2010-11-25 Stratovarius

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23.11.10: Due to the presentation of STRATOVARIUS' upcoming album “Elysium” I had the chance to speak with guitarist Matias Kupiainen and the band's voice Timo Kotipelto about the band and their life as musician. That drummer Jörg's cancer illness has not been the topic of a question was my decision; I guess enough people bothered them with that. Nevertheless, they came to that topic after a time. InterviewFirst of all, you're going to be on tour with HELLOWEEN. Are you looking forward to it or
got some stage fright? Or is it normal after all the years of making music?

M: Hard to say, hard to say. Well, this time we got something like 16 minutes. It's not a headlinergig
or headliner-tour, so basically we have just talked with all the band members. We're gonna have
16 minutes, 16 minutes full blast! Not this kinda, you know, slow songs or something like that.

So warm up the crowd?

M: Yeah, warming up. [laughs]

And you don't got any stage fright?

M: Well, this time it's promotion, of course. We have the single that comes out on the same day like
the tour starts. It's gonna be released this Friday! And of course we're promoting our new album.
So... I don't know, I really don't know.

When you're in the studio or on tour, do you got any time left for your private life?

M: Me? No, I don't have a private life. [laughs] Well, it's been so fucking hectic, all the touring and
making the album, straight after the last gig. Actually we started to record the album in July and we
were in middle of the summer-festivals and stuff like that, so we hadn't so much days to spend in in
the studio. So in summer, we made all the drum-trackings and stuff like that. And straight after the
last recordings we had that gig in, eh... was it autumn or something. But anyways, in Finland we got
straight to the studio. And actually, even after that I haven't visited my home. So basically, we've
been 3 months in a row in the studio for this album. No private life!

I guess it takes a lot of time to practice on the instruments. Does this still takes a lot of time?

M: Well, we're talking about a very huge production here. You know, we were doing almost 16
songs. So, it took a lot of time and I haven't been playing the guitar for 3 like months. So it was
really really hard to practice all the shit together and go on the stage. Sometimes of course, you
know, it bugs me. I don't have that time to play the guitar! But life's life and that how it goes now
and I've to accept it. But, it would be really nice if, let's say 2 month after we have finished this
album I'd got 3 month just for practicing. Be at home, drink beer or whatever. But now it's not

Some of the songs are very complex, insane actually. Is it easy for you or do you have to
concentrate on playing the riffs?

- At this time, singer Timo Kotipelto enters the room, eating a sandwich. -

M: You still need a lot of time to practice the riffs and, you know, figure it out. Okay, here's this
note and maybe leave this 16th note away and stuff like that. So it takes a lot of time. I think I played
all of my guitar parts in almost 3 ½ weeks, 2 ½ weeks maybe. But you have to remember, we had to
do, you know, like almost 16 songs. So it was almost 100 minutes of music.

T: 16 songs? But how many tracks?

M: Well, usually I do 4. 2 for the left and 2 for the right. If we're talking about rhythm guitar. So
basically, I played 4 times all the songs.

Do you got still aims in making music? Are there bands, people you wanna play with? Or do
you just “take what comes”?

M: Well, just get what comes. You can't actually really choose with whom you're playing and stuff like that.

T: You were chosen!

M: I was chosen, yeah. [laughs]

How important is the equipment the equipment you're playing on? So the amps and the whole
studio stuff. Is it important for you to get your sound or could you make your music with
more low-price equipment then that you're playing on? I've seen you're playing on ENGLAmps
and the whole high-price stuff.

M: Well, of course, I'm a studio-owner. I've my own studio in Helsinki, so of course these kind of
things are really important for me. You know, keep the sound as pure as I can and stuff like that.
Why I prefer ENGL-amplifications for live or in studio? I don't know, it sounds okay to me. Doesn't
matter actually which kind of head or cabinet you're using. The only what that matters is that it only
needs to sound decent. Of course what comes with microphones and preamps and compressors and
whatever... you know, you always need to have this kind of balanced thing. Sometimes it's okay to
use really crappy stuff if it's okay for the sound.
But mostly, most of the time when we're talking about studio and recording of drums, you know, the
kind of tough tasks for me. There I'm really using the best what I have.

What was your favorite concert you played? Okay, that's not a question for you [Matias], but
maybe you can answer [Timo].

T: Best concert? With him?

No, with the band actually.

T: Well, there have been so many. It's hard to say! It's always very impressing to go to any country
where you don't know what to expect. We once played in Venezuela and everybody said that's very
chaotic and nothing works... it was a little bit delayed, but then we went there. But we didn't thought
that we sell any album there in Venezuela. So I was expecting maybe 1600 people... I think there
were something like 7000 or something. And they all knew all the songs and we thought: Fuck,
what is this? And that's something that I never forget. And we also played on WACKEN festival and
that was brilliant. And then from our own gigs, on the last tour Tokyo was good. That was very
And also, what else... Los Angeles was quite alright. Of course there have been so many shows in
the past... that was just from the last tour. Oh, and I'm looking forward to this HELLOWEEN-tour.
So I think it's a very nice package for the fans, see a lot of bands you know, one ticket, three bands.
But that third band's always changing, there's gonna be different bands. But this will be interesting.
Hopefully we can pull some people and there's the first show in Vienna, on Friday. Luckily there's
quite many of good shows in my career. But of course, there are also some not so good ones.
But right now, of course you know what happened to Jörg. So the situation is like... it could be
better. For him and also for us. He was insisting like: You don't cancel, you go on the tour and then I
try to join you later. But we got a good drummer, he's a very good drummer and a good guy, but of
course it's more like: “It's gonna work!”. We've been rehearsing for 4 days now and that's not
enough. But he knows the songs, so I think it's gonna be good. But it's different.

So you're confident?

T: I think it will work. And I think some of the people understand it that this is not the normal band
we have. Of course there's gonna be probably some mistakes. I mean, we make mistakes... No, he
does mistakes!

M: We're perfect!

T: Okay, other bands make mistakes, not we of course.

M: We'd never! What are you talking about? Mistakes! [laughs]

So, one question left: Where do you get your inspirations from? People always just say you get
inspirations from classical music...

M: Hard to say, hard to say. Most of it comes by just playing the guitar for myself. It's like: Okay,
this sounds nice and you compose a song with this riff or whatever. But of course when you hear
some really old classical music and stuff like that you can always say: Okay, just take this part and
put it here and put this underneath it, we're gonna always do. But 99% is just like, you know, played
the guitar by myself. I don't know what's with Timo.

T: 99% I'm not playing guitar. But of course, what is inspiring or infecting my compositions is of
course the past in this band. 'Cause I've been in the band for like 14, 15 years or something. So
that's something that I'm used to. But I can't and I don't want to get rid of it completely. What is
inspiring me is nature, what I see around me... touring, everything. I don't know where my melodies
come from. On the one song composed by me, he came up and helped me arranging. Even though
he's an idiot he's a nice guy... in the end. [laughs]
Yeah, he produced everything. He really is pain in the ass, but then it's good for me. I don't wanna
have any producers that are like: “Okay, that's good – take another one!”. Sometimes he's extreme
but I think the result is good.

M: I like extreme metal! [grins]

T: I think working with him was kinda easy, I think we've spent 5 weeks together, we recorded

M: 2 weeks.

T: Yeah, almost 2 weeks in the cottage and 2 more. He was also mixing this EP. But that EP-thing is
that the label wanted to have an EP and he was still recording my vocals and I think some guitars
and keyboards were missing.

M: All of the keyboards were missing!

T: Then suddenly, he was supposed to mix the whole album. And we were running out of time, but
that's how it works. But that's a situation we never had, the album comes out 2 month after touring
starts. So... fuck!

M: We finished it last week. Last Tuesday, we were still in the studio.

T: Monday! On Monday I finished the last tracks.

M: But you were in the studio on Tuesday.

T: Yeah, I had some other works to do.

M: Yeah, but anyway, now we're here and rehearsing, so there wasn't much time to rest.

Okay, thanks a lot!

Both: You're welcome.