I had the topic for this blog planned out for awhile now but was waiting for the right time to attempt to write it. I know it is going to be a long one and it will be a lot of work but it is something I want do to. For those of those wondering, the answer is no. Somehow I have never written a blog dedicated to thwe topic of Mr. Marco Hietala before. I know some of you are thinking “How is that possible when you go on and on about him all the time?” Well, I have always talked about Marco but always as a member of of band and never on his own before. That is until now. I will go through the career of one of the hardest working musicians in the world, as well as his equipment and my own thoughts on Marco.
In the year 1982, Marco and Zachary Hietala formed a band called “Puragtory” in Kuopio, Finland. The rest of the line up was fleshed out and the band played together for 2 years until 1984 when they were offered a record deal but they would need to change the name of the group. The Brothers Hietala decided on the name Tarot and they deal was signed. Since the early days, Marco has been the bass player, main vocalist and one of the main songwriters for the band. Tarot released their first album “The Spell Of Iron” in 1986 and the first single “Wings of Darkness” is perhaps their most well known song and has been played at every show that Tarot has performed. The band went on to release “Follow Me Into Madness” in 1988, “To Live Forever” in 1993, the live album “To Live Again” in 1994, “Stigmata” in 1995, “For The Glory Of Nothing” in 1998, “Suffer Our Pleasures” in 2003, “Crows Fly Black” in 2006, the live DVD “Undead Indeed” in 2008 and “Gravity Of Light” in 2010. Tuomas Holopainen, the founder of Nightwish and Ewo from King Foo Entertainment called Marco one November evening in 2001. They said there would be a place for a singing bass player in Nightwish and asked if he would be interested. Marco signed on and the next phase of his career was about to launch.
Marco made his Nightwish debut on the 2002 CD “Century Child” and added a new dimension to the band. Previously, Tarja Turunen was the vocalist for the band so Holopainen wrote all the songs to fit her Operatic singing style. However once Marco joined the band, he had a chance to write more duets and Marco would also sing during the breaks in the live show when Turunen would do a wardrobe change. Since Nightwish had no songs with a male lead vocalist, they played Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”, W.A.S.P.’s “Wild Child”, Dio’s “Don’t Talk to Strangers”, Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction” and most recently, Pink Floyd’s “High Hopes”. With each new CD release, Marco has had more vocal work and on the CD “Dark Passion Play,” Marco wrote his first song for Nightwish called “The Islander.” With the release of the new CD “Imaginaerium,” Marco wrote the song “The Owl, The Crow and The Dove.” Both songs are different than what one would expect from the heavy metal loving bass player. Holopainen has said “Kind of funny that the most poppy song on the album is composed by the most metalhead dude in the band”.
In 2007 a new group was created, made up of four musicians who have already become well known in their existing bands: Jarkko Ahola from Teräsbetoni, ex-Dreamtale, Marco Hietala from Nightwish and Tarot, Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica and Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto from Charon and Harmaja. The Northern Kings would release two CDs, “Reborn” in 2007 and “Rethroned” in 2008. Both albums feature only cover songs of pop music that have been covered by the group in a heavy metal fashion. They recently released a new single “Lapponia” which was was the Finnish entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1977, performed in Finnish by Monica Aspelund, and are also planning their third album which is rumored to contain all original material.
Sapattivuosi is a Finnish Black Sabbath tribute band singing in Finnish. The band was started by vocalist Hannu Paloniemi in 2000 and their first 2 CDs ( Sapattivuosi – 2003 and Sapattivuosi vol 2 – 2005) were all songs of Black Sabbath during the time of Ozzy Osbourne. Marco joined the band in time to record the 2009 Ronnie James Dio era Black Sabbath cover album “Ihmisen merkki.” Marco first appeared with Sapattivuosi on their single Pelon lait (a cover of Neon Knights), which came out on March 4, 2009.
When he is not playing with one of his four bands, Marco is appearing on albums by other bands as either a guest vocalist or guest bassist. One of these bands is Delain. The Dutch project has released two albums and Marco was very involved with both efforts. For the album “Lucidity” in 2007, Delain invited Marco to perform both bass and vocal son the album and it was a success. Up until that point, Delain was not a touring entity. It was simply a group of various musicians who showed up and contributed to the album and left, except for vocalist Charlotte Wessels and Martijn Westerholt on keyboards. They were the only two members who appeared on the album that remained in the group when it became a touring band as well. In the 2009, the now “real” band released their follow up album “April Rain.” Once again, Marco was contacted to appear on two songs “Control The Storm” and “Nothing Left.” There was even a few Delain shows that Marco appeared to sing “Control The Storm” while he had some brief down time.
In 2010, the Finnish TV show “Kuorosota”, their version of “Clash of the Choirs,” saw Marco lead a choir of singers as they competed against other choirs. They performed different songs, such as “Paradise City” (Guns N’ Roses), “We Are the Champions” (Queen), “Like a Virgin” (Madonna), “Tsingis Khan” (Frederik), “I Walk Forever” (Tarot), “Huomenna” (Uniklubi), “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Desperado” (Eagles). Marco’s choir came in second in the televised event.
This is now where I will share my thoughts on Marco Hietala. I have heard people say that there are those that are “The hardest working person in show business” and I agree that label does not apply to Marco. I do believe however, that he is “The Hardest Working Man In Music.”
I know that Gene Simmons has branched out to create an empire and Nikki Sixx is an accomplished author and has his own clothing line but for Marco it is always about the music. How many musicians can you really think of that is in four bands that are all active (albeit at different times,) has appeared on other band’s albums and led a choir to compete on TV? There are not many, in fact, there is only one.
Marco Hietala is 46 years old but is not slowing down, if anything, he is only ramping up as he gets older. I am sure that one of his contractual needs to join Nuightwish would be to allow him to keep his other bands/projects going all the while he is a member of Nightwish. He did state that Nightwish is his top priority, and to be honest, Tarot’s popularity spiked once he joined Nightwish.
He has given an edge and a depth to Nightwish that they were lacking for many years. He not only adds a powerful “metal voice” but he adds a pounding bass guitar as well. Marco’s song writing is as diverse as his song writing ability. In the music he writes, you can see multiple influences that he blends into one unique sound.
I can not tell you how much respect I have for this man, all that he has done and all that he is still doing in the music industry. It is obvious as the goatee on his chin that he loves music, whether it his own or someone else’s and I think that is rare in the music world today. A lot of artists are more worried about making money than making music and Marco renews my faith in the industry.
Marco uses Warwick Infinity NT Birdseye bass guitars, Warwick Vampyre NT bass guitars, Warwick Alien acoustic bass, DR strings, Warwick amps and speakers.
From the man himself:
“My goals and tastes in music and life are pretty much reflected in Nightwish. I hope to be able to keep an open musical and ideological mind. I hope I can feel hair-raising moments of sheer musical thrill, whether it’s something we’ve done, a piece I’ve just heard, or a show I’ve seen. I want to be able to respect and cherish my friends and loved ones at home, in the band/bands and where-ever. I want to take pride in our moments of glory and be humbled by the privilege of existing in this multiverse of endless possibilities.
I still find it strange, even miraculous, to be a part of something that has obviously affected and touched so many lives. My respect goes to you, reader of this, as well.