Finland's STRATOVARIUS have officially parted ways with vocalist Timo Kotipelto and drummer Jörg Michael.
"Due to irrevocable and massive difficulties between the band leader Timo Tolkki and me, it has been agreed that this is the best thing to do to preserve at least some of the integrity the band used to have," Kotipelto said, according to the band's web site. "I will now fully concentrate on my solo album and I am convinced that this is the best way for me."
Jörg Michael says that his priorities lie elsewhere at the moment, but that the suddenly escalating trouble in the band is one of the main reasons he doesn't want to play in STRATOVARIUS anymore.
"I think this is the beginning of new era for STRATOVARIUS and that the future looks bright and promising," guitarist/leader Timo Tolkki commented. "I have composed some of my best songs during the last month. If anything good comes out of this, then I guess it will be the emotions I have managed to channel into new songs about this situation, which has been very heavy for all of us. I have been having quite bad mental problems lately, but I feel better now due to anti-depressive medication my therapist has prescribed me."
According to the group's booking agent, Continental Concerts, the current line-up is "100% certain" to fulfill all its obligations regarding festival dates next year even though there is a lot of simmering hate waiting to boil over.
Tolkki is currently talking to a German singer and a Finnish drummer about replacing Kotipelto and Michael, but he stresses that absolutely nothing is confirmed at this point. He adds that he is actively looking for replacements.