John Norum Interview (1988)

Posted: January 12, 2020 in Classic Rock, Classic Rock - Interviews, Cool stuff, Deep Purple Family, Magazines

The following article was in print in Swedish newspaper FOLKET on March 11 1988 and I have decided to translate it exactly as it was written back in the day. Enjoy!

* * * * *

 -“I do not care if I make money or not on this tour. I just want to play to people and give them a good experience. If things get tight I will rather give up my own cut rather than compromise with the show”.

These words comes from John Norum, a 24 year old guitarist with a great past and a very interesting future. The former member of Europe is currently on the road (in Sweden) for the first time in over a year with a fresh new band. And things are going well with 70,000 copies sold of his first solo album “Total Control” in these parts alone. The enthusiastic crowds are probably ensuring that the financial end will take care of itself. It hits me as I see this show that John has got quite a lot of integrity. His past is not used much and he is not touching “The Final Countdown”, the super hit, at all. He is also an honest and down to earth character when you interview him, a pleasant man. But the future is not carved in stone. Draw your own conclusions as you read this interview.

Are you alright with having your home base here in Sweden and not, say, London or Los Angeles?

– “Yes, it works fine as it is. I might buy a house abroad though, maybe in Zurich? I get royalties from Europe in March or April and then I will do the things I have always dreamt about, like getting a house etc”.

What do you think of the pospects of the Scandinavian Hard Rock scene in the future?

– “It looks bright to me. If you compare us with what you see coming out of, say, America at the moment, we are way better. Poison and Cinderella is all image and they can not play well or write good songs. Scandinavian bands are taking their cues from the old school bands like Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and UFO, and so the difference is very clear”.

Your solo career then, how important is it for you to go out in your own name? What happens if, say, David Coverdale gives you a call and asks you to join Whitesnake tomorrow?

– “Then I will be a member of Whitesnake tomorrow! David is one of my favourite singers and Whitesnake is one of the few bands that I would feel at home with musically. I would also have appreciated to work with Thin Lizzy, but that can not happen now after the tragedy with Phil Lynott. I heard a rumour that Ronnie James Dio was interested in me before Craig Goldie got the job, but I can not see myself in Dio”.

There is talk about a possible future collaboration with Glenn Hughes, can you talk about that?

– “We have talked and he wants me to play on his next solo album. He basically wants to call it Hughes Norum, like he did with that album with Pat Thrall that went out as Hughes Thrall five years ago. We will meet in London and have a chat when we play with Ace Frehley at the Hammersmith (on March 19), so we shall see. Glenn is one of my heroes, I basically own everything that he has made from Trapeze to Deep Purple and all the rest of it. He has had a string of bad luck in recent times and he is sitting there in Atlanta fishing and wants to get going again”.

What happens with your solo career if this happens?

– “I am contracted for two solo albums to CBS so I have one more to deliver. That I shall whatever happens. Sammy Hagar could do it when he joined Van Halen. If he could then so can I, it is just a matter of time”.

You have had two hit singles here at home so far from the album, are you contemplating to put out a third?

– “Yes, well the American label has decided to put out “Back On The Streets” as their first single now as they are set to release the album over there, so we will follow up that here as well a bit later on I think. Their version will be slightly different from ours and the rest of the worlds. They have decided to replace the last song on the record, the instrumental, to the Thin Lizzy cover we did with “Wild One”. I am fine with that”.

What are the plans to promote this album outside of Scandinavia at the moment?

– “Well there is no point in talking about that until the paperwork is done. Of course I would love to back this album up as much as humanly possible, so if things turn out alright then we will go. We may do some gigs with the Scorpions, we will see”.

Why have you not made a video to push this album, that seems to be pretty important these days with MTV and all that?

– “I actually do not know the answer to that question. The only thing out there on film is from that TV show (in Sweden), Listan. Maybe they could recut “Love Is Meant To Be Forever” so that it could work as a video? To be honest with you, I have not thought too much about it”.

Where do you sell most of your records outside of Scandinavia? Any more Gold albums on the horizon?

– Well the numbers for, say, Germany is so high but we are doing well there and Holland and Japan is good too. I was in Germany to promote the album recently and the people at the record company were surprised that I was not anti Europe in any way, and that I was OK with stickers on the album that says who I am and where I am coming from. I do want to reach out to as many people as possible and I am proud of the past”.

Do you think that your current band is giving you the security that you need when you are on that stage?

– “Yes, they are very professional and most of them have previous touring experience going back so everything is very tight. I do appreciate performing live again”.

Obviously, the question remains how long this band is going to exist. If a collaboration with Glenn Hughes comes up, changes will undoubtedly occour. I am just happy to have seen this band on stage in this version and considering that I really saw one of the very first shows I have to say that they show a lot of promise. No matter what happens next, I can make two points here. John Norum is a bonafide guitar hero for the future, and when anybody is mentioning his name I think of one thing. Integrity”.

Michael Eriksson (1988)

* * * * *

“Total Control” was produced by Thomas Witt, whom had recorded three 220 Volt albums at that time for CBS. 220 Volt drummer Peter Hermansson played on the album, and so did Volt bassist Mikael Larsson on one track. John did join 220 Volt on stage and jammed on their song “Firefall” not long after him having left Europe. Singer Göran Edman (ex-Madison) sang on a few tunes and he later went on to join Yngwie Malmsteen. Bass player Marcel Jacob had been with Yngwie in the very early days. The touring band of 1988 was Norum, Edman, Jacob, Mats Olausson (keyboards) and Hempo Hildén (drums). John had a false start on a project with Glenn Hughes in 1988 that was quickly aborted (I did one of the few interviews that they ever made, you can find it on this blog if you go back to September 2013), but they eventually did collaborate a few years later on Johns solo album “Face The Truth” in 1992. John worked with Dokken and reunited with Europe in 2004. To date he has released seven solo albums (plus some live albums).

No part of this interview may be quoted without permission. I often see this sort of thing in books etc. Just let me know that you are interested.

(Top image shows FOLKET, March 11 1988)

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