Posted on July 25th. 2017
Questionnaire by Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
We set up a discussion for this Norwegian shred guitarist’s “Soul Kicker” quite a while ago, MTI co-writer Officer Nice was quite impressed about the end result and gave a fairly rating of 87 on a scale of 100 as a token of appreciation. Due to my passion for shred guitar tactics, the pleasure is mine to give Lars the opportunity to tell his own story regarding his musical career and stuff.
Stefan: Hi Lars, welcome here at Metal To Infinity Webzine Belgium… how are you at the moment?
Lars: Thanks, Stefan! I’m doing good! Enjoying a great summer at home in Norway. And I’m almost done with writing songs for my new album. Really heavy and hopefully melodic new material. We’ll start the recordings in September and looking at a release in January/February 2018.
Stefan: At what age did you get inspired to play the guitar – what were the main ambitions?
Lars: I was first inspired to play guitar at 7 years old when Europe came out with The Final Countdown. John Norum’s solo on that song was the coolest thing I had ever heard. However, I didn’t pick up the guitar until I was 11 years old. I heard AC/DC’s Highway To Hell and I was sold. I was serious about it from day one. I put together a band with some friends and started to practice.
Stefan: Who were the axemen, the so called descriptive sources of inspiration when you got started?
Lars: Angus Young, and a little later, Slash, Kirk Hammett and Joe Satriani.
Stefan: How did you learn the art of guitar playing, did you had a personal coach?
Lars: Well, my mother taught me 3 chords and she got me some lessons with a local musician, Runar Wam. He is actually a drummer, but he could play some guitar. He showed me how to play Smoke On The Water, Iron Man and Jumping Jack Flash as well as other classic riffs. I still remember those lessons like it was yesterday. When he felt he couldn’t teach me anymore he got me a new teacher who was the guitar player in his band, High Noon. His name is John Ove Andersen and was the local Steve Vai at the time. He taught me scales, techniques and practicing routine. Those guys gave me a fantastic starting point. From age 13 to 18 I was self- taught, but when I turned 19, I took lessons from Norway’s Mads Eriksen. He is one of the best players you will ever hear and he really took my playing and composing to a new level.
Stefan: How much years passed by between the very early rehearsals and the moment your skills were good enough to start a musical career yourself.
Lars: When I was 19 years old I wrote my first real instrumental song. I guess that was when I realized I had some decent writing skills and good enough technique to start a musical career.
Stefan: Talking about your musical career, do you mind to give a background briefing regarding the major activities ever since?
Lars: I have continued to write my own music as well as performing live with different cover bands and tribute bands. Playing with a cover band may not always be the most inspiring gig, but it keeps you in the music business and performing in front of people on a regular basis.
Stefan: Once you were the student who wanted to learn the guitar playing, so many years later on now and I’d like to ask if the roles are reversed. I mean, do you give lessons to absolute beginners?
Lars: Yes! I run my own guitar school and I get quite a few beginners. I enjoy it. My job is to figure out what makes the student excited about music and the guitar. It could be a song, a riff or a little melody. Then I will teach them what they aspire to learn. Sometimes a riff can be a little too difficult at their skill level, but they can always manage some of it and that will be enough to inspire them to practice when they get home.
Stefan: How did you get involved with Shredguy Records, the place where shred guitar music reigns supreme?
Lars: It was Tore Moren, a fellow Norwegian guitarist that told me about Shredguy Records. When Soul Kicker was finished, I immediately sent it to Michael McDowell and Shredguy Records. A couple of weeks later I was contacted by Michael and he asked if we should team up and release my record. Of course I said yes!
Stefan: Thanks to this label, your latest recording “Soul Kicker” saw daylight on the first of December 2015. Now 2 years and a half later, I have to ask if all the predetermined expectations have been filled in.
Lars: I would say so. I’m really happy about what we have achieved with Soul Kicker. A lot of positive reviews from the press as well. It motivates you to keep the ball rolling and produce new music.
Stefan: Who were the other guys that teamed up to complete the album?
Lars: I had John Macaluso (Ark, Symphony X, Yngwie Malmsteen) on drums, Simon Fitzpatrick (Carl Palmer’s ELP legacy) on bass and Jan-Fredrik Heier (Elephant Plaza) on keys. The album was mastered by Steven Berson at Total Sonic Media-USA.
Stefan: Am I right when I say that you’re the composer as well?
Lars: Yes, I write the songs, but I give the guys a lot of freedom to play their parts. It makes things more exciting for me. Sometimes it takes a song in a new direction I didn’t think of.
Stefan: Those unfamiliar with your art of shredding, define the album yourself in a few lines.
Lars: It’s fairly heavy, melodic and with some elements of 70’s prog rock.
Sefan: To which type of music lovers you will recommend “Soul Kicker”?
Lars: I recommend it to music lovers! The goal should always be to make and release good music regardless of style.
Stefan: How is the collaboration between a musician from Norway and a label from the USA, did everything went smoothly?
Lars: Shredguy Records is really great to work with. We communicate on a weekly basis and we are building a very strong relationship that will last for years to come.
Stefan: What about the worldwide sales figure of “Soul Kicker” Lars?
Lars: We all know it’s difficult to sell albums these days, but it has done pretty well for an album in the instrumental guitar genre.
Stefan: More than two years removed from your last release, with the eye on near future… what to expect from Norwegian’s best guitarist?
Lars: I have high hopes for my new instrumental album. I will continue building my career and play as many live shows with my band as possible. Also, it’s not impossible that you will see me do a project with a singer in 2018.
Stefan: When Hard Rock or Metal bands ask you to team up as guest musicians, would you say yes?
Lars: If I like the band and I can contribute in a positive way I say yes.
Stefan: To which styles of music you listens most of all, name a few bands you prefer and why?
Lars: I listen to and enjoy many different musical styles, but mostly hard rock and metal. My favourite band is Deep Purple. Great music performed by great musicians.
Stefan: As a master of shred guitar I need to ask if you got some good recommendations for those just started to play guitar?
Lars: Find a good guitar teacher in your area. Pick up and play the guitar every day. The more you practice, the more fun it gets. The results will come. And last, but not least: Form a band with your friends or someone at your school and perform live every chance you get. Very important!
Stefan: Endorsements, what about that Lars?
Lars: Not at the moment, but I will work on that when the new reocord is done.
Stefan: Okay brother, no more questions in store… feel free to speak some final words to close the curtain. Thanks for your precious time doing this talk !
Lars: I want to thank you and Metal To Infinity for doing the interview with me. Great questions!