Mirka Rantanen biography:
Mirka ”Leka” Rantanen’s career began in 1986 when a band called Loud Crowd was formed.
It was the first so-called ”professional” orchestra that soon signed a record deal with the legendary record label Poko Records, and released its debut album in 1988. Today, this album is a collector’s item and part of the history of Finnish heavy metal.
A year earlier, the band starred as the warm up act for DIO at the Giants Of Rock Festival in Hämeenlinna Finland, when the three band members were only 16 years old. Mirka was one of them. Unfortunately, however, the band broke up in the ’91, in the middle of recording the second album, because grunge-music took over the world music market, leaving traditional heavy metal momentarily overshadowed.
Around this time, Mirka moved to Helsinki, where he got to know a lot of other musicians with whom an orchestra called HEAT was formed, where singer Pasi Rantanen, guitarist Ade Manninen and bassist Jari Kainulainen were joined together to produce a demo of a few songs. The successful Hollywood film director Renny Harlin also got so excited about the demo that he was taking it all the way to America for the right people in the business, but the job eventually fell through for reasons unknown to the band.
At this time, Mirka also got to know singer Timo Kotipelto, with whom a joint project was tuned in without success, as Timo became the lead singer of Stratovarius and bassist Jari Kainulainen from HEAT a little earlier.
In the mid-1990s, Mirka formed a band called Tunnelvision, featuring guitarist Jami Katajisto and bassist Jyrki Sirainen from the original band Loud Crowd, as well as singer Marko Waara and keyboardist Kari Tornack. However, the line-up changed until Juhani Malmberg and Lauri Porra were took the roles of guitarist and bassist for the debut album in ’99. The band performed somewhat in Finland and made their second album ”Tomorrow” in 2001 before breaking up pretty quickly after this. At the same time, guitarist Nino Laurenne asked Mirka and keyboard player Kari Tornack to join him in his new band project under the name Thunderstone. Pasi Rantanen, who was previously in the band HEAT with Mirka, was chosen as the singer.
The band made a demo tape of a few songs, and Thunderstone signed a big deal with Nuclear Blast in Germany and released their first album in 2002. The band toured Europe over several years with Stratovarius, Symphony X, Axel Rudi Pell,Hammerfall, Lordi and numerous other bands, andeven warmed up for Motley Crue for two gigs in Finland. Thunderstone also performed twice at the Wacken Open Air Festival and Prog Power festival in the US, and also performed in Russia and England. The band also participated in the Finnish Eurovision Song Contest, where they narrowly lost in the final, finishing second to Hanna Pakarinen, it was so close that Thunderstone could have been Finland’s Eurovision representative in 2008.
With Thunderstone, Mirka recorded five albums.
In the 2000s, Mirka also joined Stratovarius singer Timo Kotipelto`s solo band, with whom he toured in Europe and in South America and recorded three full-length albums with him.
At the beginning of the same decade, Warmen’s first album, a solo project by Children Of Bodom keyboardist Janne Wirman, also appeared. Warmen recorded a version of Rockwell’s song ”Somebodys watching me” in 2005 with Alexi Laiho (Children Of Bodom) as the singer. The song was a huge radio hit and as recently as 2019 it was Radio Rock’s most played song of all time.
With Warmen, Mirka has recorded five full-length albums.
In 2008 Rantanen joined the Raskasta Joulua (Heavy X-mas) line-up at the request of Erkka Korhonen, who has adapted traditional Christmas songs with a metal twist, interpreted by several well-known singers from the metal, such as Marko Hietala, Jarkko Ahola, Antti Railio, Tony Kakko and foreign stars Dee Snider ( Twisted Sister), Joe Lynn Turner ( Rainbow, Deep Purple), Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep), Floor Jansen ( Nightwish),Elize Ryd ( Amaranthe ) etc.
For several years now, Raskasta Joulua has been the biggest rock tour ever in Finland and is carried out every year in November-December. Raskasta Joulua has released 7 albums, of which Mirka is included in five and one Raskasta Iskelmää album, which is the same production, but the songs include arrangements of old Finnish pop-slagers.
In 2009 Mirka got the idea for an orchestra aimed at children to play heavy rock, but the lyrics would be meant for childhood and the band members would have dressed in dinosaurus costumes. The band Hevisaurus became a huge success and in 2011 Mirka was awarded the Emma statue for Hevisaurus’ 2nd album ”Hirmuliskojen yö” Mirka has recorded and performed with Idol winner Ari Koivunen, Timo Tolkki`s Revolution Reneissance and Saana, Warrior of light project, Stranberg Band, and several other projects. He also has performed with former Rainbow/Deep Purple singer Joe Lynn Turner and with finnish pop/rockstar Tommi Läntinen.
In 2014 Mirka formed the band King Company with Antti Wirman. King Company has recorded two albums via Frontiers Records and the third is due for release in spring 2021 via German label AOR Heaven.
Mirka got the idea of making her own solo album already in 2016, but she didn’t get down to business until 2020 when the recording of the album started. A massive heavy metal project called Circus Of Rock is full of guest musicians and singers and the album ”Come one Come all” came out through Frontiers in late summer 2021. The same kind of thing continues on the second album called ”Lost behind the mask” and it came out on 12.5.2023