Timo Kotipelto Interview
On September 18th, Ann Marie and Dave of BeyondEarCandy.com had the opportunity to meet with Timo Kotipelto at the Granada hotel in Atlanta, GA (USA) before the second night’s performance of ProgPower V. Timo was in an upbeat mood and made many funny comments, so taking our cue from him, the line of questioning does deviate from the serious to the humorous frequently. This interview was riddled with laughter and sarcasm, so don’t take everything he said too literally.
AM: Ok, we’ll try not to talk about Strato.
TK: What’s that? (laughter)
AM: When did your latest solo album, “Coldness”, come out? I just picked it up yesterday.
TK: In Europe it came out somewhere like April 20th.
AM: How’s it been doing?
TK: Well ……(laughter) Pretty good, pretty good. It wasn’t like a huge success, but in Finland it did very good. It went straight to number 4. That was good.
AM: What about the previous album, “Waiting for the Dawn”, that did pretty well didn’t it? I liked it a lot.
TK: I think it did just well enough that the label wanted to take the other option. But um, I think, I don’t know, probably it sold a little bit over 30 thousand. It’s not much but it’s ok.
AM: Do you think everyone associating you with Stratovarius gives you a barrier you have to cross to get people interested in your own solo work?
TK: Well, it helps but then again it doesn’t help. Probably it’s easier for me to get interviews and all, when people know I’m ex-bla bla bla something But, then again, it doesn’t help if they don’t listen to the album. That’s the only thing that works.
DAVE: We’ve been playing your first cd on our internet radio station so we’re helping to get some listeners into it.
TK: Oh, really? Cool. Thanks a lot.
AM: Yea, we just picked up “Coldness” last night and we listened to it three times already and I love it, I think it’s great so we’ll be putting that on the radio too when we get back to New Jersey.
TK: Oh really that’s cool. That’s great.
AM: So, how do you go about writing and composing the music?
TK: It depends. Sometimes I get the vocal melody first and then I’m using this same kind of a machine that you’re using now and actually I’m also using, ahem (leaning into microphone) I don’t have a sponsor but I’m also using my NOKIA Handy-Phone to record some of my melodies. (laughter)
Well, to compose a song, that’s easy. Well, I’m not saying that my songs are good, but I’m very fast in composing. But when it comes to actually playing the instruments down then I’m very bad because I can’t really play. I played all the songs, I can played all the instruments. I can even play drums. But my demos are terrible. They sound soo bad. (laughs) My songs are also, if you listen to the songs they are quite simple riffs, but I also like it that way. If you listen to Iron Maiden or AC/DC they are not really that quite complicated and I love those bands, so I even have this motto that my songs should be playable by anybody, you know, whoever wants to pick up a guitar, they should be able to play the song.
AM: Uh, Michael Romeo? They’re going to play like that?
TK: (Laughing) I’m not talking about the solos. I didn’t compose the solos!
AM: What is the inspiration behind this latest cd? The first one seemed pretty theme oriented and a little on the lighter side. This one seems darker.
TK: That is right. When I composed those songs, the music, the times were a little bit different. Then I was still together with my ex-girlfriend and I was still in this one band and you know then…
AM: Hmm, what band?
TK: Oh, I don’t know, it wasn’t AC/DC. (laughter) I wrote the lyrics last autumn, and things were a little more difficult so of course I just tried to express my feelings, when it comes to the lyrics, but , I don’t know, maybe I foresee it that some things were on the way, when I composed the vocal melodies as well because I agree, I think “Coldness” is a more melancholic or more sad album compared to the first one. I think it’s a little bit heavier and more darker and of course the cover is a bit darker than this sunlight Egypt, you know.
AM: “Coldness of My Mind”, is that sort of the title track? That’s the first one that I’ve learned to like. That has a bit heavier guitar on that.
TK: Yea, it is that simple riff, (sings it).
AM: I listened to the album first then I sat down and read the lyrics and I said, “God, he must be depressed.”
TK: (laughs) I was a bit. And also I think , probably without this album, well that’s not probably, without doing this album and without letting out all the bad feelings, I would have been probably burnt out or something even though I was very stressed because there were a lot of things going on. I was in the studio recording the vocals even on the Christmas Eve so I was singing every day in December except the one day, I think the Christmas day, the 25th, that I took off, but I was there even during the New Years’ Eve. Then if someone would have asked me some nice questions then I would have probably choked them (feigns choking someone) grrrrrrr. (much laughter) Then I was so stressed out and of course the next few months after that because of course there was interviews coming up and I had to arrange a lot of things. Deadlines were coming up and (sigh), but then again I feel like this is much better to work hard than to just lie on the sofa and drink and watch television.
AM: You know, when I talked to Chris Caffery yesterday, he said the same thing. Savatage was not doing enough to keep him busy and he was going down the tubes with destructive behavior and he said he started out doing the solo project to keep himself busy.
TK: That’s the way it is. Even though making music, it doesn’t feel like working, but then again if your just at home and doing nothing then you get very bored, at least I do. I have to do something. Hmmm, maybe I have to find a job, you know?
AM: No! I have three, believe me you don’t want that! You had a lot of different musicians working on the first cd. This one you seem to have a core group. How did you chose the musicians that you worked with?
TK: Well, you know it started 4 or 5 years ago when I was planning to do the first one and then I just asked some of my friends, who just happened to be, like me, very good musicians (laughing),
AM: Oh, how nice for you.
TK: Yes, it is very nice! It’s nice to get along as well, you know and talk about music. So in the very beginning I asked Mirka Rantanen for the drums and then I asked Janne (Wirman) for the keyboards and Jari Kainulainen for the bass and then I asked Sami Virtanen who played guitar on the first one but not on the second one, because he got very sick just two days, no actually the day before we were suppose to start rehearsing,
AM: Wow, that’s a shame, did he get better?
TK: Yea now he’s better, but he had some weird sickness which took about 2 or 3 months to get cured but now he’s better. But very good timing, just the day before and then that’s why there’s this guy from Tunnelvision, Juhani Malmberg who’s helping out. He learned the songs in one day, basically.
AM: Well, we’re big Michael Romeo fans, because of course, he’s from New Jersey
TK: AHAAA, ok!
AM: How did you get to meet him, how did you end up working with him?
TK: Well, that’s the next thing, Actually, I was asking around some of my friends if they would know a good guitar player who would, you know, fit on this album and then I talked to Jens and Jens, that’s Johansson, he told me, “Hey why don’t you ‘phone Mike Romeo? He might be interested.” I said, “Mike, who?” And he said, “Hey, the guy from Symphony X.” I said, “Ah haa….” But then of course, I was thinking that their music is so much more like progressive, so I thought, he’s not interested, but then Jens told me, “Yea, but he played…”, they have this Johansson Brothers album and I heard that and it’s almost as simple music as mine and he told me, “Yea, just phone him, here’s his number.” and I phoned Mike and I introduced myself and he said, “Yea send me the demos and then we’ll see,” and he said it’s pretty good stuff.
AM: Oh, you had to send him those demos, huh?
TK: Yea, (laughing) that’s the way it works, you know. But then I actually met him the first time I think, when was it? Was it the Stratovarius tour last year? When they were supporting us in Europe and then of course I found out that he’s also a very, very nice guy. So down to earth you know.
AM: Yea, definitely a very nice guy. He was here last year. Hopefully they’ll bring him back next year.
DAVE: Yea he was at ProgPower I, II and last year.
TK: Oh, very good.
AM: So what are your touring plans? What are the plans for touring with this new cd?
TK: In the U.S.?
AM: No, I know not in the U.S., In my dreams.
TK: Dream on! Dream on! The thing is that we play four shows, four festivals, or was it like three festivals and one club show in Helsinki in July. Then we played also Wacken Open Air. Then the next shows are actually in Argentina in two weeks or less. I’m going to fly over there next Saturday with Jens cause he’s going to play keyboards ‘cause Janne can’t do it, ‘cause he’s on the tour in the U.S. with Children of Bodom, (laughs) bastard! But, lucky me, Jens is a very good replacement for Janne.
AM: Yea, we got to see him in New York, he stepped in for the cover of the Megadeth song on the Nightwish show.
TK: Oh yea, I heard about that!
AM: Yea, he did that in Brooklyn too, last year. Have you had a chance to see him since you came over?
TK: No, not yet, but I’m going to fly to New York on Monday.
AM: So you flew directly here?
TK: Yea, exactly, I just changed planes in Frankfurt Germany.
AM: This is your first time in the United States?
TK: Yes it is. Oh, but back to your question. I didn’t answer it completely, sorry. So we’re going to play three shows in South American. Two in Argentina and one in Brazil. We’re going to support Edguy. Then, I’m going to fly back to Finland October 8th and we’re going to have, I think, it’s a little bit open, I guess like 5 or 6 or 7 shows in Finland. There’s going to be actually one very big show that’ll be December 26 like two days after Christmas Eve in Helsinki Ice Hall. Nightwish are the headliner and then it’s my band and this, uh what was the first support band?
DAVE: After Forever
TK: Exactly! Exactly, that’s right.
AM: We saw it on the web and we were wishing we could go.
TK: It’ll be good. The timing is perfect you know, the people there have nothing to do the two days after the Christmas. At least in Finland it’s like a holiday. (teasing) Everybody should come there! The tickets are on sale now!
AM: Were you aware of ProgPower before you were asked to come over here? Had you heard much about the festival before?
TK: I heard about it. I only heard positive things, but to be honest, it’s more than I expected. It’s much better.
AM: I’d like to know your impressions. You’ve done a lot of festivals, but it’s different here.
TK: I can’t even remember when I’ve been to a festival which is inside. It’s been years. But I think it’s a good thing. The venue is excellent and all the people I’ve met here are very, very nice. It’s well organized. And Glenn is a nice guy. And good bands. Too bad I don’t know them all. I know the names but not the music.
AM: Any chance you’d like to come back and play at the festival?
TK: It would be nice. Let’s see what happens. It’s not only up to me! (leans into the mike, knocks on the table), Glenn?? (laughter)
AM: Yea, well he’s wanted Stratovarius to come.
TK: Yea, I remember once it was quite close. Was it last year? The booking agents were already booking some shows in Canada as well. I don’t know what happened.
AM: Are there any bands in particular you’re looking forward to seeing?
TK: Well, yesterday I only saw actually this….. “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” That was interesting.
AM: Whose that?
TK: I don’t know, some Oliva guy. (laughs) Very nice guy by the way. And he was singing very good. I was surprised. But I didn’t see anything else because I had “promotional activities.”
AM: How about tonight?
TK: I have to see Edguy somehow, at least from the stage. But let’s see.
AM: Oh yea, any little special surprises tonight? (We did hear you warming up downstairs by the way.)
TK: Oh I dunno, I dunno. (laughs) I’m suppose to sing one song with them two verse and some choruses, but I just got the song some few days earlier so I don’t know the lyrics so I have to READ THEM from the PAPER! But let’s see what happens. It might be a chaos, but it’s fun, it’s fun. Actually, this is Glenn’s’ idea. He was asking me two months ago already if I would be interested in singing something, I said “Why not. But then I need to have the song, and if it’s ok with Edguy.” And then I contacted Tobias but it took like one month, well, at least three weeks until he replied because he’s quite lazy (laughs). I think I just wrote him an e-mail and he doesn’t check his e-mail so often. But then I met him in Wacken and I said, “Hey, Hey?” and he said, “Yea, we have to do it!” And I told him “Yea, but uh…send me the song! Which song is it?” Because I don’t know basically any of their songs, but then he sent the song to me, I guess, a week ago or something. But today I’ve been rehearsing it already five times.”
AM: Yea, we noticed. We were sneaking around down there and heard you.
TK: Oh sorry. I’m so sorry!
AM: Ok, I know you’ve got a tight schedule so we won’t keep you longer, but we have a favor to ask. Every time we interview, someone we like to have them record a greeting for the listeners on the radio. Basically just say your name and your listening to ….here (hands him a BeyondEarCandy.com key chain) so you don’t have to remember it.
TK: Do you have my name somewhere? (laughter)
AM: You’ll just have to try that for yourself. Say anything you want.
TK: Ok, cool. “Hello you internet surfers. This is Timo Kotipelto and you’re listening to BeyondEarCandy.COOOOOOM (cracks, clears throat) Oh, sorry.” (More laughter)*
AM: “That’s great! Thanks.”
TK: Can I keep this? (BeyondEarCandy.com key chain/bottle opener)
AM: Sure! We have hundreds!
- TARJA TURUNEN: Daughter Naomi Can Be Heard On New Album
- TARJA - Colours In The Dark Album Artwork Revealed
- NIGHTWISH - Imaginaerum Movie Box With Jigsaw Up For Pre-Order; Limited To 250 Pieces
- CHILDREN OF BODOM Premier New Album's Title Track Online
- ENSIFERUM's Markus Toivonen - 'My Hearing Is Better Now...'; Band Back On The Road This Weekend
- OMNIUM GATHERUM Announce European Tour
- BATTLE BEAST Streaming New Album In Full
- ANTIPOPE calls it quits