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Burning Point

Een aantal maanden geleden had ik het genoegen om de laatste plaat van de Finse band Burning Point getiteld 'Burned Down The Enemy' te recenseren en ik was (en ben nog steeds) behoorlijk positief gestemd. Door diverse omstandigheden mijnerzijds lukte het niet om toen een interview te verzorgen. Gitarist/zanger Pete Ahonen was enkele weken na de release gaarne bereid om alsnog de volgende vragen per mail te beantwoorden.

Door: Sjak | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

band imageThe first time that the name Pete Ahonen is featured is in the band Planet Caravan, with whom you've recorded a demo. What did you do before Planet Caravan and how did this band get together?
We were at the same job together with our former guitarist and he just asked me to sing on his demo-CD. So, basically I had nothing to do with the music itself, just a few lyrics and a few vocal melodies. I was playing in different local bands before that, but only as a, that was a first time I was a singer.

Although this demo was well-received, the name Planet Caravan disappeared. What happened?
I quess they just broke up...I was never a member of that, I just took take of the vocal duties.

As the name of the band already suggests, style-wise this band was influenced by the so-called doom metal. Why did you transition from this doom metal approach to a more melodic power metal style that we see in your current band Burning Point?
As I said, I was not a member of that band and I had nothing to do with the music that was written. Basically we (with the guitarist) shared a mutual interest to melodic metal and 80`s style and we decided to form a new band.

How did Burning Point get formed and did you release any demo-recordings before signing the contract with Limb Music?
I had a few songs written and we just kinda went from there. We met our drummer, Jari Kaiponen, in the bar (where else? – Sjak) and asked him if he would be interested to join us. After a while he suggested his friend, Toni Kansanoja, who would be interested to play bass and so the band was formed. Yes, we recorded one demo-CD that contained three songs, 'Under The Dying Sun', 'Higher' and 'Fall Of Thy Kingdom'. We were very fortunate to get a record deal after one demo.

How did you get connected to Limb Music in the first place and what did the record deal look like?
Obviously we send the CD to the labels all over and there were a couple of interested ones, but at that point we decided to take the Limb Music's offer. If I remember correctly it was a four album deal.

Your debut album 'Salvation By Fire' was released in 2001. What did this album do for you as a band?
Of course it was one of the highlights in our career, the first album in hand. What did it do for us as a band...hmm, very difficult question...I believe that in that point in time, it just tightened us as a group and obviously made the band name more known.

The follow-up record 'Feeding The Flames' came two years later in 2003 and showed a significant progression. How do you look at this progression yourself and what was the main reason for this?
Yeah, you're right. It was a huge step forward in every aspect, but we didn't plan anything. It was just a very natural progression, if you play and sing a lot, you'll get better.

During that period you also started the side project Ghost Machinery. Why did you feel the urge to do something else besides Burning Point?
Well, it was kind of a mixture of two things. Firstly I had a few songs that the other guys in Burning Point didn't like but I thought that they were too good to be missed. And secondly, I am constantly writing new stuff and I don't want to save them. And if there is a possibility that someone will release them, I'll take it!!

With this outfit you released the album 'Haunting Remains' on Sound Riot Records. How did you get this record deal with them and, since I never had the chance to hear this album (of course you're allowed to send me a copy…ha, ha), what is the biggest difference in style compared to Burning Point?
Well, my first idea was just to record few songs that were “haunting” me. You know, just to get them out of my head. But the demo-CD ('Ghosts In The Castle') turned out sounding amazing and immediately we decided to hunt for a record deal. After a while Sound Riot (among a few others) contacted me and offered a deal. Now in retrospect, it was a huge mistake to take their offer, but at least we had our debut album out. Ghost Machinery will always be more melodic and AOR style than Burning Point, a lot more keyboard orientated. Of course some of the songs might be suitable to both bands, but as I said earlier, I am writing new songs all the time and I really don't want to save them for a “rainy day”. Maybe it is okay to someone, but not to me. On and you can find a few samples.

What are your intentions with this side project? Is it going to evolve into a real band or was it just a one-time collaboration?
First of all I want to make clear that Ghost Machinery has evolved into a band now and has been for awhile. Obviously things are a little on hold right now because of the other duties with Burning Point. But the second album is basically written, which will contain ten new songs and one cover track. We are planning to release the album in this year, let's see what happens...

Furthermore you released a single entitled 'To Hell And Back' in Sweden/Finland only via Poison Arrow Records. What was the intention of releasing this single and why not a European or worldwide release?
At that point we weren't able to do much outside Finland because of the messy situation, but we wanted to release something new material. I think that single could be some kind of collectors item now.

band imageIt took you four years to release the third Burning Point album and it's released on a new label, being Metal Heaven. What went wrong with Limb Music and how did you get involved with Metal Heaven?
Well, it all started when their label manager (the label which initially licensed us to LMP) here in Finland got his brainwaves mixed up really good. He talked thrash and lies behind our backs and try to claim us a huge sums of money. There were lawyers involved, you know, the whole nine yards! Fortunately the truth wins over bullshit and eventually it calmed down, but the result was that we were forced to make a new deal with LMP and they changed some clauses on the new contract and we didn't accept that and decided to leave from the label. I really don't know what made me send the “old” demo-CD to Georg in Metal Heaven because we were supposed to make a new CD with some of the new songs and new arrangements to the old ones. But fortunately he saw and heard the great potential and quality of the songs from that demo.

How does the record deal with Metal Heaven look like? Is it a one record deal or are you signed for several albums?
The deal is for three albums and it surely looks very good. The whole staff is very professional and dedicated to their jobs.

What did Burning Point do in the four years between 'Feeding The Flames' and 'Burned Down The Enemy'?
Basically the band didn't do much, just a few gigs, that's all. Although the band members did a lot…heh heh.

This third album again shows significant progression compared to the second one and I feel that you have matured as a band. How have you been able to develop so strongly in such a short time frame?
Again, I think that it all came down to one thing, natural progression. Speaking for myself, I think that the fact that I am writing songs all the time improves my music making abilities and vocal lines and so on. But, you're right, if there was already a huge step forward between 'Salvation By Fire' and 'Feeding The Flames' albums then this is a huge leap forward!!

In your guitar playing I hear a lot of Yngwie Malmsteen influences, so probably he's one of your sources of inspiration. Which other guitarists do you see as major influences on your guitar playing capabilities?
I've been a Yngwie fan since I first heard him in 1983, but I am not trying to imitate or copy him. He is truly an amazing musician and great composer. The world is full of great other players like Gary Moore, Eddie Van Halen, Michael Schenker and so on.

You also played bass on two songs, the other twelve songs are done by Jukka Jokikokko. Who is he and have you been able to find a bass player yet?
He was (and still is) the engineer in the Hellgate studio where we recorded the album and I just asked him to play the remaining bass tracks. He was very excited about this opportunity because he has always been a fan of us. After awhile we got asked to do a surprise gig with Teräsbetoni and Winterborn and we asked him to fill in the bass. Soon, after the gig it was very clear, he will be our new bass player and now he is a full time member of the band.

With this musical style the production is very important. Who was responsible for the crystal-clear production job of the album?
I think that a very big role was played by our keyboardist Jussi Ontero and the bassist Jukka Jokikokko in the initial part of the recordings, but the finishing touches gave the man who was also responsible for the previous albums, Kari “Kakke” Vähäkuopus.

In my review of the album I already stated that there's a lot of competition in the musical style that Burning Point is in. What makes Burning Point stand out compared to the majority of the other bands in this style? Why should people buy the Burning Point album(s)?
Well, I do not think that way. I just try to write as great metal songs as I can and not thinking will this or that song stand out or not. This causes too much disturbance and it will have a negative effect on the natural way of song writing which is my way of doing things. Unfortunately there are bands changing their original style and following whatever metal “trend” is “hot”. Why should people buy our albums? If they love Scandinavian melodic metal and appreciate best of quality in song writing then, WE ARE YOUR CHOICE !!!

What are you going to do to promote the album? Do you have any touring plans yet and if so, what are they?
We have been in contact with some of the booking agencies and we're negotiating with them, lets see what happens. Hopefully we will be doing something outside of Finland! We're doing a few festival gigs in Finland and clubs, the dates are not confirmed yet. We'll keep you posted on our website, We're also making a for 'Heart Of Gold', so maybe it will be showed on music programs on TV.

We've already talked about the recent past and the short-term future of your career. What are your plans on a more long-term time frame with Burning Point?
Making a new album, doing as many live shows as possible and maybe a DVD release.

Okay Pete, thanks for your time and your willingness to answer my questions. The famous last words are yours?
Thank you for this interview, it was pleasure to do. And all you metalheads out there, if you don't already own a copy of our new album, 'Burned Down The Enemy', I strongly suggest that when you're done reading this amazing interview you go out and buy one!!!! And to all our fans, thank you for the support!!! Keep checking out our website!

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