JØRN LANDE On DIO’s Passing: Some ‘People Wanted To Benefit From What Had Happened’

Anthony Morgan of Metal Forces recently conducted an interview with Norwegian powerhouse vocalist Jørn Lande. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

On latest JORN album, “Symphonic”:

Jørn: “‘I Came To Rock’ [from 2012’s ‘Bring Heavy Rock To The Land’] was something I thought would be cool to add some strings to, and so we tried. Some songs really invite you to make an orchestral arrangement. I just felt that songs like ‘I Came To Rock’ were perfect for that. Even without any keyboards or anything on the original version, it still feels like it could be something more bombastic, and that’s how I got the idea. With other tracks like ‘Behind The Clown’ [from 2004’s ‘Out To Every Nation’] for example — which is an older JORN track — it’s an era which was kind of a more experimental time, an era when I experimented more with various musical landscapes. That song was also a candidate. It wasn’t a typical song for a JORN album, because it was more like a ballad. I used to enjoy the wonderful Kate Bush a lot when I grew up, which is a big contrast to the heavy rock and metal I do today or perform today.

“Yeah, the rest is history, basically. It turned out great, and a friend of mine who’s very clever with arranging these things helped me out. I talked to my label and they liked the idea, too, to select a few other songs. We didn’t want to do a ‘best-of’ release, because some of the songs don’t fit that well with an orchestra anyway. You could say that I wanted to bring some diversity to the album, and also to bring some of these songs to the surface. We tried to choose some of the more rare tracks, tracks that might be forgotten or are on later albums. Usually people remember the video songs, singles and stuff. So yeah, they deserve a second chance. That’s basically how it started.”

On the birth of heavy metal:

Jørn: “In the early ’70s, there weren’t really any metal bands. Maybe there was something called heavy metal that was similar to heavy metal. Some people say that heavy metal started with bands like LED ZEPPELIN, BLACK SABBATH, but I think that heavy metal started in the late ’70s to early ’80s with bands like JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN. I think before that was hard rock, and experimental rock. Distorted guitars weren’t really distorted either, so that way of playing and being able to get the heavy metal sound right was one that evolved in the late ’70s. Just listen to what Eddie Van Halen [VAN HALEN] did with the guitar when he first started playing — his playing was something totally new. At one time the guitarist in BOSTON [Tom Scholz] invented something called the Rockman, which was a small, little box that made a certain sound. It was distorted; it wasn’t too thick and big, but it had this kind of crunchy, great feel and sound. I think that’s when guitarists were able to play faster, and could really do more on a technical level.

“I think before, in the early ’70s, when I was a kid, nobody heard about something called heavy metal. Not even heavy rock, or hard rock. It was just rock music. DEEP PURPLE was rock music, URIAH HEEP was rock music. NAZARETH, SLADE, SWEET; it was all rock music. It wasn’t separated, at least where I come from. I don’t know about the U.K., but people didn’t really separate the styles in the same way. It wasn’t like today with thousands of genres and subgenres, like soft metal, nu-metal, black metal, nu-black metal, thrash metal, speed metal. I don’t even know all of the names, but some of them I’ve learnt along the way. [laughs] I don’t even know all of the styles that are supposed to have been invented in the last ten, 20 years. I prefer to say that even BLACK SABBATH was heavy rock music, but I don’t think the word ‘heavy’ was really a term that was used back then. Maybe some did, but it definitely wasn’t a common way of addressing BLACK SABBATH.”

On the timing of the release of “Dio” in 2010, a tribute album to the late Ronnie James Dio [BLACK SABBATH, DIO, RAINBOW]:

Jørn: “It definitely wasn’t the best time to release the album, but some of the tracks on that album were from 2007 and the rest were from 2009. It wasn’t the best thing that happened, that the album came out so soon after Ronnie‘s passing. Then again, a lot of tributes were made afterwards. I think it was obvious that many of these tributes were really done because people wanted to benefit from what had happened. I think when we evaluated the situation, since the release had already been scheduled for a long time… I spoke to my record company, and we agreed that it was better to release the album as planned rather than wait four months, and then release it. It isn’t possible to make an album like that… If you know the album, you know how it sounds and everything. It isn’t possible to have a production like that in a month, or a few weeks.”

On the departure of guitarist Tore Moren and bassist Nic Angileri, and the arrival of new JORN members Trond Holter [guitars] and Bernt Jansen [bass]:

Jørn: “Tore always wanted to do something on his own, and there were also some discussions and conflict in the band. We had been playing together for many, many years. I guess we just had a different view on things, on how to continue. He basically left himself, which I guess was the result of our disagreements. Nobody got fired or anything from the band; it was his own wish to leave, based on our discussions. In the last couple of years we’ve been talking about the direction of the band and how to work and how to do things, even if it was in a live touring context, or if it was how to make an album, how to write, and what to do with certain things within this band. I guess that’s why.

“When we had a new guitarist, we had a bass player living nearby where I live, a really talented one. They were good friends, and he showed up at rehearsals together with the new guitar player. In the end, we just had to find out what to do. It really worked well. I think Nic played great on the album that he did last year with us; he played great on the tours and all the shows that he did, and he’s a great guy. It’s just we felt that it would work much better in the big picture to also include a new bass player, so we sat down to talk to Nic. Yeah, of course, it’s one of those things that sometimes you don’t like to do, talking to people about certain things and then telling people that it’s not gonna work anymore. I don’t like to beat around the bush; I like to be frank with these things.”

On his forthcoming studio album:

Jørn: “It’s less experimental than some of the earlier albums. I think the last couple of albums or three have been a development towards a more classic-rock-oriented sound, moving back to where we came from. Like I mentioned earlier, the experimentation is something which belongs in the past right now. I don’t feel that the most important thing is to try to reinvent the wheel or something, and try to discover new musical aspects of myself. I think what I need to do now is to really find the best recipe for the band. Where are we at our best? When do I perform at my best? In what type of style? Is it the simple rock music that we grew up with? I think we discovered that by not trying to go out of where we came from, and not trying to do something new… Which isn’t really possible, but I think that many bands desperately try to be original and to claim that they discovered something new.”

Read the entire interview at www.metalforcesmagazine.com.