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Pete Ahonen (Stargazery)

Interview with Pete Ahonen from Stargazery
by YngwieViking at 07 February 2015, 9:59 PM

If the planets are in perfect cosmic conjunction,  “Stars Aligned” should result in an enormous wave of positivity in the little circles of Traditional Metal lovers and Melodic Heavy Metal connoisseurs… Pete Ahonen shares a moment with YngwieViking, discussing the new album, the roots of Scandinavian Melodic Metal, and everything else in between.

Hi Pete, first warm congratulations and kudos for the new Stargazery delivery… Thanks for taking time to answer my questions!!! I think that the new album “Stars Aligned” is one of the highlights of early 2015’s flow, as a supporter of your vision and Scandinavian Melodic Metal in general, It was a real blast for me and another uplifting experience… What will be your words to describe it?

Hello to you too YngwieViking! Thank you, we are very, very happy of the finished product! Pleasure is all mine.

If you are a fan of stadium size choruses, soaring vocals with lots of emotion attached to it, chunky guitar riffs, epic keyboards, beautiful bass lines and virtuosic and steady drum beat packed with a killer production and awesome looking artwork, this is your album!

Can you first tell us about you , your background as a musician… Your past time with Burning Point/Ghost Machinery, and your actual involvements! I want to know everything… Go!

We formed Burning Point in 1999 and since then we’ve made 5 albums and 6th is on the way! I was the guitarist and singer for 15 years, last year we wanted to try something new and unexpected, so I stepped down from the vocalist position and Nitte joined the band. Nitte Valo is a former Battle Beast singer and everyone who is familiar with their first album, knows that she is a one helluva singer! We just did our first gig with her and man, that was a blast! I can’t wait to get the new record out and play live! Also we recruited a new keyboard player and a new bass player. Awesome musicians and very cool as persons.

Burning Point line-up:

Nitte Valo – Vocals
Pekka Kolivuori – Guitars
Sami Nyman – Bass
Jarkko Väisänen – Keyboards
Jussi Ontero – Drums
And I of course – Guitars

I formed Ghost Machinery in 2002. I asked few friends firstly just to help me to get some songs demoed. When the demo was finished we thought it sounded so cool that maybe we should try to get a record deal. I started hunting and sending emails and demos and suddenly we had a record deal. Debut came out in 2004 and 2nd album 2010. I was singing on our first album, but we wanted to try something different and asked Taage Laiho (ex-Altaria, Kilipi) to join us and he sang on the 2nd album. Last year we decided that it was best if we part ways and now I’m back as an lead-vocalist  3rd album is on the way!

Ghost Machinery line-up

Mikko Myllylä – Guitars
Sami Nyman – Bass
Jussi Ontero – Drums & Keyboards (on studio)
and good ol’ me on Vocals and Guitars

In my review for the superb & adventurous release titled “Stars Aligned”, I wrote that:  “Their dedication and their stainless faith is indisputable…This is first class Melodic Metal. Each track is directly linked to our Headbangin’ patrimony…The Orthodoxy is perfectly respected, set in the eternal mode of excellence created by Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio…”
What are your feelings about this quote?

Anytime and anywhere if someone is mentioning  Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio linked to our band, wow man, that is an honor!

It also states that beside the specific Scandinavian Melodic Metal sound, your influences are numerous , ranging from Heavy Metal to Vintage Hard Rock filled with hammond organ layers, under a strong creative ideas, pure and unaffected by the trends or the hype, just a romantic view of Melodic Metal with a 70’s tinted mind with epic variations… Am I right, in my analysis?

That is exactly what this album is about!  I tried to write more hard rock songs than power metal. I want us to be a hard rock band and I think we accomplished that now. There were some power metallish songs on the debut, but now we are sailing on the right course.

I think that STARGAZERY’s new release is a giant step forward, exultant and fascinating but also very easy to  absorb, do you have a method to write those great pieces?

It’s funny and interesting that this question has surfaced now much more than ever and unfortunately I still don’t have any “good” answer hahahahahah. Songs just pops in to my head anywhere or anytime. I have my phone with me all the time so I can hum the melodies right away and check them out properly when I’m near my guitar.

Can you explain the initial concept behind the STARGAZERY creation… How did you meet & unite with the great vocalist Jari Tiura?

Well, I had this one song that, in my opinion, didn’t fit to my other bands “style”. So, I thought I’ll form another band where I can explore more this type of classic hard rock songs I knew Jari from his other band Snakegod and I just thought I’ll call him and ask if he would be interested to join the group, and he was bass player Jukka Jokikokko I get to know when he was engineering when we recorded the 3rd Burning Point album. Marco Sneck (keyboards) I’ve known years, but we’ve never played together. Also the original drummer Jarkko was a good friend of mine, but the drumming and playing in a band wasn’t his thing in the end so, he decided to quit. It was pretty easy and natural choice to ask Jussi Ontero, my longtime friend and my right hand, to join us. I am surrounded by these amazing musicians and I try to keep up with their pace

The laying level seems pretty elevated:  how do recruit your fellow musicians?

Oops, check the previous answer

As a band from Finland, with a plethora of bands out there, what do you think of the Metal scene in your country?

It is a struggle! Struggle to get your voice to be heard, so to speak. If you don’t know anyone or you are not in any “inside circles” it is VERY hard to even get proper gigs. But having said that, it is VERY much alive and kicking! We and other smaller band are not going to give up!

Hey Pete, where are you coming from, as far as guitar influences are concerned? Tell us about your training and your day by day practicing routine?

It was Yngwie Malmsteen whom blew me away back in ’83! There weren’t a player like that before him and there hasn’t been a player after  There are so many great players, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, Eddie Van Halen, Tony Macalpine, Vinnie Moore,  to name a few. I really don’t consider myself as an guitarist in a sense like those aforementioned. I think I’m a songwriter first and then a guitarist in band…  So, I really don’t practice etc I just play.

Which are the new guitarists that impressed you lately?

I really haven’t paid attention to that “scene”, but I found some acoustic players on YouTube… I don’t remember their name though.

Tell us how do you rate Stargazery as a real band or only a project in your already rich career?

Definitively a band!

As a fan and a reviewer I always refer to the Scandinavian Metal sound old & new? Do you feel that your music reveal that specific Scandinavian feel?

I haven’t thought about it that way, but you might be right. We have this classic 80’s sound combined with modern stuff.

Are there new undergrounds bands that we have to reckon with in the next few years? Maybe some new acts that you want to produce by yourself.

I think we try (after the Burning Point/Ghost Machinery) to finish the debut album from our project band Unations and also release some material with Sarcofagus. I recently joined that band as a singer. That was an honor to me because Sarcofagus is called the first heavy metal band in Finland! Kimmo (the founder and guitarist) wanted to re-record some old stuff (with me on vocals) and also create some new stuff too, very excited about that too

Did you plan on touring in Europe to promote “Stars Aligned”?

We would love to play somewhere, anywhere! But these tours always depend on record sales and money and if those “align” nicely, well then yes!

What do you think of the state of the market in 2015! What is your opinion concerning digital downloading legality?

I’m huge record collector myself, so I don’t download anything basically. I want to look and feel the booklets in my hands when listening to the music. Illegal downloading sucks of course, but as for now, we can’t help it. I try to think that hopefully someone those illegal down loaders would buy the record  And if digital (legal) downloading is your thing, go for it, but I’m telling you, you are missing something hahahah.

Tell us what we have to expect from your side in the future to come?

As mentioned earlier, new albums from Burning Point, Ghost Machinery, Unations and hopefully even from Sarcofagus.

What is the last CD you have bought?

I think I bought several at the same time. New albums from Accept / Hammerfall / Dragonforce / AC/DC etc…

Please let us know your Underground Metal TOP 5

Oh my, I don’t know how you define Underground… If you mean bands that are not as big as Metallica etc? Just from the top of my head…

Nocturnal Rites
At Vance
Dream Evil

Please let us know your all-time TOP 10?

These “top lists” are always a struggle for me, because it should be “top 100” or something. But If I throw few….Not in any particular order. Except maybe that first

1. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force
2. Accept
3. Judas Priest (not the Ripper era, sorry)
4. Helloween
5. Iron Maiden (“Brave new world” was the last ok album for me)
6. Queensryche (from the first EP to the “Promised land”)
7. Dio
8. Whitesnake
9. Gary Moore(the Hard Rock era)
10. Black Sabbath (Dio and Tony Martin era)

Pete thanks for your time, i wish you the best of luck with the new album and on the musical path ahead . Anything else you want to share with the Metal-Temple’s readers out there?

Thank you very much for this great interview! Thank you for your support and hopefully you will love the album as much as we do!

I hope we will have an opportunity to play these songs live for you soon!
Cheers from Finland \\w/


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