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tomijoutsen frankfurt 20170831Today I'm really proud to present you our interview with Tomi Joutsen - the voice of progressive metal legend AMORPHIS. I was really happy when I got the agreement from the band's management for this interview. On the day of their show at the club Batschkapp in Frankfurt, where we have meet, I was pretty nervous. But the first minutes after we have meet have blown away all my fears. It was a great and interesting half an hour with Tomi and now I am happy to share our meeting's results with you.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: For me personally tattoos are art, so what are the tattoos for you? Is it art? Is it any other way to remind you about some important things of your live?
Tomi: For me personally it is a subculture and also a form of art. Of course now, when it is getting really popular and you can see tattoos everywhere. But for me, when I was a kid, I saw tattoos mostly on those guys from prison or on sailors or on some Rock’n’Roll guys. I feel tattoos as a little bit rebellious thing. Of course it’s a very beautiful form of art and it’s developing all the time and there are a lot of artists around the world, great artists and also in Finland which is great. If you want to have really beautiful tattoo it’s possible to get it in Finland also. For me personally it’s a little bit as subculture. But if someone will get a tattoo it’s not a problem for me. Everybody can do what they want with their bodies.

RoD: When did you get your first tattoo and what was it? Did it take much time until you decided to get it done?
Tomi: I think I was like twenty I made mine, I thought about like maybe half a year or something. There were times where I thought I will not, everybody gone taking the tattoos even when I do like them it looks cool but I thought it’s not for me. When I started to think about it I definitely wanted to have one. And when I got the first one, I think it went like half a year and had a second one. Really typical answer if you get one you want to take another one, that how it goes.

RoD: How many tattoos do you have or is it not possible to count anymore? Could you please tell us their story?
Tomi: I don’t know, not so many, I have a lot of free spots around my body. I am not so heavy tattooed guy, I have like 20 or something like this. I have one on the leg. I really liked this band TURBONEGRO, They have their fan base Turbojugend, so I am its member and this is a death punk accessory, our logo. I think there is almost 10 of our Turbojugend guys who have the same tattoo on their body. We just went to a tattoo place and we have some beer and we do this. It was funny. This is one story. But usually I just have some idea what would be a nice picture… of course there are some meanings in the pictures. Not all of them but mostly it’s just nice pictures.


RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Tomi: Yes, it will come. I have some projects on my back and I need to get more there. And I definitely will have some ink on my legs. And, I don’t know, we will see, I think I have to put some ink on my fingers too because I have something from one side already. I think there will be a lot of tattoos. But from this point, I think when you get like 15 tattoos you start pay the pain. I think after a couple of tattoos you think that you are really masculine and really powerful that you can stack the pain but after I took this chest peace I really hate the process of taking tattoos. It’s fucking painful.

RoD: This is currently the next question. Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Tomi: I just try to count like one, two, tree, four, five and I always hope that it stops when I come to five. But it does not go like this. Sometimes it’s like fifteen when there are really long lines. It’s fucking, fucking horrible. So I just have to manage these five seconds.

RoD: And how long was your longest session?
Tomi: 6 or 7 hours. There was a point we have made a big one on my stomach, there was a point it was almost ready, we needed like half an hour or something like this. I was like - I am done, I cannot do it anymore. But the tattoo artist told we have to do it, because lines are already like picture, so we have to draw it now because if he does not do it now, it will be impossible to do it after we take of this mark thing, you know. So we had to do another half an hour and I was fucked.


RoD: My longest was 3.5 hours.
Tomi: Yes, that’s enough. But sometimes you know when you can handle the pain you feel like it’s great, this is really nice, it’s like a ritual something like I am fucking cool - I am sitting here, I take pain, I can really read book or something like this, but after like 3 or 4 hours you start to be like a child, I hate it.

RoD: But it is a part of this all…
Tomi: It is, but it’s a horrible part of this.

RoD: Have all your tattoos been done by one tattoo artist or by different ones? How do you choose the tattoo artist? In addition, who draws your sketches?
Tomi: Well, I can’t remember how many tattoo artists I have worked with. I think 5 or 6. The first one I took in my home town… It is called Lohja near Helsinki; there was this tattoo place I went to. After the couple of them in Helsinki, I have taken also some tattoos during our tours, small ones. But my favourite tattoo artist or tattoo place is called Tatuata ( It’s in Finland, Jarno Kantanen has done like 6 or 7 tattoos for me. I really like his style, he is a great fellow, we are friends. He is really nice to work with, personally. He is a great guy. He lives quite near me, he is also into music and that kind of things. He has travelled a lot around the world doing tattoos. He studied like simply going there and living with people. He was in Japan many times he is doing lots of Japan style. With sketches - usually I have an idea and I just tell it and we collaborate together, think what kind of style it could be.


RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Tomi: Well, every time I take a tattoo when we are on tour after I had it, I say fuck, I hate the heeling process, when you are touring it’s sweat every night, a lot of people going around when you got the showers you see all the shit on the floor and you are like oh man I gonna get AIDS or something like this. So, that’s horrible. But as to the pictures I haven’t regret anything, of course… if I know do the first tattoo they will be look different but it’s just a part of the past, you know.

RoD: What is your taboo in terms of tattoos? What kind of tattoo would you never get done and don’t like to see on other people?
Tomi: Of course, normal something as racist shit and stuff like this. Well as I said everyone can do whatever they want. But I will never take any racist shit tattoo.

RoD: Some people say that the drive to acquire body art is addictive while others say it fails to meet the true definition of an addiction, simply calling it a passion. Is it really impossible to stop?
Tomi: I can totally understand if you for example take full sleeve here, the other arm looks naked. It’s like maybe I need another one too. When you look on your legs, oh fuck I need something here too. I think some of the people get addicted because of the ritual, pain it’s kind of, I don’t know how to describe the feeling, it’s really strong feeling to go there and to trust someone to put some ink inside you. So, it’s kind of addictive but I can easily live without any tattoos after this moment.

RoD: So you do you think you can stop?
Tomi: Yes, but I don’t want to.


RoD: Currently tattoos are a new trend; many people do not care about the meaning, they just want to have something coloured on the skin, to be in trend. Those people often just go into a tattoo salon and ask which drafts they have. Tattoo artists are not artists any more, they produce consumer goods. Not all of them, of course. How do you feel about this situation?
Tomi: I think it is the same with music, really like underground music. Everybody starts to listen to it and you said fuck that, it’s not cool anymore. And I think the same is with tattoos if you think you have tattoos you really respect this culture, the art and the pain what you have to take and some light head goes and takes likes some stupid tattoo and you think well I am a little bit better person than this one. I think it’s bullshit. So, everyone can have a tattoo, that’s okay. I don’t know if it is a good thing for tattoo culture. Of course, fashion goes away and comes, so we don’t know how it will be in 10 years, maybe no one will like tattoos at all. I used to work with young people and I was working for the city and I wanted to get a job somewhere where they take kids which have really big problems. And I wanted to go and work there but I had some tattoos and that was the problem. They said we can have no tattoos, and that was really wired you know. It was fifteen years ago, and I don’t know how it is now. I am still working with some kids and now I have piercing and tattoos and it’s not a problem. For some people, for some old people they still don’t like tattoos. But things are changing fast. 

RoD: I would like to talk about the social aspect of tattoos, too. Previously, many people believed that if you have a tattoo, you will be never be successful and will not find a "good" job. Have this state of mind and people's perceptions changed or are these prejudices still alive?
Tomi: I think it could be but at the same time I think if there is some person who would fire me because I have tattoos, I think it’s the place where I don’t want to work. If my boss thinks, that I am not ok because I have tattoos, I don’t want to go there. It’s how it goes. But on the other hand if you take tattoo you need to realise that there is a risk.


RoD: Which advice would you give to people who are going to get their first tattoo? How to choose a tattoo artist? Colour or black and white? Any practical advice?
Tomi: I don’t know. Maybe they have to have a good amount of money. Now it’s easy to find great tattoo art from internet that didn't exist when I started to think about tattoos… there was only magazines and shops and no other places there. Now it’s really easy to get inspiration from internet, see lots of great pictures. So, I think the best thing to do is to visit some homepages from tattoo shops for example I am living in Lohja which is like near 15,000 people and we have some tattoo shops there, but if you go to Helsinki there are 40 tattoo shops or something like this, so my advice is to go to a big city, see all cool places. Just not to pick up the first tattoo artist. But on the other hand fuck it, you can just do it yourself with needles and ink. So, you can choose.

RoD: Such advice I hear for the first time.
Tomi: Yes, fuck it, if you want to do it, do it. I am not a right person to give any such advice.

Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Pictures by Daria Tessa (

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