Artension - Biography

This band's profile is 'invisible', meaning that it's much less prominent on the site - either because it's incomplete, or maybe doesn't entirely fit MS format.





It was sometime in '92/'93, when Vitalij Kuprij, who was studying classical music in Switzerland at that time, met Roger Staffelbach, a Swiss guitarist who was also studying at the Jazz School in Lucerne.
They soon founded their band "Atlantis Rising", which played several instrumental gigs in Switzerland. After having recorded some demos, they got in touch with Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records, who showed great interest in the band but suggested to add some vocal lines to their songs.
Vitalij had already known stunning drummer Mike Terrana from one of Yngwie Malmsteen's tours. His friend, bassist Kevin Chown, also joined the band and enriched their sound with solid experience and great musicianship, and Artension was born.
Mike Varney introduced Vitalij and Roger to several musicians, one of them being John West, whose soaring vocals, along with Vitalij's and Roger's lightning-fast solos, became the trademark for Artension's neo-classical and agressive music.
The band has released 5 albums so far, and their latest masterpiece "New Discovery" is on its way.

Band members' profiles
John West
Vitalij Kuprij
Roger Staffelbach
Kevin Chown
Mike Terrana
Steve DiGiorgio

Artension Stories
By Kevin Chown

I started working with Mike Terrana in Tony MacAlpines band in May of 96. We got talking about Mike Varney one day and mentioned this demo that he had from some guys in Europe (Vitalij, Roger Staffelbach and their band "Atlantis Rising"), and Varney set it up where if Terrana got them over here (immigration, etc...). Mike would make a record with them, and Mike Terrana could play drums. Terrana was successful in dealing with all of that and it was set up to make a record in August of 96. Since I was working with Mike on the road, he asked me to play bass. It was my first Shrapnel record, although I had met Mike Varney many times. Terrana and I drove up to Prarie Sun Studios in Cotati, CA, just north of San Francisco where all or most of the records were recorded. At this point, there was no singer and for the next week, we arranged the songs for the first record through the day....Varney would come in at night and make more changes.....they were LONG days. I think we rehearsed for 3 days and planned to record on the 4th. John West came in on the day of recording, we did a photo session and then immediately started writing lyrics for the tunes.....he works VERY fast. I would say most of his writing was done in about 2-3 days. We recorded for one VERY long day and part of a 2nd, then Mike and I drove back to LA exhausted.....I had flown back and forth to LA once during all this for some sort of gig as well... can't quite remember what. I dont know what went on after that, but I know they took about 2 weeks to record the rest of the tracks.

The second record I guess was recorded about a year later..... I had moved back to Detroit to run a studio, so I flew out and Mike drove up, as he was still in LA. The second record was a little more work as I seem to remember the material for the first record being a little more arranged....we were re-recording demos.....the second record was creating new songs. So, it was a little more work, especially for Vitalij. This time, we did a photo session before we started making music (John West was there right away....) and I can't quite remember, but I think he was there for the rehearsals as well making suggestions. He was writing as we were writing...... I think it was like before, about 3-4 days of rehearsal, similar greuling schedule. Prarie Sun is an interesting place to's literally a functioning chicken farm, so in the morning, you have the option of getting fresh eggs, literally out from under the chickens!! But, it also means dealing with the roosters at first light....not a welcome sound when just hours before you had Mike Varney making odd time suggestions to your music. You are cut off from society up there....a good and bad thing!! Anyway, the second record was a bit more pressure filled as the first was such a success, more time was taken in the production process....... I was there for maybe 5 or 6 days. I do remember that my house in Detroit was flooded while I was gone by a broken pipe!!! Funny what you remember.

My only other Artension history was the ill-fated japan tour in 98. It was early in the year.... I flew in from Detroit, and we decided to rehearse in Cotati. It was funny, as it was really the first time we had played these songs live as a band....... John had always added his vocals after the fact, so it was interesting to hear them. I also sing, so I took over the background vocals, and we came up with a song list. It was all for naught, as Vitalij had problems with a Japanese work visa, as he is Ukrainian....some complication at the last minute, and he couldnt make the trip. So we went over as a 4 piece, and did a press tour, lots of interviews, etc......were in Osaka for 3 days and Tokyo for 4. Had a great time, but would have been better if we had played!! Lots of fans hanging around the hotels......Mike Terrana had us all laughing our asses off. Overall, it was like a vacation!!

I was asked to do the 3rd record, but I had too many other things going on at the time and couldn't get away. Was a busy time in my life. It was ironic that Shane Gaalaas started doing the gig..... I now work with Shane quite often along with Jeff Kollman.....small world I guess.