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Pekka Ansio Heino (Brother Firetribe)

Interview with Pekka Ansio Heino from Brother Firetribe
by Grigoris Chronis at 10 May 2008, 7:22 PM

When BROTHER FIRETRIBE released their False Metal debut album a couple of years ago, something did 'shake' in the European melodic Hard Rock world. I thought of BF as a one-off project (mainly due to guitarist Emppu Vuorinen's duties with NIGHTWISH) but - surprisingly enough - a brand follow-up has now just been released and, in my opinion, Heart Full Of Fire is an even better successor. We caught up with (also LEVERAGE's singer – an equally impressive Finnish 'melodic' act) Pekka Ansio Heino for a little chat and here's what we did write down.

Hi Pekka, thanks for your time to do this interview!

Hey, my pleasure!

First of all, I have to confess I was waiting BROTHER FIRETRIBE would be a one-off project, with the release of False Metal. You know: you with LEVERAGE and Emppu with NIGHTWISH… I’m glad you proved me wrong, since a new CD, Heart Full Of Fire, has now been released. So, are we talking ’bout a permanent band? Did you ’see’ BROTHER FIRETRIBE as a ’normal’ band from the beginning in 2002 (if I’m correct)?

I think we’ll continue writing music and hanging together no matter what happens. So, in a way this is definitely a permanent band! Initially BFT was just a bunch of guys having fun and recording songs as side product for downing beers and throwing Frisbee, so things got a bit out of hand! This is the best side project ever.

In my ears, Heart Full Of Fire seems to be – so far – an even better Melodic Rock/AOR album. How anxious the band was in order to overlap the very positive reviews of False Metal? Did you feel stressed? Did you, also, feel you had to fill in some ’gaps’ not clearly presented in False Metal?

We refused to gain any stress over this…You can’t make music like this if you think about things too much. We wrote and recorded very much like we did with False Metal, without thinking or calculating, everything you hear comes from the heart so to speak. Of course we were aiming to make the new album sound as good as possible and thankfully we feel we achieved that.

Are you the kind of musician carefully watching what other people have to say for your music? You know, there are bands carrying along with the Media or fans requirements while others just close their ears and proceed to what they want anyway.

To be brutally honest, I really don’t care if someone doesn’t like what we do…each to their own, you know. We’re kind of selfish in a way that if our stuff pleases us we’re satisfied, and if other people dig it that’s a huge bonus. I don’t see the point of chasing trends, you’ll end up doing that for the rest of your short-lived career…

The first thing I did notice in Heart Full Of Fire is the album’s title itself. I do ’see’ a passionate message behind this phrase. Is there a message, really?

It fits pretty well what we’re about. Whenever you make music it should come from your heart and soul, I don’t see it any other way.

The cover artwork is too ’alive’. Great colors, simple but powerful! Who’s idea was it and who painted it?

A guy called Hugh Gilmour is responsible for it, he did a great job convincing us that we should go after the feel of those classic AOR vinyl covers from back in the day. I think he pulled it off beautifully.

The whole album features a variety of tempos and amplitude, in a similar style to the debut CD. Did you have these tunes already written at the time False Metal was released or you started composing separately from the F.M. sessions?

Every song was written after False Metal was released, we didn’t have any leftovers from F.M. Trying to rework on leftovers is always a kind of a drag because there’s usually a reason why they didn’t fit the album in the first place, it’s a bit like flogging a dead horse, you know, so it’s better to start from the clean canvas. I think Out Of My Head was the first one we came up with pretty much around the same time F.M. came out.

Your voice sounds even better in the new CD. I wonder why you didn’t apply for the job in JOURNEY, you’d fit like a glove to their requirements. Which song did you enjoy most singing to in the new CD? In addition, which song speaks the most to your soul? I’d say the SURVIVOR-ish Wildest Dreams, Going Out With A Bang and (most of all?) Chasing The Angles top my wants for the time being.

Haha, wow…well, thanks but the idea of me in JOURNEY is just absurd, I can’t get around the idea, that band is like sacred in a way! I liked singing all of them as this time I really concentrated on writing the melodies in keys that I feel comfortable with, meaning I didn’t have to scream my brains out this time, which was the case in some parts of False Metal. One song that really raised its head after the mixing was Heard it On My Radio, I really dig it.

What are your expectations for Heart Full Of Fire? I mean, not in terms of sales, but regarding your inner or the band’s wants.

I think we already achived what we were after. An album full of songs that makes you smile with a sound worth a million bucks.

With you being in LEVERAGE and Emppu playing with NIGHTWISH, do you think most buyers of your albums are these bands’ fans?

Absolutely. Majority of people who check out BFT are very much familiar with NIGHTWISH, that’s a fact. Getting a record deal would’ve been much harder without Emppu’s name involved.

To tell you the truth, I was expecting the new CD would be released via Frontiers Records, haha!!! Guess you’re OK with Spinefarm Records?

I can see your point, yeah, we’re definitely sticking out like Pope in a whorehouse on Spinefarm if you look at other bands on the label, but that’s cool.

I Am Rock is featured as the soundtrack in a Finnish TV series. How did you end up ’donating’ the song to TV?

The production company contacted the record company asking if they had a band who could write songs in the vein of 80’s KISS and W.A.S.P. etc. They called us and we wrote the song which they dug. The production company then asked me to make a cameo role which was funny as hell.

In my mind, Finland (and Scandinavia, in general) can as well be the most Hard Rock/Heavy Metal place on earth. We surprisingly read ’bout our bands topping the national charts, LORDI winning the Eurovision competition a couple of years ago, hundreds of bands (still) playing kick-ass music. Why do you think this is happening?

Good question! It really wasn’t the case about 10-15 years ago. There were a few heavier bands that paved the way suddenly and kids started taking pride in learning their craft well I guess. Finland has always been a good ground for Heavy Metal although there weren’t any successful bands back in the day. History is being changed all the time which is great.

Are you planning to attend any summer Metal fest this year? Is there any band you’re dying to see onstage, as a fan?

Haven’t really thought about attending other festivals than the ones we’re playing with LEVERAGE. I’ve got tickets for BON JOVI and DEF LEPPARD though. And I’d love to see STRAY CATS in Helsinki soon, gotta check out if they still have tickets for that…VAN HALEN would be awesome to see while there’s still a chance!

Pekka, thanks a lot for your time. Anything you’d like to add?

Thanks, no problem. Keep your beer frosty and your car windows down, enjoy the summer!


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