Radio Insomnia


Radio Insomnia -cover


(click to listen & read liner notes)
  1. Set Free The Radio

    One of the last songs written for the album, Set Free The Radio was conceived sometime in early June 2004.

    Markus remembers: “We tried recording this track in Finland but it felt a little forced and stiff at the time. We then started playing it live and it became the stadium rocker it is now. Mikko came up with a killer bass line, and Jussi played this jingle-jangle Rickenbacker riff which is really cool. The finished version was cut live at the Clubhouse Studio, near Woodstock NY, with Ken Coomer and Charlie Brocco producing. Our friend Wayne Kramer ended up assuming the role of a radio DJ and introducing the band towards the end of the track, which brings a big smile on my face every time I hear it.”

    “The song was meant to be some sort of a sequel to Elvis Costello’s ‘Radio Radio’ and the Ramones’ ‘Do You Remember Rock’n Roll Radio’. It’s not just a statement about today’s radio – it’s about today’s media as we know it. It makes me wonder just how free and true is all the information that we swallow every day.“

  2. Dream Dream

    Written by Markus sometime in November 2003, while being very influenced by Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours as well as Anthony De Mello’s book Awareness. It was cut with producer Lasse Kurki in Helsinki, at the Hitsville studio:

    “Awareness is a pretty cool book. I don’t totally buy into this stuff about people being able to change their lives and actions by just reading a single book, but this one certainly made me think hard.”

    “The band heard the song for the first time in the studio and a couple hours later we had the finished track on tape as you hear it now. The solo, which Jussi cut live together with the rest of the band, still gives me chills.

  3. Got A Message

    Goes back to the winter of 2002. Markus wrote it with Ken Coomer – formerly a drummer in Wilco – while staying at Ken’s house in East Nashville:

    “It’s basically a song about text-messages, or SMS-messages, as people call them in the USA. While based in the US for several months a couple years ago, I was involved with this girl back home in Finland. Because calling overseas was quite expensive, we kept in touch mostly by sending text-messages to each other every day – many times 15-20 messages per day. It was a pretty convenient way of communicating in real time, and for some reason the US operator wouldn’t even charge me for any of these messages, so it was cheap too.”

    “The arrangement came together really quickly, although the structure of the song is much more complex and difficult than it may appear at first listen. I don’t think The Latebirds have ever before sounded more groovy than on this track!”

  4. Lost

    Another track that goes back to Nashville and Ken’s house:

    “This song was actually born in the winter of 2004, with a little help from our good pal Charlie Brocco. I ended up rewriting a lot of the lyrics right before entering the studio, which is not something I usually do. This time though I think it paid off, because what we ended up with is a pretty twisted and complex rock song. The band learned the song just before leaving for the US tour prior to the recording sessions at the Clubhouse. Lost became a live favourite right away.“

    After writing the song, The Latebirds decided to hire Charlie and Ken as their producers for the sessions in Woodstock later that year. It turned out to be a wise choice. Lost was cut completely live at the Clubhouse in September 2004. McGyver is responsible for playing the weird ethereal slide guitar on the track.

  5. Beat The Time

    A song, which Markus wrote very shortly after Elliott Smith passed away:

    “It deals with life/death issues – our time here on this planet is quite limited so we should definitely try to make the best of it. For a man who was able to touch so many hearts with his music, Elliott Smith certainly would have deserved a lot happier life. It was very disturbing to hear the news about his death and its weird circumstances.”

    “We love playing these kinda slow ballads. The basic track was cut at the Clubhouse more or less live. We were also very honoured to have our friends Benmont Tench and Ken Stringfellow add their wonderful talent onto this track.“

  6. Falling By The Wayside

    A rocker – originally written and cut live way back in 2001:

    “The song was most likely written after a drunken night, in a bad hangover. It could also be seen as a quite obsessive love song. It’s our drummer Janne’s favourite song on the whole record, believe it or not! Perhaps it’s because he gets to play really loud on this song. Everything you hear is live, including the lead vocal, except for a couple of guitar overdubs and Matti’s Farfisa organ.”

  7. Will To Fall

    Goes back to the year of 2001 as well:

    “It was written for an English friend-of-ours who originally moved to Finland because of a Finnish girlfriend. The girl eventually dumped him, and our friend found himself alone in a foreign country, feeling quite miserable and bitter. Thankfully, he’s found a new Finnish girlfriend since those days and seems really happy now.”

    “I can’t remember where the original idea for the arrangement came from, but I think it’s really cool. The song doesn’t really lift off before the solo, which is pretty rare for a pop song, such as this one. Will To Fall is the only song on the whole album that was constructed in the studio from individual performances, as opposed to the whole band playing their parts together simultaneously. I think Charlie did a great job at mixing this song because there’s a lot of stuff going on yet you can hear everything in perfect harmony and balance.”

  8. Blue Horses

    Another obsessive love song. It was cut two years ago by Finnish female singer Jonna Tervomaa, on her gold-selling album Halo. The Latebirds felt that they could also do justice to the song, so they cut it with Ken and Charlie at the Clubhouse:

    “I wrote Blue Horses for us originally, way before giving a demo of the song to Jonna Tervomaa. I think she did a great job recording and re-writing the lyrics in Finnish. However, I intended to cut it with the Latebirds since the day I wrote it. It’s got a cool eerie feel to it, with lots of space and echo – kinda like some of those mid-late 70s records by the likes of Patti Smith and Springsteen.“

  9. Fill Me In

    Written at the tail end of 2003:

    “It’s a love song which was written really quickly, in maybe 30 minutes or so. I love the way Woody Guthrie would use sun and clouds as metaphors in his songs, which gives them that child-like, really innocent quality. We recorded Fill Me In completely live with the band in Finland, at one of our favourite studios in the whole wide world – Petrax. This must be the 15th or 16th take and by this time some of the band-members were not exactly convinced that we could nail it.”

    Thanks to producer Lasse’s faith and encouragement the band succeeded. J. Karjalainen – an extremely well known solo act in his own right in the Latebirds’ homeland – played banjo.

  10. See You Tonight

    An older song, also recorded at Petrax. It was written in the fall of 2001, and the lyric was inspired by a classic triangle drama:

    “Here’s another quite complex love song. I don’t wanna go into details because it’s all too personal and disturbing. The structure of the song may seem a bit strange when you hear it for the first time, but once you’ve listened to all the verses, it hopefully begins to make more sense. Believe it or not – there was no click track! That’s probably why it sounds so organic and rocking. But I do remember very clearly having a hard time following Janne’s drumming when I overdubbed an acoustic guitar track later on. Some beautiful lead guitar work here courtesy of McGyver.”

  11. Insomnia

    Initially written in the winter of 2004. However, the band and their producers are very much responsible for the version as you hear it on the record:

    “I suffer from insomnia from time to time. One night while lying in my bed awake I came up with the concept of ‘saving every minute of time’. Later, I wrote the rest of the lyrics, recorded a demo and then just forgot about even writing the whole song. Ken got hold of the demo somehow and suggested we should try to record it. The song was never rehearsed or played together with the band before entering the Clubhouse, so it did take a while to nail it. Jussi’s fat guitar tone is incredible – unfortunately nobody quite remembers what guitar and amp combination Jussi was using or what he was on at the time of recording the track. And Janne and Mikko – I don’t know what they were on either – to my knowledge they weren’t on drugs, but they must’ve been on something. Then again, that’s probably why this track sounds as magical as it does, giving it that weird stoned out feel. Ken played the 2nd drumkit, while John Stirratt and Pat Sansone sang the beautiful harmonies at the end.”

  12. Without June

    Witten upstairs at Ken Coomer’s house while the landlord himself was fast asleep on his sofa downstairs:

    “Johnny Cash’s music has influenced and brought so much joy to all the Latebirds’ lives that the least we could do was write and record a song for him. It would have been great to hear Mr. Cash sing this song. Thankfully, we got the very gifted Betsy Roo from Nashville to add the female harmony vocal on this track. ”

    “Originally we played Without June as a slow country shuffle, but Ken and Charlie insisted that we should record it as a slow piano ballad. This way the lyrics would stand out more. Considering it’s got some of the best lyrics I’ve written so far, I think they had a pretty good point. After re-learning the song in the studio, we cut it live except for some keyboards and a couple of harmonies.”

    “We credited Levon Helm from The Band for giving us “spiritual guidence”. We did so because Levon invited us over to his house while we were recording in Woodstock. You can imagine how excited we were to meet and hang out with this legendary man, who’s responsible for making some of the greatest and most influencial records ever. Though he never played a note on this track, Levon’s spirit is certainly present. We sent him a Finnish flag in return, as a thank you to his hospitality, and we’ve been told that it’s now hanging in Levon’s barn studio.”

Liner Notes