The Duke of Love returns to Central Europe, this is the right time to talk to the Master of Voices about his last record “Lonely are the Brave” and upcoming plans. At the show at Z7 in Pratteln he took his time and answered every question extensively and showed us his personality. One and a half hours later we know for sure that this man knows how to get along in the business and how to rock.
Hello Jorn how are you doing today?
I am a little bit tired but that´s normal.
How was the tour so far?
It´s been good, we have been in England and Ireland that were the two countries where we didn´t know what to expect, so we never really played that many shows in the UK, well some people came to the show and yeah I think Germany and Holland was really good, for being the first official European Jorn Tour it´s really good. I mean we didn´t know what to expect, so a little bit less people in the UK since we never played there before but still not bad. The last album did very well, so the British market also started moving now, it happens there too, still slowly. Germany has always been a strong market, and we played at Z7 before, I did it with Masterplan, so I have been here before. It´s a great venue so it is a perfect venue for making a DVD, well we won´t do it but I would love to do it cause it is such a nice venue, it´s a cool atmosphere, just a good stage, well we´ll see what happens.(laughs)
You haven´t been in Switzerland for a long time, right? The last time at Z7 you were with Masterplan. How is it to be back? Are you nervous because of the show?
No, no I am not. Like I said we didn´t know what to expect, we didn´t put a lot of effort in pushing the tour, you know like promoting the tour, we just wanted to put up some shows around Europe just to play and establish the own band as something that people can relate to and to show them that we will play in the future, that we have a good band and that we want to do more live shows in the future, so I mean we were all busy with different projects and other bands before, so we didn´t play that many shows, we were making records, and now things changed JORN has become our priority and we love to play in this band and we love the music and the style we all have strong roots in hard rock, especially the hard rock of the 70´s, early 80´s, not many bands play that way, everyone wants to be trendy. More modern, they want to invent the wheel again, which is not possible.
Yeah and I think we all did this the last 20 years, all of us have been a part of development of the 90´s and what happened since the Grunge period and the Brit Pop came to cover the world in a way, and which made it more difficult for bands like us. But now it has changed, it´s not as massive as it was in the 80´s but it´s coming back even stronger then before cause I think now the scene is a more realistic scene, I mean you can now have a long term career even though it is not as massive as it was in the old days and actually build a platform and have a long lasting life as an artist. If you are good, and if you don´t take it light what you do and if you are serious everything leads to building a platform. Well I think it´s not about how big a hype you can create I think this is just the uppers and the downers in this world so. I think the most important thing for me is to have a stable platform, to be able to work and have a record company that believes in me and that likes the music and of course they have to sell albums as well but you know I think the great thing is to be able to maintain a certain career and I mean to me it´s something personal rather than just a way of making a living. It´s not for the money, it´s more that I would rather do something else if it would be because of the money.
Are you able to live on your music?
I am able to live on the music this is all I did, it wasn´t always easy, but for the last 15 to 20 years I kind of managed and I think since 2003 as we received the European Borderbreaker Award with Masterplan, since then things became even better. Cause then it was all easier, conditions became better, money flows, cash flows more frequent. Of course I was lucky to get a lot of connections in this business and to reach out to a lot of people besides the JORN thing, I am also lucky to work with a lot of great musicians and so I have nothing to complain about really. I am able to make my living from what I love to do since I was a kid. So it began as a dream, you know this kid was growing up in a small village and he wanted to be a singer (laughs) and looking up to all the heroes of the 70´s which was the way I saw it back then in 1973 when the Sweet single “Ballroom Blitz” came out I still remember it, cause it was my favourite and we didn´t have any internet or anything, no videos, no DVD´s, no Cd´s. It was all vinyl small singles with one picture available only, there was one picture of the band on the single that was all I had, holding it in my hand and everything I fantasised about, about the band or wondered about it, based on that one photo so the myth was created (laughs) around that. That was all we had if we were lucky we got to see another photo in a magazine or something not very often, I remember that they had candy bags that you could buy, sometimes there were cards in the candy bags one bag was pink and had stars on it and inside there were candy for the kids, you could choose for the girls they would buy this pinkie thing with ABBA cards and for the boys you had the Kiss one, this was a blue one I think blue and yellow coloured but anyway it was mixed with all the artists of the 70´s so it was actually a big candy industry. The candy producers made a lot stuff with the artists. Now it´s mostly magazines or toys, imagine you buy a Kiss chocolate bar (laughs)
Well nowadays it´s Lordi who have those candy things.
Well yeah that´s recently, it´s not normal but back then it wasn´t just one band it was a lot of bands.
So how about your other heroes? Who inspired you?
Well I grew up with all the bands of the 70´s and all kind of music. I mean also pop music was a very high quality. You know all the old band like Manfred Mann and 10cc, a lot of bands like Kansas, Styx, Boston, Journey, Foreigner, there where a lot of bands that were great not necessarily heavy, but they had great songs they were good songwriters they put something personal into the song writing and the performance was also very important, you had to give from yourself heart and soul that was important, reflect your life through the music I think that changed when the world became more cynical and speculative with business and bands tried to find a new way to make money from the market and I think it was more genuine back then it was more artists were really good and you could like any kind of artists jazz or country music, metal or whatever, cause the quality level was so good and a good song was a good song and a good performer was a good performer regardless of style but today it´s been different for many years now it´s been different.
It´s slightly changing a little bit cause if you are looking at the exceptions between styles in hard rock and metal it has been levelled out a little bit, cause I remembered just ten years ago, you couldn´t play the same festival as a Black Metal band and today everything is mixed together you can see all the hero´s. You can see Suzi Quatro playing at the same gig as Dimmu Borgir so I think this is a good development, it shows that the music, the rock community belongs together and it´s not just about the music it´s also about a certain lifestyle and identifying with something that is common to this people and I think this is the main reason for bands like this continuing, to feed of the fans, to go on stage and to know there are a lot of people out there who enjoy the music and who know the words and take all you say personal, as long as you feel that you get this confirmation, that people actually identify with what you are talking about then you know that you did something honest and that´s what I like. I think life is a long battle, it´s a short life but it´s a long battle and I think it´s the same for everyone.
I think what I am trying to do is to put words and expressions into these thoughts and feelings and channel this somehow and this is also based on some other people I grow up with and that I enjoyed. Singers like Ronnie James Dio, as I was a kid I still love him a lot, he was almost like a mentor for me when I was younger and he still means a lot to me. Every time when I look back to my past and I think about the reason for doing this his picture always comes and of course I met him personally a few times and we sat down couple of times and talked but it´s just even without meeting him in person I would still get this feeling and that´s also one of the reasons same with Freddy Mercury, or Paul Rogers from Free and now Queen, he is in Queen now, yeah there are many great singers like David Coverdale, Steve Walsh of Kansas there are many goods like I said quality was very good regardless of styles , all these bands have different styles some are more progressive ..(Laughs)
I am saying the word now I remember 10 – 15 years ago if you said the word progressive in an interview someone would point the finger on you like “Why do you use the word?” I don´t like the word progressive, you shouldn´t use that and now all the bands do it and it´s like “Ptss Ok!” I wonder sometimes what´s behind the word progressive, everybody uses it today. Let´s ask the people maybe we will get some comments maybe the people can explain it, I don´t know. I mean I know what it means but not why it is linked to this kind of music cause I think if you look at metal it´s quite extreme anyway in heavy why is it separated, why is it progressive when people change beats and play all that stuff if you know what I mean we all play that kind of stuff in this music. I don´t know I think it´s just the word progressive that people don´t like cause it´s somehow negative I mean to me progressive is, we´ve all learned that you are on the edge of things and you are progressive when you are not a normal kind of average band. I think people saw this as negative and that´s why it´s not negative it´s positive (laughs) If we call it extreme cause I mean imagine how many bands influenced by RUSH for example in Progmetal, why not call it extreme jazz metal or extreme jazz rock metal (starts to joke around ) But we all say it now without thinking about.
Yeah but with one record of the band called Mundanus Imperum we received an award in Norway for breaking boundaries, the album was called “The Spectral Spheres Coronation” it was like a black metal band with melodic powerful dramatic vocals, it was very early in the 90´s, nobody did this everybody was growling, nobody sang melodies in black metal, so I think we were kind of the first ones who did this and that´s why we got this award, but the style of the music I remember, when we analyzed it, with this combination this black metal and this classic hard rock, we called It Temple Rock, some journalists called it space metal cause the whole concept was very Astro. I know we talked about space and constellations. It never became a typical thing, that´s what people said when they heard it, when they reviewed it, it was Temple Rock and some said Space Metal. Anyway ROCK´N´ROLL!
Right! So it is!
Rock´n´Roll is more grounded. I figured that I go back to my roots after a while and get back to Rock. You can try many things but it depends on how many colours there are, if you like your neighbours house and its red why can´t you use red, just because someone else did it, cause if you don´t do, you get to all those colours which are not fitting! They might work but you loose a lot of classic elements which stand for a certain quality this is the same in everything, movie industry and so on. The old classic war and battle scenes were suddenly old fashioned and everyone tried to film it from every different ankle. Which started in the 90´s, like shaking cameras and so on which is cool as a experiment so see how far you can push the limit but I think we lost for a while the sense for good quality. And I think it´s not in the movies, it´s in all kind of things like work and so. I mean people wanted to sell music equipment but then you wanna sell fish at the same time, you know (Jorn starts joking again in an old seaman´s voice he says):” ahh I sell stereos and fish and if you want to have a massage I have a room upstairs!” Laughs) So take your pick what do you want? It´s like the new wonder world I think we are now coming back to something I think we kept some good things about experimenting but we are learning, we load our shoulders little bit more and accept the fact that some people have walked the earth before you and done great things and you should honour that and bring the legacy into the future instead of destroying it. Only because you think you are the new generation, because you are going to be better then all these other people. It´s just a typical young thing you are always more clever then your father or your mother and you think they are just old farts that don´t really get it. And then you think they don´t understand, but they do and then they have been there before and they lived a life through and they have been on the exact same spot as yourself.
I just think people in a certain age underestimate people that are older because they are maybe more quiet, they don´t say that much and they live a more routine based life, which is suddenly boring and then back to reinventing the wheel, you know! That´s a classic thing and in the music industry I see this all the time a new band today that has a lot of testosterone and adrenalin they are boiling over with energy and of course they think they are on top of the world and they think they already learned everything. So guys like me and these other ones we are just these old guys, we are finished, you know (laughs) But then you get it in another way. Who laughs on the way to the bank? (Laughs again)
Yeah but most of them go high very fast and fall down even faster, don´t you think so?
Well yeah, and then they have a lot of bitterness, selfishness, jealousy which comes across quite clearly and I think in the metal scene, in this bubble that we are in, it´s very different from the pop scene, it´s like in the pop scene you can allow yourself to do anything, let´s say you are inspired by something, it´s obvious nobody is talking bad about you in the pop scene if you do, they just mention it and that not very often they say “ok this reminds me of whatever The Doors”. If you make a great record and it sounds like something that happened in the 90´s or 80´s, 70´s whatever it´s just a positive thing if it´s good, then people accept it and they really review it in a positive way but in Metal and Hard Rock everything it´s very negative and dark, a lot of people compared to the pop scene they are very picky with all this details it´s like they always look for the bad thing it´s like they always wanna take you down every second when you do something great. A lot of people in the metal business they spend time, a lot of Fans spend their daily life on writing shit on the internet going into forums and send out statements like it´s personal to take bands down, I read a lot of shit all the time not just about our band or myself I read it, let´s say I buy a great record and I say:” Fuck this is so good!” And then I read this review or this comment on youtube or something you know, it´s so bad, they are so evil and so mean they are so full of complexes the way they do.
Don´t you think is jealousy?
Is it jealousy? Don´t know it´s so awful there is so much bitterness in it. And when you are young you take it personal if you are an artist or you play in a band you take it personal and that´s what they know but if you live for a few years (Jorn is grinning) You just read it and you have to laugh and now I call my friends and say: “Hey, you gotta read this! This guy, he is so pissed off that we did this cover song that we recorded this whatever record!” Now it´s more fun, it´s entertaining to read it because it´s all positive in the end, it´s like the old saying “Bad publicity, can be good publicity!” So if people wanna discuss it and talk about it, it doesn´t matter if it´s in a good way or in a negative way cause you keep the hype going especially if you need some publicity, especially if you don´t have the most massive record label behind you then you need to keep them interested which means that all this people, they actually work for you.
Well I have to keep this in my mind this is a good way to think about it!
Few months back you have released your new record “Lonely are the Brave” can you tell us something about the producing process, where did you recorded it?
We recorded it in Norway but it was mixed in Denmark, a friend of mine called Tommy Hansen, a great producer, he used to be one of the Number 1 producers in Denmark in the 80´s, he now started to get older but he still has a great talent, so I always mix my records there, so I never change my mixing team. I tried a couple of alternatives a few years ago but I ended up to going back to the same recipe, cause it worked well, I think the new record is very honest and direct it´s not analyzed to death like many bands do today, many bands make demos or slowly build up a production with Pro Tools Setups, so everyone can do it with this, that´s what I don´t like with the way people record today, they do everything on the computer and then they start to quantizing everything.
I think when we make records, of course we use the technology but we never make demos and we never build a song out of the computer, we never orchestrate or arrange things to fill every spot of the music. I sit down with my guitarist and we play some stuff and we write some melodies and I write some lyrics or both, I sometimes play some guitar at home as well and I write some cool ideas and then I show it to the guitarist and he either takes it further or he says “Wow, that´s brilliant”, cause I am not a real guitarist I can make things that sometimes are not really common to play for a professional guitarist he says: “Oh, I would´ve never been thinking about playing this riff on those two strings only”, and it sounds great and then he says: “Wow!” But we do the whole thing in an old fashioned way it´s like handcraft in a way, very much down to earth, we only use technology for recording the album, we don´t have to record on old tapes anymore but it´s easy to fix things if you need to. I don´t like to spend lot of time to analyze it, I like to be under pressure, I like to know that I have to finish a record within the next couple of months for example I might even have not all the songs ready or the lyrics or anything I just have like bits and pieces and I know the basic or not even have a plan for everything.
Did you write all the songs yourself?
I usually make the foundation and then we take it together and finish it, it is all open what´s going to happen. Just wanna have good songs that go to the point and not to many dead spots during the songs. People today like it to be to the point, it´s the world of today I mean the old days people had long sections of music long build ups with intros, instrumental parts that last for 5 minutes and then the last verse started. But people don´t have the passions for that anymore and I think we have it either, we also wanna feel that we are doing something to the point, cause we never allowed ourselves to drift off to that point.
And I think the new record is more Rock´n´Roll and more Hard Rock compared to the older stuff. We had more, and the word again, progressive elements, I think “The Duke” was maybe more classic but it still had some different elements, different musical landscapes, it was slightly bluesy, bits and pieces couple of small progressive elements and then back to the classic hard rock again. But I also think that this new record is much more complete, much more pure and it´s easy to recognise the identity of the band just by listening to one song, any song will kind of stand out and represent the whole album and on the old records it was like, you can hear one song then you can hear the other song and it was like ”Is this the same album? Or even the same band?” Now it´s much more to the point!
continue reading at part 2