Back to home

"It was incredible to get Richard Dawkins on the album. That came out of a bet really, between me, Jukka and Tuomas..."

Interview with Troy Donockley (NIGHTWISH)

We're only two hours away from the first Nightwish show in France for this leg of the tour, when we are joined by the mischievous Troy Donockley, in this small room backstage of La Halle Tony Garnier in Lyon. It's a real pleasure for us to interview him for the first time as an official member of the band.

Twitter Facebook

Read more →

Interview done by Nicolas, Guillaume, Sabrina et Elise in Lyon, the 23rd of November 2015, and transcribed by Sabrina.

Vous pouvez également lire notre interview en français

Elise: We're especially happy to talk to you right here because in 2012, when we were interviewing Tuomas and Marco, we asked them when they would announce you as an official member of the band.

Troy: Oh that's splendid! (laughs)

Elise: And they told us that you were not especially interested at that time. So what changed?

Troy: I couldn't put my finger on a particular reason. But gradually, as that tour wore on, we started to have so much fun together. And the musical possibilities that we envisioned for the coming album also helped me in my choice. It seemed like the natural progression. And I loved it all so much, and I love them all so much that, when they asked me, I said : "of course!". It was actually really sweet because they said : "we consider you a member of the band anyway but just to make it official, would you like to join the band?". And I said : "No, go away!". (laughs) No of course I accepted gladly too!

Nicolas: So now about the tour, how is it going so far?

Troy: The best way to describe it is "ecstatic"! (laughs) It really is! And I can't see this tour crashing, going down, it just feels like it's going to be better and better. The production is really exciting, every night it's a pleasure being in it. The fans are just the best. And especially after the horror in Paris, the feeling of family and communion with the fans has been really strong. They're resolved, there's a definite feeling of "nothing's going to stop us" and that's how it should be, and I'm really delighted by that. Mind you, it was brought to our attention that tonight before the show starts, we should mention that there's going to be big bombs coming off!

Troy Donockley on stage at La Halle Tony Garnier, in Lyon, the 23rd of november, 2015

Sabrina: Oh, we've seen that they put posters everywhere so I think people know now.

Troy: Oh, that's good because the show starts with a really big boom and we don't want people running to the doors! (laughs)

Guillaume: Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, Foo Fighters decided to cancel their european tour. U2 and Motorhead were not allowed to play. Did you think about those possibilities? Did you encounter any technical difficulties?

Troy: That's a good question. There were absolutely none, we were really impressed. We were absolutely shattered and shocked as we have to be. Any terrorist attack is very shocking but I love the fact that almost instantly, the people of France and Paris and all of the west went : "fuck this, we're not going to be terrorized by these fools, these idiots and we're going to carry on regardless". So it was a bit of a disappointment that The Foo Fighters and all those other bands cancelled and I think it backfired on them as well. The response to that has been pretty negative. Throughout the web it was like "Foo Fighters are a bunch of pussies". So we felt it important that if the promoters and the fans wanted us to play then we would. And all the promoters were unanimous in saying : "we want you to come and perform". We didn't get any doubt in that. Everyone wanted us and we wanted to perform. And we made out this decision and we put out the press release in which we showed solidarity to the people of France. And everything's been fine since then, actually it's even been more euphoric. You know the reactions from the fans have been more euphoric!

Guillaume: So you didn't have any problem at the border to enter France?

Troy: No, I was surprised actually. Because we were all asleep, we had a twelve-hour-drive from Oberhausen to Lyon. And we thought that we were going to be pulled out of the bus and searched. But there was nothing. But I think that the french police are reasonable. They saw that we're a rock band, we don't look like islamic terrorists. I don't look like an "Allah Akhbar" kind of guy! (laughs) So they looked at our passports and said : "OK, you're a rock band, you can go through !". There hasn't been panic, that's the thing with it too. It's been dealt with reason.

Guillaume: Since this tour is one of the shortest european tours Nightwish have done, do you plan on coming back to do a second leg in 2016?

(Troy looks a bit amused and uneasy at Toni from Nightwish management, working on his computer in the same room we're doing the interview)

Troy: No! I mean we will because we're going to do festivals but I'm not sure yet. You never know, something might happen. Maybe towards the end of the year, we might do something small!

Elise: You don't play the intro of the show anymore. Can you tell us why?

Troy: Well that's a bone of contention because I like that intro. Me and Tuomas like it, but we were talked out of it by the production designer. But I still think we might get it back because I really liked it.

Elise: Yes, we liked it too. it's a lot of emotions for the fans as well.

Guillaume: Do you think it is because the show is two hours long now?

Troy: Possibly, but I think the idea was a kind of shock. It goes black, the curtain falls and we have Richard Dawkins saying his phrase and then the big boom. I think it's for effect and I can see the point of it!

Sabrina: How did you pick your support bands on this tour? Arch Enemy has a musical style quite different from yours...

Troy: Yes, Arch Enemy is completely different. Amorphis, we worked with them before and they're a good fit, you know. Arch Enemy, I'm not sure. (Troy turns to Toni) Hey Toni, why did we get Arch Enemy as a support band?

Toni: I think Ewo (Nightwish's manager) was talking to Angela, their manager and we wanted to do a different package with different genres, with something more heavy than us.

Troy: Oh OK, it was a contrast but we weren't aware of it! We were like : "Oh, there's Arch Enemy". (laughs) That's how it went for us!

Troy Donockley (and Toni Peiju), during our interview in Lyon, the 23rd of november, 2015

Nicolas: Did you rehearse others songs that we might hear you play live soon?

Troy: Well we've been rehearsing three new songs for the last three days. So in Toulouse, we're gonna play you two new songs that have never been played before. So, that's going to be interesting. But I'm not going to spoil the surprise!

(The band ended up playing "While Your Lips Are Still red" in Paris and Toulouse, "Edema Ruh", one of the other songs rehearsed, wasn't ready to be played yet)

Nicolas: Is there a song that you don't play on stage right now but that you would like to play?

Troy: Well strangely, one of the three songs that we've been rehearsing is the song that I really wanted to play more than anything. I really love the song, I think it's got a beautiful atmosphere to it. And that one is the one. (laughs) But there's a few others that have been dropped from the set that I kinda miss. But we've got to move forward and change things I suppose! (laughs)

Elise: You've filmed several shows on this tour. Do you plan on filming other shows? Do you have an idea of what to do with them?

Troy: Wembley Arena is the obvious one that's getting filmed. I think it's going to be part of the DVD/Blue Ray release some time next year. We had one in America, we had a summer festival in Tampere in Finland and Wembley. So I think we're going to use those three as a ressource material but we've got more like the guerrilla tactic filming with an audience point of view as well. So, it's going to be quite a package. And it's exciting, I think it's going to be really nice!

Nicolas: And do you already think about the end of the tour? Do you plan a special show with guests or an orchestra?

Troy: No, not as yet. That is somewhere in the future, that will happen!

Elise: We've been waiting for it for a long time!

Troy: (laughs) It will happen but not right now! We'll see what the next couple of years bring.

Elise: And what are your plans after the tour?

Troy: There are a few projects, wonderful musical projects in the pipeline. We've got a year off so we finish at the end of 2016. And 2017 is supposed to be the year off, but we're all working on different things. Me and Tuomas have got something happening that we're going to be doing together. I can't really tell you too much about it. It's going to be an interesting thing. Well, basically it's a ballet with me and Tuomas dancing around as ballerinas!

Elise: I really like the idea.

Troy: Yes, with just a backing tracks. "Swan Lake", that's what it's going to be.

Sabrina: Sounds nice!

Troy: (laughs) No, me and Tuomas in tutus wouldn't look very good! But we really intend to do something together. And as for the rest of the guys: a bit of time at home, family stuff, that kind of things and then we'll come back out again in 2018 with something.

Troy Donockley on stage at La Halle Tony Garnier, in Lyon, the 23rd of november, 2015

Guillaume: Do you know that Bercy Arena is the biggest one of this tour?

Troy: Is it?

Guillaume: Yes!

Troy: Bigger than Wembley?

Toni: Yes, it is!

Troy: Wow! No, I didn't know that, that's news to me!

Nicolas: So you should chose Paris to do the two new songs because it's the biggest place!

Troy: (laughs) Yes! I wish we could!


Guillaume: What is the meaning behind the almost subliminal message "wake up or die" that appears on the screen at the end of "Weak Fantasy"?

Troy: (laughs) I love that, because it's subliminal. I was surprised that it was caught on so quickly by the fans, because we thought it was so subliminal no one was going to see it! And really soon, we saw those frozen photographs on the web! (laughs) Nothing escapes the fans ever! (laughs) "Wake up or die", it's referencing the film "Religulous" which is a fantastic film by Bill Maher. It's one of our favorite films, it's brilliant! At the end of the film he goes : "wake up or die". So we thought we'd put this little subtle thing in there. So that's what it was influenced by.

Sabrina: During "The Greatest Show On Hearth", we can see photos of many people projected on screen just before the "We Were here". How did you chose those photos? Are they just stock photos or are they actually people you know? Friends or family?

Troy: Well, originally, they were stock photos for the Tampere show and Joensuu, the only two shows we've done with this big production before this tour. But for this tour, it was suggested that we put personal photographs up here. So my mom and dad appear up there. So is Tuomas', so is Marco's. I think Marco's grandmother appears up there and Floor's mom and dad too. It's all our parents but it's so fast, it's really difficult to see. But to give you a tip when you see those photographs, the ones that have a kind of haze around, they are family members. The ones that are crystal clear like passport photographs are stock photos.

Nicolas: Are you happy with the reaction to Endless Forms Most Beautiful from your fans?

Troy: It's been powerful, incredibly positive really. That's the thing with real Nightwish fans out there. They're genuine music fans, they will take on something ambitious like "The Greatest Show On Hearth", they will take something that is out of field like "The Eyes Of Sharbat Gulah". Even a thing that's less typical Nightwish, they're going to give it a chance and listen to it, and comment on it. Because "The Greatest Show On Hearth", it's a long piece, it's progressive rock really. We thought many fans would not have the patience but on the contrary it's been a massive fan favorite. A lot of fans love "The Greatest Show On Hearth". And the reaction to the live shows is phenomenal. When we play this live, the whole of the front section during the first part that's really quiet with the piano, the atmosphere in the room is electric. Everybody just kind of stands there still, doesn't do anything. It's like they're all kind of hypnotized. It's quite a powerful thing to experience from the stage, to see the whole arena dead quiet and still. It's fantastic! So yeah the reactions from the fans are wonderful.

Amateur video of the second part of The Greatest Show On Earth at La Halle Tony Garnier in Lyon, the 23rd of november, 2015 (NIGHTWISH)

Nicolas: And did any of your friends criticized you for having Richard Dawkins on the album, like some fans did on the internet?

Listen to Troy's answer

Troy: Well none of our friends, because most of our friends tend to think the same way we do and have the same interests! (laughs) But we did have some backlash from some small minded people out there who, even before they heard it, made assumptions about him being on the album. He's a brilliant scientist, he's an expert in his field, he's a wonderful man and one can't really argue against that. Besides he's not doing anything controversial on the album. He's just speaking beautiful things so once the album came out, all the grumbling, the religious crap, kind of went quiet like : "he's not saying anything about God so it's alright". (laughs) But no, it was incredible to get Richard Dawkins on the album. That came out of a bet really, between me, Jukka and Tuomas after five balls of wine in New Zealand. We were in Jukka's room and they bet me that I couldn't get Richard Dawkins. And I went : (acting drunk) "I most certainly can, I will get Richard Dawkins if it's the last thing I do". And then the next morning I was like : "oh my god, what have I done?". So then I had to go and find Richard Dawkins. But I found him!

Guillaume: Do you know how the french word "élan" came to Tuomas mind?

Troy: Well, obviously "élan" is a french word but it is used in english.

Elise: OK, cause we couldn't find any reference to it.

Troy: Oh yes, it's an english word, well not an english word, but an english lexicon. So it's really part of our language, like "panache" or "je ne sais quoi".

Elise: Or "ménage à trois"!

Troy: Or "ménage à trois", oh yeah! (laughs) So we just thought that "élan" was a great word, it was secondary that it was in french. And the meaning of it suited the song so we went for it.

Sabrina: Are you going to keep promoting the album with a new single or video?

Troy: I think we're finished with that now. I think we've done enough with that. We're pretty far down the road. The tour itself is a massive promotion for us. There's millions of youtube videos of us on tour, now. Everybody's got the album and everybody's coming to the show, so I don't think we really need to really.

Nicolas: Do you have any news from Jukka that you could share?

Troy: Well Jukka, I think he gets out of jail in 2019 so when he gets released, we're going to go and pick him up at the jail doors and see what he does then.

Nicolas: Ok good!

Troy: (laughs) No I can't leave you like that. No, Jukka's in fine form, his condition's improved. He's a lot better, we see each other all the time. We went camping together in september as well. He's sleeping like a baby and he's happy and all is well.