Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Time flies - business n live

We'll be playing the first ever gig with Straight 8 Diablo at Copperfields in Stockholm on saturday december 3rd. The fact is that we started rehearsing november 13th so we'll only get down about some 7 rehearsals in two week time in total for the gig - exiting indeed. Actually, I haven't quite even finished writing the lyrics for the songs that we'll play yet - So a bit stressing, but then we all work best under pressure. S8D is a three-piece band and Fred (Thörnblom, also Lizard Eye bass player) and I ended up splitting the lead vocals about 50-50 which is a pretty cool thing since we have somewhat different voices and it'll be a cool mix. The style of the music is very heavy and heavily inspired by bands like Black Sabbath, Corrosion of Conformity and Down, and there's some great and really, really heavy riffing going on there. The grand S8D-plan is to down some gigs now and sometimes into 2012 record a full-length album. But we'll see...

This wednesday we'll be hitting hometown Stockholm (Harry B James) with 13 Chaos St that right now is a really solid and tight live band. Mr Norkko has really settled and sunk in. We'll be having my pal Ace Chrome's band Chrome Tone opening for us and it'll be a total blast.

As for the studio work, it has been forced to, once again, step aside a bit in favor of the expansion of my business, Saari Creations - Takes time to build an empire. We've been recording some drums for my solo album but it looks like it most likely will be finished in the beginning of 2012 instead of now in the end of this year (which is basically through by now!)

Hopefully I'll have more time to put on the music in a week or two and the plan is that Drake (Andy Mallander) and I'll start jammin with all the various stuff we have going on around the corner then. We'll probably also start to write some new 13 material, either now in december or early next year.

Now I'm off to see if I can put the last touch on the lyrics of the S8D songs and maybe get them all finished before the gig.


/ PM

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Things in motion

Loads of things are going on right now in the Saari Camp but the most important thing would probably be that I'm back, even though a bit on and off, working to finish the recording of my solo album and it feels pretty good to be working in the studio again, even though the pace, due to various reasons, can't quite be as high as I would like it to. I'd say there's about a third of it left to be recorded as we speak.

Andy has left 13 Chaos St due to family reasons, but as things are now he will continue playing with my solo band, Inagone and the other projects of mine that he's involved in. The new bass player in 13 Chaos St is Jesper Norkko who's a long-time friend of the band and he will fill the spot just perfectly. 13 Chaos St will be hitting the road doing a couple of gigs starting in matter of weeks. Check out the dates at the 13-myspace site: http://www.myspace.com/13chaosst. It sure will be great to get out and play live again, we're all really exited about it.

Fred and I have kicked life into our 3-piece thing Straight 8 Diablo again and we're moving on with the new drummer Patrik Idman, who's a long-time friend of mine and whom I've been in various bands with back in the days - an awesome drummer, songwriter and musician over all. We're rehearsing the band together as we speak and I'm about to put the last touches on the writing of the first hand-full of songs and it's all coming together real natually and turning out pretty cool. The plan is to rehearse it into shape very quickly, just a month or two, and then take it all out live on stage. Exiting indeed.

Some live gigs with 13 Chaos St and hopefully with Straight 8 Diablo and also with Lizard Eye is waiting around the corner to be announced - See you all there!

/ PM

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The new Lizard Eye album

Lizard Eye
"Flames of the Sun"

My second record in line to be released is the Lizard Eye album "Flames of the Sun" which will be released tomorrow (September 1st), and done so with a release party at Sweden's premier rock club Pub Anchor in Stockholm that very night.

This album has taken it's time to make, not in the actual making though, but to get to the point when it was ready to be made. It has also taken some time for the band to rotate into the right position, to get in the right band members, where it most certainly is now - Lizard Eye has never been tighter, stronger and better, both musically and personally. According to me right now this is definitely as good as this band can ever get.

"Flames of the Sun" is a good mix of smoking brand new material mixed with some older songs that have been waiting quite a while to be recorded the way they deserve. I'd say the material it pretty varying and dynamic and it's definitely a bunch of really strong songs. I've written about half of the album's music and more than half of the lyrics and I perform most of the guitars, even though Lasse Gudmundsson plays most of his rhythm guitars himself. I play all the lead/additional/layer/add on guitars, except the first and third round of the lead guitar duel in the solo in "Pride" which are played Lasse. Besides that I've been hugely involved in the arrangement of the songs, I sing some backing vocals on the album and I've also done the sleeve design and artwork for it. Even though I engineered (me and Fred Thörnblom) the guitars when recorded, I wasn't at all involved in recording the rest of it nor in the mixing and the final production process, which is pretty unusual but actually feels really good. A relief to let the decisions that comes with that to someone else for a change.

The album was mixed and co-produced by Dino Medanhodzic at Radionica and he's also responsible for my guitar sound (well, all guitar sounds) on the album and you won't quite find the usual and pretty much personal mid-eq lo-gain naked guitar sound of mine on this one. I thought it'd be cool to let someone else handle that for a change as well, even though it feels a bit strange, uncomfortable and awkward - and yea, scary. Even though it's a really different guitar sound gear wise, I still believe that the major part of a guitarist's sound is in the hands and the fingers, and even in the spirit and attitude of the player, but off course not entirely.

I used some different Gibson's on the album, but most of it is my '98 Limited Edition Saari Custom Flying V '58 Reissue armed with DiMarzio humbuckers, a Norton in the bridge position and a PAF at the neck. The amp Dino chose for my sound was a Peavey 5150. Haven't used one of those for many, many years, and I have to say that they really have their own distinct sound and warmth, a great sounding amp, can't argue with that even though those aren't my number one choice these days. I also put on quite a lot of different acoustic guitars to create and add colors and mood, both steel and nylon stringed.

I'd say this is easily the most amount of different guitar tracks that I've ever laid down on a recording ever and I was a bit afraid that it would feel uneasy and overkill, but it really turned out pretty naturally and great - Dino really did an excellent job mixing them all in really naturally and into the right places. There are however no doubled guitars though, only time we get close to that is when Lasse and I are playing the same riff on each side in the stereo field, but no doubled guitars like to get a fatter sound or something - I mean hey, this is 70s and 80s influenced classic heavy metal!

...anyway, the conclusion is that there are loads of guitars on this album and it's most certainly a "guitar album" and it feels really, really good to finally have finished and putt this one out. Hope you'll enjoy it and hoping to see many of you tomorrow at the release party where we'll be playing the whole album live for the first time ever.

/ PM

The track list:

1. Garden of Hope
(Music and lyrics: Saari) 4:32

2. Alive
(Music and lyrics: Saari/Gudmundsson) 5:23

3. Rise
(Music: Gudmundsson, Lyrics: Saari/Gudmundsson) 4:35

4. Through the Flames of the Sun
(Music: Saari/Gudmundsson, Lyrics: Saari) 4:18

5. Saviour
(Music and lyrics: Gudmundsson/Saari) 4:44

6. In the middle of what?
(Music and lyrics: Saari/Gudmundsson) 3:32

7. Into Nowhere
(Music and lyrics: Saari/Gudmundsson) 4:16

8. Pride
(Music and lyrics: Gudmundsson) 5:08

9. My Darkness
(Music: Gudmundsson, Lyrics: Saari/Gudmundsson) 7:22

10. Your truth (and Nothing but a Lie)
(Music: Saari/Gudmundsson, Lyrics: Saari) 4:52

11. My truth (Instrumental outro)
(Music: Saari) 1:34

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The new 13 Chaos St album

13 Chaos St
"The only address you'll ever need"

I have a couple of albums coming out in 2011-2012 (and probably continuing from there) with various bands and projects and I thought I throw in a couple of lines about them, from my side of the board, as they are being released. First out is the 13 Chaos St album "The only address you'll ever need" that is out now.

It's produced, mixed, recorded and arranged by me. Yes, I ended up doing the lot on this first one.
When it was all mixed we couldn't see (or hear) what a mastering could add to it - except make it more 2011 and clearer, fatter and louder - and: plastic and fake ...and so wrong - so we decided not to master it. Around that time I also heard that Iron Maiden and their producer Kevin Shirley decided (or rather: Steve Harris decided) not to master the "Final frontier" album, so that put enough fuel to the fire to go: if they're not doing it, we certainly don't have to.

I perform all the guitars and background vocals and have written about half of it. Jari, the vocalist, have written all the lyrics. Andy "Drake" Mallander performs all bass, all fretless bass actually, and Vesa Kallio the drums - All band members doing what they do in the band. As it should be.

When it comes to my gear I used my two ESP Ltd Saari Custom Viper-400 with Seymour Duncan humbuckers through various 80s Marshall heads and tube preamps and 4x12" cabinets. Also some Line 6 stuff. All effects on the guitars was put on afterwards when mixed except for the wah wah which was controlled by me through a Line 6 expression pedal when the guitar was recorded. For the acoustic parts I used my Washburn guitars through Röde NT1 and/or NT3 mikes.

It's written and recorded in a very different way, the material is more jammed into songs and jammed into tape (well, hard drive) and it's all very few takes, many parts actually first takes. This resulting in it being a very raw, relaxed and live sounding album. It's not 100% tight and there sure are some misses here and there, but getting it 100% tight and perfect was never the point. My goal as a producer was to go for the 70-80s vibe, thinking and feel. I wanted to catch old Van Halen kind of vibes, but off course with the 13 Chaos St material, which obviously is more a mix of grunge and metal, or something. As I hear the finished album, I totally achieved my goal, for me it's my version, of any of the first four Van Halen albums written and performed 13 Chaos St style.

It's not the longest of albums but we didn't want a 15-song album, but more the 70-80s thinking here as well, not having any fillers, but only the best songs, the real deal. Simply: The crap has been left out and I'd sure say that the material is very strong, really content and proud of my part of the writing and also my guitar performance, which is not that common when it comes to me, and both the writing and the guitar recording was really easy, totally natural and unforced which sure leaves a good feeling there. One thing is also that every single part of the songs was written for this band and this album just months before it was recorded, so the material is really fresh.

Generally I'm really proud and content of this album. It really turned out exactly as I wanted it to, in every aspect of it. It is all it was meant to be. Hope you'll enjoy it.

/ PM

You'll find the album at (among other places):

The track list:

1. I, Lucifer
(Written by Saari/Mallander/Salonen) 4:54

2. Jack Of Trades
(Written by Saari/Salonen) 3:47

3. Morphine Mon Amour
(Written by Saari/Mallander/Salonen) 3:36

4. Onto Chaos Born
(Written by Saari/Mallander/Salonen) 3:48

5. Wreck
(Written by Saari/Salonen) 3:42

6. Let The Piper Lead The Way
(Written by Saari/Salonen) 4:10

7. Life, Death, Legend
(Written by Saari/Mallander/Salonen) 3:48

8. Vicious
(Written by Saari/Mallander/Salonen) 4:05

9. The Year We Were Blessed
(Written by Saari/Mallander/Salonen) 4:54

10. Jack Of Trades (Radio Edit)
(Written by Saari/Salonen) 3:09

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ad lib Inc.

After a one month break from the music in March me and the solo band / 13 Chaos St / Inagone bass player Andy (Drake) Mallander decided to get down to the rehearsal and do some 2-minute jams in front of a video camera and put it out. We simply took a timer and set it to two minutes and when then time was up, the timer beeped and we finished the take nicely and as naturally as we could. We had nothing to go with in advance, no ideas whatsoever, the only thing we decided before turning on the timer and go for it was in which key the jam would go in. One of the main things was also to vary the keys. But not even the tempo or the music direction, or the style, of what to come was decided in advance. Pretty fun and stimulating indeed.

Check it out at my YouTube site.

I'm aware that it's not 100% tight, in tempo, in tune, the choice tones etc, but being all that is not really the point here at all. (I might also mention that we were a bit rusty as well, since we've had the break before, this was basically the first time we picked up out instruments for a month or so... But hey, that doesn't matter.) It's jam!

Both Andy and I (and our brother in arms, drummer Vesa Kallio as well) have always been very into the jam/improvise- (or ad lib, if you wish) thing, probably mostly due to Led Zeppelin, but of course the roots are in the way older blues, jazz and folk, I guess. But we do it in the name of metal/hardrock. I improvise almost all of my lead guitars in every band and project, and even lot of the rhythms, doing lots of improvised fills, which is an important part of my style, of who I am as a guitar player.

The thing is that most of the guitars and bass on the upcoming 13 Chaos St album was written and recorded as a jam and improvisation, a very cool way to make the recorded material feeling alive and instant. Again even here, maybe not as perfectly performed as it could have been with more takes, but you loose a lot of soul, feeling and personality in the retakes. According to me music should be alive.

Anyway, we thought this might be a cool thing to try, it's always stimulating with new things, stretching your own ability and limits, in this case when it comes to improvisation. Hopefully this becomes a tradition and that we'll get our asses down for more of these sessions, and maybe even inviting some friends along...

Hope you'll enjoy it, remember that this is real and unedited, instant creativity and performance, music in it's purest form. Not that common in today's way overproduced music scene.

/ PM

Monday, May 23, 2011

Experiencing my heroes

I really love listening to music and seeing music live, and I'm influenced by so many musicians, artists and bands. But if I do a rough cut and narrow it down to the top three persons from the very long list of my influences I'd say it has to be, in no particular order, Steve Harris, George Lynch and Tim Skold. For me a great musician must write good songs, that's the essential thing, and being a good arranger, having an own style and having skills on the instrument sure doesn't hurt either. Another very important thing for me is to be able to deliver live on stage. To be a cool, kick ass entertainer ripping live.

I've seen Steve Harris and Iron Maiden live many times starting, I believe, with Somewhere on tour in 1986. Since Maiden has been touring A LOT in Europe it hasn't ever been any problem for me to catch them live and I've probably seen Maiden about 20 times or more. Great live band, totally delivering every single time, even now after all these years. An experience every time.
- Steve Harris: Check.

Some months ago I finally got the chance to see George Lynch live. The first time he'd been in Sweden, or Europe for that matter, since around the early 80s I believe. It was live with Lynch Mob and the show was totally brilliant in every way. He had a great lineup with him including of one my favorite drummers Brian Tichy and Robbie Crane from Ratt ripping on bass and Oni Logan performing the vocals masterly, better than back in the days I'd say (and this even though he hardly had any vocal monitoring during the show, as he told me when we had had a little chat after the show).That concert was a huge experience for me and seeing Lynch for the first time, ripping off the chops in reality, just a couple of meters in front of me truly was a moment of revelation.
- George Lynch: Check.

The other night it was time again. I got to experience who I'd say is my biggest musical influence all categories, Tim Skold (or Sköld as it really should be, in Swedish). I started listening to Skold when he was in Shotgun Messiah in late 80s and have been following and being a huge fan ever since. Even though he's originally here from Sweden I've never had the chance to see him live on stage. He produced, wrote and played guitars/bass in Marilyn Manson's band for some years but I never got the chance to catch them live, never been that huge of a Manson fan either, so. Anyway, now he's in this band called Doctor Midnight & The Mercy Cult (DMTMC), with which I saw him playing live here in Stockholm the other night. Exited as I was to finally get to see Skold live I must say that I was a bit sceptic about the band in the beginning, mainly since, as I understand, three out of five members (the guitar players and the drummer) comes from the Norwegian black metal scene, which isn't really my thing at all. But my skepticism was totally blown gone when I saw them live, when it all melted in together and fell into place so naturally and great. The band is fronted by Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby (aka Hank von Hell from former Turbonegro), not maybe one of my favorite vocalists but a true entertainer indeed. He's the best with the audience, throwing in funny verbal sharp-tongued whips between songs, so funny and totally entertaining.

The thing with the DMTMC music is that it hasn't really been done before, it's original and unique somehow, which is always risky and can end up either way. It should be impossible to be original and come up with something new in the music scene today - but these guys are fkin doing it! They manage to make a mix of styles that I never thought was possible. And getting away with it. I'd say it's metal, a mix with elements of black metal, good (catchy, if I'd dare using that word here) vocal melodies and industrial, but without all the sounds. It's straight and raw two-guitar metal with strong riffs with origins in black metal and I don't even miss the guitar solos (the second time this has happened to me, first time was with Korn, back in the duo guitars of Head and Monkey-days). I'm not that sure that I personally will be a huge fan of DMTMC when the albums comes in a month or so, might be a bit sterile and worked out for my taste, but never the less I respect them full out and do really believe that they're on to something here and that if they play their cards right this might get huge.

Anyway, these guys are a totally kickin and tight unit as a live band. Skold, in form of bass player in this band, is naturally given and rightly taking his space and spotlight on stage. This huge experience and way above expectations (which were really high to begin with) is completing my top 3 hero experience and making me a very content and happy man.
- Tim Skold: Check.

For me it's not all about making and performing music, it's also about experiencing music. Being influenced and putting your influences together to become your own.

/ PM