Former Nightwish bassist Marko Hietala, second from right, courtesy of Nuclear Blast
Longtime Nightwish bassist Marko Hietala has quit the symphonic metal band after joining the Finnish group in 2001. Hietala issued a highly personal statement regarding his departure, condemning the music industry in the process.
Among his grievances, Hietala cited “streaming company big guns demanding 9-to-5 work from artists of inspiration while unfairly sharing the profits.” Nightwish have long been a leading artist in the world of symphonic metal, and their 2004 opus, Once, remains one of Nuclear Blast Records’ most successful releases after topping the charts in multiple countries.
The bassist didn’t expressly call out his record label, specific promoters, or any of his bandmates, but said that a personal disillusionment with industry practices is among the reasons for his exit. Despite leaving Nightwish, he promised he won’t be “gone for good,” as far as music is concerned.
His lengthy statement reads as follows:
“Dear people. I am leaving Nightwish and my public life.
“For a quite a few years now I haven’t been able to feel validated by this life. We have streaming company big guns demanding 9-to-5 work from artists of inspiration while unfairly sharing the profits. Even among the artists. We’re the banana republic of the music industry. Biggest tour promoters squeeze percentages even from our own merchandise while paying dividends to Middle East. Apparently some theocrasies can take the money from the music that would get you beheaded or jailed there without appearing as hypocrites. Just a couple of examples here.
This past year forced me to stay home and think. And I found myself very disillusioned about these and a lot of things. I found out that I am in need of that validation. For me to write, sing and play, I need to find some new reasons and inspirations. ‘My Walden’ so to speak. And it’s even in my book that I’m a chronic depressive. It’s dangerous for me and the people around me, if I continue. Some of the thoughts a while back were dark. Don’t worry, I’m fine. I have my two sons, a wife, the rest of the family, friends, a dog and lots of love.
And I don’t think that I’ll be gone for good.
Conspiracy is the word of the day. For the people who like them I need to say that my 55th birthday is now on 14th of Jan and I’ve certainly done my time for now. Blaming for instance Tuomas [Holopainen, Nightwish keyboardist and main songwriter] is an insult to both him and my free thinking. This is a very sad thing to all of us too. Have a care please. But of course now we’ll know, if some go there on purpose.
There are a couple of things agreed on that I will do on 2021. Otherwise I kindly and with respect ask the media, bands, artists projects etc. to not ask me for anything within the next year. I have some reinventing to do. I hope to tell you about it on 2022. It’s not a promise though.
I am so sorry about this.
P.S.: Tony Iommi is an exception to the ‘no contact whatsoever.’ Childhood hero takes a precedence.”
Hietala’s decision appears to have caught his bandmates off guard, as his resignation upheaved 2021 plans for Nightwish. A session bassist will replace Hietala for the upcoming tour in support of 2020’s Human. :II: Nature. The remaining members of the band issued a joint statement in response:
“Marko’s resignation has left us with some difficult decisions and choices to be made. After much thought and consideration, we have, in mutual understanding, decided to perform the upcoming ‘Human. :II: Nature.’ world tour as planned, but with a session bass player. The live line-up will be announced at a later date. We respect Marko’s decision and wish him all the very best. We will not comment any further.”
As the music industry reels during the ongoing global pandemic, it begs the question: Will other metal musicians follow Hietala’s lead as the pressures of the industry mount?
You can pick up Human. :II: Nature., the final Nightwish album to feature Hietala, via Amazon.