A pop-blast from the past


A couple of days ago when I was working with my music blog I got a mail that sent me right back to the eighties. It was from the people around the band Squeeze, and obviously they had recorded a new song, the first one in fourteen years actually, and they had just started touring again. I quickly listened to it, and although the arrangement was different from the older stuff, it was all there, the Squeeze vibe, like if it was just yesterday that they released their classic pop songs. Glenn Tilbrook’s voice sounded just like before (at least I told that to myself) and that playful Squeeze-pop melodic song was there. It may not be a classic like the famous predecessors, but a good enough song for me to get excited about. So I decided to write a post about them on the music blog and present the song, “Tommy”.

Squeeze was one of main bands to satisfy my pop vein during the first half of the eighties, when I was a teenager. Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook’s was at the front and seemed to be able to produce an endless stream of beautiful and playful pop melodies, which stuck in my head, and in a way defined what pop was then for me. “Cool For Cats”, “Tempted” (with Paul Carrack’s brilliant vocals), “Labelled With Love” and “Black Coffee In Bed” are some of the songs that have their given spots in my playlists with pop classics. Just to remind you, here’s the Motown-inspired “Black Coffee In Bed” from 1982:

They then dissappeared from my radar during a long time, even if they continued in various constellations, but eventually they broke up in the end of the nineties. In 2004 I watched a show on VH1, as a part in the VH1 series where they tried to reunite bands for an exclusive concert, but in Squeeze’ case the attempt failed.

And now this week, more than thirty years later from when I heard them the first time, I get to hear something new from them again. The song is sort of a pre-release, streaming though a Soundcloud-player (you can listen here below) and they have announced that the real release will be in December and people will be able to download it for free. I took a peak at the number of plays and saw that it was a quite modest number, around 600-700. Seeing that song had been there for a couple of weeks meant to me that very few, if anyone, had written about the song yet, so of course I couldn’t resist writing about these old favourites of mine.

It feels a little strange, sort of time-twisted, when I press the publish button, realizing also I’m one of the first to present the song to a wider audience. Knowing very well how Internet and music works together and the amount of songs that get’s published continuously, I wasn’t expecting a horde of people coming over to listen and read this, but I was expecting that some more people would have picked this up. The blog is a relatively small one compared to the giants on Hype Machine, but I do have a pretty fair idea how many people who listens each day through different channels, and also about the exposure a post gets, but even if they can count 100-150 more plays on their page today it’s not much compared to many other posts about far less known artists, many completely unknown, I present.

It’s not so surprising, though. Today it means that no one, no matter what your name is, or what you’ve done before, you can’t expect that some kind of general audience is waiting for you out there, especially if you’ve lost contact with the one you had before. You have to go out searching for them, find your niche, even if you’re in a classic band like Squeeze.

Well, they aimed right with me at least, and maybe you who are reading this? Here’s “Tommy”:

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New video

Time for a new video, this time it’s No Summer Without You.

Hope you will enjoy it!

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Notes on No Summer Without You

OK, some songs spire from the depth of emotion, of the need to express happiness, or love, or the lack of love, or despair or any other deep emotion. But this one, I must admit does originally not. It simply started as a desire to write a “Sha-na-na-na-na” song. Nothing deep, nothing profound, just “Sha na na”. When I die, I thought, will my life be complete without having written a song using those simple words. And the answer was no, so I went up to the studio and did just that.

And we found the perfect singer for it in German singer Sonja Hewer (from the band Sonic Season), who made us very happy when she accepted to do the vocals. We usually like to record vocals in our own studio but this time, owing to the distance, they where recorded on location in the Twin Music studio in Germany by Chris Simon and then sent to us to be added to the rest of the tracks when we were mixing.

And then maybe, along the way, the song transformed into something else. The lyrics turned and twisted a bit. The melody fell in place. And it became a sort of modern rain dance song. When I close my eyes I can see Sonja dancing, facing the skies, begging the gods to unleash a rain storm to clean her soul.

Early demo versions of the song had a much larger soundscape, but when Pär and I was doing the mix we was looking for a sort of smaller and intimate stage as a counterweight to the melody and lyrics. I think we did pretty well and for me its the perfect starting song of the album.

Make up you own mind. Listen and download it here:



Now a year has gone
And summer, summer’s here again
And I hear they play our song
On the radio

We still thought we had the whole world in our hands
But we never understood that we were running
We were running out of time.

(Sha na na na na na na)
So let the rain fall
(Sha na na na na na na)
‘Cause the sun won’t shine
(Sha na na na na na na)
Now let the rain pour down
There’ll be no summer without you

Blinded by the light
I’m hiding, hiding in the night
But when I close my eyes
I still dream of you

I always thought that we were shining, like stars
But I never understood that you were falling
You were falling out of love.

(Sha na na na na na na)
So let the rain fall
(Sha na na na na na na)
‘Cause the sun won’t shine
(Sha na na na na na na)
Now let the rain pour down
There’ll be no summer without you

And I
(You’re in the dark, you’re in the cold, without a shelter from the storm)
I wish that I could make you see
As long as you are gone
(Without a shelter from the storm)
The sun will never, ever shine on me

(Sha na na na na na na)
So let the rain fall
(Sha na na na na na na)
‘Cause the sun won’t shine
(Sha na na na na na na)
Now let the rain pour down
There’ll be no summer without you

Oh, no
Let the rain pour down on me
There’l be no summer without you
For me

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Crying in the kitchen

Time for the second video from the kitchen session last week (read about the first song here).

This time it’s As Long as You Don’t Cry with Ulla Wrethagen on lead vocals and guitar backed by Anna Hammarsten, Jenny Fall and Lasse Thomasson.
We think this one came out really well too.



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How we recorded Don’t Forget To Breathe

Since we do our own recordings there is no way to steer around the fact that we to some extent (some of us than at others) are gear junkies with an unhealthy interest in recording technics and similar, to the rest of the world utterly boring, subjects.

Still we know that some of you that follow us share that interest so we thought that a post on how we recorded the new album could be in some order. So if you don’t care about why things sound as they do (and there is no real reason you should, as long as you know if it sounds good or bad) you can stop reading here; this post is going to be very boring and a waste of your time. For the rest of you here we go.

The Studio

Everything except the vocals for No Summer Without You and the bass on Diamonds In the Sky (they were recorded in Germany and Canada respectively) was recorded at The Bus Depot. In 2006 I renovated a small outbuilding at my home and converted it into a small recording studio.

It’s not large, actually  it’s rather tiny with it’s 12 square meters of space. Still it’s got what you need to make good recordings and there is even a baby grand piano, though I mainly use it for songwriting.
Over the years I’ve been upgrading the studio and today it houses a fairly good selection of microphones, instruments and other sweet sounding equipment. There is no reason to blame the studio for a badly sounding recording anymore, rather it’s me and Pär who are the guilty ones in that case.

The Setup

The audio setup is centered around a quad-core i5 custom built PC running Windows XP where every component was chosen and tweaked for it’s low noise properties. It cost a bit extra to put it together but it has been well spent money; you can barely hear it running, even close up. It’s in the same room as we are recording in, but noise from fans and hard drives has never been a problem. Then two 1600×1200 monitors are connected providing as much desktop real estate as possible.
The audio interface is a Focusrite Liquid Saphire 56 connected over FireWire. It sounds great and the software is brilliant when you have climbed the steep learning curve. Everything is then recorded into Cubase 5.1 and stays there until mix time.
To help with the processing there is also a UAD-2 Quad and a TC Electronic PowerCore Firewire card. Most plug-ins I use run on those two.
The main monitoring is done with a pair of Mackie 826 and there is also a pair of Yamaha HS-50 for more precise mid range precision. I used to like the Mackies a lot but over the years my opinion of them has changed, and now I think that they may be the weakest link in the Studio. But really good monitors does not come cheap.


All drums on the album, except tambourines and percussion, is done with the help of the Superior Drummer. Superior Drummer might be described as a drum machine and sample-player plug-in in one, but that does it a bit of injustice, since it’s gives you almost too much control. It’s like having a virtually recorded real drums with access to all microphones, just like on a real recorded set. For most songs the Custom & Vintage sound library was pushed into duty but both the Avatar and Roots Brushes were also used on a few songs.
As a stering point for programming the drums I used real drum performances captured to midi files. I then tweaked and edited them to each song’s need.

Very little processing is done on the drum tracks. There is some compression on the kick and usually a bit of high pass filtering on the hi-hat, overheads and room microphones. I also favored a little parallel compression on the drum buss as a whole thru a UAD-Dbx 160 to put a bit of a bite to the sound.
And ,with the exception of No Summer Without You that has a little plate reverb on the snare, there is no additional reverbs or similar room treatments on the drums more than the natural ambience picked up by the overhead and room microphones.

A last word on the drums, of course it would have been nice to have real drums recorded for the song,s but space, time and money wouldn’t make it possible. Still we tried hard to make them sound not too artificial and unmusical.


Nothing really thrilling to say about how the bass was recorded.  I used a Squire JazzBass set up to run thru a Pod X3 Pro simulating an Ampeg SVG with an Ampeg 8×10 cabinet on most tracks, even though there are other combinationas of amps and cabinets too. I’m not sure that I generally like the Pod, there is some sort of not pleasing fuzziness to the sound. I seldom use it for guitars anymore except for a few selected sounds, but on bass it does a decent job. And bringing in a proper bass rig was not an option.
In the mix the bass is then treated with Universal Audio’s emulations of first the LA-2 to add character and then the 1176LN to even out the volume. Lastly it’s was shaped with eq to fit in with the kick and the rest of the instruments.
One day I will get a better sounding bass. That day I will hopefully be a better bass player too.


My basic setup for the electric guitars is either a 1997 Anniversary American Telcaster or a Mexican built Stratocaster through a Vox AC-4TV with a Vox V412 speaker cabinet (see the picture). It looks a bit akward and you could easily think that such a small amp would sound a bit boxy but with the 12 inch cabinet it just opens up. It’s a combination that sounds absolutely fantastic. It’s got a sweet clean tone that breaks beautifully into some really lovely well defined crunch. Add to that two stomp boxes, first a T-Rex Comp Nova for a bit of compression, mostly used on clean to medium crunch tones, and then a Radial Plexitube for those moments where a more heavy Marshall like sound is needed.
It was then recorded with a single microphone, a Microtech Geffell M92.1S, slightly off axis with either a Focusrite Liquid Saphire 56 (on the Neve 1073 setting) or a TL Audio Fat Track acting as preamp.
All electric guitars on for example Easy, Diamond In the Sky and No Summer Without You was done with this setup and also many of the guitars on the other songs.

Nowadays I try to steer free from amp simulations, both hardware and software. Sure, they are easy and fast to work with but does not (yet anyway) match up with a really good sounding amp. Still some of the older recorded guitars are treated with the GuitarRig II plug-in and I’ve found a really good preset in my Pod X3 Pro simulating a Mathless 30 together with a Boss Chorus. The latter can be heard picked in the verse on both Let Us Light a Fire and Say You Will.


Keyboards are perhaps not the prominent feature of our sound, still they are there, and they are important. They usually fill the low mid part of the frequency range bringing warmth and punch to mixes. For electric pianos I usually use a Lounge Lizard’s Wurlitzer patch or some sampled piano found in my Emulator-X libraries. Electric pianos are always treated with UAD’s wonderful Roland Dimension D chorus. One of those plug-ins that, on electric piano, just adds s lot of magic.

And if you hear a pad somewhere in the background now and then, it’s usually some tweak in Steinberg’s Embracer synthesizer.


One of the challenges when recording the album was, despite of having seven different lead singers, to try to get all the songs to sound like a band, to make it sound like Bus Stop Dreams’ album, not just a compilation of different songs. So in an effort to minimize factors I decided to use the same setup when recording all the vocals, instead of trying to optimize for each of the singers. With the exception of No Summer Without You and Diamond In the Sky where the vocals was recorded by Chris Simon at Twin Music in Germany, all the vocals were recorded the same way, with the same microphone (a Microtech Geffell M92.1S), the same pre-amp  (a Focusrite Liquid Saphire 56 on the Neve 1073 setting), and processed in similar ways during mixing.
A typical channel strip looked something like the following:

Only two send effects were used on the main vocals. It’s always the UAD EMT-140 plate simulation or the UAD RE-201 Space Echo Tape Delay or a mix of the two.

And yes, I think we succeeded to make all our singers voices to blend into something that can be called a Bus Stop Dreams sound.

Mixing & production

We try to keep away from having rules for how things should be done, how things should sound. Rules are boring, and make you boring too. But when it comes to mixing and producing we have one, and that is that it should be made by both of us together. Following that all the mixing was done by me and Pär together.  Over the last year we’ve had a number of mixing sessions. Pär has jumped on the train to Stockholm  for a couple of days, and then we’ve locked ourself up in the studio carving out mixes.
All mixing were done in The Bus Depot. The setup when mixing is a bit more complicated than when tracking. Mixes are not done in the box, instead everything is routed from Cubase to four analog stereo outputs summed through a TLAudio Fat Track tube console before being brought back into the computer and recorded to disk. The reason for this is the tube warmth and sheen that the Fat Track adds to mix making it sound bigger and better.
Except for the the ones mentioned elsewhere the following plug-ins were used on a regular basis when mixing  the album:

Waves IR1 Convultion Reverb – Great natural sounding ambient spaces.
Waves Doubler – For fattening up pads and the likes.
TC Electronic Dynamic EQ – For kick and bass management.
Sonnox Oxford Inflator – Loudness magic.


Mastering was done by Thomas Eberger at Stockholm Mastering. We didn’t hit the mixes too hard with compressors and limiters. We still like when there is some dynamics left after mastering. They are still pretty loud but hopefully not usable as an argument in the ongoing “loudness war”.
Since Thomas is a man who is never satisfied until it sounds perfect he had set up a 2-track Studer B-67 tape machine that all the mixes went through. It added just that extra soft and silky fealing to the high mids that we were looking for.
Overall the mastering did a lot to bring the songs together and made them sound like something in a greater whole. Just the way it’s supposed to be.


Are we pleased with the result? Yes we are, we are actually more than pleased. We think the album sounds really good, and we also hope that all our efforts has been directed to serve the songs, making then stand forward and bringing out the best in them. It certainly feels that way.
But ultimately it’s not for us to judge, that part is up to you. And while you’re at it we’re going to record a few more songs.


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Don’t Forget to Breathe – release day!

Don't Forget to Breathe

Today we’re immensely proud of presenting our first album, “Don’t Forget to Breathe”. We’ve made made it as available as much as we can, digitally, and of course, if you like CD:s you can order our beautiful album at our music page.

Spotify, Wimp, Itunes, Amazon and many other stores have the album available. On our music page you can listen to it, and download it. We have chosen to make it free or pay as much as you like if you want to support us.

An album release like this is the result of years of working with the music production, but for us as a band it’s by no means an ending point, we see it rather as the starting point of something beautiful, and we hope you’ll join us on the ride. Here it is:

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“Anything” goes in the kitchen

Last Thursday I transformed my kitchen. I took the dining table and chairs away and rigged a video camera and two microphones. Then Ulla Wrethagen, Jenny Fall and Anna Hammarsten came along. After an hour of rehearsals we pressed the record buttons and recorded two songs. Acoustic and live, no overdubs or anything. Perhaps just a little bit rough at the edges but with a nerve.
Ulla and Jenny I already know since they sing lead on tracks on the new album. Anna was a new acquaintance, and a very positive one. She brought her accordion too and put a very nice edge on both of the songs. A perfect fit I would say.

It was nice to play together. Usually there is not much time for that. In the studio it’s a bit fragmented doing overdubs one at the time.
Perhaps we need to do this a bit more often, and even think of taking it public. Now there’s a thought.

Here below is the first video of one of the songs we recorded, called Anything. Have a watch, listen and see if you agree, but I think there is a certain bit of nerve and restless quality in this performance. In a good way.


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Diamonds on the air

A couple of weeks ago I announced here that our song “Diamond In the Sky” would have it’s radio premiere on The Justin Wayne Show. The show was postponed, though, since it was in the middle of Justin’s relocation from England to the US. A week ago the show was aired, with Chris Sturgess-Oliffe from Canada presenting the larger part of the show. As always an excellent show with lots of artists to discover, and yours truly even got the opportunity introduce the song (at about 1:02 in the show) Listen to it here as a podcast:

JW Show 171: Chris Takes over and September discovery 2

Finally, if you know Swedish and like melodic rock, you should check out Den Melodiösa bloggen, a music news blog that’s updated continuously with news every day. And we’re grateful that they gave som attention to our release of the first song from “Don’t Forget to Breathe”.


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A new song download and preordering of the album CD

Today we opened up the curtain a little bit to our new album “Don’t Forget to Breathe”. The first song on the album “No Summer Without You” is available to listen to and download as you can see below.

Also, since we know that some of you can’t wait until the release (November 6th), we made it possible to preorder the CD, and receive it as soon as we get it from the factory. That means probably in the end of next week. It’s a digipack with, what we think, a beautiful 16-page booklet with notes, images and of course all the lyrics. You can find all of this on our music page. Here’s “No Summer Without you”:

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I did it!

Today was kind of exam day for me. After ten weeks of training it was today I was supposed to be able to run 5km without stopping, and, surprised as I am, I actually did it.

Well, it’s not like beating a world record or anything, but to me it was a victory that made me feel great today. In the beginning of summer I was totally untrained, a coach potato. A lot of anxiety over problems was taking it’s toll on me, and I really thought I was dying, as my heart started to jump around. Sleepless nights followed which didn’t help to get things better.

Somewhere I realised that a better physical state could help me out, and I began to take brisk long walks. Each time I felt better, and I really wanted to get a much better endurance, and more of those lovely endorphins, so I decided to start running.

At least I started to walk, and run a little during the walks, a minute here, and a minute there. A little too eager, I did this almost every day at first, which made my knees protest wildly, and forced me to take a break a couple of weeks. I figured out it would be best to follow one of these couch-to-5k training programs, with training three times a week. I found one in an Iphone app, and now seven weeks later, here I am.

Last week I was very doubtlful that I would make it, since the much shorter training sessions felt quite hard that week, and since it was based on intervals, I had not run any longer than 800 meters without stopping to walk. But the training program said “Trust in your training”, which almost sounded like “Trust the force Luke” to me, and I did. Since you are so interested in my run, here’s a short recap:

1 km – “Oh, that went smoothly, longer than I’ve run before”

2 km – “Hmm, I do feel more tired, but maybe there’s a possibility I will make it”

3 km – “I’m soon exhausted, and there’s a staggering 2 km left. I won’t make it”

3.1 km “Interesting, It really is possible to run slower than I did before and gather some strength”

3.2 km “It’s only one point something km left! I will actually make it!”

4 km “Only 1 km left, soon I’ll see the finishing line”

4.8 km “I’m alone in the woods here so I will raise my arms in the air as a victory gesture when I pass the goal line”

5 km “I did it! And I’m still alive! And I feel good!”

Well, that was about it. I will continue to run of course. I think I will have to set up a new goal of some sort. Problems do still exist as always, but now I’m awake to take them on, and sometimes even with a smile. /Pär

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