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dinsdag 13 mei 2014
BROTHER FIRETRIBE: Born From Happy Accident and Fun

Interview with vocalist Pekka Ansio Heino from Brother Firetribe by Vera in May 2014

Recently ‘Diamond In The Firepit’ came out and that is already the third studio album for Finnish melodic rock act Brother Firetribe. It is time to unveil more about this hidden gem in AOR style, coming from the land of the thousand lakes! That’s why we contacted the band and vocalist Pekka Ansio Heino – also known from Leverage – gave us some interesting inside information.

Let us start with something that happened recently: you just played a release party in Helsinki. Can you tell us about this experience, being live on stage with new material?
It was unreal! I still get chills thinking about it. It was the first time we´d been on stage in 4 years, a whole bunch of new songs to play, a new drummer…we were really, really nervous all of us. I remember when the intro tape started running we were jumping up and down like kids. As we got on stage the response was amazing, I couldn’t believe it. The club was absolutely packed, over 700 hundred people shouting and grinning from ear tot ear, and that´s how it was until the very end of the show. Unbelievable. That´s what music is all about.

The very beginning of the band goes back to 2001 I guess. Who are the founders of the band and can you tell a bit more about these early days?
It all started when me and Tomppa wrote a song called ‘One Single Breath’. Our band had slowly faded away after ten years of trying to make it, and so we decided to just start messing around with songs that would please ourselves. Emppu and Jason jumped in really soon after hearing the initial demos and we just took it from there. We got together every now and then, had a drink or two, threw some frisbees around and music sort of came as a side product. To all our surprise, at some point we found ourselves recording our debut album. It was all a happy accident.

Before ‘Diamond In The Firepit’ you released two albums and several singles, even a DVD. Did you release these albums abroad as well and what were important things you achieved in Finland on your way to success?
All of them were released outside of Finland and somehow we started making waves in certain circles. Some even called us a cult band which is nice. We´ve had a nice following since the beginning and the ones following the band seem really passionate about it which is really cool. The amount of attention in the beginning was of course helped a lot by our connection with Nightwish, but I´d like to think we made our own mark really soon after the debut came out.

You have chosen to play AOR, a timeless genre. Which musicians can be seen as having a huge influence on the music of the band, your all time heroes let us say?
Actually we haven´t really chosen to be of any particular genre, that´s just the kind of music that comes out totally naturally whenever we get together. We can´t really help it, and I´m totally fine with AOR tag in our assess, I think it´s a great compliment. I think everyone´s been on a heavy diet of Van Halen at some point. There´s influences from really heavy stuff to yacht rock, smooth jazz even!

Yet Finland is usually known for darker music (melancholic) on one side, or mythological topics like the Kalevala on the other side. Are you considered as quite an exception or can we also speak of a melodic rock scène in Finland?
I guess we tend to stick out like a sore thumb if placed in that scene but I think that´s only a good thing. There´s enough of gloomy, heavy stuff here for sure. I´m not sure I´d say there´s a melodic rock scene here in Finland, it´s more about metal, but there are some great rock bands with traditional melodic take on things here too, and that´s really cool.

You have Emppu Vuorinen in the band, also known from Nightwish. How did you get to know him and isn’t it a problem when Brother Firetribe wants to play live or tour?
Emppu came into the picture back in the day when he moved to the town where the rest of us are originally from. We got to know him through the local music store as it was a place where musicians hung out more or less. It gives us certain limits on how much we get to spend time on tour but it´s always been like that, so it´s not a problem. A bit challenging, yes.

Actually, what about your experiences of playing live? Did Brother Firetribe hit the stage on a regular base until now? I found out you have played at renowned Firefest in the UK. That must have been a highlight. Can you tell a bit more about this happening?
Playing live is the best part of the whole package when making music. We´ve had massive amounts of fun every time we´ve been out there. We´ve never actually played Firefest but that´s gonna change in October when we finally get to play there. They´ve asked us to play there every year ever since our debut came out, and it was really embarrassing to have to say no due to scheduling problems. This time we had to make it happen, not least because it´s the last Firefest ever. We´re SO looking forward to that.

There are almost five years between the previous album and ‘Diamond In The Firepit’. What happened with the band during that pretty long time of absence?
The band was officially on a break that just lasted way too long! We didn´t mean to stay away for that long, time just flew by and we didn´t look at the clock enough! Everybody was busy doing different stuff. Emppu was busy with Nightwish, I kept doing shows and gigging, Jason played with different people, Kalle set up a studio and performed and recorded with top artists in Finland, Tomppa was doing sound design etc. So the band was totally non-active except for me and Tomppa getting together every now and then and writing songs really slowly. After having six songs together we decided to actually start working on an album. And that´s when things got even slower!

Who are the main composers of the band and can you tell a bit more about the writing process?
Me and Tomppa write the blueprints and the rest adds their own instrumental parts. We arrange the songs pretty much as we go. The writing is very spontaneous and natural, we don´t really analyze anything, we just go for what brings a smile on our faces. The bar is raised there. The smile.

What are the main topics or sources of inspiration when it comes down on writing lyrics for Brother Firetribe?
Most of the songs tend to deal with the beautiful and difficult relationship between a man and a woman and everything that comes with it. Highs and lows. Inspiration is drawn from life around me and life that I live. I get to hear a lot of stories, meet a lot of people in my line of work, so it´s fairly easy to get inspired. You mix some fiction into the palette and hope to come up with something that most people can relate to.

I found out that you went to Jyväskylä to record the album. Well, how do you look back at your time in the studio to make this album?
Yes, we recorded some of the lead vocals and all the background vocals in Jyväskylä at Torsti Spoof´s Studio Audio. It´s always great fun to record with those guys, they´re part of the family already and I have a history of spending a lot of time there when Leverage recorded most of its stuff there. This album was recorded in four different studios in Finland. Everything else took its own time except the drums, I think Kalle recorded the whole album in ten minutes just because he can… He´s pretty good, you know.

You have shot a video clip for ‘For Better Or For Worse’. Can you tell a bit more about the making of?
We shot the video in one long day over in Turku at Nitro Studios. The main idea was to have a simple, yet effective video of the band playing against a simple background. We added some 3D effects and animations, some text graphics and ended up with a really cool, stylish result. We used Black Crowes´ ‘Remedy’ video as a reference when picturing the whole thing. It was a huge mistake to spend the night in Turku the previous night as a band. We decided to stop by the local bar for a pint before going to sleep. You know how that ended up, right? Thank God for professional make up artist and stylist.

2014 will be the year of the new album and more touring, we read. What are the plans for playing live in the upcoming year in order to support ‘Diamond In The Firepit’?
We aim to tour as much as possible after the summer festivals are done here in Finland. Hopefully until the end of the year.

If there is something you want to add for our readers, feel free to do it here as occlusion…
Thanks to everyone following the band for being so patient with us and hope the new album is worth the wait. Can´t wait to see you guys out there somewhere!

Geplaatst door Vera op dinsdag 13 mei 2014 - 09:12:34
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