Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reality check

Blog 53

  So the second year, here we go! I'm just back from a short break on the north coast of Poland. I had a week of sunshine, beach, sipping cold beer and making funny faces to a four month old baby. So as I am sure you can imagine, I am pretty relaxed at the moment. But I knew I had a big work load waiting for me here in Dublin, which I was actually looking forward to, but I do miss the sunshine...

  Our birthday bash is getting closer, Friday week, to be exact and if you want a sneak preview whats coming up, The 9thlife who will be playing on the night, are playing in the Pint this Thursday. You should check them out!
We are really looking forward to the show as JPKALLIO.COM has had a bit of a break from the live shows. We have few more dates booked for the rest of the year, but I am playing this bit safe as Qra has few hospital visits next month and until we know that his back is ok, we'll concentrate on rehearsing songs for the album. I am the type of person who rather does things than over analyze them and wonder if I should or should not do something, so holding back can be tough for me, but I'll still rather be safe than sorry. Making sure Qras health is OK and he can play any shows in the future is our priority number 1 right now.

  But as I mentioned this before, we do have some tough decisions ahead of us about the recording of our first Album. These are the same problems most bands face. Will we record the album with our own equipment, or in a studio? If we decide to go for the studio, I know for sure that the album will take much longer to finish, just because of the finance, or lack of it. In the other hand I can understand that especially Sebastian is worried about the drum sound on the album. This is something that many bands fail to get right in their rehearsal demos, but still with little bit of knowledge(and microphones, leads and stands combined with your usual recording set up) it can be done. But by recording the album by our selves, it would give us more freedom, time and room for experimenting. In a studio it is always a race with time... But I would like to hear your thoughts on this, as we will be sharing the process here with you guys. Would you like us to record in Studio and share with you what goes on in there, or would you like us to record the album by our self and go through the process step by step?

  This actually brings in mind another subject. Money! This is something that has some sort of effect on all of our lives, weather we want it or not. But lets just look at this for a second from a musicians point of view. I'm sure most of you think Money should not get in the way of music, but it does play big part on things. The very least in my mind what band needs to do to exist is to play music and to do this you need a rehearsal space. I would say the usual going rate at the moment in Dublin is €50 per session (usually four to five hours). If you want to take your band seriously, you want to be rehearsing minimum twice a week. So do the maths, it does add up pretty fast. Then you have all the equipment you need, even the basics. If you want to record some of your tracks that you spent endless hours rehearsing, studio don't come cheap. When you get your demo out, and get some concerts, you do need to get to the venue with all your equipment, another cost. I am not trying to scare any one here, but you do need to be realistic about all this. If you play in a band that plays original music (not just covers), you do need to accept that it is an expensive hobbies, which will take lot of your time and only has an microscopic chance to lead to career. Once again let me tell you, I am not trying to scare you, but I've come across so many websites selling you the short cut and telling you how you can do this. If this is so, why only so few of the thousands of bands out there “make it”? Well, persistence and hard work definitely do come in to the game. Most bands fail because they give up.Life gets on the way, work, family... and yes, money... But if you really do love playing music, let me ask you one question: what would you rather spend your little extra cash that is left after paying your bills? So what I guess I am trying to say here is if you rather spend your money on your music than for example holidays in the sun, nights out in the town, new car (even second hand) etc, you might just be on the right track;-)

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On a shoestring project part 52

  So here we go, a full year worth of blogs done and what a year it has been! We have had some serious downs, like all the trouble Qra had with his health, but at the same time, I am sure for all of us the past year has been a one we will remember for along time. I don't really know how to reflect on it... I mean we had a plan to have the album done by now, but at the same time, we did get the E.P. out in March and it is still available for a free download from our website:-) We did pack in 10 concerts, the eleventh is going to be our birthday bash in few weeks time. We all made some amazing friends! Some great musicians that we will be in contact with probably for the rest of our lives. The past year for me really has brought back hope to music, at every level. I am so happy to get to play with Sebastian and Qra, the talent and enthusiasm these guys bring in has been so invigorating. My singing has improved massively, just due to the fact that I have been singing so much more:-) I have found new passion for it. I was also stuck in a bit of a songwriting rut, but that has long gone now. I have also found new and fresh enthusiasm for my long time band (the longest job I ever held in my life;-)) Sliotar. Again two amazing musicians I am privileged to play with over the years. I have found great output for my electric guitar playing in JPKALLIO.COM, and again fallen in love with acoustic guitar that is all so evident in Sliotar.
  So what now?... Well, those of you who know me, know it is impossible for me to take it easy:-) The year ahead is going to include lots of both! Sliotar has started the fifth album, and JPKALLIO.COM will start our work on our debut album. There are some difficult challenges ahead for both bands, and I do think that sharing these two very different bands work loads and how we over come those challenges will be more than enough to fill this blog for another year:-) Also I have been blown away of the response to this blog, we are nearing 10000 readers. I know in the blogging world that is not really that big, but to me the fact that so many of you come back to read whats going on in my life week after week, it just make me humble. I would like to thank you all very much for this.
  I have also worked on some really cool stuff on web design, and I am trying to get a simplified self-installation guide for bands and musicians to build their own websites. I am really exited about this and I think lot of bands could use this guide.It is going to be a long process and a learning curve for me as well. I also originally wanted to include as much recording information as possible, so I might include some of the carry on that goes on with Sliotars new album. I think some of the more acoustic orientated approach would possibly be great for some singer songwriters, or acoustic bands. Maybe some industry related interviews? I really would like to hear your input on all this as well. This blog is as much mine as it is yours:-)
I am actually on a plain on my way to Finland to play with Sliotar at a festival, told you it has been a crazy year;-). Also we had our first rehearsals with JPKALLIO.COM last week after the holidays, it was great to be back! And we are all really looking forward to the Punk Rock Mayhem show for our birthday on 9th of September in Fibbers:-) And by the time you're reading this, hopefully I am in the north of Poland on a beach having a bit of a break for few days:-)
  So now the first year of on the On a shoestring comes to an end, I do look back and even more so I look forward to the next year. Let's make it a year we wont forget easily;-)

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On a shoestring project part 51


Yippee! Back rehearsing:-) It has been a mad summer so far, but I'll get a week off next week for some well earned rest, even if I say so my self.
I did some more recording for the Casement Ghosts last week, and It's sounding great! And few other of our friends have been busy as well. The 9thlife just finished recording an E.P. And it sounds brilliant.Here's a track from it:
Bloodspill by 9thlifemetal
The Sketch! Are playing at the Academy on the 27th of August, these guys really put on a one hell of a live show. But of course you will see all of these bands in our Birthday bash concert in the Fibber Magees on the 9th of September:-)
Now this week I am going to wrap up the first year of the blog with an interview I did for a radio show called Music life radio. So this week, instead of reading my blog, you can listen me waffle for a bit;-) I think it nicely tells the story of the past year. Thanks to Daniel Sauter at for letting me post it here as well.

So back for more next week:-)

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On a shoestring project part 50

  As much as I love travelling and touring, it is always nice to get back home. There just isn't anything like your own bed at the end of the day :-). But I must say we had a great tour with Sliotar and I thought to add here a photo of one of our concerts in the Czech Republic. This photo was from the Keltska Noc festival bit over two weeks a go. Thanks to David Kolba for the Photo:-)

  Our Punk Rock Mayhem show has to be postponed due to circumstances out of our hands. So now it will take place on the 9th of September. Thankfully most of the bands were available to swop the date, only 24 broken amps cant make it, understandably so as they were already committed to perform at the Gateways festival :-). But JPKALLIO.COM will be with the 24 broken amps in the Purpleroom in Drogheda on the 23rd of September. We'll have full line up in few days time. Still Friday night, still only €5 in and still doors at 8pm and rocking the place until nearly 1am :-)

  Now back to our touring tips. Two things people tend to forget about touring, first of all is the waiting around, believe you me there is lots of it, and the second is the travelling. Every one moans about the waiting bit, but here is a bit of a reality check: its part of the job! Get on with it. As to the travelling, this really is the mind numbing part. People have this idea that travelling is great fun... Yeah, on holidays, but when you do five hour drives on motorway day in and day out, it's not the kind of travelling that broadens your mind... I mean after about week you run out of things to talk about... And I know now you are saying “that would never happen to me! These are some of my best friends”, well, just wait and see, it is a very long road. But with time one of the most important skills you'll learn, is how to make it easier for each others. With time you'll know when not to disturbed some one, and when to come up with silly joke to cheer up some one. Weather you like it or not, you are a family when you are on the road. And as to all that waiting, I know hitting the bar could sound like a fun idea, but you'll regret it by the time the gig comes along, there's plenty of time after the concert;-) At this point I'm not sure if I covered everything on the subject, but if not, I'll come back to this later.

  With JPKALLIO.COM we have bit of a dilemma and it's one that I'm sure most bands have at one stage or another. We want to get started on our album, but as every one at the moment, money is tight... I was contacted by one of Dublin’s older and better known studios asking if we were looking to do some recording. My answer was yeah, but has no budget. To my delight they had checked out my blog and knew about the 100 concert challenge. They said “surely it would not be too hard to get the venues to pay at least something for every concert?” I know there are lots of bands out there doing similar things as we do, and I'm sure many of you are laughing (or crying) while reading this. The Dublin scene for up and coming rock bands is buzzing at the moment, but still the fact of life is that it is very hard to make any money out of any of the concerts. Most bands are not looking to get paid as a salary, go shopping, go partying with the money, they would like to invest the money back in to the band. Running a band does cost money. Rehearsal rooms are not free, and we are trying to build our followers by getting people to sign up to our mailing list for exchange of our E.P. At gigs, and these again come out of our own pockets. As we are getting closer to the one year birthday of this blog, I seem to come back to the same issues that first got me started in the first place. At every level someone is making money from music, whether its just someone playing just for the fun (someone made the instrument and sold it), or your band packing a pub full of people, rehearsing for months, recording demos... It always seems to be the musician who ends up paying for it whom without the business just could not be there in the first place. So do we go with the same rat race? Save our hard earned money that we usually pay our rents with, pay for studio time, when this might take us a year? Or do it our selves?

  There's some food for thought. Talk to you more next week :-)


Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On a shoestring project part 49

  I have been through quite lot of crazy weather in the past week. Still touring with Sliotar and it has been going great:-) But out of two weeks, there was only three days of summer. I thought I'll continue bit more on what I started last week. I remember when I started organizing the first tour with Sliotar, I tried to find information on touring in Europe, and there wasn't that much out there. So here is few things we have learned in the past five years.

  Depending on your tour, you will end up doing lots of driving and for this you will need a reliable car. Also every time we go on tour, we start from Ireland, this means we need to get the car on the continent. The ferries can be expensive, but there are savings if you book early. Also the size of your vehicle effects the price hugely. We used to have a big old Mercedes bus, that was high and weighed over 3.5 tons. This was an expensive trip every time. And I can straight away tell you, if you have 3.5 ton car, don't even think about going to Austria, the road tax will eat in to your tour budget like crazy. In France you have toll roads, in Czech, Slovakia, Austria and Switzerland you have road tax. This can be anything from €7 for 7 days to hundreds for a year, but again as long as your car is not over 3.5 ton, these prices should be reasonable. For the actual driving part I got some help here from a good friend and a fellow musician Des Gorevan, the drummer from Sliotar, who also does the driving on Sliotars tours. He also takes care of the travel arrangements, and our accommodation on days off. As I mentioned above, we come from Dublin and most of our concerts are on continent, in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Czech rep. And Austria. So first thing is to get the band and the car to the continent. There are several routs and we have done most of them by now. And we have also done them on our tour bus, and old Mercedes 608D bus that Des lovingly converted in to a camper van. We also had an seven seater people carrier for few years, that was registered as a private car. Now we have a commercial volkswagen van that has two rows of seats and compartment for our equipment. On fuel the last one has been the best, but as it is commercial, you get hit on overnight passenger ferries hard, even though our Camper bus was much bigger. Some of them double or even triple in price. Currently (summer 2011) the best way for us on a commercial vehicle was Dublin to holly head, drive across Wales and England, which does require an overnight stop, and then the euro tunnel cross to France. If you can do the drive in private car, you will have much more options on ferries. I think our favorite rout was Rotterdam to Hull and then from Holyhead to Dublin. You spend the night on the ferry, which can be bit of fun:-). But again it all comes down to the tour budget, and trying to keep the cost down. This also applies to bands coming from Continent to UK or Ireland. All the ferry companies have websites where you can get quotes for what ever car you have, but just remember the prices will go up the later you book them. Ideally I would like to have the tour schedule fully finalized 6 months in advance, but unfortunately this is never the case. Some festivals book an year in advance, some even couple months before. And then you try to fill in the gaps with pubs, and they can be even month before the tour. So yeah, unfortunately the reality is that sometimes we only get to book the ferries about few weeks before the trip.

  Make sure your car is serviced before the tour, breaking down on the road can be expensive and in worst case you will end up missing concerts. In this case you start to be in serious financial loss. Also satellite navigation system is a must. You don't need to be looking for places in a strange city, and again possibly be delayed at gigs. And if you turn up late at gig, it is your fault, not the organizers. So if they still let you pay, don't expect a full fee, I know you just had a bad day, but so did they while waiting for you to turn up.

  Ok So this subject really has more in it than I can fit in a few blogs, so we will continue with this next week:-) For now, I'll be back home in few days time and look forward to the next rehearsals with JPKALLIO.COM :-) Have a great week!


Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio