The longest blog post so far on this website. And longest title too.

Pic by Mikko Linsiö

This blog post will be a little longer. It will contain an update on the album but also lots more. Hope you’ll stay with me.

2020. What a fucked up year. The year that was supposed to change everything for the better. On micro and macro and universal and multi-universal levels, and on all levels in between. Personally I had massive hopes because my expectation bar was set very low. Last year I went through a divorce and a period of anxiety, where I was not sure if anything made any sense anymore. I was more lost than I usually am. But little by little, and through discovering small rays of light, things started to fall into place again. My son is my everything and he has been such a trooper through all of this. My north star and purpose. The song ‘Dark’ on the new album is for him.

Other positive things happened too, obviously including great progress with the album. There were high expectations for 2020 and the song ‘Shine’ covers a great deal of that on a personal level (“We’ve traveled far and given up, now everything will be all right”). But then…

First, we almost had World War 3 starting in the middle East with fucktard Trump doing what he does. Then, this interconnected world really showed its darkest side by a virus spreading like wildfire, isolating us from each other. I feel for those locked up with people they cannot live with and fearing for their safety. I feel for those locked up alone and feeling desperate to have any human interaction. I feel for those trying to work, teach their kids and live a meaningful life, all at once. I feel especially much for those who have loved ones in other locations and not able to be with them. I feel for those losing their livelihoods; for those losing their mental or physical health; and for those losing their loved ones. As a band we were spared of direct impacts of the virus and also lucky in that our last recording day was right before Finland closed up, so we got everything done as planned. There are no Covid or isolation songs on the album for obvious reasons, and we also decided not to name the album with any reference to the virus and its impact. However, we will always associate the album with this weird spring of 2020. There is no record release party planned or any other gigs for that matter. Everything is still on hold and it’s weird af.

Just when things started to look a little better, the “greatest nation on earth” decides to show its true colors: Blue (a militant and racist police force), white (like the KKK hoods) and red (the blood of innocent black people). The videos we’ve seen in the last week are sick. The racism is deep in the DNA of white colonialism, and when that is combined with this weird fetish of being an authority with permission to use force, you see how ugly and disgusting us people can be. I wrote the song ‘Surreal Experiment’ when they put immigrant and refugee kids in cages in the US. Its opening line goes “This is a surreal experiment in the age of post-intellect”. I don’t know if humanity can be – or should be – saved. We are too often horrible to each other.

On that happy note, we are brought to today. I promised this blog post would include an update on the album. I won’t reveal the name yet, but the album has a title and we like it. It was one of the hardest decisions to make as a group. It took several votes and discussions. Other difficult decisions were song selections and song order. Damn… We know that very few listen to full length albums anymore, but we wanted the song order to make sense. Yes, we’ll put our marketing effort into singles, as we’re not stupid, but the album has to work as an album too, and it took several iterations to get it right. We ended up with 13 songs. It was supposed to be 12, but then Hiili suggested switching two songs, which we kind of did, but ended up keeping both. It’s still only roughly 41 minutes so we trust people can deal with it being longer than a debut album should.

The next weeks we will spend looking at options for distribution. We have one option on the table but want to balance that our with others too. Maybe a traditional record label would pick us up with a traditional record label deal, who knows? It’s not easy to sell english rock music in Finland and our target is not hundreds of thousands of streams in Finland only. Artistically we have pretty much reached our target. We made the record with the best current songs we have and we can be proud of the way it sounds. Commercially, our targets are beyond the Finnish borders and in live gigs. Nobody makes money from streams, but if we can get on playlists and radios, and generate enough excitement for when the gig scene returns, then we aim to get on as many stages as possible, and not just in Finland.

There. That’s it. That’s the blog post. Stay tuned. Or tanned. Or both. But use sun screen, ok.

Be well.

Lasse / Flush

Social Distancing

Social Distancing: (insert some witty remark here and make sure it’s not something everyone’s already heard a million times)

These are dire times. There is no way around it. Sure, there is something good in this, as there always is, but I wish Mother Nature hadn’t had to resort to such drastic measures to save herself. Well, we had it coming…

If I just keep this within the parameters of the band and music, this is what’s up. Our gigs are all canceled for now and no active work is done on bookings. We’re not practicing together as a band at the moment. The album work is still progressing (more on that below) and some new ideas are being worked on. That’s pretty much it.

So yeah, the album progresses. We got the first mixes today – fuck yes! Felt pretty weird to put them on for the first time… Nervous excitement. Is it going to be all shit, sound terrible and be full of mistakes, or will it be something insane and out of this world? Based on the first rough listen, it’s somewhere in between (surprise, surprise). These are mixes, not mastered versions, so they still sound somewhat “dry” and “sterile”.

Other things we’re working on are things like album name and cover art, distribution/publishing model, and legal aspects of our money stuff (i.e. should we form a company and, if so, how).

I just want to close by some current thoughts. Music, both live and recorded, is fucking important. Why else would people make the effort to do all these shitty living room live streams and stuff. The audience also makes the effort to tune in. Imagine lock-down without any music or audio-based art. It’s not possible in the long run. The shittiest thing with the current business models is that artists (“content creators”) suffer most of the current situation, not the streaming platforms or internet providers, who benefit from the content. Also venues are forced to close, some probably permanently. It’s a travesty that platforms like Spotify now introduce charity services where an artist can request tips from their fans. Fucking hell, Spotify, just share some of the revenue with your content creators instead.

I am genuinely worried this is all accelerating the inevitable trend of more and more “music like content” being generated by artificial intelligence, and all revenues going to these digital streaming and AI platforms. Now, it is a valid question to ask if this is such a bad thing. The philosophical and moral dilemma isn’t straight forward. If AI takes 25% of Max Martin’s revenue, is that really so bad? What if AI can introduce musical innovation us humans cannot imagine? New chord progressions, rhythmic patterns, harmonies, etc. However, to me music has always been a human-to-human interaction. A human writes it, a human performs it and a human listens to it. Everything else is noise (as Otis Gibbs says in his podcast intro). But that noise collects all the money and I don’t trust it cares about anything else than collecting some more.

So while you should look after yourselves and your loved ones, maybe also look after your favorite artists, be that a songwriter or performer. Buy their album or merch, or donate in ways that go directly to them. Join and share their live streams and videos and shit. And if you can and there is a way, also support your local venues. Without them, what’s the point really?

Hang in there. We’ll do the same.

Lasse / Flush

Recording done. Fuck yes.

This week we completed the recordings, finally. It took a while and definitely its toll, but they say diamonds too are compressed of shit. Or something. While I quite enjoyed the studio time, and Hämeenlinna is actually quite an ok city, I will not miss the driving between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna.

We recorded 14 tracks with the intention of 12 ending up on the album and two are backup or b-sides. Remains to be seen if that ends up being the case. After a few listens of the unmixed stuff, there could be changes to the plans, but we’ll only know once we get the mixes from Hiili.

Hiili… what a gentleman and artisan. The guy knows his shit, has no issues in saying how things are, and does it in a respectful and nice way. And he remains curious on the trade by e.g. studying the parallels between music production and obstetrics. It’s fucking obvious and genius. I do believe he pushed me to the best vocal performance I’ve done to date (ok, that does not really say much, I know) and there is an enormous amount of knowledge that we’ve gained as a band from this session. From things like getting the tempos right to just in general having high enough standards on things. It’s not about technical ability; it’s about just caring and concentrating enough to get it right. Might not sound punk but that’s exactly what makes it punk af.

So yeah, recording done. Now we’ll wait for the mixes and probably a few iterations of those, before the mastering. In the meantime we will begin the process of shopping around for deals related to publishing / distribution / artist 360s. If you know anyone, give us a shout.

Good times. Exciting times. Viral times ffs.

Stay hygienic, peeps.

Lasse / Flush

Learning by Doing and Listening

Obviously I am no pro, but I do remember writing my first proper song when I was 15 or 16. There’s been quite a few since. The interesting thing about song-writing is how much you can learn and grow by studying all the hundreds of dimensions of a song. For a long time I’ve been driven by trying to come up with at least one out of three options: 1) A solid rock guitar riff, 2) a nicely harmonic and poppy melody line, and 3) a creative chord progression that’s never been done before but sounds natural. It’s not until recent years that I’ve started paying attention to things like lyrics, rhythms, vocal phrasing, creating spaces and overall atmosphere of a song.

It’s been rewarding to hear the great and very specific feedback people have given us after our shows. Everyone experiences music differently and it’s almost impossible to predict which combinations of all those song elements will work at one time. However, what is certain, is that once the elements ‘click’, the song will work. And it matters when performing too. If the singer connects with the lyrics and the rhythm, and the lyrics and rhythm connect with the melodies and atmosphere, everyone will perform better and the listeners will experience the magic.

The songs of ours that seem to connect the best are quite different and it’s almost impossible for me to say why they work, but in all of them the lyrics actually matter and I’ve spent a lot of time on them. In some more on the message, in some more on the rhythm and phrasing, and in some more on the rhymes and melodies. None of them have the most innovative chord progression ever written nor are the melodies on Brian Wilson’s harmonic level, but these songs seem to be ones where the different parts and dimensions click well together. Fascinating stuff.

Oh, before I forget, our album is progressing. I have finished my guitars and am halfway with the lead vocals. Working with Hiili is obviously a massive pleasure and privilege. This guy knows his stuff and has no problems with sharing his knowledge and principles. I’ve learnt a lot about recording with him, from slightly de-tuning the E-string for barre chord playing to how/when to record double/triple vocal tracks, and a bunch of other practical things. But I think Hiili’s secret is how he makes everyone comfortable in being themselves and doing their best, and knowing exactly when to push harder and when to ease a little. He is a facilitator par excellence.

Next week more guitars and vocals, and then we start approaching the mixing phase. One scary part of recording is how shitty the first tracks sound without being mixed properly. I can’t wait to hear what magic Hiili is able to sprinkle on our tracks.

Be well. Be healthy. Be kind. Be true to yourself. Be curious.

Lasse / Flush

Humble and Grateful (and Studio Progress)

Live at Cafe Bar Mascot 31st Jan 2020. Pic by Mikko Linsiö.

Last week’s show at Mascot was exceptional. We hustled like maniacs and you guys, the Flush Mob, turned up in masses. Some from Slovakia, some from Germany, some from Sweden, some from an open bar with a global super star… Doesn’t matter how far or close, we are eternally grateful. And a special thanks to those that acquired new Flush fan gear. Fuckin hell, there are more than 20 new Flush t-shirt owners out there! Safe to say, we also did our best to empty the bar at Mascot, but as so often, the house won this time.

Back to work now. Tomorrow I will again be driving to Hiili’s studio for guitar recording. It’s also the first time I hear properly what the backing tracks from a few week back sound like. It’s pretty exciting. As a guitar gear nerd, I am obviously packing my 3 best guitars, my trusted Hot Rod Deluxe combo and 20+ effect pedals (of which I’ll probably use 2 or 3 including the tuner). More sessions for guitars and vocals next week and the week after. Now is really the last call for getting the lyrics finalized…

Btw, based on the pic above, you have to admit that a Flying V guitar goes pretty well with a Hawaii shirt, right? And that Mikko Linsiö is a damn good photographer.

Stay tuned and in-tune, flush mobsters.

Lasse / Flush

Studio Days 1-4 (25 January 2020)

Here we are, at Sound Supreme Studio in Hämeenlinna Finland. Today is our fourth day recording with our producer, the esteemed Mr Hiili Hiilesmaa. Hämeenlinna is one of Finland’s oldest cities (the oldest inland city), it has a really old castle and is the birth place of Jean Sibelius himself. Sound Supreme is a great studio with everything one might need. Great facilities, sounds and atmosphere.

We’ve so far nailed down the drums and most bass for 14 songs. Bögä has done an amazing job on the drums, playing to a click, which is a totally new sensation to us. It’s all serious and pro now. Today Eero is fixing bass tracks and after that we pack up and leave. Over the next month or so Lasse and Janne will be recording guitars and vocals at Hiili’s own studio, also in Hämeenlinna. Oh, and we’ve got a gig next week too. Must remember to turn up there too! Two additional gigs also confirmed or close to. April 30th in Helsinki (club gig) and June 13th in Loimaa (mini festival). Exciting times!

The album will come out this spring or early summer. Title and cover art yet to be determined. And a bunch of other things. But so far it’s looking pretty fucking promising.

Lasse / Flush

Captain’s Log, December 30th 2019

The year is coming to an end and it’s time to be grateful and reflect on… blah blah. No, it’s not. It’s time to get to work. Our pre-prod is done, we’ve done the listening and the songs are pretty much ready. Janne and I are fine-tuning guitar arrangements, and as a full band we have a few more practice sessions before the studio.

I’ve added more stories about our songs and hopefully at least some of them are of some kind of interest to someone somewhere. Bögä has acquired more drum sticks to break and we’re tuning our guitars to a perfect 432 Hertz (just kidding – we’re not silly). Lyrics will stress me out for the next few weeks as I procrastinate on whether to re-write everything, do major editing of key parts or just leave it as-is.

We have our end of January gig coming up too. I hope you noticed the tickets are on sale now at Tiketti. Get them now before it’s too late!

The pic above is from our annual band Christmas event, which is usually quite eventful. This time we ventured to Tallinn, had some fun and still made it back home safely, which is a minor miracle given our drinking habits.

Happy New Year folks – see you in 2020!

Lasse / Flush

Captain’s Log, November 19th 2019

Last week we finally got around to record the second round of the pre-prod recordings. We had the privilege to visit our gig buddies’ Röökipaikka’s rehearsal space for the recordings and the nicest man alive, Mr Kari Degerman, took care of the engineering work. 12 songs recorded in two nights. Some of them in one take, some two, and a few required more than that. We only did the basic backing tracks, drums-bass-guitars, and mixed live on stereo tracks. This week I will add the vocals and that’s pretty much it. The solos were also part of the live recording. We’re not doing multi-track layers, effects or anything like that in this round.

It’s clear that this is a super useful exercise to do. The acoustics in our own practice place are not ideal so now we get to hear things properly. We have a month and a half until the studio and some of the stuff needs to be tightened up and some of it loosened up. I am finding that probably more of my notes are about playing less – especially on guitars it’s about reducing some of the picking hand movement. I personally also have a bit of Hetfieldesque downpicking practice to do to tighten up my rhythm guitar. At least for guitars, ‘Bad Time’ is the hardest song to get perfect or close enough. It has a long instrumental ending with all kinds of guitar fuckery and it’ll probably require a few takes at the studio before we’re happy.

I’ve also made progress on the lyrics side of things, with one song completely re-written. It will be interesting to see what it sounds like with all new lyrics. At least now the words make sense and tell a story. I think it will be called ‘Shine’, but we’ll see…

Last week’s highlight was obviously Finland men’s football team qualifying for the Euro championships for the first time ever (no world cup attendance either). Fuckin ‘ hell… who would have thought. Finland’s men’s team making it in football and Flush being serious about making an album. Wait, I think I see a pig flying outside!

Catch you laterz, flushers!

Lasse / Flush

Captain’s Log, October 30th 2019

It’s Lasse writing again. This month I turned one year older and developed pneumonia. Pneumonia was also known as “the old man’s friend” because it helped old people die faster back in the days. A terrific month indeed.

In less than two weeks we’ll do our second round of pre-prod recordings for the album. We’ll go to our friends’ practice place & studio and record for two evenings. Everything but vocals live. This is primarily to test the arrangement changes we’ve done since the first round of pre-prod.

Most of the changes are minor but some are pretty significant. Like starting the song with a chorus (wtf), adding a modulation in the end (WTF), and alternating between two different keys (WTF!). Are we still punk rock? Hell yes! We do what we like.

Lyrics editing is happening too. It’s surprisingly hard work and I am trying to maintain a certain degree of ambition here. The words should mean something, they should flow with the song and they should not be too obvious. Those are the three key criteria for me, and simply writing “I need you like the roses need the rain and the poet needs the pain” won’t do.

What else does one need for an album? An album title, art work, merchandise, promotion, distribution… all kinds of stuff that I’d gladly hand over to someone else, but being independent (which is punk, of course), we do it all by ourselves. Like Eric Carmen back in 1976.

Thanks for checking in. Thanks for listening. Thanks for understanding (this is a The Hold Steady reference – check them out too).