Friday, November 16, 2012

Fender Excelsior tone pod mod

  I've been on a bit of a tone search trip lately. I always had almost as big interest on the tone of guitar as I did in the playing of it. Also in the nature of this blog and just plain simple restrictions of finances, I am always aware of how much I spend on my equipment. But even more so I am always looking for something new in tone, something you just can't buy from your local music store. You see, there are these musicians who have the best of the best equipment and all I say is good on you. But I find if our goal is to buy the Gibson Les Paul Custom and Mesa boogie triple rectifier (you can replace the guitar and the amp for any top end make here), more and more things will start to sound the same.
 I know I am not alone in this search and for those of us not too impressed by the perfection of a €2000 off the shelf amp are left with few options. You can go the vintage rout, look for that magical 30 year old amp or guitar, which in many cases is over priced. I personally like the idea of actually customizing my tone.

  So earlier this year I came across a new amp from Fender that got me bit exited (we've all been there). The amp in question is Fender Excelsior. Amp made in style of 1950s catalogue amps. It is a simple amp, with three inputs. Volume and tremolo controls and single dark to bright tone switch. It is full valve (tube for our american friends) design 13 watts and projects the sound from a single 15 inch speaker. The thing about this amp is that it is not trying to sound like any other amp, it has a tone of its own. But also it is designed to be a great platform for modifications.
  After doing my usual research that I do before purchasing any new equipment, I got a great deal and decided to purchase the amp. On my purchase I was very impressed with the amp, but still I knew I was going to alter the amp to get a tone that is more what I had in mind. The first short fall of the amp is the dark to bright tone switch. The bright is pretty shrilly and piercing tone and the dark is lacking in clarity. It was clear from the beginning that the ideal tone from the amp would be some where between the two. So I decided change the switch in to a tone pot. I do need to say here that any one doing this will straight away cancel
out their warranty on the amp. But I had run the amp through it paces and knew it was working fine. If something was to go, it would be something that could be fixed by any good amp tech (also another beauty of the simple design of this amp). I used to have a Fender blues junior, a great little amp. But I was never impressed with this amps internal design. I had a problem with the input jack and one of the valve sockets, which were bot attached to the circuit board that was very tightly designed. To be honest with you, I actually had one look inside and decided the blues junior. But the Fender Excelsior's insides are much more modification friendly. There is loads room inside and the power and pre amp sections are housed separately. If you are more interested in the inner workings of this amp, I recommend you take a look at Billm's website and especially his page on Excelsior

  Anyway, so I had a spare 500k pot in my spare parts, and decided to open the amp up. As I mentioned earlier the pre amp part is separate from the power amp part, so opening the amp was very easy. Two screws on top of the amp and I had the pre amp chassis in my hands. Few more screws and I had it opened up. Inside I could find the dark bright tone switch that has three cables attached to it. I carefully desoldered them and attached them to the pot exactly the same order as they were in the switch. It took little bit of filing to fit the pot in to the hole of the old switch. I also had an old control knob, that nicely covered the screw holes that held the switch. It's not exactly the style of the other two knobs, so I might look for some new knobs, kind of like the idea of cream colored chickenheads. When I started opening the amp, stuck the Black presidents CD on, and by the time I had it done, the album just finished, so just over half an hour it took me and the difference with the tone control is amazing! It really makes this amp very flexible for its three control design.
  Just a small warning here. I would not call my self an expert in electronics, but I knew what I was doing before I opened the amp up. There can be potentially lethal charge in a valve amp. So make sure you know what you are doing! Once again Billm's website has been a wealth of information for me, so check it out at and especially his page on discharging capacitors. This is an easy modification, but you can potentially do permanent damage to your amp, so don't tell me I didn't warn you. As mentioned above, if you do this the manufacturers warranty is gone! So if you are worried about this, either don't do it, or wait until the warranty is out. Personally for me I bought this amp as much for playing and gigging as to learn the insides of an simple valve amp, so I wasn't worried about this.

    So there it is. The first mod on a journey to my own tone. I am also tinkering with the oldest and cheapest Boss distortion pedal DS-1. The results so far are great! So I'll be sharing some of these with you in the future as well. Great tone on a shoestring ;-) and best of all, my own tone.

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

In the Pint 10th of November

  Right, this Saturday we are playing upstairs in the Pint bar on Eden quay. There is pretty impressive line up on the night! Part from us it's
Smash Your Baggage
Crafty Fuzz,
The Velourias,
My Mind Races,
Shallow stream,
Skyward Rifles

 Hope to see you there!

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bob Baker sharing some of his best advice

  Here is a great little inspirational video from Bob Baker ( ).
For those of you who don't know of Bob Baker, check him out. He has some very valuable information for musicians who wants to go the independent rout. I have mentioned him before here, but he really provides wealth of information time and time again.

  Just a quick point here though. From time to time, I think it is ok to slow things down a bit and use this time to do some of the research Bob mentioned in the beginning of his video. I mean it is great to have a good game plan and go for it with blazing guns. But from time to time it is good to take a break and refocus.

  I know it looks like we have disappeared from the planet, but quite contrary we have been busy preparing lots of things. Soon you will hear more from us:-) On Saturday the 10th we are back playing live in the Pint. More info on this and many more things to follow soon.


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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Me and my Telecaster

  On last Saturday afternoon I got back from my well deserved holidays all charged up and hit the ground running. Four hours with Sliotar in the Porterhouse and it did feel good to be back. As much as I was looking forward to my holidays, usually after a week I start missing my guitar and miss playing. It's kind of crazy... I start missing my guitars like people, my finger get itchy and I get fidgety. If guitars were a substance, I suppose I would have a problem ;-)

  Since my return, if I wasn't gigging with Sliotar my Telecaster has not left my side. Also I suppose refreshed from my holidays, I have been messing around with a sound a bit. So I thought to write a bit about my trusty friend, my Telecaster.

  My very first electric guitar was a East German Strat copy. It was rough and cheap, but it was mine and I played it until the frets were nearly down to nothing. One thing I do remember about it is that the pickups had these massive magnets under them and the output was very hot for a Strat. Since then, I have gone through dozens of guitars and I am sure I will go through dozens more before my days are done. I know for some players guitar is just a tool, but many of us are as much in search of that perfect tone as just hoping to play. I love sound, and for me sonic qualities of a recording is almost as important as the songs them selves.
On this on going quest I learn something new all the time. It's what keeps me exited. Sometimes just a great tone can inspire you to write songs.

  I had few guitars over the years that I just had to have. But the relationship with guitar and the player takes time to develop. Some guitars felt great in my hand from the first moment I picked them up, but after a while I started missing something in the tone, or playability. In other times I picked up a guitar and it was a struggle from the get go, but over time I learned to love the instrument . There was always the three legendary guitars that most players leaned towards, Les Paul, Startocaster and Telecaster. Now there are tons of more, but these three are the ones every guitar player has at some point. Also these guitars are copied more by other manufacturers than anything else. I have very nice Gibson Les Paul, that I will never part with. It is very nice guitar to play! It sings, sustains, and drives the right amp in to very sweet and full distortion. I've had several Strats over the years, one of them was a Fernandes copy that was excellent! It was one of the only guitars that I kept stock, as it was built great, the action was great, the pickups were great, the electronics were very good quality. This Strat was a proof that going for the big names is not always the best thing to do. But when I left Finland I got rid of most of my gear. Silly me... Anyway, apart from this Fernandes most Strats were no my friends, just the sound and feel didn't sit with me. I had an obsession about Telecasters for a very long time. I'd say it goes back to me being a big Rolling stones fan since I was a kid. I've had few Squire and few Fender ones over the years. My current Tele is a 2008 Fender highway 1, that I got as a trade few years back. I have now idea what the history it was before I got my hands on it. These Highway 1 series guitars had a mat paint finish that tends to wear off pretty easily, and one of its previous owners had put a varnish on it after the paint started wearing off. The pickups are Fender Texas specials at the moment, but I'm sure there will be many pickups in this Tele through out its life with me. But yeah, part from the varnish, it is very much stock for now. It sounds like Tele, and plays like one.

  Telecasters have been part of rock and roll music from almost the beginning. It has been in production since 1950! That's 62 years and still going strong. It has been played by so many famous guitar players in pretty much every sub genre of rock music. And if anything it is more popular today than ever before among the indie rock guitar players. It is a guitar that plays nicely in most hands. But I think its flexibility is still very under estimated. This guitar has twang, it has bottom end, it has warmth and clarity. It can be a smooth jazz machine, or it can scream like a monster! Very often I see players rocking the Tele, but I feel there is so much more you can do with it. This guitar likes to be treated roughly. It is like it has hidden gears, if you dig bit deeper you can get some wild tones out of it. It is definitely not the easiest guitar to play, but I find it makes me play better when I need to work that bit harder with it. If I had to choose one guitar to do it all, my Tele would be it. At the moment I would love to get my hands on another and put a Bigsby tremolo on it, but I think this has something to do with the fact that I have bit of a Gretsch bug at the moment ;-)

  All I can say is big thank you to Leo Fender for designing such a simple, versatile and strong guitar that has shaped rock music.

  It is funny how we build these relationships with instruments, and how they define us as musicians. What is your favorite guitar and what does it mean to you?


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

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Time to refocus and get back on track!

 I can't believe the weather we are having in Dublin this week! This summer has been... well, it has not been to Dublin! But a nearly a week now with hardly any rain:-) I am actually sitting outside on my balcony without a shirt (what a site!) writing this. Happy days!

  Last Saturday we played our first concert after our line up change. It was Saturday night upstairs in Sweeney's, us and Pimps and Gimps had the pleasure to play support for Patrick Fizgerald. Des Gorevan was on the drums and he did a brilliant job! Only two rehearsals and he delivered a monster of a performance. It felt so good to be playing again and it did feel very natural. Now I am only few days away from my holidays, but once I get back we will definitely get back gigging more again. Once you got the bug, you can't stop;-) Big thanks to Foad musick once again. Oh did I say that the Pimps and Gimps rocked the house as well?

  Now just before I head out on a holidays and get some seriously needed time off from everything, it got me thinking. With all that has been going on with our little band this summer, I managed to get some distance and I suppose new perspective on things. Sometimes that is just what you need and I am hoping my holidays will help on this even bit more. Before the summer, I kind of felt like I was trying to keep things rolling and keep every one happy. But I am starting to listen to my self once again. I suppose I am very lucky in sense that me and Qra have very similar vision of what the band should sound like. Always things change over time and I think that is a good thing, but I really hope I won't get too side tracked on the musical front just to try to please other people:-) I think we're going to re write some of the newer stuff we were rehearsing in the past year, and I still have bag full of songs that we never got to get started on. Oh yeah, and lot's of new ideas, that I'm sure will burst in to songs really soon.

  So here is what I am trying to say. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut with your band, feel like you've done the same thing for years... Just take a small break. Month or two will clear your thoughts and you will start to see more clearly what you want to do. All those nagging noises of your own self doubts, or other people inside your head will tone down and what you really want to do will come to the top. Try it out, much better idea than giving in or quitting! 

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back in action!

  Well hello every one once again. It has been a crazy summer so far and for me it won't be over until the second week in September, when I finally get a chance to take some holidays for few weeks:-) So far I have had very busy year. Most of it has been due to Sliotars new album and everything the new album brings with it. Also we had few busy months with JPKALLIO.COM on the spring. But just before I was about to leave on the summer stretch of Sliotars tour, Sebastian and Patryk dropped the bomb and told us that it was a time for them to leave the band... It did open a bag of emotions that I really did not expect. About a month before there was a band meeting where we tried to address the issues. I put aside my personal instincts and what I had learned over the years and for the next six months I decided to do things other peoples way. But a month in to it we got the news that the lads had decided to call it a day. I must say one thing though, the guys did pick as good time as you ever can for their departure, so fair play to them. We played our last concert with this line up on the 6th of July 2012 in the Sweeney's basement. I am sure you will see both Sebastian and Patryk around the town playing gigs sooner or later and we'll be hooking up for pint's I'm sure:-)

  Now I did have time to think about everything for the past month and a half while on tour with Sliotar and when I got back. The longer I play music the stronger I feel the need to be true to my self. True in the sence how I write music, play music and how I conduct my business around the music. So I'll be sticking to my own instincts from now on;-)

  This week we have been back rehearsing. We decided to go back to three piece, like we did when we started all this. I am happy to say Des Gorevan, who I have been playing with for the past twelve years in Sliotar kindly stepped in for now and he will be playing with us this Saturday night in the Sweeney's bar. It really does feel quite natural have him on the drums. Maybe if we talk to him nicely he'll stick around.

  So here it is, we're back in action! And after my holidays in September you'll be hearing more from us. But for now, we hope to see you in Upstairs in the Sweeney's this Saturday the 1st of September. We're glad to get the opportunity to play support for the legendary Patrik Fizgerald! Also the wonderful Pimps and Gimps will be playing on the night.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Have a good summer and I'll be back in August

JPKALLIO.COM will be rocking the Sweeney's basement this Friday, it's a line up of some great kick ass music:

Basement Sweeneys Fri 6th July with.


This is going to be our only show this summer. 

  After this gig we'll be scattered bit all over the place:-) Seba will be on drum duties with Seanie Vaughan Music, Patryk is playing the bass with the Pimps and Gimps Fanpage, I will be on the road around Europe with Sliotar and Qra is joining us on bass for three weeks as well. I'll be documenting some of our tour madness at Sliotars facebook page at

  After the summer we'll be back in action again in full swing:-). I thought long and hard this, even though it's not that big deal. Starting from next Tuesday I will be on the road and in "Sliotar mode" and I want to concentrate on the tour, the concerts and documenting the tour with videos and blog posts on Sliotars web site Due to these commitments I have decided to take a break from writing this blog for the duration of the tour. I also do feel the need to get bit refocused with this blog and I think the break will do world of good to me:-)

  But I will post links to our tour stuff as they appear on Sliotars website, just not to loose the contact with every one here as well. So I suppose it is time to wish every one a great summer. Hope you all have a good one, I know mine will be mad one anyway;-) and I'll talk to you after the tour.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  This week I was interviewed for a great blog about Celtic music and I thought I'll include it here as I managed to cram in some promotional stuff as well. So instead of reading my rants here, please visit
And a big thanks to Baxter Labatos for making this happen and running a great blog.

   Just a quick reminder that JPKALLIO.COM will be playing a concert in the Sweeney's basement on Friday the 6th of July, just before I head on the tour with Sliotar. This probably will be our only concert this summer, so come along.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Are the days of promoting your band on the Facebook gone?

Part 95

  Why is it that every time you come across some great promotional tool, service, company etc. Eventually there comes a time at the end of the story when they ask for your credit card details? I am not saying you can buy your self a career, but you most certainly can buy your self a small bit of fame, if you wish to do so. Then we have the great promotional tools like the Facebook. But hold on, once again they changed something... If you have a band profile on Facebook, you have under every post a number that represents how many people your post has reached and a percentage of how many that is from your total fans. On average on posts that posted in the past month or so, the reach is around 19%. Once the post is up for longer time, I am happy if it reaches 40% in a month. So not so good news for the next show you are putting on. Seems like you got to go back to the good old fashioned posters... Unless people not only like your band page, but also subscribe to your news feed, most of them wont see your posts... Why is this? Well it comes down to the same thing, they are hoping to get your credit card details. Beside the reach figure there is a promote drop down menu, that promises to reach about 1500 of your fans for €5. That is if you have 1500 fans and I am still wondering what happens to your money if you don't... So yeah, here is the bad news, Facebook as it is right now, does not work as a free promotional tool. What bugs me even more is the fact that once again they decided to do this without letting us know and in the shadow of the company entering the stock market. Seven months ago it was very easy for me to reach about two to three hundred people a day with this blog, but just due to a small change in the Facebook, those days are gone. And I can only imagine how many bands put on shows, posted it on Facebook, and their fans actually never heard about it until long after the show.

  So here we go, if you are reading this blog, you have been warned! And once again we go back to the old truth, you need your website and your mailing list. No social media site is going to ever replace these tools.


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

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Different paths to being a great musician

Part 94

   So here we go, I might annoy some people with this blog, but this is really important subject to me. Everybody's path to being a great musician is different. What works for me might not work for you. For me it has taken years of trial and error, and endless hours of playing and singing. I am sure some one with the proper teaching skills could have got me musically here much faster, but at the same time I wouldn't have the experience I have now. When you first start playing an instrument, it usually starts with acquiring an instrument, learning some basics by your self, or a friend showing you something. Then you have few different paths to go. You can sign up for some lessons with a teacher, or even go to a music school and get some theory lessons on the side. You can get your friends to show you bit more, play with other musicians and learn from them. My way was driven by hunger to learn more, I spent endless hours in my room winding back cassette tapes of my favorite bands and tried to learn what the guitar players were playing. Then learning the songs with my garage band at the time and playing them endless hours at our rehearsals and eventually get to play them at school gigs or local fund raisers. The thing is that human mind works in mysterious ways and every ones way of learning is different. Some people need to analyze the music so it makes sense in their minds. Some people need to visualize it in their minds and even on that I have heard of several variations. I need to feel it. I know it sounds like a cliche, but I don't visualize the music, I feel it. I feel the groove and go with it, I feel the chord progressions, I feel the fretboard under my fingers and most of the time I let the fingers guide me. This is due to endless hours of playing, jamming and muscle memory. I can read music, though I am very slow at it and definitely out of practice. This again I learned the basics with a teacher in school and then converted it to guitar and just spent time to learn more and more. But still to day if I learn a melody on written music it takes me long time to get it to my head, where as if I learn it by ear I usually pick it up much faster. Until it is in my head I can't feel it and if I don' feel it I can't play it well. I suppose this is one of the reasons I have passed on quite few opportunities in my time. Opportunities to play music I had no interest in but the pay would have been good. It's just not in me to take on a job I know I can't do well.

   But lets go back to the learning songs of those old tapes. Every musician needs ear training, you can learn the best licks, fills, solos and what have you, but you need to learn to use your ears! You need to listen to whats going on around you, what every band member is doing around you. If you zone out in your own world and just play your part, sooner or later you will find your self in a ditch... It is a musical car crash waiting to happen. Listening to other players around you while delivering your own part is one of the marks of a great musician. You need to put aside what you do as an individual musician and become a part of the over all band. You might have the coolest solo you want to play here or there, but it might clash with the rest of the band. If this is the case, back off! The song must come first! And what is the best for the song might not be the fancy fill you love to play but just a simple beat that keeps the groove going and makes people feel the music. For me listening to those tapes and trying to figure what was played was the greatest ear training any one could get. You learn to recognize your intervals, your chords, the rhythm patterns. And you know, I enjoyed every second of it! I could not wait to get to play the song through when I finally had it figured out. I also learned so much about song structures, riff construction, dynamics... And I don't want to take away from the academics of music, but some of these skills if they had been broken down and presented to me through a teacher from a book, it would not make sense to me the same way as it does today. This was the best way for me and still is today. I still learn every day, I still practice every day. Going to band practice once or twice a week won't make you a better player and it definitely won't make your band better, unless you all practice individually every day! And I don't just mean playing random stuff, but identifying your weaknesses and working on them.

    I know there are people out there who think you will not be a great musician until you study in Berkeley or some other fancy school, and there are people out there who think you are not a real musician unless you're self taught. But the fact is, neither is wrong or right. It comes down to the individual. What's your way of learning?


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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sweeney's rocked!

Part 93

  June is here and it ain't looking pretty so far... You'd think I got used to this by now after sixteen years in the country... Anyway. Last Friday we played at the Sweeneys basement once again. We were happy that Foad musick asked us to take part in their night. There had been some changes in the basement room! To our delight the cursed pillar right on front of the stage had been removed. This opens up the stage straight away. They also had moved the bar on the opposite side it used to be and now the room is starting to look like proper venue. I also heard rumours about new equipment, and to be honest with you, this is the last thing that needs to be fixed and then Sweeneys would have pretty sweet venue in the basement as well. On the night there was four bands, Corrosive machine, JPKALLIO.COM, Jobseekers and The Freebooters. All of the bands on the night played great energetic sets, It was like every band just fueled the next one even more. It was really great to see such a high standard of punk rock bands and an enthusiastic crowd. This was one of our better gigs in a long while. Once again big thanks to Foad musick for having us.

  We will be back in the Sweeney's on the 6th of July, but part from that we made a decision on taking it bit easier with the gigs and concentrate rehearsing a lot and working on some new material with out the pressure of getting it done for the next gig. I suppose what we want to do is jam the stuff for a while before we commit to a structure. Very often once you play song a live, it seems to be set in stone and even if you think to change something, you never get around to it. Another reason for the break is the European championships. I have made the mistake of booking gigs during big events like this in the past and lets just say I have learned my lesson:-D Anyway, I only have five weeks in Dublin before I am on the road again with Sliotar and this is bit longer tour... And the preparations for that will keep me extremely busy.

  Now in the mean time, Patryk is been busy playing bass with his old band Pimps & Gimps, he is a man of many talents;-). The Pimps & Gimps are playing with other friends of ours the Joyful Noiz in the Harbour Bar in Bray. So if you are looking for some good music this Friday, why wont you hop on the Dart and head over.
  For now, enjoy the early summer days;-)

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Feeling unmotivated?

Part 92

  I am back in Dublin after Sliotar's first tour of the year. I love touring, but as much I love coming home.
We had our first rehearsal with JPKALLIO.COM in few weeks yesterday and it was good to be playing again. The contrast between going from the Sliotar world to JPKALLIO.COM is quite big, to say the least. But that's what makes it fun for me:-). Now we are playing a concert in the Sweeneys basement this Friday, so come along.
  I was reminded of something during the week by a good friend of mine. In the past playing in all the bands that I have, I noticed that I do go through fazes of being more motivated. I think it is very natural thing that you can't keep your energy and enthusiasm at the same level all the time. Sometimes you need a break, you need to take distance to get re focused. I would say most musicians go through this from time to time. Does this mean you are weak or a bad musician? Well, as long as you get the job done, no. We all need to charge batteries from time to time. I also find that when I have quiet time like this, I very often come back with guns blazing and full of fresh ideas. I look at things that used to seem impossible and now they seem possible. I notice things where I was stuck in a routine and take a fresh approach to them. If I was only starting out, I could possibly mistakenly take these unmotivated times as a sign of failure and quit all together, but now I know better. It is just my minds way of finding time to refresh and get going again. Obviously band like Sliotar this would be harder to do as we play live every week, but you just get on with the concerts for few weeks and find the time to enjoy the world around you for a while. And sooner than you know, you'll be back up again. I do find though that these motivational dips can be effected very much by your band mates, stale gigs etc. To my delight this year I have been full of fire as Sliotars new album has kept me busy and our tour schedule for the year is busiest I can remember. And with JPKALLIO.COM the addition of Patryk in the band has given me a big lease of life and April was one of our busiest months ever. But somewhere in the future when all the dust settles, I know there will be a time I'll feel like I need a bit of a break, and when it comes, that's just what I'll do:-)
  So next time you feel your band is not going anywhere, just allow your self to take some distance. Later you will come back to it with fresh eyes and ears.


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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Stick with it.

  Week two of Sliotar tour got me thinking about persistence. As I have mentioned in the past Sliotar has been on the go for past 16 years and I have been in the guitar duties for the past 12 years. Through out that time I have had good times and bad times. Played some great concerts in front of big audiences, but also played in horrible conditions with only hand full of people. When things are going great it is easy to believe in the band, but if things are going bad it is easy to loose faith. Even though mostly it has been great, there were times when I did not see any future in the band, especially my part in the band... I was contemplating something else to do, even quitting music... Now I am very glad I stuck through it.
   The biggest secret in success is sticking with it through thick and thin. No one said this was going to be easy, but if you give up, you fail. If you stick with it, there will be a time you will be rewarded. It might not be today, it might not be this year. But the time will come. There will be times you loose faith in your band and feel like giving in. These are times you just need to put the head down and struggle through. Something will come up and things will start looking much brighter. But also remember you're not in it alone, unless you are a solo artist of course. Every one in the band need to be willing to stick with it as well. If you are the only one who believes in what your band does, it might be tough. And in this situation it would be time to sit down and have a chat. In my experience, musical differences and unrealistic expectations are some of the biggest stumbling blogs of any band. Personality clashes you can work on, as long as both parties are willing to do so. I still believe you can teach person skills, but they got to have character. This is something you cant learn.
   So where am I now? I could not imagine my life without Sliotar. I do want to pursue other things, like JPKALLIO.COM, writing this blog, sound engineering... But Sliotar will be a big part of me for a long time to come:-)

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

Thursday, May 17, 2012

One step at a time

  Once again I am writing this while on the road. We have started our first 2012 Sliotar tour. I am in Munich at the moment, and let me just say that this is a great city. Architecture is out of this world and the city has a really nice feel to it. We have four concerts here, two in Kilians and two in Kennedys Irish pub, before we head to the Greenfarm festival. To my surprise I have found it hard to get online here, so it looks like I'll be spending lot of time in Starbucks... But hey, it's all part of the business. Sliotar is having a busy year with the new album out and all, we'll be on the road probably 10 weeks this year. It is a great feeling though, when all the hard work and preparations finally come to end and you actually get to play concerts. Let's face it, that is why most musicians do this.  We all would love to just get up and play gig after gig, but there are very few who get to do that. For most of us we need to be able to do also all the bookings, travel arrangements, promotion, merchandise... But that just is the way things work these days. To be honest with you, I am grateful that I had to do it this way. I learn something new every day, and we get to control our own careers. If I could go back and do it all over again, would I change anything? For sure, knowing what I know now, I would take control much earlier instead of waiting around and hoping for those small breaks. I would definitely get in to making videos much earlier, as they have been a great tool  for both Sliotar and JPKALLIO.COM . But over all, I am happy where I am now, but most importantly how I got here. I enjoy the journey and too often we forget to do that. Waiting around won't get you anywhere, getting up and doing things will. It's like learning to play. The best guitar in the world will sound crap until you learn what to do with it and only way to learn is practice.
   So get up, write down one music related goal you want to achieve, whether it is playing a concert in certain venue, learn to play particular piece of music or what ever you like. Then break it down to steps. Write down what you need to do to reach this goal. And start doing it one step at a time. And remember to enjoy it as well:-)

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

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hard facts about running your own gigs and A Joyful Slog

Part 89

   I am starting to get ready for the first of this years Sliotar tours. It is always a relief when you start the tour as all the preparations come to an end and finally you get to play live shows:-) The logistics even behind a small tour is a quite a task and it ends up being a team effort from the whole band. As I write this, Des is driving our equipment from Dublin to Munich, where we will start the tour next week. This is only going to be short two week tour, but in July we head back for nearly five week tour.

   I had an interesting conversation on Friday night after JPKALLIO.COM's show in the Thomas house. Fellow musician and a friend of mine was very surprised when they heard that when we put on a show, we actually pay for sound engineer, posters and sometimes even venue rental. I suppose there are many people out there who still are disillusioned about the way this business works. It got me thinking that I will organize an interview with some promoters to explain this side of the business in the near future. But let me just say this. When ever you see a band posting a concert on facebook, or see a poster around the town, unless it is a free concert, there is a big chance the band stands out to loose money. We take risks all the time, to be able to do what we love and if we break even we usually consider it a success... Most independent touring bands make most of their income from merchandise sold at shows. So for local bands that haven't been on the go so long yet, you might not have your CD, T-shirts etc. to sell. And before you even think of saying that what you need is good manager, let me remind you something I have been saying since the beginning of this blog, No manager will be interested in you until you can fill a venue regularly. Managers need to make money, it's a fact of life! And if you can't make money, how do you think they can make money out of you? So until you are in a position where you are gigging nearly 100 concerts a year and making money out of it, you just need to keep on taking those risks and booking the gigs you'r self.

   On another note, I came across this very nice documentary on the DIY scene in Ireland. This is a great inside on how the real underground music scene works. It is a Dublin Community Television production and was made by the Community Of Independents collective that works with the channel. Featuring live footage and audio of various Irish artists as well as insightful interviews with some of the people that have been involved in the growth of this scene.

   This Friday the 11th of May JPKALLIO.COM will be back in the Slaughtered Lamb for the Blitz band slam quarter final. Hope to see you there:-)

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

Wednesday, May 2, 2012



 We are organizing an album fundraiser for the JPKALLIO.COM's first album, so we can go back to the studio. The night will take place in the Thomas House, this Friday the 4th of May 2012. Doors 8pm and Adm €5. On the night obviously JPKALLIO.COM will do a set, but also we got few bands to help us out:-). On the bill we have our drummer Sebastians another band Down the river, who are going to kick off the night, also we have Kerouac, who have been making noise in the Irish underground lately. I sat down for a chat with Kerouac's bass player Keith O'Neill, who also takes care most of the promotion duties in the band and I realized we had more in common than we thought, when it comes to the music business.

  J.P. First of all big thank you Keith for taking the time to talk to us. Could you tell me a bit about your background in music?

Keith Back ground in music... I started playing guitar when I was twelve. Guitar is my main instrument.
I wen't to Ballyfermot college studying guitar in the music course. That's where I met the lads. So went in as a guitar player and came out as a bass player! Amazing stuff. But guitar is still my main instrument. I do lot of acoustic instrumental music. So that would be me in music, between that and metal. I play bit of drums as well. One of the first bands I was in was a Nirvana covers band where I played drums when I was fifteen.

J.P. So let's talk about Kerouac a bit. I've seen the band live few times now and I was delighted that you agreed to play with us in the Thomas house this Friday. How did the band get started?

Keith No worries, we were delighted to be asked. We met up in the college in 2002. There was another bass player in the band before I started. He left the college after the first year, so they were looking for a bass player for the second year. So I said I'll play bass. I was playing guitar with lot of other people in the college, but the D C D chord thing just does not do it for me. I am delighted I came out of college with Richie ( Mason, drums) and Aaron (Gaffey, vox and guitar). When we left the college we did not do much for few years. We were occasionally jamming in Kilkenny where I am from, Richie was in Cork and Aaron in Dublin. So we rehearsed in a mate of mines house in Kilkenny. We did about six gigs in four years. That's the way it went until about two years a go when Richie moved back to Dublin and we've gone full belt at it since then.

J.P. You've done some quite big gigs in the past and seem to be gigging a lot. Any highlights you'd like to mention?

Keith Germany obviously. That was brilliant. We entered the Emergenza battle of the bands that goes on in eighteen different countries. We entered 2004 and didn't get out of the first round and then entered again last year and ended up winning it! So they flew us out to Germany for five days to play at a three day festival. It was nice as there were only two stages, the main stage and the second stage and we were on on the second stage on Saturday. It was really good, some amazing bands, as I said it went on in eighteen countries so we got to see lot of bands. It was 35000 people at the festival. Iggy Pop was on on the first night. Some energy for his age! It was cool, we did the gig and then we could just sit in the back stage and drink free beer. Yeah, we'll remember that one for a while.
  We are doing the Ballymurphy fringe festival this summer. It is kind of the only festival in Ireland we could get in to. We seem to be too heavy for lot of the festivals, but then not heavy enough for the Metal festivals. But sure, what can you do?

J.P. Yeah, it's tough. It seems so many bands put so much effort in trying to get to play at festivals, makes me wonder if they could use that energy on something else.

Keith Yeah, the usual answer you are going to get, even though there are over 200 festivals in Ireland, is thanks but no thanks. It still seems to be all Indie stuff they are looking for.

J.P. I think that is a bubble that is about to burst.

Keith Yeah, me too. Somethings got to give, it's gone stale...

J.P. Tell me about it... But as always, it takes time before the mainstream catches on to whats brewing in the underground.

Keith That's it. Some amazing bands out there around Ireland!

J.P. One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you was because I know you do most of the booking and promotional work for the band. What advice would you have for any new bands on how to get out gigging?

Keith Unfortunately I have to say that Facebook is a handy tool to have in your artillery. I do lot of bookings through Facebook. I have all the pubs we play in added up on my Facebook. So anytime a gig comes up the venue post it up and it says support to be established. So I'll email them and ask if there is any chance on getting in that. There are lot of gigs going on around Dublin and you can get in on support. Which is good. You get to meet other people, meet other bands, get to know them and maybe get to play with them later. And when you do put on your own gig, you'll actually get in couple people. I Kind of approach it like that.

J.P. What's your take on the battle of the bands?

Keith We have entered couple of them, but I kind of do it to get the name out there. When you go to play at these things, there is a mixture of lot of people there. So you have lot of people seeing you play. We did the Hard rock rising one. That was to support Bruce Springsteen. We got to the final on it. And they had some influential people in the jury. It could have taken us long time to get these guys to come see us play live. And even we did not win it, which we knew we would not as Kerouac would be just too heavy to support Bruce Springsteen, we got lot of good contacts out of it. Take it as a gig. And if you do well, you get through the first, second or even third round, that's three gigs in few months. You are going to end up meeting promoters, sound engineers, the bar staff, the people that book the gigs. I think its a great way to get the name out there.

J.P. You guys have very professional live show. While playing at many band nights you get to see many bands at all levels. Would you have any tips for young bands on how to improve their live show, or is there any mistakes you see bands do regularly?

Keith I think being very well practiced is one. For band to come across professional you need to be well rehearsed, you can't keep making mistakes. It kind of puts the audience off a bit. Your songs need to be tight and structured well. So I would say practice! If we were practicing new song, we could end up jamming the same riff for a half an hour, taking it to different places and seeing what happens. So I would say be well practiced and have fun with it. Go mad on stage! After doing lot of live shows, you do get comfortable in your spot and you start putting across a good confident live show.

J.P. We all know this is expensive business to be in, no getting away from that. If you wan't to take the music seriously, you need to invest in to it as well. What is your take on this and how would you prioritize it?

Keith Get a CD with three songs sounding very good and get a website. You need a website! We have played with lots of bands and if you would put a list of 20 bands on front of me, I'd say maybe three of them would have website. I am the administrator of our website. We got a friend in IT to set it up for us for few hundred instead of eight hundred by a professional web designer. We use Wordpress on our site. It's amazing! It took me three weeks to figure it all out, but once you have it done it looks well and come across professionally.

J.P. Hallelujah! I'm glad I am not the only one saying that :-D. It seems to be a big step for any Dublin based band to get to play outside Dublin. How important do you think this is and how do you guys go about it?

Keith Find out the venues that play your kind of music. There are some cracking venues up and down the country that are looking your kind of music. We've done Waterford, Wexford, Cork, Kilkenny, Galway. Some great venues out there. It is always good to play to new audience. And it is good idea to play with maybe two local bands. For the music we do, there is only few bars in Dublin, so it is nice to get out and play somewhere else once and a while.

J.P. It still seems to be most bands dream getting signed. Do you think up and coming band should still try to get signed, or should they work on making their own record?

Keith I'd say work on making your own record. Send it off by all means, but concentrate on building a bit of a fan base, so if the record company comes along you can show you have something to offer. But you need a good sounding recording. There is so many people out there who want to do it, so you need to stand out. It needs to be done right!

J.P. I like to put lot of emphasis on playing a live show when it comes to our band. Would you have any other promotional tips or recommendations?

Keith CD, Website, Facebook and a video. People like to see what they are listening to, even if it's a collage of pictures put together in Movie maker. Videos are great promotional tools.

J.P. So what are the future plans for Kerouac

Keith The plans are to get the E.P. finished in the next few weeks, then get it mastered. Book lot more gigs, even though we have had a busy year so far. we did about 30 gigs last year, and we have already booked 30 gigs this year and its only May! So get out and play lots of gigs and promote the E.P.

J.P. Once again, big thanks for your time and just to wrap up, what should people expect from Kerouac this Friday night?

Keith To get your ass kicked! Expect loud, heavy, smelly, riff based, energetic madness. Any time we go to do a gig, it's 110%. I'm really looking forward to it  now. It's been a while we played in the Thomas House and its a good spot! So see you on Friday night!

Rock n' Roll road house show
Down the river
In the basement of the Thomas house this Friday the 4th of May 2012.
Doors 8pm  Adm €5

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's good to be busy

Part 87.

  I have a very busy week behind me, and another one just started. And guess what? I am loving it :-) We had two concerts with JPKALLIO.COM. On Thursday we were over in the Submarine bar in Crumlin. This is well known Sports bar, but to my surprise it is amazing venue as well. There was a small case of unsuitability though, I'd assume most bands playing in the venue usually are either more folky or indie rock. There is a decibel meter on top of the bar facing a stage and as soon as we started it maxed out and stayed like that until the end of our set :-D. But hey, everyone seemed to enjoy it.

  On Friday we were in Swords and in the Slaughtered Lamb. This is a quite busy battle of the bands. There was eight acts on the night and we were the second last to get on the stage. The Slaughtered lamb had a nice set up, but we were starting to feel the hanging around and two late nights. In all fairness, it is a part of the job and something I am well used to with Sliotar, in the famous words of Charlie Watts on the 25th  anniversary of the Rolling Stones he was asked what the 25 years had been like he said: “Five years of playing and 20 years of hanging around”. It never really gets easy, but I think with time you learn to deal with it better. I think the biggest thing to keep in mind in a moments like these is that you are not alone, all your band mates and the other bands on the night are in the same situation, so moaning about it does not make any ones life any easier. It can also hard on your concentration. After waiting for four hours, you get up and play, it can feel like it sneaks up on you and sooner than you think the gig is over. There is something I do and find it helpful. After setting up and just before I play. I try to just clear my mind and slow down my breath. If you do this even for like 30 seconds, it can have surprising effect on your performance. So try it out the next time;-)

  Then on Saturday and Sunday I was busy with Sliotar. The pressure is on with the summer tours starting on in mid May. There is always some car maintenance before the tours, which I am very happy Des, the drummer in Sliotar takes a good care of. Also before any tour I look through all my guitar set ups and at the moment I am going through some changes in my acoustic guitar rig. For years I disliked acoustic guitar amps, even to the point that it might have been over 10 years since I tried one. But a friend of mine gave me a lend of Marshall AS50D which I used on the Sunday gig. I must say I was very impressed! There is definitely a reaction between the guitar and an amp that I think I have been missing with the acoustic guitar. It felt like it all made sense lot more once again. So now I am looking what else there is out on the market:-). I have met people who tell me they are very happy with their instrument set up. Personally for me, I have been a professional musician for the past 15 years now and I have constant need to improve on my sound. I think the day I stop trying to improve my sound, is the day I should call it a day... But still, all the nice toys in the world won't change what your fingers do, that's where the real magic is and that's why still after 15 years I practice almost every day.

  Now this week JPKALLIO.COM will be in the basement of Sweeney's tonight (Wednesday the 25th of April). We'll be the first on at 9.30pm. This is the first of the Music Mediums rock/Metal nights, which they are hoping to have once a month. In all fairness it was about the time Sweeney's had a dedicated night for the harder side of the music spectrum;-) There are some great bands on tonight, and If Sweeney's basement had a decibel meter, I'm sure it would stay up all night;-)

  Then Tomorrow the 26th of April we'll be in the Pint once again. There is always an excellent sound in the Pint and we're really looking forward to this one as well. There is a

  And this weekend I'll be in the Porterthouse with Sliotar again on Saturday and Sunday. So yep, busy week;-). And you know, when you are independent musician, busy is good. It is almost always better to be playing than not. The only way to get better at what you do is do it a lot. No amount of rehearsals will never get you the experience you get from playing live. And it is the best way to spread the word of your band As well.  Hope to see you at one of the shows.

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Part 86

  So last Friday we headed over to Sligo to play in the OpenTrades-Club in the Adelaide bar. As you know our first concert with Patryk got canceled few weeks back, so we had been dying for this one :-). It was great to see a collective of this sort doing so well. The basement of the Adelaide bar had been out of action night club, that the bar had given to the use of the Open Trades-Club. There was an ongoing art exhibition and quite few events lined up as well. We really felt like we were in a middle of a community of music lovers and Jasper from the Poo Promotions made us feel really welcomed. The night was filled with some excellent music!

  The Excuses kicked off the proceeding and they kicked things of with a storm! They played straight forward, honest punk rock and they got us exited from the get go.

Next it was our turn to grace the stage. All those rehearsals had to count for something ;-). It felt great to be playing live after our break. And the band were in flying form. Big thank you to Bartek for driving us to Sligo, hanging around with us and filming the video clip below. The sound quality is not the best, but you get the feeling:-)

After us there was Joy of Six, from Fermanagh. A six piece covers band that knew how to get the crowd of their feet.

  The night was wrapped up with Dirty Love, a punk band from London, who had absolutely no plans to take any prisoners in Sligo. From the get go, it was drums, bass, guitar and lots of attitude!

They even got Patryk up dancing ;-)

  Of course not to forget that it was Sebastians birthday as well, which was celebrated with biscuits and pints.

  Once again, big thanks to Jasper for having us. We look forward to coming back some day:-)

  So now, the hunger to play live is strong again and this week we will be playing in the Submarine bar in Crumlin on Thursday the 19th of April and in the Slaughtered Lamb in Swords on Friday the 20th. Next week it's Sweeneys brand new MMetaL night on 25th and the Pint on 26th . Come along and support us in our quest to play our socks off in the next few weeks ;-)

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