“This whole trip was chaos,” confides a visibly exhausted Timo Kotipelto. The reserved but charismatic Stratovarius front-man and I are tucked away in a corner at the lobby of the Sonesta Midtown hotel, spitting distance from popular ProgPower USA breakfast spot The Silver Skillet. The pair and their band-mates are about twelve hours removed from their blistering headliner spot at Night Two of the festival, which is back in full swing after a series of Covid-related delays. Placed in the unenviable position of following Pain of Salvation’s full performance of “The Perfect Element,” Stratovarius did the impossible and reinvigorated the hell out of a crowd that their Swedish neighbors had reduced to a blathering, weeping mess.
Not a soul in that rabid audience would have thought for a second that the band’s high-octane delivery of was fueled by almost zero sleep. “We were supposed to fly Wednesday, but our flights were canceled and we had to fly out the next day.”
Think about that for a second. Timo, bassist Lauri Porra, and drummer Rolf Pilve left Finland the very same day they were scheduled to close out one of the most prestigious metal festivals in the United States. “I can’t sleep on airplanes,” Timo had told me earlier.
“And we had jet lag,” chimes in Timo’s longtime band-mate Jens Johansson (Rainbow, ex-Dio, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen). “It was about midnight for us...”
“No, it was actually about 4AM in Finland when we were on stage,” Timo corrects him. He’d been awake almost twenty-four hours by the time they were due to begin.
This scenario is a damn good illustration of the Stratovarius work ethic. Though the band has certainly endured a fair bit of turmoil, their dedication to their craft and their consummate professionalism forbids them from backing down, backing up, or giving anything less than 100% to their profession. Even as they made the transatlantic trek, news leaked about their upcoming new album, “Survive,” and both Timo and Jens eagerly discussed it, the performance rush they still get after decades of performing, and being among the first metal bands to break into the Latin American market, all between sips of Hartwall and a surprise appearance by freshly-minted ProgPower alumni Mindmaze.
Listen to the Finns chatting comfortably with our contributor Gonzalo Pozo below and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new interviews and contents we publish on a daily basis.