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Timo Kotipelto (Vocals), Jens Johansson (Keyboard) for Stratovarius

Date: 1/21/13
Interviewed By: Rich Catino
Pictures: Metal Asylum owner Rich Catino with Timo and Jens at the New York City listening party for “Nemesis”


1. The new Stratovarius album, “Nemesis”, contains all the elements the band are known for, yet still there are a few new ideas in the music. What are they?

TIMO: I think it’s a bit more modern sounding without forgetting about the legacy of the band. you know, catchy riffs, melodic vocals and chorus’, keyboards, some difficult soloing. The guitars are a little heavier this time.< br/> JENS: I think we are still the same, try and keep it within what Stratovarius style while trying new ideas within it. I think there is more of my keyboard in the songs. I always record a lot of stuff for the album, maybe there is a bit more keyboard this time. The way the band we have been recording since like 2002 I always record my stuff separately, give them a few alternatives, and see what is used for the final recording and mix. It depends what works for the song.

2. How does guitarist, Matias, style differ from former guitarist/songwriter Timo Tolkki?

TIMO: I think, especially with the solos, Matias is more versatile, and its probably because his influences are from prog metal and some extreme music. When he joined the band, Matias was very fluent when it comes to solos, but now he really has got good with riffing patterns, picking technique. They are both very good players and composers, Matias is maybe more progressive, still melodic.< br/> JENS: Matias has more focus on the instrument, practices like crazy. Tolkki was more of a songwriter and could probably go a couple months without practicing and wouldn’t think twice about it. But now, I think Matias is also more focused on the songwriting aspect as well. Matias is also a gear geek, and is really into his guitar and recording equipment. Both have different personalities too.

3. Was Matias a fan of Stratovarius before joining the band? And how has his input changed from “Polaris”, to “Elysium”, to “Nemesis”?

TIMO/JENS: I think the biggest difference is he produced and mixed the new album. “Polaris” was mixed by Mikko Karmila, and “Elysium” was half Mikko and half Matias, and Matias did ‘Nemesis” by himself. He recorded everything by himself aside from Jen’s keyboards. He spent like four months in the studio working on “Nemesis”, he put a lot of effort into this album.

4. How many songs off “Nemesis” will you play live?

TIMO: Good question, not sure. Maybe two or three most since we have so much to include from the back catalogue too. We have fifteen albums, I’ve been on eleven, and three with Matias and Lauri (bass). It depends how long we can play. Festivals you don’t get much time.

5. Recently, former guitarist Timo Tolkki made some positive comments about “Nemesis”. Your thoughts?

TIMO: That’s great, another happy customer. It’s been a while to hear from him, and we wish him all the best and hopefully he will come up with some new music in the future, he’s a great composer.

6. Do you guys ever see yourself working with Tolkki again?

JENS: Yeah, actually he asked me to play some keyboards on some songs he’s working on. No idea what the project is called yet.

7. When you recorded the farewell concert for Jorg (Michael – drums), for DVD, why did you leave out “Destiny” or not play anything from that album?

TIMO: Good question, I don’t know. We played for about two hours, and Jorg wanted to play some cover songs, so it wasn’t intentional, just worked out that way. We did ‘Visions’, which is another epic one. Guess we are gonna have to record another DVD so we can include it.

8. What songs are you looking forward to play on the “Nemesis” tour?

TIMO: A couple new ones but we haven’t decided yet. We are working on that. The first gig is on March 8 in Finland.

9. There are a couple songs I’d like to hear that have not been in the set lately. What do you think of…

a. ‘Eternity’
TIMO: We have been playing that one, over the summer, coincidence. You have to send me some of your requests a couple weeks before the American tour and see if we can play a few.

b. ‘We Hold The Key’
JENS: O, I don’t know, it’s a been a while.
TIMO: Maybe one day.

c. ‘Anthem Of The World’
TIMO: Uhh, that’s another long one.
JENS: If we did that one, ‘Destiny’, and ‘Visions’, that would take up a lot of time.

d. ‘Million Light Years’
TIMO/JENS: Yeah that one has been played lately. Maybe we didn’t do it in the US last time so if we come to the states we will have to try and do that for you guys.

e. ‘Why Are We Here’
JENS: We tried it a few times. It’s easy enough to do live.

10. Why don’t you play anything off the first three albums, or like a medley of three or four songs?

TIMO & JENS: We tried that several years ago when Tolkki was still in the band and it didn’t seem to go over that well. But then again, neither of us were in the band at the time and those songs are not so close to our hearts. . It was weird, ‘Tears Of Ice’ kinda worked the best in the medley. We did that in Japan I think. There are some good melodies on those first three albums but those are more straight forward metal, a little progressive on “Dreamscape”, to “Fourth Dimension”, but “Episode” that’s where Stratovarius really found its sound and direction.

11. What are the touring plans?

TIMO: We start in Finland, go to Russia for two gigs, then European tour with Amaranthe and Seven Kingdoms.
JENS: Maybe South America, summer festivals, and hopefully North America in the late summer/fall.

12. Doing any videos in support of “Nemesis”?

TIMO: We are planning to, maybe to be released after the album comes out. It’s not for the title track which is the first song we released to promote the album.

13. Do you own or have control of the rights to the bands back catalogue?

JENS: We have some re-releases coming out. It depends, its complicated. I think the “Elements” records become ours again next year, maybe would make sense to put them out again as one set.

14. Do you have left over songs that could be released on another “Intermission” type album?

JENS: Not really because we are working differently then how we did then so not much is usually left over. There are a couple tunes left over that are on special editions of ‘Nemesis” where there is another track or two for different territories.

Official website: http://www.stratovarius.com/pages/home.php


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