Interview with Norwegian guitarist/singer Peer Gynt - magnificent musical charm and radiant performances

"I guess the world just go on and, and people adapt to it their own way. The blues today is probably more commercially (speaking of the business side of it), but still if you play with your heart and soul you are always able to touch people. And that’s what it is all about I think. For the future I sincerely hope that blues music will still please and touch people. The world is changing drastically and so are the music and other trends."

Peer Gynt: Viking Burnin' Blues

With a captivating rawness and an explosive stage show, the Norwegian artist Peer Gynt has enchanted his public and the press in all of Europe and USA, with his magnificent musical charm and radiant performances. With a unique collage of hard-hitting bluesrock and Norwegian folk tones, Peer Gynt has managed to place Norwegian music on the international charts. Since the release of  “First Act” in 1996 on the Tylden label, his first video “Good Lord”, and significant touring in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe as well as the USA, Peer Gynt is known as one of the most attractive live artists Norway has to offer, presenting his faithful audience with over 100 concerts each year, for the past fifteen years. On a promotional tour in the USA, a Fender representative became aware of Peer’s unorthodox style of guitar playing. As a result a sponsorship from one of the worlds leading guitar manufacturers was presented. In the same year La Bella strings also indoctrinated a contract for the Norwegian artist. Both have been very helpful in connection with promotion and live performances.

In 2002 the German/American label, RUF Records, had the chance to hear Peer Gynt at one of his many festival dates in Norway. This resulted in the release of his CD Fairytales in 2002 on the international market. Followed by this release, was the opportunity to tour Europe with legendary bands like Walter Trout, Canned Heat, Manfred Mann, Ana Popovic and Ten Years After. For the past 15 years Peer Gynt have been touring internationally and releasing his music world wide. Peer Gynt have produced  numbers of musical cuts for movies and tv-series world wide while still making CD´s and touring. You can hear his music in tv-series like MTV-Punked, Dress My Nest, Bad Girls Club, 60 Minutes, C.S.I., Six Feet Under, Deadwood and blockbuster movies like RED and RED II,just to mention a few. His latest album Viking Blues (2017) feat. Micky Moody, Andy Johns and more.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the Blues people and culture? What does the blues mean to you?

I have learned a lot over the years. I have always been curious about how to get better and how to grow, both as a performer, songwriter and artist and as a human. I have been blessed to be able to work with a lot of legendary blues players and I have through them learned a lot. Especially my friend Walter Trout, whom I´ve been touring with several times in Europe when we were both on the Ruf Records label in Germany. Walter Trout is a fantastic person who have lived through it all, and I used to love to listen to his stories backstage, see him warm up his guitar and more.

The blues to me means a lot in my day to day life. I live it, breath it and eat it.  Maybe even more now than 20 years ago, because along the road you learn to leave your ego and focus on the music and people around you.

After reading buch of books, listening to stories of others etc. etc., I am more curious about all kinds of blues history now and I can’t get enough of it.

What were the reasons that you started the Blues n' Rock researches? How do you describe your songbook and sound?

I got my first Elvis Presley record at the age of 5. My friends played in the playground and I was sitting inside listening to Elvis. That was my intro to Rock N Roll and blues. Later I discovered harder rock and heavy and got influenced from that as well. However, when my brother brought an album of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix I was totally sold. I started for real to practice my guitar and I just wanted to tweak sounds out of it that was new and exciting.

My songwriting has been and still is, very inspired by the 60´s and 70´s bluesrock, from Fleetwood Mac, Humble Pie, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, BB King etc. etc. The list goes on and on. I also admired the guitar Player Frank Marino from Canada a lot, and I still love his albums. The live album from 1977 is a classic.

My guitars sound is also inspired from the players I listen to. I have changed a lot of amps and guitars over the years, however when I was signed for an endorsement with Fender Guitars in USA and LaBella Strings in USA I started to only use Fender Stratocasters and Fender amps. I found that I had to crank it up so loud to get the tone I wanted, so I "killed" some ears along the road. - In the late 90´s I was given a Marshall Super Leas MKII Stack, and I still use that to this day on the road along with a Matchless head as well. But as a curious living soul I am still searching for the ultimate tone and I probably will till the day I die.

"I wish the business side of the industry was more humble. It can be hard to devote your whole life to music if you don´t get a secure economically situation. I guess a dream would be to get a steady income from your government if you play the blues, however I guess that is just a wet dream..."

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Over the years I tried to learn the business as well as the craft of songwriting and guitar playing and performing. All along the road people from managements, record companies, friends and so on have given me advice. I have tried to be as humble as possible and listen and digest all the info. - However, the best advice probably came from Luther Allison who once said "Leave your ego, play the music and love the people". Vice words from a fantastic artist (RIP).

Also, in the beginning when I was starting out I had a tendency to play all the time nonstop. I think it was Omar Dykes who told me to relax and listen to the tone I´m bending instead of playing 100 notes a second. Walter Trout also thought me a lot when touring and opening up for him so many times over the years. He is just a fantastic person and a wonderful player, singer and songwriter.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Ohh, there is so many stories, some just have to go to the grave with me...

But I have experienced it all I think. From traveling all around the world for a single festival, just to get there an find out the festival is canceled, to going on tour for 2 months being told by the management that the opening act does not get food on the tour. It’s just amazing. I could sit for days talking about incredible experiences happening on the road and in the studio.

Like the time in the late ´90´s I was going to record an album with one of the hottest producers in the world at the time, we spent months making the album and I put up all the money for it hoping to get it back from the record company before release. However, when the album was done, I was dropped by the label, the manager disappeared, I got bankrupted totally and had to sell my house, car and some of my guitars to survive. Thats blues... I thought at that time the world would end, but all of a sudden, I meet Thomas Ruf from Ruf Records and the world changed again...for a short while....

Over the years I have had the pleasure to jam with a lot of great players around the world, but playing with Noel Redding from Jimi Hendrix Experience was very cool...

However, I must mention, once when we were on tour with Walter Trout, we played the Newcastle Opera House in England. I used to lit my guitar on fire at the end of each show, and so I did on that evening too. The only problem was that it was not allowed to have any kind of fire, smoke etc. inside the venue. We were discussing to not do the guitar fire-act that night, however by the end of the last song I decided to fire it up anyway, resulting a major fight with the Opera House management after the show. The manager literally lifted me up on the wall while I was still in my stage costume, a whole page was in the newspaper the next day, so it was kind of dramatic. Little did I know that the place burned down so many years ago because of a fire. Looking back now it was a fun event.

"The blues to me means a lot in my day to day life. I live it, breath it and eat it.  Maybe even more now than 20 years ago, because along the road you learn to leave your ego and focus on the music and people around you."

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I am not sure If I miss anything. I guess the world just go on and, and people adapt to it their own way. The blues today is probably more commercially (speaking of the business side of it), but still if you play with your heart and soul you are always able to touch people. And that’s what it is all about I think. For the future I sincerely hope that blues music will still please and touch people. The world is changing drastically and so are the music and other trends. But I will do my best to keep on playing and writing good songs and collaborate with others. I think thats the key.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I wish the business side of the industry was more humble. It can be hard to devote your whole life to music if you don´t get a secure economically situation. I guess a dream would be to get a steady income from your government if you play the blues, however I guess that is just a wet dream...

Make an account of the case of the blues in Norway. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?

The blues scene in Norway is growing and has been growing a lot over the years. There are a lot of venues and festivals to play at if you can get into them, or if you have an agent that can get your foot in the door. Young new players are popping up and some of them are just great. I think we will see a lot of growth from Scandinavian artists in the blues scene in the future.

How has the Blues and Rock music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Foe me it has opened up my eyes and thought me everything. When we just started out so many years ago, I guess we were happy just to perform in front of an audience, get laid and drunk. But now, it’s way different. The interest have shifted from booze and drugs to actually listen to people and learn as much as possible. I have always been a fanatic history nerd, so everywhere I go I would like to learn about the local history. So now when we are touring with Peer Gynt around the globe I tend to look up museums, local sizing and so on. Being on the road that much has thought me who I am and who I want to be as a person.

Norwegian artist Peer Gynt has enchanted his public and the press in all of Europe and USA

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Wow, I would love to go on tour with Jimi Hendrix, Play the Royal Albert Hall and produce a new album with Elvis Presley.

Peer Gynt - Home

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