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Interviews Stratovarius

Interview with Jörg Michael (drums)

Interview conducted by Christian Renner

Date online: February 1, 2003


When talking about the leaders of the power metal genre the name of Stratovarius invariably comes up. The band has had a storied career dating all the way back to the late 80’s. and with the release of the new album “Elements Pt.1” they are certainly not slowing down in the slightest. The new album has without a doubt some of the strongest material I have heard from the band in quite some time. I recently got a chance to do a interview with the man behind the drum kit, Jorg Michael and this is what he had to say. (Interview done via e-mail)

First off I have to say welcome back. The three year hiatus left more than a few fans out there going into withdrawal symptoms. The new album however gives everyone more than a new fix, its damn near an overdose of kick ass power metal.

We all know what Timo Kotipelto was doing with his time off with his solo album but what have the rest of you been up to?

JM: Nothing much really, the usual shit, groupies, vodka, heroin?! Seriously, Timo Tolkki also reorded and released his soloalbum Hymn of life, Jens played as a guest on several albums, I only did a project called Beto Vasquez Infinity with Tarja of Nightwish and Candince Night singing, pretty easy going. Beer drinking, football, holidays. I personally wasn’t a big fan of the break it was boring but it made everybody hungry to get together and rock again, that was really cool. All in all we worked 1 year on that album so the break was not as long as it seemed!

I am sure this break was a godsend considering the non stop nature of recording, touring, recording, touring etc..that the band has been going through for the better part of 7 years. Was it a relief to finally get some time off and not have to look at the same faces day after day?

JM: NO, not for me, I shuffled my feet and didn’t know what to do first. Pretty soon I got involved more and more behind the curtains and we prepared the whole organization behind the band completely new. That was a cool thing as you normally don´t have the time to take care of these things like stratoshop, homepage, I have have my own website as well now, little things and of course prepare for the up coming tour. I´m involved in this process since last year April…

This break really seemed to re energize the band. The new album showcases this and comes across as a band that is having fun again. It has some of the strongest material I have heard from Stratovarius. Was everyone in that good of a mood going into the studio? Were you all at the point where you couldn’t wait to get back into it?

JM: Exactly, you spotted this right! Beside that we took a lot of time with that album and had fresh energy to begin with!

Were you all aware how good all of these songs were going into the recording process?

JM: Hard to say, soul of vagabond will be a killer, that was clear form the first time we played that song, elements e.g. was hard to say as we didn’t know how if the final version will sound with an orchestra of 46 persons. The result blew us away but you never know before with this kind of opera songs.

How much of the material was already completed by the time you all started recording? Was there any of the songs that just came out of a good idea while in the middle of recording?

JM: The compositions were all ready to play around in the rehearsal room, than we threw in different arrangements, changed gooves, patterns etc.. I still hear this: ”Jörg, damn, take a valium, this is a song not a drum solo” from Timo Tolkki in my ear. I compare that to a Christmas tree: there is a naked one standing and than the whole band is making it shiny, with candles, sweets, balls etc.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Stratofortress” The keyboard and guitar work on that song on that is simply amazing. The classical music influence is very evident. How did this song come about? Is it as difficult to play as it sounds?

JM: No, everybody can do it?, it´s a fucking killer, we are planning to play it live, I hate Tolkki for that?, it is really difficult and we need to practice very hard to get this one down I think it is ok to play 1 minute of it but the muscles somehow try to fight continuing after that. I know there are bands playing even faster but are they also this accurate? (sorry,is this an English word? I mean: tight played, ) that make it so difficult!

Is there anything on the album that you wish you could go back and change or is it perfect the way it is?

JM: Every morning I wake up and I have another idea for the beginning of vagabond to join in with the drums. I probably won´t stop thinking about it until I die. I´m not unhappy with it but there would be tons of ideas and possibilities. We all are very proud of this album, it´s alright!

What kind of touring plans do you all have? Any chance of coming to the US or Canada?

JM: Europe starting in March, then Japan, summer festivals every weekend in Europe during the summer and in August we head to south and central America. After that we try to set up a few shows in the US and Canada but it looks difficult, nothing is confirmed by now.

What are some of the bands that have influenced you in the past that got you into metal in the first place?

JM: Deep Purple, Rainbow, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Kiss!

What are some of the bands you all are currently listening to? Any new bands out there really catching your attention?

JM: sorry to disappoint you, beside there is Rammstein there is not so much to mention, I still listen mostly to the old stuff, of course there are always cool songs here and there from various bands. Film music hits my attention quite often now, so there Dead can Dance I like to listen too a lot. My girlfriend is a violin player so she also taught me how heavy an orchestra can be, listen to the Russian composers, pretty heavy stuff. Nothing beats Judas or Ozzy anyway?

I always end interviews with something I call the FINAL FIVE. These are five questions that are simply added for a little humor since I am sure you all get tired of answering the same questions over and over again.

JM: Oh, how do you know?

1.What is your favorite food?

JM: I like almost everything, a steak every day will be boring too after 2 weeks. I would choose “Sauerbraten without raisins, dumpling and red cabbage” or “ “Wirsingroladen” made by my mum? very heavy, isn´t it?

2.What country that you have personally been to has the best looking women?

JM: that´s easy, Brazil, or was it Chile, no it was Sweden, no, Finnish women look best, or Italians, Spanish, aaaaarrrrrrrrgggghhhhhh, I love them all, the only thing I can say is that Finnish women drink as much as the men in their country which reflects quite much on the population of this country. I mean they are not many as they are all getting too drunk to fuck!

3.Who would look hotter in a dress?

  1. Margaret Thatcher (Former British Prime Minister)
  2. Janet Reno (Former U.S. Attorney General)
  3. Timo Kotipelto (Current Stratovarius Lead Vocalist)

JM: that make the choice quite difficult, without insulting anyone here I think Mrs. Timo Kotipelto would win without any doubt!

4.Is Stratovarius just a side project until you can become the Ruler of the Underworld and make all of humanity your slaves?

JM: No, Stratovarius is the underworld and everybody is our slave already, just nobody has noticed it yet!

5.What is the best kind of beer?

  1. European Beer
  2. American Beer
  3. Asian Beer
  4. Free Beer

JM: every Finn in the world would answer that question with d. If you want to have a sold out show in Helsinki just announce free beer and it does the job. Even I have to pay for it I definitely go for European beer as I want to get drunk with style and in an eloquent society,… alone!!!!

Any final words for the legions of Stratovarius fans out there?

JM: sure hey, I think I have to apologize by not having played yet in your country even though we get such a big response on your website from you. I won´t make the mistake and promise you here that we are coming but I can say we try very hard and then I hope to meet you all around and we have 100 beers…..

Thanks for the Interview and I hope those final five questions didn’t bother you to much…heh.

JM: no problem, rock, drink more because more helps more!

Other information about Stratovarius on this site
Review: Infinite Visions
Review: Infinite
Review: Elements Pt. 1
Review: Destiny
Review: Visions
Review: Stratovarius
Review: Episode
Review: Polaris
Review: Polaris
Review: Elements Pt. 1
Review: Darkest Hours
Review: Elysium
Review: Elysium
Review: Elysium
Review: Nemesis
Review: Eternal
Video: SOS
Video: Deep Unknown




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