Hanna Tsepesh: Moro Sami! Welcome to THE GATES OF METAL and thanks so much for accepting this invitation! First of all can you tell to us about FREE SPIRIT history and make a little introduction about yourself and the other band members?
Sami: Terve vaan, Hanna! Free Spirit's history in one form or another actually goes back to the early nineties. The band was originally formed as a side project for carrying out the more metallic ambitions of a group of musicians from our small hometown. Me and Pasi are still original founding members, and Sami H. joined quite early too. Pretty quickly Free Spirit actually became the main project for all of us. After some initial success, Free Spirit's activity was quite periodic until late 2005 or early 2006, when after some lineup changes Vesa joined the band. Vesa's style of making music really connected with mine, and after making just one song, Until the Night, we all came to the conclusion that it was finally time to record the first full length album. Markku joined to fill up the second guitarists place, and on the album Timo played the keyboards as he always had on all Free Spirit recordings. Once the album was finished and the first gig was coming up we realized that, unlike previously, there were keyboards on almost every song, so at that time Timo joined as a full member and has since played with us also on stage. Unfortunately Markku had other obligations, and so he left and Marko joined in his place in summer 2008. That's how we came up with the current line-up.
Hanna Tsepesh: What are your inspirations to create the lyrics for FREE SPIRIT?
Sami: I think the main inspiration is some sort of romantic escapism. Romantic not in the sense of love stories (although you'll find some of those in the lyrics too), but in the sense of strong emotions and their metaphorical expressions. The escapism is a kind of a counter-reaction to the very close to earth, downright banal, style of writing lyrics that we've been mostly hearing for the last fifteen years or so. Of course it also stems from my own desires to experience something bigger than just the everyday life of waking up, going to work, eating, watching TV and going back to sleep.
Hanna Tsepesh: You have an amazing voice Sami, I am very surprised with your talent and i like to congratulate you for your work and also to ask you if you have any singing lessons or any kind of training?
Sami: Thank you very much! I’m almost blushing here. Actually I don’t have any official training in singing. I have always loved singing, and even though I started my musical career as a guitarist, I very soon realized that singing is my thing. When I first started singing in a band I sounded very different. Over the years I have realized that I have to develop my own style if I want to stand out.
We recorded all the lead vocals for the Pale Sister of Light album together with Vesa who was my “personal vocal producer” and I think we found out how to use my voice in the most effective way possible. We didn’t want to go the usual way because we wanted to concentrate on melodies instead of that classic hard rock sound and technique. Sometimes it was easy and fast to find the right vocal sound for a certain song, but then there was also a little bit of a struggle at times, such as in Strangers where we changed the whole melody line because we didn’t find the right vocal sound for the original melody line. In the end the whole song changed dramatically, but I’m very pleased with the result we ended up with.
Hanna Tsepesh: (laughs) don’t need to thanks is the truth! What are your favorite bands? Do you have any musician that you admire the most?
Sami: Many of my favourite bands come from the classic hard rock and heavy metal genre. Bands like Whitesnake, Scorpions, Def Leppard, Van Halen and Bon Jovi were my childhood heroes. I also like those earlier hard rock acts like Led Zeppelin, Queen, Deep Purple etc. My favourite modern rock bands are groups like Foo Fighters, Nickelback, Disturbed.
Then there are lots of artists who have nothing to do with hard rock or heavy metal, but their music has influenced me a lot. I like all kinds of music from pop to folk and from classic to metal just as long as the song is written from the heart and you can hear that the musicians really put themselves in to it.
There are many musicians I admire. One of them is Jim Morrison. I admire him as a poet and as the ultimate rock star. Of course there are also many other great vocalists and performers that I admire, like Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury and Ian Astbury. What unites all these artists is that they really put themselves into their music and their performance. They all are very charismatic figures that seem to believe in their music.
Hanna Tsepesh: Yeah you are totally right about Jim Morrison! FREE SPIRIT have a debut album out now called “Pale Sister of Light”. I only have to say excellent things about this album so it isin my opinion: The voices are amazing together, the lyrics are very positive, the riffs are very cool, I really recommend this album for rock fans because this album is simply amazing! I am really a big fan of old rock and FREE SPIRIT remembers me a lot when I was a kid and heard the big rock bands. Can you tell to us about the album and what the band want to accomplish?
Sami: The whole band loves those big rock groups from our childhood and we’ve been missing that sound. But we didn’t want to be just a replica of those days. We wanted to take those rich melodies and that shameless stadium rock attitude and combine that with modern rock. It was a challenging task to build a bridge between old and new, but we promised ourselves from the beginning that we would keep on working with the album as long as every song sounds just like we want.
One of the goals of this album, and Free Spirit's music in general, is to bring back the melodic and musical side of hard rock and metal music. Modern rock music is dominated by groups of angry men trying to prove their “attitude.” Even though attitude and aggression has always been a part of rock music, we wanted to be more than just that. So, we decided to concentrate on writing good songs and trying to bring back those breathtaking choruses, big emotions and most of all bring back the joy of making music. Considering all the comments we've had, it seems that we reached our goals quite well. I think people have been really missing that melodic side of rock music for some time now too and that is one of the reasons why this album really seems to enchant it’s audience.
Hanna Tsepesh: Can you tell to us about the recording studio process? The band feels pride with the final result? You recorded and mixed all the album, right? Congratulation for your work!
Sami: Well, the recording studio was our rehearsal room, which is an old schoolroom. The mixing was done in my bedroom, and mastering was the only part of the process that was done in a professional mastering studio by a professional mastering engineer (Henkka Niemistö, Chartmakers, Finland). I think we have no choice really but to be pleased about the results, since most of the reviews have been quite flattering! One of the big advantages of this DIY working is that we had the chance to spend as much time on each song as we like, and redo everything over and over until we were satisfied with it. This would be completely impossible in a commercial studio where you pay by the hour.
Hanna Tsepesh: there is any reason for the album title (“Pale Sister of Light”)?
Sami: The phrase Pale Sister of Light is a metaphor for the moon or the spirit of the moon. On the title track of the album, the protagonist travels in to another world to escape his everyday life, leaving the nocturnal streets of a city to meet the unknown. His guide in that world is the moon, that is, the Pale Sister of Light. In overall this theme of finding escape from the confines of a conservative society to a greater freedom, of becoming a true free spirit, is present throughout the album, and so one of the guides on such a quest is surely an appropriate title for the album.
Hanna Tsepesh: How has the response been to the album by the media and fans? I see at the band MySpace some cool reviews…
Sami: The response has been much better than we even dared to dream! It is very relieving to read all those great reviews especially after all the hard work we’ve put in to this record. Both critics and rock fans all around the world have praised songs on the album. That is something I’m actually a bit proud of, because there are so many great musicians out there, but what modern rock is missing today is great songs.
Hanna Tsepesh: If any readers want to buy the album what they have to do?
Sami: We are working to get the album released officially in different territories within the next few months, but before that the best place is to check out mail order shops like AOR Heaven in Germany, Destiny Records in UK, NEH Records and Wishing Well Entertainment in the USA, Rock Avenue Records in Japan and Record Shop X in Finland. Most of these shops ship worldwide. The digital version of the album can be downloaded from places like iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon.com and many more. At www.freespiritrock.com there is also a list of places where the album can be bought physically or digitally, so currently it’s the best place to check out your nearest dealer.
Hanna Tsepesh: If you have to balance/evaluate your work in “Pale Sister of Light” album, what will be your answer?
Sami: Of course I have to be pleased. All the great reviews and especially how people have been enchanted by our music is much more than I expected. Since I’m the lead singer, executive producer, sound engineer, mixing engineer and I have written/co-written the songs on the album and all those different parts have gained flattering comments it is very easy to be happy with the final result.
Pale Sister of Light is actually my diploma work for the school (Pirkanmaa Polytechnic) where I studied music production and marketing for five years, so it is also nice to see that I wasn't wasting my time in that school…
Hanna Tsepesh: About concerts, do you guys are thinking about an EUROPEAN TOUR or something like that? What are your future plans for FREE SPIRIT?
Sami: We definitely hope to tour Europe and around the world as soon as possible with these songs. First we have to get the album officially released in different territories and concentrate on promoting the album. That keeps us busy right now. We are also planning to shoot a new video sometime in the near future.
Hanna Tsepesh: What is your favorite music in this album and why?
Sami: There are many songs on the album that I like for one reason or another. If I really had to choose one song that would probably be Strangers. I really like the production of the song, but perhaps even more I’m proud of that overall feeling in the song. The music and the lyrics really form a cinematic landscape of nocturnal streets of a city by night. Depending on the day the answer could also be Preacher Man. I really like that twisted mood and melodic guitars on the verse and the song is constantly evolving.
Hanna Tsepesh: Do you want to send any message for FREE SPIRIT fans out there? Sami: First of all thank you all for your support! We really appreciate it! We hope that our music will give you lots of good feelings and keep you rocking. We are looking forward to seeing you all in Free Spirit live shows in the near future. Meanwhile, tell all your friends about Free Spirit and let them share your enthusiasm.
Hanna Tsepesh: Thanks so much for your answers and time! THE GATES OF METAL wishes a lot of success with this great album and we really hope to see one day FREE SPIRIT at Portugal…
Sami: Thank you very much Hanna! If we are lucky, we’ll see sooner than you think…
Hanna Tsepesh: i hope so! Thanks so much!
By: Hanna Tsepesh
To listen more FREE SPIRIT musics and for future information go at: www.myspace.com/freespiritrock