Monday, June 17, 2019

The live band where it supposed to be

Photo by Carro Pettersson
Last Saturday we finished up our round of spring live dates in Ludvika at Open Stage Grand Finale Festival. Awesome way to round it all up, at this beautiful venue with the outdoor stage right by the water, add perfect sunny weather and that we did one of our best performances to date. It was really great taking the material live on stage and put it through the three-piece live jam machinery for a couple of gigs. Had a super-blast doing our little round with our friends in Blackribbon in the beginning of May, I go way back with every band member of the band that is led by my brother and pre 13 Chaos St side-kick and vocalist Jari. Loads of fun, as it was on our other live dates as well.

We’ve now, finally, reached our gig number 12 with the PM Saari Band and got the live performance, the jams and the chops pretty much where we want it. According to the original plan we were supposed to be here a year ago, but sometimes things takes time, and sometimes one’s just got to let things take its time.

Photo by Carro Pettersson
Next thing the focus will be on recovering my pretty beaten voice for a couple of days to be able to start recording vocals. I was supposed to do that in between the live dates but that was impossible since I pretty much wore my voice out every turn on the road. The thing is that it's not the singing but the talking that wears your voice out and when we were out I talked constantly 24/7. I guess that's what happens when you're out on the road with your best pals in your band, and add the dates with your best pals in the other band you're out with. Great times, loads of fun and impossible to shut up, but paying for it now.

Then I suppose the lack of sleep the last month, or three, probably has taken its toll on my voice as well. Was five days hanging with former Lizard Eye drummer Ralph Rydén and some friends down at the Sweden Rock Festival two weeks ago and the fact that I became a father for the third time a month ago, a new baby at home doesn’t exactly add to your sleeping hours. But it’s all cool, realising that I’m starting to get a little bit of hang of the singing and vocal things, like the last gig worked pretty well vocal-wise despite a cold and a pretty badly beaten throat and voice.

Photo by my right hand

'But now I’ll give my voice some rest for a couple of days, or whatever it takes, before starting to record my vocals and get some new stuff finished and then out. Need to have some level of clarity in my voice to nail the vocal tracks. After summer, or at the end of it, we’ll be back with a whole new setlist, including new songs, and we have some new real exciting live plans in the planning, and then all the releases that are being recorded.

Peace.
/ PM

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The machinery is running

Our 2019 live bookings suffered a bit of a setback when two live dates in March got pulled back by the organisers just before they were about to be officially confirmed, but we have a couple of dates booked starting in may and we’re waiting for some more to be confirmed. Dates will be announced as we get closer.

With the "Poe", my Custom ESP Ltd
Viper-400 which was exclusively
used in this round of recording.
The recording goes in its own pace, living its own life, developing and forming into shape. There’s a lot of experimenting going on, I’ve probably never tried out, worked and reworked my rhythm guitars to this degree before. Usually it works better for me to do things quick, just a very few takes, whatever comes out gets down because otherwise everything tends to get overdone very easily. But this round I felt that I really had the chance and the time, and felt that the material deserved (demanded?) it, so I just went for it and it turned our really, really well. I’ve also been experimenting a lot with arrangements on these songs, which I always do though, but maybe even a little bit more, and also with other instruments like percussion for instance. It’ll be exciting to see what comes out of it.

Besides the drums the bass and rhythm guitars are also now recorded for the first two upcoming releases, two EPs that is, and I’m about to start recording the vocals and lead guitars for the first one, which will be titled "Between", and will feature my live rhythm section, Andreas “Drake” Mallander on fretless bass and Patrick Idman on drums.

Tree Angel

We’ll be putting out shirts with alternative versions of the Tree Angel artwork at the official Saari Store at Zazzle. Every two weeks or so we’ll put a new one out and there are already a couple out there. Note that all designs are available on shirts in different styles and colors to suit your fancy. There are also various geographically located Zazzle stores to make it easier for you to place your order and getting it delivered. So check it out at the Saari Store - Tree Angel.


See ya.
/ PM

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

New releases in the works

Yea, I know it’s been a while, again, I’ve been working around the clock for the past weeks or months, again, so nothing new here. Unfortunately not working that much with music. However we have finished the recording of the drums for the upcoming releases and yes, releases in plural because there will most likely be two EP’s and then the full length album, “The Awakening”, this simply due to the fact that I have so much material I want to get out. Since it is now a fact, there will be three or four different drummers on the records, depending on which songs will finally make it.

I’ve also been having some health issues that has affected my singing the past couple of months. This have slowed things down a bit, but I believe that’s all fixed now and am now continuing working on my vocals. I’ve also, again, physically moved my studio and the Saari Headquarters which has taken it’s time but I’m now setled and ready to work with some music and dive into the huge to-be-recorded-bin and start hammering down some guitar tracks.


We’ve been rehearsing and doing some shows with the PM Saari Band and are very close to where we want the power-trio that is the live version of it all to be. It’s a pretty hard task and hard work getting it all there, getting the right balance between the ingredients we want in there. Not only do we need to manage playing the pretty demanding material as a three-piece, but also playing it with the right feeling and attitude and with all the improvisation going on, which requires quite a bit, especially in the fast songs where there’s really no time at all to think. So we really have to work up our chops and we’re not ready to compromise on any part, Though it feels like it has taken a bit longer to get where we are today than was originally planned, that’s the way life is for us right now and the main thing is that we’re here now and that we’re getting there.

Here’s some video live takes from some of the past live shows, pretty unpolished and obviously with some tweaking left, but yeah, we’re getting there:



And right for the holidays we also got some new killer items at the Saari Store for you at the official PM Saari merch store at Zazzle, so be sure to check it out:

Saari Store

Happy X-mas and merry new year to all of you! Have a great one.

Peace.
/ PM


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Status S

("S" for Saari, or for Summer if you prefer.) 

PM in the studio working with the
drums of the new solo album.
I have started the recording of my album #2 and the drums for about half of it are recorded by now. A lot of things about it hasn’t been decided yet, so lots of things still floating in the air, but there will be a full-length album, probably out next year and it will be called “The Awakening”, that is certain. I’ve come to realize that it won’t be as much a progressive album as I thought it would but more of a classic heavy metal/hard rock album. I’ve also realized that it’s all pretty strong material, lots of cool riffs, tasteful vocal melodies, ingenious lyrics and exiting arrangements, many of the songs probably the best I’ve ever written.

I’m also done tuning in the guitar sounds (or are we really ever?) for it and have started recording and arranging the guitars for the first four songs. On these particular songs we’ll be recording the rhythm guitars before the bass for the first time ever. As I’ve mentioned before there will be some guests on the album, but the main part of it will feature my live rhythm section, the PM Saari Band: Andreas Mallander on fretless bass and Patrik Idman on drums. Production- and arranging-wise I think I will go with the flow and have a more song-oriented approach to the material. Off course there will be progressive and virtuous elements, which is inevitable when we do things, more on some songs than others, but the songs will lead and steer this album. So still a long way to go, but the machine is rolling and when there, I believe that it will kill.


Other from the work on the album we’re doing some live shows with PM Saari Band starting July 28th at Rock På Torget in Smedjebacken and we’ve also been throwing in some rehearsals with Järntrean so we’ll see what will come out of that.

I can also reveal now that sometimes after summer we’ll be releasing an Inagone (!) EP featuring three songs that I’m (re-)mixing as we speak. So no new material, but I felt that those old tunes deserves to be more in the spotlight, of which they were a bit robbed at the time, the Inagone recordings never really got the chance they deserved.


And when it comes to The Opening, the album I needed to do, the album that needed to be done, it has been out about one and a half year by now and I’d really need your support with it on Spotify, help to push it forward, to make a path for The Awakening. So please, please take a couple of seconds to follow, share, like and whatever it is you do on Spotify, and also of course listen to it and it’s songs, I need all the push I can possibly get and would be forever grateful.





Cheers!
/ PM



Sunday, January 21, 2018

Saari Gear


THE GUITARS

A huge part of me and what I do is my gear, the equipment through which my art is delivered. I mean at the end of the day it’s what brings out what’s happening in my mind, or soul if you will, transporting it into the real world and making it perceptible for others. I really need my instruments and equipment to feel just right to be comfortable, to be able to deliver 100%, and it's even gotten me so that the gear itself inspires me and pushes me on. So I thought I'll write some lines about it and let’s start with the most important thing, the guitars.

My favourite Gibson's, two reissue
Flying V's and a 1977 The Paul. 
I would say that Ibanez is the guitars that started it all for me, and I still have my two first Roadstar's left, by now very modified, or Saari:fied, and highly worn out and retired (Check out Saari History Part I for more on my early days equipment at: http://pmsaari.blogspot.se/2015/03/saari-history-part-i.html) and today my main acoustic guitars are Ibanez. I then moved on to Gibson’s, mainly my Flying V’s, especially my dear Flying V ‘58/’98 Limited Edition reissue, one of my absolute favourite guitars, looks awesome and it plays like a dream. As for my Gibson’s, besides the V’s I used some The Paul's and The Paul II's pretty much as well. All my Gibson's are equipped with DiMarzio Norton humbucker at the bridge and either DiMarzio Paf or Air Norton at the neck, these pickups sound absolutely amazing in these guitars, especially in the Flying V’s.

Three of my main ESP Ltd Saari
Custom Viper's based on the 400.
In 2006 I got my hands on my first ESP Ltd Viper, a Vintage Sunburst Viper-400 with Seymour Duncan Custom 5 humbucker at the bridge and a Jazz at the neck, that I named "The Poe", and I was totally hooked and been so ever since. With it I did what I’ve been doing ever since with ALL my guitars: rewiring them to have two volume pots, one for each humbucker, and remove the tone control (-s). On the Vipers I also move the front strap button so it’s facing forward as on a Strat. I file a platform in the middle of the very pointy top over the upper cut where I screw the strap button. Pretty tricky, but I’ve done it enough times by now and it really, really makes the guitar hang in the absolute perfect position for me. So my Saari:fied Ltd Viper 400's and 1000's with the Seymour Duncan humbuckers mentioned above is pretty much what I play today.

My Gibson The Paul II
hand-painted by me.
Lately I've added some other guitars to the arsenal, like the Charvel Charvel Pro Mod So Cal Style1 with maple fretboard and floating Floyd Rose locking tremolo and Seymour Duncan humbuckers, which I like a lot and which was sort of my homage to huge influences like Adrian Smith and also Van Halen and other whammy-bar players, kind of where I started. Also some various ESP Ltd guitars that are not Vipers, like my beautiful and amazing Silver Sparkle EC-1000 Deluxe for instance.

I play pretty much steel string acoustic guitar and most of the songs I’ve ever written are written on one, even all the heaviest metal tunes. I believe that a good song should work with just the vocals and an acoustic guitar or a piano, that a riff should work on an acoustic guitar if it’s worth keeping. I have some Washburn and Ibanez steel string acoustics but my main acoustic guitar now is my Ibanez Artwood 250 ECE-RTB.

As you notice I’m not that into very expensive guitars nor am I not into old, used or vintage guitars, or other gear. I like new gear, I want to be the one wearing them out. That’s why I rather go for a reissue version rather than getting a many years old, worn original if possible. I love to occasionally run through and jam on some old Strat's and Les Paul’s or whatever if the opportunity is given, but that’s enough for me, I’ve never gotten more feeling out of a vintage instrument than a new one. The The Paul I's and II's are the only ones of the guitars I have now that I bought used, and this simply because they weren't made anymore and there were no reissues.

Though I’ve been pretty faithful to a handful of brands through the years I’ve never found myself comfortable with an exclusive endorsement. I’ve always felt I needed to be free to experiment, to be free to be free, totally unbound, and have therefore chosen to finance my equipment in other ways through the years.


THE AMPS AND CABS

Been running through many various Marshall cabinets through the years, and pretty many Marshall heads as well, too many for me to remember and in contrary to the guitars many of them older used ones. In mid 1990's I used my Crate Blue VooDoo 60 head a lot through some years and that amp is so totally worn out and beaten, but I still have it and I also still have some Marshall JCM 800 heads and 4x12 Marshall cabinets. I’ve always been into the sound of tube amplifiers, I always thought that they keep my tone alive and brings it out in its purest form. But then I also always preferred it simple, easy, smooth and flexible. And when I started playing more live and record in many different places tube-heads, 4x12” cabinets and tons of cables and pedals aren’t that at all.

Some of my live POD's.
I only use the XT and the HD.
In 1998 it happened, Line 6 POD (1.0 that is) happened and I’ve been running through various Line 6 multi effects/simulators/preamps ever since, I think I own every POD ever released. (Some more on that in Saari History Part II: http://pmsaari.blogspot.se/2016/04/saari-history-part-ii.html.) I also need my gear to be reliable to be able to concentrate on the performance and I’m very, very rough with my instruments and gear, so they have to endure pretty much beating and these Line 6 products have never failed on me.

My Spider Valve
MkII HD100.
My dream was one cable from the guitar to an amplifier, I don’t use wireless, and one not too big floorboard with a wah-pedal, one unit, that is connected to the rig with one cable only and needs no power supply. So the Line 6 POD and the FBV Express MKII floorboard was, and still is, like a dream come true for me. For many years I used a Line 6 Spider Valve MkII HD100 live, one cable from the guitar and one from the FBV Express and it sounded really great, a bit buggy which never got fixed since Line 6 stopped updating the firmware when they stopped manufacturing it. Then after some tube problems and getting them changed a couple of times it was never the same again and was put into retirement (at least temporarily). The idea was great, best of both worlds, tubes and digital, but it feels like a half-completed product, a prototype. The first years of my POD-period I used to run the POD into an old Marshall head's return using it's power amp getting an awesome guitar sound, but tubes aren't that reliable and I got fed up with their instability, the tubes living their own life, having good days and bad days, came to a point when they didn't charm me anymore and it wasn't worth the time and all the trouble.

My live rig 2018 with the
Saari Custom 1x12" cab
I’ve spent a lot of time the last months, once again, on my guitar sound and rigg and considered upgrading to Helix or Kemper but they didn’t really offer me anything that the old PODs didn’t, on the contrary, the POD and the FBV Express are way more flexible, takes much less space and weight, I can even fly with the desk version of POD and the floorboard as hand luggage. So for live I’m now running a Line 6 POD Pro, the the XT or HD, through a Rocktron Velocity 300 power amp and that through my Saari Custom cabinets armed with Celestion 12” Vintage 30 elements. You need to put many, many hours into tuning knobs on the POD's and understand them but when there you can get them to sound awesome and the rig is simple, easy, smooth and flexible, and it’s reliable, and mainly, it makes me want to continue doing this.