Interview with Balance Breach’s Aleksi Paasonen and Antti Halonen: “Darkness and ferocity will definitely be present on the whole second album”

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Balance Breach, a metalcore unit hailing from Mikkeli, Finland, are out for blood with their recent single, “Overthrown”. Released in December, this single’s three minutes and 38 seconds perhaps represent the five-piece’s—Aleksi Paasonen (vocals), Terho Korhonen (guitar), Saku Heimonen (guitar), Joni Härkönen (bass), and Antti Halonen (drums)—most aggressive offering to date.

The track, released by Out Of Line Music, opens with a brief intro then hurtles into a frantic pace, with Paasonen’s harsh vocals at the reins. “Overthrown” doesn’t stray too far from previous Balance Breach, so if you liked them before and you’re craving both riffs and release, this one’s for you: “Wrong place and wrong time//Like I had stepped on a mine//Can’t collapse, I can’t decline//Rock bottom and the break of spine”.

In an interview with Metal Solstice, Paasonen and Halonen detailed the creative processes behind both the single and its video, their progress towards releasing a second full-length, and the behind-the-scenes glimpses they’ve given to fans. Paasonen also concluded the interview with a thoughtful narrative on each of his partners in crime.

Metal Solstice: “Overthrown” has been out for over a month now. What has been the reception so far?

Aleksi Paasonen: The reception has been really great! People have seemed to like the song and even shared their positive feedback for us via direct messages etc. Rock shows on the Finnish national radios have also played the songs, which has helped us to reach new people again with the new single. It has been also cool to see reaction videos for the song and video; I guess that’s the closest we can get with seeing people’s honest reactions as the situation with live shows is what it is.

MS: Darkness and ferocity are two intentional words you and others have used to describe the mood of both this single and “Escapers of Paradise”. How will this feeling make its way into the rest of the album? What elements would you consider to be a “signature” to Balance Breach?

Paasonen: Darkness and ferocity will definitely be present on the whole second album. That kind of mood has come up really naturally for the new material during the writing process so it’s nice to hear that it can be heard already in those two singles. I’d say that the ferocity and aggressive sound are sure a “signature” element in our music, and it also fits perfectly to our live presence. The beauty and the melancholic vibe on our melodies is also something that I would consider as the “signature” elements for Balance Breach. Together those two elements form a pretty interesting outcome.

MS: This track appears on several official Spotify playlists, but you also requested social media followers to share their own playlists on which “Overthrown” appears. The Spotify app allows you to see these; are there any interesting ones?

Paasonen: Yeah, we’re really glad that “Overthrown” ended up on some really cool Spotify playlists, like the “New Core”, which is obviously a pretty big one! It’s also interesting to “spy” the listeners’ personal playlists featuring “Overthrown”; people seem to give pretty hilarious names for their playlists! It’s cool to see that people like to add our music to their gym and workout playlist to give some extra boost and energy for exercising.

Balance Breach, 2021. Photo credit: Juha Vihavainen.

MS: There was quite a team behind the creation of “Overthrown”- of course producer Rami Nykänen, the Atrium Audio guys, and if I remember correctly, Gas Lipstick was involved at one point. How did you choose the supporting cast behind this single?

Antti Halonen: Yeah you are right, Gas was involved when we were recording the drums. He helped with drum tunings for a day and we managed to get pretty huge drum sounds which I’m very excited about.

Rami is our longtime friend and true professional in the audio world. His positive mindset and perfectionism is something we need while recording and also he never runs out of ideas. So I could say that Rami is a pretty obvious choice for us when making a long and personal process like recording and producing an album.

Grant McFarland and Carson Slovak from Atrium Audio came to our minds when we decided to want to have more difference between our debut album and this upcoming second full-length. That certain kind of aggressiveness and rawness in their sound works really well with the new songs, and I think it’s something that this album needs as we are angrier than ever.

MS: Let’s also discuss the “Overthrown” music video; can you share a bit about the location and how the video came together?

Halonen: The filming location is an old locomotive garage in our home town Mikkeli. We’ve been wanting to make a pure playing music video without any plot for a long time and “Overthrown” felt like a perfect song for this purpose. Just focusing on filming the band gave some room to play with the lighting and space itself, not to mention that we also got some cool moves captured. The locomotive garage was spectacular with its large windows and pretentious arches which made planning easy. The rough and abandoned look worked out really well with the song’s soundscape and story.

With every music video we do quite a lot by ourselves. This time we did even more when Aleksi took care of directing and writing the video. I was in charge for lighting and different film sets inside the building and other guys were helping with whatever was needed during this long 14-hour day.

MS: In late 2021, you posted something a bit like a game of “Hangman”, with a promotional photo caption of “OXXRXHXOXX XX.XX.202X”. Assuming this is the shadow of the next album announcement, which of the X’s can you fill in now, besides the very likely “2022”? What other details can you share about the forthcoming album?

Paasonen: Actually with that post we were teasing the “Overthrown” release date, so without X’s it would have been “OVERTHROWN 09.12.2022”. We don’t want to set a release date for the upcoming album yet, ‘cause the situation with live shows and touring is still so unstable with the pandemic. Our debut album Dead End Diaries was released in July 2020 and we learned what it is like to release an album during these times. So before there’s some kind of certainty that bands can tour again and get into interaction with the listeners, we won’t release the album if we don’t have to… unless this keeps just going on and on!

MS: There was a fairly short timespan in between the release of Dead End Diaries and this new material. What lessons did you learn during the creation of LP1 that informed your choices for LP2?

Paasonen: I think that after the LP1 we became even more aware of our strengths so with the LP2 we wanted to sharpen and highlight those elements and to bring them really into the spotlight. And of course just the opposite with the things that we weren’t so happy with the debut album. For example, the atmosphere and the overall feeling of the songs is something that we dug really deep into this time and used a lot of time and effort to get everything out of it. We also spent more time with our producer Rami Nykänen playing around with the song structures and very specific solutions with the instrument and vocal arrangements, so I’d say that with the LP1 one we learned that indeed the devil is in the details.

MS: The “Making of ‘Escapers of Paradise’” video series explored how the song came together; it was an in-depth look “behind the curtain” at your thought processes, gear, and much more. What sparked this idea, and do you have plans to share more behind-the-scenes content?

Paasonen: I’ve always been a big fan of band’s behind the scenes material from the tours, studio or whatever the band is doing. There’s something exceptionally interesting if someone has managed to capture the atmosphere of the creative process to film and that’s something I wanted to try, with my still very limited skills of filming. Some of our fans have told us that those videos have been really interesting and fun to watch so I’d say that they’re worth doing also in the future! We also like to watch those videos ourselves, it’s a good way to memorize and look back at the journey that it’s taken for example with the music video process.

Intro video to the “Making of Escapers of Paradise” series, 2021.

MS: Similarly, in what ways do you plan to reach audiences outside of Finland, either via this type of content, eventually in person, or both?

Paasonen: Our first interest for reaching the audiences outside of Finland is definitely playing tours and to play our music live to people. As long as it’s impossible, we have to be there where the people are too, so all kinds of interesting content in socials with something exclusive might be a pretty effective way of reaching the people.

MS: One last “fun” question, because they can’t all be serious: tell us one favorite thing about each of your bandmates!

Paasonen: Ha, this is an interesting one! Terho Korhonen (guitar) is such a humble and modest person even though he’s one of the best guitarists I’ve ever met; that’s a pretty hilarious combo for me sometimes. He might be really tender and suspicious when showing us his new riff, like, “This is just something I came up with lately, don’t worry if you guys don’t like it.” We’re all blown away 99% of the time!

Saku Heimonen (guitar) has a really enviable ability of being present in the moment with no worries. I could sit two days straight in a park on a bench with Saku, we could talk two hours about life, then be silent for an hour and then continue discussing the next topic. Lovely buddy with the best laugh I’ve ever heard.

Joni Härkönen (bass) always brings that calm and warm atmosphere with his big smile presence to the space. When we’re goofing and joking around and the time and subject is right you can’t stop his comedy show!

My favorite thing about Antti Halonen (drums) is that he’s really just an unstoppable dreamer with dozens of new ideas every damn day.  We might exchange tens or even more messages daily, planning the future of BB and storming new ideas about anything band-related. I love how he cheers me up and listens when I’m feeling down or desperate, and finds just the right words to push me up and to not give up on conquering the world with our music. I really hope that works both ways! Lovely buddies each and every one, my best friends!

Check out Balance Breach on Spotify here:

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