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Interview with Oliver Weers
28 May 2011
Oliver Weers(Interview by Alexandra Mrozowska)
In spite of all the things one might say about the competence of so-called ‘celebrities’, produced on a massive scale by all the TV talent shows of today – sometimes a real pearl appears among the participants of such competition. Without a doubt, such a ‘pearl’ emerged in one of the editions of the Danish version of X-Factor in the person of Oliver Weers. Soon after that, there was a terrific debut album entitled ‘Get Ready’ (2008), then supporting Motley Crue and Whitesnake. Following this streak of success, this year Oliver released his sophomore album ‘Evil’s Back’. This, however, wasn’t the only thing he covered in the interview for Rocktopia – beyond the hottest issue of a record coming out, there was also a time for a little talk about his early inspirations, X-Factor struggle and his future plans.
Let's start from the very beginning if we can; traditionally - what has ignited you to become a musician?
“I've always had my ears open for music, really Alexandra. And I’ve always enjoyed singing since I can remember. I had guitar lessons very young and always combined playing the guitar with singing. I later also started to use the piano as a support to my voice, so it wasn’t long before I wanted to play. I started my first band at 13 and got more and more attached to the energy people create whilst interacting musically. Today it's become a kind of communication form for me!”
What were those childhood musical influences and did they change drastically through the years?
“Ha, ha! Yes, I've always been one for energetic music, even if it’s not always totally within Hard Rock, but I quickly noticed which type of music fed me the most energy - or should I say, where I could offload lots of positive or negative energies and gain new ones?. Hard Rock was definitely that! AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ was the first album which I enjoyed on my little portable record player, where the lid was the speaker. It was red by the way…. Rock 'N Roll, eh! I’ve had periods of Funk, Reggae, Jazz Rock and Blues that have influenced me in many ways too, but singers like Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson, and David Coverdale were and are always will be the voices that inspire me most.”
In the early years, you fronted bands such as Ripe and Diabolos In Musika. Can you tell us a bit more about those bands and the early days?
“Well we’ve covered a little all ready, but I should add that D.I.M (Diabolos In Musika) was really a very exciting band I had in Norway; very experimental and of high quality, musicianship-wise. It’s great you know about that. We managed to record a very complex album in 1995 and it got released in Japan in 1996 too. I hope some people have that! Besides Ripe, which never really got started because I left to follow my solo career, I’ve also played in a Blues band in Norway for quite some years, from 1998-2007. This however was more for the "get out and play" experience and the touring!”
The real breakthrough in your career happened when you joined the Danish version of the TV-show X-Factor and actually got booted off it? How was that experience? Are you satisfied with the way it affected your further career?
“It definitely was an experience. I think it was great for Denmark to see a British/German Hard Rock guy come on TV, in Denmark, watched by half the country, making such an impression! People still recognize me in the street 4 years later! But it’s not all it appears…I've learnt not to underestimate the power of television! It helped me to join up with Tommy Aldridge and Marco Mendoza plus several other great musicians. And, I've had the privilege to open for Whitesnake and Motley Crue and play for crowds of over 20,000, so it has been invaluable in that respect. The best thing is that I don't feel as though I took a short cut though!”
So, as you've learnt a lot the hard way - what is your general approach towards the TV talent shows around today, after those experiences?
“I learnt I think, that it's pure entertainment for the people and if you want success, it’s still up to YOU!”
In 2008, your first full-length album ‘Get Ready’ was released. During the album's recording, you teamed up with Soren Anderssen, who not only produced the CD but also played the guitar parts. How was the experience of co-working with him and how do you judge his input on the album?
“He's a very tough, routine led producer and within melodic Hard Rock, also a pretty good song writer as well, so it was a great experience. He managed to show off Tommy, Marco and I in a really good way plus, his guitar playing is very cool on that album!! Our ideas merged quickly and we had a clear idea of where our creative process was taking us, without actually forcing things, so it was a really positive time!”
Yes, you mentioned the famous names involved in recording your debut album; Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake) and Tommy Aldridge (Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne) who played the bass and drum parts respectively. How did you hook up with those guys and how was it to co-work with them?
“Basically, Søren had already played several gigs with Tommy and Marco and he was responsible for that line up in the end. When Søren and I met, we hooked Tommy and Marco into the project; and they were really excited to be part of ‘Get Ready’… And were very nice, kind and extremely cool guys!!”
You included two different cover songs on your first album. One of them was the Queen classic ‘Show Must Go On’. Weren't you afraid to somehow compete with the original? Obviously, you've done your job really well, but Queen somehow has a cult status among rock fans... and Freddie Mercury's legend is not so easy to compete with!
“Oh, I'm not competing, I simply love singing the song. It's a challenging song to sing, but for a singer it really has a fantastic feel when singing it. Lots of emotions break loose and the story of the song really intensifies the whole experience.”
The other cover was a heavy metal-oriented version of ‘Army Of Me’ by Icelandic singer Bjork. Why did you choose this particular song?
“Well, we used to play a progressive cover version of the song back in 1996, when I was with D.I.M. and I thought this kind of Nordic touch would be a great enhancement to ‘Get Ready’? It was funny to see Tommy Aldridge handle the "Bjørk" vibe at first… but after getting used to it, Tommy actually found it incredible fun to play. It's awesome!!”
After releasing the album, as you mentioned earlier, you've supported some real hard rock giants in Denmark - such as Motley Crue and Whitesnake. How were those experiences?
“Well, it’s just great! I'm so glad for the results of those shows and it’s brought me into contact and been lovely, again, to interact with so many fine musicians and to meet new people. I'm especially glad to have found Laki (guitars), the Greek guy who joined us on this new album ‘Evil’s Back’ which just came out on Metal Heaven a few months ago. The combination of different cultures and ages is quite noticeable on ‘Evil's Back’. I'm really happy that the album is released throughout Europe and that the collaboration with AOR Heaven is perfect. After many very good reviews throughout Europe, I'm confident this album will be listened to by lots of great people!”
As there doesn’t seem much demand for melodic hard rock and melodic metal nowadays - how did the debut do in terms of sales, press and fan feedback in contrast to this. That's how we move to the hottest topic of the interview - your brand new album ‘Evil's Back’ you just mentioned! How do you yourself judge the release?
“Well, the early one ‘Get Ready’ didn’t do too badly, but this new album should do much better. I actually think Melodic Rock and its other forms are experiencing a new push over here right now, and I hope I can benefit! As I said above, the reaction at the moment suggests that this record will really move things forward!”
In the track ‘Fighting The Mountains’ you sound quite a bit like Ozzy Osbourne. Was he a major inspiration throughout the recording of the album? What else has inspired you in terms of lyrics and music?
“No, I wouldn’t say that… I actually wasn't aiming to sound like anybody else but myself. But I can't hide the fact that Ozzy probably has inspired me quite a bit in the past, so, thanks for the compliment Alexandra! I found all my inspiration this time, in life really. These past years have been filled with too much sorrow and pain, everywhere I look. It's not easy to walk through life with a smile on our face when our world is being penetrated by aggravation, greed, struggling and the lack of mutual understanding. On top of this, our planet is starting to complain. Time to rediscover our values and be happy with what we've got. I think this vibe can be heard on ‘Evil's Back’. This was certainly the reason for the album’s title!”
The unique thing about one of the songs, ‘Hero’, is the presence of female vocalist Rebecca Armstrong (from Stella Black Rose, a Danish band). From where did the idea of this vocal duet come? With whom would you like to perform together in the future again - and why?
“Yeah, it’s really cool, isn't it? ‘Hero’ is one of my favorite tracks. I’ve always wanted to have a guest singer on an album, and this time it worked out really well. The song wasn't written especially for that reason, but rather, gradually, turned out to be the best song for it as time went by. Rebecca's voice really takes the 2nd verse to a new dimension and the song keeps lifting itself up, all the way to the end!”
Last track ‘Rainbow Star’ is a tribute to the late heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio obviously. From where did this idea come?
“Laki and I wrote the song the morning right after Ronnie's death. The news was so shocking to us and it happened right in the middle of our writing/pre-production period; it just sparked off something. That morning, Laki and I were very quiet during breakfast and while I was getting ready for the studio, Laki was just playing some stuff on the guitar. I suddenly ran over to him and had the chorus melody for ‘Rainbow Star’ in my head in that instant. We took it from there and finished the song the same day. Although the song isn't directly about Ronnie, I think it’s definitely a tribute to him!”
What are you currently up to, and what are your further musical plans? Any tour in support of the album?
“Well, a tour is the biggest wish right now, yes, although it’s not that easy these days. We're working on it and I sincerely hope to come out to visit you all this year, but I can’t tell you too many details at the moment!”
Thanks very much for the great pleasure of doing this interview! As for the end, can I ask you for a word or two for your listeners and Rocktopia's readership?
“Sure. Stay pure and trust yourself! Rock 'N Roll is in your hearts! It’s in mine! See you guys soon and enjoy the music!”