeah, excellent, this haven't ever been done in Finland before! - now we got a boomerang that these songs won't do!
It raised a strage feeling asking what's up now? Our tones and music had developed wider, we had also a keyboard in the band now. There are more tunes, more depth, loads of more heaviness but now we were told that hey, now you either move to thrash metal or to yankee-pop like Europe and Bon Jovi and this was to me and Marco such a red cloth - the idea that someone would start telling us what kind of music we must make.

Marco: What was sad in getting the boot from the label was that there was a thrash metal boom going on, and it took us five years to get the next album out even we had half of the songs done in two years after the release of "Madness". All we could do was to withhold and re-arrange them, decide that let's but a new bassline here and some new keyboard lines there, we demoed them, partially twice, and kept sending them [to labels] but none of the bigger labels showed the least interest in our works.

11:38
Marco: True, it happened so that we drifted into schism with then the 2nd guitarist, whose name you may read on the covers of our two first albums, I'm not interested in saying it aloud. Nothing more to say about him, - but if you happen to win the lottery, pay your debt.

Marco: OK, then we went on business in spring 1988 as a trio again and toured some venues and if I recall it right, in Ämmänsaari (Zac: Yeah!) a couple of guys entered the backstage telling they come from Kajaani. They were both totally smashed, one was this little skinny guy who suddenly was clanging Bon Jovi's songs with piano playing "Runaway": I said yeah you play piano and he says: "Naarrgh, I play keys in a heavy metal band in Kajaani". So, I ask him if he'd want to pay a visit to Kuopio the other day...

Marco: This guy felt mentally a decent moron to fit in the band, but the roadies were horrifiedly shouting: You can't take him, else we will resign immediately.

Zac: They said if that little gremlin joins the band they'll be out.

Marco: But we kept thinking he was mentally suitable for the band and OK, this guy will clear these things well enough, and if we keep educating him a bit, then why not, come along. And after all the fuss, the roadies didn't leave anywhere.

Zac: Janne's arrival was legendary indeed. The guy followed us at least for ten gigs around Finland, slept in ATM-booths and on the bus floor, he was shitty all over, always super drunk only able to make unintelligent noise and we were like wtf, is that creature possibly able to play anything for real? it didn't make sense.

13:36
Marco: Then when we at last started making the album - it was once again based on the fact that Tuomo Leskinen, the producer guy had had enough for us not been able to get it done after four years and he said that here is a pile of money, go get some more from ESEK (Finnish association promoting music performing artists) and get it done, then we'll market the master record licence. We took that chance and made it, and got some nice attention and also a bunch of apprehensive reviews in magazines and papers, although not so big sales figures since many people considered us outdated or had forgot us because of the five years hiatus before we got it out.

But, what was surpising, a decent sized pile was imported in Japan and it went quite high on Japanese import charts and we started getting offers from there to licence the album for sale in Japan. There were a few different labels competing until it finally went to Zero Corporation because they placed the best offer for advance payment. Come to think of it afterwards, once again a label we never should have made a deal with even if the guys working there were very nice.

14:50
Marco: I remember when To Live Forever was released in Japan and in the same year the live album To Live Again - which is now released here complete, too - our copyright licencing income made quite a big leap which was a sign that the records were selling there. We had never received so big amount of money at once before, but now we did and since we were touring Finland and happened to have a day off, it meant us spending the day in a taxi moving from a bar to another on a "this round's on me" -spree.

Zac: On that day off we got a forever ban in a certain bath Hotel...

Marco: It might have been because of the palm-tree...

Zac: I think it was the palm tree's revenge.

Marco: ... and especially because of the pot where the palm was standing in, filled with soil.

Zac: Why it had to come swimming with us in the jacuzzi? I don't understand.

Marco: I dunno...

15:54
Marco: The music on Stigmata did change into more proggish direction. I think the reasons came from me and Janne. We both had an incredible amount of different pieces and things, song melodies made ready and Zac had riffs and we started putting them together in a non pre-judging way, like "OK, this could work with that in here, don't you think?" It was like we went doing music more shamelessly according to our own minds than ever before.
I would not want to judge anything, of course on that album there is a couple of nonsense tracks like it is always on albums when we look them afterwards, but the best tracks are still hell of good anyway.

Zac: It was the most painful record we ever done!

Marco: Ok, really. First the tape recorders broke down. And, if I recall it right, when you were about to start recording guitars, you went through a glass door and the tendons in your hand were all visible and it had to be bound in bandages for weeks and you couldn't use it for playing. Next when we were again getting to record the guitar parts, then mister Tegelman goes and in some kind of fury kicks a phone booth, his leg goes through the glass and it cuts his Achilles tendon. The man stays in a hospital. After that I began to feel quite pissed like fuck you! I'll record it all by myself.

Marco: Then we agereed that we'd go to the studio the next day and we do and record for a couple of days, then I begin to feel bad and tired like hell and while walking a few hundred meters home from studio I'm all out of breath. I go to doctor, he knocks on my chest and tells to go take x-ray: "Right, it looks you have a pint of fluid in one of your lungs, you have got a starting pneumonia. Now you need to go home and stay at least two weeks in bed and take this hefty load of antibiotics."
- Oh yeah!


18:05
Zac: The Tegelman's phone booth show was because our mixer got the king-idea for his pleasure in the wee hours in a bar that now they'd travel to Estonia on the first train tomorrow and have some fun, even our recording session was due to start next day. He calls his wife at four a'clock in the morning and tells he's going to Estonia. Obviously he didn't get a licence and the door of the phone booth got to suffer and the man ended in a hospital with his Achilles tendon cut.

Marco: Well, he got his day off.

Karma of Tarot

18:35
Zac: Our unluck has been because of our karma. We call it the Tarot karma.

Zac: Also, anything that can go wrong with this band definitely will. And if that's not enough, then someone kicks in the head even harder.
Starting from our little village where they had a little summer festival "Tervon kesä", I think Tapio Rautavaara was the headliner then and did it take less than a month after it and he was dead.

Marco: The same stage.

Zac: The same stage.

Zac: The next summer we were supporting another famous Finnish troubadour Esa Pakarinen and it didn't take but a few weeks and Esa died.

Zac: We were performing at the same venue with another Finnish pop-star Irwin Goodman and it didn't take too long after we heard that Irwin was dead.

Zac: If you think that our agents and labels have gone bankrupt, our bandmate made a swindle on us, anything a human mind can come up with that should not happen to a band who try to take proper care of their business, all has happened to us.

Marco: Then there is the road from Iisalmi to Oulu, through the vast forests where our bus has broken down almost every time we have tried to pass through. There must be some psychic cold spot where the folks downstairs come to interfere, because a tyre has gone flat there three times, once the brakes failed and another bus lost the power steering. We have travelled that road on different times on different vehicles and it's always the same spot where this happen and it clearly means that there must be a gate to some place from where those creatures come to harass us.

20:50
Marco: After Stigmata, our band wasn't going to split, things just went on slow. I had worked in Kuopio as studio engineer and some kind of producer for my friends demo bands and such. Then I noticed that enough studio work wasn't available any more. The boom of local radios was over. We did plenty of work for them and it brought good money to buy sausages on the table at Henry's Pub, but it all ceased so I decided that I have to move to Helsinki. I headed there in 1996 and looked around for a while to find jobs. I'm positive there could have been something but for a work challenged man like me looking for a job wasn't the number one thing and then some bad things started to happen.

20:45
Marco: I had to go through surgery due a polyp in my throat, then we split up with my girlfriend a few months later which lead into a period of quite active young man's life, which lead me getting ousted from my flat, which again lead into even more party oriented lifestyle and you know. Same time we made an album which is strong.

22:20
Marco: As I said, the music line took off, but it was to get over the bad times first, start making music and writing lyrics again and make it until the "Suffer".
One more thing that happened in 1999 when we had For The Glory Of Nothing again licenced to Zero Corporation in Japan. The Tarot Karma showed it's claws again. It was two weeks before the royalties were due when they announced thet Zero Corporation has gone bankrupt. Arrrgggh! No royalties...

Zac: Not a single coin has dropped from there, but they did sell all supplies of our record they had around in Singapore and in other Asian countries. They got the money allright, but we didn't get any of it from them. All our work went to waste.

Zac: Then Suffer Our Pleasures came out through Spinefarm and our sales in Finland doubled or tripled compared to the previous albums and reception of the record was extermely good. Pay for our gigs raised exponentially to completely different levels and we got to make gigs in Finland just as much as we wanted.

Zac: The only thing with it was that unrelated to us, it was forced to be licenced to a foreign label who screwed completely it's marketing and delivery in Europe. Perkele! It is definitely clear that if a German guy goes into a record store he wants to see the CD on a self. How many of us Finns will order CDs from the mail order catalogues of Biltema or Anttila?
If we put a heavy metal record for sale in shops in Germany, a thousand or maybe even 5000 curious people will buy it. But when it sells only 200 units I reckon you cannot produce such a figure but only by selling car heaters with a stamp sized image of a Tarot record beside it, then for fucks sake the CD will not sell. I mean like this, like do I order my records from a furniture catalogue. This was the way our CD was promoted.

Marco: It means somewhere has happened wrong choices again with that issue, too. But on the other hand, it doesn't diminish my faith on that CD, the songs on it are very good.

25:15
Marco: The cover art of Suffer Our Pleasure was once again a question. We were watching it with Ewo Pohjola and thought it wasn't too well done yet, then Ewo says: This is shit!

Zac: We supposed to get a burning man on ice and there was a Wunderbaum-looking fire-something where the flames go downwards and the figure is pissin on it's shoes in snow. I was like wtf, what is this?

Crows Fly Black

25:50

Zac: When Marco went to Nightwish I personally was genuinely very proud of him, this was the thing when we started from a village of 25 hundred so it's fucking great if at least one of us succeeded in doing this.

Marco: When I look it on my personal point of view, what it means to be in both bands, then... Let's put it this way: What ever you do which will serve your public image will end serving both bands' favours. It means that if I do something good for Tarot it may bring a few more people to the Nightwish camp, sure there are a lot more people in the Nightwish camp already who'll see if I make something good there and it may bring a lot of people to the Tarot camp and while both bands are filled with my currently best friends I am trying to give my 100% to both camps.

27:10
Marco: If anyhting I have felt irritated for Tarot, it's not that I must schedule and prioritize my work and think carefully where I can find the time for Tarot, too. More than that is I really hoped a better success for Suffer and also for Crows, but even more to Suffer, and better chances for the guys to do tours because I have seen the world quite a lot already, played to different coloured, different sized people all around the globe and felt that they are with me, I have them on my palm. It's something that irritates me, I wish the other guys could also get a chance to experience the same feeling.

Zac: We other four gous know exactly that this guy comes fron the Great Wall of China and plays at festivals for 50 000 people but I believe it is as great to play in a club for people straight under your nose with garlic breath and play some heavy metal for two hours with clogged ears.

We were genuinely afraid at some point when we saw it, not quite yet during Century Child tour but during Once tour when the success went to the skies that sometimes when we four were partying and Marco was playing who-knows-where, we pondered that will the guy be the same when he returns.
I think that it was the fact that when you joined Nightwish you were 35, if you were 20 and had been picked from our training place to become mixed in that salad it could have changed the man into something else. Now you've got perspective, you have seen the good and the bad sides of rock business and threfore we can view a very good and bright future in front of Tarot, as long as we're alive we'll be able to make records.

Zac: If we now after 25-years career add another 25 years it'll be 50 years. What, I'll be dead by then...

Marco: Well, it is a possibility allright... I have never thought that in making music there would be a time limit telling when to give it up. I think that age is an attitude. And attitude is something you make your things with. If the attitude is so strong like ours is right now, at any later age then the attitude takes control an makes you do your things.

Marco: I think that the factor which has kept us together for all these long years despite of the incredibly bad luck, pain, hunger and cold I reckon it is very much due the redneckedness of Savo-origin, due the low class humor coming along with it.

Zac: And I haven't had the slightest moment in my life when I would have thought about quitting and letting those quitars gather dust or that I would sell them. Instead, I'm purchasing more, just a while ago I got three new quitars. Those weren't ordered with painted Tarot logos in vain because I have a clear vision that Perkele! I'll be making these heavy metal pieces as long as I'll breath and with these guys because it is what I want to do. It is just the thing for me.

Marco: In the worse periods I considered if there was any other jobs to do, but it was just thoughts, I never went to anything and kept waiting for the right time when to unleash the attitude and creative forces. When I got the most difficult times left behind, it started all again quite naturally. There never was a real question of quitting.

Zac: It's the Perkele!

Marco: Indeed!