For the release of their debut album “Reverence”, we took the chance and asked a few questions to Matias Palm and Kasperi Heikkinen (singer and lead guitar respectively) about Merging Flare and their music. Here is what the two musicians have to say, in regard to their album, the local scene and other curiosities:
1) To start, a must-to-ask, basic question: how did Merging Flare born? and why "Merging Flare"?
Matias: Merging Flare was created onto the ruins of the old metal band Disease that kinda stopped doing anything at the end of the 90’s. Merging Flare therefore marked a return of the band with new songs and a new band name.
Kasperi: We had a pretty long history playing together with all these guys already before Matias joined the line-up in the late 90s. Then we just decided to change the name of the band to Merging Flare. I came up with the name but there is no deep philosophy behind that name at all. I just thought it sounded quite nice and cool so we just went with it.
2) After years of playing live and recording a couple of demos, finally the moment of your debut. Can you describe this "journey" that made you come to the first full-length, and tell us what you expect from the one you’ve just embarked into with the release of "Reverence"?
M: Well, as you can see by looking at our website, not much really happened during the years until now that we released the debut album. Yes, we released a couple of demos and a split CD single and even did a couple of gigs but aside from our hometown (Kajaani) there really didn’t seem to be much interest toward the band. We got some nice reviews earlier too but getting gigs seemed almost impossible at times. Maybe it was our bad luck or whatever but we hope that things will get better now with Disentertainment who are working their asses off for us.
K: I hope the people will find the band and the album. The road has been long and hard but this is the display of our power, might and hard work. I’m really happy with the result and I hope it will get the recognition it deserves.
3) How did you find yourself working with Disentertainment Records?
K: They are guys that we have known for a fairly long time and they have always been interested in our music so therefore they decided to offer us a record deal. We accepted the deal and started recording the album.
M: So far everything has been splendid and things have been running smoothly. As the guys are old friends of ours, it’s easy to negotiate about things and very easy to argue with them as well. :D
4) The album, compared to many debut records from "underground" band that I’ve listened to, seems to have a pretty good production. How was the recording process?
M: In short: it was looooong. The problem was that we rarely got a chance to record a whole day so we spent many evenings at the studio after a long day at work. That made the process a bit stressful at times. I prefer doing things quick without really waiting for things to happen for months after months but for various reasons finishing the record took a lot longer than what was initially expected.
K: Yeah, the process was quite unintensive because we could only work on the album just few evenings per week. I wanted to get a really edgy, crisp and old-school style kind of production with lots of dynamics for ‘Reverence’ and I think we succeeded pretty well. At least the production on the album is something slightly different compared to most metal albums nowadays.
5) Which songs are your personal favorites of this record and why?
M: My favorite tracks are obviously the newest songs we did, which means “Terrordome”, “Pride And Bravery”, “Carved In Stone” and “At Daggers Drawn”. Those other songs we’ve been playing and rehearsing for years so therefore I was more eager to record new stuff.
K: My current favorites are “Terrordome” and “Pride And Bravery” but they tend to change almost every day, haha. I think those two sum up really well what Merging Flare is all about, though.
6) Kai Hansen makes a guest appearance in 4 of your songs, two on the vocals and two on the guitars. Did you ever had the chance to discuss about the songs with him in person, or did you just send the material for him to record and then put it all together afterwards?
K: We sent him the rough mixes from all the songs in which we wanted him to participate. For guitar solos I just told him the time-gaps in the songs for his solos, no other instructions or anything. For vocal tracks we sent him some vocal melodies that Matias had sung, but he only kept them as a guideline and moulded the melodies quite a lot which was very welcome and also refreshing in a way.
7) It seems that through Kasperi, who performed with them in a few occasions, you managed to have quite a good relationship with Kai and Gamma Ray in general. How did you get to know the guys?
K: Eero Kaukomies, who is/was the keyboardist in Guardians Of Mankind (the Finnish Gamma Ray Tribute band in which me and Matias also play(ed) in) participated in some Gamma Ray fan club events some years ago and got in contact with the guys from GR. They were really enthustiastic about the fact that they have a tribute band. Later they also asked Eero to join their live line-up on their Majestic tour. Accidentally Henjo Richter injured himself during the tour so therefore I stepped in to replace him for a couple of shows. That’s how the connection developed.
8) There’s many big names in the influences one can hear from listening to your music, from Accept to Helloween, to Gamma Ray itself and even Queen. But is there any other source of inspiration that it’s maybe not so easy to see in your music? Maybe some local band, friend or even family?
M: Kajaani’s music scene (when we started playing our instruments back in the day) was really limited. There were no recording artists, just some local demo bands playing death metal and maybe some Finnish folk music stuff. Well, those bands obviously didn’t really affect to anything we did but it was mainly those old metal bands you already mentioned. I guess we all liked the same bands and thus gathered together making music we all liked.
K: There are some video game music influences in our songs that spice up the whole package. Ever since I was a kid I have always been a huge fan of Commodore 64 and NES game music. Great stuff.
9) In Finland many musicians have several projects that they try to carry on altogether, isn’t it difficult sometimes to divide yourself between maybe 3-4 bands?
M: No, when you make schedules. :) Our bands aren’t touring America or anything like that. We don’t have tours lasting 1,5 years like Nightwish. That’s why it’s easy to run several bands at the same time. And even in big bands like Nightwish there are musicians who have other projects going on.
10) Don’t you feel at times like if there’s many Power metal bands which attempt to create their own music just to end up into mediocrity, because they fail to find something really personal or original to add to their mix?
M: I already felt 10 years ago that there were too many power metal bands. And then also, I don’t listen to any new power metal. I only like the old German power metal style groups who were/are more like heavy metal according to today’s standards.
K: Same thing with me, I never got into newer power metal at all. It just started sounding all the same to me, same arrangements, same chord progressions, same production values etc. It seems that there is just some rigid formula which you have to follow in order to make power metal and thats probably the reason why so many power metal bands sound mediocre. I had my power metal phase when I was a teenager but gradually my music taste changed more towards old school heavy metal and also some other music styles.
11) Among the other bands in the local scene, do you feel there’s someone that would deserve more success or that is still underrated?
M: No. :) And that’s because I don’t really listen to any new music, or if I do, then it’s usually something else than metal. Therefore I don’t have much knowledge on the local metal bands and I have no idea if they’d deserve more success. :P
K: I don’t know the scene that well because I don’t really follow it anymore nowadays. I have my old favorites and I like to stick to them.
12) Do you believe that it’s easier, in a way, to reach popularity with a metal band in Finland and Scandinavia - or even in Germany - rather than in most of the other countries, for instance from Southern Europe?
K: Yes, maybe in a way because metal is pretty mainstream in the Nordic countries and in Germany as well. But of course your music has to be top-notch as well to get noticed and to make it further in the music world nowadays.
13) First of all a musician should be also a big music fan. If you had the chance, with whom would you like to play in a tour (maybe even on a European scale)? And the other way around, is there any local act that you’d be happy to bring on the road with you?
M: Kate Bush because she hasn’t toured since 1979.
K: AC/DC with Bon Scott. I know its impossible, but that would be an ultimate dream, hehe. About the local act I’d like to refer to my answer to question 11.
14) Which was the best live experience you’ve had so far? And which the bigger concert?
M: Probably the biggest one was a Heavy Metal Perse gig from our last tour: a show at Nummirock or Jalometalli festival. Also it was nice to tour with Skyclad and Blaze Bayley. I have lots of fun memories from those gigs. :)
K: There are quite a lot of nice experiences, but one of them would be playing in Prague, Czech Republic with Gamma Ray. It was a sold-out show with 1500 people and it was really, really hot in there. I think I have never been sweating as much as during that show. I was completely soaked at the end of the set, haha.
15) Videos are always a good visual support to promote a band and give the chance to present yourself to a bigger audience through the Internet. Do you plan to record something in the near future? Which song do you think would suit best and why?
M: Yes, our drummer Henri did a nice video for “At Daggers Drawn” and you can now find it on youtube. Other than that we have no resources for a real video production at the moment.
16) Where do you see yourself and your band in, let’s say, 5 years from now?
M: Hopefully recording our second album. ;)
K: Hopefully still alive and kicking :D
17) Do you want to add something more for the readers of Holymetal.com?
K: Check out the band, buy the album and come to the shows if you have a chance! Heavy Metal Is The Law!
M: Thank you for reading this! :)
Siamo alla ricerca di un nuovo addetto per la sezione DEMO, gli interessati possono contattare lo staff di Holy Metal, nel frattempo la sezione demo rimane temporaneamente chiusa.