Pekka Ansio Heino best known as vocalist with Brother Firetribe expands on his singing career and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.
Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer?
My dad brought me a Bill Haley collection on a C-cassette when I was around 5 or 6 even though I’d asked for Elvis. I loved it and listened to that until me and my friends started discovering bands that were around in those days. I got hooked on music through Hanoi Rocks and Michael Monroe who made me want to be a singer at the age of 8. I was blown away that such a cool band comes from Finland. From then on it was all about the hard rock bands of the 80’s, any notable one and plenty of more obscured ones too.
Have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any notable bands?
No, never. I’ve always been in a band since I was 13. I’ve never even thought about auditioning to some big name band and be ready to leave the band I’m with. I’ve never been asked to audition either!
You have appeared on a number of albums. Do you have a favourite and why?
I can’t really rank them in any other way than how I feel about them emotionally. The first albums with any of the bands are always close to the heart because of remembering how it felt to have them in your hands and stereo for the first time.
Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?
I sure do. It’s hands down the best part about the whole thing when making music and having to deal with everything around it. And of course having done it for so long you’ve grown more secure with everything you do on stage even though singing is a delicate thing. You never know how the show will go until the first time you open your mouth on stage. That’s also a part of the buzz. I remember my first public gig with my first band and how I had to take a leak like 78 times before the gig! It’s not like that anymore...
Some vocalists are on strict dietary regimes or gargle with special liquids. How have you kept your voice in tip top shape all these years?
Yeah there’s a lot of different stuff singers do to maintain their voice. To me it’s pretty basic really. Getting a good night sleep is integral. If your mind and body is tired so is your voice. I need to do a gig a few times a week, that helps to keep the voice open. I don’t believe in liquids, that’s more psychology the way I see it but hey, whatever gets you through the day. I also don’t sing endless scales before a gig, I just make sure my voice is open by humming low and high. Ronnie James Dio never warmed up, just walked on stage and started singing like nobody else. Freaky! I messed up my voice pretty badly at one point back in the day when I started singing for a living and had to learn a different approach to what I do. I’ll never sing the way I did on the first records but I’m fine with what I do now.
Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?
Any musician who makes any kind of music that I really like and whose personality clicks with me, so I don’t rule anything out.
Is there any unreleased recorded material from your days in Brother Firetribe, Leverage or any bands you’ve been involved with that could be released?
Brother Firetribe always tends to put out everything because we really don’t write that much. We’re always relieved to have been able to write enough for an album. There can’t be too many leftovers or additional material from Leverage either, maybe a few songs that never made it to an album.
Have you thought of releasing a solo album?
Not really but me and Tuomas Heikkinen from Leverage have written and recorded songs on and off throughout the years. Not the kind of music you’d expect but would be fun to put out something at some point.
With the live circuit opening up again, is there a possibility that we could see you performing some live shows in the UK?
It’s opened up, yes, but touring right now is so expensive that for a band like us it’s damn near impossible. We had to cancel our European tour because of not affording it, that’s the sad truth of it. We’d love to play some selected dates in UK if there are people willing to buy the ticket and come down to see us. We’ve always had the best of times over there.
Are you interested in doing some production work for other bands?
No not really. I’m not a studio guy by any means and have enough on my hands to keep up with the demands of my own band!
Do you have anything in the pipeline at the moment that you would like to share?
We’re working on new songs with Brother Firetribe at the moment, aiming to put out something before the fall when we hit the road here in Finland in the form of an extensive club tour. A new album should come out early next year and touring for that naturally. Really hope to come over there and meet some old and hopefully new friends too!
Interview by Stuart Dryden