Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: August 2010
Brian Rademacher: Hello Sami and welcome back to RockEyez.
Sami Alho: Hello Brian, it's great to be back!
Brian Rademacher: The band got rave reviews over your CD "Pale Sister Of Light." I heard you’re working on a new release now… how can you surpass expectations with the new release after the success of "Pale Sister of Light?"
Sami Alho: We've been playing a couple of songs from the upcoming album on the last few gigs and they've absolutely rocked the crowd so I'm actually quite confident that the new album will have no problem standing up to "Pale Sister of Light". We've been writing the songs pretty much ever since we finished the previous album, so there's also been plenty of time to work on them and at the moment we're very excited about the new songs.
Brian Rademacher: Tell us a little about the new upcoming FREE SPIRIT CD… title, release date, songs, how many tracks, any ballads any special guests, anything?
Sami Alho: It looks like the album is turning out to be a story about a character whom we already met in the last song of "Pale Sister of Light". If everything goes well, we're planning to release the album early next year. There will surely be a few single releases before that… the first of which is hopefully coming pretty soon.
Brian Rademacher: Will there be anything special with the packaging of the new CD?
Sami Alho: We're not really quite that far yet to say anything about the packaging. We'll of course try to figure out something interesting for it.
Brian Rademacher: Putting out two CD’s in such a short time, you guys must work hard. How did you have time?
Sami Alho: With hard work, really. It's been quite stressful at times to work on the music all evenings and weekends until late at night. In the end, though, the music and performing always makes it worth the effort and I wouldn't give this away for anything. And I'm sure that goes for all the others in the band too.
Brian Rademacher: Are you keeping with the same format with the new CD?
Sami Alho: Pretty much, there will be between nine and eleven songs, probably one or two ballads and the rest more or less hard rockers.
Brian Rademacher: Tell me a little about the song "Far Away from Heaven" for Rock Band 2?
Sami Alho: That was thanks to the efforts of all the great people at RockGamer Studios. Last fall, Timo noticed that RockGamer Studios was looking for songs to release in the "Rock Band Network" store. He submitted a suggestion to consider FREE SPIRIT’s songs and the next morning we had a reply that they were interested. So after clearing out all the legal details, we made a three song deal, including "Until the Night", "Pale Sister of Light" and "Far Away from Heaven." Rock Gamer Studios also worked extra hard to get "Far Away from Heaven" ready in time for the opening of the "Rock Band Network" store and they made it in time. And it sure was a blast for us to play our own songs in the game! Pasi was the only one who could play his instrument on expert difficulty, the rest of us were just struggling our way through on medium difficulty. As I'm writing this, all three songs are now out, and available for anyone in the US or Canada to buy from the in game store in Rock Band 2 for Xbox 360.
Brian Rademacher: When you’re out on tour, what are some of the things that would be on the tour rider of FREE SPIRIT?
Sami Alho: A bowl of M&M's, but absolutely no brown ones! No… sorry, that was VAN HALEN's rider! We don't really have anything special, just something to drink, (clean) towels, perhaps a bottle of liquor and some snacks. And no fish on anything! Me and Timo are both allergic.
Brian Rademacher: You mention some of your favorite music is LED ZEPPELIN, IRON MAIDEN, AC/DC, WHITESNAKE, DEEP PURPLE, THE DOORS, BON JOVI & THE SCORPIONS. Do you feel you bring any of those elements from those bands into FREE SPIRIT?
Sami Alho: Yes, of course those bands influence our song writing and performance style. Probably one of the most straight forward influences in the production of the songs is what we actually call the "BON JOVI choir," which is putting a large number of backing vocals on all the choruses and using them quite high in the mix. That's something that's there in pretty much all the FREE SPIRIT songs. All in all though, most of those bands are favorites for most of the band members. So when there is say a WHITESNAKE influence on a FREE SPIRIT song, it's often impossible to tell which of us brought that into the song!
Brian Rademacher: When you are away from home for a period of time what do you miss?
Sami Alho: I miss having a good time with my family and friends. Naturally, because I’m a "Finn", I also miss sauna. One particular moment that I miss when I’m away from home are those lazy Saturday afternoons when after a good meal, I lie on a couch and watch animal documentaries on the TV. For some reason that is the best moment of my weekend when I have the luxury to enjoy it.
Brian Rademacher: What do you feel is the biggest accomplishment you brought to this world so far?
Sami Alho: Beside myself? Ha ha! I guess it must have been those FREE SPIRIT songs because so many people from around the world seem to be influenced by them. Sometimes when I’m thinking of all those great reviews and feedback from the audience, I feel that I have actually accomplished something that is unique… something that already lives a life of its own. To be really honest with you, I believe my biggest accomplishments still lie ahead of me.
Brian Rademacher: Are you married and do you have any kids?
Sami Alho: No and no. So no accomplishments on that sector, yet…
Brian Rademacher: Do you read fan mail and what was the one e-mail that touched you?
Sami Alho: Yes I read. There have been many touching e-mails, but perhaps the most touching emails are about some very ordinary incidents that are somehow related to our music. Usually people thank you for a good gig or they have heard the album and they think it sounds amazing. Those kinds of messages are very important to a band like us who is not yet an established act. I remember one particular mail when a lady wrote that she was listening to ‘Heroes Don’t Cry’ and suddenly she understood that the lyrics told the story of her life and she couldn’t hold back her tears. It was a very touching e-mail especially to me because the lyrics of ‘Heroes Don’t Cry’ are based on my personal life.
Brian Rademacher: Now many fans would like to know the true feeling of Sami Alho.
Sami Alho: I’m a dreamer who suffers from a serious case of "Peter Pan" syndrome.
Brian Rademacher: Do you believe there is a God?
Sami Alho: I believe that if there is a God, he's got a lot to explain.
Brian Rademacher: What are your feeling towards organized religion?
Sami Alho: Most people have a need to believe in protection and comfort by some agent more powerful than themselves. That's all right, but unfortunately sometimes when a religion becomes organized, it evolves into a system for controlling people and exploiting this need for safety that they have. In addition, when religion enters politics, it can become a tool that allows you to declare that you are more right than the others, since a divine force is on your side and not theirs. In that way, organized religion can be used to subvert people's empathy against others even when that's against the very core message of the religion itself.
Brian Rademacher: What are your thoughts when you die….what happens then?
Sami Alho: I've never died yet, so I have to say I have absolutely no idea.
Brian Rademacher: What are your feelings about the BP oil disaster?
Sami Alho: It was, of course, a horrible accident and if it's true what has been said in the media that the company was aware of the safety problems on the drilling platform, it's also a blatant example of greed superseding common sense. Besides offering my condolences to the people around the Gulf of Mexico, I think there's not much for me to say, since I think it must be obvious to everybody that such things must not be allowed to happen again and just as obvious that besides forbidding oil drilling entirely, it's not easy to make sure it doesn't. The governments and oil companies should probably work together to find a set of effective and enforceable regulations to prevent such disasters.
Brian Rademacher: If you could change anything in this world what would that be?
Sami Alho: It would be so great to at least reduce the greediness of mankind. I believe that greediness is written in to our DNA system, but it’s not an excuse to act like a caveman.
Brian Rademacher: What would you say your parents are most proud of you for?
Sami Alho: I guess they are proud of that I have learned to take care of myself. I also believe that they are proud of that I’m following my dreams even if that road is not always the easiest path.
Brian Rademacher: What is the thing that pisses Sami Alho off the most?
Sami Alho: Dishonesty.
Brian Rademacher: When you sing a song, what goes through your mind?
Sami Alho: It's like I'm watching Rock Eyez - Interview with Sami Alho- - Vocals-Free Spirit - 2010g a movie. When I’m writing lyrics for a song, or when I’m singing a song I see pictures in my mind. Those pictures are like images of the scenes and characters of the song. So it’s easy to remember the lyrics and get the right mood for the song when you can check everything from a movie you are watching in your head.
Brian Rademacher: Would you ever consider a solo album?
Sami Alho: Never say never, but at the moment I’m not considering a solo album. I’m very lucky to have such talented people around me like I have at the moment. I think songwriting and especially playing in a band is purely teamwork. I think the main thing of being in a band is to be the part of the brotherhood and do your own thing as a group. So, I can’t imagine doing all of this like a "real" job.
Brian Rademacher: Do you have any other special projects in the works?
Sami Alho: Me and Timo are also involved in a synthpop -project called CELADON SKIES, in which Timo mostly composes, and I write most of the lyrics for them, although I'm not a part of the performing line-up. In addition to Timo on the keyboards, CELADON SKIES has a female vocalist named Sanna and a guitarist named Pasi. They're still in the demo stage, but on the few gigs they've done, the crowd has been really excited so it's looking promising at this time. There will also be an album coming from them some time in the near future, although FREE SPIRIT's album will be keeping me and Timo busy for a while now.
Brian Rademacher: Tell the fans 5 things that they might not know about Sami Alho?
Sami Alho: I wear contact lenses. Without them I’m as blind as a bat.
I’m a big Star Wars fan.
I’m a bookworm.
I quit smoking 2 ½ years ago.
I’m allergic to fish and walnuts.
Brian Rademacher: Hey Sami it’s been fun once again is there anything you would like to say in ending?
Sami Alho: It's been great talking to you again! Remember to keep your eyes open for the first single releases from the upcoming album!