Klaus Flaming: Timo Kotipelto, were the songs recorded easily?
Timo Kotipelto: I guess they're quite OK, but I'm never happy with my own efforts, of course. When you're really happy with yourself, you can't develop anymore. I haven't yet heard all of the final mixes, but they're OK.
Klaus Flaming: Is the atmosphere different in the studio, when the voice must be exactly there, not only almost there? Live you can probably improvise a bit...
Timo Kotipelto: Basically it is easier to sing in tune in studio, but it's harder to get the right feeling. You should always try get in between, to sing well and have a good feeling. We recorded vocals in a smaller studio. Perhaps next time we'll do them at Timo's home or elsewhere, then we may have good enough recording equipment ourselves to make it possible. Finnvox is pretty expensive and so there is a kind of time limit and stress every day. But we'll have to ask Timo about it, he's never happy with my singing anyway. But Jari is always happy with it.
Jari Kainulainen: I'm always happy.
Klaus Flaming: Has any song turned out to be so hard that it has required even ten takes, if it hasn't gone right?
Timo Kotipelto: We usually do one track ready, and about three-four tracks with feeling, and then Karmila and Tolkki can freely fuck with my singing, which they do. They're good at it. Some things are done several times, and some are good enough with the first or second take.
Klaus Flaming: How did Jari Kainulainen end up as a bassist in Stratovarius? The job has been overall pretty unstable.
Jari Kainulainen: It is stable, now. I've been here four years already, on a solid base. Well, we'll see when I get a brown envelope in mail. Yes, the job has been pretty unstable, a bit like a coach. Now I'm here, to stay.
Klaus Flaming: Do you get a little left out, as you have these famous foreigners in the band, and traditionally the singer is in the spotlight, and then the guitarist, and then there is the bassist?
Timo Kotipelto: And the mixer.
Jari Kainulainen: Yes, the mixer, and after him comes the bassist.
Klaus Flaming: Have there been single flags in the audience that have said something like "We love you Jari"?
Jari Kainulainen: I haven't noticed.
Timo Kotipelto: We try to always wave them with Timo.
Jari Kainulainen: They write them for me in the bedroom in secret.
Timo Kotipelto: A bassist of that size can't be left in the shadows on stage, at least not behind me.
Jari Kainulainen: So big hair that it's better to be seen. And my bass is so cool that I must not be in the shadows. I don't know about the playing. I rock on the stage the same as the others. Of course these guys go to the promo tours and I stay here, but then I have free time. I can go to see Jokerit games [a Finnish ice-hockey team], and ride a mountain bike.
Timo Kotipelto: They're going to lose.
Jari Kainulainen: Every time Timo says Jokerit is going to lose, they'll win. [Yes, they won the Finnish championship in 1997, again. Boring.]
Klaus Flaming: Timo Tolkki, how about a short introduction to mixing?
Timo Tolkki: Studio mixing is about getting the stuff together on two tracks, searching for different balances, adding echoes, doing equalization, especially with midrange and singing, all this kind of stuff.
Timo Kotipelto: Guitar solos come out loud.
Timo Tolkki: Live mixing depends a lot on the room you're in. The decicions must be made according to the space.
Klaus Flaming: But Stratovarius album Visions isn't a live album.
Timo Tolkki: No, it isn't, but we've recorded these songs "almost" live. We've all been playing on the background. But everything is redone, except for the drums, like we've used to do in this band. It's that kind of polishing.
Klaus Fleming: At the moment these foreign guys have already been driven away. What if for example Jens plays something he thinks is his all-time best solo for some song, but his opinion doesn't matter much as The Dictator [Tolkki] is in charge?
Timo Tolkki: No, it doesn't, unfortunately. Democracy stinks. But solos are not the problem in this band, they are always heard. They are tuned up loud.
Jari Kainulainen: Like bass solos.
Timo Tolkki: Well, the bass is not heard anyway.
Timo Kotipelto: So it's not a problem.
Timo Tolkki: But having five guys doing the mixing just doesn't work. Mixing is pretty much about opinions. Everyone has his own view of what it should sound like, but unfortunately only one opinion counts, mine. I produce the record, and it's the way I want it.
Klaus Flaming: How do the new songs get developed in Stratovarius? Do the demo tapes and DATs travel across the world?
Timo Tolkki: We use always the same system. I make the first demo with drum machine, play even bass myself. Perhaps in the future on record as well.
Jari Kainulainen: With my bass.
Timo Kotipelto: He doesn't sing, though.
Timo Tolkki: But I make a very rough demo, and make cassette copies, and give them to the other guys. Then they always say "what have you done, again?". I can hear the final arrangement in my head, but no-one else knows what it's like at that point. The songs may sound really weird for others. This time demos were made so that I flew to Germany, where we made drums, and I came with the tapes back here. Jens recorded synths in New York and sent the tapes here. But we gather together before we start making a record. We rehearse the songs for a couple of weeks before the recording, it's not a problem.