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Timo Kotipelto

Interview with Timo Kotipelto from Timo Kotipelto
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 02 June 2004, 7:01 PM

There's no doubt that one of Stratovarius' most vital parts during a longtime period was Timo Kotipelto's vocals. Timo is now on his own, following his solo career, which is something he always wanted to do (besides Stratovarius). He spoke to Metal-Temple.Com Magazine about his second solo album, Coldness, his feelings about what happened with Stratovarius, his future plans and ambitions.

Since we’re an online magazine, I’d like to ask you what’s your opinion on Mp3s? Do you believe that Mp3s are damaging labels and artists or do you believe that it’s a great way for one’s music to be known?

Well it’s both basically. It’s a way to spread the message you know, spread their music but to be honest what I don’t like is that there are some people who are making money with somebody else’s music – I don’t mind if someone’s downloading my music just on his personal computer. But there are those people who are burning these CDs like factories and then they’re selling them…If someone’s making money out of this then in my opinion that’s illegal. I don’t think that any metal fans are doing that but I know that there are some companies in some countries who are actually doing it!

They are?

Yeah, I know for sure.

They’re making a whole lot of money by downloading music, burning CDs and then selling them?

I don’t know how much money but I know for sure that they are making money.

Well, my question was a lot simpler than that. I meant like for example me going online and downloading half your new album, just to see if I like it and then go buy it.

That’s perfectly alright!

The record labels though seem pretty strict with that…

Yeah I know, a lot of labels are like that.

I’m sure you’ve heard for example that in the USA there have been a lot of trials concerning Mp3s. They’ve sent people to court for downloading music…

You mean like Napster…

Not only for using Napster but other Mp3 exchanging software as well…

Oh I’ve never heard about that.

Do you agree that this should go on?

Um, I cannot say. Of course if somebody’s not really spreading Mp3s around…I’m an artist but I also have a record label myself…It’s a little bit a weird situation.

Would you sew me for downloading your music?

Not really but if like I said before someone’s selling the CDs and making money, then it’s different.

Does Timo Kotipelto read online Magazines?

Yes, sometimes I do. Not everyday.

Do you use the Internet a lot?

Yeah I do, everyday.

It’s a very good way to communicate with partners etc don’t you think?

For sure. Of course nowadays it’s very difficult to live without it. For me it’s very important because I have my own homepage and my fans send me some e-mails and guestbook entries and I try to answer as many as possible. But there are so many so it’s not always possible to answer to everyone!

Well, you do what you can best! \[Laughs]

Oh I try! \[Laughs]

Sometimes I do have time to answer and sometimes I don’t have enough time.

Let’s focus on your solo work. In 2002 you released your first solo album, Waiting For The Dawn. Two years later, how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied? Did it have the results you were expecting?

It was a long time dream, to make a concept album. We never made one with Stratovarius and that’s why I actually did it. The other reason was that I never really got to have my songs on the albums we did with Stratovarius so this was a great chance for me. I always wanted to compose and create the music. I didn’t really expect anything out of the album, I just wanted it to get released so…it’s fulfilled! It’s pretty ok even though if I would do it now it would be better. On the other hand, I always believe that every album describes the time when it was composed and recorded…

Was the response you got back satisfying?

It was good, it was more than satisfying! Like I said, I didn’t expect anything so…

Now your second album is about to be released. I read in an Interview you gave for a printed Metal Magazine that Coldness, your new album, reflects your current inner feelings concerning Stratovarius. Is that the general feeling behind the album?

It’s not exactly about Stratovarius, it’s about how I felt last autumn and it’s not the current feeling of course. It’s more how I felt generally because I also had some personal problems at that time, when I wrote the lyrics. Of course Stratovarius was one of those personal problems but those were my feelings overall.

What things inspired you to write most of the tracks? What was your main inspiration?

We have to say that the music was composed a year ago and I was still in the band. I didn’t imagine that I’d be out of the band when the album would be released. It was just my second solo album I was going to release…I actually offered two songs off my solo work to Stratovarius but Timo Tolkki didn’t like the songs. So I thought maybe I’ll do a second solo album with all my solo work…so it happened.

Inspired? Hum, that’s hard to say…

As a composer, what turns your writing process on…For example, do you go to some special place up in any mountains or a forest or even lock yourself up in your apartment to concentrate?

There’s two different things for me. Composing music and writing lyrics. I always compose the music first and then write the lyrics. So I don’t really need any special scenery when I’m composing the music. For example right after this Interview I’m going to work on some tunes I have in mind! When it comes to lyrics though, that’s totally different for me. Those I can’t do while I’m at home. That’s why I actually went to two different cottages which where by the lake of my old hometown.

Was the cover artwork for Coldness done by Riggs again?

No, it was done by a Swedish guy,

Was it totally his idea or did you tell him what you wanted him to draw?

I had the idea of the cover already, last August or September. Then I contacted this guy and I actually sent him some photo of that lake taken by my father. I explained to him that he had to make something darker out of the photos…a Scandinavian winter! That’s how it worked and I’m very satisfied.

It’s great, indeed.

Yeah I like it, I like it a lot.

After almost 3,5 years of interviewing artists, I’ve come to a small conclusion. There are artists who constantly create songs and simply pick ten out of thirty when it’s time to create an album and there are composers who go ok, I’ll write ten or eleven tracks to fit a new album’s track list and I’m done. What’s your way of working as an artist?

I think I’m somewhere in between, closer to the last part though. I don’t really have any extra songs. Well, I already have some melodies and some riffs for the possible new songs but I don’t have any songs ready yet.

Your first solo album was full of interesting collaborations with other musicians (from other bands). That’s not quite the case on the second album is it?

I just wanted to keep it more simple on the second one because the main idea for the first one was to have a few guys on the album but then some other musicians heard about my solo thing and they asked if I would need them for the album. Of course I told them that it would be nice to have them on my album and it happened. On the second album I wanted to have a much simpler situation, a more band feeling…

I know you must be getting this question a lot and it must be tiring, I mean concerning your relationship with Timo Tolkki and Stratovarius. I have to ask you though since about a month ago Tolkki’s statements from the hospital where in our news as well. It felt as if Timo was asking for your forgiveness and for your comeback to Stratovarius. Words of regret for his attitude towards you and the other guys as well. How do you feel about that?

Well, first of all, he hasn’t talked to me at all.

He hasn’t?

No and I actually heard about it from Jens Johansson (keyboard player). I met Jens when he was in Helsinki about two weeks ago. He told me that Tolkki had a meeting with him and he told me that Timo would like to get me back but he never phoned me.

Why do you think he never calls you?

He is like that.

Is he such a peculiar person?

He’s always been like this. When he fired the x-players, the drummer and the keyboard player, ten years ago, he just sent them a letter…he never spoke to these guys you know. I don’t know what to think about it. I know for sure that he’s mentally ill so it’s…well, of course now he’s taking some heavy medication but then again I don’t know what to think about this now.

Weren’t you ever like good friends with Tolkki?

We never were the best friends, for sure. It was ok. I guess you can say that we were friends but I always had my best friends somewhere else, not in the band.

Now that you look back at everything that’s happened, do you believe that it was evident this was going to happen?

I think it gradually started getting worse. He started this therapy 5-6 years ago and …it’s hard to say because he’s always been the boss in the band since the beginning and I always had to do some compromising but then one day it started getting ridiculous.

You were arguing a lot?

Well it’s really difficult to argue with a guy when it’s mainly his vision. Whatever he says, he’s always right, if you know what I mean.

But you would get pissed off sometimes wouldn’t you?

In the past I’d just…let it go.

Well the conclusion is that the whole thing is very sad for all the Stratovarius fans.

Well, Timo Tolkki is so famous that he always says something first and then thinks or at least that’s how he was in the past. He used to say something about somebody and didn’t really care. We really live the opposites…

If he called you and said he’s sorry, would you discuss it? Would you consider going back to Stratovarius?

Not now. I don’t even want to think about the whole thing at least not before all the festivals are done. Cause if you’re working with a guy who’s ill…he can change his mind next week.

A lot of people have been asking me what does the advertisement of Gods of Metal in Italy (this summer) mean when they read Startovarius – The Original Line-Up.

Well, it includes me of course. I don’t know if they think it’ll be the original line-up from 1989…

Is Gods Of Metal going to be your last concert with Stratovarius?

The last concert that we have agreed to do with Jorg Michael (drums) will be on the 3rd of July in Czechoslovakia.

What are your future plans concerning your solo career?

I will start doing some shows with my own band, starting on July 15th. There’s going to be four concerts with the last one being at Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. Then the plan is to do some more touring in Finland and in Europe in October and November. Hopefully my booking agency will arrange a South American tour in the end of the year. I’d also like to do one show in Greece maybe and one in Italy as well or Spain, a small tour.

What are your ambitions as a person in life?

Everyone’s ambition is to be happy but that’s not the most important ambition \[Laughs]

I just love making music, I just love singing so hopefully I will continue singing for more years to come. That’s the most important thing for me because I’ve been doing it for more than 10-15 years already…so it would be great but then again you never know what happens!

Finally I’d like you to send out a message to all the people who’ll be reading this Interview, worldwide.

First of all I’d like to thank all my fans for the great great support throughout the years and especially in the beginning of this year because it hasn’t been that easy for me. I hope I’ll manage to have gigs all around Europe and all over the world because I love singing live. If we come to your city or a city near you, with whatever band, come to see us cause we’re going to kick some ass! \[Laughs] Come and we’ll have fun together – take care and all the best!

Timo thank you for this Interview with Metal-Temple.Com Magazine. I wish you all the best!

Thanks, take care!


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