“We’ll play Sunbound, in its entirety. Definitely” Brother Firetribe’s Pekka Ansio Heino on the upcoming UK shows

Brother Firetribe, the five-strong outfit from Finland are returning to UK shores later in 2017 to play Rockingham Festival and also headline their first show in the country at the Borderline in London.

The new album from the band ‘Sunbound’  includes 12 new pieces of music, including lead track ‘Taste Of A Champion’, the video for which can be found below, have been mixed by Finnish studio-meister Mikko Karmila (Nightwish, Children Of Bodom, Stratovarius). It’s the first new release from the band since 2014’s ‘Diamond In The Firepit’, also the last time the band played the UK, so to celebrate Myglobalmind took some time to speak to lead singer Pekka Ansio Heino.

MGM: BFT have a new album out but you’ve done it in a relatively short space of time as well.

PH: Yeah, can you imagine that? I mean, the last time the gap between the albums was six years. And that was just stupid, you know? But, you know, when we ended that song, when we wrapped the Diamond in the Fire Pit , we kind of made a promise to ourselves and to tell the people who are interested that, it wouldn’t take that long and basically, you know, just started tossing around ideas as soon as the tour was over. And ‘lo and behold, it took us two years to finish– to get to the point where we are right now.

MGM: But a very worthwhile two years. Having had time to listen to the album, you must be very pleased with the end result.

PH: Oh, yes I am. I mean it’s– I mean it was just funny the way the whole thing kind of snowballed. I mean we started writing the songs, and every time we finish an idea, it just kind of, you know, fed us, you know? For the next one. And the vibe and the mood, was just really, you know, we were really– it felt like we’re marching towards the day. Towards the light or something like that and that’s how we ended up using some bound as the tittle. And you know, the results speaks for itself, I mean, I personally think even though I’m so close to the songs, but, you know, I really believed that this is our best album yet. And, you know, in addition to that, we’ve– we have some new people around us who are making things happen like never before, and Mikko Karmila who mixed the album for the first time. He did an awesome job. I mean, this band has never sounded better and it’s just ‘Sunbound’, you know, from start to finish.

MGM: It’s very true. There is a lot of light to the album isn’t there? You could never be accused of being a dark band, either lyrically or musically really.

PH: No, hell no. No, but this was different. I mean, it was just– I mean the, you know, lyrically there is stuff that I’d written about before you know, that’s part of the deal, so to speak. But, it’s just– the positive vibe kind of shines through. And I don’t know how that happened but, it’s just– I’m ecstatic about it.

MGM: I’m not surprised. I mean, try ‘Taste of a champion’ for example, that’s being picked up by one of the big retailers in Finland, hasn’t it? So, you must be in the public eye quite heavily now?

PH: Well, I guess more that ever before. That particular song was tailor made for those people. I mean, that came when– came about when this big ad agency approached me in Tampa to want to write a song for this TV campaign they had, they’re working on. And they showed us the script, and it was all about, you know, the Rocky movies, so. That’s the same story line basically and they needed a song to match that. So of course we jumped at the chance to do that. I mean, because that’s what Brother Firetribe is basically about. So we wrote the song and initially, was– initially it was not supposed to be a track full of Brother Firetribe , it was just, you know, it was just me and Tom. But once we demoed the song, it was pretty obvious that we need to have this song for Brother Firetribe, so we called up the guys and they jumped in, at very short notice. The campaign was big. It was all over TV for, god knows how long, and after that – after that campaign was over we put that song out as a first single from the album.

MGM: Very, very wise. I mean, presumably that’s also generated a lot of radio airplay as a result?

PH: Yeah, it did. Yeah. I mean, the rock stations here in Finland. They really took upon it and, that was nice.

MGM: Fantastic. And you’re following that, I believe with ‘Indelible Heroes’, aren’t you?

PH: Well, yeah. I wrote about, you know, obviously, about the, all these big names who passed away last year, and unfortunately that trend just seems to continue. And, you know, it was just unbelievable for a huge music fan, such as I am, to see all those names, you know, die. I mean, those were the people who were bigger than life. And it was just unbelievable thought that one day they’d be gone. And then all of a sudden, that many of them just all of a sudden, die. That was just unbelievable and I just felt like, you know, tipping– tipping my hat to those people, you know? I mean it’s– what they brought to the table, to the work they did during their lifetime, it’s just, that’s never gonna happen again. And if you look at what’s going on in the modern music business, it’s very unlikely to happen ever again. I mean, you just cannot get that kind of status. Ever.

MGM: No, I would agree, yes. Those guys out there just– the sort of reverence that we hold them with at the moment– we expect them to be around as long as we’re around because they’ve always been a part of our lives. But as you say, there’s nobody coming along that touches you in the same way that they did.

PH: Exactly. Yeah. That’s my thoughts, exactly.

MGM: And thing like that, I mean that sounds an ideal moment in a concert to get the audience working with you, and things like that, when a track like that’s play because it gives you a reason for them to empathise with you as well, doesn’t it? Is that the sort of track you’d expect to be playing in a concert?

PH: Oh, absolutely. I mean, the torches started, and we’re done. If we can now, we obviously wanna play Sunbound, you know, in it’s entirety. And judging from the people’s reactions, those guys are just singing along that song [Indelible Heroes] from start to finish, which is really, you know, goose bumps for everyone of us.

MGM: Talking of goosebumps… Phantasmagoria. You’ve saved what I class as the outstanding track of the album until the very last moment. Was it recorded last? Or did it just feel like it should set as the final track to play you out?

PH: Well, it was a– well it was bold move, to be honest. You know? We were kind of struggling with the song. The way the song came about, we were in Miami actually, and sitting on a balcony. And Jason [Flinck], the bass player, plays one of his demos that he’d written and I picked up this really simple, clever guitar line from the song. And said, wait. What’s that? Just send me this when we get back home and I’ll start working on it. And then, what he did when we got back home, he send me a wrong song, and I was really puzzled, like, this sounds like shit. This is not in– I mean, I could’ve been that drunk in Miami, on the balcony that day. But, eventually I found out that that the song he’d sent was not the one he played on that day, and I got the right demo and picked that line, and that became the chorus line for the song. And I just grabbed my acoustic guitar and wrote a song around it. And that’s basically how it was until the very end. I mean, we knew it was a good song, and we had a great melody and a great chorus in it. But, the arrangement, we just couldn’t, you know, get it together. Our old friend from Leverage and the guy who mixed the previous albums, he came up with the orchestration part. And that kind of nailed it. And it sounded so weird, because it doesn’t really sound like Brother Firetribe in general, but it still sounds– sounds really good. So we thought that would be the perfect ending for the album. And I still stand behind that.

MGM: It really does put the band in a new light, doesn’t it? It’s a completely new sound for you, but it works so well. I mean, I find I press repeat in so many times on that one track, it’s got a real haunting sound.

PH: Yeah, and we also figured that if we save it for the last, that could, you know? That gives us a bit of freedom for the next album to continue from that. I mean, what it– that might be. But, it might be a good thing, you know? Who knows.

MGM: I would imagine it’s probably the longest track that you’ve got in your catalog, isn’t it?

PH: It might very well be. I’m not sure, but, the ending we just– because of the orchestration, because it sounds so massive, and so just beautiful, we just decided to let the orchestration kind of take over. And just fade it. Like for the next album or something like that.

MGM: There’s so much going on in the song, it would’ve been almost a crime to cut any of it out.

PH: Yeah, I know. I know. But I’m so glad that people have noticed that, and even though it doesn’t sound like Brother Firetribe, everybody’s been really impressed by it. Which is really nice.

MGM: Now of course live, as you say, you’re out on tour at the moment, and as that progresses across the summer, we get you in the autumn. You’re playing a date at the Rockingham festival, so back in Nottingham, where you played Firefest back in 2014. But of huge importance to me, you’re playing a headline show in London as well.

PH: It’s the Borderline, I’ve never been there. I’ve no idea what’s it about. And I have no idea whether people are gonna show up or something. I’m just really, really excited to play along there for the first time.

MGM: To get you for a full headlining show, that’s a real treat for UK fans. Although we’ve had you playing the festival slot at Firefest, and again at Rockingham, at best you’ll get what? Forty five, fifty minutes I would imagine?

PH: Yes, something like that, yeah. I imagine we’ll play [at the Borderline], I’d imagine we’d want to play an hour and a half at least. You know?

MGM: Well I’d like to remind you, you’ve got four albums. So you could do four hours if you put your mind to it. [Laughs]

PH: Hey, that’s– yeah. That’s a positive problem we have. I mean, picking out songs. You know, what songs to leave out and believe me, we’ve had some heated discussions over it.

MGM: You’re obviously pushing a new album. And the new album presumably end-to-end is fantastic. Are you likely to play it in full? Or will you throw in a good mix of the other albums as well?

PH: We’ll play Sunbound, in its entirety. Definitely. Including Phantasmagoria and plus some selected songs from the previous albums. We’re just, you know, trying to concentrate on the song that we feel people are most, you know…. judging from the feedback we’ve had and the place, and you know, blah, blah, blah. We know the songs that people probably want to hear.

MGM: In that case, a request from me then. I don’t actually know if you guys normally play it live or not, but from the debut album, does ‘Devil’s Daughter’ normally makes an appearance?

PH: Oh, shit. We tried playing in a couple of times on the tour. But it’s all ridiculously high, I mean, the whole ‘False Metal’ album is just recorded without brains. You know, for my part, I’m just singing like way, way, you know, over my natural register. You know, it’s just stupid how high that is. But, who knows? I mean, that’s a funny song and that’s a great chorus, and people are always asking about it. But the truth is, we’ve only played it a couple of times live. Like, yeah. On the first album. On the first tour. And then we just dropped it because of, god knows why, I mean, some reason we thought it can work as well as some others, but, who knows?

MGM: Presumably, if it’s pushing your voice so hard, you can manage one show where you nailed it perfectly and then knocks you out for the next couple of minutes.

PH: [Laughs] Yeah. I think if I have to do that, that would be London then.

MGM: Well, I’ll hold you to it [Laughs].

PH: Don’t. Please, don’t, please don’t.

MGM: In terms obvious 80s influences, you’ve got the likes of Survivor and Foreigner, which fit that perfect sort of west coast sound. What about modern music? Like you say with Phantasmagoria, it’s the BFT of the future almost, it’s a different sound for the band, so are you looking to other peers, or other groups that you draw, sort of modern influence from as well?

PH: Oh, man. I’m ashamed of how out of it I am. I mean, I truly, I suck at that following the modern stuff, I mean. And I kind of gave up on hope about it you know? Just– I mean I pick out new music all the time, but in the sense of trying to fill in the gaps of, you know, finding these obscure bands from the past that I’ve missed for some reason. Back in the day when they were like, you know, vital. But today’s music, there’s just something about it that doesn’t– just doesn’t click. I mean, I do appreciate a lot of the stuff and I can always kind of, you know, take out the one that have, you know, quality and class. But I just suck at it. I mean, one of the reasons of Phantasmagoria sounds like that and has that kind of melody in it, you know, especially the chorus is because Jason had that melody on that demo played with a guitar. And Jason, for some reason, is a bit different in a way that he was really into the whole 90s thing. The grunge, the metal thing back in the day. So I have no idea. I mean he has this, the way he understands melody is a bit different from mine. So that’s probably one of the reasons that the song sounds like, like it sounds right now. So. But, you know? Modern stuff is just not my bag, in a way.

MGM: When you’re on your own and you have that moment to relax and you get the headphones on, what’s your go to music?

PH: Man, I’m constantly buying albums. Like vinyl albums. It’s been probably I think the latest Van Halen record was the one I bought in CD because I want to hear it in my car.

But, I’m constantly buying vinyls and I’m lucky enough to have friends living in say, New York. And the guy’s working at the record shop there. And he always surprises me with some stuff that I’ve never heard of before, which is really cool. And that’s what I live for. You know, I just– the best things in life – one of the best things in life is to walk down to your man cave, or your music room and sit down, and just put on vinyl album and just. You’d sink in to music, that’s what I do.

MGM: Just gonna let it wrap around you. Yeah.

PH: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s the best thing in the world. I mean still, I mean, so simple but so effective.

MGM: No, I can agree with that. I can agree with that. And I mean in terms of sort of your classics, and whatever that you’ve obviously enjoyed or drawn inspiration from in the past. I mean the last album had a Sammy Hagar cover on it as well. This one has Restless Heart on it?

PH: It’s a John Parr’s track from The Running Man movie. It was not the easiest choice. I mean we had a huge list of all these songs and our friends kept sending us, you know, you should do this, and you should do that. And at the end we’re just, we’re really close to given up. Like, maybe this time we’ll do a soundtrack cover on this album and, until we went back to the very first list. And we spotted Restless Heart. And we’re like, how in the hell. Did we even listen to this? Like, I remember the song and it’s really, really good. But, how come we kind of passed it on. And we took a list and it was obvious. It was right there, you know, right before our eyes. And any, you know, we always tend to look for the songs from that genre, that already kind of sound like Brother Firetribe.

MGM: It fits perfectly into the album, as if it’s one of your own.

PH: Yeah, that’s what I mean. Yeah, that’s great. I love that.

Our review of Sunbound can be found here: 

Brother Firetribe – Sunbound review

 

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