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In Words: Stratovarius

- Timo Kotipelto - Nov. 2005 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Matias Kupiainen - Feb. 2010 - Philip Thelen -
- Matias Kupiainen - Nov. 2010 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

© Stratovarius

Matias Kupiainen - November 23rd 2010 - Dortmund

Just before the band hit the road again some journalists got the chance to listen to the new album Elysium before the release in January. After listening to the songs for the first time, the band was answering our questions. Matias Kupiainen was the one to answer mine.

You can listen to our little conversation by clicking here!

Claudia Ehrhardt


Matias Kupiainen - live in Saarbrücken 2010
© Philip Thelen

Matias Kupiainen - Feburary 2nd 2010 - Saarbrücken (D)

Stratovarius have been through changes. Now a new line-up is out on the road and I had the chance to talk to guitarist Matias Kupiainen before the show.

I'm pretty sure you were asked this frequently, but can you tell me: How is it as new guitar player and replacement for Timo Tolkki?

Oh, of course, on stage sometimes it's kinda hard, you know? You have to play all the parts like Tolkki and like Tolkki did on the albums. But I don't know, so far it has been very good and the feedback has been really positive and no one tried to killed me. No beer bottles were thrown to the stage or something.

I listen to Stratovarius for ten years and I am a really big fan of Tolkki and his guitar playing. Since Elements and later the Stratovarius titled album I missed something. Then came Tolkki's depression, and later you joined in and the band released Polaris. I thought "This could be nothing without Tolkki", but when listening first time to it, I was really surprised. It sounds really fresh! What do you say about this?

Well, I have never met Tolkki in person. I know actually nothing about him except what the other guys told me. Before the self-titled album Tolkki lost his interesting to play the guitar. Things like that happen when you don't practice. Anyway, I think the Polaris album is for us and the rest of the guys a fresh start, they say a second chance. Improvements and so on. They can go back on tour.

I think it is the second Visions or Episode album. It sounds fresh, it is powerful, it's great. I think I can listen to the happiness you had at the studio while recording the album.

Yeah, we had a lot of fun recording the album.

And what about the actual tour? You are in the middle of the tour right now, or?

No, I think there are eight days left on this European tour until it's over. We started touring in August I think. Anyway, we did this two months long world around tour and then the Finnish tour and we started on January this European leg. So far we have toured in so many citys, oh my god. A plenty towns. I lost my count somewhere in Belgrade....

I will see you at this year's Wacken Open Air. Are you happy to play there?

Yeah, it's the first time for me to play in Wacken. I have never been to the festival. Everybody's talking about it. It's the biggest metal festival, you know.

How is the working atmosphere with the other guys?

Well, it was somehow in summer of 2008, right after the Sauna open air when we were at Timo Kotipelto's cottage somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Lapland and working out the Polaris material. It was quiet relaxed. It was really positive and a really nice atmosphere. Nobody was back stabbing each other. Everybody presents ideas.

And everybody is involved in songwriting, or?

Yeah, but Jörg's an expert. He is really strong in how we arrange the drums. He's like a spine. Sometimes he says "Ah, this is bullshit, total scheiße!I like to do it this way!" Then we do the corrections. It is really nice.

But if you want, you can put in your own track and say 'this is my new stuff, listen to it, do what you want' or something?

Yeah, of course, anyway. In this band everybody is so fucking talented and they are awesome musicians. It's kind of easy to put a new song out or a rough demo and everyone knows "I can try this kind of things out" and you can always count on them. Most of bands in Finland, or when you have a smaller band, when you put the songs out, you have to write tabulatures or notes or something and say "You have to play exactly like this!". But in this band it is this way: There is a song and everybody plays the song not like on the sheet. Everybody tries so make the song work.

With his own style and ideas, I think?


I have read on your homepage that you will record a new album soon. Is there something you are allowed to say?

Well, there is any secret about that. Everybody has written some songs. I have a bunch of songs, I think Jens has a bunch of songs, Lauri has bunch of songs, and Timo has a bunch of songs. We are going on April again to the middle of nowhere in Finland and try the new songs out and see what will happen. The we will try to decide what songs we are taking on the next album, try to work them out and make some producing and arranging and stuff like that. I think around May we are in this kind of situation that we might have to new album material written and then in summer we gonna go in the studio. Maybe. Hopefully the new album will come out next year or earlier.

As I said before, you are an amazing exchange for Tolkki. Can you tell me something about your personal idols?

Well, I have trained this classical guitar riffs so my roots are basically in the classical area. There are so many good classical composers, for example Gustav Holst is one of my favorites. When you got this neo-classical shredding thing, you always have to listen to some Bach stuff, so that is also really close to my heart. I think it was Petrucci from Dream Theater who opened my eyes at high school.

You studied guitar, or?

Yeah, I studied the classical guitar until 2004 and then I quit. There was this accident happen. I smashed my left arm index finger trapped in the door and it broke into five pieces. Then I quit the classical guitar and tried to concentrate on that studio working and then I started to play the electrical guitar a bit more.
But there are plenty of good players out there... Yngwie Malmsteen. I think I was 14 or 15 when I listened to this Malmsteen stuff and tried to play that Johansson keyboard solos. And that is actually the style and sound that I tried to make my guitar sound. I tried to make it a little bit more sound like a synthesizer. It's really sharp and much of that comes from Jens. It's actually really nice to play in the same band!

You said you tried it out to sound like a synthesizer?

Oh yeah, but not that much! That kind of thing on the start of the note or of the sound; it's really smooth. And it ends smooth. When you pick really hard and you have this kind of 'pling' on the first note, it's like a attack thing. And I always tried to get rid of it. But now I try to get back because playing live is totally different then play in the studio. You have to make a sound that is strong and that cut's through the whole band. You know, it's always balancing between "Should I sound more like a synthesizer? Or more like a guitar or more what the fuck?"

Which gear do you use?

Well, I got this really nice Ruokangas custom guitar now with me. It has this really nice handmade pick up's with almost a little stronger output than the EMG. Anyway it is passive! That's really nice. Then I use mostly that Engl stuff. I got this preamp E530, the modern rock called preamp in one unit, cheap as hell! The basic sound, the crunch sound, is kind of ok. Then I have... what do I have actually on this tour?! Ah, I got this two Engl Fireball heads but I'm only using the power amp side of the head. Than I have two standard 4x12" V30 speaker cabinets and two slanted versions, so it's a kind of full stack two times! But anyway, I do not use the upper cabinets at all, size matters (laughs).

Ok, I have only one more question: Is there something you would like to tell our readers?

Well, I'm so bad about this... what the fuck?? Ha, what the fuck! Keep rocking and check us out in Wacken. It will be awesome.

Thank you very much for the interview!

You can listen to our little conversation by clicking here!

Philip Thelen


Stratovarius: Timo Kotipelto - live 2005
© Claudia Ehrhardt

Timo Kotipelto - November, 4th 2005 - Cologne (D), Palladium -

The year 2004 - and partly 2005 - have been a rollercoaster ride for Stratovarius and so it was a little surprise that after the release of the self-titled album the band hit the streets. The interest in Stratovarius was huge, too many questions waited to be answered. During the set of HammerFall Timo Kotipelto granted some time to answer some questions. They were already on tour for about 2 weeks... "So far the tour is very good." Timo stated. Together on tour with HammerFall some might have expected some Johnsson brothers to cause some mass. "Jens broke some table and plates backstage - and something else -, but since Anders' sons are with us on tour they behave a little better." Not everybody is playing Russia and so I was curious how that shows been. "It was the second time we played there. The audience was very good, everybody knew the words." Even if not that many copies get sold over there... "It was the same promoter who booked us last time, but this time the organization was even better - at least for us as a band." More bands are playing there these days, thanks to a new promoter. "From Finland it's easy to go there, just take the train. Well, I flew back and forth. I didn't want to sit on a train for 13 hrs with my back problems." But still from St. Petersburg to Moscow he had to face a 9 hrs. long train ride, but in a sleeping compartment. Many bands release their debut self-titled, but Stratovarius named their latest album after the band - the re-united band. "This feels like a new start for the band and when Timo came up with the idea it feels right. You can only do this once in your career." Back together, but is it still the same? "It's different, we have a new bassist." Timo says with a smile. As Tolkki stated before that the line-up with bassist Jari is the one and only, it's a bit strange... "Jari played on the album, but when it came to tour, he took his leave. He married about 2 years ago and wasn't up to it any longer." Lauri was the obvious choice and as Kotipelto worked - and still works - with him, they got him on board with Stratovarious. "He's an equal member. Some band might have a lot of money to split, but we don't and so everybody gets the same. He's a good guy." So Timo tells that even in his solo band he shares everything and not just hires some guys for playing live or for the recording. "Actually I got less money then my band from the solo tour, coz I paid everything." That proofs that he's still down-to-Earth and not acting like a rock star off stage. "It was like a dream come true when I got the offer for the solo tour. It was like 'now or never' and I did it! It was great. I like playing early, coz you can only win. Expectations aren't that high. On this tour with HammerFall we are co-headlining, but at some shows HammerFall play second and we headline. It's great." Next time Timo hopes he can bring on solo shows the recording line-up, but last time the schedule didn't allowed it. On other occations Jens jumped in. But we came together to talk about Stratovarius... The track Götterdämmerung caused some discussions and it was first called Hitler. Tolkki even planned to use some part off a Hitler speech. "It was Timo's idea. And yes, there should have been some speech used, but I'm aware that this subject should be treated very sensitive. In a way I understand this arguing, but on the other hand it's just about a person in history. And we want to make people aware of this, about this dark days in history." But fans might get it wrong... "The label said 'no' to the title Hitler and then Jörg - or Timo - had the idea to call it Götterdämmerung." Here he confesses that he don't know much about it, only that it was off some old legend as Jörg told him. He got used to sing lyrics written by Tolkki, even if it's hard sometimes. "He never really plans where to go lyrically. He just writes what he feels and so this one is darker. Some sort of depressive..." That‘s no surprise when you think of waht Tolkki been through. So it's a diverse album and reactions been mixed. "Some good, some bad. Timo is composing and writting the lyrics and I'm not sure, if he knows what's next. Anyway, I hope it's more positive..." The band was signed to Noise International / Sanctuary, then Nuclear Blast and now back with Sanctuary. "There aren't that myn metal labels and we don't want to be no. 30,200 at EMI or another major. Why back to Sanctuary? Well, the deal ran out." With a new label and back on tour there is an obvious question... What about a DVD? "We actually recorded a show in Såo Paulo and Jens is supposed to edit it. But now we are on tour, but as soon as he finds time he'll edit it and then Timo will mix it. So, no idea when it'll come out." When Stratovarius have some time off, will the band Kotipelto be active again... "Well, I have already written some songs. Only composing music, but no lyrics yet. I also wrote some songs together with Lauri and Tuomas who are playing in my band and they will be on the next record. I hope we can start in February, but it depends on Janne's schedule and if he‘s on tour with Children Of Bodom. If we start working in February then it might be out in September / October 2006." And if Stratovarius won't start working on their coming album. The next Kotipleto album should be out before Stratovarius anyway and perhaps then there is time to tour again... "I hope I can do another tour. The European tour was fun, no stress. Well, money-wise it could be better..." It seems that Timo Kotipelto really likes to play as support and so some might hope for a tour of Kotipelto and Stratovarius. "It would be great to do some shows with Thunderstone, Warmen, Stratovarius and Children Of Bodom. Not in this paticular order, but you know to mix up a bit. I've been working with Janne, singing on Warmen albums and Mirka is playing on Warmen and on my album - it would be like having two bands on stage. Perhaps we can do that in Helsinki one day..." But Children Of Bodom would give the other bands a tough time, coz live they blow you away. But it would be fun... Not just for the bands!
And that was it for today, perhaps next time there is more to talk about. And I have the feeling that he‘s much more talkative when he can talk about his own band... When there is a new Kotipelto album, there is a chance to find out.

Claudia Ehrhardt


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