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,


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Farewell to the Sea

In all honesty, this one is something of an epilogue. Memories are still fresh from the final couple of days of work, but once the lyrics for "Dry Cooler" really got going, it became increasingly difficult to make time for these diary entries. So here's a brief recap of things that still happened, in very random and unorganized order.

I was able to put together two complete verses and a chorus for "Dry Cooler" which was eventually renamed "Tugboat's Call". The vocal takes for the track were mostly done outdoors at night, on the terrace. The sound may not be hi-fi to tha max, but the vibe felt right. We will see if they end up making the album. We had to turn off all the electricity, too, cause the damn hot tub wouldn't shut up. But we did make damn sure it was buzzing with heat once more after we switched the power back on.

We sat down one night for dinner in front of the television, flicked through the satellite channels, and lo and behold: a goddamn Finnish war movie. No joke. Second World War flick too from a few years back. Good for a few laughs, but mostly just absurd. I think we finished the same night's work by watching the new X-Files movie on Johannes's laptop. Johannes slept through half of it. I think he managed to watch it again on the return flight to Helsinki.

Kari and Johannes hopped on some mountain bikes and rode all over the damn peninsula. They may have stopped for some drinks in a seaside bar. But they most definitely did stop to buy an African thumb piano, which was immediately tested and recorded and sounds awesome. Johannes also blew a tire on the way back. Probably while doing some of those fancy bike tricks Kari insisted on shooting.

I ran every day. Based on Johannes's GPS measurements and my own estimates, a total of about 50 kilometers. Quite happy. Just pissed off it's over. Keeping this summer running thing going will not be much fun on sleet, ice or snow covered streets and paths.

We ended up recording the last vocal takes about half an hour before disassembling the studio on the last night. And ended up finding one REALLY good gourmet style restaurant down in the village. Some fantastic meat and fish courses.

All things considered, the facilities and amount of equipment did hamper our work a little. We couldn't work on a ton of things, but it's still been extremely useful coming here. A new song has appeared, out of scratch to near-finished. And some random stuff to other tracks have been recorded. AND there's been plenty of listening, discussing, coming up with ideas that can be done once back home again.

It's been good. The sea, the sun, the black hills. We're gonna miss this damn place.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Getting Our Feet Wet

Monday dawns almost as sunny as Sunday afternoon ended, and after a quick trip out to town to buy some cables and food, we're back pool side. But the cover stays on, and I get busy writing while chilling in the sun chair. I end up working on a new approach for "Tugboat's Call", in an attempt to combine a kind of tropical stillness with the mystic vibe of a desert landscape. Getting off to a good start, I realize all I've written so far will probably be better suited for a more up-tempo track, like "Get It Right" for example.

Kari and Johannes grab a mic, some cable, and a laptop and walk right down to where sea meets shoreline for some sea sound recording. Johannes comes back, shirtless, and his sneakers soaking wet. But the duo is clearly pleased with the result. A few minutes later, Mr. Laiho is far less content, when confronted with the shocking news of a steep decline in the hot tub temperature. (It's down to a freezing 34 degrees centigrade!)

I decide to head out for another run. The neck's a little sore, but not too bad. Jog, dip in the hot tub, and then back to working on the "Tugboat's Call" lyrics. There's a beautiful sunset in front of my eyes as I sit writing on the terrace. Kari is jumping around in the backyard taking pictures of the cacti. Yes, cacti. And shooting the sun from between the cacti. I love saying "cacti".

The writing and editing go on for a couple of hours, followed by one of our few dinner outings to Playa Blanca. Over the fish courses in a fairly non-descript seafood joint, we briefly discuss what to work on during the remaining days. "Get It Right" definitely needs some more guitars, and a second verse (originally intended for "Tugboat's Call") is pretty much done and ready to be tried out. And the infamous afro pop monster we've got in the works is crying out for some pan flute action.

We end the night with a brief visit to a small bar owned by some Brits called "Wax". Johannes sends a couple of sunshine snapshots (taken in and around the pool) to our beloved manager and booking agent Sami, while the bar's karaoke master is firing away some UB40. To crown it all, the bar is suddenly invaded by around 20 young French women and a couple of men. Their intense interpretations of U2 and Blondie literally end up taking our breath away. It's time to return to Finisterre.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sounds Like Pan Pipes!

As Sunday dawns, we decide to head out to the northern parts of the island, to a Sunday market in the town of Teguise. It's another breathtaking scenic drive. The black hills are incredible, and the hillsides are full of these symmetrical round craters (apparently for the purposes of growing stuff, vines and whatnot). Every now and then you see the odd lonely looking white house by the hillside. But for the most part, there's nothing but empty space.

Teguise is a fine little village located on top of a hill. The former capital of Lanzarote, says the little tour guide. Unfortunately, the market itself doesn't seem to offer much more than your average collection of fake designer bags and wallets. UNTIL we come across a whole table lined with pan flutes all sizes. The thought of Pekka blowing notes into one of those puppies is enough to make us invest 20 euros into a semi-credible looking instrument. Johannes gets so excited that he finds it almost impossible not to play it while driving us back towards Playa Blanca. As a result, our driver is soon completely winded, and barely able to keep us on the road...

On the way back, we make a rest stop on what appears to be a small wine farm on a beautiful scenic spot. Right by the side of the road, there's also a small white chapel that looks like something out of Tarantino's "Kill Bill" movies. Kari is adamant about all three of us posing for some potential promo shots. Of course Pekka will have to be Photoshopped in later. Either way, the pictures (particularly some mad shots of Johannes with his hair open) look great. The early afternoon sun feels really really warm, and there's an incredible silence as we stand around looking at all the hills and plains around us.

Back home, the sun is directly hitting the outdoor terrace, and we quickly roll open the kidney shaped swimming pool. Shirts go off in a flash, and I grab my goggles and hit the cool refreshing water first. Johannes takes a quick dip, but opts on the hot tub instead. Kari stays around a little longer. The sun feels so good I can't stop myself from going on another run. Another five or six kilometers by the Atlantic — ahhh... Although I am reminded of the dangers of exercise at the end of it all, as I pull something in the back of my neck while stretching myself too violently and too late. Always warm up those muscles, idiot.

Kari and Johannes continue working on "Dry Cooler". The lyrics are coming along slowly, and I've been writing for a couple of other tracks as well. But it's coming along, and we should get around to trying out some vocals soon enough. The neck is distracting me, and I decide to put my mind to rest in the kitchen. Three big-ass servings of Spaghetti alla carbonara (with some pine seeds) is tonight's course.

I go to bed hoping my neck still moves when I wake up.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cool 'er down

As the first afternoon rolls on, we finally get the equipment to work (more or less), and as the sun starts to come out again, Kari and Johannes have recovered from the setbacks by jamming together on the guitar and the melodica. Inspired by some Buena Vista Social Club and a 1970's Ry Cooder album, they come up with an idea for a new song. I pitch in with a working title for the song, "Dry Cooler". The relaxed downtempo vibe of the track is quickly captured, and I immediately start writing some new verses for it.

In an hour or two, the atmosphere of the Finisterre Sessions has turned from complete despair to one of excited optimism. Hot damn!

After some initial lyrics are jotted down, I resume my duties as the head chef, and shift my aim to making us dinner. Some more fried sausage with both oven cooked and boiled local potatoes. As the evening rolls around, Kari and Johannes continue recording and working on the structure for the new track. And I get back on my laptop to write some more.

In the end, Kari and Johannes reward themselves for the first day's productivity with another two man hot tub session. (I know.) The wind has changed direction outside, and it's a beautiful warm night out. I myself find the jacuzzi a little too "hot" to handle, and decide to just crash instead. There is hope. Another new track! And we're off!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clouds Are Gathering

Forget all I said. The first Finisterre morning is a cloudy one. Crap.

Just kidding. Not about the clouds, but it's really not that much of a disappointment. A little, but I guess one can always think of the current climate in Finland. And suddenly +15 degrees centigrade with a chance of showers doesn't feel that bad anymore. I decide to get myself going with a morning run after a light breakfast. Johannes and Kari are just getting out of bed as I head out jogging on the seaside walkway towards Playa Blanca. It may not be perfect tanning weather, but it's sublime for a run. Can't help thinking about the sleet back home in my shorts and t-shirt, happily sweating my ass off as the Atlantic Ocean keeps me company.

Overlooking the shoreline and the beaches are a number of almost identical looking small hotels. I come across some pretty disappointed looking holiday folks wrapped up in their windbreakers. After about four kilometers, it's time to turn back. Didn't quite make it to the village, but the 7-8 km roundtrip is definitely starting to do it for me. And I am suddenly consumed by the idea of relaxing my aching muscles in the hot tub.

As I make it back, Johannes (normally so calm and laid back) is fuming. Nothing seems to be going right putting together the equipment, and in an encouraging manner Mr. Laiho lets us know that it doesn't seem likely we will be able to do much recording at all. In addition, the fuses keep popping. And then it starts to rain.

It's pouring down outside. Kari is chilling out on the couch, picking some pretty somber sounds out of his acoustic guitar. Things could look more promising.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Breaking the Law

After unloading some of our personals, and changing out of flight-wear into something more comfortable, the first afternoon is spent strolling around the Playa Blanca village. There isn't really much to see, and it doesn't seem like the busiest tourist spot in the world. Which is good. The majority of tourists seem to be British. We decided to go for our first lunch in a restaurant by the seaside promenade, having some fresh fish and boiled potatoes canaries style (with lots of salt, and some mojo sauce).

After the lunch we stacked up piles and piles of food at a local supermarket, with the intention to do a lot of home cooking while here. Things get a little rough while exiting out of the parking facility. Our rental car is climbing up a very steep ramp, when all of a sudden either Johannes or the gearbox abruptly malfunctions. In any case, we start going backwards, and pretty much take out the barrier gate behind us. We sort of slide down through it going... well, backwards. Surprisingly enough, the manly looking parking attendant doesn't seem too bothered. He just walks on over and jolts the gate back into more or less its original shape. He does, however, motion towards us with gestures that can only be interpreted as: "Ever driven a car before?" Finally, Johannes manages to take hold of the blue Opel once more, and we quickly flee the scene of the crime. At least we have a full week to come up with a good explanation for any possible scratches.

It's already dark when we get back to the villa. Johannes and Kari start building up our studio in the living room. We've traveled pretty light this time around, at least in comparison with our last recording travels to Portugal in 2005 (when we took off with over 200 kilos of gear). While the fellas get on with the build-up, I decide to make friends with the kitchen by putting together a big feta cheese salad. The producers run into some unexpected trouble with an audio interface that refuses to work, and things are off to kind of a rough start. But Kari and Johannes decide they'll worry about it tomorrow, and quickly climb into the hot tub out on the terrace. The pitch black sky is an amazing sight at night. You can see a gazillion stars.

Coming here, to the Canary Islands of all places, has been such an absurd idea from the get go, that it was hard to imagine what it would feel like once we've arrived. Well, clearly this place is no touristic inferno, far from it. It's a quiet small island beside the African continent with some of the most beautiful rugged landscapes you can think of. There is no doubt that a week from now, we will leave this place loaded with inspiration and motivation for the last couple of months ahead. And with a well-deserved refill of Vitamin D. And if the record sounds as good as we feel right now, then it's all been worth it.

Johannes and Kari exit the jacuzzi for a light evening meal of sausages and salad. After that it's finally bedtime. This day has seemed like an eternity. Turn off the lights (and disconnect the cables).


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Camels on the Moon

It's a tough job. It feels particularly tough right now, getting our first look at the stunning view from our rented villa by the sea. We're on Lanzarote island, near the village of Playa Blanca. The community we are in is called Finisterre, which pretty much translates to "The end of the Earth". It's just past noon, and the sun is blazing down over a turquoise sea. Across the water to the south, you can see the hills of Fuerteventura rising up in all their glory. The villa is literally right by the sea, with only a narrow walkway and some pitch black rocks between the shoreline and our backyard. The soothing sound of the waves crashing into the rocks is constantly present.

Everyone's a little dizzy and exhausted, but we couldn't care less. It's been a short night, as the flight from Helsinki to Las Palmas departed at 5 AM. Fun flight it was too, as we were more or less cracking up every time the words "Las" and "Palmas" were uttered. At Las Palmas airport, while boarding our connecting flight to Lanzarote under a glorious blue sky, the cracking up soon turned into a smile that stayed on our faces. It was easy to see a great deal of sense in our decision to come here. We have 8 days of recording work and relaxation ahead of us, and the change of scenery couldn't come at a better time.

It's less than an hour's drive from Arrecife airport to Playa Blanca on the southern tip of the island. Looking out the window, you pretty much get an idea of what this island is all about. The landscape consists of black volcanic soil and hills, with a hint of grey or maroon here and there. There's hardly any vegetation, but we did catch a glimpse of some camels standing behind a fence by the side of the road. The narrow roads look really out of place here — it's as if roads had been paved on the surface of the Moon. There isn't much traffic, and every time you see a car, the sight is like something out of a television ad. We are totally in awe and really excited about this place. Time to settle in, looks like Johannes has already hogged the master bedroom with the best view...