Kind of old now, but here's an interesting article I found from Soundi magazine (from Finland) talking to a few of the guitarists who worked on the "Guitar Heroes" album.

It's been scanned and translated to english for all of you

Note: I think one of the interesting parts is when they get to actually talking about the term, guitar hero, and who they think it applies to and what it means to them. You can really tell a major difference in opinion from Scandanavia and the US. I won't spoil it though.


Searching for the Guitar Hero (Soundi Magazine 10/2007)

Our intention is to discuss if Finland really has guitar heroes. Esa Holopainen from Amorphis and Timo Tolkki from Stratovarius are waiting Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom to show up. Alexi has band practice and he has informed us that he'll be a little bit late. Esa and Timo are laughing, wondering why band as skillful as Children of Bodom needs to even practice. It’s like a drum machine would be practicing. When Alexi shows up, they acknowledge that none of them is a "guitar hero". There is a consensus that there's only one guitar player in the world deserves that title.

The Guitar Heroes album will come out in the beginning of November. It collects, in one album, songs from most appreciated metal guitarists of Finland. It is an instrumental album which features songs from Timo Tolkki (Stratovarius), Alexi Laiho and Roope Latvala (Children of Bodom), Emppu Vuorinen (Nightwish), Esa Holopainen (Amorphis), Sakari Hietala (Tarot), Tuomio (ex Impaled Nazarene), Euge Valovirta (Suburban Tribe, Godsplague), Mikko Salovaara (Kiuas), Nino Laurenne (Thunderstone) and Mr. Crab (Bleak).

Each of the guitarists composed their songs by themselves, and producer Nino Laurenne promised the freedom to do whatever they wanted with the music.

Timo Tolkki: - I was told first that the song must have shredding, but I told them 'then I won’t participate'. Next I was told that 'you can do whatever you want'. It was a great thing to participate on that album. I also got a camcorder.
Alexi Laiho: - A camcorder?
Esa Holopainen: - I was also approached and told that I could do whatever I wanted to. I think idea was to get multidimensional record. And I also got a camcorder.
Alexi: - ****, I'm seriously starting to have doubts about this project.
Esa: - I was thinking quite long about whether to participate or not because name of the album is 'Guitar Heroes'. But that camcorder was a temptation, and I also wanted to do something different from Amorphis.
Alexi: - The timing of this project was really bad for me. I have been so tied up with Bodom, and I didn’t even have any time show to anyone how my song goes. Maybe I could have made it better, but in the end, this one also works well. It took me half a day to compose it.
Timo: - I didn’t have any drums in my song, just loops. I’m crazy about the Logic program I use to do loops and different kinds of rhythm things with it. I made most of the song at home. I only played the guitar parts in the studio, and it took 15 minutes to do them.
Esa: - And you got a camcorder?
Timo: I got a camcorder. And what comes to that freedom to do whatever I want to, I really didn’t. I told the record label that my song title was “Jesus Hitler: Music Trilogy in Two Parts”. Then the record label started to pressure me that name absolutely had to be changed. I don’t know what it's called now. But what's wrong with “Jesus Hitler”? Okay, I have to admit that when they started to pressure me about the song title, I was so pissed of that I just made it up right there.
Alexi: - I didn’t have any title ready, either. I remember that I was with Janne Wirman at my place drinking White Russians and watching The Big Lebowski movie. I got a message telling that a song title is needed. There was a scene right then, where a cowboy was ordering a “Sioux City Sarsaparilla” drink, and I just used that for my song.
Esa: - My song is called “Sauna Blast” and there is also song called “Black Weekend of Imola” by Tuomio. One shouldn’t take these things too seriously.

Bad self-esteem teaches to play.

When you are comparing the population of Finland to the amount of metal bands, the ratio is amazing. There are a huge amount of bands and good guitarists. What is reason for that? Esa Holopainen tells us that he doesn’t have an answer for that question. Timo Tolkki has explanation for the phenomena:
Timo: My answer is bad self-esteem. It makes people practice. You have to be good at least in something. It is a driving force when you are 12-13 years old and want to be someone. Everything is ****ed up, but you have your guitar and your own room and you practice there. I cut off from outside world for certain reasons, but after my dad died I had good opportunities. My mom was supporting and bought me guitar, and Risto Asikainen was teaching me. It went naturally for me.
Alexi: - I didn’t start playing guitar because of the low self-esteem. Since I started to understand anything, guitars have sounded ****ing great. And because my father listened Dire Straits all the time, I just had to start playing.
Timo: - Knopfler has great sound. I read from somewhere that he was poor and so when lost his picks, and didn’t have money to buy new ones, he just started to play without them.
Esa: - I really dig the solo in "Sultans Of Swing", it's amazing. It was on the Alchemy album, and he played it really well live also. My reason for playing has been a basic “this is want I want to do” ideology, as a teenager I use to “play” with tennis racket.
Alexi: - True. Also, the appearance of the metal bands was big factor. They looked like tough guys. I was a violin player until I was 11 or 12 years old. I started to play violin when I was quite young, but my parents have been telling me that I used to sing along before I started to really speak on my own. Guitar playing I started when I was eleven.
Timo: - My cousin taught me some chords when I was five. We used to visit them and he had a guitar that he used to play Beatles songs. First I was playing open chords with pick, then he taught some more chords. I don’t know about musical talent…I don’t believe that it's genetic but that it depends what kind of environment you have grown up in, if your parents support you and if there’s a lot of music around you. There is nothing in the genes, or maybe Alexi has got something in the genes.
Esa: In my family everyone was playing something. Music has always been close to me. I think I was 13 years old when I really started playing guitar.
Alexi: - I studied in the Ogeli (Oulunkylän Pop and Jazz conservatory) for five years and almost finished all my theory classes. I don’t write any notes, but I can read them. Playing doesn’t necessarily require any schools, but it’s much easier when everybody in the band understands something about the theory. If there would be even one guy who would be great player, but couldn’t understand anything about theory, it would be frustrating. Because you couldn’t just say F sharp minor, but instead you would need to explain how to put your fingers like that, and start working from the very beginning.
Timo: - I studied for a while in the Nurmijärvi folk high school. I finished theories in there at same time as when I was practicing with Asikainen. I learned basic things, and I can write and read notes, but I don’t use them.
- I remember playing scales with Asikainen, and I’m sure that there were cool things, but I had this attitude that "I can’t do it when some one is telling me to do it". But you should at least learn the chords if you want to play in a band. And theory is a common language in the world of music.
Esa: - When I started to play, a friend of my father was teaching me. It was kind of a farce , starting with how to put your leg on the chair. And we studied theory, so that teacher had drawn some lines for the notes by hand. I also studied in the Ogeli a couple of years. At the same time there was, for example Jouni Markkanen, who was just moved from Kuopio to Helsinki and was on his way to international success with Suburban Tribe.

The only guitar hero in the world.

The term "guitar hero" amuses the three. Who could be a guitar hero? None of the three players thinks of themselves as such. Alexi puts it best by saying “I have never considered myself a ****ing hero”.
Timo: - First we need to define what a guitar hero is. It’s very difficult. I think a guitar hero is someone who considers himself as such. It’s a label that people stamp on you, but you think yourself similarly. I can’t think anyone other than Yngwie Malmsteen who thinks that of himself. And guitar hero as a term is limited to heavy metal. No one considers Keith Richards as a guitar hero.
Alexi: - Or if you think of Slash. He is a really great player but no one thinks of him as a guitar hero. It’s definitely metal thing.
Timo: - It’s metal thing, but in my opinion, speed also has something to do with it. And one needs to also be a little bit of an asshole and have a big ego. Therefore Steve Vai doesn’t fit to the definition because he's not an asshole, and he doesn’t have big ego at all. And he doesn’t just play heavy metal. He is not a guitar hero in that sense. I think guitar heroes are ridiculous.
- For example Gary Moore considers himself as a guitar hero for sure. I was seeing one of his gigs in 1983 and there was legendary solo where he is alone on the stage with his guitar. There was hydraulic stage platform that started to rise up and there was smoke and lights, very “guitar hero” things, except that the stage never came down. They had to put all the lights on and get ladders to get him down. It was really embarrassing.
Alexi: - Acting like a rock star is fun as long you're not an asshole to other people.
Timo: - but if you think that in the middle of the Bodom show that you'd start playing a solo alone…
Esa: - but Allu is doing that.
Alexi: -Yeah well, I play solo battles with Janne, our keyboardist. It’s mostly for fun, but we are playing seriously.

When asking the three if there is any guitarist they could call a guitar hero, Esa introduced the name Yngwie Malmsten. He comments that “He is a really good player, still”.
Timo: The Rising Force album was released in 1984, and it was so brilliant album that no one has ever made anything like that before or since. Nowadays Yngwie has four 20 minutes solo spots. You can easily recognize from solos that it’s Yngwie who is playing, but he has same things as always. I’m not saying that I would be any better, probably not. But if we are talking about Yngwie, he's just so locked to that Yngwie mold that to get out, he would need to get out from whole of Yngwie.
Esa: - Maybe the guitar hero label also requires death before you can be an absolute hero. Then you are bigger than life, like Randy Rhoads.
Timo: - Actually I was listening his solos one day, and they are really cool. First of all he played all of them three times with different guitars. When you are listening to them with headphones, there are weird things going on. But he was a really modest guy. I don’t think you can be modest and a guitar hero at the same time.
Alexi: - For some people, guitar hero means that you are super fast, and for others that you have created something revolutionary.

The three admit there will always be guitarists whose fingers are watched closely. And sure you want to show off then, but the same thing is with creating the music. On their albums, every band wants to convince listeners that they make good music.
Alexi: - You know that you're a famous guitarist when people come to ask for picks at the bar.
Esa: - I have told people many times that you can get exactly the same picks from Musamaailma, but sure, take one.
Timo: - I don’t go bars that much anymore, but earlier there was always lot of people telling me things. They scaled from “Your music sucks!” to “You make ****ing great music!”. I wouldn’t have the balls to go say to someone that, for example, “You are a ****ing bad graphics designer”.
Alexi: - But I have to say it feels good when people sincerely tell you something about your playing, style, or whatever. It’s really rewarding. I have never gotten comments that I had just ignored.

Teaching guitar playing in Japan.

It has been said that guitarists need to practice all the time. But Timo Tolkki points out that Jeff Beck has said that he hasn’t practiced with guitar for a long time, and that he prefers fixing cars.
Alexi: - I play for fun quite often. Sometimes I might take break for couple of days, which can be a good thing. I have my techniques a good enough condition that I don’t need to practice them anymore, but at home I just have some cd's playing and play solos on top of that. It’s fun. And I also have to play a lot when touring or making a new album. While on tour, there's not much to do before shows, because you really can’t drink, so I just sit backstage and play something.
Timo, Esa and Alexi are all recognized guitarists around the world, especially in Japan where guitar playing is serious as death.
Esa: - They are so serious over there. We had a gig there and some guitar magazine wanted to do photo shoot the next day. We had terrible hangovers and Koivusalo’s bridges were out of their places and he hadn’t bothered to repair them. The journalist and photographer were really excited, and thought that it's the reason for the Amorphis sound. And then they took pictures of bridges.
Timo: - When you are doing guitar videos in the Japan, you have to play the same solo over and over again exactly same way because they are filming your fingers. But the best thing that ever happened to me with these guitar magazines was in Brazil. It was our first time in Sao Paolo and we were drinking there a lot. The next morning I had a photo shoot with some magazine. I had been drinking caipirinhas until morning; at 10:00am our tour manager came to wake me up for the photo shoot. I'll never forget that feeling. Right then just took that ****ing guitar and went outside for the pictures. I have never seen those pictures, they must have been awful.
Alexi: - I have had similar events. It is even worse when no one has even told you that at the afternoon you have to go play guitar to somewhere. Manager wakes you up ten minutes before and then you should go, in terrible hangover, somewhere to explain “this is this kind of thing” and also try to play good. You can’t think anything else than I just want out of here quickly.

All three have endorsement deals with ESP and their guitars are handmade. Alexi also has a signature series of his own.
Timo: - ESP is originally from Japan, and it’s easy to co-operate with them. You get guitars from them, and then you go to speak at, for example, ESP music schools and guitar clinics. I have been shaking at those in terrible hangover.
- It’s enough for them that you show up, and then they are really excited if you go to a guitar clinic. I tried to explain them (in Japanese) that you need to make mistakes. But then I realized that it's Japanese society, where you don’t do mistakes. In the end they brought me some student made instruments to evaluate. It kind of sucked.

Alexi is the only one that considers himself a guitar freak. Tolkki has two electric guitars, Esa has ten guitars. Alexi has more.
Alexi: - I have 200 hundred guitars… Just kidding, I have maybe 20 guitars, and one broken acoustic one. I’m not collecting guitars, but I wouldn’t say no to a Randy Rhoads guitar. These things are based on feelings, I’m not purposely collecting them.
Esa: - I have one thing I have been collecting. I have Pete Walli’s old guitar gear, old Marshall cabinet. It’s my altar and it’s not used in playing anymore. I have tried it when we were recording Elegy, it broke down and after I got it fixed I decided not to use it anymore.
Timo: - For me, guitars mean less and less as I grow older, which ****ing annoys me. I don’t really play guitar anymore. I have reached a certain point where, if I would like to further develop, it would require so much work that I don’t feel like doing it. I have been playing for 23 years in Stratovarius, and I don’t know if I have anything left to say. But I’m a music freak.
Alexi: - I follow guitar magazines so that I know what's going on. But I had always wanted to play with that one sound I have, so I haven’t needed anything new. Lately though, my sound has started to really annoy me and I have been testing different things. But I don’t go to Musamaailma to test every ****ing new wah that comes out.

Cheap guitar kills inspiration.

Esa Holopainen works in a music store and almost daily advises parents which kind of guitar should be bought for a beginner. First of all Esa warns not to buy 100 or 200 € packages. Those packages should be burnt.
Esa: - You should never buy too cheap of a guitar, it’s better to save some money and buy decent guitar and amplifier. If you have a cheap guitar that is constantly out of tune, it kills inspiration. But nowadays there are more options, and you can get decent guitar for a decent price. It is true that production is mostly done in low-cost countries nowadays, but they are starting to have better knowledge. You don’t need ridiculous amount of money to have good guitar anymore.
Alexi: - It’s true that if you start with bad guitar it kills the spirit and joy of playing. My first guitar was Tokai Stratocaster and my amplifier was a 50W Marshall. Both of them were second hand, but I could still use them. They cost almost nothing. I didn’t understand anything back then, but my dad didn’t want to buy any Korean guitar.
Esa: - That was smart. Seriously it’s great if parents understand that it’s better to invest a little bit more. For example with 600-700€ you can get a good guitar with good components.
Timo: - My fist electric guitar was an Arial and my amplifier was a Carisbron. It was so great to get them even though Arial makes ****ty guitars. But it was a guitar. I can’t even remember how great it felt to get my own electric guitar.
Esa: - It’s like getting a color TV.
Timo: - True. Then rather quickly I got a Stratocaster. There was huge difference. I don’t believe that a bad guitar prevents you from learning if you are enthusiastic.
When you start playing guitar, different videos can be helpful. But you might easily start with too advanced of videos and become frustrated.
Esa: - One useful thing is your band mates. Everyone is thinking of guitar playing differently, and when you are playing someone else’s stuff, you get an idea how they think.
Timo: - If we are talking about metal, it’s in a totally different place now, compared to when I was 12-13 years old. Guitarist weren’t on the same technical level as nowadays. These days, when kids listen to guitar playing they wonder how anyone can play like that. It’s so technical and talented that it’s feels almost impossible. For me it was Blackmoore who had four notes. It was easy to start with and it sounded so cool. But if you are listening to Dragonforce and jumping on the trampoline while playing and its 250 bps, it’s a totally different thing. Achieving that level of technical talent requires years of practicing and it might kill the enthusiasm.
Esa: - Dragonforce is annoying. If we think really of good guitarists, Jimi Hendrix is one and of course John McLaugh who is one of my favorites.
Timo: - Mine too.
Alexi: - Who the **** is he?
Esa: - He has played din the Shakti and Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Alexi: - What the **** are those?


Mutual respect

Let’s find out what Alexi Laiho, Timo Tolkki and Esa Holopainen think of each other.

About Esa Holopainen.
Timo: - I have to admit that I haven’t heard that much Esa’s playing. I don’t listen just to guitarists, I listen to music, because I think guitarists are boring. Including me. I have known Esa a long time and seen his development. I think the guitar hero of Amorphis is actually Tomi Koivusaari who practices Rainbow solos and who has a penis piercing. But Amorphis has a thing of its own, and that's the reason it has lasted so long. I can’t think Esa, or myself, as a guitar hero.
Alexi: - I’m an old Amorphis fan. When we were 13-14 years old we went to see their gigs and listened to them a lot. Esa’s guitar playing serves the song, it’s melodic and in my opinion that’s what this is all about.

About Timo Tolkki:
Esa: - When I heard a Stratovarius album for the first time I was amazed that we had such a player here in Finland. Timo is a guitar hero. Stratovarius without Tolkki, wouldn’t be Stratovarius. It’s same thing in Stratovarius' music; Timo’s playing is the thing.
Alexi: - The first Stratovarius album I heard was Episode. It didn’t impress me that much but my friends wanted to go to see them right after Visions came out. We went to see that gig and I was thinking that "Those dudes are amazing!". Stratovarius was at that time the best band in its own genre. It had the best players and the best songs. It was an influence to us in the beginning.

About Alexi Laiho
Timo: - I take a fatherly approach to Alexi. Just kidding. I saw Bodom the first time in Czech when we were playing at the same festival. I don’t listen to that kind of music much because it’s so aggressive, and I’m so sensitive as a person. But I dig the music they're making, which is based on hate, in small portions. For example, Pantera is the same kind of band. I like it but I can’t listen to it for too long. Bodom’s thing is based on expressing hate and their songs don’t express that much, for example, sadness. Alexi has world class technique and he has developed a style of his own. And Alexi has also that wild child thing when he is signing at the same time. A Bodom show is an impressive experience. And it’s much healthier that beating up old women.
Esa: - I really respect what Alexi has achieved as a guitarist with hard work. Not only with his band, but also as a guitarist. It is great to see how high he is ranked as a guitarist. He has good technique. One thing I really like in Allu’s playing is that he has this rock thing going on, not just the usual shredding.

Awesome articles, thanks a lot for posting them!

From what I read, Alexi is the odd one out of the three. He's never heard of the other two's favourite guitarists, and the other two don't really like Bodom, they just "respect" Bodom.
Quote by BLOBERT
I remember that I was with Janne Wirman at my place drinking White Russians and watching The Big Lebowski movie. I got a message telling that a song title is needed. There was a scene right then, where a cowboy was ordering a “Sioux City Sarsaparilla” drink, and I just used that for my song.

thats what i spend half my time doing too :<

Quote by iceman95
Fiddler is a god!!!! omg that's a good movie
Coincidentally, the Guitar World interview with Alexi posted in the COB thread talks about White Russians and The Big Lebowski..

He must love that drink/movie
i think bodom are cack, but hey!

he's sure got movie and drink taste

Quote by iceman95
Fiddler is a god!!!! omg that's a good movie
Cool article, early Stratovarius and Amorphis are pro. Am i the only one who kinda feels that Alexi does not have the back catalog to deserve to be up among with these guys. Not to mention both these guys have been pumping out real metal for awhile and it's kinda disgraceful to sees Alexi's brand of popthrash 80's ripoff "metal" being compared with them.
Quote by Steve08
Acid probably makes you feel less like a hedonistic raver piece of trash, too.

Esa: - He has played din the Shakti and Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Alexi: - What the **** are those?

Quote by Riffmast
Cool article, early Stratovarius and Amorphis are pro. Am i the only one who kinda feels that Alexi does not have the back catalog to deserve to be up among with these guys. Not to mention both these guys have been pumping out real metal for awhile and it's kinda disgraceful to sees Alexi's brand of popthrash 80's ripoff "metal" being compared with them.

Well, he is a great deal younger than them still.

And your opinion of Bodom is your own, but I'd still hardly call them an 80's rip-off/thrash pop. But to each their own. Even these guys at least respect him, even if his music isn't their thing.
Quote by Riffmast
Alexi's brand of popthrash 80's ripoff "metal" being compared with them.

He deserves to be up there with Timo and Esa ever since the release of Hatebreeder.
Proud member of the UG Hate Crew

Laguna Loire of the Final Fantasy Elites - PM metacarpi, Ichikurosaki, Gallagher2006, or Deliriumbassist to join!
wait, you got a camcorder?

Quote by iceman95
Fiddler is a god!!!! omg that's a good movie
Quote by Dirtydeeds468
Aw man Shakti and Mahavishnu Orchestra are SCHWEEEEEET.

What the **** are those?
Proud member of the UG Hate Crew

Laguna Loire of the Final Fantasy Elites - PM metacarpi, Ichikurosaki, Gallagher2006, or Deliriumbassist to join!