NIGHTWISH singer Floor Jansen says that Marko "Marco" Hietala's decision to leave the band was "a very sudden surprise."
The bassist/vocalist announced his departure from NIGHTWISH in January, explaining in a statement that he hadn't "been able to feel validated by this life for a quite a few years now." He has since been replaced by session bassist Jukka Koskinen (WINTERSUN), who made his live debut with NIGHTWISH in late May at the band's two interactive experiences.
Jansen spoke about Hietala's exit from NIGHTWISH in the latest episode of her "Storytime" YouTube video series. She said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "That was a very sudden surprise that, of course, was not fun at all. But we understand — I understand — it was a necessary thing for him to do. And from there, we had to think of how to continue without him, and that also, in preparations towards the virtual show, that was a huge challenge."
She continued: "I'm very happy we found Jukka to play with us. And it was wonderful to get together, even though miss Marko, in April to start rehearsing for these virtual shows. Fortunately, we had a lot of time together, and it was very nice to go through the process of really not just knowing how to sing or play the songs but actually really feeling them, really communicating them, as you do with a show. We did that together. And then, of course, came the relatively unnatural setting of standing in a green bathroom [laughs] called the green screens all around us and cameras and people going for coffee instead of a real live audience. But that was really great. We had so much time that we could rehearse all of that and had a lot of fun doing that in the process."
According to the Helsinki Times, the first of NIGHTWISH's two interactive experiences drew 150,000 viewers, setting the record for the largest paid virtual concert in Finland's history. Most of the viewers came from Europe and North America, but the performance was a truly global event, with fans in 108 countries purchasing tickets to the show and the box office gross exceeding one million euro.
NIGHTWISH performed in a tavern called "The Islanders Arms" built in a virtual world for two nights — Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29. On both nights, the fans experienced a one-and-a-half-hour performance, hearing songs live off "Human. :II: Nature." for the first time ever. Each of the two nights had its own slightly different setlist.
Last month, NIGHTWISH keyboardist and main songwriter Tuomas Holopainen said that Hietala's decision to leave the band "came as a bit of a surprise." He told Finland's Kaaos TV: "Marko informed us in December last year [that he was leaving the band]. And even though he has been very open about his state and problems during the past years, it still came as a bit of a surprise for us. So it was a really tough pill to swallow. And for a few days, I was actually quite confident that there's no coming back, that this is it. I remember talking to Emppu [Vuorinen], the guitar player, and we were, like, 'You think this is it?' 'Yeah, I think this is it.' I mean, enough is enough. So much has happened in the past. Something that broke the camel's back, as they say. Then, after some time had passed — a few days — we started to think that it's been such a ride of 25 years, with so many ups also, that this is not the way to end it."
"Human. :II: Nature." was released in April 2020. The follow-up to 2015's "Endless Forms Most Beautiful", "Human. :II: Nature." is a double album containing nine tracks on the main CD and one long track, divided into eight chapters, on CD 2.