Featuring Nightwish manEmppu Vuorinen on guitar, melodic hard rockers Brother Firetribe formed 15 years ago in Helsinki. Having recorded four albums and become big stars in Finland – with a triumphant UK debut at the indoor weekender Firefest in 2014 – vocalist Pekka Ansio Heino says that it’s time for the five-piece to look further afield.
Is there an abbreviated version of how Brother Firetribe came to be?
It all started by accident when Tomppa [Nikulainen, keyboards] and I became bored of record companies and outsiders telling us what music to play, so we wrote what came naturally. I’d grown up on all of the biggest names in AOR and hard rock from the 1970s, and then we met Emppu [Vuorinen] in the local music store.
Does the Nightwish connection mislead people into assuming that you’re a symphonic rock band?
After fifteen years that doesn’t happen any more. The only thing the two bands have in common, apart from Emppu, is the love of a good melody.
Firetribe’s last two albums made the Top 10 in Finland. Are you pop stars?
It’s looking pretty good for us, and the previous albums went gold, but we have no problems walking the street, put it that way [laughs].
The new album, Sunbound, has a song called Taste Of A Champion that can only have been a very deliberate nod to Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger?
Yes, of course. We were approached by a supermarket advert campaign looking for a song with a Rocky-type vibe. And who else to call but us, right? That’s basically what this band is all about. Our songs will make you want to do push-ups or go for a run in the mountains.
Another song, Indelible Heroes, has a chorus of ‘Thank God for Starman and Motörhead’ and mourns rock music’s string of fatalities, including Prince.
It sent chills down our spines when Prince passed on the exact day I was in the booth doing the vocals on that song, so a couple of days later I wrote him into the chorus. It was unbelievable when that list of superstars died so closely together, because we all thought they’d live forever.
Brother Firetribe’s cover of John Parr’s Restless Heart [from 1987 film The Running Man] says a lot about the band’s influences.
There’s been a soundtrack movie cover song on each of our albums, and that one fits us like a glove.
In October the band returns for [AOR event] the Rockingham Festival. Are you cool with people considering you a ‘melodic rock’ act?
Oh look, I don’t give a shit what people call this band. We’re an AOR band and I’ve no problem with that.
Floor Jansen had her baby recently. Is there a tentative return date planned for Nightwish?
From what I understand, those guys plan to start working again early next year, so that leaves us the rest of 2017.
Also in October you finally play a full headline show in London.
That’s exciting. You’ll see a lot of laughing and smiling on stage, and we’ll come back again to the UK no matter what.
Sunbound is out on Spinefarm Records.