Monday, November 09, 2015

Status S - No rest for the wicked

I’m happy to announce that my work on my upcoming solo album is finally, finally done and done (the work with the music and audio that is). The tracks are now sent off for mixing but since we don’t particularly have any deadline I don’t have any dates when it will be completely finished or released yet. More on that in the next future though. Now the plan is simply to start writing for and working on my second solo album which will be done guitar a bit differently, and hopefully way more painless and smoother. As said, more on this very soon.

Straight Eight Diablo are out doing some live shows, delivering our goods that way - the way it should be delivered - and having a great time doing it. Some new killer tunes have been added to the setlist and are tried out live on stage and I can safely say that we have material to easily cover a full-length album of great quality by now and discussions about entering the studio are in the air in the S8D-camp.

Elements Of Crime were only supposed to do the shows we did earlier this year but due to some very interesting interest from interesting directions for the band we've booked some more live shows. Might even end up doing some new music, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

When it comes to Lizard Eye there will be some important meetings the next months and we'll see the outcome of that and where that will be taking us. Things will most certainly happen.

Unfortunately the Dixie Highway thing didn’t work out, so that one is off and out.

Got some plans for one or two other pretty cool projects that seems to be happening and really soon, more on that then and when. All the other bands and project are still in their respective deep dormancy and we’ll just have to wait and see...

The other week I finally got my hands on this guitar I’ve been hunting for since I saw Queensrÿche live at Klubben in Stockholm in 2004 (such a great show, by the way) and Michael Wilton played this awesome ‪Silver Sparkle‬ ‪‎ESP. I searched for years and off course it was custom shop and I couldn't get my hands on one. But now I got one Ltd version of it delivered to me and she sure is lovely!

Talk to you soon.

/ PM

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rockin' n' Rollin'

The last year (or two?) I’ve been, apart from classical music and some other pretty strange stuff played on the Swedish national radio channel P2, listening almost exclusively to two bands: Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith (the early stuff from the 70’s). Totally digging myself into it which has off course affected my writing, as always - My writing, and my playing to a certain point, is always very heavily affected by what I listen to at the moment. One thing lead to another and I ended up hooking up with this singer called Palle Esperanza and after a month or so we found ourselves having written a hand-full of really great rock songs in that vein. Turned out to be some pretty cool stuff and really strong material so we decided to give it a real go, to try to put a band together and bring it out! We're calling the project Dixie Highway and will be going for a classic four-piece line up and we'll start going through and auditioning potential drummers and bass players any day now. We’ll see what comes out of that, exiting indeed.

We’re out playing live with Straight 8 Diablo and we’ve done some great shows, feeling we’re really getting the S8D stuff together, and we’ve got some more gigs booked on this round. We've teamed up with our friends, the band Bear Bone Company and will be running some gigs together with them. Simply two kicking power trios delivering entertaining progressive guitar based heavy rock jam live on stage. We've already done the first one, which was at Pub Anchor, Stockholm (Sweden) some weeks ago and tonight it's time for the next one in line at Copperfields in Fridhemsplan (Sweden). Going to have some great time with this for sure, looking forward to that.

Check out those dates at my Reverbnation's "Shows-site" (you'll find all my live dates with all my bands and project there):
PM Saari Live Shows @ Reverbnation

I've been playing some gigs lately with bands with some really technically awesome guitarist, like for instance Mr. Björn Kromm in Bear Bone Company, but also others, and that has inspired me (which doesn't happen too often nowadays) and it have actually made me want to get my chops together a bit, bring my guitar performance up a level. Haven’t felt the urge to do that in some 20 years! I now come to the realization it’s actually fun to play guitar, and I mean just play the guitar, not only when writing, rehearsing, recording or performing live, but just play the guitar, striving to develop technically. Then again it remains to be seen if I'll have the time and the energy to keep it up long enough to really improve technically so it shows in my playing, but at least I'm having me a good time and enjoying myself on the road there.

The other day Vesa (Kallio, Drums) and I had a couple of glasses of red wine and finished up the editing of the drums of the solo album. So now it's all on me - to finish the retakes of and additional vocals and to compile and edit it and all the bass and guitars. Then it's off to be mixed. So we're even closer now...

Rock on.
/ PM

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Crawling closer

The other week I managed to throw in three full days (days and nights that is) in a row in the studio getting some more work on my solo album done and after some awesome time off in the Finnish archipelago yet another two whole days. Really feels great when I get a chance to get this time-consuming machinery rolling. One might think, and wish!, that I’d be finished with the album by now but the editing, cutting and compiling of all the takes and tracks takes time, A LOT of time. I’m arranging it all as I go as well and that doesn’t quite make it take less time and as reality are now I only have a couple of days every month to squeeze in as studio time. But still, it’s rolling. 

All the bass (there'll be exclusively fretless bass on the album) and all the drums are recorded now - so it’s a fact they will be entirely performed respectively by Andy “Drake” Mallander and Vesa Kallio. I believe all the guitars are recorded now as well, I will however be rerecording some of the vocals, to push up my performance that little extra notch, to get them all feeling just right and to really assure that I squeeze out the very best out of my vocal abilities anno 2015. There are also some additional (background or sideground?) vocals I feel I’d like to try out and then some amount of work with the compiling and editing left, but were certainly getting closer to the finishing line, even if it feels like we’re crawling there.

It’s funny (sad?) to see how things turn out, or rather how things are being pulled back when you don’t have a deadline and don't have anyone whipping your butt, and add a very packed agenda - Shit is bound to procrastinate for sure! But for me giving this up has never been an option, it has always been like: I will finish and get this album out, no matter what - I mean, it’s after all my album that needed to be done, the album I needed to do.

As now, pretty close to the finishing line, I sure live on the future hope that the making of my next solo album, which there will most certainly be one for sure, won’t be stretched over as long period of time, ‘cause it sure makes it so much harder to finish, but I need to finish this first one first.

Real cool that there was such interest in my little “Saari History (Part I)”-post some months ago. I’ve always thought one’s past is important, I mean that’s what has formed us to what we are today, so it felt important and a good time to put something like it out. Thanks for all the support here! For those of you who might've missed it, check it out here: 

Until next time I’ll leave you with a little classical piece I recorded between the solo album sessions, another “odd-song-that-doesn’t-fit-in-anywhere” of sorts. I see it a bit as a tribute and a salute to one of my #1 influential songwriters, or more correct, composers - THE #1 master composer Johann Sebastian Bach. I have written and perform the piece, finger picking (!) - one guitar, no effects, just my Segovia classic guitar through a Röde NT4 into a Apogee Duet and with some minor compression at the end to bring it up in volume a bit - That's it. I really had to work my ass off to nail it. I know the guitar makes its noises, it’s not performed on the best classic guitar, it had old strings and was quite out of shape and not perfectly intonated and the performance is certainly not flawless. It is what it is, it’s me and I can assure you it pulls the very best out of my classic guitar playing today. I named it “Passion” hope you’ll enjoy it.

See you soon.

/ PM

Friday, March 13, 2015

Saari History (Part I)

Thought this might be a good time to bring you through my past a little bit, to share my growth and development along with my music and playing, me becoming what I am and my music becoming what it is today. I believe every single step and part of the past is of essence to what became of me as a musician, had one thing been different, I would most definitely have been a different musician, for better or for worse, that I do not know.

Without having playing any instrument at all in my very early years I pretty late picked up my sister’s old classical guitar and started to try to figure it out after discovering the early 1980’s heavy metal when I was about 10 or so.

But I'd say it all started when I got my first electric guitar in, I believe some three years later in 1984, a black Ibanez Roadstar II Series, which I through the years (heavily inspired by Mr Edward Van Halen) customized in every possible way. I remember running it through a Boss Heavy Metal HM-2 pedal into the smallest possible Roland Amp - nevertheless getting some real loud sound out of it (ask my parents and neighbors). I actually still have that guitar and the Boss HM-2.

I’ve never been that much into learning things from others, preferring the harder self-trial-and-error way of learning things, but I had a hand-full of guitar lessons from a real cool guy named George Varney, who was both into classical guitar and the blues/rock thing, and I it taught me some important things that I wouldn’t found out myself. It also colored me and brought light on the probably most important part of my writing and playing - my will to mix different ingredients like virtuosity, improvisation, perfection, attitude and feeling; and blending different styles of music.

I was into amp modeling/simulation at a very early stage. Always been like: the less equipment, the better, both in numbers, weight and bulk, and still am. I played lots and lots of rehearsals and gigs (and I believe even recorded?) with the very first version of Sans Amp which I got around 1990 (still have it). I mean it wasn't all 100% perfect, but it was a very interesting and revolutionary piece of equipment and I loved it - I made it work and pulled out the sounds I wanted our of it. I off course have had loads of amplifiers through the years, back then some Marshall 800 and 900's, heads and combos, a Roland, a Peavey and a Crate, all tube, but I was always drawn to the simpler, easier, way more convenient solutions that I could carry in a backpack and with as few cables as possible, as I am today.

My second guitar was another Ibanez Roadstar, I believe a bit unusual guitar, a white (a bit sparkling/metallic) one with black pick guard (both Adrian Smith and Jake E Lee played guitars in those colors back then, so off course). It had Floyd Rose tremolo, which I had floating, a locking nut and the then new Ibanez head and the only customizing I had done on it was changing the humbucker to a DiMarzio and removing the middle single coil (I had the middle position of the pick-up switch so it would silence both pick-ups so I could do the Randy Roads pick-up-on/off-switching-thing without a Les Paul. Had that on the first Roadstar as well.) It was a much better instrument, more pro all the way through, and I really loved that guitar and still have that one as well. I went with those two axes for a long time. I was really into whammy-bar playing back then and I were a high consumer of bars since I managed to break them in two pretty often.

I have always been a band-guy, into having and being in a band and I remember us starting bands before even any of us had started to play instruments. But it wasn't until some years later that I joined my first real bands, that rehearsed and performed live, of even actually played at all. One of the first real ones was Elements Of Crime, or Underground Hitsquad as was the band name in the beginning. In 1991 I was filling in for the original lead guitarist for a gig and had to learn some 15 punk songs in two weeks. I played mostly Yngwie Malmsteen stuff at that time and thought it would be a piece of cake - it most certainly was not. Truly hard for a guitar player grown up on riff-based songs to learn all those different changes of basically the same chords in different orders. I had a real hard time to distinguish the songs from each other since I was focusing on the riffing and was forced to listen to and learn the songs. That's when I learned about songs, and their importance as such. I played that gig, I made it through, kicked ass and it taught me some important lessons, and after that gig I remained in the band.

Yeah, it's me there in the back, some 24 years ago.
...and this brings us to the fact that we've actually kicked life into Element Of Crime again after 20
years and are in the mid of rehearsing for a live gig in Stockholm at Snövit on friday march 20th. It's the original line up except for the bass player Kulle who sadly passed away some time ago - truly sad, really one of the nicest guys I've ever met - may he Rest In Peace. So we have my side-kick Mr Andy "Drake" Mallander filling his very important boots. I was never involved in the writing in Elements but the thing that stuck me now when relearning the tunes was the strength of the material, really great tunes with great lyrics. I believe however what I did in this band was pulling it from punk to hard rock/heavy metal with my playing, which gave the music a pretty unique character and style - kind of intelligent punk? ...or "Sleaze Punk" as someone said.

There are two albums out with what I believe basically all that we got down on tape from those days. The recordings are not top quality and not the best performed, but I believe we might get away with it - Hey, it's punk rock! Anyway the songs are there and I believe you'll find some pretty cool lead guitars in there from a very early version of PM Saari, enjoy.

You'll find the continuing saga, the second part of the PM Saari History, here.