Sunday, May 17, 2009

It’s Out Of Our Hands!

Salutations, good people! The past week and a half has been an exciting and busy time, with the album finally hitting the stores, scores and scores of interviews being done — but most of all with the record release tour getting well and truly underway.

It's been almost a year and a half since we last toured for real, so you can imagine the sheer terror and excitement of getting up on those live stages again. But as nervous as we were, the first few gigs couldn't have been more fun. Once more, a great big thank you to everyone who came to see us in Oulu and Kokkola. The vibe was most definitely (45) Special! And we hope it continues to be just as special across the country.

We also had a blast playing live on the radio this past week, and it was great to meet and greet the competition winners who got to see the gig up close. Apologies for all that sweat flying around. If you missed the gig, be sure to click here for video footage in three parts.

The rehearsals in the Tank have been getting even more intense, and we are seriously working our asses off to try and get as much of the new album incorporated into the live set as we can. We also have a real guest-fest coming up on Tuesday when the tour hits Tavastia club in our hometown of Helsinki. Felix and Emma will mos' definitely be there, and they'll be joined by a number of other special guests.

In addition to rockin' live quintet of L.L.H., Check The Record, Get It Right, Dey Don't (Don't Dey), and All Hope, we're aiming to have at least two or three new songs in the bag by next week — for the gigs in Helsinki, Joensuu, Tampere and Turku. Turning the some of the new material into live versions has been a real challenge, but this time we've really tackled it head-on! And so far, we've been joyously relieved by how well the new material has worked in the live set. So be sure to check out the new and improved Johnson Party in a club or town near you!

There have been a number of extremely positive reviews of Records Are Forever published recently. Among them, both the weekly supplement of Helsingin Sanomat (Finland's biggest newspaper) as well as Rumba music magazine awarded the album with 4 out of 5 stars. Nice!

We were also genuinely pleased with the top ten position in our first week on the official Finnish album charts. R.A.F. came in at number 10 in its debut week, making it the second highest new entry on a chart slightly skewed by the fact it was Mother's Day week.

But much more importantly, we've been eagerly reading all your feedback and comments on the album — so be sure to keep them coming! At this point, it kind of feels like you've raised a child, or 13 different children, sent them out into the world — and you can't wait to hear how what the world thinks of them. We definitely gave each and every song on the album our everything, and what happens from here on is more or less out of our hands.

We are fully aware that for some, the album must feel like a dauntingly diverse journey into different directions. Yes, the styles and genres blended together are many. But in the end it all boils down to this: We've simply wanted to put together 13 of the best songs we could make. That's all. And for Don Johnson Big Band, experimenting and playing with all kinds of styles — old and new, familiar and unfamiliar — is what makes music fun. It's why we love doing what we do.

We're damn proud of this baby, and we really hope as many of you as possible will enjoy listening to it. Let us know if you do. Hell, let us know if you don't!

And while you're at it, be sure to check the bottom right corner of the page for an ongoing vote on your favorite album track. The initial results have proved really interesting. In fact, they've kind of blown us away. We didn't even plan to play Running Man live, but all that's changed now. Kind of fun to see so many people giving the top vote to a song we weren't even sure would make the album one week before the mastering! Cast your vote, you never know what a difference it can make.

That's enough rambling for now. Keep it real! And come on down to the gigs, people, you won't regret it!

Much love,


Monday, May 4, 2009


The counter says: 1 day, 21 hours, 55 minutes and 40 seconds. Or it did a moment ago. And whether it is the journey or the destination that counts, we are MOS DEFinitely very very close to the moment that counts. Feeling fantastic.

The album will be available in records stores across the land and online on Wednesday morning, 6 May 2009. Buy it, Check The Record, and be sure to let us know what you think. Right now, we are eager to hear any and all feedback, good or bad, praisin' and dissin'. Bring it on! And don't forget you can still listen to the ENTIRE album for a couple of days on our MySpace page! Can-you-dig-it?!?

The tram gig last week was unforgettable to say the least, thanks again to everyone who attended, and to Radio Helsinki! We will try to upload some video footage as soon as possible. This week, the rehearsal work on the new live set continues, and on Thursday we're jumping on the bus at the break of dawn for a sweet little 600 km ride to Oulu. The journey continues to Kokkola on Friday, and at 4 PM Saturday afternoon we will be back in Helsinki for a special live performance and poster signing at Record Shop X record store (Arkadiankatu 14).

After almost a year and a half away from touring, it's hard to put into words how excited we are to hit the stages again. Man, just being reunited with our tech crew is making us a little teary-eyed... Anyway, there's plenty of new goodies in store for these upcoming spring and summer gigs, so come on down to a venue near you and check it out!

The view count keeps climbing nicely for our L.L.H. video — gonna break 20,000 soon. We've loved getting all the positive comments, and the whole production team is mighty proud and happy! Keep spreading the link and the word! Word?

"Records Are Forever" is the album of the week on YleX Radio this week, so for all you Finns out there, tune in to hear a new track every day with comments by Mr. Laiho and Mr. Lindgren. Also, be sure to check out my visit to MTV3's Huomenta Suomi (Good Morning, Finland) show live on Wednesday morning at 8.50. The objective is to slap myself awake and to talk about the album. It's going to be a challenge.

Interesting times. We love you all. All of y'all.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Get On The Tram!

Good People! Greetings from the couch of a very quiet Dick Tank. Less than two weeks to go to the album release, and I've spent most of the day here doing phone interviews. After, that is, I was released from the morning show on The Voice where I got to, among other things, perform my first ever weather forecast. You can check out Father Metro The Weatherman right here.

On to the really good stuff. The first shipment of cd's has arrived fresh off the press from Germany. I can, therefore, officially confirm: WE HAVE AN ALBUM! And it looks as good as it sounds! We're now waiting for the rest of the first edition to arrive by the end of the week. The albums will then immediately begin shipping out to record boutiques near and far. Mad-ness. The wheels are certainly spinning, and the hours are counting down!

The atmosphere in the Tank is bizarrely deserted. It feels absurd sitting here. The computer is off, the recording equipment all shut down, and there's a conspicuous absence of tired looking bandmates wandering around a poorly air-conditioned space, scratching their heads and contemplating takes, mixes, and the fate of the album. It's almost as if time has stopped the moment we stepped out of this place some weeks ago, and headed for the airport and NYC.

Luckily all this will soon change as we begin the intense rehearsal period for the upcoming release tour and the festival summer. The studio will once again metamorphose into a rehearsal space. With sweat flying around, a whole lotta laughter and fun, nerves being pushed to the edge... And in the end, the live set 2009 will take its initial shape. We're still waiting for confirmation for a number of gigs, but the summer definitely promises to be a busy one. With a bigger-than-ever Johnson Entourage coming to a festival near you! The list of gigs for the summer will be published here soon, so keep checking in!


We are putting together a very special event next Tuesday 28 April in collaboration with Radio Helsinki. An old school tram car has been rented for a 2-3 hour tour around the city with one purpose and one purpose alone: To give a selected few of you a private sneak preview of the new album. The band will naturally be attending, and we'll even perform a little acoustic set for all of y'all. There are daily contests for tickets on Radio Helsinki, so tune in (88,6 MHz / and book yourself a seat on the Johnson Tram! Act soon, for there are only a limited amount of tickets available for this once-in-a-lifetime event! More information here.

Hope to see you on board. Just two (2) more tiny weeks!

May the spring sun treat you all kindly,


Saturday, April 18, 2009

New York, New York!

Back in Helsinki. There's but a few weeks until the album comes out and every day is filled with excitement now. Gigs get confirmed, lots of interviews ahead, practising and configuring sounds for the tour... Spring is definitely in the air!!

The trip to New York was fantastic, although the result is a bit surprising this time around: we mastered the album both in New York and in Helsinki and as a result of a very careful listening and comparing process decided to use the Helsinki version. This kind of thing is quite normal in the music business and our trip was a resounding success anyway: in addition to the great and instructive mastering experience with Chris Athens it was nice to hang out in New York for a week and celebrate the finished album in Nobu 57, one of the coolest Japanese restaurants in town!

The mastering session was a great experience. Right from the start Chris proved to be a very cool and funny guy with a good sense of all genres and music in general. He liked the mixes a lot and put his full attention to the album as a whole. The end result maintained the basic nature of the initial mixes by being a bit on the dark side in terms of equalization and a bit quieter than some of the modern records being done these days. Every song had many delicate eq adjustments and analog compression to strengthen and support the overall sound. Here's a short explanation of the mastering process for those interested. In addition to the great mastering experience it was fun to stumble upon the members of Green Day eating apples in the kitchen of Sterling Sound with producer Butch Vig while mastering their forthcoming album...

The version mastered by Svante Forsbäck at Chartmakers in Helsinki was a bit more aggressive in terms of sound and volume. Svante also made a couple of distinct corrections to a couple of songs that he felt needed them. Some songs went through tape, some got parallel and/or multiband compression and so on.

We really enjoyed both interpretations of the source material and deciding was actually kind of difficult in the end. After long blind tests and listening we however ended up choosing Svante's version as a starting point and fine-tuned it with him for a whole day in Helsinki. When the final version was shipped to the record plant in Germany the feeling was once again TOTALLY surreal: over a year of album making had ended in a flash!

The album cover, artwork and layout were finished somewhere between New York and Helsinki, meaning a 36 hour non-stop Skype connection between our hotel room and Matti's (our graphic designer) office in Helsinki. Johannes did most of the work while me and Tommy just voiced our opinions every now and then — while our eyelids were still open, that is. The end result satisfied everybody. A white background, lots of fun photos inside and a whole new typography on the cover. Nicehh!

The rest of our trip was spent lying around in Central Park with brown paperbags in our hands during "the first day of Spring in New York!" as a local guy put it, spending some fun time with Tommy's friends living in NY, shopping a bit and of course listening to the new album in a lot of different places. For example "Time Machine" sounded great during a nighttime subway ride to Brooklyn, and "Rush" was a blastin' experience in pouring rain in the middle of Manhattan! The warm spring sunshine really augmented "Take You Home"... "Dey Don't" took wing in the bustle of a swarming crowd, and "All Hope" worked best in a dark hotel room. "Dirt" on the other hand really seemed to be in its element inside any rapidly moving vehicle with sceneries and landscapes flying by. That equals a successful country song to me. :)

Well, it must be admitted that at this point we're RIDICULOUSLY eager to receive all kinds of feedback concerning the new album. The first comments from Universal, the management, and other close acquaintances of ours have been confusingly positive without an exception! Hmmm... smells quite fishy when you think about it.

In the end, the whole album making process at times filled with exuberant perfectionism, could be best summed in a relieved quote that has been in overuse in our studio space lately, and which I clearly remember a sherry-sipping Johannes reciting in a very cozy coffee room in the corner of 9th Ave and 47th Street: "Hey, it's only music!"


Sunday, March 29, 2009

There it is now!

Lo' and behold: the album is finished! 100%. Finished.

It was time for an all-nighter for me and Johannes last night when we finished the mixing of the new album. Feels pretty odd and sort of foggy right now. Our flight to New York leaves in two hours. The last thing we recorded was a dissolving tablet. The first recording failed miserably, but we definitely nailed the next one.

Despite feeling pretty damn tired it feels JUST GREAT! Does that make sense? There is more energy on the record than on any of our previous albums and we really feel good about the record as a whole. At the last minute we got an amazing feat. to Rush and lots of nice little details to different songs.

About the videos, Tommy's been involved intensively in wrapping up the L.L.H. video while the album has been given finishing touches. Hopefully the video will be out within a week, there are still some things to polish. Previews have convinced the whole band. The video diaries are in the same situation, three first episodes are being edited and should be finished soon. We'll put them up on YouTube as soon as the editing team gets their work done!

Yep yep yeah, Johannes went off to finish packing and should arrive in a minute. So I'd better get going as well but to finish off, here's a fresh review of L.L.H. by my father. Enjoy:

"Dear Kari,
Sounds pretty good, even to my ears. Below are some of my subjective first impressions, which may slightly differ from those of an average DJBB fan.

General impressions:

  • drums sound really vigorous, fast, and precise, very enjoyable

  • Tommy's solo parts: very skillful, as always, but not really my cup of tea, a matter of taste

  • choir-like vocal parts much more enjoyable

  • the instrumental parts with multiple vocals (see below) are really powerful

More detailed analysis (after listening with iTunes):
0:01 - A good and impressive beginning!
0:13 - Tommy's solo ... (see above, and below)
0:42 - Powerful instrumental sounds
1:05 - Particularly powerful, choir-like
1:18 - Tommy "alone" again ... (I suppose that's part of your brand)
1:37 - OK, on account of the background
1:49 - Particularly OK, cool sounds
2:05 - Tommy "alone" again, almost without any background support
2:49 - Particularly OK, cool sounds
3:16 - The instrumental sounds and the way Tommy's voice is "multiplied" sounds fantastic!

A successful ending!

I trust this will become another chart topping hit.


Tired but very happy,


Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Album Is Called...

Get ready for a major news flash, live and direct from the couch section of our very own Dick Tank. Kari just walked over to Johannes and shook his hand. I then proceeded to shake Kari's hand. Finally, Johannes and I shook on it. Pekka will soon arrive to record some final flute and sax takes of the album. However, before that happens we will share with him what I am about to share with you right now. The decision we just sealed with a trio of near-sacred binding handshakes. One which has been carefully prepared and labored over for a long time.

The title of the fourth Don Johnson Big Band album is...

"Records Are Forever"

Phew. So there it is. And there it shall remain. Hope you can dig it.

The work continues at an almost insane pace. As you can see from the updated list of songs, we've still been doing a lot of recording, even though time is now extremely scarce. For the most part, however, we've moved into the final mixing stage. Simultaneously, we're having to make some really tough decisions about which songs will not make the cut. And I can assure you, this bit always feels gut-wrenchingly nasty when making an album. A lot of time and love has been devoted to all these "kids" of ours, and it's a ruthless feeling having to say no to any of them so close to the finish line. On the other hand, we're convinced we will be able to shape this material into the best possible album - and nothing less.

We've also renamed some of the tunes, and the list of song titles will not see many changes from now on. And since our mastering journey is only a week or so away, it won't take much longer before we can let you all see the complete final track list.

Before we go, we'd like to send out much love and a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who's helped with the L.L.H. radio votes! The first single has been received really well on radio stations across the board (even those independent-non-playlist cats at Radio Helsinki played it more than any other song last week), and it jumped straight into the number 9 spot on Radio YleX's Most Wanted list on Saturday! Thank you all for the support, and do keep voting so we can climb even higher next week! The editing for the new L.L.H. video is ongoing as we speak, and the final video is still expected to see its world premiere before the end of March. We can't wait. More info about the video coming very soon!

It's been a long and winding road, and there are just a couple of tight turns left. And at this point, we welcome all your prayers, mental horse shoes, or whatever weird good-luck rituals you might be into. Keep the fire burning!

For the boys,


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Last Long Hurrah

I'm sitting in the corner of a really brightly lit room at the "Dockyards Studios" in the southern port of Helsinki. The shoot for our new music video is going on in front of my eyes, and it's hard to contain the excitement. We have less than two weeks left to complete the final mixes before mastering the album, and there's still a lot of work left. But right now, it's hard to focus on anything else besides this incredible shoot going on. To top it all off, I've managed to catch one b*tch of a flu, although the present adrenaline rush is making it easy to just forget about any physical worries.

We can't really share all the info concerning the video yet, but for now let's just say the words "third time's a charm" seem to ring very true. We have managed to persuade even the record company to go along with a video concept that is pretty artistic in that there are hardly any shots of the band or it's lead singer featured. It's also an artistic collaboration that will hopefully blur the much too prevalent distinction between "popular" and "fine" art.

For the first time, we feel absolutely convinced about a video and its potential to give the music new life. If all goes well, the end result will be intense, funny, artistic, simple, and beautiful in a slightly contorted way. At the moment it seems likely the video will be online for your viewing pleasure sometime during the final week of March.

The original concept for this video is the band's own - or more precisely that of our graphic designer Matti Sipiläinen. Maybe that's why we really believe in it. Right now all we can do is trust in the pros and their ability to make it work on screen. The director/d.o.p. duo at work is the same as with our previous "Road" video, Akseli Tuomivaara and Aleksi Koskinen. Both these guys have been going at it today with an equally impressive drive and tempo as the yet-unnamed star of the video.

And what about the song, then? L.L.H. has now been playing on the radio for a little less than a week. Apparently going to the YleX Radio morning show to premiere the track was such an intense experience for me, I wound up getting sick soon thereafter. But let's just say we've been thrilled at the early response, which has been overwhelmingly positive. We can only hope it gets similar attention on other radio stations. This time, we chose not to release an actual physical single record for sales, but from Monday 16 March onward, the song will be hitting digital online shops all over. So go crazy, spend a euro, and rock to that joint, yes? (Naturally, the song is also streamed on our MySpace page.)

These are truly exciting and crazy days and nights. Right now, putting the final mixes together is resulting in a LOT of work, particularly for Kari and Johannes. In addition to this final 24/7 mixing effort, we still have some guests coming into the Tank this week to record some final takes. One of only two remaining weeks is now underway. And then the ultimate climax - a mastering trip to Chris Athens and Sterling Sound. Please keep all your fingers crossed for us. We're gonna need it.

Yours with a loving cough,