Happy new year everyone! 2015 started with more of the same in Amoral World, as we continue to prepare for the recording of album number seven. There are still many song parts to practice, lyrics to be written, solos to complete, tempos to be nailed and arrangement decisions to make. Not much sleep lately, but it's all for a good cause!
Let's reveal some details about the next album for you dear readers, shall we? Well, for starters, it's going to be a concept album again. But quite different from ”Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows”, I might add. The story (if you an call it that) won't be as linear. I'm trying to get a new twist on it, and I'm working on the story and lyrics as we speak, so it's still in progress. I'm feeling good about it so far.
And I guess there's no harm in telling you that we'll be recording nine tracks in total, which makes for over an hour of music. No three-minute radio hits this time either, then...
For this issue, I thought it would be fun to write a ”response” to Masi's great column about playing multiple instruments. I was playing guitar one night - like I do -, while looking at the other guitars in the room, and realizing – like I have many times before – how much I love the guitar as an instrument. As an object. As a piece of art. As a friend. I felt this special relationship I have with the guitar is worthy of a column. I hope you enjoy it.
The next time you'll be getting the February issue of Amoral Times, the drums for album #7 will already be recorded, and guitars will be well on their way! Meanwhile, give our version of ”Burn” another spin...
-Ben & the guys
GUITARS – A LOVE LETTER
A few issues earlier we had the pleasure of reading about Masi's adventures in the world of multi-instrumentalism. Masi's skills on so many different instruments are a constant source of amazement for me, and a huge asset for the band. I also enjoy dabbling with other instruments, be it piano, bass, sitar or a theremin, but not with the intensity or skills anywhere near those of Mr. Hukari's. After a while with any one of these other instruments, I find myself going for that guitar again. There really is no two ways about it: I'm a guitar player. I will always be a guitar player. And the reason for this is very simple. I love guitars. Truly love 'em.
I've been playing guitar since November 1994, when I got my first one for as a birthday present. That's just a bit over 20 years now. 20 years. Not once during those 20 years have I taken a ”break” from the instrument, and I'm guessing the times I've gone more than a week without playing guitar can be counted with one hand. For longer trips I've always taken a guitar with me. I guess it's safe to say I've ”found my thing”.
It's weird really, the amount of pleasure a piece of wood with a few metal parts and some strings on it can bring. And it's everything about it, not just the music you can make with it, or the sound of it. It's the way a worn-in neck feels in your hand, the grains of the wood. It's the smell of an old acoustic. And the looks? Oh man... I could just look at guitars all day. I DO look at the guitars all day. My collection serves decorative purposes also, with axes spread all over the house, always close by for playing but also to enjoy looking at. I still read Guitar World like when I was a kid, drooling over the ads and pictures of beat-up Les Pauls. I still get a kick out of checking out the gear bands have with them at the shows. Even if both my hands fell off tomorrow, I'd still have guitars around, still enjoy their beauty.
But of course, the main reason I'm still in love with the guitar after all these years is hidden in that fretboard. The sounds you get out of a guitar is unlike anything else in the world. That's what got me into music in the first place: that distortion, those riffs, that energy. Those singing, creamy leads that touch your soul. You can enjoy all this immensely without ever playing a note, of course. Millions do. But it really is a thrill, as a kid, to – for the first time - be able to produce similar sounds as heard on your favorite albums. Learning a complete Metallica song. Coming up with some of your own riffs. Yeah they suck at first, but you wrote them, and that's pretty fucking exciting! They get better over time. You find some guys to jam with, turn the volume up and make music in a group, not just in your bedroom anymore. Then comes writing complete songs. Playing live. The new and exciting things are a plenty in that beginning phase.
And the cool thing is, those same things continue to be exciting 20 years down the road. At least for me they are. There's not many things in life I enjoy more than writing a song. Or playing lead guitar. Both those things I've done forever, but I think I enjoy both now more than ever. Especially as it feels like I keep finding more and more my own sound with both.
Me and my guitar-playing friends always joke about the excuses we tell ourselves to validate our constant hoarding for more instruments. Because the fact is, you can manage perfectly fine with just one guitar. Two, if you're a gigging musician (always good to have a spare in case you break a string). Anything more than that? More want than real need. But, in our defence, there are huge differences in guitars. The way they sound and feel varies greatly. In the studio especially, it's really nice to have the option to go from recording the rhythm tracks with a Jackson Warrior and doubling it with Gibson Les Paul to adding a melody line on top of it with a Fender Stratocaster. The chorus really pops out when you put some 12-strings into the backround. The clean middle part won't sound right without a Telecaster. Someone bring in the guitar with the Sustainer pickup for those backround ambient sounds. And of course, there's the acoustic intro...
Different tools for different jobs, as they say. The fact that these tools also happen to look and feel georgeus is just a big bonus. Big, BIG bonus.
I'm proud to say I play (almost) all of my guitars pretty regularly. Not too many just lying around collecting dust. On any given day, I'll play two or three different electrics while working in my home studio on new songs, and also play the acoustics I have in the living room, amusing the kid with my rendition of ”Let It Be” or some chord progressions I've been trying to turn into a tune. A few of my guitars are located at our rehearsal room, as it is a luxury not having to haul gear back and forth to every practice session and back. And it also serves as an extra incentive to get into that cramped room: I actually end up missing the guitars I have there if we haven't rehearsed in a while!
I recently had the chance to do something I had wanted to do for years: take a group photo with all my guitars. Slash has one. Yngwie has one. George Lynch as one. Yes, that meant that I, too, needed a picture taken with my collection!
Since the pictures in the newsletter are so small, I've uploaded the picture in a bigger, high resolution format here for those of you who want to take a better look at the guitars. I can tell you one thing: rarely – if ever – have I enjoyed a photo session as much as I did this one, sitting there surrounded by all those georgeous instruments!
We were super happy to see ”Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows” on many ”best of 2014” lists that have been popping up ever since the end of the year. Three members if the Imperiumi crew saw the album worthy of their top5, while websites like The Metal Syndicate, Metal Hangar 18, Rock Garage, Reaperzine, Rock-ness, Metal Open Mind, Headbangers India and Prog Metal Zone also included it when listing the bets releases of the year.
Even cooler, the fans (you!) voted for us at the Rumba Magazine poll, where we landed at #4 in the Best Finnish Album category, "Blueprints" was #5 for Best Music Video, and Amoral at #5 for Best Finnish Band! Thanks again, such a cool surprise!
NEW WEBSHOP IN THE MAKING
Some of you might have noticed that our webshop has been down since the beginnign of the month. We're switching shops right now, and the new one should be up and running real soon. We'll inform you about it in the next issue, and most likely on all our sites in the upcoming weeks.
For most updates, pictures and videos on what we're doing at any given moment, following us on Instagram is what you want to do! The pictures in this newsletter are some of those posted on our Instagram page recently.