“Beauty & The Beat” Interview Part 02

How was it to work with an Orchestra?

MIKE: Orchestras normally don't play in time the way rock or metal bands do. They are free in their interpretation of the pieces and they rely on the conductor for the correct tempo, dynamics, and intensity. The orchestras basically kind of swims in the time, not playing in perfect time like a metronome. This forced me to make a compromise. I had to take an average between my feeling for tempo and dynamics and the conductors’ feel. Please keep in mind that in a rock band you play with 3 or 4 other people, within the framework of an orchestra you are working with 80 people or more. It’s a lot of information to consider, so to work this way, you must have BIG EARS! I had to listen, watch and take my cues from the conductor. Normally in a rock band the drummer is the conductor. Again not being a classically trained musician I had to learn these things on the spot.
The conductor is the man who runs the show on stage and most of the conductors in the tour were kind and open mined to my concept of rock drumming mixed with the classical pieces. However initially there were a few moments of confusion, because of the shear volume of the drums. One of the biggest problems is that the pieces I play are famous and they don't need drums. They sound perfect without modern rock drums. So I think for many my interpretation of these pieces was a bit of a shock. Normally the second day of rehearsal was always better and we got to know each other and play together. At the end the conductors, orchestras, choirs and myself all had to adjust accordingly. Not all orchestras are equal: some are better; some have more or less experience. The conductor can also modify the performance of an orchestra. There were many variables involved that changed with every show we did, every show was uniquely different and challenging.

TARJA: I have been working with several orchestras before the “Beauty and The Beat” project, so for me performing with an orchestra or choir it was not a new experience. Anyway, every orchestra sounds and plays differently and every conductor works differently. It always takes some time to adapt to the change as a soloist and you have to be ready to direct people with things you need. This concept of having the drums playing together with an orchestra brought a new challenge for all of us, because of the tempo issue. We didn’t use any click tracks during the concert, so as usual there are differences in tempos because no orchestra plays like a drummer is used to. So many times we had difficulties in hearing each other properly or getting the tempo right even in the middle of the song, but we managed pretty well. The orchestra of Zlin really is a great orchestra and it was a pleasure to be their soloists for three nights for the video recordings.

Lets talk about the DVD recording

TARJA: There is an extra tension around when you know that you are recording and filming the concert. It is funny, but there is no way that you could forget that and only concentrate in making the show as usual. Everybody in the crew, including me were nervous about the situation, but in a good way. Everybody wanted to make the very best out of it.
We didn’t have any camera rehearsals, so the filming crew really worked hard during the concert.

MIKE: We are very fortunate to be able to rehearsal and record the DVD in the Convention Center, a very beautiful new venue in Zlin Czech Republic.
The orchestra and conductor were professional young open-minded people so we were off to a very good start. There were two days of rehearsal scheduled with the orchestra and choir before the taping of the DVD. We also added some new pieces to the show, among them a medley of Led Zeppelin, so it took some time to work out the transitions from song to song.
All 3 shows were sold out and the 2nd show was recorded for the DVD. I was a bit nervous before the show even thought I have made many DVDs before, but never with an orchestra. I was also singing, which is also something I am not normally doing with the rock bands I play with.
So I remember just sitting in the dressing room, alone and thinking: “you really going to do this”. And well… I did! It’s also not so easy to play drums wearing a suit and tie. Many jazz drummers in the past used to play in this style. Now that I have completed 15 shows playing drums in a suit I have a new found respect for them.