Stratovarius interview (10/2009)

With: Lauri Porra
Conducted by: Doc G., ThePhotoMan (in person)
Published: 05.10.2009

Band profile:


A man who should need no introduction - world renowned bassist for bands such as Sinergy, Warmen, Kotipelto, and of course the topic at hand: Stratovarius.

Luke: So first off, thanks for taking the time to sit down and do an interview for us at MetalStorm.

Lauri: No problem.

L: So I went and checked out your personal website and noticed you've been part of quite a number of projects; Sinergy, Kotipelto, Warmen. How do you find time to maintain Stratovarius and all these other bands?

Lauri: [Laughs] I don't do them at the same time! I do Stratovarius, and then when there is some time off tour, I do something else.

L: With all these other bands, why did you decide to do Stratovarius as well?

Lauri: I've always been in a bunch of bands. Stratovarius is now so time consuming, I don't play so much with other bands now. Kotipelto doesn't do anything at the moment, neither does Sinergy. Then whatever I do in Finland I do like score-work and other stuff on the spare time outside of Stratovarius. Basically all my time is put into music anyways.

L: How does the whole "band process" (recording, touring etc.) of Stratovarius compare to other bands you've been in?

Lauri: Well with Stratovarius you can do bigger tours, longer tours. So that gives more possibilities. With most of the other stuff I do I can only tour in Finland.

L: I was also looking into some of the history of Stratovarius and it says you guys did your first North American tour in 2007?

Lauri: 2005.

L: Right, 2005. Do you notice any difference between the crowds from North America compared to Europe? Or does it all pretty much blend together at this point?

Lauri: Well, this is a very small market for us. It's a lot smaller crowds than what we're used to doing in Europe or Asia or South America. So this is almost like a hobby thing for us, because all of us want to tour North America, but it's not really profitable or anything. We just come here to spread the music. It's a lot smaller, so when we're here we have to sort of understand that certain things we might be used to are not going to happen.

L: Is it still exciting coming over seas or has the novelty worn off yet?

Lauri: Not for me! It's my third time touring here, so there's still enough novelty for me to get excited. It's even like that with places in Europe I've been to a zillion times. I'm very interested in checking out different countries, cultures, and sights or whatever.

L: So moving on. New album, Polaris - came out in May. For the people left that haven't gone and picked it up yet, what can they expect? Any changes in the Stratovarius sound?

Lauri: The sound is progressing and the band is progressing. So it's just a good, solid progressive power metal album or however you want to call it. If your into European metal, you would most likely enjoy Polaris as well.

L: This is also the first album without Timo Tolkki, so you guys decided to bring in Matias Kupiainen. Now obviously trying to find a replacement for Tolkki was a pretty big task, how did you guys finally settle on Matias?

Lauri: It was very natural. When we started looking we didn't even know whether we were going to continue as Stratovarius or not - we just wanted to make music, and he was sort of...around. I met him at some gigs in Helsinki and I was really blown away by his playing. Then I told Kotipelto to check out this guy. Then we sort of took him out to try - we went to the countryside for a couple of weeks, to write music. Also to sort of see how he fit and how did we feel with him, like is he an obnoxious or weird person? Turned out to be a nice dude, so we asked to be in the band. He was the only one we really auditioned or tried out. There were some other people we talked about but he was the first and only one we really tried out. So in that way it seemed so logical, even then we didn't see the need to try out other dudes.

L: So how has the rest of the whole "band process" changed with such a big member changeover?

Lauri: Well, Tolkki always used to be in charge of the production and most of the composing. Now we did it ourselves - everyone brought songs to the table and then we produced it together. Of course all the members of Stratovarius have done a lot of albums earlier, or so are their leaders. Basically we had to find within the band like a right way to go, because when you've got 5 people you have to know when to stand down or stand up. Everyone needed to find their own place so we reach the common goal. I think that's what we were learning then - how to make certain decisions. I think in the end it went more or less whoever wrote the song, he was the master of that song. Of course we were all listening and changing stuff, but if there was a situation where we couldn't decide because there was no sole dictator. Then it was like he who wrote it can veto something or have the final say. Basically all the rest went really natural, like choosing what songs to leave off the album, song order, and artwork. We learned new ways of working together.

L: As I was saying, that's a pretty big member change, what made you guys stick with the Stratovarius name rather than just going under a new name?

Lauri: Well, we already had the songs. We were sort of thinking about it, then we got Jorg Michael to do the drums for the recording. After we recorded it sounded so Stratovarius to us - to us it clearly was a Stratovarius album. So then we sort of decided we want to keep the name and try it. Also at the time Tolkki sort of gave us his blessing to do it. It was important for us that it wouldn't be a rip off, we didn't want to rip on the Stratovarius legacy or whatever you want to call it. After we heard the music we sort of decided "Maybe we should do it like this?", so we did, and it now seems the fans took it very well and they like the fact that we continued. That's of course the necessary thing; if everybody would be like "Fuck no!" then it would be like "Fair enough, let's not do it." But everybody seems to be more or less happy now.

L: Back to the topic of world touring - when you're out on the road, did you discover any underground bands that you feel deserve more exposure that you want to tell us about?

Lauri: Oh! Well we were just in Japan, and always when you're on tour people give you demos and CD's and you try to listen but sometimes there's so much you don't get to listen to them all. But there was this Japanese band called Alhambra - and the keyboard player sort of knew Jens or something so he gave him this album I think called Fadista. It was like Japanese progressive power metal, we've been listening to it now for a couple of days - and it's a completely insane album! I've never heard music like that! It's like - I don't know what it is, it's everything! That's like...some band. Always on the road I try to listen to bands, sometimes there is no time, sometimes there is, but there is Alhambra if you want to know a band that blew me and Jens' minds. Yesterday we were laughing the whole day listening to the album in the bus.

L: Sounds pretty nuts!

Lauri: Yeah it's very Japanese. Like first it will sound like it's the greatest power metal song in the world, then it goes into some fucking weird fusion, it sounds like some orchestra. It's completely insane stuff.

L: Ok, so that pretty much wraps things up! Now time for the obligatory "Any last words for the MetalStorm readers?"

Lauri: I don't know...stay metal! Thank you for supporting...if you are supporting...if not, then come down and support!

*All photos courtesy of James Frayn-Wilks
*Special thanks to Kerry Goulding of RebelMusic for setting up the interview


Posted on 05.10.2009 by Former EIC. Now just a reviewer guy.


Comments: 5   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 200 users
05.10.2009 - 06:16
Great interview!
05.10.2009 - 06:19
BMR Monkey
05.10.2009 - 16:35
The Shape 1973
He still looks like Cliff Burton.
So many chips on the world's shoulder. Low on ketchup.
06.10.2009 - 12:39
The Summoner
Cool interview .. i'm going to check out Alhambra now.

For the European power bands i think North American and Australian tours are always going to be ill-fated and for the joy of touring rather than a way to make a profit. Unless it is Nightwish, Dragonforce, BG etc.
25.11.2009 - 00:40
Retired Staff
Polaris sucked so badly
The band did seem a lot more relaxed on stage without Tolkki when they were at Hellfest though

That Alhambra band doesn't seem to be that special either from their myspace samples, especially if you already know some Japanese music..
BAS - Beautifully Accented Sexiness

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