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Some theory relating to Treeball
By Nick Triani
April 2006

I normally write something here about how the new Treeball album was made, and I will in given time.

Some back story first.

Scott Walker has been ever present on my stereo these last few months. There is something about his music that does not relate to any given time because it is beyond any given time — it just exists in its own place, the moods in the music beyond fashion and mere mortals. It moves me.

This is a place to start. I wanted to make an album that moves me. It’s easy, I cry in the movies quite openly andalthough loath to admit itcan be quite sentimental. It’s hard admitting these things coming from the school of punk!

As a producer on various records, and even on previous Treeball albums, you tend to work on the songs prior to recording them, trying different arrangements, putting them through the mill, just to see what works out best. I wanted something different this time, a different feeling. We’ve always worked quickly, but this time I wanted to take that to the limit, first or second takes, from backing tracks to vocals. Mistakes are fine. But I also wanted it to be an arranged record. The idea was to arrange on building blocks. With just often drums and bass kept from the studio tracks laid down in March/April 2005, there was no rule as to what to lay on top. Some takes were incredibly sloppy, no one had really heard the songs prior to the recording session, so you can actually hear the band feeling their way through the chords. Songs like 8 o’clock and Are You Ever Gonna Wake Me Up? really demonstrate thisand sound much better for it. We also had the band swap over instruments, so they were not performing in their usual roles. Michael, who normally plays the solo guitar parts, can often be heard playing drums and bass on a lot of songs. Janne, who normally plays drums, can be heard on bass and lead guitars on various songs. I normally just play rhythm guitar, on this record I’m playing a lot of lead guitar, keyboards and even glockenspiel. It gives the songs a certain something. The other major difference on this record is in the songwriting and the fact that it's almost all duets.

But where is the moving bit? How did that come into it?

I read Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road in 2001. It was the most moving reading experience I’d had in many years, andI’m not afraid to sayI did cry while reading it. Actually I cried as if someone had just ripped my heart out and spat it back into my face. The story of the Wheeler’s disintegrating marriage in a USA suburban town in the late 50’s is at times grim, funny, realistic, disturbing and just plain sad. The book inspired me to track down Yates’ other books and read those. They are just beginning to be made available in Europe again after a long time out of printand of the five I’ve read, the standard and beauty of the writing remains amazingly high. Astrid also read Revolutionary Road, and it had a similar effect on her too. A plan was afoot. I’m not afraid to say this all sounds very pretentiousand why not? I left my indie saddo credibility at the door years ago. And if you think sostop reading now!

After the recording session at Pink Noise in March/April, I decided to record all overdubs at home. We had one microphone, a very old PC, an out of tune pianoand we were off. A lot of songs at this stage did not have lyrics. Maybe a rough chorus idea, but nothing really. We’d had the idea of making this album a duet album, and that me and Astrid would write our own lines for the record. Liars In Love is the title of a Yates short story, and it seemed perfect for what we wanted to base the lyrical tone of the album on. A lot of friends in our circles had just come out of long relationships, and we wanted to make an album that spoke about the end of a romance. Not a Hollywood drama, but a domestic romance, a real blood and guts, pay the bills romance. Something like the Wheelers suburban disentanglementsomething dying in the pretty neighborhood.
When the vocals were ready to be performed, we would write the wordsthis would give us no time to really think too much about the actual literary content of the lyric, or phrasing so much. We would sit across from each other and one would write the line that followed the next. What you hear on the record is a conversation in progress.

The home recording and mixing process took some 5 months on and off. We initially started with 20 songs, and after a while it became apparent I was not going to finish them all.

The 12 songs chosen for the record were finished by November.

Where is the moving bit?

Well, I can tell you this whole album moves me very much. I don’t tire of hearing it. Very strange for a record I’ve been involved with. It could be Michael’s mandolins on Liars In Love, or Astrid’s pizzicato string plucks on the same track. It could be Sanna’s great cello part on Janne’s song Under My Skin. Michaels’ great lazy drumming on Are You Ever Gonna’ Wake Me Up? Or Janne’s very VU guitar line on From The Past, or Astrid’s vocals on 8 o’clock. Maybe Aleksi’s bass line for Out of this Dark Room Comes Anything. Or maybe, it’s just that in the words of these songs I hear the truth.

— the making of "Liars in Love"
by Astrid Swan
April 2006

It is amusing to read Nick’s beautiful descriptions of how we made this 3rd Treeball album. He has put behind him the frustration and anger that accompanied the process and made it horrific at times. There was no label, no budget to start with. We had come back from our Canadian tour in the fall 2004 and from there on Nick anxiously wanted us to start the new album. But there were obstacles on the way, like the making of my solo record, and the absence of excitement about the way Nick planned we’d do the album. I had heard the songs a million times in my home, but other members had no idea what they would be recording.

Everything got oh, so boring, slow and frustrating. Accusations flew as time passed. Deadlines were never met, no lyrics were written and Nick was still talking about 20 songs and a double album…

And the home sessions. This is my advise: never record at home with your boyfriend. It would be too tedious to drag my mind through all the arguments we had about whose fault it is that Treeball still hasn’t finished their album. But be certain, it wasn’t all sweethearts and young love in our living room!

As months hummed by we finally saw that finishing 20 tracks in our environment would create a time bomb, so we cut the project at 12 tracks.

There I sat on our kitchen ladder chair, singing lyrics through a pop filter made out of my stockings and an old necklace of mine, swallowing sugarcoated tears.
So any feeling, sad or happy, on Liars in Love have truly been felt in the course of making this album. We’re still working together, and a songs like Smooth Fruit makes me especially proud of our approach.

I am not undermining Treeball, or this album in talking like this. I think my point of view is valid and will give listeners another exciting perspective. We do not mind being compared to Fleetwood Mac, although it is all quite mild compared to their stories still.

Making of "National treasure"
by Nick Triani

February 2004

So, a new year. February nearing it's end. Snow still falling here in Finlandand the new album by Treeball in the shops at last.

We started making the album in August 2003. I'd been writing songs for a while, stacking them up. We had one rehearsal to play the new songs. Everyone taped the tracks, went home and got familiar with the songs. A couple of weeks later me and Janne went to the rehearsal room, laid down a guide track of me playing the songs (astrid did the same for her tracks), and in something like 2 four hour sessions, we recorded all the main drum tracks for the record. We only used 4 mics for the drumsBD, snare and toms. The toms picked up enough overhead, nasty sound! I sensed Janne was a bit disappointed with his playing. It's the usual Treeball way: knock it out, capture the moment. I thought the drums sounded great: loose-but-feeling. I was guiding this ship and I was satisfied.

A couple of weeks later, a good friend and a producer, Jyrki Tuovinen, lent me 2 mics and his computer with a 24-track Pro Tools system installed. We re-located to mine and Astrid's living room, got a couple of small practice amps, a good pre-amp, a groovebox, a couple of acoustics, some guitars of mine and a few of Michael's, a Danelectro bass and a Rhodes. The piano was already a permanent fixture. Over the next two weeks, our living room would give birth to the "National Treasure" album.

The process would normally start like this everyday: I'd wake up and record some of my acoustic parts, Astrid would record some keyboards, after lunch we would try some singing, Michael would come over most evenings, play some guitarwe built the tracks up like this. Towards the end of the two weeks, Janne came and did some backing vocals. On the last day, Aleksi played bass on something like 12 songshe'd not even heard some of them! Mixing took place in Tampere, at Headline studios. 5 Long days. 15 songs mixed. Despite these limitations, I was satisfied.

There was no major idea but we knew what we wanted to achieve with the record: not record too many tracks, keep it simple, and work for the benefit of the songs. It was an uncluttered processwe trusted in ourselves. So many bands don't trust what they do on recordings. You have to take the leap of faith that what you get down gets across.

Some songs like Bolivian Adventure and Noir really came to life during recording. Some captured a mood, like Astrid's The Beginning. It was all good fun and relaxing. I think we succeeded.

This year sees a real possibility of Treeball breaking out of the stiff Finnish environments. Releases are planned in Canada and maybe Japan, gigs abroad in the pipeline etc.

We all live and play in Finlandby definition we are a Finnish bandbut somehow I feel a wariness from the Finnish music media in general towards Treeball that seems unfounded; like we are a vanity project, that somehow we don't mean this thing that we create and really love. This week has seen the record go out first to the finnish media. Interest has been harder to gage than the 1st album. Interviews are rolling, press interest somehow focusing on how on earth will the Finnish public ever like this!

We succeeded in making a great record I believe. We all love it and think you can't get this kind of thing anywhere else made so lovingly and couldn't give a shit free in Finland.

If you're at this page, reading this fargood luck. You need it. If you like our recordthankswe think we made a national treasure, something to hold on to.

Copyright Exito & Mediaani