Fleetburner is the metal/rock project belonging to Dutch guitarist Kevin Storm. For the first time, Storm has allowed himself the complete creative freedoms to create his own untampered vision. The close bond Storm has with this project is evident on Fleetburner’s debut album; an emotional rollercoaster, you can clearly tell that Storm has written this from the soul. Storm has produced a solid debut that refuses to be belittled as simply a ‘metal album’ – it is so much more! While the album succeeds in creating a satisfying heavy sound, there are many other flavours and influences that are guaranteed to appeal. Handpicked by Storm to create this ambitious offering, the lineup features Ken Simply (vocals), Peter Iwers (bass), Tomas Myklebust (drums) and Veli-Matti Kananen (keys) as well as Storm himself on the guitar. I had a chat with Storm to learn all about it…
How did the band form and what was the initial goal?
I started the album by myself. It started as a project, a story that I really needed to get out of my system. As you figured out, I met Tomas on a tour with Vulture Industries where we were both session musicians. We ended that tour by saying “we should totally start a band”. Fleetburner became a very, very personal story that needed to be released from my system and to get this to a full band; I really ONLY wanted to work with people that I trusted. I knew that the people I toured with had their hearts in the right place. I have a very particular view on making music and a lot of it centers around the magic of people putting themselves in their instruments. I believe in music as catharsis.
You released your self-titled debut album in September. How would you describe it?
I’ve said this in other interviews as well. I describe it as “me, lifted by friends”.
Could you outline the concept in detail? What was the inspiration for the concept?
I believe it’s something universal. The fact that all these musicians gathered around this single totem pole that has been shaped into Fleetburner proves that a lot of people can connect to it. I believe a lot of people connect to it on very deep levels. For me it’s about leaving things behind. Building new worlds, murdering your past self and leaving behind everything that tried to drag you down. To Ken, our singer, it’s a different, but equally emotional ride. My version of the story, the album I wrote before the others came onboard is that of the young child that is surrounded by harmful people. The child needs to learn to navigate its own emotions, the world around it and how harmful it can be. That, for me, was a very long and arduous path and led me to a point where I have learned to come to terms with the fact that the world is simply not what I dream it to be. The young man will have to deal with this world, and fleeing is not always an option. The fleet will follow, hurt is inescapable. For some it’s unsurvivable, but to me one of the most important lines in the whole album is “eyes ahead, chin up, run”.
The debut is said to be a mix of heavy metal, thrash metal, prog and classic rock. What would you say are the most progressive moments on the album?
It’s been insane to see how much love the album is getting from the prog scene, but I never intended it to reach any market. I wrote this music from within, and I simply can’t stick within a single genre. I love what Marty Friedman said about his leaving Megadeth. He said music to him is a palet of colours, and he was getting tired of only painting with gunnery metal. He went on to create some of the most fantastically creative music after that. I believe in those words.
Which artists are you inspired by and why? Which songs from the album reflect these influences greatest?
I grew up with bands like My Dying Bride, Anathema, Metallica, but I love music like Kate Bush, Nick Cave, so much more. I have a broad love of music, as long as it’s dark, I guess. Or from the heart. I think a lot of Doom and black metal influence can be heard but that’s probably because I toured with so many bands in that genre.
What was the recording process like? Were there any areas that proved trickier to record than others?
I can’t remember anything from the recording. The original writing I did, happened in a timespan of roughly two months, and all I can remember from it is coming home and listening to the results every night. I really was in a different space in my head when I did all this. And no, I don’t do drugs, or drink. It was a very emotional period at the time and this story just HAD to come out. I’m still amazed at the orchestra’s I created, I never even knew I could do that.
You have certainly done the rounds in other bands. How does working in Fleetburner differ with other bands you’ve worked with?
Fleetburner is the first and only band I ever truly wrote without limitations. I’ve written concept albums before and worked with big bands on helping them write their albums, but never have I written this close to the heart. I didn’t have to cater to any ego’s and that was incredibly liberating.
You say the arrival of vocalist Ken Simerly was unexpected? How so? And how did his unexpected arrival change the sound of the band?
Ken was something we were hoping for. I was looking for a new singer after having spent 9 months with a different singer who had too many personal issues to be really able to commit to the album. Ken responded to a video I posted and that’s how he auditioned. I was looking for a singer who could sing in the style of Jeff Buckley and he was without a doubt the right match.
What impact has covid had on your work as musicians? Did this effect the recording or release of the new album?
The music was intercontinental already, I believe the recording process would not have been any different if the world had been the same as before. Of course we are unable to promote the album live and this definitely had an impact on sales, but we’re happy the music is out there and the rave reviews we have been getting.
What is the next step for the band? Are there any touring plans? Or is it too soon to think about live gigs at this point?
I already started writing the next album, since there are no tours and no clear sight of when the roads will open again. I will just work on building the band, getting it out to people, and trying to somehow gather a little bit of money to mix the next album. It’s nearly impossible with all the streaming platforms out there to actually make any money with a new band, but I have high hopes for when the roads do open.
What is your advice to those independent artists struggling due to the pandemic?
Quit struggling, get to work. We’re all in this, if you’re not writing music NOW, then you’ll never do it. Use the time to find your center, your core and write what you want to write. Pretend there is no audience and find new grounds. Because the live-scene will never be the same after this.
Wise words from a talented musician. You can find Fleetburner on Facebook and Instagram. Their debut album is available on all major streaming platforms!
Intro and Interviewer: Dominic Sanderson