In occasion of the last date of this tour supporting Motörhead, here in Helsinki, we had the chance to spend some time with Mr. Jorn Lande. Here with his solo band Jorn, after dedicating time to various projects (Masterplan and Avantasia above all), we had a long chat with him, in company of Nicola "Nic" Angileri (bass) about the tour, the band, the recordings of the new album, and of course we couldn’t avoid to spend a few words on Ronnie James Dio, a great inspiration for the Norwegian vocalist. But here is the interview:
Marco: So, this is your last show! How do you think that this tour with Motörhead has gone?
Jorn: Well, I think it’s been painless, no trouble at all. The crew was nice, everyone blended and mingled nicely.
Nic: Bloody nice! [ride]
J: Yeah! Bloody nice, it was!
It was alright, I think both bands are professional enough, after many years, to know what to do and what not to do, so we didn’t have any problems. We had a couple of technical problems and stuff like that, but no big deal. In a couple of shows we couldn’t use all the lights because it was not just practical that way, the depth of the stage was not enough. Just some small details like that, more like a production thing. Our shows were in general fine, and Motörhead has a different audience…
M: I think Motörhead has very different kinds of people in their audience as it’s way more "mainstream"..
J: Yeah, but I think that maybe Motörhead has a more narrow-minded audience in general. There are also other people there that like different kinds of music, but if you go to a Motörhead concert you just want to see Motörhead. So you could say that when you play before a band like Motörhead it’s a challenge. You have to be a good band to do that, you have to be a good musician and you have to be a Rock’n’Roll band, definitely. It’s more than just being a good player, you know, it’s the whole concept of being an artist. You have to be the real thing to play before a band like Motörhead, and I think that’s also a challenge for a band like Jorn, and we like it! Because what we experience now is that some of the Motörhead fans start to look over towards our music, and that was the whole idea with doing this.
In Scandinavia, even though I’m from Norway, I was never part of the commercial media. I was asked many times in the past to join these reality TV programs, and being part of certain shows here and there, but somehow I just never liked it, and I always felt it wrong. It might be good publicity, but I just felt it’s not for me, especially when you cannot profile yourself as the person you are, and when you can’t represent the music that you love and the music that you perform.
M: Of course, there’s been different shows like for example "The Osbournes" or some other reality with Dee Schneider from Twisted Sister, but it probably wouldn’t have worked the same way!
J: Yeah, these are different types of artists. We are different, the people of the band are not really people that just want to stick their faces out all the time, and be a part of that "commercial thing". It’s necessary for publicity and it’s necessary to survive in the world, but at the same time if you can avoid being a part of stupid shows…
M: It would be better!
J: Yeah, that’s what I thought. The whole idea with the Motörhead tour was to gain a bigger audience in Scandinavia, without compromising. Instead of me being in these reality shows, and trying to be desperate to get attention, it’s better to do it this way cause then you keep your pride and dignity, and all the credibility…
And it’s a good thing to do it this way because Motörhead, especially in these days, have a big following. Maybe this is the peak of their career! I mean, you could say it’s amongst the top of the "older bands" in the world right now, and you can’t get much bigger than what Motörhead is today. That, in combination with the movie, "Lemmy - The Movie", and everything…
We have the same agency, Live Nation, and it’s the same agent that booked Motörhead for this tour, so it was kind of natural that we did this. We just talked about it and suggested it to our agent, and he discussed it with the people in the office
M: And how is it to be on tour with Lemmy?
J: We have two different bands, we have some things in common, but I think not that much musically. Maybe the background might be similar, stuff we grew up with, that we both like. I know he fancies Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath… So we kind of have a "mutual history" when it comes to our references and sources, they all go back to the 50’s.
But besides, that, musically today, and how we think, how we live, it’s I think a big contrast. Because there you have a generation gap somehow. And it’s all about where you grow up, you know, where do you come from.
I don’t know Lemmy that well, but I know that he is always been on the road for a long time, and while some band do have a "second life", I think he’s been more dedicated than most bands. Today it’s a different trend too, I mean, people have jobs, not in this band, but most people, at least the younger ones now. We are somehow in between them, we are not young, we are not old yet, we’re halfway there! [ride]
But I guess the bands today have a new way of thinking, they use all the technology, programming stuff, creating albums based on what technology is available… Downloading files here and there, that’s what it’s all about. I think we still have one leg in the "old-school" way of thinking. We like to play and we like to be physical, to maintain things in a certain traditional way.
M: For example about technology, I was trying to find some contacts for the band on the web and I noticed that apart from having the official website, which is very essential, I can’t really see you engaged with the fans on Facebook or something like that.
J: No, I don’t even have an official Facebook profile, but there are some fan profiles out there, and I think I will just leave it with that for now. I mean, maybe I’m getting there you know, I remember my mother, she didn’t get a credit card till late in the 90’s! [ride]
So, you know, sometimes it’s just difficult to catch-up with things, it feels unnatural, and then eventually you decide, or you are forced to decide, to do it.
M: Well, Black Sabbath discovered the Internet last month, so…
J: [ride] That’s right, Black Sabbath discovered the Internet last month! [ride]
I think it depends on the way you think basically. It’s like the artist that paints. It takes a while to paint a big landscape in a painting. And make it good takes even more time. I think it’s always easier to take a photo, and put it in the computer, photoshop it, and then it’s done. And that’s the difference, you know, to actually paint it takes more time, and I think we are in this sense just different from the new generations that comes now, or that came in the past decade or two. We like physical things. We like to know the fact that one single hand painted that picture, it’s like a signature. It gives you more artistic perspective… And it might be not important in the big context, but to us it is important.
It’s like a car, you know, a lot of people don’t care, they just want to go from A to B, and they are ok with what they drive. But then you have the older generations, who love the engine, the sound of the engine, the style, the vibe of driving it, how it feels… It’s just different, these are different times…
I think that’s what it’s all about in general for us, and the older generations now, we’re getting to be old, so we are still not there, but I feel when I look at my kids, for example. They are not afraid to make a fool out of themselves, on Facebook or the Internet. They are filming everything and posting everything… when they fuck up they think it’s hilarious. My son wants to be a musician as well, and every time he’s fucking up something and it’s filmed he wants to post it! [ride] You know, cause he thinks it’s cool, like "hey, check up how I’m fucking up the song at this point"!
I think it’s a new thing and that it’s a part of the "reality show" concept, that’s been prominently shown in these years.
M: And you would think that once people would have filmed themselves to show the opposite, how good they are… But moving on, what is it for you the most important thing to consider when you go on tour, to prepare for a tour?
J: I think in this case it was to have a set that was killer, that was not "too artistic", but which shows the band in a very precise way. To get what do we represent in a short period of time. Because that’s what we have, 40-45 minutes of time in shows like this.
Normally we don’t do special guest tour support shows, but in this case we thought, as I mentioned, that it was a good thing to do marketing-wise, without having to do a lot of other alternatives, like with the media, that "reality-thing", to which I’ve always said no. And I thought this could be a good chance to do it ourselves.
So the setlist has to be to the point, no "dead spots", really. We had to strip down the set, normally we play a longer one, so… you have to remove a couple of songs. And usually Willy [Bendiksen] plays his drum solo which is on since 1970, although now there are a couple of thumps which are different since then! [ride] So now it’s a bit changed!
But it’s the same with Motörhead as well, not much has changed, they are still the same.
M: And people always like them, so…
J: Yeah! Why change something that works!
M: Instead I see that after the release of your latest album [Spirit Black, 2009] you had the tribute to Ronnie James Dio, your comeback with Masterplan, the Avantasia project… how many things are you working on at the moment?
J: Now I’ll try to do this band only. I’m not doing anything with Avantasia at the moment, and with Masterplan, it was just basically for that album, "Time To Be King", and that’s it for now.
M: So you don’t know yet if you’re going to be on the next Masterplan record?
J: Well so far at least with the band I didn’t discuss anything, I haven’t talked with the guys about it, so we’ll see. I think for the next year we’ll be busy with this band. The new album will be out in June hopefully, if we can make the deadline.
M: Did you already start recording some tracks?
J: Yeah, we went to Wales, and recorded two songs there in November, just before we left on this tour. We recorded at Monnow Valley Studio, in Rockfield. An old classic studio, which we knew about thanks to Heaven and Hell, and I was there last year with them rehearsing for the show in Victoria Park, London [their last show of their tour in Tribute to Ronnie James Dio in 2010]. I liked it a lot, and I thought it was a cool place to go. Old English countryside… and of course a legendary recording studio, The Queen recorded there, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rush…
J: Oasis yeah, but they are not "legendary"! Only rich! [ride]
But anyway to us, which grew up with some of these bands, it’s a good thing to get somewhere and get a good vibe. You know that this is the place where some of your favorite albums were recorded, and now you do it yourself.
M: You can sort of "breath it", I guess!
J: Yeah you can breath it, and you can get inspired. But it’s not easy, the older you get the more difficult it is to be inspired cause you start to repeat yourself. And then, the way people record today… most bands don’t even see each other at all, they are just sitting at home or somewhere, sending files or downloading. It’s kind of impersonal, because then you just put things on top of other things, and you create some sort of "musical piece" that way.
M: In the end it’s like having a band only by name...
J: It does. And you know, it can sound good, but it can never replace the physical craftsman. That’s something that no machine can still do, you get pretty close, but you can’t. There’s always something missing to that, and that’s why we love doing it in the old style too, because it’s played! It’s groovy, and some time it’s a little bit in front with the beat, or back with the beat, it’s not perfect. But together it’s just that "substance of music" that is like a train moving.
And if you do the click track and then try to follow some of your favorite albums, all songs, they sound really tight. You notice that it’s totally out of time. With the click track you can’t make it fit. You’re lucky if you find 2-3 bars where it fits! [ride]
And then you realize how out of time it really is, but you can’t hear it when you remove the click and you hear it again, cause the band is tied together. That’s what it’s all about. And I think it’s a bad trend. How people have been doing moving all tight, moving snares, moving base drums, always quantizing… doing all these things is not a good trend, because it makes all bands sound the same. They’re using the same programs, they are recording the same way, and every new thing that’s coming onto the market, every studio upgrade is the same. If you use a drum machine or some samples, you take it from the same libraries. And then I think that people don’t spend too much effort and time anymore, cause things are moving faster, everything has to be done faster. It’s also because of the financial situation in the world. We have to work twice as fast to survive.
M: And maybe have to deal also with cuts in the budget.
J: No, well, also the budget, but I think that basically time is moving "faster" for everyone, to get things done. Society demands more from you as a person, then you have to finish earlier to be able to get the paycheck, and you need your paycheck, so you make a compromise and finish earlier. It’s not like the seventies or eighties, when you had hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank while you worked, and then you could say "Fuck, let’s just take a couple of months break and then we start again" if you’re not happy with something. And one guy maybe was in rehab and he wasn’t feeling well, and so they continued recording half a year later. Because everyone had money, at least those ones who were quite successful in the business.
It’s just new times now, like I said, some bands, younger ones, have daily jobs. They have families and all, and at the same time they have a band with a career. And on top of that they have to produce: play shows, record albums, make videos, keep the website updated, Facebook, like you mentioned. And it’s very hectic, the world moves so fast that… I think that’s what separates the old bands from the new bands.
That’s why you cannot really live up to what the old bands did, unless you decide to follow out of that new trend. So that you can actually find some mid-way there, and that’s what you got. Just spend more time writing, spend more time being picky with what you’re gonna do. And of course I couldn’t write what I write and record what we record and make it sound like it sounds in the end, if I had a daily job. It wouldn’t be possible. And then I would need at least five years, or 3, 4, 5 years between every album to make it possible. You need to maintain your health and be able to do all things. Maintain your business, pay your taxes, have a family life and private situation, together with having a [music] career.
You need to accept the fact that you can’t get everything. If you want a bigger house, if you want more cars, if you want something, you can have it, but then you have to take that other job, or you have to be involved in too many projects, which I’ve been in the past. But I discovered that I can’t continue like this because it’s gonna jeopardize the quality. Like I said you start to repeat yourself eventually, and the people, your fans, compare with what you did in the past. To be able to really keep a certain level, you have to spend more time, I think. Then you get to actually make sure that what you release is a proper product, and that you did something that you can be proud of. It’s also important that you get to be proud of what you do.
The worst thing is if you finish something and you think it’s not as good as you used to do. I can’t do that, then I’d just quit and find something else to do in life! [ride]
M: Exactly, it doesn’t make much sense to make a record you’re not satisfied with. And what can you tell us about how the new album will be like?
J: The new album will be… It’s a boring word to say, a "classic", but I always say that. Let’s climb up more, it’s a "neoclassic" one! [ride]
No, I think we understood now that we are more into a rock "formula" than before. Things before were slightly "experimental" here and there, there were some songs that could fit on a single, or for the radio. There will always be one song or two that will be slightly more experimental, or progressive as some people like to call it. I think now it’s more of a rock formula, still "Jorn recipe", like before.
I think the line-up now is a very good one, and with this line-up we can make a difference with the new album, also because we are running away from those "modern" production methods that we used in the past. It was always an organic band to begin with, but we still used technology. Some people recorded things in another country and then they would send files and download from some server, you know. It worked, but now we want to try to do this the old way, how our influences did it, just to have that album were we can say "this is the real shit!".
Even though it sounds like the real shit what we did in the past, and it is when we play, but you know what you did yourself, you know what you did in the studio.
M: Quicly one last question I wanted to ask you: how did you feel after you recorded the Dio tribute album, when you heard the news that he has passed away?
J: It was a really sensitive thing, because the album then came out really soon after that. It wasn’t really meant to, but there was some delay in publishing it.
N: The album was done as you said when I joined the band, it was already on Jorn’s mind, then we recorded at that time.
J: Yeah, there are some songs from 2008, that we started recording already back then.
M: Yes, if I remember that most of the recording should have been done around the end of 2009.
J: And there are also songs that go back to 2006 in the album, some others from 2007. It was basically not a plan in the first place to have that album out under those circumstances, I would have loved Ronnie to hear "A Song For Ronnie James" for example, that was the intention. I looked up to him, and his Rock. I liked also other bands, but he stood out among them. And while all the other bands that I liked converted to the "trends" of the time, the 80’s came, and they became more "poppy", they changed, they followed the new wave… I think Ronnie never did in a way.
Even though I know he said once that he hated the keyboards on "Rainbow In The Dark", which we like today. But it just shows that he was really concerned about his own legacy, that he wanted to do something that he believed in. And that’s something that inspired me a lot, especially as the 90’s came, and everybody tried to pull me in different directions, musically. They were all saying "Jorn you have talent for this and for that", "You could do everything with your voice"… It was kind of frustrating. But every time I was about to get "lured" into something I was always looking to Ronnie, and think that he would still do something that he believed in. He was still doing it, and he was then in his 50’s. So to me it became like a symbol of a guy that really stood there and did what he believed in, he followed his vision, his dream. He was like a solid rock there, and a great influence. That’s why I wanted him to have a song like "A Song For Ronnie James". And I also thought that some of the other artists I grew up with… They became more or less "commercial" artists, they came from different backgrounds, but ended up as a commercial product. I think Ronnie never did, and he was just living there in the shadow, and kept doing his thing. I always saw him as a "solid rock" which stood there, and a really good-hearted person.
M: And I’m really happy to hear all this, and that he’s been a great influence to you, because I really can relate your music to his in many ways.
J: Thanks! There’s so many things that we can do in life, you know, and we try to do what we like to do, and believe that this is still possible in a world that’s changing and it’s demanding so much from you, it wants to change you, and drive you in a certain direction.
M: And also, when I saw they formed the Dio Disciples band, I though you would have been perfect to sing there.
J: I know, but it is not right. It’s not right. I want to honor Ronnie for what he did and I will take it with me till I die, as the most important resource and important person that contributed to shape my own career, my own focus, or vision. We all have our inspiration from somewhere, anybody who says different then is full of shit, because we all take something from somewhere and I think people are afraid to talk about it. They always try to hide their influences, and try to make up some kind of strange influence-talk. A guitar player which sounds like Richie Blackmore talks like he’s been influenced by some jazz player that nobody heard of. It’s like they desperately try to be original. I just thought that Ronnie James Dio deserved to be honored, deserved to be talked about by a fellow musician, that might be younger, but someone that can really perform in that kind of context, like we can.
Instead of trying to run away from the sources, it’s obvious where we came from. We came from bands like Free, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Whitesnake… That’s what we grew up with. That’s like our mother’s milk. I brought all these influences with me and all these singers from these bands are great singers and I loved every album I listened to. We didn’t have any Internet, we didn’t have DVDs or anything, we just had to listen to the cassettes or the vinyls, and that’s it. And I think our task is to keep it alive. Keep the Rock’n’Roll alive cause it’s about to die with all these new bands. If we can be some kind of opposite there, to pull it forward, that’s what we like to do.
And I always say that if it’s not possible to do it, if the people don’t want me, or us, to do it, then we are not gonna do it. We do it for ourselves, and because we feel that the world is giving us something back, wants us to continue. So we are grateful and we are living forward for that, basically.
M: Ok. I think we are running out of time [the band had to prepare to get on stage], so before we go I want to thank you for the interview, and I’ll see you later on stage!
J: Yeah sure, and thanks!
N: Thank you very much!
Siamo alla ricerca di un nuovo addetto per la sezione DEMO, gli interessati possono contattare lo staff di Holy Metal, nel frattempo la sezione demo rimane temporaneamente chiusa.