| Interview with John Finberg Part 2
The Story Continues
Nightwish USA caught up with John Finberg, Nightwish Booking Agent in North America and partner in Foo King Entertainment. This is part two of our interview with John, to learn more about him, his partnership with Nightwish, and a teaser of things to come for Nightwish fans in the USA and Canada.
You mentioned in your previous interview that one thing you enjoy most about your job is the traveling. Where are your favorite places to go visit and what do you enjoy doing there?
On a personal side, the only place I go that is not work related ever is Thailand. There, I have property, a business, and it is the only place I go where no one cares what I do for work. This business over there means nothing and I can be John the bank teller or John the bartender. I am accepted for me and not my job and this is very important because 25 years ago I signed a deal with the devil to sacrifice my personal life for a successful career and Thailand was a clause in that contract at the bottom listed " Occasional reward for the constant sacrifice " On a business side I would say England because I can go see a lot of friends there and can lure others from Europe to meet me there. Finland because i have never met a bad Finnish person in this business and the are the only country that I can say that about. Seattle, New York City, and Houston - because I just enjoy seeing my clients play in those cities and the different people I see everywhere.
What is your favorite Nighwish album? Favorite song?
My favorite album was the most recent one, Dark Passion Play. And the songs, well it is a tie; The Poet and the Pendulum and Ghost Love Score. I love long epic songs and always have.
How do you choose a venue for a specific band?
This is the part of the job that could be the hardest. We have to assume or guess what the band will sell in tickets and then place the band in the room that has the capacity that is not too big so the party who buys them doesn't lose money and can have a successful show. Sometimes we are wrong and in those cases a band sells 2000 tickets in a 6500 seat room and belonged in the 2500 seater or even worse, with Nightwish on their 1st show in north America on the 2007 tour when we sold out a 500 seat venue 5 months in advance and belonged in the 1800 cap room. We have to try to guess and we use a whole bunch of different variables.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Finding a way to make everyone involved happy. From the manager who wants more money more money, to the band who wants big, big, big to the promoter who just doesn't want to lose money, to the record label who wants to sell more records from the band touring. Then of course the fan, to me , the most important --- and making them happy by giving them great packages at a reasonable ticket price so they can go out and enjoy the music they love. Keeping everyone happy is the most challenging part.
How would you describe what a normal work day for you is like?
Lately, it seems like I am going either to or from an airport or hotel. The usual day at work when I am Los Angeles, is get in at about 8: 30 am and start checking emails that came from the night before and then overnight. Checking the voice mails comes next. Then I send out emails to get the info from the previous nights shows to see what the show did and how many kids and the general feel. Then I check Enterthevault.com, which I own, to see if there were any tickets sold overnight. Then I go to the bank to make deposits from the previous day mail and also send out wires and other assorted payments. Then it is just phone and email till about 7pm . In the middle, I try to eat and squeeze a meeting or 2 in there. Never bored, not for a minute.
If you couldn't have had the job you have today, what career would you have chosen?
I can't imagine ever not being in this business.
Are there any bands you do not currently work with that you are thinking of taking on? If so who are they?
Well there are some, of course , since others do what I do for a living , I would probably not be too smart to answer who I would want to pursue. There are a few I am very excited about and some that I am watching progress before I make a move. In this business, people wait for you to chase something that you are excited about and then they think " maybe it is worth me chasing too " and then it becomes not so easy.
In our first interview you mentioned about how the music industry will be very different than it is now. How has it changed in the past 4 or 5 years?
The biggest change for me, was when I got into this particular part of the business, being an agent , it was a very elite part. You had to take on to it very fast or you flunked out. It was a specialty type of job. In the last 5 years, people are just coming out of nowhere and calling themselves an agent, anyone with a Laptop or Iphone thinks they can do it. There was a much smaller pool of people, than there is now. Downloading music for free, youtube being a way people can see their favorite bands play. The concert business being totally down overall to a low point and it drops lower every year.
The biggest overall change I noticed is the lack of phone interaction. People prefer to email back and forth 100 times for a simple question , over 3 days, instead of a 10 minute phone call. People say it is because they want a paper trail. It is because people are lazy and choose to deal with stuff much slower and at their own pace then with any sense of urgency.
Do you mostly only work with metal bands or do you work with artists of other music genres as well?
It is mostly metal bands. Actually at this moment, it is all metal bands. I prefer the music personally, so I choose to work with what I love.
You are just returning from a promotional trip to Europe. Where did you go, and what did that involve?
Well, It was not really a promotional trip for me. I went over to Oslo Norway for 3 days because Tuomas was doing press for the new Nightwish record. Ewo was going and I had not seen him in 8 months, actually Toni wound up joining for most of it. it was great to catch up, I don't really get to spend alot of time with Tuomas away from tour, had not seen him in over a year, so this was a great chance to spend some time with him and really talk. The dinner we all had on the Sunday night was one of the best meals I have ever had with them. I also got to meet the Sabaton manager Kaj who was a lot of fun even though I didn't get a chance to really do much because i was so worn down from the 3 previous days , but we needed to discuss some stuff and he flew in from Sweden just for this.
When you heard Imaginaerum, what did you think? What was your initial reaction to it?
I thought, oh my god, finally new product and it is as good as expected. I remember sitting in the Roadrunner office, it was me / Ewo / Toni / Tuomas and a bunch of Roadrunner people. We did a complete listen through of the record from start to finish and all I can remember thinking was " Ok ,this is going to be bigger than ever" I dont know what it was, maybe it was the gradual progression of the sound. The entire way it was arranged , I was hooked.
How many Nightwish concerts have you attended outside of the US and is there a difference in how the fans react to the band?
Outside of the US. only 5. In the US, about 40 of them. Obviously the band is bigger outside North America, so it is different when you see the band play in front of 14,000 people in Finland at their arena, then we you see the band in front of 2100 in NYC. It is more energy and much much louder, as you can imagine.
What is your feeling about the Imaginaerum tour? Do you think fans will enjoy the new album?
What we have planned and I cannot say anything, but what is planned is going to be amazing. From the support band to the choice of venues. This is going to be the biggest USA / Canada presentation ever. I hope the band are in the gym because there are some pretty big stages they have to run across over here. I can say that you will not hear about it for months and months. Everyone know the band is coming, but the main focus is filling the 6200 seat room in Jan. Fans of the band will love the new record and because there is a movie to accompany the record , this is the first time that the band will be able to access a new audience of 8 year olds and 58 year olds. They will see the movie, fall in love with the idea and then come see the band live. I will be on the tour looking at how many moms bring their daughters and how many older people attend. The movie will access an audience the records never could get to. The whole thing is quite exciting, the possibilities of what could happen is great. I think Tuomas is a genius and I think it is great to see a creation go from mind to music to cd to film. No one deserves it more than him.
Did you get to go to the movie set for Imaginaerum? If so what did you think of what you saw?
I did not go to the movie set. They were there for a very short time and I was away in Frankfurt, Germany and Korea doing my own thing with other clients. I didn't get a chance to see anything except what everyone else saw online.
What would you like to see happen in the USA regarding Nightwish?
Obviously I would like to see a huge hit come from this. Filling the rooms in 2012 . Return to USA 2013 to even grow more and eventually be a band who can play 5000 -10000 capacity venues all day long. I wanna complain how only 5800 people paid last night to see a show and how I wanted 6000 sold out. I wanna argue with promoters about how we can move venues up to larger venues because of advance sellouts that are 3-4 months in advance. I wanna argue with my partners about adding 2nd nights in some cities and complain to everyone that we just missed the record in that venue for highest gross by 1000$ and next time we will beat it.
A gold record would be great for this territory. I would like to see radio pick up a song and run with it so the band can enjoy some commercial success at the same time. A Grammy nomination in the US would be a dream come true only to be beat by a win. Maybe a few things.
Do you ever get to visit the studio when a band is still in the process of recording a new album? If so what is that like?
I was in London when Nightwish did the Orchestra and Choir parts for the new record I was able to hear the record stripped down with none of those parts recorded yet and then after it was done. A recording studio can be great during the recording process but I prefer the post production. I can miss the 64th time a solo is done or the 10 hours to get the right sound out of an instrument.
Can you name a particular moment that is a favorite spent with any or all members of Nightwish?
I put a lot of thought into this one. I had only met everyone less than 10 times .... I was the agent only and I had met everyone in person in June 2004 at a couple of European fests. I was strictly emailing with Ewo all that time before. We only communicated via email since Nov 2003 when I was hired. I'm setting up a story to tell is why I explain this way. I saw the NYC show in Sept , the Worcester show and then LA and Anaheim. The relationship was very new for all of us. The band played 2 shows in Montreal in Dec 2004. I flew to Montreal and went to the 2 shows. The favorite, not the most fun, the question was the favorite, was when, at the end of the 2nd show. The promoter paid all the money to the band, which you can imagine was pretty big , both shows sold out combined over 4000 tickets. Merchandise was also just as massive as you would expect. They were in Montreal , the next day they were going to Toronto and I was going back home to LA. No one wanted to go back to the hotel even to drop the money off. Everyone wanted to go out. The money was just there in stacks. They took the money (both show and merch), I lifted my shirt and they put the money stacks in Duct Tape and wrapped it around my waist / side / back. Over 20 stacks of it , then they gave me an extra hoodie and some of us went out and had a great night at some clubs and I walked the streets of Montreal with enough money to support a family of 4 for several years. It showed me a trust they has for me, the fact I took on that responsibility. Right then and there I knew, these were all my brothers for life and that was my favorite moment.