The Finnish band Burning Point is presenting a new album called Empyre and as they are still not known by every metal, let's try to find out more! Mainman Pete Ahonen took time to answer my questions.
Your last album Burned Down The Enemy was released in 2007 and now you are back with a new album called Empyre. And a different line-up. Please tell us what happened!
If you mean the line-up… Well, our original drummer was not 110% in to this band and he wanted to concentrate on other things. And of course, we wish him all the best. :) Jussi took over the drums and we decided to search a new keyboardist. I contacted Pasi basically because we knew him as he played the keyboards on our debut Salvation By Fire and the 2nd album Feeding The Flames. I want to point out that he was not a member back then, but now he is 110%!
Empyre is for me a kind of 80's heavy metal album with a powerful, modern sound. Can you agree with this short description? If not, give me a better one!
I can agree to that definitively.
Why did you choose the title Empyre?
Well, we wanted that the title would be a 'fire' related - of course haha - and that’s why it's spelled with an Y. And it sounds very 'majestic'. :)
You use The Godfather Theme as an intro which is a cool idea - and fits well. Are you a movie fan(s)?
Yes, I am. The Godfather theme was one of those things that in the early days we wanted to do… But never got our 'hands around it' - so to speak. Now when we finally did, it definitively sounds awesome!
At Empyre there are parts which remind me of Virgin Steele... Are the New Yorkers a band which influenced you in the past? You are obviously influenced by 80's metal...
Well, I have to say no… I know them sure and I have some of their albums too. I think Accept, Judas Priest, WASP, Queensrÿche, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Europe are more accurate… and lots and lots of German metal bands like Running Wild, Restless, Grave Digger, Zed Yago etc.
What's the story behind Only The Wrong Will Survive?
I rather not say what are the actual stories etc. behind all the lyrics I write, but they all are based on real life. :)
And what inspired you for Blinded By The Darkness?
This is Jussi's song, so I don't know much about it, but I think that some goes with his lyrics.
Was It Me carries a sad note... It somehow seems to be a very personal track... Do you use writing lyrics as a kind of self-therapy?
Well, it sometimes seem that the words hard to say, for whatever reason, so it is definitively a good 'channel' to release some pressure in your head.
About the song writing... Did the way you write songs changed with the different line-ups? And are these days more band members involved then in the past?
It has changed a bit. At the early days I usually brought riffs and clips to the rehearsals and we worked on that, but now I pretty much make the whole song ready, record the guitar tracks and then we discuss about should there be some changes or may different arrangements etc. Yes, first time in bands history 4 members contributed songs to the album and it's great! Lot's of weight from my shoulders. :)
At the limited edition you have some cover versions as bonus tracks... Please tell us how you chose the covers! And how did you get your guests involved?
Well, there's not any particular reason why those songs made it to the album. I mean, there are hundreds of great songs out there that I've been wanting to record, the list is endless. :) The whole thing kind of escalated when I thought that I ask one guest to be on the track... I really don't know, has this kind of thing been done never? I mean, of course bands have record a song and asked a original or other guests on the track... But that a band records 4 songs and get the original members as guests for all songs! Are we making history here? I don’t know... :=)
Any guest you would like to have on a future release?
I really haven't thought about it yet. I remember there was some band that recorded a album or was it 2 albums with just cover songs from the 80's, that would be a cool thing to do!
This time you produced the album yourself, only the mastering was outsourced. Why did you decide to do it on your own? And are you satisfied with the result?
As you can hear, the production is flawless! I am very happy with the outcome and production has received a lot of praises from basically everyone who have heard the album. At the time the album was in the mixing stages, we asked the guy who has mixed all our albums before, but unfortunately he was busy doing other stuff... And we just realized that we have 2 guys in the band that does studio work basically every day and they have done it for years and finally Jussi (drummer) and Jukka (bassist) did the final mixing!
During the writting / recordings you usually live in a kind of enclosed world... And a producer might be able to level things... Have you feared that you might miss this 'outside' look at things? Or have you involved friends / family to get feedback?
We do have a lots friends and family members that fortunately gives us feedback, yes.
I think there is no video clip so far... Or did I miss something? Anyway, which song would it be / is it for?
Yeah, you're right, we haven't done any video from the new album yet. :=) Well, I don't know which song we would do... Any hints? Hahaha.
The internet is a great tool for promotion. How important is it for you to use the internet to keep in touch with fans? To get feedback?
For a that particular reason the internet is very important tool and we do get lots of email from the fans... which is great!
On the other hand there is the downloading... and some bands only release MP3s now. Pete, as far as I know, you are a CD / DVD collector... But a new trend it that vinyl is getting more popular again... How do you feel about all this? And what's your favorite version?
Yes, it was very sad to see that the BP album has been illegally downloaded for thousands of times up to this date and the album has not even been released yet! :=( But we must hope that most of those downloaders will buy the actual album too!
Oh yes, I’ve been a collector for a 20 something years... I do love vinyl stuff too, I have few hundred albums on vinyl and still buy vinyl’s from flea markets etc. I don’t know, do I have favourites? But the competition is between vinyl and CD format. :=)
As a collector... What's the last album you purchased? And what are the most important or rarest items you have?
Last albums were Seventh Avenue Terium and Shadowside Theatre Of Shadows and Edguy's new album. I also bought the mighty Gamma Ray DVD! I think that the most important stuff is all the Yngwie Malmsteen CDs, I have almost all of the Japan versions with bonus tracks and of course I bought the re-releases with new covers etc! Hahaha. Rare stuff? I don’t know, maybe there are some rare & hard to find 80’s metal CDs... Haven't thought about it.
You have a very cool artwork. Was Felipe Marchado your first choice? Was it something he already had done? Or was it done especially for this release?
Yeah! It is cool, isn't it? :) He had some sketches ready and we had some ideas for the cover. In the end we just 'swap' the ideas. So, you can say that it is made for this album especially.
I know that there is a DVD on the way. Can you enlighten us a bit about what to expect?
We want to include as much on it as possible, all the promotional videos, bootleg stuff from over the years, pro-shot concerts etc. You know, 'the whole nine yard'. ;=)
Are there any news about the tour with Cryonic Temple?
At this point there are Swedish and Finnish dates, but naturally we're trying to add more dates… We keep you posted on our website.
And what can fans expect live? A kind of 'best of'? Or a mix of the last and the current album?
Definitively a 'best of'. Something from each album, its going to be a tough choice! :)
What else is on your schedule for 2009? Any festivals? Or something else?
We have some festivals booked in Finland and hopefully more to come… Also we've already started to compose new stuff for Burning Point. I have 5 new songs already finished. Jussi and I also will be finishing the 2nd Ghost Machinery album and hopefully it will be released in the fall as well as we're recording the debut album with my other band Stargazery (fronted by a ex-MSG singer Jari Tiura ). So, lots to do! Hahaha
It seems that it will be a busy year for Pete Ahonen... I guess that there will be more to talk about soon.... At least when Ghost Machinery or Stargazery's albums get into the stores it's time to catch up with Pete....