To be honest with you, I never thought I’d see the day The Impersonators have an official website. In fact, I never thought we’d have a label, producer or publicist for that matter. The fact that we’ve gotten played on the radio a bit and found a small audience that digs what we are doing feels like a dream come true and utterly surreal. Why? I’ll tell you.
The Impersonators originated from my living room. This was a home-grown project to keep me busy while I was getting over the break-up of Carmen Gray, a group I had written a decade’s worth of songs for with my brother Lappe Holopainen. As Carmen Gray disbanded, I tried to get used to not making music. I wasn’t very successful at this attempt. It was difficult enough, although manageable, to leave the glamor of big labels and radio hits behind. What wasn’t manageable was not having a vehicle for my songs anymore. Out of this frustration, a new group was born on a cold October morning in 2013 when my good friend, the very talented poet Antti Autio, sent me a lyric titled ”Ghost Town Radio.” I loved it and composed a melody to it.
Many more lyrics and melodies would follow and pretty soon, Antti and I had written dozens of songs together – it was time to lay something down on tape. At first, I searched for musicians to play the parts I had in mind for the arrangements but after a few failed attempts and bitter disappointments, I decided to play everything myself. The Impersonators was going to be, just like The Alan Parsons Project, a group of two songwriters rather than a traditional rock group, consisting of four to five musicians. There was just one problem. I had never produced a rock record from scratch before. I had been part of the production process but as I was soon to find out, this was not really the same thing.
Learning even the basics of record production was immensely difficult, especially with the equipment I had at my disposal. Save the guitars (Rickenbacker 330 and Fender Telecaster), everything I had was second or third rate, the electric drums and the keyboard were just downright terrible. It was a start however – although a rather modest one. The truth was, I had entered the steepest learning curve of my entire life without even realizing it.
The Impersonators made two EPs with me at the helm. The production values on these were sufficient but far from ideal. Having said that, I do love many of the songs on these two EPs. Be that as it may, I knew I needed a seasoned professional to help me take things to the next level. Once we signed with FBP in the May of 2017, I approached Janne Saksa, one of Finland’s finest record producers, who took us under his sonic wing. Janne’s contribution to The Impersonator’s sound has been and continues to be invaluable.
Aside from the music, we’ve also received help and guidance from quite a few individuals over the years, the most notable of whom are the photographic artist Joona Niskanen and my wife Elina Suominen, who has a great eye for photography. With the help of Elina and Joona, we’ve always had top-notch promo shots taken of us. Sven Klitsch, our graphics guy at FBP, has been amazing at doctoring these photos for single covers and social-media banners. A big thank you also to our publicist Al Geiner and our label manager Dennis Weitzel, who are probably even now trying to figure out a way to get us another review or playlist placement.
While we have come a long way from the first demos I made in my living room, the core of the group has stayed the same. The Impersonators continues to be a group of two songwriters where the stars are the songs and not the individuals. It was that way when Antti and I finished up ”Ghost Town Radio” five years ago and our mentality had not changed one bit when we sat down to write ”Effigy,” our latest single, last August.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, if you like sixties-flavored pop/rock, give us a listen. Who knows what will happen? You might even half like us – in fact, I hope you do.
All the very best,
Tom Tikka (of The Impersonators)