THE MAKING OF "BRIGHT YELLOW SUN"
November 30th 2001
Just another winter's day I thought, until...
I turned on the tv and heard that George Harrison had past away the night before.
It felt like I'd lost an old friend. The Beatles have always been my favorite band and George my favorite Beatle. Sadness turned into frustration, which in turn made me feel that I had to do something. I decided I was going to organize a tribute concert to honour the man and his music. But if this show was to really mean something it needed a purpose. Then came the idea of donating the money from the show to The Finnish Cancer Foundation.
By the end of the day, I had called 12 of the finest musicians in Helsinki, and not one of them said no to playing this tribute/benefit show. The band would be called “The Dark Horses” and the show was booked for January 8th 2002 at Tavastia Klubi in Helsinki.
Little did I know then that this sad day would lead to the forming of The Tunes and the recording of "Bright Yellow Sun".
January 9th 2002
The band meets up at the club to load out the equipment. The show had gone really well and the band sounded fantastic. We all had such a great time playing together that we decided to start writing and recording our own songs just for the fun of it.
Almost 3 months had past since The Dark Horses gig. I'd been spending most of my free time writing some new songs and polishing up some old ones.
Knipi and I had gotten together once or twice to run through 2 songs I was working on. The first was “See You Tomorrow” and the second "Summer Day". It took us maybe 2 hours in all and the songs were basically ready. Man, this was getting fun now!
For more years than I care to think about, I'd been trying to put together a band like this. Now for the first time I was certain that I had found my “musical soulmates”.
The band had now been slimmed down to a quartet (Knipi, Heikki Tikka, Markus Nordenstreng & myself). We also made plans with some of the other Dark Horses to join the session once we had the basic tracks layed down.
March 1st 2002
This was the first day we recorded together. Markus was in the States doing some
gigs with his band “The Latebirds”, so for now it was just Knipi, Heikki and myself.
That evening we met up at Heikki's rehearsal room, armed with his 16 track recorder and our 2 songs.
We played the songs through a few times and then Heikki hit the record button. By the end of the night we had the basic tracks (drums, bass, guitar) for both songs recorded, along with some rough vocal tracks. The night couldn't have gone smoother. So far so good.
March 2nd 2002
We got an early start at Heikki's that day and Pekka Gröhn (J. Karjalainen) joined us to add some Hammond and keyboard parts to the songs. As my friend and bandmate Tuure Kilpeläinen once put it “When Pekka walks into the studio, he brings the sunshine with him”, I couldn't agree more. Again, it only took one or two takes and Pekka nailed both songs. Now these songs were really starting to come to life.
Next Knipi sang lead and backing vocals and Heikki added some beautiful high harmonies. The rest of the afternoon was spent adding percussion and some more guitar overdubs. Two songs in two days, not bad by anyone's standards. Time to hit the pub and enjoy the moment.
March 12th 2002
Markus is back from the States and the four of us head down to Heikki's to play him what we've recorded so far. Heikki had already begun doing some rough mixes and everyone is pleased with the results so far. Once again it was time to head back down to the pub and give ourselves a big slap on the back.
April 11th 2002
On that day Jiri Nikkinen (Clifters) joined us to add vocals to "Summer Day". Jiri knocked us all out when he came up with the “ba, ba ,ba” part near the end of "Summer Day". At this point both songs were ready to be mixed.
May 5th 2002
Hekki had finished mixing “See You Tomorrow” and “Valerie” the previous week, so I called my good friend singer/engineer Bjarki Kaikumo (“Megaphone”). Bjarki did a great job and a big favor for us by mastering the two songs. Cheers mate!
October 24th 2002
After what would be the first of many long breaks for The Tunes, we began recording 2 more songs that we had been working on together. We even managed to find time to do a couple of rehearsals in advance! This time we meet up at Kaapelitehdas (The Cable Factory) to do the recordings. Kaapelitehdas is the rehearsal space for dozens of bands in Helsinki, including “Egotrippi” and “Lemonator”. The afternoon was spent recording the basic tracks for “Valerie” and “Don't You Fall In Love”. Markus brought his trusty Rickenbacker 12 string guitar with him this time, and it was put to good use on both songs. Knipi played the “Rick” on “Don't You Fall In Love” and Markus added a nice lead for “Valerie”.
October 26th 2002
Once again Pekka Gröhn comes down to bring the sunshine, and once again delivers the goods. Guitar overdubs are added to both songs, and we take a well deserved lunch break. The rest of the day (and half the night) was spent recording the many vocal tracks for both songs. Knipi sang the lead vocals on “Valerie” and Markus the lead vocals on “Don't You Fall In Love”. Knipi was in prime form that day, and added some great counter melodies to “Don't You Fall In Love”. Next it was Heikki's turn to add his harmonies. We finished up the day by recording the various percussion tracks. It was a very long, hard day for everyone, but worth every minute. Both songs were sounding great and ready to be mixed. We all went home exhausted that night, but with a big smile on our faces.
November 2002 thru February 2003
At this point the 4 songs had been remixed by our friend and brother Lasse Kurki (Lemonator) and a demo was made. Knipi and I came up with the name “The Tunes” (up until this point we all just referred to this project as “The Band”). We called the demo “Fine Tunes From Northern Europe” (a little inside joke of ours in reference to the brilliant Teenage Fanclub album “Songs From Northern Britain”). Our friend Biffen designed a logo and a really groovy cover for the demo (for free even, thanx Biffen, your the best!). Copies were handed out mainly to friends, some dj's, and a few record companies.
We were all quite surprised how good the response was to the demo. We thought we'd made some good songs, but doubted anyone else wanted to hear this kind of music these days. In December of 2002 "Valerie" and "See You Tomorrow" started getting airplay on Radio Helsinki, Radio Mafia, and YleX. Two weeks later “Valerie” would
go to #1 on the Radio Helsinki playlist. Pekka Laine (“The Hyponmen”) featured the demo for two weeks on his weekly radio show “Kitarama” on YleX, and we even did a live interview on Radio Mafia. There was a great little buzz about the demo, but at that point no label would sign us. We were considered “just a project band” (well we were, but it didn't feel like that to us anymore, this thing was taking on a life of its own) and though they liked our songs. They told us that there is no market for them in Finland.
This was just the first of two very difficult times for the band and especially myself.
The only thing I knew for sure was that the The Tunes were going on an indefinite break. Knipi was going into the studio with Egotrippi to record "Matkustaja" and a long tour was to follow once the album was released. Markus was also busy recording his second solo album “Latebird”. All I could do at this point was sit back and wait, and hope.
February 24th 2003
Finally Knipi and Markus both had a break in their schedules. So we find time to work on some new songs we each had written over the past few months. The first song we recorded was “The Tunes Theme”. Knipi had written this song a few years earlier for “The Krispies”, but after a few minor adjustments it sounded like a Tunes kind of tune. Knipi brought his bandmate Skele (the more the merrier) down to add some guitar and Moog synth. overdubs.
March 8th 2003
Back to Heikki's to record “Bright Yellow Sun”, the most atmospheric track we've done yet. Once again Skele joins us and adds some great guitar parts and backing vocals. Luckily we discovered the excellent sounding natural reverb in the hallway outside the rehearsal room door (it sounded perfect for this song, and would be used on many of the other songs we would record later on). Sometimes you just have to make do with what you have, and use a little imagination.
A nice touch to this song (and amusing story) is when Lasse later recorded “the birds” from Karillo Studios in Porvoo. It's a lovely spring morning, around 6:30. Lasse ran a few mic. cables through the window, and placed a microphone in the backyard of the studio. After a few minutes of recording, the birds became quite interested in this microphone (if you listen closely you can even hear their wings fluttering). While at the mixing desk, Lasse suddenly heard a loud thumping noise from the mic. He looks out the window and one of the birds is peckingaway at this costly microphone! Lasse had to run outside and grab the mic. before this bird had its way with it. Luckily Lasse had already recorded what he needed. I laugh to myself every time I think about this little episode.
March 15th 2003
Markus and I had been working on a song called “Come Around” and we wanted to record it as quickly as possible. For me the harmonica that Markus plays really made this song come to life (nice one Mare). Another long day but by the end of the night the song was pretty much ready to go.
March 19th 2003
We add some more overdubs to the latest batch of songs and began work on another called “Spoonful Lovin”. This song was written by Markus and John Stirratt (Wilco) when Mare was in the States a few months earlier. After Knipi and Mare polished it up a bit it was ready to be put to tape.
April 7th 2003
After another short break we're back to work again. More overdubs are added to “Spoonful Lovin” and we begin working on yet another song. The title is “Busdriver” and again in one or two takes we had it.
May 5th 2003
After yet another break we get back to work on the songs. It's springtime and everybody is very busy at this point doing gigs with their other bands. We had to get a very early start that day and make sure that all five songs were finished. We all knew this was going to be the last session until the end of the summer. Egotrippi would be on tour until then promoting “Matkustaja”, and I would be on the road with Tuure Kilpeläinen promoting his self titled debut album. It was the longest day of recording yet, but we got it done. One week later Heikki brought the rough mixes he had done to Lasse. Lasse was quite busy also so the final mixes would have to wait for now.
June 2003 thru November 2004
These were 17 very long months. Everybody was still busy either recording or touring, and it was impossible to find any time for The Tunes. I continued shopping the demo, but nothing was happening. Things were looking pretty bad at this point for The Tunes. We had nearly an albums worth of songs recorded but still no label. I had pretty much given up hope for this album ever getting released.
December 1st 2004
Finally there's some light at the end of the tunnel!
A meeting is arranged with Mikko Lappalainen (Boomhauer) from Rhythm Barrel Records. Mikko offered to put out a single with 2 or 3 of our songs. This was the first good news/any news for the band in 18 months. At this point though, we really wanted to put out a whole album. Lasse and Heikki had mixed all the songs by now, and they sounded great.
Also during the past 18 months Grandpop Records (mk 2) had become a reality.
It was decided over the next week or so that we would release the album on Feb. 2nd 2005 on Grandpop. It was also decided that in the spring of 2005 we would release a two song single on Rhythm Barrel. Special thanx to Heikki who never gave up on this dream of ours, and for “getting the ball rolling again”
December 7th 2005
We went to Hitsville IV Studios to begin recording the final two songs for the album. The first was “Talk To Me”. I'd been messing with this song for over a year, but I knew it needed something. It was Knipi who wrote the “c-part” for this song and that was the missing piece of the puzzle. Markus, Knipi, and I polished up the lyrics and we were ready to roll. The second song was “Season Of The Midnight Sun” which Markus literally wrote the night before. It felt great to be playing together again, and as always both songs were done in one or two takes.
December 10th 2005
This was the last day of recording for “Bright Yellow Sun”. Once again we went to Hitsville IV. We recorded the remaining vocals, harmonies, and various overdubs (Markus even played a dulcimer on “Season...Sun”) and that was that. Much thanx to Mikael Tiitanen for engineering these sessions with assistance from Jaska Korkalainen. It had taken three years for it to happen, but we were finally going to get the songs released!
February 2nd 2005
“Bright Yellow Sun” is released.
February 7th 2005
As it has always been with The Tunes we have no idea what's next (except for the release of the Rhythm Barrel single this spring). The whole idea from the very beginning has been to just have fun making the best possible songs we can. Finally I would just like to thank everyone that has helped us along the way. I can't thank you all enough for being so generous with your talents and your time. Special thanx to Lasse Kurki and everyone at Grandpop Records for making my dream a reality.