Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merging with the machines

I've been updating both my studio and my live/rehearsal gear the last month or so and it always feels pretty dam good when another one of those rounds is done and you're that one step closer to perfection, (hopefully) ending up with even more reliable up-to-date equipment that feels comfortable and runs the way you want, that integrates with you after hours and hours of sweating and swearing. So I thought I'll throw in a couple of lines about my machinery.

Since most of my guitars and my other equipment aren't the ordinary stock stuff that you can find down at your local music store (here in Stockholm, Sweden, at least) but stuff I'll have to hunt down, it's usually pretty tricky for me to get it. Most of my gear aren't available in Europe at all and it all gets pretty complicated due to the export-, custom- and tax-laws and rules between continents and different markets and by now I've gotten pretty used to very long delivery times, often like half a year or so - A price I have to pay for being so picky and only satisfied with the very gear I'm going for (and at least it improves my patience, not exactly one of my strengths).

When it comes to my world of recording and mixing I go software-based, both Logic and Pro Tools, and also some Waves and Oxygen plugins. When it comes to the hardware I nowadays go exclusively Apogee's awesome interfaces and consoles, Röde microphones, Lacie hard drives and, off course, Apple computers since many, many years now. Not much to add here.

I've finally finished updating all my main guitars, my workhorses (I use the same guitars live and in the studio) - Saari customized them, which basically means: Loading them all with two humbuckers of my choice, either various Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio (in the ones going for dirtier sound): Norton Air or PAF in neck position and Norton at the bridge - So amazed by the Norton, what a great sounding pickup! Put that in the bridge position in a Gibson, especially a V, and you'll guaranteed be blown away. I always pull all the electronics out when I get a new guitar, get it rewired and replace all the ports and switches with more durable ones so that they'll endure my really rough treatment. I always have a 3-way toggle switch and two volume ports, one for each pickup, the closest one (the easiest to reach) always for the bridge pickup, and no tone-control at all (the tone is always set to max hi). A very important thing for me is the hanging of the guitar, which I also customize as soon as I get a new guitar - It's very important for me to have the guitar in the exact correct position. I wear my guitar pretty far down so it's important that it's in the right spot sideways.

I'm in the mid of experimenting with running my guitar through a Line 6 POD into a Rocktron Velocity 300 power amp and that into a 4x12" 1960 Marshall speaker cabinet, real exited about this rig. I've been testing it a bit by now at rehearsals and I believe that this might be something I'll be going for in the future, we'll see. Often live I run a POD straight into the PA with great results or, my absolute favorite so far, running a POD into the return of the effect loop of an Marshall JCM 800, preferably from the early/mid 1980s, only using its power amp - or pretty often even: one channel of the POD into the PA and the other into the return of a guitar tube amp. The holy secret with the POD lays in tuning in the sound manually whilst listening thoroughly, letting it take it's time, and keeping it all simple and clean, as little effects as possible, as clean as you dare. For me the essence of tuning in a great guitar sound is mainly about two things: as much mid as possible (pretty low hi:s and lo:s that is) and as clean, undirty, sound as possible - the last one very scary when you're a metal/hard rock guitarist, but according to me the meanness and attitude should come out of your hands and not from overdrive or distortion.

...while I'm at it, I use GHS and Dean Markley strings on my electric guitars: .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046 regardless the tuning, DiMarzio guitar cables, K&M stands and my PM Saari custom picks which are very hard but not that thick and has the classic shape I believe is called "Fender: 351".

When reading this back now I see what gear-head, tech-nerdy post this turned out to be, but the thing is that lately I've more and more started to realize the importance of my equipment for me, that I even get somewhat inspired by the tools themselves - realizing the significance of my tools that I need to create my music and art. I mean at the end of the day it's the tools that take the art out of our flesh and into the outside world to be shared. 

/ PM

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

A bit of a break

We'll be taking some months (the plan is half a year) off from rehearsals and playing live with 13 Chaos St, Inagone and my solo band now. We will however continue the studio-work in january, with the Inagone and my solo stuff that is. In january and february I'll also be doing some live dates with Lizard Eye, check out the Lizard Eye website for confirmed dates.

We did some live rehearsing and gigging with 13 Chaos St and it was, as always (and even worse this round), some days and nights of total twisted decadence madness. I quote Jari (vocals 13 Chaos St) on this to sum it up: "If someone, despite all the facts, is still wondering why we don't play live more frequently, one can easily refer to this weekend (when we played Dalarna in the beginning of November) and say: That is why." So we'll be laying a bit low now with 13 for half a year or so, but we'll be continuing writing some killer material for a new album, for which we already have a producer and a studio nailed - Jari and I have a bunch of songs written already and it's all really, really strong and cool material indeed.

Straight Eight Diablo is working in the studio (working with the drums as we speak) on a full-length debut album, even though in pretty slow pace, but it's looking (or sounding) pretty promising.

A while ago I was invited by my friend Michael Bohlin to put on some lead guitar tracks on his new 8th Sin album, which I off course did. So I'm playing a guitar solo, or two, on the smoking new 8th Sin album "Cosmogenesis" which is out now.

I've also put out my "PM Saari Collected 3" CD featuring 18 tracks I've written, performed, produced and recorded with my various bands and project the last years. It has very varying stuff on it trying to show my whole music spectrum at this point in time and it's only available in CD format.

Talk to you soon again.

/ PM

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Status S - Feeling winter crawling upon us

So the first song that doesn't fit, "360 Degrees", is out and I'm really content and proud of it so I'm right on working with the recording of song #2 in line...

The drums and the bass are just about recorded for the Inagone album and we're slowly moving over to the recording of the remaining vocals and guitars - getting there but it's taking it's time.

In 13 Chaos St Jeppe (Jesper Norkko) has now switched from bass to his native instrument: guitar, and 13 is now officially a two guitar, five piece band. It sounds real good and feels great having Jeppe on rhythm guitars giving the old material new dimensions and giving us a totally new palette to work with when it comes to the new material. His solid, tight and hard playing fits perfectly with my flipping freakouts, somehow I get the feeling of classic Guns'N'Roses guitar playing, Izzy and Slash playing totally different things most of the time but it all melting together naturally and coming out as something else - though what we are doing has absolutely nothing to do with Gun'N'Roses. We're working, jamming that is, the last bits and pieces of the transformation of the old 13 stuff now and the upcoming show in Ludvika November 3rd will be the first live performance ever as a five piece. The bass will be handled by Roger Porshage and most likely there'll be more 13 live gigs which will be announced as they get confirmed.

New 13 Chaos St material is coming together pretty nicely, I've sent a couple of songs of mine to Jari and he's worked out some killer vocals on them - Great stuff. Jeppe and I have been writing some pretty cool tunes as well, a mix between Thin Lizzy and Korn is what comes into my mind when I listen them back, I don't know, pretty cool and exiting material anyhow. Check out Jari's blog at http://www.myspace.com/13chaosst/blog for a stream of 13 news.

Straight Eight Diablo has rehearsed some and are just about where we wanna be with the live set, sounding pretty killer. We've also just about started to record some drums which will be engineered and edited by Robin Idman, the first of a handful of people that'll be involved in what looks like becoming a S8D full length debut album.

Lizard Eye is lying a bit low a the moment due to all four band members' other music involvements, but we'll be having a gathering this weekend where we'll make plans for a Lizard Eye return in winter.

Roll on
/ PM

Friday, September 28, 2012

Exploring new grounds

So I've been working with some material that I see as the songs that doesn't fit in anywhere (in any of my bands or projects that is), the odd songs - though most common people would probably consider them the most normal songs I've ever done - but to be me they stick out and are odd, close to the border to strange. The first one out now is a little thing called "360 degrees" it's written by me and it has me on vocals and on two tracks, left and right, of a very clean guitar, actually a Gibson Les Paul even though it has a Strat or a Telecaster feeling to it - I'd spontaneously describe the guitars on this one, without really knowing why, with the three words: Knopfler, Country, Strat. It also features my drummer Vesa Kallio playing a Ludwig Bronze snare with his hands and, well, that's it. I've arranged, recorded, produced and mixed it.

It has always been important to me that a song is a good song, to me the foundation of any music. That you can just sing it with only an acoustic guitar or a piano, and it still sounds as good no matter which type of music it is or how it's arranged. But I believe that when it comes to "singer-songwriter" music (I just had to use that description even though I really, really don't like that naming - I mean aren't all singers that writes their own music singer-songwriters, regardless the type of music?) it's even more evident and even a bigger and more vital part, the song comes to carry an even heavier weight because it stays in it's more primal, clean and simple form - It kind of becomes about the songs itself, giving the song life.

I've always written most of my music, regardless of the style, on an acoustic guitar. Most of my riffs, even the hardest and the heaviest ones, are written on an acoustic. But I've also touched the singer-songwriter vein with some acoustic tunes like "Let the Piper Lead The Way" (13 Chaos St) and "Unclose" (Inagone) and when I did "Aspects on/in life" in 2005 (you'll find some of the songs at my Reverbnation site http://www.reverbnation.com/pmsaari). But this time, with this handful odd songs that doesn't fit in, I've kind of written material from that point of view from start, focusing and basing it all on the song itself, the chords, the melodies and the lyrics. Aiming to keep the music as simple as I possibly can (even though the main riff, the verse, on this first song happen to have an irregular time signature, it's in 7/4, but it sounds natural and simple).

You'll find "360 Degrees" on my Reverbnation site at: http://www.reverbnation.com/pmsaari and on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/pmsaari. Hope you'll enjoy it and find it as exiting as I do.

/ PM

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The battle of getting things done rages on

With all the things I've got going on one might think that time is my worst enemy when it comes to trying to get some studio work done, but it's really not. I'm pretty effective and dedicated so it's not really the lack of time that is the main thing holding it all back, it's something else - The anguish of recording.

I mean when music is recorded and put out it's really there and it's that very version and it'll be there like forever. With that in mind its a huge load to perform it, but even a bigger load when you're the one the pulling the strings and making the decisions - It's all on you. I believe it's even worse the more you improvise, and I improvise A LOT, and obviously when improvising it can turn out in any way depending on so many factors. It's like I love recording but I hate it, it's the best thing I know and the worst at the same time. It's a struggle, a battle every time. However I'm getting better at handling this, decreasing the pressure and I've found a way to snatch hold of myself by seeing it just as it is: A snapshot of ones feelings and thoughts delivered out in that moment in time, a documentation of there and then, just like when I'm playing live. 

Anyway, the studio work goes on in it's pace and I'm actually getting stuff done now. I've nailed some 20 hours studio time weekly with the Inagone album and the drums are practically recorded and the upcoming week or so we'll record the remaining bass and put on some more guitars. What takes time here is the production and the mixing which all eventually turned out to be handled by me and are done along the way with the recording, and since I haven't quite decided exactly what I will be going for with the album there's a lot of time-consuming testing and trying. One thing I know however - there will be a lot of guitars on there. Straight Eight Diablo are about to start recording the drums on the upcoming full length album, and I won't be involved with that until the drums are all done and it's time for me to start working on the guitars and vocals, not probably for the next two months or so.

I've also been writing some new 13 Chaos St material and will soon be involving Mr Norkko, who has written some really cool 13 stuff as well, and Mr Kallio in the pre-production work. Also Mr Gudmundsson and I are trying to schedule some studio time to start working on some new Lizard Eye stuff ...then there's off course some other odd things laying around or turning up every now and then which will be revealed if and when they crosses the border to this world.

Been rehearsing with both my solo band and Straight Eight Diablo pretty frequently now the last weeks and it feels real good that it's all coming together. When it comes to these two bands/projects for me it's mainly getting my vocals to work smoothly and naturally with what I'm doing on the guitar and I've realized that it takes it's time and can't be forced. As you might know rehearsing and practice really ain't my (or our) thing and it really feels like we're rehearsing a lot now when we rehearse about three times a month with each of the two trios (at least it'll most certainly not be over rehearsed). I'm trying to put as much time as I can on my vocals now so I'll be fit and ready when the time comes for me to put on the vocals on my solo album (and also some other things I have plans for...). Anyway, we're on a roll and hopefully we're taking these two trios live in winter, but we'll see.

Here's a video of me and the boys rehearsing my instrumental tune "Soul Slip":

I've also done a little facelift of my official web site so check it out at  http://www.saari.net/pm/

/ PM

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Solo band rehearsals

Been rehearsing a couple of times with my solo band; me, Vesa Kallio (drums) and Andy "Drake" Mallander (fretless bass) that is; the last weeks. It's actually the first times we really rehearsed, before it has been jamming, more trying to catch, or rather create, the feeling and vibes of the live versions of the material. Anyway we've now narrowed the huge amount of material down to a live set amount of songs which is pretty cool, and it's all starting to naturally fall into place and sound ok - getting closer to the perfect blend of all the elements I'm aiming for: improvisation-jam-frenzy, kick-ass-punk-attitude, tight-progressive-virtuosity and above that: strong melodies with lyrics meaning and saying something. We're not quite there yet, but we're definitely getting there - and what will happen when we get there the future will tell...

Anyway, I put up a camera at the last rehearsal and recorded one of the most possible covers we'll do with the solo band, the Iron Maiden song "Wrathchild". It's out exclusively on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pmsaari

We'll probably put out some more tasty little exiting rehearsal and jam videos this summer so keep you eyes open.

Now we're taking a break for some weeks, but after that we'll try our very best to throw in some rehearsals, and also studio session during the rest of the summer (though starting to realize that discipline, especially in summertime, might not be our, or my, strongest side).

Here's a video of us doing our version of the instrumental Iron Maiden tune "Losfer words" live at Harry B James in Stockholm (Sweden) at a gig with Inagone a while ago:

Now I'm off for a fking vacation.

See ya!
/ PM

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Status S

We rounded up the Lizard Eye 2012 spring "tour" around about a week ago with a gig at Harry B James home in Stockholm. It was a total blast and success, a great night and show indeed. I'd like to send out a special thanks to Andreas Vaple for making my guitars sound so fkin killer live - as he always does! Really appreciate it!
...anyway, every show on this round was really a success and real great, both the band and the time. Lizard Eye really crushed and is undoubtedly a better and tighter live band than ever. Thanks everyone for the support!

I also did a one off special cover gig with Vesa Kallio (drummer in most of my bands and projects), Mats "Moey" Öström (bass player in Burnitude), Lasse Gudmundsson (vocalist in Lizard Eye, Angel King) and Fredrik Svensson (guitars) at a venue at Kista Mässan (Sweden). Thanks to Fredrik for pulling it all in. It was great fun and got me a bit into wanting to give some sort of a cover thing another go in the next future or so...

I'm taking a break from playing live now over summer but will be back performing live when Inagone hit the stage at the outdoor festival Rock The Rålis 2012 in Rålambshovsparken in Stockholm on friday 3 august. It'll be a blast and Inagone will kick some serious ass!

I've now finished the pre production and arranging of the Straight 8 Diablo material. It ended being eight super heavy tracks (I mean, off course "eight" Straigt Eight Diablo tunes, what else?!) I wrote two brand new killer songs while recording the pre-tracks which I just had to throw in ...still don't know how many tracks the finished release will feature though, but it seems lots of interesting people are interested in becoming involved in the thing, recording, production, mixing and management wise, so we'll just have to wait and see...

Now I'm in the studio working with the arrangements of the last tunes of the Inagone and solo albums, and also some new 13 Chaos St material. I'm also working on a hand-full of a bit different kind of songs which I'm not quite sure where they'll fit in, but I'm sure I'll make them fit in somewhere somehow, it's pretty strong material and I'd really like to put it out.

Now I'll just have to push myself to keep my ass in studio and work - which isn't gonna be easy at all since all of a sudden summer is all over us here in Stockholm - and all the temptations that comes with it... but I'm quite sure I'll manage to blend enjoying them temptations and getting some sht done.

/ PM

Monday, April 30, 2012

Up n' down, in n' out

Yea, sure has been a while, quite a while indeed, and it for sure feels it's about time to give you all an insight of what's going on in the Saari camp...

The last months I've, along taking care of my company, built myself a new studio/rehearsal/office space, I've moved and got a new home and I've also had some real nice time off during this winter. Apart from some gigs, there hasn't actually been that much music going on at all the last half-year, or almost even at all in 2011.

However now it feels safe to say that I'm back (working with music that is) - I've had rehearsals and jam sessions booked for almost ever night, some days two times a day to fit it all in into the schedule, and nailed loads of studio time the last two weeks - and the next future looks most certainly to be going in that same direction - So, yea, I'd say I'm on it.

Inagone got some gig-requests from some arrangers and we couldn't say but "hell yeah!" - so we did a couple of great and fun shows for the hell of it some weeks (months?) ago - great shows, great time. I've finally started recording guitars on the last tracks of the upcoming full-length album "Your brand new root". In matter of weeks I'll start to schedule studio time with the boys to nail the rest - and hopefully finally finish the album.

I've started the pre production work on the Straight 8 Diablo material which is planned to be recorded in spring/summer 2012. It hasn't quite been decided exactly what it'll be, a whole album or an EP or what - we're in the mid of working out a plan with management and producers there. We do however have material for a full-length album by now, and I'm writing new stuff constantly, so, but we'll se...

Aside the Inagone and S8D recordings I'll try to throw in sessions to finish the recording of my first solo album as well.

Lizard Eye will do some live shows in 2012 so check out the booked dates out at the Lizard Eye website. Check out the new Lizard Eye album "Flames of the sun" which is now out at iTunes and Spotify.

Talk to ya again, soon.

/ PM