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Interview

John Norum 

Stockholm, Sweden

added: 28 Jun 2010
interviewed by: Music-News.com Newsdesk 

John Norum - Stockholm, Sweden - Printable version
John Norum is the guitarist in the Swedish hard rock band Europe. He also released several solo albums (live and studio) throughout the years. His current album Play Yard Blues takes his guitar playing in a new direction that embraces a more bluesy style.
Music-Newsí Claudia A. spoke with a very easy going John about his musical heroes and his love for 70ís retro rock.

Music-News:
John, what inspired you to Play Yard Blues?

John Norum:
Well, a couple of years ago I featured on a Frank Marino/Mahagony Rush tribute album and I did one song on it - there were other artists on the album, too.
I just had such a great time doing this; itís more of a blues-rock type of thing. So I thought that my next solo album Iím going to do will be more in that kind of style, you know. Blues-rock, hard rock, hard rock blues, Whatever you wanna call it. So basically thatís how I started, I go way back with the blues. In the seventies I listened to it all the time.

MN:
Will you stick with the albumís musical style from now on?

JN:
Well, actually I wanted to do this for a long time, you know. I mean, thankfully Europeís last album 'Last Look At Edení has a little bit of those heavy blues-rock influences. So this feels very close to home. As I said, I started to play blues guitar a very long time ago and itís just fun. I really enjoy it, you know.

MN:
You still play with Europe, how have they reacted to your new solo album? Have they interfered in any way?

JN:
No, not at all. Theyíve been very supportive all the way, I mean, they know I have a solo deal with Mascot Records in Holland. I said it from the beginning when we started six years ago or rather, when we re-united (laughs). I said that I am going to continue doing solo albums on the side, because itís a fun thing for me to do.

MN:
Why did you choose an instrumental number (the only one on the album) as the title track?

JN:
Well, I actually had the title of the album before I put it on the song, you know. As you can hear on the track, itís just kind of a jam, like, one take and weíre having a good time. Itís like weíre in a play yard or in the playground just goofiní off and playing around. So basically, itís for guitar players and bass players and drummers. The whole album is very much a musicians album and I wanted to do it for guitar players and then if other people like it who are not musicians, thatís just the icing on the cake. If the regular Joeís or even the Europe fans like it, then itís really great, you know. But for me, itís simply some really good playing on there, and thatís what I wanted to do. Because with Europe, I do more commercial and radio friendly stuff. So with this album, I wanted to do the opposite (laughs).

MN:
Two tracks on the album, 'Got My Eyes On Youí and 'Born Againí are quite different in style, much more hard rock and not bluesy at all. Why have they been included?

JN:
Thatís a good question, haha. When I listen back to them today Ė because I did record them quite a long time ago Ė Iím thinking, 'Why did I put those tracks on it?' I should have done actually more of a blues thing, so it would fit the rest of the material. But a lot of people including fans really seem to enjoy the songs. It kind of breaks up the whole thing, so it doesnít get too sleepy. So there are more hard rock elements for which Iím famous anyway and also, the Japanese like all that hard rock stuff.

MN:
The three cover versions on the album are all by 70ís bands Ė Thin Lizzy, Frank Marino/Mahagony Rush and Mountain. Is this an era that, musically speaking, has influenced you more than any other era?

JN:
Oh yes! The 70ís, thatís my favourite time for music and stuff! I mean, it was so organic and real back then, you know. There were no computers and no messing around in the studios and trying to make bad musicians sound good. Back then, they all were really good players. You know, UFO and Thin Lizzy or Deep Purple and Frank Marino and all those bands, there was something real and organic about it that I enjoy. Iím an old hippie, so I like that kind of stuff (laughs).

MN:
Will you distance yourself from playing more radio friendly material (like with Europe) and focus more on what you call organic music?

JN:
Iím not looking to get a hit song on the radio, otherwise if I would have done that, I would have done a 15-sec long guitar solo or a thing like that. Whatís on my new solo album is the stuff that I really enjoy playing and it really comes from the heart and I gonna continue doing it on the next album, too. Itís not going to be traditional old menís blues, you know, itís still going to be heavy and a bit dark but goes into the blues-rock style. Itís just so much fun playing it on the guitar, it opens a lot of space and room to come up with interesting things whereas in heavy metal / hard rock, itís more restricted. You have your 30-sec guitar solo in the middle and the rest is just singing, basically. With my solo stuff, itís more like a spiritual thing; I would always say that if the sun was in the right place, I go into the studio to record. So itís a like a very spiritual feel-good album. It has a good groove and a good feel to it, you know.

MN:
Youíre currently touring with Europe, are you planning on some solo shows to promote you album?

JN:
Maybe I do a few shows after the summer when weíre done with the summer festival. Also, we gonna start writing for the new Europe album and well, so Iím hoping to do a few shows in the future. That would be great and a lot of fun. But in the meantime I hope to see you all during the Europe tour and I also hope you guys will enjoy my new album.

MN:
Thanks for the interview and I hope that Play Yard Blues will do great.

(Please read my review of Play Yard Blues in our 'Album Reviewsí section).

Play Yard Blues is released in the UK on July 5th by Mascot Records

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