The idea of Nightwish was "born" in July 1996 at midnight when Tuomas was spending a night with his friends around a campfire. The first three songs, which were acoustic mood music, were recorded between October and December 1996. At that time the band had three members: Tuomas, Tarja and Emppu.
We wanted to try what the music would sound like if drums were added (Jukka came to the band) and an electric guitar was used instead of an acoustic one. After a couple of weeks of training we went to studio in April 1997. At that time we recorded seven songs which can be found on the limited edition of the album Angels Fall First.
In May 1997 Nightwish signed a recording contract with Spinefarm for two records. In August Nightwish went to the studio and recorded four new songs. Before the release of Angels Fall First, a single called The Carpenter was released and at its best it was number eight on the official singles chart in Finland. Angels fall first was released in early November and it was at its best number 31 on the official album chart in Finland.
Nightwish played their first gig in Kitee on the 31st December 1997. After that Nightwish played only seven gigs in the following winter because Jukka and Emppu were in the army and Tarja was busy with her studies. Nightwish and Spinefarm extended the contract to include three records instead of two.
In April 1998 the filming of the first video, The Carpenter, started. It was ready in early May and was played in Jyrki. Tuomas and Tarja were also interviewed in that show (this happened in late May). In the following summer the bassist Sami V?nsk? joined the band. During the summer songs for the new record were rehearsed and the band went to studio in early August. The recordings were finished in late October. On November 13th, Nightwish played a gig in Kitee of which a video for Sacrament of Wilderness was filmed. A single of that song was released on November 26th and the new record called Oceanborn was released on December 7th.
Everybody was surprised by the success of Oceanborn. It went up to fifth place on the official Finnish album chart and the single Sacrament of Wilderness was the number one on singles chart for weeks. In winter 1999 Nightwish played a lot of gigs all around the country for three months and played also in the Lista chart show program. In spring Oceanborn was released outside of Finland. In May the band started to play gigs again and toured the country for two and a half months playing in almost all of the big rock festivals. At the same time the single Sleeping Sun was recorded, which was written for the eclipse in Germany. In august the single was released in Germany and it also included the songs Walking in the Air, Swanheart and Angels Fall First. In Germany alone the single sold 15.000 copies in one month. In august Nightwish learned that Oceanborn and Sacrament of Wilderness had sold gold. At the same time it was confirmed that Nightwish would do a European tour of 26 gigs with a German band called Rage.
In early 2000 the band entered the studio again for the recordings of our third album. A welcome interruption to the repetitive studio work came when we took part in the Finnish qualification for the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Sleepwalker. Nightwish cleared the first round of the qualification but the final position was second despite an overwhelming win in the public televoting.
The new album, Wishmaster, was released in May and the Wishmaster Tour started from Kitee, the home town of the band. After the show the band received gold discs for the album Oceanborn and the singles Sacrament of Wilderness, Walking in the Air and Sleeping Sun. Wishmaster went straight to number 1 on the Finnish album charts and stayed on the pole position for three weeks. In those three weeks it also reached the gold disc mark.
Wishmaster was approved by both the fans and the media and it was named the album of the month by the German magazine Rock Hard in their issue 6/2000, past the long-awaited new releases by Bon Jovi and Iron Maiden.
Wishmaster also debuted in the national German charts at No. 21 and No. 66 in France!
The "Wishmaster World Tour", which started from Kitee, continued first to the big festivals in Finland and then to South America in July 2000. The three-week tour in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Panama & Mexico turned out to be one of the band's greatest experiences so far. This was followed by successful shows at Wacken Open Air, Biebop Metal Fest and the first headliner European tour with Sinergy & Eternal Tears Of Sorrow. In November Nightwish also played two shows in Montreal, Canada.
The next project of Nightwish included the making of a full-length concert DVD & VHS with a limited live album (only for Finland). The concert was performed in Tampere on the 29th of December 2000. The material was released in April 2001 in Finland and worldwide during the summer of 2001. At the end of the show Nightwish were given platinum discs for "Wishmaster" and gold discs for the single "Deep Silent Complete"!!!
In March 2001 Nightwish entered the studio again to record their version of Gary Moore`s classic "Over The Hills And Far Away", with 2 new songs and a remake of Angels Fall First's "Astral Romance". The Finnish release for this EP was in June 2001. The german (Drakkar) version of "Over The Hills And Far Away" includes 6 live tracks in addition to the 4 unreleased songs.
Nightwish has also extended the record deal with Spinefarm Records with one full-length album, which is scheduled for summer 2002.
Video for the track "Over the Hills and Far Away", which had rapidly sold platinum in Finland as a mini-CD, was shot in August 2001 in Finland. Tour in Finland the same year ended in Nivala, and Nightwish was close to disbanding. Tuomas went hiking and gathering his thoughts in Lappland, some changes had to be done in order for Nightwish to be able to continue. According to his own words, Tuomas wanted to end the band due to prolonged disagreements within the band.
Luckily, that didn`t happen. But something happened, a lot in fact. Sami V?nsk?, who`d been with them since Oceanborn, had to leave. Marco Hietala, known from Tarot and Sinergy, promised to step in as a replacement for the next album and tour. King Foo Entertainment became their new booking agency, and long-time friend and colleaque Ewo Rytk?nen was to become their manager. To celebrate the "new beginning", the first official shop for fan-products, Nightwish-shop, was opened on band`s homepage on November 24th 2001, a month before Christmas. Recording of the next album Century Child started in January 2002.
The beginning of 2002 brought Nightwish good news, in comparison to previous rough times. As a band and as individual musicians they were voted to the top on many domestic-and foreign magazine`s reader`s polls. Fans had not abandoned them after the changes, on the contrary. Ever Dream, the first single from forthcoming album, went gold in Finland within 2 days. At the same time Nightwish announced they would take a break as soon as the "Century Child World Tour 2002"would be over, Tarja would finish her educations in Germany during the break. That announcement brought up all kinds of speculations among fans. Sami leaving the previous Fall, now a break that would last a year…
Century Child came out in May 2002 and made a sales record, selling gold in Finland within 2 hours! Within two weeks it sold platinum(30 000 copies) and continued selling rapidly. At the same time Nightwish held the top-position in both singles-and album charts, their first time ever. Foreign countries responded, too: in Germany Century Child went straight to number 5 and in Austria number 15, those being the band`s highest positions abroad so far. In July Nightwish toured cuccessfully in South America, nearly all gigs sold out. In Brazil the first edition of Century Child was sold out in one day, and the successful European tour that year didn`t went unnoticed by booking agencies. Many European gigs came live on the internet, needless to say the connections were often jammed. At it`s most nearly 10 000 fans were trying to follow the live feed. Having sold astonishing 59 000 copies in Finland, Century Child was the country`s 2nd best selling album in 2002. The first visit to Sweden took place 2002 in November, 16th, in Fryshuset, Stockholm. The break started in late 2002, and sure enough there was no rest for the guys. Jukka played with Sethian and Bitch Driven, Tuomas with Sethian, For My Pain…and Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus, Emppu played with Altar and Marco with Tarot. All in all the break wasn`t to last nearly a year, back on the road…
The beginning of 2003 saw more good results in reader`s polls of various magazines, and a studio was booked in order to start recording the next album, planned to be released the next year. Happenings also at the home-front: Jukka and his girlfriend Satu had a daughter, Luna, on March 11th 2003. Nightwish received their first double-platinum award for Century Child, having sold 60 000. The band performed mostly abroad in 2003, the only gig in Finland was at RMJ 2003 on June 20th. The second visit to Sweden took place at the sold out "Gates of Metal"-festival in Hultsfred. During 2003 the forthcomind DVD-documentary "End of Innocence" was being put together, and it`s release was postponed a few times due to huge amount of material. In May 2003 Tarja Turunen announced that she had secretly gotten married a few months earlier, and would be moving back to Finland.
The DVD "End of Innocence" was finally released on October 6th 2003, and at that point Nightwish had already started recording the next album. Their fifth album "Once" would be the most important release in the history of Nightwish. Meanwhile, Finland`s President Tarja Halonen had also taken note of Nightwish`s achievements and invited Tarja Turunen and her husband Marcelo Cabuli to the annual independence-day party held at the presidential residence. Tarja`s dress was voted as the most beautiful dress that evening.
Before the Christmas of 2003 Nightwish auctioned their "Century Child World Tour"-backdrop, and donated the money in full for charity. The outcome was 1750 EUR, and was given to Parikanniemi`s Children`s home in Ristiina on December 2003. The funds were handed out by Tarja Turunen, Michael "Big Tini" Leipold from Germany became the new proud owner of the backdrop.
The year 2004 was eagerly expected by both the fans and the band. Exhausting studio-sessions took their toll both physically and mentally. The actual recording took place at the Phoenix-studios in London, the same studio and with the same orchestra(The Academy of St.Martins in the Field) that Howard Shore used for writing the score for "The Lord of the Rings"-trilogy. Orchestral-and qhoral arrangements were written by Pip Williams, who has produced f.ex.Status Quo and Uriah Heep. Big time, great expectations!
"Nemo" was the first single released off the forthcoming album, and a big-budget video was made. The director was Antti Jokinen, who had previously worked with f.ex.Shania Twain and Eminem. With the new album Nightwish had some changes with the recording contract, and the new material was released by Nuclear Blast. Good old Spinefarm Records would still handle the distribution in Finland. Nuclear Blast spent a considerable amount of money marketing "Once", especially in Germany. Pictures of Nightwish and Once were splattered all over the television-channels, subways, buses and streets, and the press wasn`t forgotten either. Every german will know Nightwish by now.
"Once" went gold in Finland on it`s day of release, as did the single "Nemo". Nightwish will start a world Tour of 150 concerts in all continents, the tour will last until the end of year 2005. This tour will be the biggest in the history of Nightwish so far.