It is an honor to be able to speak with someone as respected and long-lived within the scene as Jorn Lande … As a result of his upcoming concerts in Spain, we review his entire career, his projects, records … Ark, Dracula, Allen / Lande , Avantasia … tells us how those concerts will be, and what awaits him in a future full of plans. This is what he tells us.
David Aresté/Susana Manzanares

M.S: Hi Jorn, thanks for your time, it’s nice to have you on our page, how are you?

I’m doing very well, thank you:)

M.S: You are approaching 30 years of career in which you have gone through fantastic groups, you have made great albums and collaborated in large projects. In recent years, you also have two great Frontiers releases such as a great box set and a live one. At what point are you in your career after all those almost 30 years singing around the world … what do you still have to do?

Haha, yes it’s been a rollecoaster ride but for the most an enjoyable one. The first real touring I did was actually in Norway in 86-87, going for weeks from up North In Kirkenes near the Russian border and then city by city or village by village down to the South (Norway is a long country With a vast coastline and to tour for a month is no problem). I also remember doing some shows together with the British band «Wish Bone Ash», as a special guest/support act, so in that sense it’s closing in on 35 years since my first tour soon:) I still have a lot of plans and ideas for the future, New directions musically that I’m curious about trying, plus songs by other artists I would love to perform or record JORN style. When you write or cowrite so much original material as I have, you get to a point where you don’t necessarilly feel the need to come up with new stuff in the same style, and it also get’s harder with age to avoid copying yourself which makes it Natural to spend some more time on collecting ideas. That’s why artist and bands either have to try new directions or simply just start touring more and play all those great songs you did in the past plus include those that where usually not on the set list. Coming up with good original albums in the more classic style that I represent, takes a lot of time and if your going to release them every year and a half or so, you just won’t have time to tour much (maybe in the 70’s when the whole music culture and industry was different, but not anymore).

So, I guess the truth is that I will spend more time between my original albums from now on, to make sure the albums are killer, and play more shows between making original albums. Most of the earlier original albums came out only a year/year and a half apart, whilst the latest » Life On Death Road» took almost 3 years to finish from beginning of the writing stages to the actual release date, and It’s probably one of the best JORN albums to date in my opinion. So I feel it payed off to collect ideas over time instead of just using whatever I had to be able to make the deadline. The term «using whatever I had» is exactly what I did for the earlier albums in order to be able to deliver it fast, and even though I work pretty well under pressure, and the fact that some spontanious songs can end up being some of the best work (Lonely Are The Brave is a good example, the whole song was written in a couple of days, same thing with the song «Out To Every Nation»), you often end up with some short cuts and using some ideas that you might not even have considered to use if you had more time.

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M.S: We haven’t seen you on tour in Spain for 12 years, tell us how you prepare your return, by the way very much awaited by your fans, and what we can find in your setlist …

We’re all really exited! We will mainly play songs from the JORN catalouge but we’ll do some classic songs we grew up with by other bands/artists as well. It will be a Journey through history featuring both Original JORN material as well as older classics we love to perform, and we might also include something from some of my other collaborations, maybe from the Dracula album? If curfew is not too strict we might even do a sog or two from the upcoming «Heavy Rock RadoII» album, but we’ll have to see how the set list turns out. It’s hard to make everyone happy in regards to a set list after all these years with so many releases, but we’ll do our best to try and make everyone happy:) Maybe we need to start playing 3 hour shows haha…

M.S: You show your great vocal versatility by making great versions in many albums of your discography, would you like to become part of one of the bands that you cover?

Well, when I was younger I was thinking that thought but over the years I’ve become more focused on my own band and carriere. Besides, I don’t think there are many more of the old bands looking for a new singer these days, but for sure if it was the right band and I was asked to do let’s say a tour or some festivals it would be hard to say no;) Anyway, thank you for the compliment!

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M.S: We assume that something like Avantasia must be taken full advantage of, with those musicians and those songs that Mr.Sammet does, it is difficult to resist participating … What has this brought to you in your career both personally and as a musician? When you were offered to participate, did you think it would have such an impact?

No, I never thought it would be as successful as it became, it was totally unexpected. I think Tobi had the same reaction to the feedback and was surprised. You have to remember that Avantasia started already in 99 and was more or less «just another rock opera» concept to many at the time.

It wasn’t till «The Scarecrow» album and world tour in 2008 that the big success started happening, probably because of the combo of singers, the song quality, and hitting the new trend or wave of symphonic metal at the right time. Musically I come from a more old school style and I remember it was a strange feeling to experience these long epic songs suddenly becoming so popular, it’s the total opposite of the «3 minute radio rock song era» I come from, and it was great to experience that such type of songs could have such a commercial and broad appeal.

Avantasia to me is a kind of modern Meat Loaf/Jim Steinman type of concept, but heavier and more complex with it’s power metal elements mixed with the various vocalists that adds everything from blues, classic rock and metal to musical and folk like moments. Truly a unique concept craftet for the big stages. You can’t call Avantasia a band like all our individual bands, it’s a different concept beyond that. That’s why it’s no problem for us to go back to our bands and do our thing alongside Avantasia, plus it’s also Natural in these modern times to be a more multitasking person or a «Swiss army knife», and not base Your whole life on one thing only. Having several jobs and responsibilities and dealing with the contrasts is the mantra of the modern time we live in. I participate whenever it’s possible, when Tobi asked me to be a part of «The Mystery of Time» album, I was in the middle of doing the Dracula «Swing Of Death» album together with my guitarist at the time Trond Holter, and unfortunately had to turn his request down. So, sometimes circumstance makes it difficult to contribute, but I think it’s healthy for a concept like Avantasia to change singers and mucians once in a while, the more exiting it get’s when some of the older members suddenly come back again a few years later. I think I speak for everyone in the Avantasia Family when I say that we enjoy being on the road together and if there’s a demand and we have time we will all do Avantasia again in the future.

Obviously Avantasia is good for everyone in a carriere perspective as well, we all get to perform in front of each others fans and Reach more People. A MrBig, Helloween or Queensreich fan might not necessaritly be a JORN fan from before or vice versa, but we’ve all experienced how Avantasia introduced us all to a New audience. Avantasia has definitely been a good marketing tool for everyone, including Tobi who could not do this on such a high level if it wasn’t for all the fans of the singers/musicians individual bands combined with the new Avantasia fan base.

M.S: Frontiers announced that next year there wil be Allen / … ?, an announcement that gave a little to understand that it will not be you, what happened, did you get tired of the project? You made some phenomenal records with Karlsson …

Originally there was never going to be more than one Allen/Lande album from my side, but since it got popular me and Russel agreed to do another one. After this I thought maybe maximum three since it was more of a side project. After «The Great Divide» which was done together with Timo Tolkki, I felt it was time to Call it the day. I also noticed that there were several other releases coming out with similar style but with different singers, and so the whole thing started becoming a bit too fabricated to me.

I mean, when you hear albums that sound close to the same as the Allen/Lande albums, it becomes a fabricated formula. We experienced the same in the 80’s, and in the end glam rock bands and pop acts were put together and sold as fastfood. Some record companies put together too many projects trying to copy something that sold well, the Allen? you mention, is a good example of that but it doesn’t bother me. I’m happy I’m not under contract for another one:) I’m not sure if the younger generations of today think the same way, maybe they’re just fine with the more fastfood oriented formula and my generation might be thinking a bit too complicated. I mean, to copy and paste something in a computer, or autotune something that’s not optimal might be practicle, but to many People of my generation and the generation before, this is taking the easy way out. You might finish the job faster, but you’ll never get that quality craftmansship that makes it stand out….Bohemian Rapsody, Hotel California, Dark side of the Moon or Stairway To Heaven are still a testament of that craftmansship, and despite some People arguing and saying that «yes but these are new times», I feel the new times could use more heart and soul, with more artists that reflect and channel something personal from within, not just fabricating formulas.

The ironic thing is that the same People who reckognize and praise the great Music of the past, are quick to judge newer bands/artists and put them down if they have those classic qualities, then they say it’s just copying and not modern or original enough. Bottom line is that a great band With groove and feeling will give the audience some great energy to take home, and such band will outlive most of the others. A solid sustainable carriere is not about how many clicks or streams on the internet for a song and video, it’s about the loyal fan base that follow you because you deliver the real deal, and gives you the opportunity to have a long life in this business. Like Mick Box of Uriah Heep said: we are blessed to be able to tour 64 countries in the world every year, if that’s not success then what is? Haha M.S, off track with your question now, but that’s typical me;)

Interview with Jorn Lande

MS: The first disc of Dracula «Swing Of Death», along with Trond Holter was something excellent and shows your great versatility in the conceptual … With that and following your collaborations in Avantasia, do you see yourself singing better playing a character , do you like more? It would be nice if you got back together to make more material, do you know if that could happen again?

Thank you for the compliments, I’m very proud of that album. Vocally this concept also has elements of stuff I did in my past, a hint of for example «Shadowland» (Beyond Twilight), «Man Of The Dark» (JORN) and when working on some of the lyrics it was obvious to me that this concept had to be about Bram Stokers classic book, and not some new modern vampire story.

The Dracula album is based on Bram Stokers book but with a few twists here and there, and like the book it was meant to be a one off. To consider to do Dracula II would have to be a new story and would take things out of context, which is possible but not likely to happen.

I know my record Company released a concept about the Warrior Vlad Tepes, but it has nothing to do with the Dracula «Swing Of Death» album, even thogh I know Trond and my Record Company intended it to be the second chapter (Vlad tepes was a military govenor or prince in Romania, and is a totally different story). Everything is of course relative, and depending on how you see it, but except for some song title being linked to the Swing of Death album, there is no obvious Connection between the releases, and so I find it hard to understand why they chose to Connect it to the Dracula release. However, it is said that Bram Stoker used Vlad as an inspiration when creating Dracula, but except for a Castle and residing in the Transilvania region the two characters have very little in common. Vlad Tepes as a separate story would make more sense, but I guess since the Dracula album was quite successful and sold well, it was done for business reasons..

I like playing characters, but I always try to see the character from a self experienxed/lived point of view. What would it be like if that character was me? That’s how I think when approaching the character and it makes everything authentic and more realistic. The real drama and Challenges of life fits into all contexts, making a fictive character more human. This brings something real to the listener, something they can relate to, and this way we can all identify ourselves with the character. When I write lyrics for other types of songs, for example in JORN context, I mostly reflect my own life, and trying to channel something from within (In the 70’s when I grew up this was the standards and the only way to become a true artist).

M.S: Many of our readers and in general many people on social networks would be happy if Ark met again, do you think there would be any chance now that there is this current of bringing back the past?

Never say never, but the way things are I doubt it would happen. Unfortunately both Randy and Mads passed away a few years ago. We all had a great time that period, Ark is something special that I will always be very proud of. It was a real band with a big R.

Me Tore and John, We’re in a different place in life now, but I can understand why many would love to see some kind of a reunion. Would be an interesting experiment to see what we would have come up with.

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M.S: Now that Sammet does not need you for the worlds of Avantasia (… for now) and apart from your tour, what will you do next?

Not sure I understand the question, but we’ve been touring and playing festivals since March this year, and Avantasia will be back with a few special Christmas shows in December. Together with my band I have just finalized another JORN album titled HRRII Executing the classics» to be out on January 24th 2020. The album is a follow up to the 2016 album Heavy Rock Radio, which did well and also entered the Billboard Sales Charts in the US, so it was natural to follow up with another one. The original 2017 album «Life On Death Road» also went Billboard and did excepionally well, despite not being a somewhat typical Commercial album, so when looking at the good flow and success over the last years it feels like the right time to keep going with frequent releases and lay down some extra work and effort. Inbetween everything I’m doing some shows in Scandinavia, a rock/metal cruise, plus shooting a few videos for the upcoming album. Not too much time at home this year, it’s been hectic but I’m used to it and love my job:) This Winter I will also start writing for the next original album, I feel the best time to work on songs is around January/February/March, plus it’s also the time of year when I often have some time off to Focus and reflect without too many other things going on.

M.S: Our questions have come here, thank you very much for your time and if you want to say something else this is the time … See you on the tour

Yes, thank you too! Looking very much forward to play in Spain again, it will be 3 exclusive shows since we haven’t played much live with the JORN band the last couple of years due to other obligations and studio work. The shows this fall plus Spain in November is kind of like a kick off to playing more future shows with the JORN band from 2020, plus it’s been a while since playing Spain, so can’t wait to come back to Your beautiful country!

Interview with Jorn Lande

David Aresté/Susana Manzanares
Live photos: Samantha Compton