Interview with Arvid Filipsson of Creye

It would make things much better if each day had at least forty eight hours. Otherwise, it’s just impossible to check out every new Melodic Rock act that has emerged over the last fifteen years. And of course, the majority of them are from Scandinavia, so there must be something in the water there… However, a Malmö-based six-piece Creye compete hard for fans’ attention. First, they released an EP in 2017, followed by a full-length debut album in 2018 and an acoustic EP just a year later. Fast forward to 2020 and here comes the first single off the new Creye album, due to be released next year… I caught up with the band’s drummer Arvid Filipsson to chat about their past and future endeavours.

Creye. Photo used by the artist’s permission. Photo credits: Mikael Roos.

Alexandra Mrozowska: Let’s start with a piece of Creye trivia not everyone who listens to the band might be aware of – the band members’ education in Malmö Academy of Music. How do you think it translates into what you do as Creye?

Arvid Filipsson: That’s a great question. We’re studying to become music teachers, but there’s a lot more to our education than just pedagogics; we have ensemble playing, courses in music production, lessons on our main instruments, and so on. As for me, I’ve definitely learned a ton from my education that I can translate into what I do with Creye – I wouldn’t be this good a drummer without my education, I wouldn’t be this good at live sounds and production, and also – it’s a lot easier to rehearse and cooperate as a band when a majority of the band has a pedagogic education.

AM: What sparked your interest in playing drums? Did it start, as it usually does, with banging on your mother’s pots and pans in your early childhood?

AF: Wow, I think it begin with me seeing Levon Helm from The Band on a VHS, or maybe hearing him on a vinyl player. He’s still one of my biggest drumming heroes. I think I actually began playing on books, but I got a beginner’s drum kit fairly early in my childhood. Then I got a dip in my teens and wanted to play the guitar, which I still do – but I realized drums was the best instrument for me. I like hitting things and getting sweaty on stage…

AM: Which drummers do you think influenced the way you play?

AF: It all depends on which style of music I’m playing at the moment. When I do the Creye stuff, I’m heavily influenced by Phil Collins. When I’m playing something softer and groovier, I often try to mimick Bernard Purdie’s playing. I think one of the absolute best ways to grow your own musical identity is to imitate players that you like – I’ve learned a ton from playing along to old Hall & Oates and Steely Dan records, trying to glue on to the drummer in the song and play as similar as possible. I genuinely think that the best way to find your own identity as a musician is to imitate and learn from others.

AM: Some drummers prefer very simplistic, minimal drum kits whereas the others go big. What’s your choice in this matter and why?

AF: Well, I’m somewhere in between. I don’t really see the purpose of having a 100-piece drum kit that’s built around you, but at the same time, I’m a little allergic to people firmly saying that ’if you can’t play on a 3-piece drum kit, you can’t play at all’. Of course there are moments when you wanna have a bigger drum kit, and moments when you wanna have a 3-piece. It’s all about personal preference and nothing is universally right or wrong. When I play with Creye, I generally prefer medium sized kits. I want a lot of cymbals to hit, and having maybe an extra tom gives me a little more freedom when I do fills, but having a monster kit with 10 cymbals and 20 toms would just give me a headache…

AM: Creye has just released a new single “Face To Face”. Do you see it as a leap forward for the band, or continuity of your debut album? Why?

AF: I wouldn’t see it as a continuity of our debut album. I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna try to become a Reggae band, but we’re moving forward and we’re not trying to do what we did on our debut album over again. I think people who loved our debut album are gonna love this album as well, and maybe people who weren’t so fond of our debut album will find that the second album is more appealing to them too.

AM: Is “Face To Face” a good representative of the material that will be released on your sophomore album which is planned for early 2021?

AF: I think this second album has a little more genre diversity than our debut album, and “Face To Face” is definitely a good representative of the rockier side of the album. That is why we wanted to release it as the first single.

AM: “Face To Face” was written and produced by the band. Does it mean you won’t renew your collaboration with the producer Erik Wiss whom I believe you worked with on your previous releases Creye and Up Close?

AF: Creye and Erik go waaaay back. We’ve known each other for a long time and he’s produced everything we’ve done up to this point, but a number of circumstances led to him not being a part of this album. I can, however, assure you that these circumstances do not include us having a beef or something. We would absolutely love to work with Erik again, and speaking for myself I can say that he’s definitely one of my favourite people and musicians in the world.

AM: The band’s previous full-length album featured songwriter cameos from the outside writers, including the mentioned Erik Wiss, Ulrick Lönnqvist, Sören Kronqvist, Mike Palace or Hal Marabel. Was the songwriting process for the new album any different?

AF: I think the songwriting process has evolved for this album… we’ve done more things together, come up with things while rehearsing, etc. Everyone has been a part of everything and we’re really proud of the result. When it comes to songwriter cameos, you’ll have to wait and see!

AM: With the recordings of the new album finished around the time the pandemic hit, what was the band up to during the last difficult months?

AF: Well, we had basically just come back from our tour with DeVicious and Michael Bormann when we started working on the new album full time. Recordings for the album took place in late February and early March, when the situation was about to peak here in Sweden. We had some gigs that were cancelled this summer and fall. I think it’s too soon to tell how hard the pandemic has hit us as a band – it all depends on what happens in the next year or so.

AM: Speaking of recording – making a debut album is always a huge challenge, and there are plenty of cases in the history of Rock when it didn’t manage to show the act’s true colours. Are you still proud of what you achieved with your 2018 self-titled debut, or are there things you’d now go back to and improve on?

AF: I can only speak for myself, but I think our debut album is great. Of course there are always things you can improve (which we also have done for our live shows) but I think we’re all proud of our debut album and we love to play those songs live. We’re not gonna stop playing them just because we’ve released a second album.

Arvid Filipsson of Creye. Photo used by the artist’s permission. Photo credits: Mikael Roos

AM: A year ago, you’ve released an acoustic EP Up Close. What’s prompted the choice of reworking songs included on your debut album just a year after it was released?

AF: We thought it was fun! We wanted a challenge and we wanted to do something different with some of the songs from our debut album. We also released a new song on the EP (“Lost Without You”). Re-arranging the songs in an acoustic manner and recording them was a challenge, and it was a lovely process. The recording process was so organic, and of course, hanging out with the rest of the band and producer Erik Wiss is always amazing.

AM: Are you satisfied with Creye being signed to Frontiers? What’s the reason behind the choice of this particular label?

AF: We love the guys at Frontiers, and we know they love us back! When you’re looking for a record deal, you usually get a couple of proposals that you choose between. We thought Frontiers was the record label that could do the most for us, and that also turned out to be the case.

AM: A staple in Creye’s early career was the regular turnover in the lead singer position. Do you think you’ve reached stability now that August (Rauer, the band’s lead singer) holds the mic?

AF: Well, those days are gone (laughs) I personally have known August for six years now and we couldn’t have dreamed of a better lead singer. We’ve definitely reached stability.

AM: In the world of Rock, almost everyone seems to be constantly worried about their credibility and being labeled as “Pop” is often thought to be almost insulting. Yet, Creye describes itself literally as Pop/Rock and apparently isn’t afraid of the association…

AF: Why would you be worried about being labeled as Pop? It’s the best label there is. I wouldn’t feel particularly insulted about my music reaching a wider audience. I understand if Death Metal bands feel pride in writing songs that don’t necessarily appeal to a lot of people, but we want to write music that a wide audience can listen to and relate to. I personally would be more worried about not being labeled as “Pop”.

AM: Do you and/or your bandmates listen to Pop music at all, and if you do, what acts would you call the most influential? Can you think of any influences your fans would find to be quite surprising?

AF: I would say we are pop guys to some degree… (laughs) We listen a lot to The 1975 and they have influenced us in our songwriting. I listen to a lot of ‘80s pop, as well as newer pop bands and artists such as The 1975, Maggie Rogers, Foster the People, etc.

AM: As you’ve already mentioned, last year Creye toured with DeVicious and Michael Bormann’s Jaded Hard. What are your memories of the tour?

AF: Wow, so many great things happened on that tour. We loved hanging out with the other bands, as well as sitting by ourselves in the back of the tour bus playing Mario Kart. I didn’t win a single time though, so for me, that was a nightmare. We remember the gig at Jonny’s Lion Cave in Switzerland, it was such a small, cozy venue, and it was packed with people. The feeling there was amazing and it was the last gig of the tour. We would love to come back to all these venues and we would love to hang out with DeVicious and the Bormann gang again – I just have to practice some Mario Kart first, so I don’t make a fool of myself in the back of the bus (laughs)

AM: Who would you like to share a stage with in the future, if you could pick just any band?

AF: Wow, I think we all would love to share the stage with H.E.A.T sometime in the future. We would of course also love to share a stage with just about any band that we’ve shared a stage with in the past – State of Salazar, Michael Bormann, DeVicious, Crazy Lixx, and so on. They’re all great guys and we’ve had some epic times with them.

AM: Now the very last question: with your first gig postponed until early December, what are Creye’s current plans?

AF: Spending time with each other, hang out as friends, and connect with our fans on social media. You can’t sit around and be mad at the current pandemic, you gotta make the best out of it, you know. Practice, drink beer, buy a car, start playing tennis, take care of your plants, I don’t know. Either way our schedules are packed and we’re in the middle of a launch period so we’re not too mad at the situation. And once this Corona situation is over, we’ll get out on the road like never before!

Creye Official Website

Creye on Facebook

You can check out the lyric video to Creye’s brand new single “Face To Face” below:


Interview with Pekka Ansio Heino of Brother Firetribe

What pictures do you have in your mind when you think about the “vintage” America…? Crowded drive-in theaters, diners with the obligatory black and white floor tiles, open highways, old timers… And that’s exactly the vibe a Finnish act Brother Firetribe captured with their upcoming album Feel The Burn aesthetically – from the videos to the single covers, it’s retro America all the way. But where does this idea come from? Here’s the band’s lead singer Pekka Ansio Heino explaining it all – and providing an insight into the new release all Tribesters can’t wait to hear.

Brother Firetribe

Alexandra Mrozowska: To start our chat on an optimistic note, I’ll refrain myself from asking about cancelled gigs or the postponed release date of your new album. I’d rather ask about the future plans the band has once the pandemic is all over…

Pekka Ansio Heino: …I like this interview already!

AM: (laughs) Always look on the bright side of life, huh? So let’s start from the three singles off the new album Feel The Burn. Would you say they’re representative towards the rest of the new material in terms of music, or can we expect any surprises?

PAH: Yeah, sure they are. We still think of an album as a format where each song is a part of a big picture. There’s some stuff there that might take people by surprise but what do I know… we only did what felt right and sounded great to our ears, as always.

AM: The reason I’m asking about surprises on the new album is that Sunbound ‘s final track “Phantasmagoria” may have left some of your listeners with an impression you’re inclined to explore slightly different sides of your creativity than before…

PAH: I’m glad you noticed that! That’s exactly why we decided to close Sunbound with “Phantasmagoria”, because it was different and kind of left the door open when thinking about the follow-up. But in reality, we never thought about it once we started working. We just hammered out songs to our best abilities and hoped for the best!

AM: Brother Firetribe’s unwritten tradition is to include one cover song per album – will Feel The Burn be any different?

PAH: Unfortunately, there’s no cover song on this one as we simply ran out of time! Corona got in the way and we had priorities in getting our own songs right. We did check out possible candidates at some point but just didn’t have the time to make it happen eventually. We’ll get back to the tradition on the next one, I’m sure!

AM: Do you plan to release any more singles prior to the album release due in September, or is that sneak peek we have already enough?

PAH: We’ll put out one more single two weeks prior to the album release. I’m REALLY excited about this particular song.

AM: Earlier that year, you’ve announced that Emppu Vuorinen decided to step down from Brother Firetribe due to his obviously busy schedule with Nightwish and that he will be replaced with Roope Riihijärvi whom your fans already know from the band’s more recent live performances. How do you think this line-up change will influence the music and dynamics within the band? How many guitarist will put their stamp on Feel The Burn?

PAH: Of course it makes a difference in both. Emppu has a unique sound and style which was a huge part of Brother Firetribe. Any guitarist who’s worth a mention has that and we’re lucky that Roope is one of them. Plus he fits in like a glove personality-wise, just as Emppu did. And well, Emppu plays on two tracks on the album. On the first two songs we recorded before we decided to go our seperate ways. We have three guitarists playing on the record; Roope, Jimmy Westerlund (the producer) and Emppu.

AM: Watching your new videos, it’s hard to escape the feeling there’s this “vintage America” visual vibe to them. Is this aesthetical choice influenced by the band’s trip to the US or something else…?

PAH: Good question! It’s just that we find that vibe and style to be timeless and like it. All the old movies, cars from the ‘50s to the ‘70s, you know…? We just thought it’d be cool to try to capture that thing with our new stuff and it works great! It really had nothing to do with our awesome trips to US but it didn’t hurt either! Man, we had fun. The title of the album Feel The Burn actually came to us during the last trip so you may have a point there actually!

AM: In our previous interview in 2014, in the Diamond In The Firepit era, you claimed that Brother Firetribe has “never felt the need to be political or to change the world” and “aims to entertain” when it comes to songwriting. Did the band’s approach changed in any way since then?

PAH: No, not at all. And I’m glad it didn’t. We’d have one depressing album in our hands, looking at the way the world is right now…

AM: Speaking of it – in spite of all the restrictions, Brother Firetribe used all the opportunities possible to keep in touch with the fans and stay active. I’m obviously speaking about the acoustic live performances that were streamed via your social media page…

PAH: Yeah, I’m so glad we did them! It was good to have something to have our focus on in addition to finishing the album at the same time. It was a cool way to keep busy while all the jobs were gone and things got really nutty. Plus the band’s followers seemed to be pleased to see us do different stuff. But I have to be honest, playing a full set to a camera has NOTHING on playing to a live audience. It’s not that easy. Playing live in front of flesh and blood is still the best part of doing what we do. No contest.

AM: Can you envision yourselves doing similar live streams in the future, alongside regular gigs – perhaps for the fans from the remote parts of the world who are unable to see you live?

PAH: I think I most certainly can! And now that we know how to do it properly, I know we’ll come up with something in that vein. We’re actually in talks of doing something along those lines as we’re talking.

AM: What do you think will be the lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic when it comes to the music industry and the ways people create and consume music?

PAH: Hard to say at this point when the situation is still very much on. I’m sure online gigs will become the norm, an expected way for people to see their favourite acts but I just hope that after this madness calms down there’s still a demand for bands and artists playing live… I’m sure there is as nothing beats the live concert experience.

AM: Absolutely! During the mentioned acoustic live streams you’ve also held Q&A sessions, answering fans’ questions. Do you think such a direct way of communication between fans and artists will soon replace the traditional media interviews like the one we’re having right now? Do fans’ questions happen to be more accurate or well-thought than questions issued by the media?

PAH: Hadn’t thought about that, a good point. From the fans’ point of view it’s probably awesome to get to be in direct contact live with the band or the artist, getting a chance to ask something that matters to them personally. But at the same time a well-thought, full-scale interview is still a great way to get to know what’s going on in your favourite band’s world. Good music journalism is always appreciated, at least with yours truly.

AM: The last but one question brings us back to the band’s previous effort Sunbound again. One of the most memorable songs on the album was surely “Indelible Heroes”, a homage to deceased music legends such as Lemmy, Prince, David Bowie or Glen Frey. But who are your personal “indelible heroes”, not necessarily coming from the music industry?

PAH: I’m lucky to say my parents. It’s not obvious for everybody unfortunately. I’m always inspired by courage and people who stand up and defend the weaker ones. People who step up to do good. People with kind hearts who are ready and able to kick ass if necessary.

AM: So, is there anything you’d like to add in the end?

PAH: Thanks for a cool interview! I hope everyone stays safe and gets through this madness. Check out Feel The Burn, hope it makes you feel GOOD. See you out there soon!

Brother Firetribe Official Website

Brother Firetribe on Facebook

Brother Firetribe on Instagram

You can check out the video to the latest Brother Firetribe single “Night Drive” below: