Interview date

28 Janvier 2013


Blaster of Muppets


Interview Timo Kotipelto (by mailer)

"Episode", "Visions", "Destiny", "Infinite", "Elements", "Polaris", "Elysium"… and now, "Nemesis". Seriously, what’s with the one-word titles? :)

A very good question! I have been wondering the same. But what is even more interesting is that they very often also seem to have seven letters in them! :) It is just coincidence but anyways it looks better if there is only one word as an album title instead of long sentences.

Jörg Michael left Stratovarius after sixteen years of service. How was the last concert with him? Was it an emotional moment for the band?

Of course the last gigs were a bit sad but I also felt good for him since he made a decision and I think he is happy now. We are still very good friends and he is also still working in our booking agency and sometimes in our management. Even though he left the band as a musician he didn’t really leave Stratovarius completely.

A concert from that tour was released as a DVD/blu-ray last summer. Your fans waited a long time for a live DVD and we know it has been difficult to release one before that. Are you satisfied with the result?

It was something that our record label and Jörg wanted to do. I see it as a memory of Jörg for the fans and for us too. I think we might make another live dvd in the future with Rolf behind the kit. The video and sound quality is very good on the DVD though.

How has it been to work with Rolf, your new drummer? Has it been very different? What has he brought to "Nemesis"?

It has been very easy to work with Rolf. He is a brilliant drummer and a very nice guy. His playing style is a bit different to Jörg’s. While Jörg played more like John Bonham style combined some punk/early heavy metal attitude, Rolf’s playing style is more modern and technical metal drumming. He has brought a lot of new energy for the album. They are both good drummers but with different styles.

According to you, what are the main differences between "Nemesis" and its predecessors?

The biggest differences are Rolf on the drums, Matias mixing the whole album by himself and more modern sound without forgetting what Stratovarius is all about: catchy choruses and impressive solo parts. I would say it’s an update to the sound of Stratovarius. This is what the band is in 2013.

One of the first things I noticed when listening to the album is that it sounds richer, more epic (in terms of arrangements and choirs) and seems to have a wider palette of sounds (especially the keyboards). Do you agree?

I agree. The guitar sound is darker than before and some of the keyboard sounds (especially for the songs that Matias composed) are more modern. Some of the songs were requesting for a more modern approach while some other needed to have older sounds. It depends on the songs. But yes, I think "Nemesis" has over all more up to date sounds than the previous albums.

It also sounds like you got rid of the traditional speedy neo-classical anthem (like "Event Horizon", "Speed of Light", etc.) and chose a less fast-paced and more melodic approach…

Not sure if I totally agree here :). I think Nemesis has some very fast songs on it. And we’ve always had really melodic songs. But this is just a matter of opinion.

It also seems that special attention has been directed to the creation of stronger and more memorable riffs.

Well, of course you always try to compose as good songs as you can. If you are lucky you might end up with some excellent riffs that the fans will remember for years to come. But it’s not always like that. It is very difficult to come up with a new cool riff that nobody else has composed before. But I think on "Nemesis" we do have some very good songs!

After the very positive reviews and the success "Elysium" got, did you feel any pressure for "Nemesis"?

Not really. When we did "Elysium" we had too much pressure but that was because when we started to record the album we were already confirmed for the Helloween tour. So we didn’t have as much time as we would have wanted to do the album. We had to hurry up in the studio and finish the album very fast. With "Nemesis" we had much more time to compose and to record the album. And when it comes to artistic pressures, there was not any. It was very natural and almost easy to compose the songs for "Nemesis". The pressure was to find a right drummer but after we heard Rolf playing it has been very easy.

How were the writing and production shared this time?

Since Tolkki left the band in 2008, we’ve had four guys (Jens, Lauri, Matias and me) composing for the band. We have more songs to choose from when it comes to making the album. Also Jani Liimatainen co-wrote two songs with me for "Nemesis" ("Out of the Fog", "If the Story is Over"). If you have more guys composing for the band it’s easier to get the album together. If one person has “writer’s block” it’s not the end of the world because other guys can compose something. It’s working quite nicely for Stratovarius this way.

You’re touring with Amaranthe in two months. What can your fans expect from the shows? Do you know how long you’ll be able to play? Will there be any surprises in terms of setlist?

There will be Stratovarius, Amaranthe and Seven Kingdoms. I think it will be very interesting for both the bands and the fans. We all play a bit different kind of metal but it will be a great package! I think Strato will play around seventy-five minutes. It’s gonna be very difficult to choose the songs on the setlist since we have done so many albums. But we will play some old classics and also songs from "Nemesis". The shows in France will be the most important for me because on our last tour I had to cancel both of the shows (Paris, Lyon) because of the bacteria infection that had killed my voice. This time I will give my best and rock you guys!

Will there be a second leg to your European tour?

At the moment we don’t have any plans. It’s all depending on how well the album will do. It would be great to come back to France in the autumn and play longer set!!!

I don’t want to sound disrespectful or anything like that but, to speak honestly, when listening to "Polaris Live" or "Live in Tampere", it is quite obvious that some songs have become difficult to sing live. The chorus on "Paradise", for example, seems particularly painful to sing. Do you intend to keep on singing these songs as high as you used to or would you rather change key and try a lower register?

The whole last tour was so difficult for me. Cambylo-bacteria that I got just before christmas 2011 nearly killed my voice for good. I think I ate some bad food (I was not the only one who got it but the only singer!) during the last days on Helloween/Stratovarius tour and got very badly dehydrated. It took me a whole year to get my voice back. It’s in a much better condition right now. Of course the voice is changing by the age on all singers. I think my extremely higher tones are maybe not so bright as they used to be but on the other hand my middle and high chest register are much stronger nowadays. We have so many old classic stuff to choose from so I don’t have to “show off” if I don’t want to :)

After saying « Stratovarius will not exist anymore in 5 years » a year ago, Timo Tolkki recently said (in an interview conducted last December): “I love them and I do miss them. I wish we could one day do one more album and tour with the “Visions” lineup. In five years or something. That would be really cool.” … What does this inspire you?

That does not inspire me at all. I wish him all the best. He is a great composer and hopefully he will come up with some excellent albums in the future. I think he was probably led by the interviewer to get that kind of answer. Of course I also miss the good old days but I do also remember the bad days and I don’t want them back. We have a great line-up and and an excellent new album. I don’t see any reason why we should change it. What would Lauri, Matias and Rolf think if we would suddenly say, “Sorry guys, you are out now.”? Timo has said so much during the last years and changed his opinion so often.

Are there any solo albums or projects coming next or is Stratovarius the only priority for the time being?

Strato is the priority. As long as I am busy with the band I don’t have any time to do anything else. I have been doing a lot of acoustic duo shows with Jani Liimatainen (we also released an acoustic album called "Blackoustic" last October) and will do those when I am not having gigs with Strato. Jani and I have been composing some songs but will they end up being on some rock project album or on something else is not clear yet. I still have one option left for Kotipelto with AFM Records but I don’t think I will do it this year.

What would you like to say to your French fans before the album gets released and the tour gets started?

Hopefully you’ll like the album and will come to see the shows! As I said earlier in this interview, the shows in France are the most important for the band and me. See you on tour and let’s have a great time together!!! Merci!!!!

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