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Progressive Rock Interviews

Erik Norlander

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Erik Norlander From 2004
MSJ: What would you see as the challenges and the rewards of working with your spouse?
Let me answer it in reverse. The rewards of working so closely with my wife are that we have a deep understanding of each other, and there is a strong connection between us. That allows us to tap into the great underlying power of music from a very deep place, and I think the result is quite unique because of it. We met playing music, and music has been the center of our lives for our entire relationship. As far as the challenges, I think the biggest challenge is that we never really leave the office, so to speak. Our work is with us constantly, even on vacations. But we do love our work, and we are grateful to be able to make a living doing what we love, so there's really not much to complain about.
MSJ: Who would you see as your influences?
As a keyboardist, my main influences are Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, two mighty musicians. As a producer, my main influences are Alan Parsons and Jeff Lynne, tremendously talented guys. Bands that influenced me are Yes, ELP, Rush, King Crimson, Procol Harum, Jethro Tull, UK, ELO, Supertramp, The Alan Parsons Project, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.
MSJ: What has been up on the Rocket Scientist's front? Will there ever be another album from that grouping?
We had some great momentum in 2002 when we added Shaun Guerin as our new drummer. We played some great concerts then and began work on a new album. Actually, Mark McCrite and I already wrote and demoed the entire new album. It's ready to be recorded. But Shaun's death in 2003 put Rocket Scientists on hold for a while. We were not too excited about just hiring another drummer and plowing ahead. So instead, I recorded my 'Music Machine' rock opera in 2003 and then went on tour with Lana in Europe after that. Then we edited, mixed and assembled Lana's DVD and live CD and my live CD, 'Stars Rain Down'. Mark and I have continued to get together and work on the Rocket Scientists project, though, and we will finally complete this mysterious new album in 2005 along with one or two reissue projects.
MSJ: For those who have not had the chance to catch your live act, how would you describe it?
It's like watching someone juggle an egg, a bowling ball and a chainsaw. Okay, but seriously folks I use a lot of vintage and classic keyboard gear, most notably my giant modular Moog system from 1967 that has been dubbed "The Wall of Doom". It has a sound like no other synthesizer, and it is also quite a show with all of the lights flashing away while we play. Lana is a top-notch vocalist who sounds just as great live as she does in the studio. We always try to play a good representation of our catalogs, and when we are able to play long enough, we play one song from every album we've released.
MSJ: You and your wife Lana Lane are both involved in a lot of projects with other musicians. Any of those coming down the pipe?
I could be wrong, but I think that everything we have contributed to as guest artists has been released. Don Schiff (Stick) and Kelly Keeling (vocals) are working on solo albums, and we'll be helping out with those, but aside from that, I think we're all caught up.
MSJ: Are there any musicians with whom you would like to work, but haven't gotten to yet?
I'd like to work with any of the musicians from Yes or Rush. I'd also love to work with David Gilmour from Pink Floyd or Ian Gillan from Deep Purple.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, and/or, what have you been listening to lately?
I've been listening to old things. Lately it's been Supertramps's "Crime of the Century" and "Breakfast in America". Two unbelievably great albums.
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended as a fan?
Blue Oyster Cult in Agoura Hills, California. They truly rock.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Going to see our friend Gregg Bissonette play drums for Spinal Tap and hoping he wouldn't spontaneously combust!
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