King Company was founded in early 2014. Their debut album “One For The Road” soon followed in 2016. Now the band is back with a new singer: Italian-Argentinian Leonard F. Guillan. Their new album “Queen Of Hearts” was released 10 August through Frontiers Music slr. Reason the more to celebrate the release of their sophomore album by having a show at Virgin Oil co. in Helsinki on 18 August 2018.
I had the opportunity to meet up with Antti Wirman and Mirka Rantanen to talk about the band and their latest release.
Hey guys! Thank you so much for taking the time for me. How has your summer been?
Antti: It’s been hot. It was a great summer. We had one good festival show in Spain. That was kind of fun and it was the only show we had during the summer. Mirka: Exactly. We were just waiting until our album would get released. That’s why we didn’t have so many shows.
So, you released your latest album “Queen of Hearts” a couple of weeks ago. How have the reactions been so far?
Antti: The reactions have been surprisingly good. Very good.
Mirka: We have had many reviews for the album. They have been very positive. Like Antti said, we are really surprised.
Antti: Well, I don’t know. We changed our singer. We thought that all the reviews would be about how the previous singer [Pasi Rantanen] was better or something like that. But actually, everybody likes Leonard. He’s an Italian monster.
How did the search for a new singer go, where did you find Leonard?
Mirka: Actually we found him on YouTube.
Oh! That’s how it’s done nowadays.
Mirka: Since Pasi had problems with his throat, we needed someone urgently to join our Spanish tour with us. I found Leonard on YouTube. He was singing in a Whitesnake tribute band. I checked the material and thought he’s a great fit for us. So, I asked him to join us on our Spanish tour. He joined, after that he joined the band officially.
Does he live in Finland?
Antti: No, he lives in Italy.
So… There’s a bit of a logistic problem isn’t there?
Antti: Yes! (laughs)
Mirka: A little bit.
Antti: But it’s not that difficult. Flights are really cheap nowadays from Italy to Finland. We have a rehearsal place where he can sleep, stay and even live when he’s in Finland. It hasn’t been a problem really, it’s been pretty easy.
Was Leonard already involved when you started writing the album?
Antti: No, we wrote the album before he joined the band. We had to do some changes in the vocal lines, but nothing major.
As I understood Pasi was also involved with the vocal production of the album.
Antti: Pasi produced the vocals and he helped Leonard quite much.
Mirka: He was a really big help to us. He also did vocal coaching etc.
So, other than Pasi helping you out with the vocal arrangements. How was the creative process?
Antti: We tried to write the songs together as much as possible. Of course, sometimes someone has full songs and melodies. Jari, our keyboard player, usually writes songs at home and he makes the demos with his computer. So usually, everything is ready.
Mirka: There are moments when Antti comes up with a nice guitar riff, after which we just jam together in our rehearsal place. We arrange the rest of the parts of the songs together. We have many different styles to write songs. It’s an interesting process. (laughs)
Where do you guys get your inspiration from?
Antti: Winter time and red wine.
That seems like a good combination. At the same time?
Antti: It depends. But mostly at the same time. Nothing beats a cold winter night with some red wine.
Mirka: And candlelight.
Sounds like a recipe for success.
Antti: Yes, it is! (laughs) As you can see.
Usually, bands say beer, but red wine, that’s a new one.
Antti: Yes, it’s more sophisticated!
Mirka: More romantic.
Antti: Yeah, we are more romantic guys as you can see.
Is that maybe a theme in your songs. Romance?
Antti: Yeah, maybe in some songs.
Mirka: The songs are pretty romantic. There are some love stories in the lyrics. Maybe someone drank some red wine while writing the lyrics as well.
So, who writes the lyrics?
Mirka: I wrote a lot of the lyrics. A few songs were written by our bass player Time and then also Jari, our keyboard player wrote two songs.
Does any of the songs have any cool story behind it?
Mirka: When I write songs, it’s basically just thoughts that come to my mind. I write them down right away. So, I’m not sure if there is a deep story behind there, but in general, it can be love stories or just you know… Life and its reality.
I’m sure red wine is also involved in the process.
Mirka: Yes! (laughs)
So, you guys are playing the second show since the album has been released. How are you looking forward to the show?
Antti: It’s also the album release party tonight. So, we are really looking forward to it. I hope there are going to be lots of people. You never know. It’s gonna be difficult, but fun. Some of the new songs are pretty hard to play live actually… I don’t know who writes these songs. (laughs)
Maybe you should switch over to beer if the songs are too complicated.
Antti: Actually, I have tried to write songs accompanied by white wine a couple of times. But it doesn’t quite work like red wine.
Are there any specific songs on the album that you wrote with white wine?
Antti: I think all of the songs that I wrote at least are written with red wine. (laughs) Yes, I think so.
Let’s get this question out of the way. Because I feel like it’s obligatory to ask what wine suits best for your inspiration.
Antti: Actually, I think red wines from Chile are usually pretty good.
Mirka: I never watch the label before I drink, I just drink it! (laughs)
Antti: Whatever is the cheapest. (laughs)
Mirka: Actually, we have some wines right there.
Antti: Yeah, we have two for tonight.
Mirka: We have an Italian and I don’t know where the other one came from.
Antti: All I know is that it’s not gonna work for writing new music. (laughs)
Mirka: Maybe we get some red wine sponsors after you have released the interview! (laughs)
I’m sure you will. (laughs) Perhaps we should change the target audience for this article. In general, though, what can people expect when they go see a show from you?
Antti: I can promise you that it’s going to be 100% or even 110% rock ‘n’ roll.
Mirka: Our shows are full of energy. Leonard is a great showman, he really takes over the whole stage.
Antti: Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of laughter, fun times, party time. Pretty much a good rock ‘n’ roll show.
I have been advised to ask if you, Antti would you ever play a show naked?
Antti: Yes, I would. But they don’t allow us to do it in Finland.
Really? Is it like a rule?
Antti: I think it’s a law. (laughs)
Is it like a worldwide thing? I don’t think I have ever seen a naked show. Only boobs.
Antti: I have played one show in Kaapelitehdas, where I only had my underpants on because Heta [Hyttinen] told me to wear something at least.
Mirka: Although, maybe we don’t see those tonight!
Antti: Yeah maybe, you never know.
Well, you can always cover things up with your guitar if necessary?
Antti: Why should I? (laughs)
No idea. (laughs)
Do you have other plans for the rest of the year? I’m assuming playing naked would be one of them…
Antti: Yes, playing naked is my dream. (laughs) But I think we are going to try to book more shows within Finland. We have a couple of them, but they are not announced yet. After that, we’ll do some tours in Europe. But we will announce everything later.
You kind of told people already though. (laughs)
Antti: You’re right! (laughs) We are going to have two European tours next year.
Mirka: We also have two festival shows confirmed for next year. A lot is actually going to happen next spring. For now, we just have six Finnish shows booked and then we have to wait until the end of the year.
Antti: Well you know. It’s going to be winter then again. So, red wine, naked, that means new material.
Ah, so you actually really have a schedule here! Winter time is when you write songs. The rest of the year you perform and record material?
Antti: Yeah yeah (laughs) You get it now!
Mirka: It’s always the same rhythm.
So, doesn’t that mean that we can expect a new King Company album every two years?
Antti: I would have hoped to release one album every year. Unfortunately, that’s impossible. Nowadays, record labels want six months of promotion time. So, I would say that there is going to be a new King Company album every two years. At least, I hope so.
You were also with the same label [Frontiers Music slr.] last time. How has the collaboration so far been working out for you?
Antti: It’s going better and better all the time. They hired some new people who are really trying to make things happen.
Mirka: The great thing about the label is that they have a lot of new and young bands, but aside from that they also have these legendary bands like eg. Uriah Heep, Dee Snider, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake etc. But they also leave space for younger bands. They’re trying to have this new invasion for hard rock.
I guess that makes sense because the old generation, is well… Getting older. Your band seems to fit in the whole concept. Which bands would you say have inspired you the most for your music?
Antti: Bands like Mr. Big, Whitesnake and Deep Purple have inspired us the most. You can definitely hear some elements of those in our music.
Mirka: There are a lot of elements from these bands in our music. I think we have a bit of an updated sound to it though and of course, we have some of our own things in the music. Own sounds. But mostly, a lot of inspiration comes from those bands.
I think you actually have a whole bunch of personality in your sound. But going back to the album, do you guys have any favorite tracks?
Antti: I have a couple of favorite tracks.
Mirka: I like many songs, it’s very hard to say.
Antti: Hey, but of course, all the songs are really good. You should buy the album! (laughs) My favorite tracks are probably the title track “Queen of Hearts”, our latest single “Living In A Hurricane” and then maybe “King For Tonight”.
Mirka: They are good songs.
Antti: Yes, I know! (laughs)
Did you write those?
Antti: Noooo, maybe maybe.
What do you think is the secret of the success of those songs? Or why did you choose those specific ones? They are my favorites as well.
Antti: All the songs are different from each other, but these are more uptempo songs.
Mirka: There’s a very good rock ‘n’ roll groove in these songs.
Antti: Great solos and melodies.
Mirka: They’re also amazing to play live.
So, we talked about your dream Antti [to play live naked]. What’s your goal or dream to reach with this band, Mirka?
Mirka: That’s a hard question. I don’t really now. It’s hard to come up with something on the spot. Antti, maybe you can tell me what my dreams are.
Antti: I think your dream is to play a lot of shows.
Mirka: That’s right! I’d like to play lots of shows, bigger venues, bigger festivals. Quite normal things.
Your debut album was released in 2016. Your sound has developed a lot since then, which of course, partly might be because of Leonard joining the band. But what have you learned from “One for the Road”?
Antti: Mostly things that are related to the whole writing process. We communicate a lot better. We have better demos of the songs. Before we are recording anything, we go to our studio where we can record the demos of the songs. We can then listen to those before we record the final product.
When you talk about those demos. Was there production-wise, a lot of things that changed?
Mirka: There were some changes, but not that much eventually. We have perhaps like three versions of each song. First, it’s a riff, or some parts, that we need to change, then there might be another version with fixes and then eventually there’s the final product. Of course, in those demos, we haven’t added the lyrics or anything, so it’s just vocal melodies made by a guitar.
Alright! It seems like our time is running out. Do you have any last words to our readers?
Antti: Hello! We are King Company. Our new album “Queen of Hearts” is out now. Go and get your copy and listen to it from Spotify or wherever you have it.
Mirka: Come and see our shows. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter what else?
Antti: Songkick, Bandsintown, whatever you can find, do it. Do it now. I hope you can see my nude pictures some day.
Mirka: (laughs) Rock ‘n’ roll.
Watch the highlights of the interview here!