Wednesday, March 28, 2012

And then there was four.

Part 83
  Our first concert of 2012 is nearly here. Upstairs in Sweeney's bar on Dame street on Tuesday the 3rd of April. This will also be our first concert with our new member Patryk Graczyk on guitar, so come along and give him a warm welcome to the band:-). Two weeks a go we did a photo shoot with Above you can see an example of the results. As I have mentioned before, your bands image is an important part, even though some of us like to think that it is lame to think that way... But it is important, and a good quality photos are important part of your press kit. I have been lost in the world of no internet thanks once again to UPC, who is really making it hard for me to stick with them at the moment... But that's another story;-). But we are working on our new website at the moment, which has temporarily slowed down due to lack of broadband, but when I get everything back working, we will have some of the photos from the photo shoot available for a download as screen savers on the site. But more on that later. We actually have quite few concerts coming up at the moment:-) You can check the detail on our website and of course all the info will be on our Facebook page as well. So we really hope to see many of you in the next month or so at one of the shows.

  And now on to something completely different. Quite long while back we did briefly talk about mastering. A project I have been recording in the paste few months brought this subject to my mind again. It still surprises me a bit how many musicians don't really understand all the aspects of recording process. I think if you are thinking of making a career out of music, you should really spend some time learning about recording. I don't mean you need to become sound engineer or anything like that, but you should understand how the process works. We all know about going to studio and recording songs, and most of us know about mixing. This really is something to keep in mind while many of us end up using some of those studio days you might have won on a battle of the bands, or payed for with your hard earned cash. A very good sound engineer once told me you should spend as much time mixing as you do recording. I know things are much faster now with computers as you can save mixes. But still, serious album will take long time to mix. So if you do have one day in studio, and you want to finish tracks, you need to allow time for mixing. This is where you set the levels of all instruments, clean up tracks, compress what need to be compressed, EQ, add effects, etc. This is part of the recording process that requires quite lot of knowledge and experience from the engineer, but also becomes part of the creative process in the hands of a good studio engineer. When this is done, you will have nice sounding tracks, but to bring them up to the broadcast level you need to master the tracks. This is an art form of its own. Here you have just a stereo track of your mixes, that you worked very hard on, and you run them through multi-band compressors and sometimes an EQ as well. Here is where you get rid of any peaks in the signal and level everything in to a nice tight sound file, that you can then boost to maximum level without it distorting. This sounds simple, but it is very skillful art and requires very detailed high end studio speakers and an engineer with very good and experienced ears. There are studios, like the Trackmix studio that have the facilities to do mastering in-house. And there are studios that specialize in mastering. But lets just say this, don't just expect your tracks to come out of your Pro Tools, or Cubase at the level you hear most commercial tracks. You need to spend some money in good quality mastering to get to that level. And you will be amazed what a great mastering engineer does to your tracks. You will find much more detail and clarity, but still containing the warmth.

  So next time you are planning to spend money on studio, I would consider the mastering as well. Give your tracks a chance to stand up to their full potential.


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

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Musicians health

Part 82

  Paddy's day 2012 is done! As you might know from last weeks blog I spent four days playing my heart out with Sliotar in the Porterhouse. Four hours on Thursday, four on Friday, seven on Saturday and six on Sunday. As you can imagine, I wasn't good for much on Monday and today (Tuesday) while writing this blog I still feel exhausted. It is very hard to explain to any one what it takes to do that much playing in four days. In the other hand, I am not sure myself of what it actually does to a human body. I would like to learn more and if anyone knows of any articles, or research done on the subject let me know:-) I have seen just normal calorie counts for hour of playing music, for guitar, if you are standing it works out about 210 kcal. Now this is based on playing in rock band, the only options I came across was rock band (standing) and classical (sitting). There is another factor here, I do play in a rock band, but Sliotar is mix between traditional Irish music and folk rock. My job as a guitar player is lot of very fast rhythmic work, which I do think would add to that calorie count. I do take a good care of the health of my hands. But I can tell you, that at the end of this weekend my wrists were starting to ache. My calluses in my fingers are pretty rock hard as I do play pretty much every day, doing four hour rehearsals is no problem to me, but my fingers were staring feel swollen and sore. The other thing is concentration, playing the music with Sliotar is like second nature at this point, but it still demands your constant concentration. If you loose it for a second, you can bring the whole band crashing down. And to keep that level of concentration for long time does take its toll on you. I did Email Dr Tim Jameson, an author of Reach For the Top, a book that deals with musicians health and well being over all. And according to him “there is a significant mental toll in a high level of performance particularly in musicians”.

  Ok, so my Paddy's day schedule might be bit extreme situation, but if you do play in a band and you rehearse two, three days a week, maybe play live once or twice a week and on top of this practice at home on your own time and possibly throw a day job on top of this, you really need to start to take care of your mental and physical health. I am a big fan of starting your personal health from what you put in to your body. It's easy to eat on the go when you have a busy life, believe you me I know. But all that fast food and deli counter sandwiches eventually will take their toll on you. Now imagine a five week tour. That really tests your mental and physical health. I am sure many of us dream about this, but when you are in the depth of it, you really need to make sure you are able to deliver a good show no mater what. And I can tell you being on the road and sick is no fun at all. So what can you do? First of all, drink water, lots of it. This is so important. Fizzy drinks won't do, your body needs water to recover from the strain you put on your hands and fingers, or vocal chords. Also if you have long rehearsals, pack a lunch or snack. This will keep your blood sugars up and your brain will stay sharp and the rehearsals will be more productive. The same goes for the road. Remember to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and good quality protein, fish, chicken or low fat red meat, nuts and cheese. Sleep is important, but very personal. I can tell you this though, on tours you need to learn to sleep sitting up if you need your eight hour beauty sleep. There are lots of late nights and early mornings. And sometimes the only place to sleep is in a car on the way to next gig, or in an airplane. At home, if you reach the point of exhaustion, just take it easy for few days and get good nights sleep. I know here I should preach you about not drinking alcohol, coffee or other stimulants, but the fact is I love my coffee, like beer and drink an occasional Monster energy drink. So let me just say this, everything in moderation;-)

  This is an subject that I think is very important and I will be revisiting this more often. But for now that's all for this week.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

To get better at playing live you need to play live.

Part 81

    I am sitting home and waiting for UPC service guy, while writing this. I have had a forced break from all the promotion work for the past few days, due to loss of internet connection. As a result I managed to fix my bicycle, that has been on my to do list for a long while and instead of working all hours of the night I actually caught up on some well needed sleep:-). In a way good timing, as I have one of the busiest weeks of Sliotar's calendar ahead of me. St Patrick's day gives us all an excuse to have a party and no one does it quite like Dublin. Sliotar will be holding court in the Porterhouse in Temple bar, we call it a Sliotarpalooza. We'll be there Thursday 15th 6-10pm, Friday 16th 6-10pm, Saturday 17th 6.30-1am and on Sunday from 4-11pm. Of course on top of this JPKALLIO.COM is rehearsing intensively, getting ready for our first stint of concerts in 2012, photo shoots and all the other promotion. So busy to say the least:-)

    Many musician friends of mine after hearing about Sliotars schedule have said with a sigh “oh I wish I could do that”. So I thought to shed a bit of light on few so called secrets (only people who don't know this, or refuse to believe it call it a secret) and home truths, while I already feel sorry for my fingers;-). I am fully aware of how lucky I am to be playing in Sliotar and get to play live as much as I do, to travel all around Europe playing some amazing gigs and also some not so amazing... But here are the details of the so called “secret” recipe of how Sliotar got there. I would say the number one key to the bands success and longevity is our residency in the Porterhouse, this has given us an opportunity to play live every week for the past 16 years, out of which 12 I have been there. This has made three musicians in to seasoned pros when it comes to performing live. People often ask me if I get nervous before a concert With Sliotar? No I don't. Sometimes if there is lot of hanging around I get anxious, but not nervous. I have gotten on to stage in front of nearly 3000 people or played on live TV and as long as that unit is around me, I am right at home as we have done it literally thousands of times. And I am not saying this here as to boast, I am trying to explain that to get to the point where you can step on front of any audience without having to deal with nerves, you just need to do it a lot. And with Sliotar we did, we took any gig we could to get the name out and to play to new audience. We still do this on tours if we are in a new territory. And still today my best bit of advice to any band is to play live as much and as often as possible. When no one knows you, it is not a time to pretend you're a rock star and to think you are better than this or that gig. And unless you have done those 100 or so pub gigs where you got comfortable playing with each others live, you are not ready for that big festival stage. Everybody wants to skip this and just get to do those big gigs, but it is a learning curve and there is a big reason why you need to do it. Big festival stages are where the cracks show, so make sure you fix them first before you get up there. Personally I think the sign of a great musician is when you can get on a stage, have a crap sound, everything that can, will go wrong, but you still deliver a killer concert. You need to learn that your personal needs and comforts are not important to the audience. Once the show starts, you just get on with it no matter what happens. We have had everything gone wrong with Sliotar over the years and when it does it makes for a tough gig! But you get on with it. We have had problems with power in some areas of Eastern Europe where the power supply just wasn't steady enough and kept knocking out our front of the house speakers, we have had paraffin sprayed all over our instruments by the guys doing a fire shows before us (there was no one coming near us with a cigarette that day), we have had every imaginable situation go wrong with the drums, kick pedals falling to pieces, cheap rental kits hardware collapsing, Des having to wedge drums against each others and taping everything together, but still doing a kicking show, we have had broken tooth, foot, ribs, ligaments, torn muscles, squashed knuckles, blood... lots of blood, food poisoning, serious chest infections, high fever, nervous breakdowns, electrocution... And still, the show always went on. Sixteen years a go if you would have thrown one of these things at us, we probably would have freaked out and the gig would gone down the drain, but now we just get on with it. And that level of confidence in your self and in your fellow band members only comes from playing lots of live shows. So play at any given opportunity anywhere!

    As to JPKALLIO.COM, we are still quite new band. But surely my and the other guys past experience should make it a breeze to get to the same level of confidence? No! We still need to get used to playing live together as a unit, we need to get used to covering each others backs when everything goes down south, we need to get past our individual needs and start thinking as a unit, that's what bands are made of. This is why we set our selves the 100 concert challenge in the first place:-)

   So there you go, sorry for once again running away with my rant, but hey... Now for a few bits of quick updates. Well as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Sliotar will be celebrating 2012 Paddy's day in the Porterhouse here in Dublin from 15th to the 18th of March. Also this week good friends of ours and a brilliant band Mike Got Spiked are playing an album launch show in the Industry (downstairs in the Mezz) on the 15th of March. These guys are brilliant! Check out their new video

    JPKALLIO.COM has a busy April planned as well:-) here is the gig list so far: 4th April Sweeney's, 13th April Adelaid bar, Sligo, 19th April Submarine Bar, Crumlin, 20th April Slaughtered Lamb in Swords. More on the way;-)

    So that's a lot to digest for this week, hope to see you over the weekend and back here next week. Happy St Patrick's day every one!


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

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Quick guide to Facebook Timeline for bands

Part 80

  I am sure by now you have come across the Facebook timeline. Weather you like it or not, you need to be aware that at the end of March all pages will change over to timeline. Now this will give you few weeks time to get the page sorted. You can try it out and when you do this, every one else will see your old page. This is actually good move on Facebook's part, it gives us time to make everything look the way you like, with in the limits of Facebook. Any landing page, through Reverbnation or other, will be no more in use. Every one who visits your page, will land on the timeline first. I had a chat back in January with a good friend of mine who works for Facebook. As most of us, I was complaining why do they have to change things. He made a good point by saying “look, every time there is some changes people give out about it, but a month down the line they don't even remember the old one”. I must say, he definitely hit the nail in the head when it comes to me :-D. So the change is coming weather we like this or not. So lets look what you can do.

  The first thing I would put some thought in to is the new cover photo. This is a larger photo at the top of your page. This picture should be 851x315 pixels. If you try any other size photo, it will give you grief, take my word on this one;-). But here is Facebook guidelines for the cover photo:

     “Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not     contain:
  • Price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it at our website"
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page's About section
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends"
  You still have the your Profile picture (180x180 pix), which over laps the bottom left corner of your cover photo, this is something to keep in mind while choosing the cover photo.

 Below the cover photo you have Tabs, that you can rearrange, except the photo tab, which is set by Facebook. On the right hand side there is an expand button. If you click this all your tabs will show up. On every individual tab there is a picture of pen on corner, if you click this, you can choose to replace the tab with other tab from the list.
To the left of the tabs and right under your Profile picture is space for a small description. Also here you can place a web link, if you wish to do so. Below this is a link to your About page that has all your band details, bio and contact info.

  Now below all this is the timeline, that can be bit confusing at first, but lets try to break it down. Left hand side we have the usual post form, where you can write your posts and post pictures. I think this part is clear enough. Below this we have your posts. The posts have few new options. On the right hand top corner you have a star and a the usual edit pencil. If you click the pencil, a drop down menu opens up and you get option to pin the post. This will bring the post to the top of the page for up to seven days. I think this is cool option. If you click the star, your post gets highlighted, which means it will become double the width of the other messages, but it will go below the sticky stuff on the right hand of your timeline. By sticky stuff I mean the friend activity and the Resent posts by others. The Friend activity will show your fans who else of their friends like you and if they have interacted with your page. And the resent posts by others is, well... resent posts by others on your page.

  Below all this the timeline divides everything in chronological timeline by past few months and rest of the year, hence the name Timeline, gripping stuff I tell ya;-)

  Anyway. This is the basic stuff to get you up and running. Once you have everything looking the way you like, you can make the page public and you are all sorted for the 31st of March. Just keep in mind, once you make it public there is no going back. If you want more detailed information, the web is full of aticles and blog posts on the subject. I would recommend you to read
And as usual, if you have any trouble or need help, just Email me at and I'll do my best to help you out.

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