maanantai 30. toukokuuta 2011

23.-26.5 - bass and vocals

Samu and Niilo, ready to go. (Pics by Jussi Ratilainen)

Bass and vocals were recorded at the good old Fantom Studios with Samu Oittinen. I drove to Tampere at Sunday evening and spent the night sleeping on an airbed in one of the recording rooms. Yes, this is the glamourous rockstardom that kids are dreaming about. Then early Monday morning I drove to Valkeakoski to borrow bass from legendary Finnish bassist/metal journalist Aadolf Virtanen from equally legendary band Diablo. I have a brand new Mayones Be4 but we needed Aadolf's 5-string Warwick for some very special parts. Aadolf was also kind enough to lend me his Hartke cabinet and Ampeg head, so huge thanks to him once again!

First day in studio is always a hassle but we were lucky enough to get vocals done for two songs. Samu had some new über-great microphone which worked tremendously well. I apologize all you hi-fi nerds since I can't recall the name of the mic. Bottom line, if you want good quality vocals go to record them with Samu. On the same evening Finnish ice hockey team celebrated their world championship at Tampere but I decided to skip the party. Since there were no other Insomnium members around there was no real temptation for excessive alcohol consumption so I went to the local gym instead. Then back to studio to finish some lyrics and rehearse the songs for tomorrow. And a cozy night on the studio floor.

Googling kebab restaurants near the studio.

Day two started with setting up the bass sound. When you wake up you don't immediately want to start screaming your ass off so starting with the bass stuff is a better option. We tried both Warwick and Mayones and pretty quickly found the right sound. Basic stuff was done with Mayones and Warwick's lowest string was used in some rare occasions. I think I recorded two songs and then went to pick up photographer Jussi Ratilainen from the train station. Jussi is documenting our album making and hopefully we get some kind of video out of this mess. All these photos here are taken by him. By the end of the day we had something like 4 songs ready with vocals and 3 with bass. I drove Jussi to his brother's place, did some sports again and rehearsed the songs for the next day. If you've read so far you have probably realized that there are no crazy parties in this story. It's hard work, boys and girls.

"Hmmm... should I have played D or C there..."

"Oh God, how am I ever going to edit this stuff ready..."

Day three was the longest and most productive. I had a plan to leave on Thursday evening so we worked hard to make this happen. Samu spent something like 13 hours at studio to record my stuff and do some editing. Hard-working fellow and the nicest guy in the world!

"Pheww... I am not paid enough for doing this..."

"Ok, lyrics done by a guitarist, how am I supposed to sing this..."

"I pose here and pretend to growl like a werewolf."

Day four was just long enough for us to finish everything. Samu had to leave by 5pm and we were ready about 4:15pm. We were very satisfied with all the stuff recorded so I was in a great mood when I drove across Finland back home. Thank you Samu for great work once again, always pleasure working at Fantom Studio! Over and out.

Man and his Mayones bass.

tiistai 3. toukokuuta 2011

Drum recordings 19-23.4.2011

Phew, here we go! With only three practice sessions with full line-up before hitting the studio I felt far from ready. Last arrangements and changes to the songs were made on April 17th just a day before I was supposed to drag my ass to the studio. Our rehearsing and song arranging routine has evolved to the ultimate level of efficiency with the last few records so I was excepting a bit of a rush in the end. As you may know we all live apart in different sides of Finland and even Europe so time needs to be used as efficiently as possible.

17th April
After the last practice session on saturday evening I started to pack my drums and cymbals to my car and gathered all those bits and pieces that you think you need with you but will never use in real life. During packing it really hit me that this is it! No more practicing, no more arranging songs, no more farty air of our rehearsal garage. Normally one would be thrilled to hit the studio to nail the new songs but I felt quite the opposite. I barely knew the song structures not to even mention the actual drum arrangements! No wonder I felt a bit anxious that evening. Luckily I needed to participate in my friends party since he just had a daughter. This occasion deserved drink or few. It was good to get your head out of drum stuff and substitute it with beer, sauna, beer and card games. Did I mention beer?

18th April
Sunday morning wasn´t the most productive because of the saturday's get together but still I managed to hit the road at 1 pm. I picked up Jussi who is making documentary of us and this recording process. After my car was stuffed with hi-end cameras and drums the 400km road trip to Tampere was ready to start. Skies were clear and the sun was shining. Everything was good and spirits were high. Little did we know what was ahead of us. My original plan was to change the drum heads on sunday evening so the drum set would be ready to be miked and recorded right on the monday morning. I had brougt two set of new heads with me from Joensuu. Tuning the drums with the new heads I had turned out to be nightmare. I stayed up until 3 am trying to get the sound I wanted from the drums without any luck. I changed the heads two to three times but always ended up with some tom sounding completely dead while others were sustaining like they should be. Needles to say I was rather frustrated at that point.

19th April
Search for the perfect drum sound continued through out the day and at the best there were four people tuning the heads without any luck. I knew my drums were in excellent shape with near perfect bearing edges and all but something was not right. After a whole day of goofing around with different head configuration we had to raise our hands and decide that I needed to get single ply heads and see where it would take us. Just before closing time I managed to get myself some new heads from the music store in Tampere. We decided to call it a day and continue the next day. Rest of the evening was spent eating kebab and pizza and generally just killing time.

20th April
At 9 am I picked up Mr. Antti Mäkinen from downtown Tampere to come to the studio and tune my drums. We really didn't want to waste any more of our precious time so we decided to get experienced drum tuner in addition to new heads. Antti did an amazing job and my new kit sounded like dream. After brief investigation with the previous heads it turned out that each set had few mute heads in them so no wonder why some toms were not resonating like they should be. Basically we wasted one full day because of mute/dead drumheads and having not realized it early enough. Lesson learned! Cheer's for Antti and I hope best of luck with his drumming career in Paris. After two days of tweaking, drums were sounding divine and we were able to move on. We had enough time to record one song before evening. Nine songs to go!

21st April
With great sounding kit and well slept night I was well prepared to nail more songs. I decided to go with the hardest songs first so rest of the session would be easier. I practiced few takes and tried out few different minor changes to drum arrangements. Usually the songs that seem hardest to play are often easiest to execute since you have been going through them a lot in your head. That was the case also with these songs so day went rather nicely. Seven songs to go!

22nd April
When moving on to the easier songs I run into weird problems. I didn't even remembered the song structures propely so first practice takes were really all about trying to remember the song before actually playing it. This is what happens when you don't have enough time to practice the songs so you would know them back and forth asleep or awake. This wasn't really a big deal since I needed to warm up anyway. Day was pretty good and i was able to finish three more songs. Four songs to go!

23rd April
I had hoped that I would be able to finish drum recurring by friday so i could drive back to Joensuu and spend easter just chilling and cycling. In order to do this I needed to record four songs. Song after song we moved onwards with steady pace and finally in the evening I had recorded all the songs for the new Insomnium album. I couldn't believe it at first but it was true! It was almost midnight before I was able to leave from the studio to drive back to Joensuu. I like to drive at night since there usually is less traffic. Long and tiring week had taken its toll and I begun to feel rather tired on the halfway mark back home so I deeded to sleep few minutes before continuing. Good move! Now I was able to drive safely home. I was back in Joensuu at 6 am so the journey had lasted 5 days and 18 hours in total.

Overall the session was great success in many ways. It was really fun to be in the studio alone with only Mr. Samu Oittinen to record the drums. Samu is also a drummer so a lot of the times conversation revolved around snare drums and how to find the perfect snare for cheap from ebay. Good times! Also flexible timetables helped a lot since you were in no pressure to finish song after another even when not feeling to be up for it. During the past drum recording sessions there had always been someone from the band besides me. There is constant danger that when two or more members of Insomnium are in the same room it can lead to excessive use of alcohol. No such problems with this session and I always woke up refreshed and filled with energy. It was nice for a change.

Regarding drum gear I used Sabian cymbals which sounded unbelievably good alone and together with the set. My cymbal set for this session consisted of Sabian 14" AAX Stage Hats, Sabian 18 HHX X-plosion Crash, Sabian 19" HHX X-plosion crash, Sabian 19" AAX X-plosion crash, Sabian 21" Stage ride, Sabian 17" AAX Xtreme chinese and Sabian 20" AAX China.

I was using my trusty Balbex G5A hickory sticks which I have found to be very suitable for my playing style. They are just heavy enough to give you the power you need but at the same time they are agile enough to get you through the kit with no trouble. The best part is that they last forever. I used just one pair of sticks during this whole recording session! Gotta love em!

Now it's time to let the other boys do their part with guitar recordings in Gothenburg, Sweden. I feel that I had done rather good job in the end although I really didn't feel as confident as I hoped when entering the studio. All's well that ends well. I'm really looking forward to play these new songs live! Should and will be sweetah!

Thank you Samu, Jussi and Antti!


Markus Hirvonen

Sabian cymbals and Balbex drumsticks
Photo: Jussi Ratilainen

3 a.m.
Photo: Jussi Ratilainen

Finally playing
Photo: Jussi Ratilainen

One with the drums 24/7

Samu miking the drums

Thumbs up folks, we're done!

keskiviikko 6. huhtikuuta 2011

Two weeks to studio!

Howdy folks!

It's now two weeks until we start to record our forthcoming album. Songs are composed and all is looking good! Markus will first take his brand new drum kit to Fantom Studio at Tampere where he will pummel all the tracks with the guidance of sound engineer Samu Oittinen. Then Ville and Ville will fly to Gothenburg, Sweden to record all the guitar parts with sound engineer Daniel Antonsson (Dark Tranquillity, Dimension Zero). After that we go back to Tampere to record bass and vocals parts. And after that our trusted keyboard wizard Aleksi Munter will record the synth stuff at Jyväskylä with sound engineer/composer Hannu Honkonen. If all goes as planned the album is mixed by Samu Oittinen in June and mastered by Minerva Pappi shortly after that.

Follow the blog, facebook and website to see how the recording goes! Cheers!

Can you spot a respectable Swedish sound engineer in the picture?

tiistai 8. maaliskuuta 2011

Piet Goethals live photos

Here are some excellent live photos taken by Piet Goethals ( Photos are from Bochum, Antwerpen and Vosselaar shows.

torstai 3. maaliskuuta 2011

3.3.2011 songwriting camp continues

The fifth Insomnium studio album is beginning to take shape. We had a 3-day training and songwriting session last week and we can now say that we have about 8 songs more or less ready. We are entering the studio in April so we should have enough time to finish everything. Some observers commented that the material sounds surprisingly ready taken that this was only the second training session for the new album...

We also had a promo shoot with the legendary photographer Stefan de Batselier who has previously worked with some small American names like Johnny Cash and Metallica. Big thanks to Stefan for a nice afternoon!

Also thanks to Jussi Ratilainen who is documenting the whole process! Here are some pics taken by Jussi.

keskiviikko 12. tammikuuta 2011


Howdy folks! Some of you might have waited in vain for the last chapters of our tour adventure. For that we apologize. We can blame the poor internet connections in the venues but the truth is that we are lazy bastards. After Graz the tour continued in a successful way. Shows were great, we met a lot of fans and had a few beers here and there. And some wine. And vodka. Drinks. The basic story. So huge thanks to all who came to see the shows! And special thanks to DT and crew! It was a blast!

After the tour we haven’t just rested on our laurels. We’ve actually been pretty busy writing new material for the next album. Schedule is tight but the plan is to record the album during the spring and release it in the autumn. And then of course it’s time to tour again. Let’s see.

Last week we had the first rehearsals in a long time and we played some new material together. At the moment we can say that we have 4 songs pretty much ready. A lot of work still to be done but at the moment it sounds very good. Some really epic stuff coming and also something really furious and raw. Familiar Insomnium traits are there of course but there is also something we haven’t done before. Fear not, it’s not acid jazz or techno, but something utterly sad, gloomy and depressing. Just the way we like it.

We’ll be updating this blog during the spring. If you are interested in seeing how the album evolves, stay tuned!


maanantai 25. lokakuuta 2010

17.10. 2010 Graz, Austria

It poured like hell when we arrived to Graz. The venue was very fancy and apparently had gone through major renovation. Despite the poor weather we decided to go and see the city a bit after the breakfast. The city looked really nice and we took lift up to a castle to check out the views from the heights. Worth of effort for sure. The touring routine starts to take its toll and this day was a pretty ordinary one. We spent most of the time before the show in the magical world of internet. Nothing special there. I felt pretty sick still. It is really annoying to head bang for 50 minutes when your head is filled with mucus, believe me. The show was however again a great one and we had blast! Thank you Graz, we’ll be back!