Former STRATOVARIUS Drummer Explains His Departure

Former STRATOVARIUS drummer Jörg Michael has issued a lengthy statement explaining the reasons for his split with the band and other recent STRATOVARIUS-related events. His statement reads as follows:

"Sorry that it took me so long to find time to comment about the situation around STRATOVARIUS. Due to private reasons I wasn't able to do so. Also I wanted to see how this whole split up thing is developing. It is pretty much out of hand I would say.

"Anyway, first of all, here is my view on the whole thing.

"After having the time of my life for 8 years in that band, after the end of the last tour (when we came back from South America) I already felt some weird vibes and tension!)

"Even we finally finished the biggest tour in the career of STRATOVARIUS, the members seemed to be more far from each other than they have ever been before. It felt almost as if something would explode soon, and that drastic changes will happen. I really couldn't put my finger on it, but somehow it was in the air.

"At first everything was going well, we signed the record deal with Sanctuary which was a long time in planning. It seemed that things were going better again, as everybody had his own privacy and an opportunity to catch their breathe at home! Unfortunately that feeling was wrong.

"In the beginning of November when I visited Helsinki and got together with both Timos downtown, all the problems suddenly seemed to come back, and everything escalated quickly.

"Once again alcohol played a big part. I really can't remember so much of what really happened anymore, but I know that [Timo Kotipelto] and I were completely paralyzed with alcohol, and we went into some [controversial] discussions about the band. Tolkki joined in, drunk as a skunk as usual. There was a big fight in the middle of the street. The next day I woke up with a huge 'mandoliini krapula' (hangover) in my hotel room!

"We had gotten into a physical fight, which has never happened before.

"It is a shame that the 'demon alcohol' really brought us down that far that night, how stupid can you get, really.

"But basically it was just like lancing a boil, the real problems between the members of the band have nothing to do with alcohol.

"They have previously not been spoken about really, but have actually surrounded us for a long time.

"I thought, 'vittu, what's the hell happened.' And I thought that we need to get together to sort this out, like we did several times in the past. That was always one of the biggest strengths in the band. When something happened we got together, told each other straight in the face, sorted things out, forgot about it and focused on the future.

"This time it was different. Neither [of the] Timos wanted to give in anymore, and refused to communicate anymore. [Timo Kotipelto] didn't want to speak with me, and at that point I had lost my patience as well. Through the net I was informed T. Tolkki wanted to visit all the members and talk about the future in the band.

"At that point I had already made my choice. I was thinking that if we can't get together after some serious drinking without it getting out of hand, I don't want to be part in that anymore. We solved it so easily in the past and all over sudden I find myself in the middle of a kindergarten! The band seemed to be all over, but it didn't mean so much to me anymore!

"Long ago, I made a clear choice for myself: that if we wouldn't continue with the same line up I wouldn't be part of it anymore. It always have been a strict rule in my life not to compromise. Just doing things for the money or glory, I am not convinced with. Never was and never will be. Jörg Michael style, end of story!

"While [Timo Kotipelto] and me sometimes disagree on some certain points, especially that evening I was talking about, I still always felt tolerance and respect between us. Basically I didn't see a problem!

"I also further felt that T. Tolkki had new visions in his head about the future of STRATOVARIUS. I didn't feel like I wanted to be involved in this. For me it was a hell of a time to be part in that band for more than 8 years and I always would compare it to the best times we had. It wouldn't be the same anymore. I hope we all can hold on to the friendship we achieved over all these years, that would be the greatest thing after all!

"When I told Mr. Tolkki about my thoughts he understood and maybe felt even relieved about that. I think he knew that it wouldn't be good to have somebody in the band who is only half-heartedly convinced about any new visions for STRATOVARIUS. At the same time my private life changed drastically, as I turned into a father of twins at the beginning of January. And I tell you that really is a challenge!

"With a 'golden hand shake', paying me a generous share from the money of the new record deal, Tolkki wished me luck and said goodbye. That is basically what happened. I have to say on top that I don't have any bad feelings regarding Mr. Tolkki or anybody else in the band.

"I felt also quite happy to hear that my buddy Anders [Johansson] was going to replace me and honestly I hoped he will scream shit about the one or other pattern he has to replay :-). Feel the pain in 'find your own voice' like I did Anders I thought, if it doesn't hurt it can't be good :-). He is a great drummer and I wish him all the best! That he chose to stay in HAMMERFALL, it is his private decision I don't like to comment!

"I am really looking forward to play the few festivals and shows we still have booked, I bet we will have a real cool time knowing it won't happen again. We will do what we do best, no drinking (ok, maybe afterwards) and arguing, just playing fantastic music with some of the best musicians in the world. In this case STRATOVARIUS was always hard to beat and it will be pleasure for me to show it, for the last time, to the rest of the world once again!!!! I am looking forward to these performances and hope to see you all around there, to have a decent live and kick-ass goodbye!!!

"Two more things I like to mention: What I have observed what is going on inside the STRATO forum and guest book at Stratovarius.com really leads me into doubting that everybody has a clear view about what Heavy Metal music and being a Heavy Metal music fan is all about.

"To me, it's all about: 'revolution against the fuckers who try to rule us', 'do what you want to do', 'free your mind', 'free speech', 'tolerance', 'honesty' and 'respect'. These should be words which describe a cool attitude in my eyes! What I read there is pretty far from what I find cool!

"When Tolkki wrote his honest music for almost 20 years he never forced anybody of us buying his records, everybody did buy it by free choice. When now he has a different vision of the music and the band he wants to play with, then it is his free choice and absolutely free minded. He doesn't owe nobody anything, not even me or anybody else. All that is mentioned and written about him makes me really wonder if some people still have a clear mind?? I am also disappointed about the things which happened with STRATO, and I wish nothing more than that the old line up would get together and we would have another STRATOVARIUS kick-ass time in front of us. But if we can't all agree together on that anymore, it would be not fair to do it, because it wouldn't be honest. And this is exactly what STRATOVARIUS always stood up for as long I was involved in this band.

"Nobody in this universe is telling Tolkki, Johansson, Kotipelto, Kainulainen or me about honesty, faith, beliefs and integrity because we lived it and still do. Accept it!

"Sometimes I feel I could also tell Timo Tolkki off and say he is an idiot in what he is doing right now, because I might have a different opinion, but that would be the same level the discussion in the forum is made of, from both sides by now! At the end of the day Tolkki just changed his opinion and wants to play with different people, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it and we have to accept it.

"We all (I mean all) shouldn't take ourselves too seriously.

"With or without [Jörg Michael] in STRATOVARIUS, metal will never die..."

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