2011.03.08 – STRATOVARIUS – Jens Johansson (interview)


Stratovarius has been on metal scene for years. They remember the time of decline of metal music and its glorious come back in the late 90’s. Their latest album “Elysim” has just been released and. Jens Johansson answered a few questions for us.

Tell me, how it’s possible that after so many years on stage you can still record interesting music like “Elysium”.

In this case a strength of the band is that we have so many people in the band writing the music. We also had to come up with the material, and finish the album, in quite a short amount of time. Matias really did a hell of a job, I think he was burning to show what he was capable of in a way.

Could you describe your style? There is not only heavy/power metal but even some elements of progressive music, I think.

Yes, I would describe it as melodic power metal with keyboards and some progressive elements. This record is probably a little more progressive than some other ones we have done in the past. But we are not really setting a target with each album. Whatever people write and is on the table, is what we consider putting on the record.

Cover artworks from both of your last albums are joined by one characteristic element (strange object in the shape of star) – was it intended?

The „star shaped space ship” was one sketch idea of the artist Gyula Havancsák for Polaris. We all instantly felt it would be a great almbum concept for the record. And then while we started work on „Elysium” he just took the title and developed it into what you see on the cover. He’s a very talented guy.

How are you writing new songs? Could you indicate differences in work since the time when Timo Tolkki was in the band?

We have pretty much the same workflow, only difference is that everyone is writing songs instead of just one guy. Like I said above, of course this means we can come up with an album’s worth a bit easier. If some of us are not feeling inspired, then someone else can pick up the slack. Apart from that, everyone works whatever ideas they have into songs. Timo and Matias have been collaborating a little bit on some songs, but me and Lauri do it more „lone wolf” style.

Is this period in band history is definitely closed? I have read that Timo Tolkki consider that it’s unfair that you are still using Stratovarius as the name of the band.


That was back in 2008, right after he left. He didn’t want us to continue. It’s a long story and it’s in the past. The period was glorious but now it is closed.

„Elysium” contain over 18 minutes long title track – did you plan such a long, epic and bombastic song?

This was one of the first songs Matias wrote for the album. It was originally a bit longer, he kept lopping pieces off! I think it turned out exactly as he planned it. I heard some early demos and I was immediately completely sold on the idea of putting it on the album.

What are your memories from concerts in Poland (with Helloween). Is it the end of the promotion of your latest album in Poland.. or maybe you’ll come back?

The plans are stull inclear what happens later in the year. For the moment we’re out with Helloween for another bunch of gigs. When I type these rows we are in Asia (Tokyo today), then it continues to South America. It’s truly a around-the-world tour.

Poland is always fun, we haven’t played there so much but I always enjoy doing interviews with Polish journalists, it’s almost always a pleasure for some reason. Just nice people in Poland! I hope the two gigs in Poland we did with Helloween will open some doors to come back there more often.

Timo Kotipelto – years go by but his voice is still the same. How does he do this? 😉

He takes good care of his body, excercises, eats healthy, doesn’t drink too much. And of course he doesn’t smoke.

Is Finland still the country of metal music? I remember that some years ago, this kind of music was very popular there.

Very much so! Metal is very much in the mainstream in Finland. There are many festivals that have a lot of metal bands. And there’s even the „Tuska festival” which is a city festival which has only metal music.

What is your opinion about the present music scene? You have been part of it for many years.

I think the music scene is health but I don’t know about the music business, what with downloading and all that. But hopefully things will turn out fine.

Thanx for your time, and I wish you much success in the future.

Thank you!

Piotr Michalski

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