In 2001 Merging Flare debuted with the album Reverence. But, a few years later the driving force behind the band, Kasperi Heikkinen, became busy joining U.D.O. and later on Beast In Black. Now, eight years later Merging Flare is back.
You are described as the driving force behind Merging Flare. Could you take me back to when the band was founded?
Kasperi: I founded the band with our drummer Henri [Pyy] in Kajaani, Finland back in 1993 when we started playing music together in the music class.
We started pretty much from scratch with no real playing abilities at that point, but the burning passion made up for the lacking skills. We had varying line-ups during the years and we started to write our own music from the very beginning as well. I was the one who was coming up with most of the music, but we put the songs together as a band just jamming at the rehearsals. The band was called Disease back in those days, but we changed the name to Merging Flare in 2001. At that point the line-up had already been stabilized to the one that recorded Reverence.
Like you said the band changed name in 2001 and Merging Flare was born. But, it wasn’t until 2011 that the debut album was released. How was the ten years prior to the debut? I know you released some demos, but how active was the band at that time?
Kasperi: In 2000 I moved to Helsinki (about 600km from Kajaani) to study, so that made the logistics a bit challenging and that’s also the reason why things were happening pretty slow. Basically, we only had rehearsals when I was going to Kajaani for holidays or something else. We made 2 demos and 1 split-EP before the debut full-length album Reverence.
Reverence was released in 2011. Thinking back; how would you describe the album today?
Kasperi: It’s still a solid heavy metal album with some really cool tunes even though the production is a bit weak. We made it as well as we could with the know-how and resources we had around that time and I’m still proud of that album. It has some songs that were specifically written for that album in mind and also some old demo songs that we rearranged and reworked a bit. It took about a year to record, mix and master the whole thing.
It’s been eight years since the last album; has the band been active since the debut?
Kasperi: We started to record this new album in the summer of 2014 and we had a pretty intense practicing schedule for a couple of months before the recordings started. The songs were pretty much written and completed after the release of Reverence. We haven’t done much with the band since that for various reasons, the main reason is me being really busy with U.D.O. first and then with Beast In Black.
I was really busy with U.D.O. the whole 4 years I was playing in that band so that naturally affected the Merging Flare situation. I had a chance to work as a full-time musician professionally so of course I took that chance back then.
In 2015 you joined Beast In Black. Have you, during all these years, always been thinking that there will be another Mergin Flare album, or is that something that has developed lately?
Kasperi: I always wanted to finish and release this new Merging Flare album but it took almost 5 years because there were simply too many other things going on at the same time. Besides me playing in U.D.O. there were some personal things and business-related issues we needed to sort out so that was a really long, hard and time-consuming project.
We must talk some about Beast In Black, before moving on to the new Merging Flare album. How has that journey been? I mean; what was your idea of the band when you first joined? Did you ever think that the band would be so successful?
Kasperi: Everything has happened really fast and we all are very surprised about how the things around the band have developed. I knew there would be a lot of potential and a good chance to make BIB a house-hold name in the scene, but I never expected us to be at this point so soon, with 2 studio albums out and playing a lot of sold out shows on our first headlining tour at the moment.
How is the songwriting process in Beast In Black. Is everyone involved? Or is Merging Flare your “escape”; where you can express your musical visions?
Kasperi: Anton [Kabanen] wrote all the music for the first 2 BIB albums. I’m ok with him writing everything since he has a very specific style that works really well. Maybe I can offer some ideas to him in the future but let’s see, for me it’s not important who writes the songs as long as the whole thing works.
Back to the upcoming Merging Flare album Revolt Regime. As I said: its been eight years since the last album. How has the years affected the band as musicians and people – and how is that hearable on the new album?
Kasperi: The whole new album feels more solid and cohesive compared to the first one. The songs are written, arranged, structured and performed better because we have evolved a lot as musicians. Especially our singer Matias [Palm] really delivers a top notch performance throughout the whole album with his strong interpretation and different kinds of tones of his voice.
What can we expect from Merging Flare anno 2019; are you staying on the same path, or will we hear some Beast In Black influences?
Kasperi: If we make new music together it will most probably stay the same way in the future as well. We have our own way of making music and I don’t really see any reason to change it.
For how long have you been working on this album? I asked earlier how long this album has been on your mind, but is some of the lyrics/music pieces that you have written down during the years (maybe for an Merging Flare album – maybe for something else), or did you sit down and write songs specific for this album?
Kasperi: There are some ideas that we came up with 20 years ago and then there are also some really new ideas that we only came up with a little bit before the recordings started so it’s kind of a mixture of both old and new. I always wrote music only for Merging Flare, so all the songs are exclusively written for us.
The band consist of the same people as last time: was everyone on board for a second album? Did they just wait for you to find time?
Kasperi: Actually our other guitar player Joni [Hattuniemi] decided to leave the band for personal reasons when we were writing the songs for the new album. There’s no bad blood and we are still friends, he just wanted to focus on other things in life. Therefore, we recorded the whole album as a 4-piece with me handling all the guitars myself. Recording drums and bass was pretty fast, it only took about a week in the Finnish country side. After that we recorded everything else piece by piece whenever there was some time to do that.
How will you combine the work with Merging Flare and Beast In Black? Is Beast In Black finished with the tour within the release of Revolt Regime?
Kasperi: At the moment it looks like we’re going to be really busy with Beast In Black throughout the whole 2019 so I don’t think it’s very realistic to do that much with Merging Flare this year. And even if we are going to do something I want to do it properly with enough time and focus. But never say never!
So no touring to promote the upcoming Merging Flare album?
Kasperi: Since I’m touring almost non-stop with Beast In Black the promotion is to try to cover as many forms of media with interviews etc. and raise awareness about Merging Flare that way. Of course, we are also promoting Merging Flare during the Beast In Black shows as well.
Will there be another eight years till the third Merging Flare album?
Kasperi: Future is always hard to predict! There are some song ideas, melodies and riffs in the works so maybe one day we will do something with them.