Greece’s Rock Overdose conducted an interview with the great guitarist Timo Tolkki (ex-STRATOVARIUS, REVOLUTION RENAISSANCE, SYMFONIA) about a number of topics including his pending retirement. Here are a few excerpts from the chat:
Rock Overdose: You announced a retirement after the fact that Symfonia would not go on as a band. What was the story behind of that?
Tolkki: “I simply said that in the present market situation, it is not possible to earn an income by being a professional musician. My career spans over 20 years in Stratovarius plus the other works. So it was a simple rational decision. We are going to see more bands from the middle league falling in the next three-five years simply because record companies are dying themselves and they take the last bits there are to take and it’s gonna make the situation even worse. It was the same situation with Revolution Renaissance. Music business is firstly becoming boring and predictable and secondly it is dying.”Rock Overdose: So, I suppose that you will focus to your solo carrier from now on?
Tolkki: “I don’t know man. The same situation applies to a possible solo career. In this moment I am not doing anything and maybe I never will record anything anymore for commercial purpose. We’ll have to see what happens in the next years.”
Rock Overdose: There are some rumors that some old members of Stratovarius will form a group named STRATO. Did they approach you to play with them? Are you thinking to do it?
Tolkki: “Yes its true. We have met many times in the last two years. Me, Tuomo Lassila (the founding member of Stratovarius) and Antti Ikonen went to see ROGER WATERS’ The Wall in Helsinki together. We have talked about making an album called Return To Dreamspace. I wrote to Stratovarius and asked if we could use the name for this one album because there is the founding member of the band involved and who invented the name. We got a vicious letter from the lawyer that we will be sued immediately if we would use the name. It just shows the attitude and it is sad to see that a band that once had life and soul in it, is now a simple franchise. A money making machine except that the industry situation gets to them as well. Joerg Michael decided to leave the band because he did not like the music the band was heading to. Now he plays in some Greek band I think. Stratovarius will not exist anymore in five years.”
Guitarist Timo Tolkki (SYMFONIA / ex-STRATOVARIUS) has posted the following update:
“I don’t know how many of you are interested in reading this and quite frankly, I dont even care so much, but I am just writing down some early morning thoughts regarding Symfonia and other stuff going on in my life.
As it turned out to be, it all started from a cake. I thought it might be some kind of a celestial joke and maybe it was, but when 2 fans handed me a Symfonia cake after the last gig of Symfonia’s South American tour, after spending 3 nights in a 15 bucks cold motel with grey concrete walls looking like a prison in Santiago de Chile and flying 28 hours to another continent to play to audiences varying from 100 to 350, I started to think that maybe this really is it. The cake was in a funny way telling me: ‘hey Timo, don’t you see: it’s over’.
And I started to really consider my whole musician’s career. This happened in June.
Exactly a year before I had flown to Sweden to record 3 demo songs I had composed hoping to record some vocals of Andre. I spent there 6 days and from those days, I was able to squeeze about 6 hours of singing from him. In between going to supermarkets, changing diapers and me trying to solve some of their domestic disputes, I started to think if it was such a good idea after all.
But people liked the demos and I went full on producing the In Paradisum album to which I put around 1,000 working hours. Andre Matos told me very clear that this band should not do any gigs if it doesnt make any money. I basically agreed but at the same time I knew that people would still consider it as a new band. Not “The Spartacus of Metal” where the gates of superstardom would open just like that. Uli Kusch had been in and out of band due to his hand injury and in the middle of vocal recordings in Sweden, he sent me a mail telling me he would never ever play any gigs in his life because ‘he was tired of piss smelling backstage rooms, the chaos, the travelling’, etc. In vain I tried to tell him that this was not what we agreed. He did tell me that if Symfonia would make a second album, we could use his name for 10,000 euros and use Alex Landenburg for the recordings. And after 10 minutes came a text message that he also wanted me to pay the taxes of his fee so it would total 13,000 euros for the usage of his name. I did not respond to that but I really found it hard to believe.
Then Matos lost his voice in the middle of the vocal recordings for 4 days and while hunting for cortison shots in the middle of the deepest Swedish countryside, I really started to think that this is not gonna work.
Well we got the vocals done, did the interviews and released the album. I still think it’s a good album.
Also the Japanese earthquake messed the little touring plans the band had. Then Andre told me we could make a lucrative tour in South America booked by his manager. Apparently there was some mysterious investor that was in the game. I should have known better even hearing the word investor. I decided to do the tour and after flying 30 hours: Helsinki-Frankfurt-Rome-Sao Paulo we landed only to hear that the tour is cancelled. At that point I was already ready to buy a ticket back to Finland but they managed to make a settlement and we did I guess it was 6 gigs. It was the worst and heaviest tour I have ever done in my career.
Keyboard player Mikko Harkin developed high fever and lung inflammation that was bounding pneumonia.
While lying 2 days in Sao Paulo in Formula 1 hotel (the cheapest you can get there) in a darkness I was starting to really get doubts about my future as a musician.
When I got the sales figures from Edel Records and the report from the booking agency for the festivals of Summer 2012 I decided to call it a day. It didnt make any sense to try to “conquer” the metal world since it was obvious that there was not enough interest. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally cool if there is no interest.
Then I thought about my career. Around 3,000 gigs, 20 years, 20 CD’s, productions, clinics, travelling. I realised that I have done a lot. I guess most of you know that I am suffereing from Bipolar Disorder, one of the worst mental disorders, but with medication and non stressful lifestyle, this illness can be controlled but never cured. Playing in a touring band is far from “non stressful lifestyle” and in fact the rock’n'roll life itself is manic with its highs and lows. In those long Stratovarius tours being undiagnosed with the illlness, I could have died. I am not kidding.
3.3 next year I will be 46. This autumn I made a decision to take some time off from the music business and concentrate on something else. I have a wonderful wife and daughter, who also happens to be a world class singer. I started giving guitar lessons again. I’m taking lots of photos. In other words, living quite normal life.
I do realize the marks the years have left in me and that I should rest and heal the wounds. There is a lot to heal. The music business is in extremely sick state in this moment and it’s not gonna get any better. In a few years we will know what kind of form it will take. Maybe I one day take some part of it, maybe I dont. I really dont know at the moment.
So what about my future? If you are interested in that I can only say that it is possible that I will never record anything again. For some of you this might come as a relief. I don’t know what the future will hold for me but I want to thank all of you who have supported me in these 22 some years. For you who havent supported me and continuosly are mocking me for example at Stratoboard (which makes me really sad mainly due lack of respect from a band that was my vision for 22 years and that still plays 80% of my songs although there is 2 guys left in the band called Stratovarius) I also want to thank you because without you guys, I could never have done everything I have done. It’s been a great career. I hope the future brings more music but most likely it will not. But still after all I can say… I Did It My Way.
Hope to see you somewhere, take care of yourselves.”
Tolkki is currently offering his services to mix and master albums. He has issued the following overview via Facebook:
“I have produced and mixed music over 20 years. Had many studios and as you have to change along the music industry, built this mixing, overdubbing and mastering suite. It is in Helsinki but you can send your recorded files projects to me from anywhere in the world. I mix and master them and send it back to you. I am able to make production masters from which CD plants manufacture CDs.
From when I receive the files, it takes two to four weeks for you to receive the mixed and mastered files back. If you want a sample of my work, I can send you one song I mixed and mastered with these equipment. For this, please send me an email.”
The following updates comes from The official Symfonia page: www.symfonia.fi.
We would like to thank all of you who have supported us and our “In Paradisum” in the last months. We have received a very good response both in sales and in reviews for the album.
We are sorry for the lack of news but we have had a good reason for the silence.
We have been waiting for our friend Uli to get better with his hand. We knew we took a risk in waiting, but we considered it best for the band. This is why there has not been any shows so far apart from Helsinki Metal Meeting in February.
Few weeks ago we received more news from Uli’s doctors and they were very bad. They said that it is not likely that he could play drums this year at all. After talking with Uli and in mutual understanding, we agreed to continue Symfonia without him. It is a painful decision for all of us but after Uli told us it is best for us to go on without him and not to wait anymore due to uncertain future with his hand, we decided to do this. And the truth is, we simply cannot wait any longer.
We will do some shows with Alex Landenburg as a substitute drummer and then go straight to the studio to record a follow up to “In Paradisum” for March 2012 release. We already have a good idea how the album will be and we apologize to all those who have been waiting to see us live. Unfortunately due to the impossible circumstances it has not been possible but we will correct this with the next album next year. We don’t feel that it is the right move now to book more shows than these. We feel it is time for a new Symfonia album and then book the shows. We have a lot of time to do this now that the situation is clear with Uli.
The shows are as follows. Additional shows are still possible for Argentina,Chile,Colombia and some other Latin American countries. The agents are booking them in this very moment:
6.7 Helsinki-Tavastia FINLAND
8.7 Sonisphere Festival FRANCE
30.7 Brasilia Porao do Rock Festival BRAZIL
31.7 São Paulo/SP – Citibank Hall BRAZIL
2.8 Porto Alegre/RS – Bar Opiniao BRAZIL
5.8 Teresina/PI – Venue TBA BRAZIL
6.8 Sao Luis/MA – Venue TBA BRAZIL
7.8 Rio de Janeiro/RJ – Fundição Progresso BRAZIL
Ex-STRATOVARIUS guitarist Timo Tolkki has confirmed a 2012 release date for the Dreamspace Line-Up reunion album (possibly under the name “Project Strato”?). As well, there will be a re-release of his Classical Variations Vol 1. solo album!
“I have nice news for you. We are planning to celebrate the 30 year existence of Stratovarius with the original Dreamspace line up releasing an album in January 2012.
Classical Variations Vol. 1 will be re-released as remastered version with new album Vol. 2 with bonus DVD including interviews. I will play guitar,bass and sing. Drummer will be John Macaluso. Release will be mid-September.
Symfonia will be active later this year with gigs around Sonisphere France.
Hope you like the news. Happy Easter.”
Stratovarius originally released “Dreamspace” in 1994, it was their 3rd album. It’s tracklist is:
1. “Chasing Shadows”
2. “4th Reich”
3. “Eyes of the World”
4. “Hold on to Your Dream”
5. “Magic Carpet Ride”
6. “We Are the Future”
7. “Tears of Ice”
9. “Reign of Terror”
10. “Thin Ice”
14. “Wings of Tomorrow”
15. “Full Moon” (Japanese bonus track)
Timo Tolkki — Guitars, Vocals
Jari Kainulainen — Bass
Antti Ikonen — Keyboards
Tuomo Lassila — Drums and Percussion
Sami Kuoppamäki — Session drums on tracks 3, 4, 6, 7, and 13
This is the last album to feature Timo Tolkki on vocals before Timo Kotipelto joined the band.
SYMFONIA, the new melodic metal project featuring the all-star lineup of vocalist Andre Matos (ex-Angra), guitarist Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), drummer Uli Kusch (ex-Helloween), bassist Jari Kainulainen (ex-Stratovarius) and keyboardist Mikko Harkin (ex-Sonata Arctica), unleash their debut full-length today via Armoury Records. Titled In Paradisum, the ten-track offering was recorded mainly in Finland, mixed and mastered in Italy and produced by Timo Tolkki.
In celebration of its release, the album is currently streaming in its entirety via AOL Music. To check it out, point your browser HERE.
Also, in celebration of the release, Metal-Rules.com is giving away 3 copies of the album. To enter, go HERE.
The annual Finnish Metal Expo was arranged in the old ancient Cable Factory in the heart of Helsinki. Even though the winter wind was blowing in cold from the open sea, thousands of metalheads were crawling to the FME event. Once again the roster of the FME event offered plenty of interesting names. The purpose of the event is to offer a good chance for young and talented Finnish bands to perform in front of a critical metal audience. Besides new talented bands, known and classic names were at present at FME. The Metal-Rules.com squad was, as usual, at the annual Finnish Metal Expo to feel what’s up in the air of the metal world.
Symfonia. Does that name of the band ring any bells out there yet? Maybe not for everyone as Symfonia is basically a new band on the metal map. But behind Symfonia there are well known names and persons involved in the band. When unveiling names such as Andre Matos, Timo Tolkki, Uli Kusch, Jari Kainulainen and Mikko Harkin it is quite obvious the interest toward this five piece may increase tremendously. The Metal-Rules.com team had an nice and pleasant task to witness the debut show of Symfonia at the Finnish Metal Expo. After the show we were lucky enough to have an opportunity of doing an interesting and in-depth interview with vocalist Andre Matos regarding the birth of Symfonia, Avantasia, and plenty of other topics including Symfonia’s future activities. Ladies and gentleman, the first Symfonia interview here at Metal-Rules.com.
New Song Stream Available — the new melodic metal project featuring the all-star lineup guitarist Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), vocalist Andre Matos (ex-Angra), drummer Uli Kusch (ex-Helloween), bassist Jari Kainulainen (ex-Stratovarius) and keyboardist Mikko Harkin (ex-Sonata Artica) – are gearing up to release their debut full-length. Titled In Paradisum, the ten-track offering was recorded mainly in Finland, mixed and mastered in Italy and produced by Timo Tolkki. The record will be released in North America via Armoury Records on April 19, 2011.
To check out a stream of “Pilgrim Road,” the sixth track off In Paradisum, visit the band’s official website HERE [click the "News" link]. In Paradisum Track Listing:
01. Fields Of Avalon
02. Come By The Hills
06. Pilgrim Road
07. In Paradisum
08. Rhapsody In Black
09. I Walk In Neon
10. Don’t Let me Go
Honoring the heritage of their previous bands, SYMFONIA is a force no serious melodic metal fan will be able to ignore. The band made its live debut on February 18 at the Finnish Metal Expo in Helsinki, Finland. To check out some fan-filmed video footage, point your browserHERE.
SYMFONIA, the new band featuring former STRATOVARIUS guitarist Timo Tolkki and ex-ANGRA / ex-SHAMAN frontman Andre Matos, has posted video footage from Studiomega in Varberg, Sweden. Check out two clips below.
Following is the official Symfonia press release:
The new melodic power metal super-group Symfonia begins recording its debut album on November 25th at Studio Mega in Sweden. They will start with the drum tracks of the renowned drummer Uli Kusch (ex-Helloween). The band will record 12 songs that some journalists, having already heard some of the tracks, have described as a “homecoming.”
Symfonia has signed a four album deal with the biggest Japanese metal and rock label, Marquee Avalon, for the territory of the entire Asian region, including China. Negotiations with the other territories are still in progress. Symfonia has also launched a new website that contains brand new video interviews of guitarist Timo Tolkki and vocalist Andre Matos (ex-Angra).
The tentative release date for the yet-to-be-named debut album is March 25th, 2011.
As previously reported, Symfonia will make its World Premiere on February 18th at the Finnish Metal Expo, an International Metal Meeting, where they will take the stage at 11:00pm in the evening.
Check out BW&BK’s exclusive interview with Timo Tolkki here. An excerpt is available below.
“Everything with Symfonia has been very fast,” Tolkki reveals. “I don’t want to use the word ‘pre-destined’, but after Revolution Renaissance I said, ‘That’s it, I’m opening the flower store…’ (laughs). It’s a weird story. It all started with Andre Matos because someone told me that he’s living in Sweden now, in a village of something like 2,000 people. He comes from Sao Paulo, a city of 25 million people. I began thinking about it, that I had one of the best power metal vocalists practically living next to me. I know the guy very well, and I had nothing to do. I gave him a call and asked if he wanted to write some music, and Andre came to visit me in Helsinki. He spent the week here, went to sauna – where I showed the Brazilian what ‘hot’ really means (laughs) – and we worked on some music.”
“The next one was Jari. Everybody thinks he was fired from Stratovarius (in 2005) but he actually decided to leave on his own for personal reasons. He’s living in Norway now. I never had problems with him because Jari has this kind of Buddhist philosophy, and I always told him that I wished I could be like him (laughs). After he left EVERGREY (earlier this year) he was in another band, and the strange thing was he left that band on a Tuesday and I emailed him by chance on the Wednesday. I had no idea he didn’t have a band. We talked for about three hours on the phone and I felt like I was in a time warp, because I hadn’t seen him in five years. It really wasn’t a big issue having him come on board.”
“After I had Andre and Jari on board I went back and listened to my whole discography from beginning to end. I actually had to borrow the CD (laughs) because I didn’t have any of them. I tried to get a picture of what I’ve done so far, and I came to the conclusion that I need to crystallize what I’m all about. With these guys I can do that.”
The new Melodic Power Metal super-group SYMFONIA begins recording its debut album on 25.11 at Studio Mega in Sweden. They will start with the drum tracks of the renowned drummer Uli Kusch.
The band will record 12 songs that some journalists, having already heard some of the tracks, have described as a “homecoming”.
SYMFONIA has signed a four album deal with the biggest Japanese Metal&Rock label “Marquee Avalon” for the territory of the entire Asian region, including China. Negotiations with the other territories are still in progress.
SYMFONIA also launches a new website that contains brand new video interviews of Timo Tolkki and Andre Matos.
None of these musicians need an introduction. They are all legends among the melodic metal community. By sheer coincidence, they all found themselves living on the same continent, in Scandinavia. They decided to join forces and express their talents in the form of a new melodic metal project: SYMFONIA.
Honoring the heritage of their previous bands Stratovarius, Helloween, Angra and Sonata Arctica, SYMFONIA continues their superb melodic metal tradition with an incredible musicianship that is a match made in heaven. This is a force that no serious melodic metal fan will be able to ignore.
SYMFONIA will make its World Premiere 18.2 at the Finnish Metal Expo, an International Metal Meeting, where they will take the stage at 11PM in the evening.
The recordings for the debut album of SYMFONIA will start in November at Studio Mega in Sweden, for a Spring 2011 release.
A brand new interview with Timo Tolkki can be read in BW&BK here.
““Everything with Symfonia has been very fast,” Tolkki reveals. “I don’t want to use the word ‘pre-destined’, but after Revolution Renaissance I said, ‘That’s it, I’m opening the flower store…’ (laughs). It’s a weird story. It all started with Andre Matos because someone told me that he’s living in Sweden now, in a village of something like 2,000 people. He comes from Sao Paulo, a city of 25 million people. I began thinking about it, that I had one of the best power metal vocalists practically living next to me. I know the guy very well, and I had nothing to do. I gave him a call and asked if he wanted to write some music, and Andre came to visit me in Helsinki. He spent the week here, went to sauna – where I showed the Brazilian what ‘hot’ really means (laughs) – and we worked on some music.”