Metal Reviews recently got a chance to chat with Jorg Michael from Stratovarius. Here's what he had to say:
MR : Before you focused on Stratovarius, you played in many bands. What made you change your mind and are you happy about this decision ?
Jorg Michael : Yeah of course, I mean I was kind of forced to play in a lot of bands at the same time as all the bands I was playing were more or less organized with band leaders and with hired guns around that, so to earn my living out of drumming, made it kind of hard for me. I even played in some quite big bands : Axel Rudi Pell, Running Wild,... At the time, like 2 or 3 years ago Timo Tolki was not so happy to share me as a drummer with other bands. We always have been in a relationship with Stratovarius and we are a real band. So for me it was focusing on just one band. Nowadays Stratovarius, being so popular, that it's a 100% full time job now anyway. I'm very happy with the decision and on the other hand I have to say that it's of course nice to play with all these heavy metal band like Running Wild or Axel Rudi Pell. He comes out of the same area where I was born, where I live, and he's a very good friend of mine. It was not so nice to tell them I wanted to focus on Stratovarius but it was for me a very easy decision to make and I'm very very happy.
MR : Even though no one is questioning the quality of Stratovarius, many people are saying that the music doesn't evolve that much. How do you respond to this ?
Jorg Michael : I'm a great AC/DC fan, I'm very happy that I can always buy a new AC/DC record almost blind and I see always a little development in the music itself, being a little bit more creative or different guitar sound, of course the different AC/DC lineups have a different sound, which is another development as well. I was a big Queensryche fan until the Empire album and when I bought the new album I was very very disappointed. When everybody said that our last 3 albums sound almost the same, I say : I can't find a song like Mother Gaia on Visions, I can't find a song like Kiss Of Judas on Infinity and I can't find a song like Destiny to start with 10 minutes on all the other records. So on all the 3 records there are different songs, we play our style and you could have Hunting High And Low in place of SOS in Destiny album but what's wrong with that? The new development on Infinity is that Stratovarius had never written a happy song like Hunting High And Low before. It's almost like Stratovarius goes Pop a little bit. We are much more relaxed and have much more time to write now and you can also hear that on the new album.
MR : The lyrics on the new album are mainly related to the planet and love. Where does this come from ?
Jorg Michael : It's Tolki's choice. As for the love, Mr. Kotipelto is writing some lyrics as well. Everybody from you and me has experience in love, and music is also a way of expressing that. The planet thing you probably mean in Infinity and Mother Gaia, and now that we are getting more popular and we have more influence on the people and tell them our message. And what happens today on our planet Earth is not new but we can say "What is going on?" and touch more people. We have a video show on stage and I hope I don't take the surprise away. We show some choking material and the things going on burning down the Rain Forest, abused animals and all that stuff.We try to set a statement in that way and I hope it comes across. On top of that, we never forget that we are a heavy metal band so we also like to entertain and have fun as well.
MR : What's next for Stratovarius ?
Jorg Michael : We're still on tour and will continue for quite a long time. We see the band coming back from tour in October maybe November. Confirmed is until September, we go to Japan and we'll play a few summer festivals. We go to South America for almost 3 weeks in countries we've never played before. If this almost Infinite tour ends somewhere this year we want to take a big break. We will also release a home video, we hope we can do it before Christmas. The video is more like a image thing, we have so much material from tour, you can see us in our every day lives and we don't try to make the band larger than it is like other bands they see they play for God of Metal as openers and you think they play in front of 25'000 people and stuff like that. We show that we also play in shitty clubs in front of 250 people, we show the real life of Stratovarius so to let the fans know how much fun it is to play in front of 250 people and things like that. But if the tour continues until November I don't see a chance to put out this video for Christmas.
MR : Can you name some of your favorite bands and albums ?
Jorg Michael : Queensryche and Judas Priest. Queensryche I'd have to say all the albums until Empire, maybe Empire is for me the strongest. Everything coming out the 80's metal.
MR : In February, Timo Tolki was supposed to play a song with Edguy in Lyon and it didn't happen. Can you tell us more about it ?
Jorg Michael : Timo Tolki came to the concert with his daughter and it was too loud so he had to take her back to the hotel, so that was basically it.
MR : Do you have a short message for our readers and your fans ?
Jorg Michael : Best regards from Jorg Michael ! I would like to see our fans read the lyrics especially from Mother Gaia and Infinite a lot and also try to support the idea. Try to care about our planet Earth a little bit more. That's the message from our tour and record, and metal up your ass :) !

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