The King Of Mountain Blues
Tylden & Co., Norway
From the mountains of Norway come the emotionally charged blues of Peer Gynt. Born in Namsos, Norway in 1971, the 28 year-old blues-slinger has made a quick rise to fame playing, among others, Norways Hell Festival and riding side saddle with original Whitesnake guitarists Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody. I grew up in a small place called Skogn, says Gynt.Ive always been interested in music. My mother says I would put on the record player before I could walk. When I was five years old I got my first Elvis Presley record. You see, when my friends where out playing with their small cars, I was sitting in my room listening to Elvis. As I grew up I started listening to hard rock like Kiss and Dio. But when I was 16 years old my older brother introduced me to Live Alive by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and I was sold.
Inspired by Vaughan, Gynts earlier recordings pay homage to the Texas guitarist with a beefed up sound and attitude. As the years have passed, Ive started to work on my own style. Since Norway has such a strong, old culture I might as well blend some of the old Norwegian Folk Tones in my playing which can heard on my upcoming CD (produced by Andy Johns).
Gynt has a collection of guitars but he prefers his Red Fender Strat Custom shop. Its the first guitar I got from Fender after I got an endorsement with them. That strat is just magic. I own many strats that are similar to that one but they dont come close to the magic that guitar has.
"Norway has been very nice to me. However, this country is HELL to do tours. Its because of the distance between the venues and the roads that are bad and all the mountains you have to cross. But when it comes to playing the music in front of a Norwegian audience its great!
The Cutting Edge: Could you give us some information on yourself: When and where you born, where did you grow up, when were you first introduced and influenced by the blues?
Peer Gynt: I was born in a place in Norway called Namsos June 18th 1971. I grew up in a small place called Skogn, that´s right in the middle of Norway. Ive always been interested in music. My mother says I could put on the record player before I could walk. When I was five years old I got my first Elvis Presley record. You see, when my friends where out playing with their small cars, I was sitting in my room listening to Elvis. So I guess thats my first meeting with rock and blues. I still admire Elvis and Ive been to Graceland several times. However as I grew up I started listening to hard rock like Kiss, Dio and stuff like that. But when I was 16 years old my old brother introduced me to "Live Alive" by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and I was sold.
TCE: When did you get your first guitar and how did it come about?
Gynt: I got my first electrical guitar when I was about ten years old. My parents and me where on a holiday in Sweden. I always wanted an electric guitar so when we walked in to a music store I was all over trying out guitars. I couldnt play very much. However my father bends down and says "Son, Ill buy this guitar for you and you learn how to play". I remember that the guitar cost 500 NKR. And thats about $60.00 Since that Ive been playing guitar and now its my work.
TCE: Your sound is very reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan. What is it about his music that appealed to you? "Mountain Virgin" is an exceptional song and one I think Stevie Ray Vaughn would be very pleased with. Very nice phasing!
Gynt: Ive been workin´ on my tone for a long time. Lots of people think it reminds them about SRV. However I dont think so at all. You see its just a Fender Strat plugged in to an old ´63 Super Reverb amp with all the knobs on 11. When you do that, you get that sound. I think its more how you play the guitar. I was (when I recorded my first records) very inspired by SRV. However as the years pass I started to work on my own style which you will hear on my next record. I figured that since Norway has such strong and old culture I might as well blend some of the old Norwegian Folk Tones in my playing. It was a kick, and the audience gave me (and still gives me) a lot of good words for that. The song "Mountain Virgin" is a song I made in memory of a good friend of mine who took his own life some years ago.
TCE: Your album credits Bernie Marsden as a co-author; did he play on the CD as well? Did you meet at the Hell festival? How did you end up working together ?
Gynt: Bernie did not play on my record "The King Of Mountain Blues". We just wrote songs together. Bernie is a very helpful and nice guy however his middle name is "money". I met him many years ago when I played as a support act for him in Norway. I guess it was in ´91. It was in a place called Løkken outside of the town Trondheim. The band that backed him was Sid and Willy, now called The Snakes. I remember that that gig was a disaster. There was hardly any people and the promoter didnt want to pay Bernie & Co. I remember I had to wait about 2 or 3 months to get my money. Always when Ive been working with Bernie its been a kick. Because He gives you a lot of inspiration (when hes in a good mood)
TCE: Your working on a new CD with Mick Moody, can you tell me about that relationship? How is working with Mick different than Bernie?
Gynt: Working with Micky is a thrill. He is very focused on his work and he plays great. Micky is in it more for the music and not only for the money. I guess thats the difference between Bernie and Micky as well. But they are both great guys that I love working with.
TCE: The US has a number of Blues festival, are you interested in coming over here and playing?
Gynt: Of course!!!. Ive been playing in the US many times. However Ive never been playing any large festivals. Mostly clubs etc. and as a opening act for some one. The US is the country I will focus on when I release my new CD. Hopefully I will be touring a lot down there, well see. But I well indeed be interested in playing festivals. Call my manager!!!!!!
TCE: I must ask you about your name. Is it a stage name after Grieg, the famous composer?
Gynt: Well I was born with that name. I guess my parents where a little (too) creative. However I have another middle name as well as a last name. But I dont want to tell anyone.
TCE: "Rain" is brilliant and is an exceptional piece on acoustic guitar. It has some great fretwork! Why did you choose to end the CD with that song?
Gynt: Thanks for the compliment! Well, I dont really know why the CD ends with that song. I guess the record company decided that spot. Me, I wanted it somewhere else on the CD.
TCE: "Tractor Boogie", "Hey Mama" and "River of Peace" are like a trilogy of different styles. "Tractor Boogie" has a rapid fire boogie, "Hey Mama" has more of a swagger to it with a great chorus. "River of Peace" is more laid-back and a slow burner, reminds me of Robin Trower. Could you talk about each of these three?
Gynt: Tractor Boogie was "made" in my head while I was in Sicily, Italy, sittin´ on the toilet having a bad stomach after eating in some bad restaurant. Suddenly that opening riff came into my mind. With Hey Mama I wanted to make a shuffle song with a sing-along chorus line. River of Peace is a personal song for me. I recorded that one with Norwegian lyrics first and I think that one worked better. However the song means a lot to me and I dont want to get into that now. It will take a lot of time for me to explain the lyrics on that one.
TCE: Could you describe your stage setup, guitar to amp? What is it about the Fender that you like? Could you talk about your guitar (brand, pick-ups etc)?
Gynt: My stage setup is as follows: 2 Fender Vibroking with extra 2x12 cabinet. My guitar effects is: 2 Ibanez tube screamers, 1 Hendrix Wha-Wha, 1 Boss Digital Delay and 1 OLD blue Ibanez Facer. The guitars I use on the road are 2 Fender Strat Custom Shop with Jeff Beck Neck, 3x58 special pickups and am. st. vib system. I also use 1 Guild Starfire original. All guitars are wired with La Bella strings (012 - 052). Ive tried many types of strings but I find that La Bella strings have a more bright and warm tone than the other strings Ive tried. Thats why I endorse the strings as well. My main guitar is my Red Fender Strat Custom shop. Its the first guitar I got from Fender after I got an endorsement with them. That strat is just magic. I own many strats that are similar to that one but they dont come close to the magic that guitar has. These things are strange but its true. I prefer the Custom ´58 pickups by Fender Custom shop. Many players like the Texas Special but I think they have quite too much middle. The ´58´s has a bright and warm bottom and a crispy edge. Basically what you need is a loud amp and a strat with these pickups.
TCE: How receptive is Norway to your kind of music.
Gynt: Norway has been very nice to me. However, this country is HELL to do tours. This because of the distance between the venues and the roads that are bad and all the mountains you have to cross. But when it comes to play the music in front of a Norwegian audience its great. They even buy a lot of records too.
TCE: This is the BIG influence question. Who are your influences besides the obvious (Stevie Ray, Hendrix, Clapton).
Gynt: Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Frank Marino, Chris Duarte and Morty Black.
TCE: Is your next album along the same type of electric blues?
Gynt: Yes, in a way. It will feature a lot more stronger songs as well as production. My playing style will be faced more as well. Youll hear a lot of electric Norwegian hamoni. All in all I believe it is a 100% stronger album than the last one. So I look forward to the release.
TCE: How did you hook up with Andy Johns, the producer on your new CD?
Gynt: My manager in the US, Pat Enyart, knows Andy from the time when they both lived in England. So when I started to work on a new record project She suggested that I should start to work with Andy. By the time I was ready to record I had to also work with another producer called Michael Scott. Andy and Michael did Van Halen (F.U.C.K.) together. Michael is an extremely good producer and engineer as well. I guess hes the best Ive ever worked with but thats another story.
TCE: Could you tell us about the Hell festival in Norway.
Gynt: Norway has many blues Festivals. Hell blues festival is one of them. It is placed in a place, not far from where I live, called Hell. Its been running for about 5 or 6 years now and has establish it self to be an international blues festival. Ive played there many times and its just a great place.