Archive for August, 2012

Montana Blue was my second wild west project for my publication RETROFUTURE. I had an idea for a novel that incorporated a heroine born in Sweden living in America travelling in Montana encountering adventures on her path to a new home in Flatlake. Her deeds are being noticed by Odin in Valhalla and he decides that she is fit to become a Valkyrie after her death and sends down Svava, a Valkyrie of his personal guard to give Montana Blue a necklace that will help her on her way. Wounded after a battle, Montana Blue wakes up and finds the necklace around her neck and a child claims she saw an angel from the sky giving it to her in the middle of the night. And so the adventures begin in ernest.

I printed the novel in a 24 page edition in february 2011 (400 copies, 50 signed by me and Nina) and it has been re-printed twice since then in other publications, and a comic book version is worked on as we speak (which is going to be great fun to see released some day).

I had two sessions with my model Nina for the project, the image above was taken on june 16 2010. This outfit was put together by Nina and myself and the only alteration was that she changed her boots to brown ones for parts of these sessions. Ofcourse, the blue boots was inspired by the heroines name, Montana Blue.

I have a few hundred images from this day and I have to say that it is very hard to get a bad picture of this model, she has a beauty that is completely natural in front of the camera.

This outfit has resulted in one cover, one of two for GUNSLINGER (published in june). I collected Montana Blue and Dakota Jane (my first wild west heroine) and printed them back to back – you have to turn the magazine to read them so they both had covers).

GUNSLINGER was printed in 1000 copies and I gave them away this summer in a project I have going at the moment (but that is another story).

I wonder if the story is good enough to catch somebodys attention abroad some day? Maybe the comic will do it. Who knows.

(My images)

I spotted this house on a tiny little island in Lake Storsjön when I was sightseeing the northern part of the lake with a good friend in july. We were driving by and there it was, almost impossible to spot unless you are lucky.

I think it is a fantastic location, and the imagination starts to flow when you see it. Who built it? When? How? Did they do it in the wintertime, transporting materials by sledge over the ice? It seems like an awful hassle to do it by boat.

In any case, I love it.

(My image)

November the 16th 2002 was a chilly, dark and windy night in Stockholm, but it was also a night to remember for thousands of Nightwish fans as they witnessed a great show in a venue called “Arenan” (The Arena) in the capital. I was there that night with my friend (photographer) Michael Johansson and it is a fond memory for the both of us. It was the first time we met Nightwish and we had a great time. The following story (what follows is an exact translation from swedish to english) was published in a major magazine titled CODEX and I also included it in my own cult magazine SLICE (first issue). Michael Johansson had pictures in several magazines (including SWEDEN ROCK MAGAZINE (first a poster of Tarja Turunen, later more pictures) and german magazine HAMMER (Tarja cover), to name two. We were also amazed to find ourselves on the DVD release “End of Innocence” the following year (blink and you will miss it, but we are in there). Enjoy the story.

The place is The Arena at Fryshuset, november 16 2002. The time is exactlty 21.00 and I can observe from my position how Nightwish is gathering to the left side offstage from the publics point of view, the 3000 that are there to see them tonight. At 21.03 the intro tape rolls and the crowd goes nuts when Nightwish enters the stage, one by one. Last one out is singer Tarja Turunen and when she appears the roof is almost lifted as the crowd cheer madly for the opening of “Bless The Child”, the first track on the current CD “Century Child”. Nightwish has, in great secrecy it seems, managed to conquer Sweden and this is their reward. The pieces are falling into place and they are now confirming their position as one of the most beloved bands to have emerged in a long time. I was there to cover this event for CODEX and SLICE and I can report exactly what happened that evening. We also talked with Tarja and the man behind the success, keyboard player Tuomas Holopainen.

Nightwish has conquered this country in the traditional way for most hardrock bands, without radio and television giving a toss, and mostly by word of mouth. I myself discovered Nightwish about a year ago when a friend dropped by and with him he had a VHS copy of the “From Wishes To Eternity” release. I loved what I saw/heard right away and I couldn´t believe that a band this evolved, with three records behind them, had not been heralded as the next big thing in the media. So I checked it out. I dug through all my magazines and the band were simply not there, apart from an article in CLOSE-UP MAGAZINE. I suspect that the reason for this may be that they are coming out of Finland, it wouldn´t be the first time that our media ignores pretty much everything that comes out from our Scandinavian countries. In the eighties, bands like Europe and 220 Volt were treated the same way before they took off by word of mouth. Everybody was just so accostumed to look at what happened elsewhere. The attitude seen in sports, that we can beat everybody and that we damn well should, just wasn´t there for music. This, I realized, was now the fate of Nightwish.

Top 5 in Germany

I bought their records and in july this year I could finally for the first time meet a new release as it came out to the stores. I purshased “Century Child” right away and also took note to the fact that Universal had now gotten the rights for the back catalouge, so that was coming out and became more accessable to fans as well. “Century Child” was a masterpiece and at home the release made some mighty big waves. Nightwish has, it would seem, managed to become prophets in their homeland, which is as you know very rare. But I also noted that the record managed to climb into the Top 5 chart in Germany and this was a major event as it would be for any hardrock band. In Sweden, the silence was deafening.

The media in Sweden wakes up

But in silence something has happened. “Century Child” has been making waves and ordinary people are talking excitedly about the band. And at the swedish booking agency Skrikhult Productions sits Olof Wikström, eager to get a chance to get the band to play in Sweden. Even for just a small club gig at Fryshuset. But his e-mails does not bear fruit to begin with, the band is busy elsewhere (in Europe) during the summer and on top of that is the fact that Tarja is studying opera classes somewhere in Germany. But the bands policy has been to try to keep things alive and when they took note that “Century Child” was now selling better that the earlier releases in Sweden, a visit to play here became more interesting. So Olof got his OK and could release 700 tickets to The Club at Fryshuset. These vanished like icecream under the sun and he got word that it was OK to add a further date at the club to take advantage of the interest. This second date sold out very quickly and now they moved the first show two floors up to the bigger hall, The Arena. Suddenly, Nightwish had sold 3 500 tickets.

Nobody in our media, except for us, had foreseen anything like this. Ola Bergman wrote about the surprising success in METRO two days before the first show and according to Olof at Skrikhult Productions, that worked as a wakeup call to the rest of the media. Suddenly, I heard the new record being played on the radio, but they called it a “new release” which says a lot. When they finally arrived on swedish soil the interest was there. MTV played the video and the major newspapers were out to see what the fuzz was about. Within a few weeks, the band had proved that they had a strong fan base here, a fan base built by word of mouth rather from overblown hype. They came as underdogs and made it with the cred intact.

Tarja wishes to appear dreamlike

When the two of us arrived to The Arena at around five in the afternoon, a sound check with all five members were going on. It would go on for quite a while so later I asked if that was the norm (it wasn´t). We moved backstage and Michael Johansson went downstairs to The Club (site of next days gig) and set up his gear in preparation for his photo session. Soon we can hear that the sound check is over and fifteen minutes later they all arrive to be photographed. Mike takes several different shoots with different backdrops and sessions with all the members individually as well. The mood in the room seems to be very good and I think I can say that we saw a family of friends on this occation. Lots of joking going on. Tarja wishes to appear dreamlike on her session and naturally everybody else is trying hard to make her lose her consentration. She fights it but can´t keep a straight face for very long, she can´t help a few moments of good laughter. She has an adorable smile so I find myself wondering why she doesn´t want that side to be seen more. But that is her business and hers alone. I also notice that the manager is running around with a camera and later he confirms to me that they are collecting material for a DVD that should come our way in june 2003. I can see him later during the show as well so expect scenes from Stockholm on this release.

The Interview

The interview is coming up and although I am promised 30 minutes this has to be cut down to 20, so I chose to start the chat with Tuomas Holopainen as soon as his individual pictures has been taken. Tarja is told to come along when she is done by the tour manager. Tuomas finds us a room and we sits down. I notice that the room belongs to Tarja as the table in front of us is full of different shades of makeup. Tuomas gently remove some of it so that we can begin the interview. I start by picking up a copy of the “Over The Hills And Far Away” release and unfolds the cover. It shows a drawn map of the world with little illustrations to represent some of the countries on it. Sweden, as it happens, is illustrated by a crashed JAS39 fighter aircraft and a uboat periscope…

You knew that this was coming, didn´t you?

– Yes, ha ha ha.

Have you been involved in creating this?

– Yes, it´s a guy at the record company that is doing all the illustrations for our records.

Let us take a look at a couple of the details here. First, we have this crashed JAS39 aircraft, which is a funny idea, but who´s idea was it?

– It was his idea.

And then we have these penguins in Norway…

– Yes, there are things there that I don´t really understand myself, but I assume it´s some kind of humour. Like the lion that you can see in Finland. This release came out between two real ones so I suppose we figured that we could make it a bit different, not quite as serious.

There are a few live tracks from the DVD on this record. Any thoughts yet as to when we can see a full live recording on the market?

– On this one it was the record company that insisted that we should include the livetracks on it as well. We recorded that concert for a VHS and DVD release, then the record company wanted it on a CD as well, so in Finland there is a live recording of that out. But we thought that it would be a good thing if you could get some of these songs as well. So we looked at it and since “Over The Hills And Far Away” had been a single in Finland, we thought that we could make a nice package of it for you. So what you have is a compromise.

Who´s idea was it to record a Gary Moore cover?

– That was my idea.

So you are a big fan of his music?

– I like the first three records that he did but I don´t like his blues period. But this song is special to me because it was the first that I really fell in love with. It´s a good song that happens to fit us very well.

What favourite bands do you have from your early days as a listener?

– I used to listen a lot on finnish rock and pop. But I also enjoyed Gary Moore, Europe, Def Leppard and other melodic acts. Then I saw Metallica in America when I was 15 and after that I´ve been into hardrock.

Did they tour with the “Black” album at that time?

– Exactly. But before that I had no expectations at all. I didn´t like bands like Metallica. But I saw them and that changed my life.

“Walking In The Air” is another cover and the band Rainbow has also recorded a version of it.

– Yes, they called their version “Snowman” and it was released on the “Bent Out Of Shape” record.

Both versions are very good. I have never heard the original, who´s version is closest to it?

– The original recording consists only of an orchestra, and you can hear this fantastic 12 year old boy soprano with a scottish accent. It is a little odd.

So you added quite a lot for your version?

– Yes, lyrics, guitar, everything. So our version is quite different. The original has this little boy singing and it´s very beautiful. To me it´s the best piece of music ever recorded.

And you are pleased with your version of it?

– Yes, I think it´s OK. It´s probably one of our best recordings as well.

How long are you on standby because of Tarjas studies?

– We are in the middle of it right now, but we try to play a few shows every now and then if we can. Like these shows here in Sweden and a couple of shows in Germany in january. But after that we will not perform live again until next summer.

How long does her studies go on?

– Two years, this and the next. We´ll record next fall and have a new record out in 2004.

Your back catalouge has appeared here on Universal now, have you changed record labels?

– No, we´re still signed to Spinefarm, but Universal has picked us up here. So we are signed to Spinefarm but assisted by Universal to get our products out. It has been a change for the better, as we can see here now.

Germany has been good to you lately. How is the rest of the world coming along?

– It looks good, not least here in Sweden. Something has happened here. The earlier records didn´t sell well at all here, maybe even less than 1000 copies each. So that was nothing. But this one is up to 6-7000 copies now and it´s still selling. South America has been good to us. We performed in front of 7000 fans in Brazil so that was fantastic. But something is going on i Europe now, the new record is selling better than the old ones everywhere.

Have you done a video for this record yet?

– Yes, we did one for “Bless The Child”, it is on rotation on MTV here in Scandinavia now.

Has the current situation changed anything in your daily lives when you go on the road, like around the hotels?

– Yes, as we have become more successful things have started to change, but it´s all part of the process.

But not to the point were it can be seen as a problem?

– No, not yet (looks over at Tarja that is now entering the room), maybe for her?

Tarja / – It´s not that bad.

Tuomas / – Sometimes people are stalking us and that can be a little annoying, but we can live with it.

You had a rather long soundcheck today, well over an hour. Do you always have that?

Tarja / – No, but this is going to be the first concert in two months so we just wanted to connect to the songs again.

I was going to ask you Tarja how you warm up before a concert. What do you do to get going?

Tarja / – I make sure that I keep warm and I sing a little during the sound check, but nothing more than that.

I just asked Tuomas what influences he´s had. Who´s yours?

Tarja / – I think that you can say that for what I do in Nightwish it has been an isolated thing. There has been few women in heavy metal. Should I mention names it would probably be people that I´ve studied in the classical world. But I can´t mention anybody specific in that field neither for what I do now.

Tuomas / – To me, that is a positive thing. You are not copying anybody else, you are doing this your own way. That gives it a fresh look.

Have you noticed that you seem to have a very broad audience?

Both / – Yes we have.

Why do you think that you have succeeded in this?

Tuomas / – I think it´s because our music is so broad. We have a heavy side but we also have a softer side that might relate well to other people, to older listeners perhaps? I´m not sure.

The song “Beauty Of The Beast” on the new record is a masterpiece. How long did it take you to write that one? It has so many different elements to it.

Tuomas / – Yes, the idea I had was to mix all the different elements of our music into the same song and try to make it as powerful as possible. We wanted to create a song that nobody could do bigger. So it had to be long, it had to have a ballad part, a bombastic part, and her vocals had to be in the focus. It ended up with the mixing guy having 140-150 tracks to keep an eye on. It was hard on them, ha ha ha.

So that was the hardest song to record?

Tuomas / – Yes, but we worked really hard on the whole record.

In my view there is a case to the thought that you could be the hardrock worlds answer to ABBA, and by that I mean that in each and every song you always have something that any listener can grab a hold of. You present strong melodies and I think that you can become a really huge act once the radio people discover your existence.

Tuomas / – I think it is vital that there´s always something that grabs you in a song. It should be easy to remember and the melodies themselves are of tremendous importance for us. A lot of bands today write their songs without the notion that the vocals has to be right there playing an important part. Many singers just scream on top of the music with no regard to melody. To us, melody is all important.

Let us talk about other things than music for a while. Are you into PlayStation games and such?

Tarja / – I don´t mind them but I don´t have enough time, ha ha ha.

Tuomas / – I don´t have the patience it requires to sit for hours in front of a computor with a technology that one might not be on top of. I do enjoy “Worms:Armageddon”, but that´s all. I don´t even own a PlayStation.

Tarja / – I own a PlayStation but it just sits there, ha ha ha.

And fantasy? Are you into books?

Tarja / – Absolutely!

Tuomas / – I read quite a lot and most of it is fantasy, and that is the case for our drummer and our bass player as well.

So you have that in common. Did you grow up together?

Tuomas / – We have known eachother since we were 13.

Tarja / – Yes, we have.

So what authors do you like?

Tuomas / – Tolkien ofcourse, Robyn Hobb, David Eddings (Tarja nods to these names).

I assume that you saw the first Tolkien movie in the Peter Jackson trilogy then, what did you think of it?

Tuomas / – It was just as good as it could be.

Tarja / – It was amazing.

Tuomas / – We are counting down the days to december 18 when the second movie comes out.

Are you going to see the extended DVD version that is 20 minutes longer?

Tuomas / – Well, that has only been out for two days so I haven´t had the chance to get my hands on a copy yet.

Tarja / – I must see that.

If you had a truck full of money and you could do a video with no limits as far as the budget goes and you could do anything you wanted. What song would you pick from the new record and what would you do?

Tuomas / – It would be very interesting to do a mini feature on the last track on the record, “Beauty And The Beast”.

Tarja / – That would be fantastic. I can see it in front of me.

Tuomas / – A full story, told in 10 minutes. The song is easy to approach from a cinematic point of view so it would be cool if we could ever do that. Nobody would ever show it ofcourse, the song being 10 minutes, but I would love to do that.

Do you have an interest in the UFO phenomenon?

Both / – Yes!

Tuomas / – I have an interest in all of that, everything that is classified as supernatural and borders almost to fantasy. My philosophy is that I don´t believe in anything but I think that anything is possible.

So have you seen anything?

Tarja / – Not yet.

Tuomas / – I hope that I never see anything.

I talked with Ronnie James Dio recently and he told me about a personal experience that he´s had.

Tarja / – Wow!

Tuomas / – Dio? Cool!

It´s interesting, because when you ask somebody about this you never know what they are going to say.

Tarja / – It was very interesting to hear that Ronnie James Dio has seen a UFO but I really don´t think that I want to experience anything like that (she says, and knocks on the table in front of us three times for luck!).

At this point the interview was over and we took our farewells with the ice completely broken. In the 90 minutes left before the show, they had another interview, a photo session with a number of photographers and dinner to squeeze in. By chance, I saw them eating in the cafeteria outside the hall (but still inside the actual building) not long before the show and only minutes before the crowd was allowed in. We hanged with them in the backstage area but without bothering them any further before the show. Tarja didn´t sing at all backstage, which I´d thought was perhaps the norm before our short meeting. After a tremendously successful show they went off to a private party and word later had it that the expense account reached impressive hights. Ofcourse they had all the reason in the world to party but I don´t know how long the band could have been at it considering that they had another show to play the next night. What I do know is this, these guys are good people and they have a lot of talent. And it was a pleasure to see them finaly making it big in this country. In the newspaper Expressen we could read the headline “Hardrocks new goddess” the next day. Better late than never.

We shall see how things work out for them now in Sweden, what I do know is that they will be back for a festival show here next summer. Now the journey begins.

Michael Eriksson (2002)

NOTE – This interview may not be quoted without permission.

Got these fantastic badges from my friend Trace Keane in the States a couple of weeks ago. Tommy Bolin died in 1976 but his memory lives on. I was a huge fan of Deep Purple when he joined them in 1975 and I still play “Come Taste The Band” and related stuff regularly. It still saddens me that the group could not keep it together (at least, for just one more record), but it was not to be.

On the other hand, we got fantastic music from the members instead and from the ashes of Deep Purple rose Whitesnake.

But Deep Purple Mk4 was very special, a fantastic band if you look at the talent involved. Tommy Bolin was a great choice but we all know the story. And if you feel you should know more, check out the excellent DVD “Phoenix Rising” issued last year. I heard it won prize for “Best documentary” in a rock publication over in Germany.

Deep Purple will always be Number 1 in my book.

(Badges scanned by me)

Exactly what is a Trinkelbonker? And more importantly, can it fly? Well, Trinkelbonker is a word born out of necessity. Have you ever tried coming up with a good name for a blog? I thought about it for weeks and the ones I liked (things like “Meanwhile, back at the ranch” and “Missed it by that much”) was taken. So I went with a silly title that makes no sense at all, except it made me laugh. Fair enough, I will go with that then. In time I will get used to it and so will you (if you decide to return on any kind of regular basis). Think of all those old rock tunes, all the silly titles that makes no sense at all, but will fly forever. No worries then.

I was born in 1961 and grew up in mid-Sweden in a town called Östersund. My earliest memories of music I liked was influenced by my mother, things like Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Tom Jones and the like. I was aware of The Beatles and I loved The Monkees on the telly. Then, in 1971, in crashed Deep Purple and everything changed. My first favourite tv-shows included The Addams Family (still has a crush on Carolyn Jones) and High Chaparral. Those were the days. Always loved a good western.

Comics was important for my generation and I still collect and enjoy both new and old. War comics played a big part in my youth, so I am delighted that Commando still exists.

My big hobby has been to create magazines so there will be a little about that. I have done plenty of interviews over the years – some will end up on this blog just for fun. Mostly Classic Rock I guess.

Nostalgia is important and I have always looked back on days gone past with a certain yearning. No surprise then that I have written wild west novels for some of my publications and that I have hired models and photographed them in western outfits just for the hell of it. I have created three heroines so far, Dakota Jane, Montana Blue and (pictured above) Tornado Blaze. Great fun.

The fanzine hobby is coming to an end so one day this blog will be my platform of choice.

MIKE ERIKSSON (August 2012)

(My image)