Jorn Lande: The Duke of Words, Part 2
Here part 2 of our interview with Metal legend Jorn Lande, who indeed opened up to STALKER in a very long chat that could even be a record breaker…
What is your dream, where does your inspiration come from? Are your lyrics from your personal life or only fiction?
No, they come from my personal life but it’s triggered by things I experienced in life or something I see, like a building or something I watch on TV or news or a movie or something I read and then I get an idea. But I never get an idea based on creating a fictive story, I always get the idea that I can use it as a symbolism before and channel it to my own experiences. Cause I think it can resemble something I actually experienced or something I am wondering about and have thoughts about. I usually use the past. You know we live know and my curiosity and my thoughts about the past and present and future it’s kind of all coming together in the process of writing. The fascination of the past and the wondering of the future, what’s gonna happen? Where are we going? And then you reflect the present in the middle of this things. And I use all kind of elements as symbolism. It’s like people did forever, people used the tower of Babylon to symbolise how we are ambitious reaching out to new dimensions, you know what I mean? I just use everything in an existential mixture.
Which song are you most proud of, and why?
That’s difficult to say. I mean I like many of the songs now but I think couple of songs from the new record, I think “War of the World” is a great song, “Soul of the Wind” is too, but I think the most special song to me might be “Man of the Dark” because it has a story but still it’s personal, it’s in a way about me but it’s also a story that anyone can relate to. It’s a more obvious story and at the same time it’s personal and the song is a very classic song that always sounds great live, the band sounds very together and tight when we play that song, very natural.
So you will play it tonight?
We will play it tonight for sure! Yeah, I think that’s a song which is gonna follow us, it’s a song which is gonna be remembered, that people wanna hear us play, I think. It has something special it has the classic Sabbath, Dioish influence but it also has the more melodic, dramatic, theatrical thing which reminds me a little bit (starts laughing) of Jorn but it still has a little bit of Queen, I think the verse has … mh it’s hard to explain… it has ….. It’s a very simple song that really doesn’t have too many obvious influences but still you can tell it’s like a complete thing that’s really pure Jorn identity. You know you can not just say” Oh, he is inspired by… this singer or this band” you can not tell but still all these elements are there but I think they are together in a more natural way. I don’t know what to say (which is not often happening to Mr. Lande) I just love the song I feel that this is really a strong trademark with a lot of personality in it.
So the song means a lot to your heart?
Yeah, it really does! And I also feel that this is a song people really can identify with, both musically and lyrically
How did it all begin? Can you tell us a little bit about your musical background?
I try! I went to a music school for almost one season and then I got thrown out because it was a Christian school, very strict, close to a fanatic one. I guess, I was also kind of, well I wasn’t really easy to handle either, I was not very good with authorities and I didn’t like people to tell me what to do so I might have been slightly irrational myself but they were also quite strict, maybe too strict for me. After that I haven’t done anything else than music cause that was what I wanted to do and I decided from that moment on that regardless of what happens I’m gonna be doing this and make a living for myself and that I gonna prove to all this people that it’s possible to live the dream
(In the meantime Pure Inc. starts their soundcheck, loud drums interrupt our conversation)
How do you take care of your voice? Do you have something special that you do before the show that your voice is so full of power?
Ah, no, not really, I mean I get tried in the voice like everyone else when I sing too many shows in a row, so far I have been lucky that my voice has been working, sometimes it’s better than other times, someday it’s better then other days, in general I am lucky to have a strong muscle there (laughs) or whatever it is…But of course when I was younger I used to sing a little different, I used my voice in different ways and I changed that slightly, started to focus more on one certain expression, which I felt more comfortable with which I am doing now I am more focused on doing that one expression cause it’s more natural for me. Even though you have a talent to do many things, you don’t necessarily have to do it, just because you are able to. I just need to find out what’s really natural for me. When I do like I do now I can both perform with power and still be in control on stage, I can communicate with the people at the same time but some of the other ways of singing that I did, when I was singing with a lot thinner voice this higher stuff then I would always have to stay in my own world on stage, always concentrating on hitting the notes and shaping my voice. Get the right volume which made me lose stage presence and so I said I wanna find something where I can do everything. Both feel comfortable and self-confident and at the same time I can be there for the crowed. It took me many years to find this out.
In the middle of this we talked about the Grunge and the Brit Pop era in the 90’s. I was old enough to have my own career and then suddenly those days where over with that kind of music I really loved and the reason for starting with music was suddenly not there anymore, you couldn’t get a record deal if you were a classic hard rock singer. I think what we did, we were forced to try something new that’s why I did some experimental albums like with Ark – “Burn The Sun” and Beyond Twilight – “Devil´s Hall Of Fame” but I tried during the 90’s to keep the original roots but then still to do some classic thing, to add something that was maybe a little bit more developed and we where hoping by doing this that we would get more acceptance by the people and be less compared to the other ones, you know. Cause we didn’t want to be copies we just wanted to be inspired and have our own identity – that was a difficult thing. I think we still keep that kind of original idealism, even though we have that classic thing in the foundation we still experiment a little bit with some other elements, not too much I think, very very idealistic, I think after a while we discovered that we never had to do this really we just actually, from the beginning, could have been writing simple songs to the point for the fans to understand.
But I mean we all have different backgrounds and circumstances. My musical journey was like this I had to try out and experiment with many different bands and projects and styles but I never lost the foundation of the old style of the hard rock, that was always there. I think it’s because I grew up in the 70’s we had all these, like I mentioned before, great bands and all kinds of styles and I think many people became kind of hyped in a way cause we were just almost drowning in great bands. And I mean these band spend half their life on discovering themselves and create a certain style and suddenly the international exploded and it was easy to buy records, I mean nobody could buy records in the same way in the 50’s in the 60’s and suddenly the 70’s came and everything exploded and by the 80’s you just could get music anywhere you could just buy a whole carrier, half of a band’s life and it could just be analyzed in a few months, you could check out the whole history easily so we could pick out all the bits and pieces that we liked and bring it in to our own music.
I was inspired by Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, 10cc even pop like this guy from Australia, John Farnham, a great singer and the quality level was so high and we were starting to bring all these elements into the songwriting. It also made it easier to write songs, faster because you could allow yourself to mix styles. You could suddenly go in another dimension musically. It was easier to write and took less effort. it was more about being open-minded. I think it’s actually more difficult now just for me to write a pure hard rock song with the expression I choose, cause you really have to be to the point with the songwriting and it has to be really tasteful. I think that was kind of a musical journey that took us back to the beginning.
You have performed shows with Avantasia how came this up?
Tobi asked me, since working with Masterplan I know him, we knew a lot of people in German music business, so I met Tobi before many times so he took me three days to Wolfsburg and it was easy for me and great people to work with, very professional and nice people. It was in nice countryside in Wolfsburg Germany. German countryside is really nice when you never saw it before. I mean many people from other parts of the world know nothing but concrete and red-light districts like Reeperbahn that’ kind of thing, people have this kind of image about Germany but it’s actually quite beautiful when you drive off the autobahn then you drive into the countryside, some lakes and villages and small towns with old architecture. It’s very green, the vegetation is really nice. I mean Norway is amazing, it’s like the Swiss mountains but we have much more of it.
We have everything mixed, something Finnish, Swedish, German and Swiss things (laughs) We have like all these elements in one country so it’s a lot of elements together so it’s kind of a privilege to grow up in Norway. It’s never more than one or one and a half hour to the mountains if you wanna go skiing but then you are suddenly down and it’s warm and it’s green and it’s easy. Very close to everything, we have all kind of temperatures, I live in the South East (Frederikstad) there is a milder climate at the sea and a good place for holidays in the summer (twinkles with the eye) a lot of boats and the smell from the old wooden boats that people repair and their boat paint and everything.
What advice would you give a newcomer band on the way to the top, do you have some special things you would give them on their way, what they have to be aware of or so?
It depends on how realistic you are! I mean you play music because you really wanna have success? If you are willing to sacrifice a lot, you get what you want, as long as you are creative and productive… I mean the business isn’t important but at the same time in the metal scene it’s harder in this scene, it’s not like in the commercial pop scene there are different rules. Everyone wants to make money from you and if you are too hard with the business you might end up selling less records because nobody really makes money from you, so it’s balance, it will take balance to let get you what you want but you have to accept the fact that the business wants to make money from you and if you are too hard with contracts and everything it might end up in a bad thing for you cause then you have the greatest contract but you get the least percents you can get but then the business is not making enough money from you and then they exploit you, which means that they rather push a band that’s maybe not as good as you but that band maybe does not have the best contract, so they can make more money from that band. And if you see it in a long run this band will have more success and more money.
But after a while they might be more aware of it and start going into the big ones but then they already established a platform. And also it’s like starting with the dishes in a hotel and you might become the manager. The biggest mistake is to start with being to focused on numbers and details, important is to make sure that it’s not the shitiest contract but you shouldn’t be too hard on it, especially in dependencies, you rather think about how many years you plan to invest to build a career. Accept the fact that you might have to record many albums before you get to a certain level and you have to earn it before you can start being picky with the business.
As I started I had to accept that the deal I took was the best cause I didn’t have another bad deal. I got more and more famous cause the record company would push me out there and it depends on how you see it. That was my own way and today I try to be flexible still but of course I am aware of bad contracts I’m not that picky with it still. It’s a job so I look that I get what is necessary to live from it that’s important to me that I have something during life and in future, I don’t speculate that much with the details and the most dangerous thing is to dwell on the music that you wrote you should always think about what you gonna write. What you did in the past is the past, next year you do something new. So many people try to spend their whole effort on what they did, and then they think they can never do it as good as they did and they always play that old record: “Ah, this is what I did when it was the best”. But it’s a very long progress.
I think the most important tip I can give to people that start today is that: Be sure that the deal you make is a licensing deal that lasts for a certain number of years, maybe 5 or 3 years, so that the rights go automatically back to the band or artist after a certain period of time. This way, you know, even if it’s a bad deal you will get your rights back for that album in a few years which means you can do more clever business with it, you can build a catalogue and you can resell your catalogue and make more business in the future that’s what they all did that’s why you see the best of’s coming out. Cause many of these bands made sure that they got the rights back at some point. That’s the tip I can say.
Don’t be to picky on all the details cause you might end up losing the deal or end up not being promoted at all cause you were too hard with the business, let’s say you wanna licence the record from every country because you think that’s smart you can get the advances from every country that’s not really always a smart thing cause then you are limited to all the territories, which means that all these distributions they might have all contracts with other bands and they will come before you cause for some of these bands they might have a deal for the whole world which means that they have a much bigger territory to make profit from, which means even though your contract is great it’s sometimes good to have a record company for the whole world, one company, it’s sometimes good even though reasons tells you that theoretically it would be smart to have a separate one for each territory. The best is to get as much advance as possible from one label that will work for you all over the world cause it means that they will always work for you. Cause they have a lot of interest to make money with you cause they own the rights. But a licensing deal is the most important thing.
What do you think is cool/totally sucks about being a musician?
Instability, always having to make the deadline, you have to be very passionate about this and define the balance. I think I can’t really, I don’t know if it’s negative when you are younger and you are frustrated cause you don’t really know everything about life yet cause you are too young, then you easily get frustrated from all the work you have to do to make some money but after a while you get used to it, you find a way to do it, you find a certain way. It’s more work then you expect. That’s maybe the most difficult part after a while you find ways to do it and to establish a relationship with the business that’s also very important. I learned it by changing partners in record companies with our band. Things became more difficult I felt more insecure with the people I worked with cause then you always have to do it with new people and they all have different ways of thinking so I think its good to have a long relationship with a record company or management cause then you will also lower your shoulders more cause then you are not gonna misunderstand an email you know if your record boss or your manager got up with the wrong feet on a Monday (laughs) And he is in a bad mood and he says something, you won’t take it personal cause you know how he is. They you just say whatever I write back tomorrow. You can allow yourself to relax more cause you know the person, it’s like your family you know people well enough not to bother too much about it.
What do you plan in the near future?
A DVD is coming from America that we did a double Cd “Live in America” that we did couple of years ago. It’s coming out on DVD in a few months. We are supposed to release it before Christmas but I don’t think we will make it cause we had some delays with the editing of the DVD it was almost finished now its gonna be out just after Christmas, I think. And the new record will be done next year it will be out in spring. I think I mention things in my life in sections, I’m thinking now I am 40 and I wanna do certain things with a certain time frame and then I am gonna make longer intervals between the records in future. I wanna be really creative and productive now I am still working hard to establish my future. You know you don’t earn pension points when you’re into hard rock so its important to make a strong platform for the future when you get older and I think I am using that youth and energy (laughs) now I still have and when I am older then I can maybe slow down a little bit more and start playing all this songs live more and then you make more DVDs and you build your songs, work on them you play them and on one point you have to promote them. So I think that’s why I do a lot of work now when I have a lot if ideas and with the deal I have it’s unfinished business with the song writing and so on and then I have a catalogue and everything is set for best of’s for DVDs and live tours with handpicked songs. Cause you always have only around 2-3 songs on each record which really stand out and then you decide that you have enough records to pick from and then you end up with the best potential set. I mean it gets harder every year.
The way I am writing is very spontaneous I like to have pressure I want them to be good but I still don’t wanna spend a lot of time. I just wanna record it and do it and if it’s not that perfect it’s not the end of the world. It just has to make ourselves happy and had to be a good quality production. I am flowing over with ideas and things I wanna do so if I don’t take the idea when I get it and finish it within the next common year and record it then I get tired of it even though it’s a great Idea, people say to me “Wow that’s fucking amazing” I say well yeah it’s something from the past I moved on now I don’t wanna use that idea. Then comes “Oh Jorn you have to use it!” Oh maybe! Because it’s too old for me now I moved on with new ideas, started new things in my life so it’s better if I don’t analyze an idea too much otherwise I get tired of it.
So how is it then when you are on stage, don’t you get bored when people wanna hear 200 times the same song?
No, because the energy and the youth is the most important thing and when I analyze it and get bored then I lose the spontaneous feeling and the youthful energy. And as long as I do it with that energy I am still 15. I just wanna feel the same as I did as the song was new. I wanna live the same dream and if I lose the young element I never gonna write a new song. That’s why it has to happen fast. Same with the studio I wanna fill my notes or my textbook, when I hit the studio it’s not complete with the songs they are so fresh that I even haven’t got them in the computer just have them there and I have a lot of alternatives, always for the lyrics different sentences different twists when I go to the studio I don’t even know which ones to use cause I have alternatives I am thinking oh maybe that is good, I don’t know maybe this one and then I have to try it first. And just sing it and if I like it… I cross out the stuff I don’t like quickly. I don’t spend too much time it’s just very fast but then I can get that confirmation easily from listening and hearing what I just did singing for an hour and then listen to it and then I go on to other stuff. When I quickly discover what’s the best solution sometimes you have to do it physically before you actually find out which’s right.
Do you have some final words for the Stalker readers?
Thanks to everyone for following our promo and everything through all the years, I am very lucky to have a career and I hope to see everyone on the road in the future. And as long anyone wants to come I am gonna make records and be out there. That’s all I can say. Keep Metal Alive(Laughs)
Thank you for the interview. And have a nice show
All right, thank you. See you tonight!
We got afterwards some news from Jorn: his new record “Spirit Black” will be released in May 2009 including the cover song “I walk Alone” taken from Tarja Turunen’s Winterstorm!