EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – FREE SPIRIT
Every since I first heard the song “Far Away From Heaven” by Free Spirit,
I knew I had stumbled across a very special band. There is something extroadinary going on in the music scene in Finland
and this incredibly talented group is right in the middle of it. Lead singer Sami Alho, guitarists Markku Keski-Maenpaa and
Vesa Yli-Maenpaa, bass player Sami Hamalainen, drummer Pasi Koivumaki and keyboardist Timo Alho generate such a powerful and
raw form of music that is hooks you, draws you in but you identify with it right away.I have been a very vocal supporter of the band
and have written about them on two previous occasions. The first blog discussed how exciting it was to explore and find good music
where you least expect it. (http://jasonhuskins.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/good-music-is-always-exciting-to-find/)
Imagine my surprise when Sami contacted me and thanked me for the kind words and presented me with the opportunity to acquire
their CD “Pale Sister Of Light,” as in this part of the world it is impossible to find.
The band shared my writing on their official website (http://www.freespiritrock.com/)
and I was honoured by the gesture.
Pale Sister Of Light CD
Once I received my copy of the CD” I wrote a review of it (http://jasonhuskins.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/cd-review-pale-sister-of-light-by-free-spirit/) and scored it 9/10. The band once again shared this blog on the main page of their official website and again it was a huge honour to me. If you wonder what the band sounds like, here is an excerpt from the review.
“Pale Sister Of Light is one of the strongest debut albums I have ever heard by any band, period. It is only 11 tracks long but I think that this is a strength, as it allows the band to really focus on those songs and make them the best they can be. When you read and hear that Free Spirit is a throw back to 80′s rock, it is 100% true and it is a style of music that has been lacking in today’s music scene. There are 80′s bands still alive and kicking but even most of their music today does not sound like what they did in the 80′s.”
A few weeks after I wrote the CD review, I contacted Sami and asked if it was possible for me to send the band a few questions to answer for their fans in North America. I have been doing everything in my power to spread the name and music of Free Spirit to as many people on this side of the ocean as possible. Imagine my excitement when he answered “Sure!” and was very open to the opoortunity. Today I received the answers to my questions, as well as some photos the band sent me to use for this tremendous post.
Here are those questions, along with Free Spirit’s answers, in one of the biggest blogs I have ever written. Ladies and genetlemen……..my exclusive interview with Free Spirit!
How did the guys come up with the name Free Spirit and were you close to
choosing another name?
The name was originally picked from the book ‘Antichrist’ by the famous
philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche where he (in chapter 13) describes a
person who is not bound to any religion, politics or -isms, as a free
spirit. Of course the idiom free spirit means lots of other things, too
(like a problem child), but basically to us it means a person who is
willing to think and act independently. So we thought it would be a cool
name for a rock band.
When we were about to release our first demo tape back in the days, we
were in a hurry to give the band a name. There were also other names under
consideration at that time, but the text Free Spirit and the logo looked
quite nice on the cover, so in the end it was a clear winner. The logo
looked very different than it looks today, but it was a good start. The
current Free Spirit logo is designed by our drummer Pasi.
What has been tougher, writing songs for “Pale Sister of Light” or the
new cd and why?
It’s hard to say. It’s been fun and challenging to write songs for both of
these albums, but for different reasons. In the beginning of the Pale
Sister of Light sessions we had songs that had been written and performed
during the former lineup, but when Vesa and Markku joined the group, the
overall sound and the whole existence of the band changed quite a lot, so
we decided to rearrange all the older songs and write new ones.
The first song for the Pale Sister of Light and for the new line up was
‘Until the Night,’ which at first was meant to be just a demo to test the
new sound of the band. The “demo” sounded very convincing and the ‘Until
the Night’ you hear today from the album is basically that same version of
Many older songs from Pale Sister of Light were rearranged to match the
sound of ‘Until the Night’ and other new songs and the new sound of the
band. With some of the songs you rather have to talk about rewriting than
rearranging, because the changes were dramatic. ‘Heroes Don’t Cry’ was
perhaps the least rearranged song, but songs like ‘Strangers’ and ‘Shadow
of a Man’ were almost completely rewritten.
With the upcoming album we have started from scratch and that has given us
more room to try different things and to use our imagination. During the
Pale Sister of Light sessions we learned how to create that Free Spirit
sound and with this new album we wanted to take it a few steps further.
Perhaps the challenging thing with the new album has been making the
decisions on where to draw the line and how far we want to go. At first we
recorded a bunch of demos and relying on them we started to record the
album. During the recording process new ideas came up constantly and we
decided, just like during the Pale Sister of Light sessions, that we’ll
give all these ideas a chance and see where they are taking us. Of course
it slows down the process, but because we have our own studio and we can
use it freely, we will take all the advantages of that luxury and record
the best possible album we can.
*What is the band’s favourite song to play live and why?
There are many songs. Perhaps the most popular song from the Pale Sister
of Light is ‘Far Away from Heaven’ and it’s always fun to play live.
‘Radiant Light’ is also a good piece because of the high energy it has,
just like the title song ‘Pale Sister of Light’.
The most important thing on stage is to relax and enjoy the dynamics of
the songs together with the audience. I guess all our songs are written
with live performance in mind. In the studio there is always a risk that
you lose some of the energy or that positive tension you get easily on the
stage. That’s why we try to write and arrange all the songs in a way that
people will get that energy and dynamics of the music as much from the
record as on the stage.
There are already many songs on the upcoming album that’ll be fun to play
live. We just can’t wait to get in front of the audience and have a good
Has their been any band or musician that has been a huge influence to
Making music is basically a process where you filter all the influences
that have affected you during your life and turn it to new music. The more
influences you can put in to your music the more interesting it’ll
probably be and more rewarding for the audience even after several
The Free Spirit sound is based on the large variety of influences all the
band members’ have. We don’t have one common band or musician we’d like to
follow and impersonate. We all listen different kind of music and artists
from different decades of rock music. Of course we have to admit that a
part of our sound is relying on the heritage of that golden era of arena
rock, so I guess the closest thing to a common influence is the songs and
artists of that era.
You have been very accessible to me, a fan, and and I think it is
fantastic. There are some bands who will shy away from their fans. I want
to know if you felt it was important to be as available to your fans as
you have been?
Yes it’s very important and very natural to us. We really appreciate all
our fans and it’s truly an honor to get attention from the people.
Especially these days when there are so many bands out there. I’m not
saying this just to please people, I’m saying it because I know how much it
takes to draw attention and make an influence with music. But if we manage
to do that it really makes us feel like winners.
We would like to use more time and be more available for the fans, but the
lack of time is our greatest limitation in doing so. Especially now when
we are in the middle of the recording process. I hope this changes when we
get on the road and see people face to face.