Interview with Vocalist JORN LANDE (Solo, Allen/Lande, Dracula, Avantasia, etc…)
-Words by Tommy Hash
By the time JORN Lande’s debut album Starfire was unleashed in 2000, the vocalist had already began to make a name for himself in Arc, Millennium, and The Snakes. Since then he has become an in-demand frontman and guest for many records and artists by Ayreon, Yngwie Malmsteen, Avantasia, Masterplan, as well as his work alongside Russell Allen. In short, his voice is one the most recognizable in the metal and hard rock worlds today as his low tenor voice has commanded music through the walls of guitars and intense musicianship which backs him up.
An influence to many in the new millennium, Lande has had no trouble with letting is influences shine. In fact, prior to the latest tribute album, he had already unleashed two cover albums (one dedicated to Ronnie James Dio with nods to Deep Purple, Whitesnake, and Bad Company among others. Heavy Rock Radio shows a whole new array of influences; namedropping Kate Bush, The Eagles, and Queen amongst many metal mainstays to bring these powerful anthems such “You’re the Voice” and “Don’t Stop Believin” to an even louder level. The vocalist speaks about the choice of tunage and how music in general has shaped him.
TOMMY HASH: Heavy Rock Radio is your third covers album you have done out of your vast catalog of solo albums. You have so many different types of songs, not just tunes that have made the rounds in the metal world; one track that stands out is your cover of Frida’s “I Know There’s Something Going On.”
JORN LANDE: First of all, I did so many records in the past and never really had the time to cover many of the songs I have always wanted to cover. There are actually about fifty on a list, but I chose about twelve to do and they were difficult to choose. So there is probably going to be another record like this. But after all of these albums of original material which were time consuming, I thought I have to do it now before I get too old. Also these songs, I could never get them out of my head, especially “I Know There’s Something Going On” which lends itself to heavy rock; especially the way it sounds with those drums by Phil Collins on the original. It’s almost as if Russ Ballard wrote it as a rock tune from the beginning. When Frida recorded it with Phil Collins, it was like they made it for the times. It’s really a quite heavy song and it was easy to create heavy arrangements for the new version. The only challenges were to find the right spots for the guitar solo and to make that go off in a great way. Plus, I was a big fan of ABBA growing up.
TH: Another stand out is Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.”
JORN: That song was challenging. I wrote a tune called “Blacksong” for the album The Duke, and that song was actually influenced by “Running Up That Hill.” The band was actually thinking about covering that song back in 2006. When all of us at that time were actually looking at the possible arrangements for “Running…,” we ended up writing a whole new song. I would write stuff down and have something in the same musical landscape, using that song as a reference in a way. Then when we had that new song. Unfortunately “Running…” never got to be recorded for The Duke. So now I thought that it would be a cool thing to actually record that song. It took some time to find the arrangements. When you have some songs that you have been carrying with you for years, they just become a part of you. I always thought of that song as a more heavy rock tune. When it’s inspiring and things are fun, it’s not a problem to take the time to do it. I prefer to write my own stuff, but these great songs deserve to be “rocked up” somehow. It’s also a challenge and interesting to hear the result afterwards. Kate Bush has always been experimental; she is so original, not really commercial, but she hit the market at a certain time (like Bjork) where everything works perfectly. Plus nobody had done anything like that before. I just love the originals and love the artists.
TH: It’s kind of a new way to expose these songs to a whole new generation and scene in general.
JORN: I felt the songs deserved to be re-recorded, some sound a little outdated such as the Foreigner’s “Rev on the Red Line.” The original is so good, Lou Gramm is so good; what he did was unique. Even with the new recording, we love (the song) as it is, the original is always going to be the original. There is a younger generation out there that might not have heard about Foreigner, who don’t know much about the band. Maybe they have had their father or brother play stuff to them, but most of the time they might not have heard anything but their hits. It’s cool to do a different arrangement and introduce a whole new generation to this music. I realized how much young people are now in the audience (when I tour). There are so many more of these young people who come out to the shows as opposed to five years ago. It’s great see a lot of young people that like heavy rock and metal these days.
TH: You have become an ambassador to the metal scene, was it always your goal to be deeply involved with hard rock?
JORN: I didn’t come from the metal scene in the beginning. I loved bands like Kansas, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and Bruce Springsteen. Back then when I was growing up, you had a certain rock foundation. There was a rock and roll structure to every pop song, plus real drums and a proper bass player. I think bands that were considered a pop act already a bit rock and roll in them; which was common in the 70’s. That time was more authentic, even the popiest song was rock and roll – even for soul music.
TH: With that said, what are your thoughts on modern music?
JORN: Not very many pop artists are true rock artists. There really aren’t many authentic artists like there were back in the day. That authenticity was an essential thing of the 70’s as the quality was so high; everybody gave us something from inside. Bands would do exactly what they wanted without considering a mainstream success. There was a bit of simplism in everything, something with an honest statement. That’s what I miss today and that’s why I love so many of these artists. If I discover something or someone new, it’s usually not a metal or a hard rock band/artist. It’s usually from another genre of music. I remember when my Dad came home with “Ballroom Blitz” in 1973 and would play that single over and over again. While most of my friends would listen to fairy tales or Disney stuff, I would listen to Uriah Heep. I joined my first band first band in 1977. I was only nine and the rest of the band was 14-15, and I tried to sing Jethro Tull, Deep Purple stuff. We already played some shows, but I was too young to have a career back then.
TH: Technology and the business scheme of things have affected the music. There aren’t many bands that do things the same way they did years ago, which seems to have started to run the well dry for quality in rock music.
JORN: Nowadays a lot of people send files everywhere. You might sit down with your guitarist and find the structure for the song, but most of the time people just transfer and send stuff; people don’t physically work in the same way and I miss that. It was always something special; that’s why AC/DC is AC/DC. It seems like rock is a dying breed because of all this. I hope it all comes back, but I’m not so sure. The pressure is high today compared to the laid back 60’s through the 80’s. Even in that 80’s, you had time to relax and take it all in, recharge your batteries. Everything is very difficult these days with bands being under stress. You don’t make enough to allow yourself to sit back and say, “I’ve worked hard for two months and I deserve a break for a few weeks;” not many people to do that anymore. I’m lucky to make a living from music in general. At least I have had the chance to switch off sometimes; relax and enjoy some space for a couple of weeks. I think there is greatness and value in being a recording artist who can make a living at it and I’m grateful for that.
TH: What else holds the future for you at this time?
JORN: I’m writing some new songs and have been recording some new songs new JORN album to be released hopefully in 2017. I have studio time booked with producer Alessandro Del Vecchio to work with him and get some colors from songs; to do something different from recent albums.
Copyright & Publishing: 2016 Tommy Hash for Ytsejam.com
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