It's Thursday night in a countryside studio out in the middle of nowhere. Or... not exactly. We're at Petrax Studios which is technically near the town of Hollola, Finland. But you wouldn't know it looking out the window. Nothing but fields on one side, woods on the other, and some race horses far in the distance.
Kari is sitting in the dark recording room and pounding the tom-toms to "Tex Killer" with a pair of mallets. L o u d. And then real soft and easy. Johannes, Teemu (Korpipää, our live soundman and engineer), Felix and myself are comfortably chilling in the control room and commenting on the takes. Teemu just pointed out some of the hits were a little hasty, and suggested a shot of whiskey to calm the drummer down. The glass is being carried into the recording room as we speak. We also turned off all the lights to find the right mood. (And Kari, if anyone, is all about the moods.) This "Killer" track is gradually reaching some pretty magical spheres. I just spent a couple of hours in my own little recording room putting some finishing touches on the three verses. And recorded some new takes which might well end up being final.
Mr. Zenger just ran downstairs where he is preparing the sauna for us. The young beatbox wizard has been kept busy all day, his mouth beats and effects have been recorded to "Sympathizer", "Dey Don't", "Boogie", and "Tex Killer". He also played the Hammond organ on "Tex", and successfully so, because the loud noise of the instrument finally got Johannes out of bed. At 1 PM. The rest of us had of course been up since 9:30 AM, as we didn't want to miss out on the abundant breakfast served by Tiina (or Mrs. Rappula of the fantastic Rappula couple who are the studio owners). There's a great full board option on offer for all the bands who come here, and the great home cooking sure does soothe a hungry musicians soul. Just like the sauna downstairs, where Felix is trying to usher us ASAP. Seems like the glass of scotch worked. Kari just hammered in his best takes.
A funny old track, this "Tex Killer". It's based on a simple repetitive loop of something guitar-strummer extraordinaire Petteri Sariola played on a very banged up five-string (yes, 5) in the Dick Tank sometime last fall. I managed to record his playing with my MacBook -- no separate mics or anything, I just basically pointed my laptop in his general direction as he was jamming. And then later, I started playing around with a ten second loop extracted from his five minute jam, and came up with a melody and some lyrics for the vocals. Kari continued the song's subtle build-up with some Rhodes piano chords, and more recording is taking the track to even deeper spheres. The song has a real rugged country-esque feel to it, and it may well turn into the most, ahem, epic DJBB track yet. Verneri Pohjola dropped by earlier and delivered some truly phenomenal trumpet action — full of the same kind of fragile magic his solo had on "Jack" on our previous album. Verneri, and his trombone-puffing brother-in-arms Ilmari Pohjola, also recorded a whole heap of horn section material to a couple of tracks. The primary target was Kari's "gypsy hip-hop" track, but "Boogie" got its fair share as well.
But getting back to "Tex Killer", it will be very interesting to present the track to Mr. Sariola. Who, of course, has no idea that his tongue-in-cheek blues jam has inspired an eight minute long ballad of dust and redemption. A sum of many a coincidence, this song.
It's sauna time. And then sleep. Another day of sessions ahead tomorrow, and you gotta try to maximize the precious 6 hours of sleep ahead... There's magic present in this studio. A truly wonderful place to make and record music. The vibe is productive, excited, restless, peaceful, exhausted, rested.