NIGHTWISH has tapped Jukka Koskinen (WINTERSUN) as the session bassist for the band's upcoming world tour in support of the "Human. :II: Nature." album.
Koskinen joined NIGHTWISH as the replacement for Marco Hietala, who 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."
NIGHTWISH said in a statement: "Finally we can share the awaited news with you all! Let's welcome Jukka Koskinen on board!"
Added Jukka: "I couldn't be more honored to be part of the vehicle of spirit of NIGHTWISH on its onward journey sharing special live moments to come on the 'Human. :II: Nature.' tour with all of you out there!"
Koskinen will make his live debut with NIGHTWISH at the first of the band's two interactive "An Evening with Nightwish In a Virtual World" concert experiences that will kick off the "Human. :II: Nature." run.
NIGHTWISH will perform in a tavern called "The Islanders Arms" built in a virtual world for two nights — Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29, 2021. On both nights, the fans will experience a one-and-a-half-hour performance, hearing songs live off "Human. :II: Nature." for the first time ever. These two nights will have their own, slightly different setlists.
Earlier this month, NIGHTWISH keyboardist and main songwriter Tuomas Holopainen said that Hietala's decision to leave the band "came as a bit of a surprise."
Holopainen spoke about Hietala's exit from NIGHTWISH in an interview with Finland's Kaaos TV. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Marco 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."
Tuomas elaborated on NIGHTWISH's reasons for carrying on, saying: "I think we still have something to give, and that's the main point. The music is still there. We felt that there's still so much music that needs to come out from this band that, 'Okay, let's give it one more shot.' And then finding the new bass player was really easy."
He added: "It's not like we do this just because we need to do it and there's nothing else to do. On a personal level, I feel that there's still so many stories and melodies that I want to share with the world with one lineup or another, so that's why you want to continue and keep on going.
"I've said this a million times, that a lineup change is the ultimate energy vampire, and that's how it really felt and still feels."
Holopainen also confirmed that NIGHTWISH's future setlists will likely also be affected by Hietala's absence from the group. "There are some songs that are so profilic [sic] to Marco that we cannot do them, I think, ever again," he said. "I'm not absolutely certain, but, for example, 'The Islander', 'While Your Lips Are Still Red' and definitely 'Endlessness' from the new album is something that cannot be performed without Marco. But then, after spending five days in the rehearsal room, there are some songs that actually work surprisingly well without Marco, that Floor [Jansen] or Troy [Donockley] is doing [Marco's] parts. And I was a bit suspicious about that, but then when I heard the new arrangement for those parts, I was, like, 'Yeah, I think this actually might work.'"
In December, Hietala was crowned the winner of the fall 2020 season of "Masked Singer Suomi" — the Finnish edition of the popular masked singing contest. He was disguised as Tohtori — the Doctor.
"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.