Stratovarius - Metalheads Unite!

By Sgt. Deth

I had the opportunity to interview Timo Kotipelto before the Stratovarius gig at the Chicago House of Blues on September 28, 2005. It is the first time Stratovarius has ever toured here in the States, and I was very excited to see them. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think Stratovarius would do a tour here. I remember having to pay special import prices on their CDs. It was so difficult to even purchase their CDs that I never even considered that they would tour here.

Well, thanks to their new record company, Sanctuary, they have a new CD and tour that is being offered to us here in the U.S. We all need to support this new effort so they will make a habit of these endeavors.

Timo was very happy to do an interview. He is such a polite, calm, and intelligent speaker. He has a very strong Scandinavian accent, but could speak English well, and was easy to understand. His stage presence is completely different than what you would meet in person. He was very relaxed during the interview, but on stage he was like a ferocious lion.

The show was just wonderful. They played a good variety from old to new stuff. I especially liked when they played "Land of Ice and Snow" from the new CD. It was one of several times that they brought out the acoustic guitar for Timo Tolkki. They all played and sang flawlessly. This is one of the most professional bands in the history of heavy metal. It really surprises me that they have had such struggles over the past couple years.

It seems their turmoil and disagreements have made them a stronger band now. The new CD is excellent, and it reflects on some of their recent problems. The CD ends with the song, "United", and after seeing them play it in concert, I really understand the true meaning. All of us metal heads must unite!

Wormwood Chronicles: When was the last time you were in Chicago, and how was the experience?

Timo Kotipelto: First time in Chicago, second time in the U.S. First time I was in the U.S. was about a year ago when I came to New York City for a holiday ("vacation" for us yanks--Sgt. D). What I have seen so is a real nice city here.

WC: What would be your favorite place to live in the world?

TK: I've never thought about that before...I actually like New York City...Paris is Beautiful, Barcelona is pretty nice. I have been to so many places...

WC: I just love your new CD, what gave you the inspiration for it?

TK: Timo Tolki writes all of our songs...the last 2 years has had a great deal to do with it.

WC: You talk about reincarnation after the song, "Back to Madness", what kind of beliefs do you have about the afterlife?

TK: I'm not really into any religion right now. I haven't decided yet...I have to live longer first.

WC: Why, how old are you?

TK: 36 years old, my birthday is on March 15, 1969.

WC: Who named the band?

TK: Our ex-drummer (the founding member)...he named it after the guitar (Stratocaster) and the violin (Stradivarius).

WC: Do you think the problems the band ran into last year have made the band stronger or weaker?

TK: Definitely stronger! When we got back together, we talked very openly. They all came to my place last December. It is easy for you Americans to talk openly about your feelings, but not for us Europeans.

WC: How do you feel about the sound now, everybody happy?

TK: It is a little rough, but overall I really like it. The new record label didn't really know what to expect. They gave us a lot of freedom in recording it, then when we brought them the first demo, they were like, uhhh, ok...but, now everyone likes it.

WC: Can we look forward to more releases from Stratovarious in the future?

TK: Yes, we have thought about it...I would imagine sometime in 2006. We have to keep thinking about the future!

WC: Will the two Timos (Kotipelto and Tolki) still be doing their solo projects?

TK: I'm not sure about the other Timo, but I am going to do another one in the upcoming year.

WC: The song, "Land of Ice and Snow", is dedicated to your homeland of Finland. What is it about Finland that is producing so many great melodic heavy metal bands these days? Is it the ice and snow? The culture? The government?

TK: That is a good question! If I really knew the answer, I would probably be a millionaire or something. Ohhh, I think it may have something to do with the weather. All we do is sit inside for six months and drink and play our music. Our winter goes from November till the end of April.

WC: What was the last cd you purchased?

TK: Our record company, Sanctuary, sent me a few of their recent releases about a week ago; like the new Megadeth.

WC: How old were you when you started playing music?

TK: When I was 6 or 7 my mother forced me to take piano lessons...I hated it...ick! Then I started guitar, then they were nice enough to buy me a drum kit, which I am sure they regretted later...(chuckles).

WC: What is your most requested song?

TK: Black Diamond, definitely, the fans would not allow us to leave without playing it. It would not be a Stratovarius show without it. It really is a good song!

WC: Do you have any "Spinal Tap" moments?

TK: The whole band is a Spinal Tap moment. You just have to laugh at yourself sometimes.

WC: Any final words you'd like to share with our readers?

TK: I didn't know what to expect with this tour. This has been the first time the band has toured in the U.S. We have been very underground here in the States. We have met a lot of real hardcore Stratovarius fans and everyone has been so nice! Our music definitely unites people! You really do have a beautiful country here. We have been trying to get out and walk around at each tour stop. We have seen so much that we like here.

Sanctuary Record's Website

Stratovarius' Official Website