Stratovarius - Call It Quits

Guitarist Timo Tolkki has issued the following press release on his official website:

Dear Stratovarius Fans,

It is time to stop the silence and announce what some of you have already been speculating. Stratovarius is no more.

Last October I told the guys that I am stopping the band and told them the reasons why. This letter is addressed to you, Stratovarius fans, who have supported the band for so many years. I first thought that I would write just a very generelized, typical "music business" statement that basically never says anything. Then I decided that you deserve to hear at least parts of the truth what has been going on behind the scenes so you will be able to understand my decision better.

All the time, since TK and Jörg joined the band, there have been tensions and negativity flying around. This has been concentrating on me, TK and Jörg. The reasons Jari Kainulainen was fired some years back were so absurd that I am not even try to explain them here. If I write a book one day, maybe then. Anyways, I think the seeds were planted already back then, something like 12 years ago. There were many confrontations, Jörg has been complaining to me about TK and TK complaining to me about Jörg. At a times it was a mess, although of course, it never would show outside to the fans. It is not my intention to disrespect TK and Jörg here. They are both fundamentally good guys. Things just sometimes happen and relationships go to directions we don't want them to go. It's like a divorce, nobody wants it to happen but sometimes it is best for all so everyone can continue their own lives. Plus I want to tell how things have been behind the curtains. You always only see the good side anyway, you don't really know what is going on.

We had amazing years, 14 records, 6 world tours with over a thousand shows all across the Globe, 3 gold discs, a Finnish Grammy and almost 3 million records sold. I have arrived to my decision after careful, long and rational thinking of over a year and I know it is the right way for me. I just felt so bad being in Stratovarius. Something was terribly wrong in there and nobody seemed to care.

The countdown really started from the last Stratovarius album in 2005. At that time the atmosphere in the band was extremely weird. I had spent most of 2004 recovering from my nervous breakdown in April 2004 when I was hospitalized. It was at this point when things started to change. Jens supported me immensely during 2004 with his phone calls. We then did that "Stratovarius" album, which I think is an awful album and went for the subsequent tour production. By that time it was apparent to me that things really were bad. Nobody seemed to care about anything. I had the idea to use projection screens and for that, you need to produce graphics. I planned those and basically the whole show. Nobody seemed to have any interest in it. It was more like, the less the better. The atmosphere at the rehearsals was awful. Lauri Porra who had just joined the band was wondering what is going on with this band. Jörg Michael came straight from Saxon to this tour wearing a Saxon shirt during most of the shows. His attitude for most of the tour was extremely arrogant, pretty much towards everybody. But especially towards me and TK. And TK's attitude towards me was lukewarm and polite, but I could sense the hostility. Of course we as professionals put on very good shows but it was more craftmanship and rehearsed performance than a great united band playing emotionally from the heart. I think TK was always very bitter about that he could not get his songs and/or lyrics on Strato records. I did not understand this really cause he had/has his solo band where he could do what he wanted. It took me many years to learn to simply tell him that I don't like his songwriting and lyrics and that the main difference between me and him is that I am writing songs that end up being Strato songs while he is trying to write Strato songs that end up being Kotipelto songs, which means they belong on a Kotipelto record. It is not easy to say to someone that you don't like his music. You guys and girls dont like all music, neither do I. Neither does TK. I am not anyone to tell what is good and what is bad music, but I do can tell what kind of music I like. And TK's stuff just doesn't do it for me. I do have to say that I think he has written many great songs as well during his solo career. Plus he probably would say the same things about my songwriting. We are just very different. He has a very different sense of humor than I have. Maybe the weirdest thing in Strato was that we never really were friends in the band. I visited TK in 12 years perhaps 5 times. To me Jens was the closest in the band and lately Lauri Porra, who is a wonderful guy. But none of use was really ever real friends. It might be surprising to you but that is the truth.

The tour continued and Jörg's drum roadie told me drunk that Jörg is leaving the band after the tour but he is doing the tour cause "he is a businessman". I guess you could say that Jörg's attitude pretty much culminated what he said to me in Seattle on that tour. He told me that he thinks the band is over. We tried to record, 3rd time, a live DVD in Sao Paulo but could not use the shootings because we played so badly. It was just plain awful. Although we rocked lot of crowds on that 120 date world tour, still the overall vibe was very much like "going to work". Not for me though. Not still at that point. But it felt to me that nobody's heart was in the band and it was just for the money.

The tour came and went, we survived and Jörg didn't leave the band. But it was the weirdest tour I have ever done. Very succesful, but still it felt like forcing something. It was not fun. It was sad.

The next thing I had in mind was to write a really fresh good old fashioned Power Metal album in the vein of Visions. I felt our fans deserved it and I felt it was the right thing to do. This was the infamous "RR" album. The songwriting was flowing and the songs sounded really nice and melodic and very much like old Strato. I was all the time on my toes because of the situation in the band and I was anticipating difficult recording sessions. Anyways in late 2006 we completed a demo tape containing 10 brand new songs. I wasn't too happy about the demo, but it did serve its purpose, to present the songs to the record company. I then booked 12 days from Sonic Pump studio in Helsinki for March 2007. This was the weirdest session I had ever had. Jörg was all the time talking about that we have to get the "Visions hunger" back, although I don't think he himself had that hunger. Nobody had. The session was nothing like the recording sessions before. Nobody had rehearsed the songs really and everything sounded pretty awful. I tweaked the drum tracks for a week and gave up. It was around this point when I really was starting to think why am I keeping this alive when it's so difficult. I remember how much time, energy and money we put to Elements 1. There was nowhere to go after that anymore without just repeating the past. I do know that TK didn't like that album at all, which yet again shows the difference between him me. It doesn't mean that he has to like it of course, but to me Elements 1 represents the peak of the Strato evolution and perhaps I should have stopped the band already then.

Last year, 2007, was the turning point for me in many ways. I felt better, but regarding Strato I felt worse. There were fights about everything, even about trivialities, which really annoyed me. A lots of fights. A lot. I had to use a lot of energy to try to get merch to Stratoshop, which was on the shoulders of Jörg and TK, because there was no merch for people to order but still they were ordering cause the items were on the page. The SSL certificate that proves the site is secure was expired a year ago, I tried to get that fixed, could not do it because I wasn't authorized to do so. The most popular items from the shop were sold out and Jörg refused to print more. I could not understand any of the things that were going on. At the same time, I was having more fun than in years with my rock opera Saana. When I was making that, I realized what was lacking in Strato: the enthusiasm, creativity and fun. It wasn't like that in years. Saana gave me hope that there still could be something new for me to learn at this age and it gave me a whole new world of things and a start for something new. Plus I knew I had some really cool new Metal songs in the works.

We did have 8 festival shows during 2007 and it was then, when I was standing on stage in Wacken Germany before 45 000 metalheads, when I fully realized that this band is over. I remember clearly playing those same old songs we had played so many times before and a feeling came to me that told me: this band has no soul anymore. I looked around and I felt like I am part of a play that has a script or machine and that there is nothing fresh and exciting happening anymore. The band sounds awful. Nobody's heart was in it. It was just the same old song. Jörg worked at this point full time in artist production company doing tour managing and he was working at Wacken too. He literally came to play from production office and returned there after. Everybody was polite, on the surface, but there was no friendship, all I could sense were the underlying tensions of relationships that had come to an end. I had felt during that year that the band existed only for one reason and that was the money. I had felt that this was the main motivation what kept Jörg and TK in the band still despite of the underlying tensions. While standing on Wacken stage to my absolute horror, I understood that also for me that had now become a reality. I was keeping this alive for money. It was then when I decided that I must stop the band.

So it was during this show, I decided that it's over. I was still thinking about everything but I felt that for my future, it was the only logical thing to do. I did not want to fire TK and Jörg because they are and have been as much part of Strato as I have been and it would not be fair to the fans. I then decided that it is best to lay rest what is already dead. I informed guys by email in October 2008 about my decision and explained in detail my reasons hoping they would see my points and agree what is real. Only Jens and Lauri answered. TK and Jörg did not even answer to that mail. Jens understood my decision, Lauri did not. I understand him, he got a taste of what it is to be in a succesful rock band touring the world. It is not easy to give that up. He did fail to see my side of the story. That TK and Jörg did not comment anything really speaks for itself. I did want to finish the Stratovarius saga with style and naive as I am, in February 2008 I wrote a mail to the band and proposed that we would say goodbye to our fans with style and do one more tour. I won't go into details here, but this time I did get a response from TK and Jörg. I wished them well and wrote back that I can see there cannot be any more tours with this band because of the hostile reactions.. So that was that. I felt good about my decision, but not good that out of legal reasons I have had to wait for this announcement for so long.

Then I thought that since I have all these great songs in my hands, I wanna put these out somehow. So I contacted a few friends, we laid the basic tracks in the same place where the Strato RR session had taken place a year ago and it was just flowing. There was happiness. There was energy. The songs sounded great. My friends Michael Kiske and Tobias Sammet agreed to sing on the album. I decided to form a new band called "Revolution Renaissance" which would continue the legacy of Stratovarius. In this first album I just wanted to release these songs finally so I did not have time to search for a permanent line up. I am now, so if you are interested, drop me a mail! The album comes out 6.6.2008 through Frontiers Records.

I am excited and happy…for the first time in years. I can hardly wait what the destiny has in store for me with my new band, projects, songwriting. I am living a very creative times. I have my production company and I am doing lots of different projects and not only metal but basically anything that moves me.

First I would like to, despite of all, thank Jörg, TK, Jens, Jari, Lauri, Tuomo, Antti and Jyrki for these 22 years. It was a quite a ride. I wish Jens, TK, Jörg and Lauri the very best with whatever they decide to do in their life and success with it.

Last but most importantly, I want to thank you Stratovarius fans for your love and support and for the great life. We will be seeing each other in some ways, somewhere. You will always remain in my heart.

With Love, Timo

Band profile: Stratovarius
Posted: 02.04.2008 by Bararey


‹‹ Back to News
Comments: 63   Visited by: 384 users
02.04.2008 - 14:32
holy crap. hmmm, long time coming tho
02.04.2008 - 14:37
Rosetta Stoned
This makes me very sad - I'm not so sad anymore though, because I listened to Eagleheart
But I suppose it was the right thing to do, the last two albums weren't good at all.
02.04.2008 - 14:39
Haha this can't be more pathetic. Anyway, the only useful thing Strato has done in years is make me laugh with all their soap opera fights.
02.04.2008 - 14:41
Let's hear the new fresh songs!!!!
02.04.2008 - 14:41
Dark Cornatus
Yeh, something needed to happen with Stratovarius, they were going nowhere, probably a good decision. Yet, sad seeing a power metal pioneer drop dead. Ah well, it happens to most eventually.
02.04.2008 - 14:45
Are they gonna reform next year ? That would be hillarious. Fuck, Timo is definetly gone wild.
Im sad, I like Strato...
... For years I have traveled in coldness,
But my heart is warm as the darkened sun above me...
Nothing can never take away
What I've seen with these tired eyes
02.04.2008 - 14:52
Darkside Momo
Well, Strato ending doesn't move me that much, but I like the way it is done. It's partial, one viewpoint only, sure, but at least it's not a laconic press statement.

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you" - Ray Bradbury

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I'm awake now"
Abney Park (Letter Between A Little Boy & Himself As An Adult)
02.04.2008 - 14:53
ow, this is painfull :s
damn, such a great band...gone... I can't believe it...
02.04.2008 - 14:54
Bad English
Hhahaa EDDIT Stratovarius died in 1992 after ''II'' album

Damn just wanna know how much Strato fans will commit suicide now
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
02.04.2008 - 14:55
Thats very sad
I loved Strato when i first heard them
its so sad to disband like that
02.04.2008 - 15:03
It's funny this came on 2nd April, instead of 1st.

Still, good news.
My account on other musical pages:
02.04.2008 - 15:12
Im feel very sorry about this but if it was what had to be done, it's only to accept. I hope to hear more from the guys in future, especially Timo Kotipelto
02.04.2008 - 15:29
Duy Hung
Account deleted
If only their very last album wasn't such crappy
02.04.2008 - 16:10
Erotic Stains
Bye Strato... I never liked you.
02.04.2008 - 16:13
Walter Iego
I have hard time understanding TT, first there is this thing about him slandering Frontiers all over the place, then suddenly he wants them to release RR; "I am not doing this for money", yeah right, this comes from a person who got 1, or 2 million euro to do some Stratovarius albums. In all fiels of the musicbusiness there are certain interests, financial interests, why lie about it...
02.04.2008 - 16:27
Pretty ballsy letter, I applaud him for it. But as if anyone has really paid attention to Straovarius in the last few years anyway.
"Summoned By Words Never Spoken Before..."
02.04.2008 - 16:36
What a bad news
02.04.2008 - 16:41

02.04.2008 - 17:03

Oh man, this sucks a lot!!!, Stratovarius was one of the bands who got me in metal, they mean to me a lot.
I was very expectant for their suposedly new album but I had that strong feeling that stuff was going to nowhere. Now, they gone, at least the punch is less painful than the wait itself. Although, with the time I discovered better PM bands, they'll always have a special spot in my metal heart.
02.04.2008 - 17:03
Baz Anderson
wow, shocking!! even though I wasn't a huge huge Stratovarius fan, this isn't good news
I was at the Wacken show and yeh, they played a lot of older stuff - stuff from "Visions" and it sounded great, but also at the same time they didn't seem to work together on the stage like Gamma Ray or Helloween do for example..

oh well, goodbye Stratovarius
02.04.2008 - 17:46
I respect his decision and I think this was bound to happen. It makes sense too, their last few albums were very sub par ( IMO ), at least he ( Timo ) is enjoying himself in his new band and I will be curious to see what he puts out... in the meantime I will just quietly wish him luck in his new vision ( no pun intended ).

Even though I'm not much of a power metal fan either, I still like Stratovarius for the classics they put out, hell, they are still great in my book and will always be credited for getting me into metal.
02.04.2008 - 17:52
Totemic Lust
So no Reading Rainbow album? Oh well, hopefully this will be the last time I have to look at Timo's ugly mug...
02.04.2008 - 18:22
el parcero
it's really very sad to hear that a band with such history had been deteriorating quietly from the inside so long ago, but things being as he says, it was the right decision. i guess we just have to wish him luck with his new band, specially if he's happy doing what he wasn't able to do with Strato in the past years
love is like a jar of shit with a strawberry on top
02.04.2008 - 19:09
Strange, but I guess it was rather expected. The new album wasn't too good. I am happy that Timo had the heart to say all this for the fans.

On a side note, I found it funny that he emailed the band in October 2008, ^^ Typo?
02.04.2008 - 21:00
Angel of Lust
It was in the air, especially for their last weak works...

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear,
and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."
Howard Phillips Lovecraft
02.04.2008 - 21:16
It's sad but it's the best for tolkki. I also have a band and things are not very good so I understand tolkki's reasons. If there are no good relationships in a band, it's not worth it.
02.04.2008 - 22:02
Lone wanderer
Written by RhaegarTargaryen on 02.04.2008 at 14:45

Are they gonna reform next year ? That would be hillarious. Fuck, Timo is definetly gone wild.
Im sad, I like Strato...

I wouldnt be surprised at all.
Damn, even if I wnated to, I couldnt read the whole statement... but this Timo Tolkki is the perfect to to write soap operas hahahah
02.04.2008 - 22:04
Never liked them too much :/
*All Blood Runs The Same*
02.04.2008 - 23:27
A sad day for power/prog...first This then Hammerfall's guitarist leaves the band...this is depressing...
02.04.2008 - 23:34
It was about time. Was waiting for them to split up for the past five years. The REAL surprise is that Tolkki actually wrote such a long text with so few melodrama! Anyway, I might even be looking forward to RR now, especially if it's able to capture some of the pre-Visions vibe.
All life begins with Nu and ends with Nu... This is the truth! This is my belief! ...At least for now.
- The Mystery of Life, Vol. 841 Ch. 26

Hits total: 8811 | This month: 17