TUSKA OPEN AIR: Finland’s Favorite Metal Festival

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Tuska logos, 2006-2015

Tuska Open Air is one of the major summer metal festivals held annually in Finland, and is a summer must for metalheads new and old alike. Musicalypse is proud to announce that 2016 is our 10th consecutive year covering this festival, and as such, we’d like to give you some history on the festival, as well as some thoughts from long-time attendees, both concert-goers and bands alike.


You can learn about most of Tuska’s history from their website, but to get an idea of what the festival is like, where it came from, and what it’s becoming, I decided to swing by the Finnish Metal Events headquarters to have a chat with the current CEO/promoter, Eeka Mäkynen (formerly of Nosturi), to learn more about what Tuska is all about!

You’re a pretty well-known name in the Finnish music scene. How did you end up joining the Tuska team?
They called me. That’s all it was. I worked 10 years as the program manager at Nosturi. Of course, these days 10 years in one place is a long journey itself, so I thought what the hell? [Juhani] Merimaa called me – he’s one of the owners of the company – and said they need a new CEO here. “We need somebody here to hold on”; that was the line they said and I thought, “That sounds cool.”

Do you know how the original founding fathers [Tony Taleva & Pasi Kuokkanen] came up with the idea for Tuska? Where did the idea to have this festival come from?
There was nothing like [Tuska] at that time. [Those guys] were in the middle of the scene. They were the heavy metal scene of Helsinki. Nobody did big heavy metal events at that time. It was 19 years ago, it was a long time! If you think about what’s happened in 19 years, the world was different. There were hardly any clubs in Helsinki at that time. Hardly any metal shows. If you compare to the times now, I think this Friday there are probably thirty different live events in Helsinki held in twenty live music clubs around the city. The scene is different.

How many people were at the very first Tuska? The capacity of Tavastia now is seven hundred, so was it sold out?
Approximately, but I think there were two floors then. Then they’d have Semifinal as the second stage. But yeah, it was sold out.

How did Tuska move already the second year from Tavastia to an open air festival? Was it just due to the number of people showing interest? How did things differ back then?
There was so much interest in the festival. Tavastia was sold out so they put it up to the next level, then to the VR Makasiinit. Those were interesting places. It was a wild place, how the whole system worked there.

Actually, next year is going to be the 20th anniversary, so we’ve started thinking about how to celebrate the whole thing. We’re going to do a 20th anniversary book about Tuska, and that’s going to be full of pictures and anecdotes from over the years. The Makasiinit days, and Jone [Nikula], who’s still one of the hosts of Tuska, he and Wallu Valpio, there’s a picture where they’re naked on the stage introducing the bands. Of course, those guys were a bit famous at the time but now Jone is one of the faces of the metal scene. He’s everywhere, and he was introducing the bands naked. That kind of thing. There are a lot of fun stories in there. I think the whole concept was a bit more dangerous at the time, thinking of the black metal scene when there were bands like Barathrum, you don’t know what the hell’s going to happen on stage. They were on stage saying things that you couldn’t say now, like, “Pedophilia!” and everyone’s like, “Yeah, cool!” Those were wild times in the scene and at Tuska festival.

What is involved in organizing a festival? When do you start preparation for the next festival? How early does it start and how do you select the bands?
Usually we’ve got some bands in already [for the next year] when the festival is on in June-July. I would do it so that we would release the next year’s program already on the spot and start to sell tickets at the festival area, but unfortunately usually we don’t have the headliners locked in at that time. It depends, but usually not.

The timetable goes that after the festival – we’ve got a really good questionnaire at the festival – and I go through everything that we gather, info on the festival, how people react to different kinds of things, what they want more of, what they like, what kind of bands they like, I go through all of that. Jouni [Markkanen] is the promoter [who picks the bands for the festival] and has been ever since like the second Tuska. Jouni starts to get more offers in autumn, and the high season for looking for headliners is usually October-November. That’s when you’re locking the names in. Early autumn/late summer is the time when bands are doing their tours for the next year and then he’s picking up the bands.

Then time-wise, I’m starting to contact the cooperators, sponsors, and stuff in autumn and the end of the year. Then the start of the year is the time when we start to do marketing and start to plan things with our cooperators. We start to do that all the way from spring until the festival. Then looking at the map and all that, that goes all the way from autumn to spring. Now [April] we’ve got the map at the point where we know what kind of things we’ll have. We’ll do changes this year – there’s going to be a tent on the second stage. There’s going to be a fourth stage this year. There’s going to be speeches and interviews and stuff, so you can go in between bands and see [what’s going on].

So things are happening behind the scenes all the time. Of course we’ve got a new tent, we’ve got a new stage, I’m looking at new companies and cooperators with that, and basically the buzz is all year round in different areas. Then the production in the last 3 months is just that. This is the time now that we need to lock everything in and who’s coming where and who will pick them up from the airport, how many hosts we need, what we need for the backstage, what kind of gear the bands are touring with, stuff like that. Then there’s the license with Helsinki City and the security guys, that all happens 3 months before the festival. We really start to work on that and the conversations with the bands, the things they need and things that need to be changed. The last 3 months is that, plus marketing.

Do you tend to try and book certain genres more on some years than others? For example, in 2014 there was more heavy/black metal. Does that happen on purpose or is it accidental?
It’s both, because if you book Emperor as one of the headliners, then you need to have more than just Emperor, you need to book bands that give the whole experience for you. The same thing, if you just book Gojira and you don’t have anything like that, it’s not worth having Gojira there. You need to have the whole package. So that’s how it basically goes. If you get a power metal band, you need to have a couple of them. Jouni is always making sure that every year there is some thrash metal, every year there is some black metal, every year there is some power metal, etc. This year he’s been saying many times that we need to have some melodic heavy metal there. Of course you’ve got the big names, and then you start to work from there.
We’ve been thinking a lot, should we do genre days, like speed metal/thrash day and that sort of thing, but Tuska is a 3-day experience. It’s really hard to get bands on certain days. Usually you just need to say that these are the dates, are you available? Or then the bands say, “We’re available on that day,” and we’re not the ones to decide. And like I said, it’s a 3-day experience. Of course it’s better for us that people stay! The answer is yes and no.

How and why did Tuska move from Kaisaniemi to Suvilahti? There’s been a few rumors that the move was due to the sound restrictions in the center – is that true, or is it more size related?
We have the same license at Suvilahti – 22:00; that wasn’t the reason. There were two reasons. The main reason was that it was sold out already in February. Tuska needed more space. If you have a park limited to 11,000 people per day and it’s sold out a couple of months before the festival, you need to have a bigger area. Suvilahti came in as a new place with the capacity of 20,000 per day there, which is approximately what Flow Festival sells. So it was a bigger venue on one hand.

The second was that Helsinki City said that Kaisaniemi Park was going to be under construction. There were going to be some progressions there, so that was the second reason. Basically, Helsinki City wanted us to move there because Suvilahti was a new event place.

Is there any difference in organization between the two venues, other than structurally? Is it easier or more difficult to set things up at Suvilahti?
We are missing some things, as is the audience, at Suvilahti. At the park you’ve got the grass and trees and there are a lot of places to hang out. At Suvilahti there are a lot of good things though. You’ve got infrastructure there. If you go there, you can have all of your electricity from the walls, just plugged in, rather than have the generators and motors going on. So Suvilahti is much easier to do the show’s infrastructure. You’ve got a lot of places you can rent, like let’s say you want a third or fourth stage like we now have, you can also rent the hall and everything. It’s easier to do there. But in a way, what we are missing is the greener side of things.

In last year’s questionnaire I put out a thing about this because I was wondering if we should move back to Kaisaniemi and 80% of Tuska customers last year said Suvilahti is the perfect place for the festival. We’ve been there 5 years now, so moving now would be a good choice. But people are starting to see it as a Suvilahti festival, so we are glad to stay there. It feels good and our customers, the Tuska people, like it.

There have been some rumors that Tuska might eventually move up to Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto in Hämeenlinna – is there any truth to that?
We say a lot of things just to get things going. On the license for the noise limit, that’s really sucked ass for ages in Helsinki. We’ve been fighting that as long as Tuska has been around. A couple of CEOs before me, Stuba Nikula, who is now the head of culture in Helsinki, he was the one who led the charge on the noise limit thing, that this needs to change. On Fridays and Saturdays we had a license until 22:00. That’s madness in Finland’s capital. If you go to Hämeenlinna you can stay easily until 00:00 or have the license until 02:00. In different cities it’s like that. So we’ve been saying this, that fucking hell, we’re going to move from Helsinki if nothing happens.

In the end, after all of these conversations for ages, this year we’ll have a license for 00:00! On Friday and Saturday, this year Tuska’s going to be until 00:00. Or, the noise limit is until 00:00 so we’re open until 01:00, but the bands need to stop at 00:00. We’re really happy about this. It means really big changes for the whole experience of the festival. You can stay 4 hours longer at the festival area. Of course economically it’s a big thing for us too – we can sell beer to people for a couple of hours longer. On the Friday night, everything usually ends and you go to the nearest restaurant. It’s a big thing for us and it’s really nice of the city to try this. We’re hoping that this will be a yearly thing – it’s just a one-off now – so they’re trying to see what the influence is. The weekend festivals now have longer licenses. They’re trying to rethink the whole thing on noise limits, so we’re happy about the situation now.

Moving outside of Helsinki was just teasing that something had to happen with the noise limit or we would say bye-bye to Helsinki.

You’ve been having some interesting special guests – last year you guys had the Strong Scene Collective, which was fantastic. How did that go over and do you think you’ll do more things like that in the future?
The idea of Tuska is always that if something happens, we have to be [snaps] really fast and react immediately. Let’s see what happens this year. That [Strong Scene Collective] was in the papers I think 2 days before we released it, that we’d have the whole thing. It went really fast. When Lordi was on Eurovision and YLE said in what, 2008 or so, that they were not going to buy the bomb or pyrotechnics for Lordi, so Tuska went in immediately and made a phone-call, “We’re going to buy the bomb for Lordi.” In the end, there were a couple of other festivals like Sauna Open Air that were in also, to buy the pyros for Lordi. I think it’s really important that you’re focused and living in the moment and taking up what’s happening and reacting to those things.

So Tuska, as we were saying before, is a pretty exclusively rock/metal festival, but last year there was Atomirotta, which is more hip-hop. I don’t know much about him, but how did he end up on the roster of a metal festival?
Rane Raitsikka [Atomirotta] is more rock n’ roll than many metalheads together. He’s a cornerstone of rock n’ roll, so I think Rane Raisikka was playing with Lama, one of the bands that debuted the year before [2013], so that was a thing.

That makes sense. There have been a few others here and there, like Huoratron, that don’t necessarily quite seem like metal bands. Do you still consider yourselves an exclusively rock/metal festival or will you be opening the doors more to some borderline genres?
No, we’re still metal and we want to keep it that way. The festival is loyal to the customers and the customers are loyal to the festival. 64% of our customers say every year that they’re going to come back the next year, which is quite nice. So of course it’s something that we hold onto. But of course, we might have one band [like that] out of forty-five. It was funny looking at the reactions there. Of course everyone says, “I’m not going to watch that,” and they went to the beer area but just on the fence, so they can say, “I’m not watching the band,” but it was still a curiosity. After the show, the band said it was a win because in the end people were dancing and having fun there.

Lordi is playing this year and there are a lot of people who will say, “What the fuck?” but in the end we’re looking at the thing when we released it and it’s a retro show and they’ll do the Eurovision thing and all that, and everybody’s saying on Facebook that it’s reasonable that Lordi’s there. He’s a cornerstone too in his own genre. You’re not buying the ticket for Lordi, but when you come to see some band, you’ll think, “That’s cool, I can see the Lordi show there too.” I think that Lordi is our Atomirotta this year – sort of a borderline case in a way. And we’ll have all the old decorations! The old castle thing. That’s in storage somewhere in Rovaniemi and the band said they’ve still got the decoration from that tour, let’s bring it in, so that’ll be there!

What do you think is in store for Tuska in the future? Do you guys have any goals or do you just want to keep it going strong?
I have goals to have a few more people coming in. I’m aiming for 10,000 per day – 30,000 – I think that would be nice. Last year we had 25,000 so we’re aiming for a bit more. I think 30,000 for 3 days would be the best for Suvilahti, for the location.
We mentioned changes last year in the food. We had this “black dining” concept that had better food – not fine dining but a bit better food, like 20€ – that was sold out for the whole festival. We also had the sauna there and the Tuska Libre area where you could just hang out and listen to bands and go to sauna. We’re going to have the fourth stage this year with interviews and interesting people. I want to have a fifth stage and bring something weird there, so you can come to the festival and get surprised. That’s the thing that I’m aiming for. Of course, there’s the strong lineup, the strong attitude from Tuska, but these days people want the experience to be more than just the bands, you need to find something more, and I’m really happy to work on that. I’ve been in festivals all my life and I’ve been Roskilde-festival for 14 years now and I just love that festival. Every time you go there you get surprised, you’re like, “Wow, this is nice!” That kind of thing.

In Tuska we’re doing it step-by-step to get there. We don’t want to change the whole concept. Now it’s just food and all that, but Helsingin Sanomat did a review last year and said, “This is like metal Flow,” and I thought that was nice, because Flow is everything else than music now in a way, that concept. So we are getting the experience to become more now.


Tuska is more than just a festival where people get drunk and listen to music. For myself, it’s my weekend where I allow myself to let go and get crazy. It’s also a time when I get to reconnect with friends from out-of-town, or even just people that I don’t get to see particularly often. But don’t listen to me, 2016 will only be my 5th anniversary at a festival that’s 18 years old. That’s why we got in touch with some people who have been going to Tuska even longer (even longer than I’ve lived in Finland, in some cases)!

Milena Multaharju, 29
How long have you been going to Tuska/how many years have you been to Tuska?
I’ve been going to Tuska since 2009, so seven Tuskas so far and I’m adamant in keeping it up.

What brought you to Tuska the first time?
The fact that the lineup was a killer: Gojira, Neurosis, Immortal, and My Dying Bride to mention just a few – and the fact it was conveniently in my new hometown!

What has brought you back to the festival year after year?
By now it’s become a kind of a habit that is very hard to break. The lineup is one thing – some people complain about some bands playing there almost every year, but for me it describes the nature of the festival pretty well: a big bunch of friends getting together year after year to enjoy good music and maybe some booze as well… that’s pretty much it, it would just feel weird NOT to go to Tuska!

What is your favorite thing about Tuska as a festival?
My answer to the previous question pretty much covers this as well: it’s so easy to go to year after year, meeting up with friends you don’t see so often, seeing your favorite bands play, making new musical discoveries, enjoying the perfect Tuska weather…

How does Tuska compare to other festivals you’ve been to?
I think what sets it apart from other festivals, from my point of view, is the easiness: I don’t have to worry about arranging the trips to the festival and back, don’t need to worry about the accommodation etc., all I have to do is to go there and enjoy the party! Also, since it’s already a well-established event, things tend to work smoothly within the festival area and having been there year after year, it easy to move there; of course, going to some new festival, the Alice in Wonderland sensation is part of the charm, but Tuska feels like going to a friend’s place where you already know where the bathroom is!

Do you have any fond memories of Tuska you’d like to share?
There are plenty of fond memories, but I think one of the best is from 2014, when I was there with my sister and it actually rained most of the Sunday, yet everyone was having such a good time moshing and headbanging to Orphaned Land, Satyricon, and Emperor in their raincoats!


mika ringman by kenneth lehtinenMika Ringman, age 31
How long have you been going to Tuska/how many years have you been to Tuska?
My first Tuska was at 2009 and I’ve been in every Tuska since then.

What brought you to Tuska the first time?
Well, a couple of my friends from my old hometown were going and they informed me about it at around noon on the first day of the festival. I was broke, so I used some connections to get in.

What has brought you back to the festival year after year?
The people. The second time I came in 2010, it was the culture of drinking your own drinks on the lawn while watching bands. Oh yeah, this was the last year that you could do that. After that I was already serious about photography so I have been coming back to shoot the gigs and see other photographers.

What is your favorite thing about Tuska as a festival?
The atmosphere, the incredibly well-run organization, and the bands. It’s so awesome to be with like-minded people at a festival that does not have any hiccups because of the great organizers who know what they’re doing. Also, every year there has been at least one band that I seriously dig. And the security crew is fucking awesome! We the photographers work in the photo pit, which incidentally is the place where the security guys also work. The foreman, Esko, for example, has become a person I always look forward to seeing each year. We shoot the shit and laugh at things while waiting for permission to enter the pit. They also are concerned about our safety and the safety of our gear!

How does Tuska compare to other festivals you’ve been to?
Well as I said before, Tuska is a well-oiled machine. Everything from a press/VIP point of view have been working great. No hassle, no jumping through hoops. At some festivals, the media have to stand in line with other festival-goers to get inside from the main gate. It’s not an ego question, it’s a question of schedules. One festival I am not going to name made most of the media miss the first band’s photo-op by not having a press entrance. Small things like this make Tuska a great festival to come back to each year.

Do you have any fond memories of Tuska you’d like to share?
Ah… There are so many.

One special memory goes back to 2009 or 2010 when Sabaton was a rising band and they had a signing session at the EMP booth. The line was long and there were still a lot of people in line when the official signing time had ended. Their PR person came to tell the band that they’d have to wrap things up because the media is waiting for interviews. The band looked at each other and jumped over the table into the crowd and they ran from their PR person to make sure every single fan got a signature and a selfie to go with it. I remember the PR manager looking rather unimpressed.


Tuska 2014 Inka KarenInka Koivuniemi, age 29
How long have you been going to Tuska/how many years have you been to Tuska?
This year will be my lucky 13th year attending!

What brought you to Tuska the first time?
The very first time I wanted to go because of the bands, and because all the cool, older heavy guys were always saying that all the badasses go to Tuska, so I wanted to be a badass as well!

What has brought you back to the festival year after year?
It’s the atmosphere of the festival. And of course the awesome music, but it doesn’t matter if there would only be a few bands I’d like to see during the whole weekend. Heck, even if there wouldn’t be one single band I’d want to see, I’d probably still go!

What is your favorite thing about Tuska as a festival?
The atmosphere, definitely. It feels like home, like you’re having a huge picnic with a bunch of same-minded people and awesome metal music. You can make a new friend while standing in the beer line. Nobody looks at you funny because of the way you dress, because they dress the same way! Also many of my friends from all around Finland come to Tuska, so it’s good to meet them at the festivals as well.

How does Tuska compare to other festivals you’ve been to?
It’s clean! Tuska has always been a very clean and tidy festival, there’s no trash or clutter anywhere, the WCs are kept clean too. Also, I have never ever seen anyone fight at Tuska. And people seem to look out for each other, even the ones they don’t know. I’ve always had a very safe feeling at Tuska. Also the food is great!

Do you have any fond memories of Tuska you’d like to share?
I would have more if I hadn’t been so drunk every time, haha! Can’t think of anything particularly, but what I do remember from every Tuska I’ve been in is laughter. Smiling people, sunshine, happy screams, and indeed, lots and lots of laughter and joy.


Tuska 2015 Jari Rantanen by Marco ManziJari Rantanen, age 30
How long have you been going to Tuska/how many years have you been to Tuska?
I’ve been going to Tuska since 2001 and if I remember right, I’ve been there every year since then.

What brought you to Tuska the first time?
I decided to go there because of metal. And of course because it was so easy to get there when I was living in Helsinki.

What has brought you back to the festival year after year?
It has became a tradition for me to go to Tuska. It is a metal festival in the heart of Helsinki and many of my friends go there too. And there are good bands every year.

What is your favorite thing about Tuska as a festival?
Atmosphere, nice people, and location, although the old location in Kaisaniemi was better.

How does Tuska compare to other festivals you’ve been to?
Tuska like many other heavy metal festivals, is a festival where everybody is having fun and there are no fights and that kind of thing. Also, the music is focused mainly on metal. Bands stop playing much earlier than in many other festivals.

Do you have any fond memories of Tuska you’d like to share?
Hah memories… what memories? I have been so drunk every time =D But yes, the best memory is probably last year when I was king for a day and got on the stage with Amorphis.

How did you become the Day King last year, and did you enjoy the experience?
That was a Radio Rock contest that I won. There was a king for every day of Tuska and I won the honor to be the king for Saturday. In that contest, they asked people to share a Tuska memory or story to explain why you would be a good king. I don’t remember anymore what I wrote but I sent a nice picture of me at Tuska and won. I really enjoyed that experience! It was nice to have a entourage of my friends and it was also nice to meet lots of people who wanted to have a picture with me =)


When you think about a festival, you can’t just think about the people who watch. These events are big for the performers as well. In the last 10 years, there have been so many bands that we’ve reviewed and photographed on more than one occasion, so we got in touch with a few of them and asked them some questions about their feelings about Tuska. Here are their thoughts:

Tuska 2011 AnnekeAnneke van Giersbergen (The Devin Townsend Project, The Sirens)
What’s it like playing at Tuska?
Tuska is a very special festival. Unlike most other festivals it’s near the city center, which is awesome. The organization and the people who work there are super relaxed and they make us feel very much at home.

How does it compare to other festivals you’ve played at?
I think especially compared to mainstream festivals, Tuska’s crowd is great. As an artist you can walk around, watch other bands, and people will always treat you with love and respect. No hassle, no awkwardness, fantastic!

Do you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
I have very fond memories of my gig with Devin Townsend. He was on fire that day for sure! I love playing shows with him and his band. That day I also got to hang out with my dear friend Simone Simons [Epica]. She did my make-up for the show 🙂 The last time I was there with The Sirens, we watched the Opeth and Alice Cooper shows after we did our gig. Both were really great!

Tuska 2015 AnnekeHow have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
I’m returning more and more to my heavy music roots, which makes it even more fun to play at Tuska. I have played Tuska as a guest singer with Devin and as a member of the The Sirens project – I would love to return one day with my own band!

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
Looks like I am having fun 🙂


Tuska 2010 InsomniumNiilo Sevänen (Insomnium)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
Tuska is a very special festival for us and it’s always great to play there. First we played at the after-show clubs and now we’ve been on the main stage, so it’s been a long way.

How does it compare to other festivals?
It’s special that it’s in the middle of Helsinki city. Most festivals are somewhere on countryside.

Tuska 2012 InsomniumDo you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
A lot. Well, for example one time our crew members decided to prank us and come to the meet and greet line. They were the last ones in the queue and we saw them coming so we decided to give something back and told the security that those guys are not allowed near us. So the guards didn’t let them come any closer. Practical jokes.

How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
First couple of times we played at the after-show clubs and I think I didn’t even see the actual festival area. Now we’ve played at the festival site already maybe four times and last time was on the main stage. Of course a lot has happened in the last 10 years and we’ve become a lot bigger band also.

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
It seems that I’ve been enjoying myself in Tuska 🙂


Tuska 2006 Sonata ArcticaHenrik Klingenberg (Sonata Arctica)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
We’ve played at Tuska quite a few times and I really like the festival a lot. Everything works and since it’s in Finland, you always meet a lot of friends there.

How does it compare to other festivals?
A lot of festivals are situated outside of cities or downright in the middle of nowhere, so that’s definitely one of the things that stands out with Tuska, since it’s more or less in the city.

Do you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Check below 😉

How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
That’s a hard one, I think a lot has changed; the first time for me at Tuska was over 10 years ago so too much has happened since then. I guess the biggest thing that’s changed is that we’re a lot older now…

Tuska 2012 Sonata ArcticaDo you have any comments on the photos provided?
The year of the red pants 😉 I remember that Tony got a lot of feedback for those pants, not all positive, but he stood by his decision and went with it anyway. I heard that there’s even a Facebook group called Tony Kakko’s pants or something like that…

Tuska 2012: I remember this show very well. We played in Austria the night before and arrived in Helsinki at 06:00 in the morning. Our plan was to go to sleep at the hotel and be fresh and ready for the show at 18:00. What happened then was that all our luggage was left behind when we had a connecting flight so instead of going to rest, we spent the day calling local music shops and friends etc. to borrow gear for the show. We didn’t even have our stage clothes so Tony had to go shopping, otherwise it would have been shorts and a bright green t-shirt for him. Nevertheless we managed to scrape together enough instruments to do the show and I guess it went really well considering the circumstances. This kind of thing where everything got lost hasn’t happened before or since and we’re really happy if it stays that way.


Tuska 2007 TurisasMathias Nygård (Turisas)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
It’s a great festival to play. Everything runs like clockwork and artists are well taken care of. It being a home-turf-show for us, it’s of course always a little bit more personal, as there are so many friends in the audience.

How does it compare to other festivals?
The big difference is that Tuska is not in the middle of some muddy field in the countryside, but in downtown Helsinki. Can’t think of many other metal festivals like that. So instead of all the campground madness, you have bars and after-parties to attend.

Tuska 2011 TurisasDo you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Playing Tuska was one of our first real big festival performances just after the release of Battle Metal in 2004. Everyone was super nervous before the show. However, I think the best memories (or lack of…) are from the years we haven’t played, but just been there as a visitor. It’s always a great party.

How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
We’ve basically gone from newcomers to a fairly established act. Sometimes I miss having the advantage of surprise on our side, like our first performance in 2004. Nowadays everyone at Tuska would know us and what we are about. Or so they think… haha.

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
Not really.


Tuska 2009 Stam1naEmil “Hippi” Lähteenmäki & Pekka “Pexi” Olkkonen (Stam1na)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
Emil: Always nice. The festival and all the arrangements relating to it are top-notch – catering, the technical side of things, etc. That makes it real easy for you to climb on to the stage in front of a huge metal audience.

Pexi: It’s really satisfying ‘cause it’s the biggest metal festival in Finland and everybody is there to celebrate metal music. It’s also a great chance to see some of our favorite bands.

How does it compare to other festivals?
Emil: We rarely get to play in a festival in Helsinki since there are not many festivals that suit us and of course it’s great to be able to play outside gigs in our capital. Also, it is a festival tailored for a mainly metal audience, which makes it possible to interact with more genre-dedicated fans and non-fans than normally. And bands also; in our free time we have the opportunity to catch up with metal acts you wouldn’t see elsewhere.

Tuska 2006 Stam1naDo you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Emil: One of my best. We don’t always take our image as seriously as most other metal bands might and that eventually led to us painting grossly exaggerated corpse paint for ourselves in Tuska 2009. The picture of Kaikka is from that gig. I also, for some reason, was dressed in only pink women’s underwear. That time I was a bit scared walking onstage, to see how the occasionally rather serious metal fans would react to that. The gig went well and a picture of me got published on a national tabloid’s website.

Pexi: Sure. I used to go there as a visitor before we got to play there the first time, I believe in 2005 when our first album came out. We actually got to play on all of the stages over the years when the festival was in the park in Kaisaniemi. The black metal paint thing we did is probably my favorite memory as well. The least fond memory is the time when some idiot threw a bottle on stage with hit our drummer and we stopped the gig right there. That kind of behavior cannot be understood or tolerated.

2013.06.29 04 Stam1na @ Tuska (2)How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
Pexi: Over the years the location has changed, obviously, and before that we played every year on a bigger stage than before as our fan base got bigger.

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
Pexi: The picture of me is probably from 2006 when we were Saturday’s first act on the main stage. I remember the excitement ‘cause we hadn’t played on the main stage before. I also remember the crowd pouring in during the show and the sun was shining – what a great day!


Tuska 2010 DevinDevin Townsend (The Devin Townsend Project)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
Tuska is one of the best and most well organized festivals I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with at the level in which they operate. They do it right and the vibe of the show reflects that.

How does it compare to other festivals?
It stands on its own in many ways, the environment in Finland and the people make it a very pleasant experience on a personal level, yet in comparison to other festivals of its size, its easiest to compare it in the sense of how well organized it is and how good the food was =)

Do you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Tuska festival took a huge chance on me, allowing me to perform the first Ziltoid album in its entirety while the DTP was unproven as an entity at that point. I will always have a soft spot for them as a result.

How have things changed for you (as a band) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
Tuska 2011 DevinIt evolved in basically all ways, to be honest. Bigger, better, and more defined. The intention remains and the personal has solidified into a good band, but ultimately, like all things in my musical world, it has simply evolved to the next level of what it always was.

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
At this point, when we had played Tuska the first time, I hadn’t moved into the ‘suit wearing’ phase, and the second time I had. Its nice to see photos from the past sometimes, it gives you a reference point to how things have evolved.


Tuska 2007 StratovariusTimo Kotipelto (Stratovarius)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
Tuska has always been a very nice festival to play at! Especially [because of] the central location in Helsinki. Quite easy for the fans to take the train from all over Finland and go to the festival site. Same goes with bands. Close to the Helsinki-Vantaa airport.

Of course by now we know the promoter and the people working behind Tuska. Super nice guys! For us Tuska has always been one of the best festivals to play at. And also somehow super difficult as most of the ”home gigs” always are 🙂

Tuska 2013 StratovariusHow does it compare to other festivals?
Tuska is basically only about metal, from extreme to hard rock. Metal fans can see all kinds of metal. There are never any fights among the fans; only brotherly beer drinking partying! I think the biggest difference to most metal festivals is that Tuska in located in the heart of the city! Period. Even with the new location it still is in the center.

Do you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Lots of good memories from the gigs and some hazy memories from the after-show parties 🙂

There have always been a lot of people watching us and we are proud to have been in the line-up so many times!

Tuska 2015 StratovariusHow have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
Well, Tuska changed their location. And we have changed our line-up 🙂 Otherwise the feeling is still the same! Always a pleasure and a privilege to play there!

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
Nice pics! They are quite small so I can’t really tell the details. But I guess two are from the last year and one is probably from 2005?

I recognize the bass player and the singer 🙂

[ed: the photos are from 2007, 2013, and 2015 respectively]


Tuska 2009 EpicaIsaac Delahaye (Epica)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
Summer festivals are always a great change from the club shows and tours we’re doing the rest of the year. There’s something special about them. You get to hang with friends in other bands; people you haven’t seen since the festival season the year before. Stuff like that.

And if you’re playing in a country which is the home base of countless great bands, it kinda feels like playing in front of a metal connoisseur audience so to speak. A little more pressure on our shoulders!

How does it compare to other festivals?
It’s a lot smaller than the festivals we have in our region. Wacken, Hellfest, Graspop, they are all huge with a million bands playing. Tuska is more intimate but still has a wide variety of bands. Seems like they only go for bands which are still relevant today, and less for bands which are only headlining festivals cause they’ve been around for five decades. More puristic, which I like.

Tuska 2011 EpicaDo you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
It’s been a couple of years since we’ve played Tuska, but I remember everyone talking about this small band playing indoor early afternoon. They were awesome and put on a great show. They’d become the next big thing. That band happened to be Ghost.

Other than that we probably hung with some friends backstage and got drunk. That’s what we did back in those days 😉

How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
We played the festival at a time when Epica was a little lost. We toured so much on the Design Your Universe album and struggled with the deadline for the follow-up album. Looking back at that period we were on a roller-coaster and didn’t take the time to breathe and get our stuff together. We just went on recording a new album and went back on the road immediately. It wasn’t until Simone got pregnant years later that we stopped playing for a while. This gave us some time to reflect on what was next, to change some things we took for granted and to record -what I think is- our best album to date, The Quantum Enigma. This record, and all the changes that came with it, made the band bigger and really put Epica on the map once and for all. With a new album to be released this fall I can assure you we learned from our past and made another great metal album of which I’m extremely proud. Right now we’re setting up everything for the release of the album and the tours to follow, and it looks like there are exciting times ahead for us!

Tuska 2006 TarotDo you have any comments on the photos provided?
Hm… comments… 🙂 Ehm, they are live pictures, and ehm… that’s it 😀


Zachary Hietala (Tarot)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
We’ve been there so many times and it’s always been fun indeed.

How does it compare to other festivals?
Tuska is only pure metal festival in Finland and it’s atmosphere is unique.

Do you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Tuska 2010 TarotWhen Marco did this TV competition, Clash of the Choirs in spring 2010, we got bigger production in the following Tuska. We got his choir on stage and it was so superb to play the whole set with them.

How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
In early years it was a little indoor festival, now it’s one of the biggest outdoor festivals here.

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
Tuska 2011 TarotBrother on stage 🙂 Ok this chromium-plated German war helmet was bit too much to some, but we have had humor on stage always, so it was ok.


So what can we say about Tuska? Not only is it an incredible event that is beloved by both fans and artists alike, it’s clear that the makers really and truly care about what they’re doing and the people they’re doing it for. Tuska is the kind of event that brings people back year after year, not just because of the great music, but because of the experience that the festival provides – great food, great atmosphere, and great company!

Musicalypse is proud to have covered Tuska for 10 years and we wish the festival an early happy 20th anniversary for next year. We’re glad you’ve let us in to cover things, and hope to continue following Tuska Open Air for another 10 years to come!


Tuska Reviews:
2006 (Deutsch), 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015

Tuska Galleries:
2008, 2013 Day 1, 2013 Day 2, 2013 Day 3, 2014, 2015 Day 1, 2015 Day 2, 2015 Day 3

Cornelia Wickel: Tuska 2006, 2007, 2012
Jana Blomqvist: Tuska 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Sanni Pasuri: Tuska 2013
Mika Ringman: Tuska 2014
Maija Lahtinen: Tuska 2015
Kenneth Lehtinen: photo of Mika Ringman
Marco Manzi: Day King photo of Jari Rantanen w/ Tomi Joutsen
Bear W.: all other photos