Anttoni Pikkarainen: Rock – Thriving without Compromises from the Sidelines of Mainstream

Flat Earth Photo by AJ Savolainen (Antti Savolainen)

After releasing the singles “Draining By Your Flame” and “Neverhappy” in June 2020. rock band Flat Earth from Finland is coming back with a new video. Adore is a song taken from the upcoming album, High on Lies.

“High on Lies“ is coming out in 2022. This time you teamed up with the producer, Tim Palmer. It seems that anything he produced became a big hit. What was his response to your sonic vision? Are you satisfied?

I’m very happy with the album. We wanted to give ourselves the credit and the liberty to record everything by ourselves, but we still needed someone we could fully trust to supervise the whole process, and to bounce off occasional ideas from. Linde and Gas know Tim well from their HIM days, and luckily he was up to the task, which is pretty incredible if you ask me. We are still, sort of, a band in the making, so the sonic vision was only to try to write music that we like, and just see what kind of production it will gravitate towards. This was the biggest upside in my opinion; we could proceed calmly with the recordings as we didn’t lock ourselves in a studio with a producer with a clock hanging from his neck. Tim did a fantastic job mixing it all together, and like a real English gentleman he gave us the possibility to second guess our own ideas, which is really important when you aim to produce yourself and your own performances. I love the added guitar layers and percussions that Tim played on many of the songs, along with some really clever post-production song arrangements. So it’s safe to say that he contributed greatly on the overall sound of the record.

Even though this global situation was challenging for many musicians, you seemed pretty busy in previous months. How did you manage to get all the work and music done? Was it hard for the band? Complaining about the situation wasn’t an option, I guess…

We had already finished the whole album when covid hit. So the impact was more about having to cancel all booked shows and postpone the release of the album. The frustrating part was not knowing whether or not we could play our scheduled, or rescheduled, European shows. So we remained optimistic and kept rehearsing for the tour. But as months went by it became quite clear that everything will be canceled, and then canceled again. And again ironically. Now the aim is set for an early 2022 release, along with some booked, but not yet confirmed, European dates. On a more personal level, we are all very easy going and happy chaps, so we adapted fairly well to the unfortunate circumstances. Plus we all like the comfort of our homes, so it could have been much much worse. I think this past year and half has taught me the most valuable lessons in my life thus far. I would even dare to say that it has been some of the best times too, for a good balance.

Flat Earth photo by Antti Savolainen

In October 2020, you announced that you have to cancel the tour in Germany and UK due to the pandemic. Is there any sign of making it happen, at some point, maybe next year?

UK remains a bit of a mystery, partly due to Brexit making things even more unpredictable. As soon as we hear some positive news from there, we will reschedule the London show with hopefully a handful of others around the UK.

On the other hand, last year you played in Helsinki „On the Rocks“ on the 27th of September. What was the audience’s response?

This was right in the middle of the pandemic, and I gotta tell you it was weird. The show itself was great, probably our best performance yet, and it was quite obvious that people knew it’s ‘enjoy now, worry later’ type of a situation. We all had already practiced this lock down way of life for some months and then playing a show, although for a lesser capacity, but without any actual restrictions in the audience, felt just wrong to me. I entered the venue thinking that it just needs to be done. Returning hugs from friends and strangers semi casually, but feeling really awkward about it sums up the whole experience. I was confused, perplexed and even sad about the whole thing. And for me it was clear that this is definitely not the way to go. And then a couple of days later everything got shut down.

It seems that online concerts can’t replace the bond that bands make with the audience. Could you try to describe the feeling of being on the stage in front of people? Do you miss it, and how do you feel about the whole situation?

To be honest I think I’m more of a studio geek myself. I love performing, but it’s so nerve wrecking as a singer; you are constantly worried about your voice and whether you can pull rabbits out of your hat during breaks between songs. I hate making compromises when I sing, but I’ve written melodies that require my voice in its absolute best condition, and that is not easily achieved in a live show environment. And when I finally enter a good flow during a concert it’s usually time to wrap it up, but I was just getting started! No, but really, as an artist you need that live experience to validate your being. To know and feel that it is all really worth all the efforts and sacrifices. I playing live and I wanna get so much better at it.

Anttoni Pikkarainen photo by Niko Hill

On the 1st of May, you played at Tavastia on a special live stream show. The sound was great, as well as your performance. How many people worked behind the camera? Who were the members of the team?

There were quite a few of us there. 4 people working the cameras, with Tommi Mattila running the show, our live sound guru Janne Vuori behind the mixing console, then our man Jani doing the lights and our guitar technician Juuso Kilpi working day and night for a couple of days to get all our instruments and gear working properly.

The concert was different from any other show. What was your experience? How did it look like being on stage without an audience?

Funnily enough I haven’t watched the show more than once, and even then it took me 2 bottles of wine to get through it. It was a devastating experience, but makes for a funny story. The moment we started playing, there was something wrong with Linde’s guitar in our in-ear monitors. It sounded awful, like it had lost all power. So midway through our first song I started suspecting that somebody is surely gonna call it a restart, cause why would we continue if there’s no guitar? No restart, so we just played on and hoped that it would sound good outside. I was literally holding my tears during the first two three songs, I was so disappointed. Everybody had worked so hard on this and now the whole performance was jeopardized. I knew how pissed off Linde would be if he couldn’t hear himself properly, and for me the guitar is my guideline, that’s where I take my pitch from and try to harmonize with. So without it I was singing blind, hoping that I would be in tune with other instruments, and this makes for a dreadful set-up to try to enjoy yourself to say the least. Well, it was all business, no pleasure that time. But from what I’ve heard people have been really positive about it without anyone noticing our difficulties, so all good in the hood.

However, there were many great “comebacks” and many new albums during this global situation. How do you feel about the world’s music scene today? Is there something that draws your attention?

That’s a tough question. I definitely feel that the scene is gravitating away from traditional rock towards more hip and fresh sounds that kids can develop with so much less hassle than what having a band is about. So I don’t bother myself with the scene, cause it’s a young man’s game, and rock music doesn’t seem to appeal much to the masses right now. And I think rock and metal belong to the sidelines of mainstream, where it can thrive without compromises and corporate pressure. I’m still easily drawn to my old favorites who keep building their catalogs with great new releases. Namely Tool, Mastodon, Soen, Alice in Chains and Deftones with their near perfect “Ohms” record. But of course there’s a lot of new music that I enjoy, but it’s from anything to everything, so no particular scene that I’d be currently into really.

Do you miss concerts? Is there any special musician or a band you would like to see playing live?

I hate to admit that I don’t really go to concerts that often. But that could also be because a lot of bigger artists still skip Finland on their European tours. Years ago I got kicked out of a Tool show, so that’s still something I’d need to see before they get too old to play. And I’d wanna see how Ed Sheeran does it to tens of thousands of people, that would most likely blow my mind.

Thank you Anttoni, and best wishes!

Thank you very much!

Video by: Tommi Mattila

About Flat Earth:

Heavy, melodic and passionate, Flat Earth is a hard rock band from Helsinki, Finland, founded by Ex-Amorphis bass player (Niclas Etelävuori) Ex-HIM guitarist (Linde Lindström) Ex-HIM drummer (Gas Lipstick) and Polanski singer (Anthony Pikkarainen). The band produces heavy riffs, blasting beats and cinematic chords that combine to create an unforgiving, passionate, and dynamic sound. The band’s debut single ‘Blame’ premiered on Radio Rock in 2018, immediately gaining popularity throughout Finland and the rest of Europe. The single Cyanide followed in the footsteps of the debut single, gaining public recognition and earning them a spot opening for ‘Alice in Chains’ in Helsinki. To date, they have over half a million streams on Spotify alone.

After releasing the debut album “Non for One“ the band entered the studio in the beginning of 2019. This time they teamed up with the well-known producer Tim Palmer behind the mixing desk. Flat Earth’s second album “High on Lies” is coming out 2022.





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