From "Firepit" to Sunbound, these guys will melt you!

One March evening RockUnited gathered together with a closed group of Finnish AOR-music fans in the Helsinki area, to take a listen to the fourth, then still unreleased, Brother Firetribe album SUNBOUND, which was going to see its release date at the end of the month. We had three special guests for the session (also part of this AOR-group), which were the band members Pekka Ansio Heino (vocalist), Tomi Nikulainen (keyboards) and Jason Flinck (bass). Since none of us didn't have the physical album yet and we didn't really want to hear an MP3 version of it we had to rely on Tomi to bring a physical CD copy with him. I brought an old portable CD player, which received a ton of laughs and jokes.

Some from the group had already heard the album and told the rest to prepare themselves for great vibes and catchy tunes, just what Brother Firetribe is all about. Everyone sat down for a serious - or not - listen, and the band members were "sweating" in their seats for the reaction. The mood was cheerful and the drinks were flowing and when the first sounds of the album hit the air everyone knew this was going to be another great album from the Finnish AOR/hard rockers. The only moodbreaker was the old CD player, after a few songs it had a meltdown and started skipping. We weren't sure though if the fault was on the player or the CD, which Tomi burned in a hurry. So the other half of the listening session was done with an MP3 file, which served the purpose alright. After each song we cheered to the guys and they were humbled and surely glad to receive this response from the first crowd, although from their friends, but as Finnish people are honest and say it like it is, they received an honest reaction.

The first listen already said much about the album; it seemed perfect and stayed true to the Brother Firetribe vibe, but now with some new ideas thrown in. These small additions worked well. The last track of the album, Phantasmagoria, was the most surprising. It is a gloomier slower track, which is very captivating. It is definitely the track that stands out the most on Sunbound, but only because it's so different from the Tribe-material we've all been used to hearing. But read the reviews out there and listen to the album yourself to get deeper into it. After the listening session was over Kari and I had a quick chat with the guys about the album. As before, this chat has its tongue-in-cheek moments, so prepare yourself for some bad humour.


How fun was the recording process this time?

Pekka - It's never fun (laughs). It was easier on the creative side though. There's a reason why the album is titled Sunbound, because everything, especially considering the songs, clicked perfectly together. After we finished doing each song they inspired an idea for the next song. We were coming up with great songs during the whole process.

Jason - We had no reason to write lousy songs (laughs).

Pekka - We were in suspense till the very end about what the album should sound like. The whole process was easy though and we had good vibes throughout it all. Because there were six years between (two earlier) albums we promised to ourselves and others afterwards that the next album won't take this long to come out. When we finished touring with Diamond in the Firepit (2014) we started throwing in ideas about new songs.

Tomi - The first three or four songs took more time to write, but like Pekka said each song gave new ideas for the next ones and suddenly we had a moment, where we wrote four new songs really fast.

Pekka - And then we hit the (creative) brakes again (laughs).

Tomi - But this time we were fast. We had some difficulties with the last songs of course, because we were writing in a hurry.

Pekka - The mixing had already started when we realized we still need to write a couple more songs.

Tomi - Then we were also asked to write the bonus track for the Japanese release. But all in all the compositions came out easily, although many songs had radical changes at the last moment. Especially Heart of the Matter had a drastic change. Everyone thought it was a great song, but still had the feeling that we're just humming it through. We had to come up with a hook for it, a thing the whole song is based upon, and the song changed completely.

Pekka - Even a small change can change the entire song.

Jason - It was a bonus track at first.

Tomi - We liked it so much we decided to put it on the album.

Was there any leftover songs?

Pekka - We never have them.

Sunbound, as all Brother Firetribe albums, also includes a cover song taken from a movie soundtrack. This time the song is Restless Heart, originally performed by John Parr (Parr/Harold Faltermeyer), from the movie The Running Man (1987, Arnold Schwarzenegger). The album also includes Indelible Heroes, which ended up being the first video from this album. The song was written as a celebration to artists such as Lemmy, Prince and David Bowie, who the world lost in 2016.


The band had more work on the production side because the mixing engineer changed, among other things. This was a big deal for them. The album sound turned out to be great though, it is different and larger compared to the old Firetribe albums. Everything is bigger than before and the band is more excited about all this than ever before. The band has certainly grown through the years with all the mileage, the progress has been huge to this point.

Pekka - As it should be. But although we've been working now for fifteen years with this band it doesn't really feel that long, because we haven't done that much during all those years. We've had enormous breaks in between due to forced circumstances, which is both a blessing and a curse. The breaks have kept this fresh and when we've had the chance to do something it has felt great.

Tomi - This album has been the most laborious production wise. I've never been in the studio with the guys this long, but there was no question about it that we'd put all our efforts into making everything right.

And just wait till the money starts flowing in to the bank account. (laughs)

Tomi - Like it has done so far! (laughs)

Pekka - It does it the opposite way. (laughs)

Tomi - (Mikko) Karmila created this very chubby sound we never had before

Jason - It's more dynamic.

Pekka - We had to work it out to find the right sound. People are used to the idea that music is often guitar driven and when we do it with keyboards it makes them confused. Karmila is probably even now shaking his head about our sound ideas; "this sounds terrible, but it's what they wanted". (laughs)

Tomi - There are certain things we want to sound exactly right. The most difficult part is expressing your ideas to the mixer.

Pekka - Verbally it's very difficult.

Tomi - We were thinking about all the hours we spent trying to express the ideas so that the mixer won't think we're mocking him. When we can't say everything in the right terms...

Pekka - Karmila must've been punching himself on the face when we were telling him things like "can you get this to sound any wetter" or "can you include more twist to this". (laughs)

Jason - Tribe can't handle the constructive expressions.

You must've shown him some reference albums where to start working on with the sound?

Pekka - I gave him a good amount of albums to check out and I think it helped.

Tomi - Although he told us to send something else than the shitty YouTube-quality. (laughter)

Pekka - I found most of the stuff in good quality.

Tomi - Karmila also worked well on the guitar and keyboard parts, they're on the same level with each other, as when earlier we checked which one leads at what part. This seems like an easier album to listen to. And the drum sounds are perfect.

Pekka - And the guitar sound is more...

Tomi - More chubbier or something. These are the technical terms we can't handle. We know chubby and slimy and...

Pekka - Wet and smooth.

Jason - Just what this band is all about, chubby and wet.

Tomi - At the moment we are, yes! (laughter)

Will you also have a chubby and wet stage?

Jason - Yeah, we'll have a childrens bouncy playhouse on stage.

Pekka - As a stage!


"Mortti" and "Vertti" is the writing team of Brother Firetribe as Jason puts it, referring to the old Disney cartoon characters Morty and Ferdie, and meaning Tomi and Pekka, who write the basics on the songs and then forward them to the other guys to work on the rest. The band had no time to discuss about the guitar parts this time with Emppu Vuorinen, so he had free hands on what to play. Emppu worked on his guitar parts in his usual places, or like Pekka joked, in his bathroom or around the world in bathrooms. The vocals, keyboards and bass were recorded at Nitro studios and Hannes Pirilä (drums) recorded his parts in Myyrmäki, Vantaa, all by himself.

Tomi - It was the best solution for us. This way we were able to test everything in various ways instead of doing everything in few days in a studio.

Jason - That was a positive and a different thing in this process.

Tomi - And cost-effective, since we didn't have to pay for anything.

Pekka - The sounds aren't the best in these recordings, but we counted on Karmila to make them work.

Tomi - He checked them out and said he can make them work. We had to make sure beforehand that he could work on them, so that we didn't end up recording them over again in some studio.

Back to the changes that have happened lately. The title Sunbound also reflects to the changes that have happened around the band. They now have some new people working for them, who have made things happen for the band and at the same time have lifted up the spirits in the band.

Jason - We never had three good managements before and Jani Wilund is the most positive change in all this.

Pekka - He's been great. All seems to point "towards the light" (for brighter direction) for the band now.

Don't go towards the light just yet guys! (laughter)

Pekka - I think this title was a subconscious counter strike on the crazy situation with the world at the moment, to say that everything is alright.

I hear myself sing "Heart of the Matter" now, one of the slower tracks on the album, which lyrically deals with the issues Pekka just mentioned. But Brother Firetribe is not a political band so we won't go into politics here, although as they say, everything is politics. The guys are still here to lighten up the mood and now more than ever.

Tomi - We're not able to write sad songs. (laughs)

Phantasmagoria is one track that stands out on the album. What's the story behind that?

Pekka - It started from a demo Jason made. We were in Miami at our hotel room balcony, where Jason played a demo that had a great melody played with the guitar. I told him to send it to me when we get back home, but back home he sent me the wrong demo. I thought it was utter shit and was confused - how wasted we must've been in Miami for this to sound good! (everyone laughs) I wanted to find that demo though and luckily did find it from the old e-mails. We just built a song around it.

Tomi - Jani came up with the orchestra. We had done the basics to the song, so you knew what the song is about and Jani thought an orchestra would sound great there. It is different from what we've done before.

Something in the song brings up the band Ghost and the guys mishear the word Ghost as coast.

Tomi - We're the beach boys!

Or "rantain miehet" as Tomi put it in Finnish. He could've even meant beach bums when it comes to Tribe-humour. Take it as you wish.


There is probably another video coming out too. We're betting on Big City Dream, which is another song that stands out well on the new album. Not for being different like Phantasmagoria, but because of the catchy chorus and being a big song in itself. The band has now played many shows in Finland and what has made the shows different so far from the past shows is the setlist. At few shows they've played the whole Sunbound through, adding just a few older songs to the setlist. This might not please everyone, but personally I'm pleased to hear the new songs live. The band will also be playing a few festivals in Finland this summer, including the famous Tuska festival, which mostly supports heavier bands and thus Brother Firetribe sticks out of the line-up like a sore thumb. There's even a European tour later this year, starting October 11th from Berlin, Germany, all the way to November 4th Madrid, Spain, show and then playing the H.E.A.T. festival on December 3rd in Germany. The band also plays at London and Nottingham, UK, in October, where the band also has a lot of fans and more dates are being requested by fans there.

Tomi - It would be fun to play more over there.

Pekka - But October is purely around Europe. The end of the year is completely open and we're not sure if anything is going to happen then.

There might be something brewing in the Brother Firetribe camp, but be patient while waiting on the news. Meanwhile the fans have had their taste of - not the champion - but the Brother Firetribe lager beer Hero - An Indelible Beer for Indelible Heroes, which was released in Finland for the bands 15th Anniversary tour. It's been sold at their gigs, but only for a limited amount of 500 litres. Kaleva Brewing Company designed the beer together with the band. This isn't the first time Brother Firetribe has worked together with a food industry. They also had a chilli sauce by Poppamies and their burger Taste Of A Champion can be tried at Jack the Rooster restaurant in Tampere. And beside all this, their track Taste Of A Champion has gotten good airtime on Finnish TV, running in a commercial for the large Finnish supermarket chain Prisma. But Brother Firetribe has been everywhere through the years, so getting aired on TV is nothing new.

Most interviews include material a magazine can't yet or ever publish, and we bumped into a few of those again in this interview. Referring to this Tomi sums up the interview;

Tomi - Just publish the album title and our names and everything's fine like that!

Well, I think we were able to publish enough from this merry chat. Catch the guys on tour for more merry moments and get at least "sauced". You can do that in a few ways, but the spicier experience is to try the bands Firesauce chilli sauce, which is again available. Who knows, it might go well together with Sunbound, creating one helluva hot party!

Interview: Satu Reunanen and Kari Helenius

Translation: Satu Reunanen

Photos: credits included in the photos

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Additional photos at RockUnited Facebook