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.