There are few bands out there with such luck as King Company has been blessed with. The group was founded only two years ago and has already managed to score a record deal with Frontiers Records.
The band was first known under the name, No Mans Land, but decided to change it as they found out that a group already had taken on the name. Antti Wirman guitarist in the band explains that they wanted an original name for the band. But the name stayed with the band in the shape of a song on the debut album, One for the road.
– It seemed like it was a great song to start the album with and the lyrics tell the listener that we are ready to go on the road again and tour.
Being the brother of Janne Wirman, keyboardist in the band Children of Bodom has led to Antti stepping in as guitar in both bands when guitarist Roope Latvala left the band in 2015
– The tours during the year of 2015 with Children of Bodom was great, being able to play with my brother all over the world were amazing, says Antti.
He explains that brothers are no strangers to playing together, but it was somewhat different this time since it was with a band. Antti who started his musical career playing the piano at the age of three explains that it was not until he turned 10 years old that he discovered the guitar. He explains that his brother was a better pianist, but also that his teacher didn´t teach him anything he found useful. The work with music started with inspiration from bands like Guns N´ Roses, Metallica and Extreme.
– I think that trying to learn how to play the riffs and covers of your favorite bands are how most musician starts their careers. And when you're good at it, you start to learn how to write your own music.
Antti was around 13 years of age when he started his first band, he explains that they played the same kind of punk rock as Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band that means a lot to him on a personal level. Before the interview took place I noticed he acclaimed the 25th year anniversary of the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik that was released in 1991. According to him, a lot of great albums were released that year, but somehow this album was different and became very important to him, his brother Janne and their friends.
– I can still remember how it would blow our minds away. I still listen to it, several times a month because it has a groove that appeals to me.
Even though the dream is to make his living through music, Antti thought it would be better to play it safe and got himself a bachelor in business administration. Today he makes his living by working at an IT company in Finland.
– I think that you need to have some kind of education, just something apart from the music, simply because it´s a lot safer to have a steady job with a monthly salary and not worry about getting money from music.
Music today is a lot easier to access than it was just a decade ago, but it hasn´t had any positive effects on the music industry the way people think. Record sales started to decrease when music streaming services like Spotify and YouTube was launched and has in its turn made it more difficult to make it as a band.
-Starting a band now compared to only 20 years ago has become more difficult, the record labels don´t sign bands as often as they used to. We got really lucky signing with Frontiers.
Antti tells me that Frontiers Records were the only label that Kings Company sent a three track demo too, just a few months after the band was founded in 2014. The reason to why they chose them was because the members of the band thought Frontiers was a label that could promote and sell their music. The same three songs, No Man’s land, Shining and in Wheels of No Return that
landed the contract can also be heard on the debut album. One of the songs, Shining was written by Antti seven years ago, the inspiration behind it came from Mr. Big, an American rock band from the 1980´s.
– I´ve had the song for years but never the right band to play that kind of music. But then we founded King Company and I told them about the song. It has the same feeling as Mr. Big have in their songs.
Antti tells me that the whole band has been involved in the songwriting since the start. The debut album was written during the summer of 2014 and after the demo was recorded the band continued to write. But it wasn´t until the year after that the recording begun, the other members recorded their parts first since Antti was on the tour with Children of Boredom. Even though it was not until December that Antti could record his parts, the record was mastered and ready in January. The reason to why it took eight months before it was released was because of the plan Frontiers had. Even though the band was busy with the recording of the album, they still had the time to record a music video.
– The music video for Shining was recorded during the demo sessions with a GoPro while we were in the studio.
The debut album One For the Road has released only two months ago, but Antti says that the guys have already written most of the songs for their second album. The recording will start sometime next year, with the upcoming shows in Finland that will take place in February, the band hopes to have started the process in January.
Being in two bands with completely different styles and sounds is not easy, not even for such a talented guitarist as Antti. He explains that he only had six weeks to learn the songs before the tour, but it was easy to adjust since the crew of the band already has the equipment set up when they step on stage.
– It was a very hectic time in my life, but it facilitated that I already knew the songs because I´ve heard them so many times already.
A guitarist can be very picky about what instrument he uses and Antti is no different. The difference between guitars can be huge and ranges from six-stringed guitars to eight-stringed, but Antti only uses the six-stringed ones.
– The other ones are not for me, it´s the sort of guitar that is used in other sorts of music, like metal.
His two favorite ones are custom made ESP guitars and those are the ones he brings along on the tours with King Company, playing with Children of Boredom, on the other hand, is different and he then has to bring at least four different guitars because of the different tuning. The ways of how musicians prepare for a tour may vary, but for Antti, the best way to get ready is to rehearse for hours. He explains that he plays the songs every day, in order to create a memory in the muscles of his body of how the songs sound. This in its turn will result in Antti not having to worry about the performance itself. Right now the band has no shows booked here in Sweden, but he reveals that the staff of Sweden Rock has been contacted and that he has a strong feeling that King Company will perform in Sweden soon.
– We are more of a live band than a band that you listen to on the cd. We would love to play in Sweden, maybe Stockholm since its close to Helsinki.
Music is something that has changed Antti life in more than one way since he started to play at such a young age, he learned to appreciate all sorts of music.
– Music is an escape from the reality. Something I enjoy doing is too dim the lights, pour myself a glass of red wine and just listen to music. Artists like PINK and Sia, but also jazz and bands like Slayer is something I really enjoy listening to.
But balancing the life of being both being a hardworking musician and having an everyday job takes a lot of patience, but also energy.
– We have a summer cabin on the countryside of Finland. It´s a really nice place to go to, because when you live in Helsinki there is so much noise all the time. But in the countryside, the only ones making noise is the animals.
Before the interview ends, Antti asks to send a greeting to his Swedish fans.
– I hope you enjoy our debut album One for The Road and that you will come and see us when we play live in Sweden, it will be a lot of fun!
Writer: Gabi Mattsson (firstname.lastname@example.org)