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Articles Home » 2006 Articles » Brother Firetribe - 2006 Interview with Pekka Ansio Heino and Jason Flinck
Brother Firetribe - 2006 Interview with Pekka Ansio Heino and Jason Flinck

With Pekka Ansio Heino and Jason Flinck
Written By: gdazegod
Date: 29 October, 2006

2006 has been a year full of surprises. In the melodic rock/AOR world, there has been none bigger than Finnish outfit Brother Firetribe. These guys burst onto the scene in June, and despite the limited availability of their Spinefarm Records CD 'False Metal' at the time, the response was immediate from critics. Just about everywhere you went, the album was given favourable reviews. Of course the surprise continued for many; in that the BFT sound was utterly drenched in the long lost genre of melodic rock/AOR from some twenty years ago, and that one of the key components to the BFT mix was current Nightwish guitarist Erno 'Emppu' Vuorinen, a man right at the heart of the Finnish progressive metal movement. So how the hell did all this happen? Well, I guess the love of good music and good songs was the key. Timeless music never goes away, and for Vuorinen, and BFT teammates Pekka Ansio Heino, Jason Flinck and Tomppa Nikulainen, it was an opportunity to let off some steam, playing in a style that they were all comfortable with, even if it wasn't popular with mainstream audiences.

And on that subject of 'timeless', big corporate labels will tell us that melodic hard rock is hardly a popular genre right now. Yet the BFT guys have wound back the clock and embraced music from like two decades ago. I asked vocalist Pekka Heino whether good quality melodic rock is 'timeless'? 'Sure it is' he says. 'I was always confused why good songs went out of style for so long.. Thank God times change and now it's possible to come up with stuff like this again. But when embracing something from the past, you have to update it at some levels, like sound-wise, otherwise it's gonna sound dated.'

Pekka adds.. 'I grew up listening to bands like Bon Jovi, Journey, Foreigner, Night Ranger, KISS, Rainbow and many others. I can't avoid being influenced by those guys in the vocal department. I'm a huge music fan and still checking out everything I can in that field. Internet is a great tool for checking out lots of bands I missed back in the day.'

Trying to pitch BFT (who are essentially an eighties throwback in terms of sound and image), to a 21st century audience of kids bought up on the Internet, mp3 downloading, and with no real concept of what it was like back then - must present some challenges surely? Back then we were all in to buying vinyl and CD's, listening to Rock Radio, buying and reading rock magazines rather than browse internet sites etc. How have you guys tried to open up to a 21st century audience? 'Having a guitar player from Nightwish in the fold helps tremendously' laughs Pekka. 'Seriously, it's a different world compared to the time where we draw our influences. Kids today don't know what it was like digging music back then, but on the other hand why should they? The Internet is just a new way of doing that. And in our case it all comes down to songs and good vibes. I think kids can get it through the Internet also' he says.

One of the oft-asked questions on the GLORY-DAZE site is why the melodic rock/AOR genre disappeared. Apart from the obvious (grunge), one of the reasons why eighties rock (hair metal etc) became unpopular is that it was full of excess. But it has never really disappeared off the radar has it? I mean we're all still listening to Def Leppard, Foreigner, Boston, and going back a few years before then.. Pink Floyd, Zep, Sabbath and Purple. And because it's still around, I am guessing that BFT has been able to use it as a launching pad for your own music? 'To the point' agrees Pekka. 'It never goes away although it was quite violently kicked in the head in the 90's. Those bands you mentioned laid a foundation so strong that it's impossible to wipe them off, no matter what. Hair metal got seriously out of hand though, there were less and less quality bands coming up, before grunge put a stop to it. Understandable yes, but all the good bands were thrown in the same category too which was a shame. Take Winger for example, Beavis & Butthead killed that band! And Winger was one of the best, very underrated. Still is.'

Well, I guess, we'd better start talking about the main reason why we're interviewing you guys, and that is because of the tremendous response to 'False Metal'. Are you amazed at the positive response to the band, and the album? 'Hell yeah, the reactions have been quite amazing' says Pekka. 'We had no expectations whatsoever though, we just did it for the love of music. There were absolutely no calculations made, mostly cause we can't count to save our lives! It seems to attract all kinds of people which is really cool.'

No doubt you've read many of the reviews out there in Internet-Land. Generally most punters out there have got it right.. describing you guys correctly, pigeon-holing in the correct musical genres etc. However, were there any articles out there that got it completely wrong? 'Not to our knowledge no. It ain't too hard to categorize 'False Metal' really' suggests Pekka. 'It falls easily within the melodic hard rock/AOR field. There have been reviews where the guy is obviously not the biggest fan of the genre and doesn't quite understand why somebody would wanna do that stuff nowadays, but at the same time they've made it clear that 'False Metal' is a quality album in that genre.. which speaks volumes.'

Many people have commented that BFT is nothing more than a side project for Emppu away from Nightwish. But BFT could very well stand on its own two feet judging by the public response - this question I put to Pekka. 'Well the fact is that it is a side project for Emppu, and me also (with Leverage). It is the greatest side project ever! BFT stands on its own two feet very firmly, no doubt.'

Spinefarm released the album 'False Metal' back in June, then it promptly became very difficult to source a copy elsewhere because of the change in business arrangements for the band. This must have frustrated you guys, and potentially, a lot of momentum could've been lost. Pekka disagrees in part.. 'Not really to be honest. We're in no hurry and fans of the genre are passionate about their favourite music, so it's very likely that they will check it out when it's available. At least I hope so.' BFT's bass player Jason Flinck is unsure what was the reason behind Universal's decision to manage BFT's immediate future away from Spinefarm. 'That reason is not in our knowledge' he says, 'Spinefarm is part of Universal so..'

The band have released a couple of songs as singles. The use of singles (45s) was a concept from the good ol' days. How is the band finding it, where more recently, it has been all about the album, or the full CD.. I aksed Pekka whether the use of 'singles' is still viable these days. 'Only 'One Single Breath' and 'I'm On Fire' were issued as singles. The use of singles is not that viable these days, from my point of view at least. I've never bought one CD-single! It's a good way of putting out extra stuff though, now that you can add videos and multimedia with them.'

I read those Rock United gig reviews, especially the one at Turkuu. That was your second ever gig, how are you finding it playing live? You guys looked like you 'going off' - having a great time. No doubt soon we'll be expecting a live DVD. Wouldn't that be great! 'It's true, playing live is the best part of this whole thing' agrees Pekka. 'We're having the greatest time playing together and hopefully it shows. If you're having a good time on stage people get drawn into it. A Live DVD would be fun, sure!'

Pekka's other band Leverage also seems to be doing real well with international audiences, and we've reviewed it just recently here at GDAZE. I guess this is another BFT connection which could have a positive spin-off? 'Yep, I can't believe the reviews, they've been amazing' he says. 'I think both bands benefit from each other. Fans tend to check out anything related to their favourite bands, and in this case luckily both bands possess a nice amount of quality.'

So, what does Finnish audiences think of the band? and dare I say it, could there be a resurgence of melodic hard rock coming out of Finland of all places? 'They seem to like the band and what we're about. It's great to spread the word of melodic rock to kids who don't necessarily know anything about it. It doesn't matter what country the band comes from as long as the music's good' says Pekka.

Into the immediate future, BFT will continue to gig in Finland and write new songs. Hopefully, it will result in a wider reach for the band away from Finland (say, USA, Japan etc), and potentially travelling there to showcase, and ultimately - lead onto worldwide domination! 'It would be awesome and time will show what happens' says Jason. 'My personal opinion is that we'll wait and see.. hopefully!'

As a final wash-up, the band would like to thank GDAZE readers for their support. 'Thanks so much for being there and waving the flag of melodic rock', says Pekka. 'Keep the faith and always play from the heart!'

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#1 | swazi on June 02 2012 22:28:14
About time they did something new or not ? Do they still exist ?
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