Just like it happened with Gamma Ray, Stratovarius is a band that I discovered through their live material. Their 1998 album Visions of Europe ((Also known for one the shittiest covers in the history of mankind)) is, in my opinion, one of the best live recordings out there.
Nowadays, and even though the line-up is always changing, I knew that the band’s performance at the PPM 2013would be something to remember. Of course, I was not disappointed.
Lauri Porra (bass) met with us right after the band’s signing session and gave us the following interview.
Metal Blast: Lauri, it is a pleasure to meet you. How are you today?
Lauri: I’m very good, thank you. We’re having a nice day. We’re actually on tour right now, we have a concert every day, but today is a festival so it’s a nice little change from the daily routine.
MB: You’re doing the promotional tour for Nemesis, your latest release; how long have you been out doing it now?
Lauri: This leg has been for a little over three weeks, we have one week left, then we go and do Finland, then we do Latin America and later Korea.
MB: You’re doing Korea? Considering the North Korean threats… good luck!
Lauri: We were there two years ago; this time we’re doing Busan Rock Festival, which is a really nice festival. I played there 11 years ago, when I was very little! [laughs ].
MB: Nemesis has received really good reviews. Considering the fear that existed among the fans once Timo Tolkki left, it’s great to see that nothing changed and that Stratovarius continues to release excellent albums. What do you think made Nemesis the success that it is?
Lauri: Since there was such a big change in 2007… I like Polaris and Elysium a lot, I think that they’re good albums, but I think that with Nemesis the line-up is now complete. We’ve learned more of each other, how to write, and also Matias [Kupiainen] has gotten deeper into the band.
MB: This is the first album with Rolf Pilve, your new drummer. Did he have any input on the way the album and the song structure was made?
Lauri: In terms of songwriting, not that much. I don’t know what he will become in the future, but now he’s a solid drummer, but he didn’t write any songs; still, however, you can hear that it’s a different thing with him there, since he is younger and a little bit more modern… But he still can pack a punch!
MB: Next year is the 25th anniversary of the release of Fright Night ; is the band planning anything to commemorate this quarter of a century?
Lauri: We haven’t really talked about it… I mean, it could also be the 30th anniversary of the band (which would make the band 4 years older than Rolf! [laughs]). Maybe we will do something, but right now we don’t have any plans.
MB: You mentioned Rolf’s age. That’s always an interesting thing, when some bands bring in members that are much younger. Nowadays, for instance, Nine Inch Nails will tour with Ilan Rubin, a guy who could easily be Trent Reznor’s son. How does the chemistry work in such extreme scenarios?
Lauri: Well, I’m in the middle, but Jens [Johansson] could easily be Rolf’s father, since he’s almost double his age.
I think that this is a huge advantage because, for instance, since his days in “Rising Force”, Jens has been doing 80’s and Neoclassical stuff; he was birthing the whole genre. We get his expertise from that, from Rolf we get new and fresh stuff to combine with, so the more different the people, the more possibilities you have to make the result really interesting. I think that this is what Stratovarius is all about; the line-up has been changing since day one, even Timmo Tolkki was not an original member, so I think that the richness of the band has been to have different people inside the band, that the band is actually larger than the sum of its parts.
MB: That’s an interesting point. Tolkki, even though he wasn’t one of the original members, was definitely the driving force …
Lauri: Of course, the band really started with him in this way, with him and Tuomo Lassila.
MB: Even though you mentioned that the band is more than the sum of its parts, something I definitely agree with, do you think that there is still a certain core that cannot be replaced? That, for instance, if Timmo Kotipelto was to leave the band then it would end?
Lauri: Now I feel like it! To me Timmo and Jensen are definitely the sound you hear. A guitar sounds like a guitar, but the voice… there is only one voice.
… Then again, in the first three albums Kotipelto wasn’t there, and you can still say that Dreamspace is a classic and true Stratovarius album, even though there aren’t any of those people left in it. You never know! But I definitely want to keep these dudes!
MB: Do you think that there are no possibilities of working with Tolkki again?
Lauri: For me there is always the possibility, for Stratovarius, who knows? Time changes everything. Personally, I have no problems, nobody has any problems, but at some point somebody got hurt…
I have a lot of respect for him and I’m really looking forward to hearing his new opera project.
MB: What’s in the future now for Stratovarius?
Lauri: We are continuing the rest of the tour and then, slowly, start thinking about new music.
MB: Is that a continuous process for you? Do you usually think about new music while you are on tour or is there a moment in which you just sit down and start writing?
Lauri: After an album is done then you have a small period in which you don’t think about it; but I was talking just a few days ago with Matias about how maybe we should start. Sometimes it takes 3 months or 4 months or half a year you get used to the songs that you are playing and you start to have some ideas about how they could be even better and you start thinking about new stuff.
MB: Lauri,thank you very much for your time. I’m looking forward to tonight’s show.
Lauri: Thanks, it was a pleasure.
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