Intervju med Steven Wilson

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Photo:  Lasse Hoile
Interview with Steven Wilson 6 October 2011
By Karl – Göran Karlsson

First of all I would like to congratulate you to a very fine record which I rank as the best record so far this year in the field of Artrock/Progressive Rock!

Thank you very much!

I have followed you, Porcupine Tree and a lot of all the other stuff you have been involved in through the years and I must say that this is the “proggiest” album you have ever made. There are so many influences from the music from the late 60’s and 70’s. Have you had this idea in mind for a long time or is it just recently you got the idea to do something like this?

Well, about the proggy influence I completely agree with you but personally I have problems with the notation “Progressive Rock”. I really don’t know what it means and what it stands for. If you were around at that time during the 70’s, you would have noticed that none of the bands being around then called themselves progressive rock bands. They were simply bands coming out from the late 60’s and they were largely musicians with a non-popular musical background: They were jazz musicians, folk musicians, blues musicians or classical musicians. They saw the possibilities to combine more popular music like Beatles, Beach Boys or those kind of bands with music from their own roots. And that is what we now call Progressive Rock.

That’s indeed a very wide field of music.

Yeah, there are indeed only two things that are in common for what we call Progressive Rock: 1. Dedication to the music and the album they worked with. 2. The ambition to create a new kind of musical journey or musical hybrid. Apart from that there is nothing really that can be called a typical progressive rock thing. Some people think that progressive rock was about very high quality musicianship but there are many examples where musicians very not very qualified or very skilled but who created music that still is considered as progressive rock.

Yes I think we both agree that the term denotes music from a wide variety of styles and musical ambitions. So let’s leave this subject and return to your new album.

Yes. I admit that there is a lot of references on the new album to this era of the late 60’s and early 70’s that many people call the golden age of progressive rock music. In that sense it is my “proggiest” album so far.

I am thinking very much of the King Crimson influences.

I have been working very intensely with remixing of the early King Crimson records lately. When I then came to work with “Grace for drowning” all of that music was kind of buzzing around in my head. I also grew up with that music and I love it. But I have actually never entered into a project with so much of somebody else’s music going around in my brain.

 When I first came to listen to Porcupine Tree, I got the feeling that bands such as Pink Floyd and maybe Van det Graaf Generator were your main sources of inspiration. I never thought of King Crimson. So did that kind of influences enter later in your musical Life?

There were three bands dominating when I grew up as a kid: Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Tangerine Dream. They were my absolute favorite bands. The Floyd influence in my music is probably explained by the fact that their stuff was so much easier to pastiche or emulate compared to the music of the other bands. The Floydy atmospheres were easy to recreate since musicianship is quite simple and structures are quite easy to understand. It’s all about atmospheres, in a way. With King Crimson, it is not as easy, musicianship is much more complex and actually the vocabulary is quite complex, too. It was only, really, when I started to work on their records, that I began to understand a little bit more about the vocabulary they used. The use of jazz, the use of atonality, and sometimes not particularly pretty music – then I am talking about some of their later albums. For me, this is the first time I have really explored the use of jazz. Particularly, jazz in the way it was used by the first generation of progressive rock bands. Because, it is very interesting, if you go past 1980 and look at most of the music made after that year but still called progressive, the jazz element has almost been erased. For the bands of the 70’s, this element was so important; for bands like King Crimson, Jethro Tull and for musicians like Bill Bruford who actually described himself as a jazz drummer.

 I absolutely agree. We also had a band like Camel which lots of jazzy influences.

Yeah, and Soft Machine – a band that was as much jazz as they were rock. And Van der Graaf Generator working with jazz saxophonist David Jackson (also working later with Peter Gabriel). So, I guess that I really wanted to reclaim that part on my latest album.

I am really glad about that ‘cause I liked that feature in particular and I hope to be able to hear more of that in the future.

Yes I really like jazz but it is not until now that I felt ready and comfortable enough to incorporate that element into my music. I will continue with this. I must say that I am so proud of this record and it is probably the best record I have made. It is definitely something that is here to stay for me.

OK, that brings me back to your original influences. You are basically a guitar player. Your style of playing is absolutely more influenced by David Gilmour than by Robert Fripp. Despite this you claim that you have as much of inspiration from King Crimson as of Pink Floyd. Why is that?

That’s not entirely true. In fact, it is again just a consequence that it is so much easier to play the Floydy sounds of David Gilmour than it is to play the complex stuff created by Robert Fripp. To be honest, I think I am more inspired by Robert Fripp.

 Actually, there is a portion at the end of the track “Raider II” that reminds more of Fripp than of Gilmour!

Yeah. Over the years, believe me (laugh), I have tried to pick up what I can from Robert Fripp’s stuff but it is not easy. He is a very unique player. I am not suggesting that David Gilmour is not a unique player, because he is, but it is much more easy to understand the way he plays, it’s much more standard blues scales and very straight forward. But Robert Fripp does not play anything straight forward! It is very hard to kind of understand. I think what you say is true, the Gilmourish style comes through more but actually my preference is for Robert’s play.

Another central question regarding influences is why you, born in1967 (as stated in the wonderful song “Time Flies”), ever became influenced by progressive rock music? You obviously were too young to be able to listen to it while it really occurred.

Like a lot of the kids growing up in the 80’s I had access to my father’s record collection (Note: Steve has dedicated the new album to his father who recently passed away). Even more important was the record collection of one of my best friends’ big brother. He was several years older than me and he had all these records of Hawkwind, Van der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, etc. He had the album “666” of Aphrodite’s Child which we were completely blown away with. So I kind of discovered that music retrospectably by using his and my father’s collection. My father had Pink Floyd “Dark side of the moon” and other classics from that era. So I had access to that music and it felt kind of magical to me. I was growing up in the 80’s and there was some good music (I love Joy Division, Cocteau Twins, The Cure) but it didn’t have that magic or romantic feeling that I found in the earlier music. So, I completely got obsessed by that whole era of music.

Let’s now go into some details of the new record. I absolutely adore the first and third tracks of the album, mostly because of the wonderful parts played on the piano. Since I got the promo link with very short notice, I did not know any details, e.g. I did not know which other musicians that contributed. For a moment I thought it was you playing (Steven laughing) but now I know that it is actually Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater who is playing. How did you start working with Jordan?

Well, back in 2000 (I think), Porcupine Tree toured together with Dream Theater as opening act and it was then I got to know Jordan. We got on really well. I am not really a fan of Dream Theater, it is not my kind of music, but I was really impressed by Jordan as a person and when I heard him playing the piano it was so stunningly beautiful. So I have had him playing for me a few times after that over the years.

Personally, I think the third track “Deform to form a star” is the best track on the album. It is absolutely wonderful and one of the most beautiful arrangements I have ever heard. I get some feelings from the early Porcupine Tree years. Could you tell a bit more about the song? What about the story you tell in the text?

I love the mellotron sounds. But I also love real sounds. For example, the drum sounds on this record are kind of bare and raw. The whole philosophy of this album has been to use as much as possible of the organic sounds. In a way the mellotron is very organic, even if it is what is called the very first sampling machine. It has a very organic, quirky kind of sound quality. I would almost put it alongside instruments such as Fender Rhodes, Hammon organ or Grand piano. It has that kind of golden glow that I am looking for. Besides the classical strings and choirs, I have also used lots of the mellotron woodwind sounds on the record (saxophone, flute and clarinet). I have even used some of the sounds that not so often are used, in my case the vibraphone sounds.

Another question on the sounds on the new record: From the first track of the album I recognized that you use a lot of the classical mellotron sounds. I really love that. But when I finally got the real album in my hand I realized that a lot of what I originally though was mellotron-created is indeed created with real instruments and musicians in the studio. You use both string arrangements and choirs on the record. And you gladly mix it all with the mellotron sounds. I like this very much. Is that intentional to use more and more of real arrangements rather than sampled sounds?

I love the mellotron sounds. But I also love real sounds. For example, the drum sounds on this record are kind of bare and raw. The whole philosophy of this album has been to use as much as possible of the organic sounds. In a way the mellotron is very organic, even if it is what is called the very first sampling machine. It has a very organic, quirky kind of sound quality. I would almost put it alongside instruments such as Fender Rhodes, Hammon organ or Grand piano. It has that kind of golden glow that I am looking for. Besides the classical strings and choirs, I have also used lots of the mellotron woodwind sounds on the record (saxophone, flute and clarinet). I have even used some of the sounds that not so often are used, in my case the vibraphone sounds.

About the uniqueness of the mellotron sounds, I think that for example the string sounds from the classical M400 model (very much used by bands such as Genesis) is not really sounding as real strings. There is something strange with the sound that makes you hear that this cannot be real strings. And yet, it sounds so beautiful. I guess it is this you mean by the uniqueness and the organic feeling about the mellotron sound. Do you agree?

This is exactly what I mean. Another example is the mellotron flutes being now famous ever since they were first used on the Beatles song “Strawberry fields forever”.

Now a question of another track of the album, “Belle de jour”. It is a very different track dominated by some beautiful playing on acoustic guitar. It reminds me very much of the sounds you sometimes can hear from the Polish guitarist Mariusz Duda from the band Riverside. On his solo project Lunatic Soul II (actually also signed for KScope Music) there is a beautiful song called “Gravestone Hill” and this resembles very much what you can hear on this track “Belle de jour”. Do you have any cooperation or contact with Mariusz Duda?

I am afraid that I do not know who you are talking about. I do know that Lunatic Soul is one of the KScope bands but I have no particular cooperation with any of the musicians there. Actually, I am not listening very much to music from today. I prefer the music from the 70’s. I have the opinion that this music can never be “bettered”! So in that sense I am unfortunately kind of ignoring what is going on right now (which maybe is not ideal).

So, obviously Mariusz is more inspired by your work and style of playing than the other way around. Another musician from the 70s but one that is still alive and kicking today is Steve Hackett (one of my personal favorites). I noticed that he is playing the guitar on your track “Reminder of the Black Dog”. But what I am curious about is that you actually appear to have used a similar rhythm section on the second track “Sectarian” that is used on Steve’s album “Voyage of the Acolyte (from 1975) Are you familiar with this?

Yes, yes, well done! You are absolutely right! It’s strange, you are the first person so far that has spotted this! I even confronted Steve (a very good friend of mine) with this passage of my track and asked him whether he recognized something particular. Luckily he didn’t but you are absolutely right, I was inspired by absolutely this rhythm use by Steve on his debut album.

A final question on the new album: The last track “Like dust I have cleared from my eye” is again a song that reminds me of the beautiful songs from the early Porcupine Tree years. But what is most striking is the very last portion of the song. An instrumental part where the sounds just kind of floats away in space. It’s absolutely beautiful and makes such a perfect end of this record. What were your thoughts when creating this?

Yes there was a real intention with this ending. I very much want to have a certain flow on an album and this means that it really means a lot how the different parts on an album sound. I really wanted that the album kind of just slowly should fade away, creating pictures very much like a slowly setting sun. So, yes, this was intentional. It is interesting to hear your references to the early Porcupine Tree records. These were also solo albums and now I am kind of coming back to the solo projects again.

But I hope there will still be more from Porcupine Tree?

Yes, we hope to come together again in the beginning of next year to record a new album. But I am glad for this break to work with my solo project since I thought that we were kind of reaching some stagnation on the previous Porcupine Tree album. So there was a need for a break.

 Before ending this interview I am just curious to hear some more details about your ongoing cooperation with Mikael Åkerfelt from Opeth. I heard that there is even a special project started between you and Mikael under the project name Storm Corrosion. Could you tell a little bit more about this?

Yes, we are actually ready with an album now. I just finished the mixing recently. It is pretty much a work just by the two of us but there is lots of orchestral stuff and other arrangements. It is a very beautiful, surreal and strange record! It will be released sometime next spring. If you have heard Opeth’s “Heritage” (a really beautiful album where I contributed with the mixing) and my own “Grace for drowning” you will find this new record as a natural extension.

Thank you very much for this very interesting interview and good luck with all your future projects!

It’s been a pleasure.

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Photo:  Lasse Hoile

Göran Karlsson (2011)

 

Intervju med Mick Box, Uriah Heep

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Foto: © Artrock.se / Sweden Rock Festival
Intervju med Mick Box, Uriah Heep.
av Daniel Reichberg

Gitarrist, låtskrivare, levande legend och – filmstjärna. ArtRock samtalar med Mick Box, Uriah Heep

Förra gången fick vi vänta hela tio år, nu räckte det med tre. Det är ett energiskt Uriah Heep vi har att göra med, mer än fyra decennier efter starten. Den genomklassiska orgelhårdrocken med de så välbekanta körstämmorna och stundom mystikfyllda stämningarna – ”Into the Wild” är Uriah Heep så som gruppens anhängare lärt sig älska dem. Inspelningarna skedde så som på förra ”Wake the Sleeper” med de fem musikerna livs levande live i studion; läs vidare vad bandgrundaren och blivande filmstjärnan Mick Box har att förtälja.

Hahaha, du vet att det var aldrig vårt fel i bandet att “Wake the Sleeper” tog sån tid, utan allt hade att göra med branschen som befann sig i fritt fall. Skivbolagen visste inte vad de skulle göra åt all fildelning, vissa bolag bara försvann. Den här gången var det annorlunda, vi började skriva bara två och en halv månad innan vi gick in i studion, och ett par av låtarna skrev vi i själva studion, jag och Phil Lanzon, över en flaska vin, när de andra gått hem.

Vilka av låtarna?

“I’m Ready” och “Into the Wild”. Grabbarna kom in i studion vid trettontiden, vi visade upp låtarna tryckte in inspelningsknappen och så PANG! Det ger en stor fräschör att göra så. Man hinner inte hålla på och sjåpa sig om att “ska jag göra si eller så”.

När jag pratade med dig i samband med “Wake the Sleeper” sammanfattade du inspelningarna med ordet smile.

Samma nu. Det går inte att undvika leenden när man jobbar med en så entusiastisk producent som Mike Paxman. Han verkligen drar det bästa ur en. Vi har redan funderingar kring nästa skiva.

Jaså, en ny på gång redan nu?

Ja, det finns inte en tanke på att vi INTE skulle göra en till. Men det är klart, på måndag åker vi till Australien, sedan blir det två månader på europeiska kontinenten, sex veckor i Nordamerika och så tillbaka till Europa i september, då vi hoppas få in ett gäng datum i Norden, så det dröjer nog ett tag innan vi hinner in i studion.

Är jätteturnerandet lika kul nu som när du var yngre?

Absolut. Det enda tråkiga är att inte kunna vara hemma när familjen blir sjuk. Men min fru håller samman familjen på ett underbart sätt, vid sidan om sitt jobb som advokat. Min fru är en riktig klippa. Och så hinner vi faktiskt vara hemma en hel del mellan varven. Jag tar av rock n rollhatten och sätter på pappahatten!

Några ord om låtarna på ”Into the Wild”. ”Nail on the Head” är en effektiv öppning.

Ja, vi tror låten kommer att passa ypperligt för allsång.

Vad handlar ”Into the Wild” om?

Temat kommer från en bok som blev film, om en kille som stack ut i djungeln och förverkligade sitt drömliv. Det är vår ambition att sprida ett positivt budskap.

”I Can See You” låter som ”So Tired” del två.

Det kan man säga. Låten är som en bugning inför vårt förflutna, med en text om hur vi kan känna närvaron av de döda.

Som i ”Between Two Worlds” alltså?

På sätt och vis, men där var det mer att två världar möts; här handlar det om känslan av de dödas närvaro. Idén fick jag när min mamma dog, och sedan min svärmor.

”Trail of Diamonds” är ett riktigt epos.

Det var inte tanken från början. Låten skulle haft normallängd, men sen antog den sitt eget liv och började dra åt alla möjliga håll. Texten beskriver en dröm om kärlek och godhet, och hur man inte vill vakna så länge drömmen ännu pågår.

Sedan finns en låt som nästan kan kallas pop – ”T-Bird Angel”.

Ja, den är lite ovanlig för att vara vi. Kan nog tilltala AOR-fansen.

Jag hörde att du spelar på John Wettons kommande soloalbum.

Riktigt! Uriah Heep och Asia har samma management, så det var enkelt för John att få tag i mig. Plattan spelade han in i Los Angeles, men jag gjorde mitt solo i Heeps vanliga studio. Det sägs att John ville ha mig för att jag kan spela solon i dur, medan alla andra bara spelar i moll!

Vad heter låten?

Å gud…vad heter den nu igen? “New Star Rising” eller något i den stilen.

Apropå ex-medlemmar, har du någon kontakt med John Lawton?

John Lawton är den ex medlem jag träffar oftast. Senast skulle han spela med i en film där de ville ha en riktig karaktär och så ringde de mig. Jag och han spelar två personer som var med i samma band på 70-talet.

Alltså som i verkligheten…

Ja, fast fel band, hahaha! Det är Miramar som gör filmen som får premiär 1:a april.  Den heter ”love.net” och du kan kolla YouTube efter trailers. Jag spelar riktigt dåligt. John har förresten blivit kändis i Bulgarien där han är värd för reseprogram. Vi spelade ihop där på nyårsafton.

Och Pete Goalby?

Pete är kvar i branschen, men har slutat sjunga. Vi pratar i telefon ibland, men sedan har han en tendens att försvinna igen. Jag respekterar hans privatliv.

Ken Hensley?

Något mail då och då, i affärsangelägenheter. Han känns rätt fjärran från Uriah Heep nuförtiden, och sanningen är att vi inte var särskilt bra vänner heller när han var med. Ken brukade ha sitt eget lag omkring sig med egna managers och ja-sägare. 

Vilken har varit Uriah Heep-karriärens höjdpunkt hittills?

Det måste ha varit första gången jag hörde ”Gypsy” i bilstereon. Jag blev så upphetsad att jag kunde ha orsakat en trafikolycka. Ville berätta för alla jag kände! Sedan får jag nämna spelningarna i Sovjetunionen 1987, då vi var det första västband att göra stora gig där borta. Vi var pionjärer i Bulgarien och Syd-Korea också.

…och lågvattenmärket?

Att David Byron och Gary Thain dog. Alla andra bekymmer vi haft har man kunnat handskas med, men deras frånfällen är något som gör mig bedrövad fortfarande, efter alla dessa år. Man får vara glad att det fortfarande finns unga musiker som låter sig inspireras av David och Gary. 

Kommer du att skriva dina memoarer?

Faktum är att förlag tjatar på mig att göra det, och så blir det kanske också. Men jag kommer INTE att skriva en massa om supande och knarkande, för sånt är jag fruktansvärt less på. Det verkar som om artister vill bikta sig genom att berätta om sina grisiga liv. Ska jag skriva, blir det en lättsam och kul bok, även om väl förlaget vill ha sensationer.

Slutligen – hur känner du när du ser den knasiga ödlan på omslaget till ”Innocent Victim”?

Hahaha – varken oskyldig eller som ett offer! Något många inte vet är att tanken från början var att placera vår scen i ödlans mun och sedan ha ljusshowen uppe i hans gröna ansikte. Nu blev det inte så, men ögonen är Lee Kerslakes. 

Daniel Reichberg ”2011”.

 

 

 

 

Intervju med Anthony Rondinone, Jolly

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Interview with Anthony Rondinone, Jolly in february 2011.
By Conny Myrberg.

In what way has your musical focus changed since your debut “Forty-Six Minutes, Twelve Seconds of Music” when compared to it?

It’s more evolved, than changed, we’ve added components to an existing foundation. I think since 46:12, one of the most notable differences would be that we incorporated more groove and harder riffs. We tried to create more movement on The Audio Guide to Happiness. Just because people consider us a form of prog, doesn’t mean we want people to look like they are solving math problems when they come watch us, we wanted to incorporate sections that allow people to move and have fun when they listen, as well as have those deeper, introspective moments. Also, with this album there was more experimenting with different sounds in production which gives this album more characteristics.

What was it that made you decide to sign a contract with the record label InsideOut Music?

Well they are a well-known and respected label in the genre that we have
been associated with which is obviously a selling point. Also, we met with Thomas Waber from InsideOut when we were on tour with Riverside and Pure Reason Revolution, and we had a very promising conversation with him about JOLLY’s future with the label and where he sees us, it actually made it a pretty easy decision and so far we’ve been happy with them.

I’m very interested in layouts and logo creations, what was the inspiration behind yours and who is the creator?

The layout for this album feels like a textbook in some ways. The cover is unapologetically bold, the inside is straightforward and to the point, It’s also very clean and sleek. Drummer/Producer Louis Abramson did the design of this album, he worked very hard to get everything perfect and we think it looks great. It fits the Feel of the Audio Guide and everything it’s about perfectly.

When I listen to The Audio Guide Of Happiness ”Part 1”, I sense a touch of arena rock with some progressive elements, kind of like bands like Muse. Is it a goal of yours to reach the big arenas or do you prefer the smaller and more intimate stages?

I don’t want to speak for the rest of the guys, but I would love to play in a giant arena. I think our sound and style lends it’s self to that sort of venue. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing in smaller places, there’s something very personal about it, but we got a taste of playing larger venues when we were with Riverside and it’s like a drug in the sense that I think we’re just going to want larger and larger crowds moving and singing along to what we are playing. There’s no other feeling like it, unless you’re Charlie Sheen of course.

From where did you get the inspiration for the lyrics of The Audio Guide Of Happiness ”Part 1” and ”Part 2” which according to InsideOut is in the Pocket Pac on the first?

Well InsideOut is not lying, we did include the lyrics to part 2 in the liner notes of this album, we hope you enjoy reading them without music. The lyrics are inspired by almost everything and anything and sometimes nothing at all. We have a pretty interesting lyric writing process, I do not want to give away all of our secrets yet. Maybe in the future we will discuss meaning a little bit more, but for now I would like to let the listeners find their own meaning in these lyrics. It’s a very introspective album and I believe people listening will be able to take away their own meaning that will help them in their situation.

The music for ”Part 2”, when is it planned to be released and why didn’t it become a double album?

We didn’t want to release both albums at the same time because we wanted you to become familiar with part I first. We thought it would be a bit much to give you the whole thing at once. It’s a lot to take in.

Will the music concept differ in ”Part 2” compared to ”Part 1”?

The concept is the same; it’s still part of the Audio Guide-  There are, however, styles and sounds on Part 2 that are not on Part I. Because it’s a four-phase process, Part 2 containing the 3rd and 4th phase, these will have some different styles because it is further along in the progression, bringing the listener closer and closer to happiness.

The melodic track ”Joy” should, according to me, be able to reach successful list placements – how has it been going with being aired on the radio?

Someone actually recently sent us a message on Twitter saying they put a preview of the album on their station and said they got some good response to it, I don’t know how Joy in particular is doing. If anything it would be on air in Europe and I don’t have a European radio so unfortunately we don’t get to hear if it’s played. We have the same hopes though; I think Joy among a few other songs on the album would do well on the radio. That’s where you come into play, maybe one of your readers is a DJ and will want to play our album over and over on the radio after reading this!

The track ”The Pattern”, with its absolutely magnificent drive, seems to be a song made to be performed live – are those factors that you consider when you compose your material?

Absolutely, I think I mentioned this earlier; we wanted some parts of this album that just moved and had groove and energy. This riff was actually made to do just that and we hope it’s working! So far we’ve gotten a really good response to that song and we’re very happy about that. I actually would like to thank all the fans that have posted feedback about this song and the album in general, we really appreciate all of it.

How does a song come to you normally, when you count in everything from the first idea to the finished track? Take ”Storyline” for example, which is also one of my personal favorites.

Oh well thank you! That song from what I remember started out as Joe playing that chord progression and Anadale just singing a melody over it which sounded really nice and we all liked it. Louis started playing a funkier/groovier rhythm and that’s what I started to follow with the bass line. That was the foundation of the song, usually we start with some sort of foundation like that, then as we work on it more and more things get added, and as we start recording and Louis starts to work his production magic, the songs takes on a new life that’s bigger then the 4 of us. We usually start out with a base of a song, then it gets JOLLY-fied and we have the end result, it’s a pretty interesting process.

You guys have been touring with both Riverside and Pure Reason Revolution, who both have a pretty dark visual image on stage (at least when I’ve watched them perform), how would you like to describe yours?

Those guys are the Queen’s tits by the way (that means they are awesome, it’s a popular British saying). I guess I would say we’re pretty dark as well.

A lot of bands are not particularly keen on being categorized within one musical genre or other, like neoprog for example, but if you have to choose one then where would you place yourselves?

Probably Post modern updated classic contemporaryism, but what it used to be, it’s changed now.
How does Sarcasm translate in Sweden?

(Almost the same “Sarkasm”)

After a few record releases a lot of bands usually have live DVD’s following, are there any plans of doing that and will we be able to watch you live in Europe this year?

I certainly hope we will be able to play live in front of you in Europe this year, we’re looking for opportunities to come back of course. We had a great time last year when we were there and we want to return.
As for DVDs, we’ve talked about something like that, who knows what the future holds
. Just be ready.

Is there a dream artist/band of yours that you would like to perform with or have as guest performers on your upcoming albums?

I would have liked to play bass with Michael Jackson if he were still around. I can imagine playing that sort of show and with such a talented musician that would have been a lot of fun.

And on a last note I’d like to thank you for your time and I will be waiting with excitement on The Audio Guide Of Happiness ”Part 2”.

Thank you too! I’m glad you liked Part I, that means a lot. We can’t wait until people have the full collection! Take care.

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Intervju med Doug Aldrich, Whitesnake

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Foto: ©  Artrock.se / Sweden Rock Festival 2008

 

Intervju med Doug Aldrich, Whitesnake, februari 2011.
Frågeställare Daniel Reichberg.

Det har redan gått nästan nio år sedan den före detta Dio-gitarristen Doug Aldrich anställdes av rocklegenden David Coverdale som gitarrist och låtskrivarpartner i lika legendariska Whitesnake. I mars ringlar ormen åter in i CD-spelarna, denna gång med ”Forevermore”. Tre månader senare uppträder ensemblen på Sweden Rock Festival i Blekinge.
ArtRock har talat med Doug Aldrich om nya skivan, samarbetet med åldermannen Coverdale och andre gitarristen Reb Beach, relationerna till före detta medlemmar och slutligen några ord om förlusten av Ronnie James Dio. Umeå icke att förglömma!

När jag intervjuade David Coverdale i samband med förra Whitesnakeskivan ”Good to Be Bad” frågade jag om det skulle komma ännu fler Whitesnake-album. David svarade då att ”orkar jag skriva låtar i ett år till?” och ”orkar jag med pressen?”. Likafullt – i mars kommer ”Forevermore”. Vad fick David att ändra sig?

Jag vet faktiskt inte riktigt, men jag är jätteglad att han gjorde det. Kemin oss emellan är fantastisk och låtarna kommer på ett helt naturligt vis. Mycket organiskt. Dessutom har vi skrivit på för Frontiers Records, där vi verkligen känner oss som hemma.

Den gången hintade David att ni kanske skulle släppa låtar för nedladdning kontinuerligt för att sedan samla ihop allting på ett officiellt album…

De tankarna fanns nog kvar, men skivkontraktet stoppade dem. David är vad vi på engelska kallar en ”dynamo” av konstant nya idéer. Han funderar ständigt på hur vi ska föra ut vår musik. Det som hände var att vi kom hem från turnén 2009 och innan vi visste ordet av var vi i studion igen och jobbade på nytt material.

Första textraden på skivan lyder ”I’m going back to the place I was born”. Funderar han på att flytta hem till England?

Jag tror inte det. En del av David är väldigt brittisk, men han är också amerikansk medborgare och genom sin familj väldigt fäst vid Lake Tahoe i Nevada, där han bor. Sedan är han tokig i gamla westernfilmer med John Wayne och Clint Eastwood, och nu bor David i precis en sådan miljö

När jag hör ”Love Will Set You Free” går tankarna till den gamla Whitesnakelåten ”Hot Stuff”…

Aaaahhhh…hey…ha-ha-ha, det kan inte hjälpas, men jag älskar de där tidiga Whitesnakelåtarna! ”Hot Stuff”, ”Ready an’ Willing”, ”Wine, Women and Song”… Även titellåten på ”Good to be Bad” är en bugning inför klassiska Whitesnake. ”Walking in the Shadow of the Blues”… Det är ett sånt coolt groove i de gamla låtarna. Jag menar, Ian Paice är en av de största.

Sedan har vi den långa, episka ”Forevermore”.

Det var aldrig tanken att den skulle bli sådan, men så utvecklades den åt det hållet. Jag älskar låtar som tar dig till en helt annan plats än där de började. Whitesnake har gjort en del sådana under sina år, till exempel ”Sailing Ships”. ”Forevermore” satt jag och skrev medan jag vaggade min lille son. David tyckte att vi kunde vara nöjda med de tolv låtar som var klara, men jag tiggde att vi skulle ta en till, och det blev ”Forevermore”, vilken David satte på första tagningen i studion! Jag kände mig helt bortblåst. Vilket geni! Det finns förresten en akustisk version av låten som jag älskar ännu mer. Men trummisen älskar den inte, eftersom han inte är med!

Vad skiljer ”Forevermore” från dess föregångare ”Good To Be Bad”?

Dels tycker jag den är mer varierad. Musikaliskt är David öppen för väldigt mycket. Skulle jag föreslå banjo till en låt, så skulle han svara ”kör till”. Det finns sexlåtar, men också låtar om saknad. Men framför allt är albumet en riktig bandskiva. Särskilt Reb Beach är mycket mer delaktig med sitt fantastiska gitarrspel och sin underbara röst. På förra skivan hände det att Reb spelade in sina solon hemma i Pittsburgh och sedan mailade dem till David. Den här gången var vi allihop hemma hos David i Lake Tahoe.

Händer det att du och Reb bråkar om vem som ska ta vilket gitarrsolo?

Aldrig. Förr var jag ganska överbeskyddande över mina egna delar, solon men framför allt komp. Ville gärna att det skulle vara exakt som jag skrivit. Men så kom Reb in i studion och verkligen brann genom gitarren, så jag lät honom spela exakt vad och när han ville! Ta till exempel ”Dogs in the Street”, där vi från början skulle ha delat på gitarrspelet, men så var Reb så jäkla bra att jag inte ville in och tävla.

Hur skulle du beskriva skillnaderna mellan dig och Reb?

Olika känsla, olika attack. Han är mer skolad än jag, har gått på Berkeley College of Music. Han kan så mycket om harmonilära. Jag trodde mig ha skrivit en perfekt sångstämma till ”Forevermore”, men så kom Reb in och visade en mycket bättre. Som solist är han inne på tapping och svajarm, en sorts Steve Vai/Eddie Van Halen/Jimi Hendrix-musiker. Själv är jag mer influerad av sådana som Michael Schenker och – må han vila i frid – Gary Moore.

Var du ett Whitesnakefan innan du själv blev medlem?

Ja, absolut! 1985 gick jag med i ett band som hette Lion, vars sångare Kal Swan var ett enormt David Coverdale-fan. Kal presenterade mig för ”Ready an’ willing”- ”Come an’ Get It”- och ”Love Hunter”-plattorna, vilket var fantastiskt, för här i USA trodde folk att ”Slide it In” var den enda skivan som fanns. ”Ready an’ willing” – vilken bad-ass-låt! Och ”Hit an’ Run” – jag ÄLSKADE den! Jag är väldigt imponerad av att David gick vidare och bildade något genuint eget istället för att ta den enklaste vägen, vilket hade varit att bilda ett Deep Purple-klonband.

I vår/sommar blir det ännu en turné, som bland annat når Sweden Rock Festival. Vem kommer att spela klaviatur?

Just nu letar vi efter journalister som kan spela keyboards och sjunga! Skämt åsido, så har vi en lista på folk vi är intresserade av. Själv skulle jag gärna ta tillbaka Timothy Drury, om han har möjlighet.

Varför hoppade Timothy av från Whitesnake?

Tim är en oerhört upptagen man. Jobbar med multimedia, fotograferar, ger ut new age-musik och skriver låtar tillsammans med Don Felder från Eagles.

Ni kanske kunde ragga upp Jon Lord?

Sluta skämta – jag skulle ÄLSKA det! Jon är alla tiders främsta rockkeyboardist och jag hoppas han sitter i ett slott och aldrig mer behöver arbeta.

På Sweden Rock-spelningen kommer ni att ha en del gästmusiker. Jag inser givetvis att du inte kommer att avslöja vilka det blir, men hur ser Davids relation idag ut till gammelgubbar som Micky Moody och Bernie Marsden?

Numera är David vän med dem igen. Snackar med Bernie då och då. Själv känner jag Bernie sedan en tid. Härlig kille och en av de bästa bluesrockgitarrister som finns. Jag skulle gärna dela scen med vem som helst av de gamla medlemmarna, för de är rockkungligheter, hela högen.

För tre år sedan talade David om att ge sig ut på akustiska turnéer med lågmälda versioner av låtarna och chans för fansen att ställa frågor.

David är verkligen bra på sånt. Jag tror säkert det kan bli så i framtiden, och blir jag tillfrågad ställer jag upp direkt. Det vore kul att prova på olika gitarrstämningar, ungefär som Jimmy Page, Stephen Stills och George Harrison.

Slutligen ett par frågor på temat Ronnie James Dio. Hur kändes det när du fick budskapet om hans död?

Det var en chock. Man visste ju att han var sjuk, men när jag såg att Heaven and Hell spikat livedatum 2010 blev jag jätteglad, för då trodde jag att Ronnie besegrat cancern. Jag fick ett första besked när jag var på en gitarrfestival i Bologna med George Lynch, Yngwie Malmsteen och Glenn Hughes. Det kom ett sms från Dio-keyboardisten Scott Warren om att han ville ha tag i mig. Jag ringde upp och Scott berättade att Ronnie ville träffa mig en sista gång. Jag ringde omedelbart min fru och sa åt henne att ta vår son och sticka hem till Ronnie på stubben och berätta att vi alla älskade honom. Min fru gjorde det, men själv satt jag tyvärr på planet när Ronnie dog. Jag fick aldrig chansen att säga adjö. Och nu efteråt har samma sak hänt med Phil Kennemore i Y&T och med Gary Moore, en av de mest passionerade gitarristerna någonsin…

Finns det kvar något outgivet material med dig och Ronnie tillsammans?

Jag hittade faktiskt en låt här hemma, där Ronnie sjunger, spelar gitarr och bas. Jag tror han programmerade trummaskinen också, eller är det Simon Wright som spelar? Minns inte riktigt, men det är en gastkramande låt, där Ronnie ville att jag skulle spela solo.

Kommer låten att ges ut?

Allt ligger i Wendy Dios händer. Hon är en klippa på att hålla Ronnies minne vid liv. Andra skulle ha sugit ut varje dollar, men Wendy ger bara ut bra saker som hon vet att de riktiga fansen verkligen vill ha.

Från sorgerna till framtiden – vad finns bortom Sweden Rock Festival?

Whitesnake kanske kommer på turné till Sverige i höst. Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö… Vet du vad? Förra gången vi var i Sverige fick jag ett nytt favoritställe, en stad som heter Umeå! Så jävla häftigt ställe. Underbart vackert bredvid floden och så kör alla Chevrolet och Ford Mustang.