Conjuring up Ghosts of the Past
by Todd K Smith
“One vision is very important to me. Not being mislead by modern trends and only creating songs you feel strongly about.” ~ Jorn Lande
It was something I heard when I entered my local record haunt in the spring of 1994, something remarkably familiar but with a twist. George, the rock guru behind the counter of the northwest Philly store, had an all-knowing ear to the happenings of new rock and handed me a CD by Norwegian band Vegabond. “The band’s mediocre but the singer is killer,” he said. I paid the inflated import price and began my long association with Jorn Lande. The singer would go on to record with a number of bands experimenting with different styles before the hand of fate put him onstage with Yngwie Malmsteen’s band as a fill in singer during the Dio/Doro/Malmsteen tour (2000). He has since risen to prominence as a class “A” vocalist and gathered fans from around the globe. This past 18-months he has released three projects all bearing his name and is ready to launch his eighth solo LP Lonely Are The Brave. With the help of Carol Kay PR, we tracked Lande down in his home country of Norway to fill us in on coming into his own.
“I’ve always tried to develop as a singer,” says Lande, “tried to find a path of direction. I discovered in the end that credibility is the best fit. People need to know where your identity is and after years of trying different styles and ranges I’ve decided a more classic rock direction is best for me. It is where I am strongest and feel most comfortable.” Lande grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s. His influences stemmed from his father’s record collection. “My father played in a band and would bring home all the best stuff,” continues Lande. “I heard Deep Purple, Free, The Sweet and Redbone when I was 5 or 6 years old. Radio was also a big part of my youth but my Dad’s albums really expanded my musical taste. We only had one record store in town (Rjukan, Norway) and the drummer of my father’s band worked there. I was lucky to be surrounded by all the best music and a family that was very musical.”
Lande joined his first band at the age of nine. “I would play in these local clubs but was too young to stay in the venue after our set,” he says. “They would sneak me in the kitchen and out the backdoor when it was time to leave.” His more formal band, Hydra, (hard rock, metal) built a local following from 1984-85, then Lande was recruited in Road, a popular Norwegian touring outfit that become somewhat of a phenomenon. “It was my debut into the rock and roll lifestyle,” says Lande. “That’s when I knew this was what I wanted to do.” His first “real” record contract came with Vegabond (EMI). “We came at a time when Nirvana was big,” he says. “We were heavily into 70s-styled rock and found it really difficult to sell enough records and gain a following. Norway was especially terrible.” Vegabond released two discs, a self-titled (1994) and A Huge Fan Of Life (1995). Neither went anywhere but are now worth a pretty penny on EBay. “I thought of quitting a couple times but if you look at the other life, getting a 9-to-5 job, I felt I had no choice. I wanted to be my own boss and run my own life.”
Having a strong comparison to Deep Purple / Whitesnake vocalist David Coverdale, Lande was a perfect pick for the Moody Marsden project The Snakes. Most will recall Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden were the original hard rock blues guitarists that fired up the engine of ‘70s-era Whitesnake. With Lande on vocals they came close to capturing the true spirit of Whitesnake with their only release Once Bitten (1998) and the brilliant Live In Europe (1998). “When you’re a kid you identify with certain singers,” says Lande. “That’s what happened with David Coverdale, Ronnie Dio, Ian Gillian and Paul Rodgers. As a teenager my voice was already very similar to them. I had that kind of flavor. I felt a connection to that kind of singing and that’s why they were such a big influence. With Ark it was more Journey, Kansas and Foreigner - progressive with a bend to AOR.” The self-titled Ark (1999) and Burn The Sun (2001) alienated fans drawn to Lande’s raspy blues but were invigorated when he joined Florida-based and appropriately titled Millenium (2000).
Millenium was a great stepping stone,” says Lande. “The secret is to find musicians with the right sound. One vision is very important. Not being mislead by modern trends and only creating songs you feel strongly about. If the music works for you, gives you feeling, chills or warmth other people will get it.” Hourglass was Lande’s only recording with Millenium and arguably the band’s finest due to the singer’s very high standards. When the group disbanded the following year, Lande was invited to participate in the German-American power metal band Masterplan founded by ex-Helloween’s Uli Kusch and Roland Grapow. The chemistry proved promising with Lande contributing vocals to three records, Masterplan (2003), Back For My Life EP (2004) and Aeronautics (2005). He eventually parted to focus fully on his solo career under the monarch, Jorn.
“I started releasing solo albums in 2000 during breaks with Millenium,” says Jorn. “I believe in taking breaks to keep it enjoyable. I work in a very natural way and stay true to what I do. When you work with focus, enjoy what you’re doing and maintain your health the rewards are endless.” Albums Starfire (2000), Worldchanger (2001) and Out Of Every Nation (2004) are currently featured in The Gathering (2007), a compilation of select Jorn favorites. The Duke (2006) his most ambitious and professional to date is quickly becoming a critical classic. “The Duke was very solid from concept to production,” says Jorn. “It’s a straight ahead record that gets to the point. There was nothing experimental, just solid throughout - not trying to show off. It’s a true hard rock album that has a soul quality which doesn’t get lost on the technical side.”
After years of shuffling players Jorn has landed on an exciting cast of band members. “They each offer different elements to the band,” says Jorn. “Guitarists Tore Moren (Carnivora and (Jorn) Viggo Lofstad (Pagan’s Mind, Beautiful Sin) are heavy, melodic players that have been with me for several years. I’m always coming back to the roots or the old days and Sid Ringsby (bass) and Willy Bendiksen (drums) have that old school groove and punch.” Jorn describes the new disc Lonely Are The Brave as a mix between The Duke and The Gathering, “a total package, honest and true to my heart,” and states, “I’m not concerned that its totally tight. I like to keep it organic.” Lonely Are The Brave is slated for release in June ’08 and is already creating a buzz with the title track, “Night City” and the Ronnie Dio-influenced song “Man of The Dark.”
Website: Jorn, Locomotive Records
Jorn will be a feature attraction at the 2010 Sweden Rock Festival. Click here for more info.