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Northern Light - 2005 Interview with Tor Talle
Norway has switched the lights on again in 2005. Gosh, if a new Pagans Mind album wasn't enough (to some it still isn't!), we got a Stage Dolls reformation, coupled with the success of popsters Wigwam at Eurovision and Kurt Nilsen at World Idol. My goodness, it's all happening up in the northern climes. And turning up to gatecrash the party already occupied by the aforementioned recipients, along comes a new talent. His name is Tor Talle, and he has a new baby on his plate - called Northern Light.

Written By: gdazegod
Date: July 15, 2005

To put it mildly, if you want to pigeon-hole Tor into any category, then just consider him to be Norway's equivalent of Tommy Denander, the Swedish guitar virtuoso who practically lives next door, give or take a couple of hundred miles! Musically though, there is a lot of similarity. The other comparison is their ability to attract some of the top names in AOR-dom to play on their projects.

For a chap who knows how to swing a guitar or two, his pedigree within the melodic rock/AOR genre is already assured. Tor admits to a healthy (or unhealthy depending which way you look at it) appreciation of bands such as Survivor and Strangeways (when they were good of course!). But that doesn't mean he's ignored those melodically inclined bands from within Norways borders. Oh no. They were part of the learning curve as well.

Back in 1999, Tor released an indpendent CD, which contained a mix of instrumentals and vocal driven tracks. Even back then, big-gun singer Jorn Lande was roped in to provide the vocal talent. Either Norway is a very small place or all the top musos are very friendly with each other! Tor's efforts did not go unnoticed as MTM Music came along in 2003 and offered the budding musician a solo deal. And here he is in 2005 - the brawn and brains behind Northern Light, and an amazing cast of players has been assembled. You can read about them later on in this interview.

In the meantime, Tor gives us an opportunity to talk about Northern Light, and the debut album released in June 2005. A big thanks for taking time out for us here at GLORY-DAZE Tor.. 'It's a honour man, thanks.' Well, a big label now, and your very own album. How does it feel having your own record out there in the market now? 'It feel so good' says Tor. 'This is my new musical baby so I'm very proud.'

I guess it is still early days yet, but the reviews have been great so far, reading online for instance (the interview with the lovely Kathy over at Strike Up The Bands was great) and some friends I've spoken to are loving it! So, at this early stage the results are very positive yes? 'Yes, there are some great reviews out there and the feedback from fans and AOR lovers has just been awesome' he confirms. 'I'm really glad people like my music.'

I mentioned earlier the love affair with Survivor, and another GLORY-DAZE favourite - Strangeways. Boy, reading Tor's bio and other material online suggests he is well versed in AOR. How far back does this love affair go? 'Well it goes back to the first time I heard Eye Of The Tiger' he says, 'from that point I was into AOR. Tor also takes up a position that mirrors my own opinion about Strangeways. 'The Scottish band Strangeways with Terry Brock on vocals is still one of my favourite bands. I still listen to all these great bands and these classic albums.' Strangeways since.. well, that is another story best left unsaid..

Being Norwegian of course, tends to make us non-Norwegians wonder about what the hell is in all that fresh water up there. I don't think I've ever heard a dud Norwegian band ever, though I am sure my friends Geir Aamo and Terje Hoiland from the Rock Of Norway website would disagree. And along those lines, I guess it would be easy to ignore the local talent around them, particularly if they are from the same country. I asked Tor whether it was the same for him back in the 80's when TNT, Stage Dolls, Return and Davinci and others, were doing their thing. Or was he more into artists from other countries? 'When you live in little Norway you can't ignore these great bands' he suggests. 'I found inspiration in all of these bands, especially TNT - who in my opinion are the greatest Norwegian band ever.'

Talking of things Norwegian, the country has been getting a high profile given the World Idol contest last year with Kurt Nilsen winning it, and of course Wigwam doing real well after Eurovision. So what is it about Norway and melodic rock/pop? Don't you have traditional folk songs you sing around a campfire like they do in Australia? 'Ha ha, around the campfire we just drink beer and sing Rock The Night by Europe' laughs Tor. 'And as for Norwegian folk music, well it is a real important part of our Norwegian history. I have just written some songs with influences in the traditional folk music mixes with heavy music. Heavy folk music - what do you think about that? he says. 'I think 2005 will be a great year for Norwegian AOR with new albums by Return, Wigwam and of course Northern Light.'

I hark back to Survivor, because Tor is in quiet admiration of the songwriting team of Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik. I guess they do take some beating don't they? 'Sullivan and Peterik were one hell of a songwriting team so it's not easy to compete with those guys' laughs Tor, 'so dudes - if you ever get to read this interview why don't we write a song together sometime in the future?'

But even outside of Survivor, Peterik writes for others (like 38 Special for instance). This has also caught Tor's eyes and ears. 'Jim Peterik is still a great songwriter, just listen to Pride Of Lions, World Stage and the beautiful ballad 'A Sum Of Hearts' with Kevin Chalfant on vocals.' he enthuses. Talking of Pride Of Lions. What do you think about that band, in particular Toby Hitchcock, and whether Toby could be someone that would sing on a future Northern Light project perhaps? 'Pride Of Lions is a great band and Toby is a fine singer. They sound a little bit like Survivor, and yes of course, Toby is welcome to be part of the next Northern light album' says Tor, pondering the opportunity gleefully.

Tor has been scratching a lot of musical ideas in your head for a while. I asked him whether it was easier for him to do the whole thing, like write the music and arrange the lyrics. Or did he prefer working with different people to perhaps stretch his abilties even more? Tor explains. 'When I write songs I like it when the singer comes up with some ideas about the melody lines. The most important job for a singer is to lift the song over the top. I have always been a loner when it comes to songwriting so I think it's really fun writing songs with other musicians.'

Back in 2003, Tor managed to secure a deal with MTM Music. This must have been on the back of some material provided to them. They obviously liked what they heard and saw? 'I just sent them a picture and then they signed me, hee hee' jokes Tor. 'No.. actually my friend and keyboard player Fredrik Bergh from Street Talk sent a 5 track Tor Talle demo CD to MTM, so here we are, I have just released my first AOR CD under their wings.'

And with all this singing talent at his disposal?? How is it that a guy like yourself, can attract all these top line singers to come and sing on your album? Did you have to bribe them with Norwegian Mailorder brides or something? 'We musicians are very simple people, give us a beautiful girl and some beers and we're ready!' quips Tor. 'Seriously, the most important thing about this project was that the singers liked the songs and they wanted to contribute with their voices.'

Well, yes, the Northern Light album is an assembly of great singers and players. Can we look at the different guys, and tell me why you've used them, and how they've contributed to the songs..

Fergie Frederiksen
From the first time I heard Fergie on the 'Isolation' album with Toto I really liked his voice. I`m glad Fergie wanted to be part of my project and I think he did a great job on the song 'Eye To Eye'.

Tony Mills
Tony was the first singer on the project. The first time I heard him was with Shy on the album 'Excess All Areas', and later when Shy were supporting Gary Moore on his European tour. Tony is a great guy and we will do some more songs in a near future. He sings really great on 'While There Is Still Time' and 'When I Close My Eyes'.

Peter Sundell
I`m a big fan of Grand Illusion and I think Peter is the best singer in Sweden. He is a great guy and amazing musician and we will continue our collaboration. The song 'Don`t Turn Away' was sung by Jorn Lande (Masterplan) on the demo and I really had a hard time to find a new singer for the song. When I heard Peter on the song he just blew me away - amazing lead and harmony vocals.

Kimmo Blom
The first time I heard the song 'One Day' with Urban Tale I wondered who this great singer was? I contacted Kimmo some years ago and we started talking about doing a song together. So here we are, Kimmo is singing lead on two songs and harmony vocals on one song.

Mikael Erlandsson
In the summer of 2004 I met Mikael in Sweden on my vacation. I told him about my project and he told me it would be cool to be part of this project. I got some of his solo albums and I think Mikael is a great singer.

Rob Moratti
Rob Moratti is from Canada, and was an unknown chapter for me. The first time I heard this guy was when showcased the Final frontier album. I think Rob sounds like a mix between Steve Perry and Tommy Shaw. I contacted Rob and he was such a nice person. Rob did a great job on the song 'High Above The Sky'.

Persa is a new and upcoming singer in Norway. Jorn Lande told me about this new singer. When I had almost finished the recordings for the NORTHERN LIGHT album, I still had 3 songs without any vocals. The deadline was near and when I contacted Persa he literally ran into the studio and recorded the songs in a few days. A great singer and a great person.

An interview with a guitarist wouldn't be complete without a mention of six-string antics and noisy amps would it? And so we find out a bit more from Tor on this most important musical aspect.

Regarding your guitar style Tor, I hear a lot of Bruce Gaitsch in your playing for instance, and Frankie Sullivan tone-wise but that's my ear. But what guitar players do it for you? 'Well Bruce Gaitsch and Frankie Sullivan are great guitar players. Other influences for me include: Michael Landau, Dann Huff, Tim Pierce, Michael Thompson, Neal Schon, Steve Lukather, Brett Garsed, Edward Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Gary Moore.

And what a run-down on your guitar rig, any studio gear you use, and the sort of tone you are trying to aim for? I am certain that some of our tech-heads will find it useful. 'I have always been a gear freak with big racks with Mesa/Boogie, Marshall, Lexicon, Egnater and so on. For the moment I'm using a Line 6 - vetta amp. My two acoustic guitars are Ibanez. I also have a Ibanez electric guitar and two custom made guitars, built in Norway by Eugen guitars.'

Certainly Northern Light as an entity is a breath of fresh air for us starved fans. No doubt you have more ideas as to 'where next' with Northern Light'? 'Yes, I have written five songs for a new album. It has taken me in a more heavy direction, but still very melodic.

Awesome Tor. Thanks for sharing some words and your time with us. Rock on mate! 'Thanks again, it was a pleasure - Rock on' Tor..


Related Articles:

Northern Light - 2005 Northern Light

Interview with Tor Talle (Jul 2005)

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