An Interview with
(Gods of Metal: Photo by Giorgio Uccellini)
Live Bassist of Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force on Friday, 20th February, 2009
Glenn: Hi, is that Bjorn?
Glenn: Hi it’s Glenn from Metalliville, how are you doin’ mate?
Bjorn: Good, how are you doin?
Glenn: Oh not too bad.... What do you like most about playing Bass?
Bjorn: I guess I like what the instrument does in relation to the others and the freedom, so so speak that you at a lot of times have even when you are playing a pre-recorded part or pre-written part, to change the way you’re playing the notes or bass lines. Even if just a little, you are actually changing or affecting the song quite a bit, plus I always liked the frequencies of the bass guitar. Like a lot of aspects about it. I’m sort of working close with the drummer and I’m also working close with the guitar player and the singer and the rest of the band so I’m sort of like in-between everything.
Glenn: What made you decide that the bass was the instrument for you?
Bjorn: Everybody played guitar and drums and nobody was like, “wow, I’m gonna play bass”, and I was like, “Why? Doesn’t anybody wanna play bass?”. I was like “I think bass is cool”. I was real young and I’d be watching Gene Simmons and Steve Harris and you know, and even simplistic bass players like Ian Hill and Cliff Williams, and I’d be like, ‘That’s just a cool instrument ! I wanna play bass !’ and that was really the 1st, after just playing drums a little bit for a couple of months which sort of was a natural instrument for me although it takes a lot of practise to get good at it. But I picked up the bass and I was like, ‘This is it, this is my thing’ and I never really turned and started playing a lot of guitar like a lot of bass players do. They play a lot of guitar on the side and stuff like that – I never did that. I’d say for the 1st 10 years I’d played bass, I didn’t really play much guitar at all.
Glenn: I actually saw you live, obviously at Sheffield, how did you enjoy that gig?
Bjorn: I thought it was great, it was one of the best... I thought all of the UK gigs were really good and Manchester was one of the best ones too. I think the audience was great and dug everything about it.
Glenn: I know at Sheffield, Yngwie was absolutely lovin’ it – in fact the whole band was just really into it and the crowd were as well.
Bjorn: Right !
Bjorn: That was a great one. Definately.
Glenn: Yeah, excellent. How were the other dates on the tour, either UK dates or European and American dates. What’s stood out so far? Anything in particular?
Bjorn: Great question. I would say some of the best countries we’ve played in I think was Italy. UK was really good. Sweden of course was great, being our home country and the audience was very receptive and we had great response and it was a very special thing to play over there. As far as in the States it seemed like for some reason the East Coast was really good and in California it was also very good. We played quite a few shows in California and they were all good. It seems like some of the places like in the midwest and in for instance Texas are really good too.
Glenn: How was Florida?
Bjorn: Florida was good. I wish we would have played Orlando and some other places there as well, but it’s tough to book and it was great anyway. I like Florida a lot and it’s a good market for Yngwie’s music as well.
Glenn: When you got the job of being Yngwie’s live bassist, what did you find was the hardest material was to learn and why was it hard?
Bjorn: That’s a good question. Some of the instrumental stuff is maybe harder. A lot of the pieces are long and you kinda just have to know where you’re at and there’s no vocals to guide me and Yngwie’s soloing most of the time so I really have to know the arrangements and all the changes as he is depending on me playing the right changes and the right parts. Technically I think both the instrumentals and the songs with vocals have technically parts and licks ‘n’ stuff that are hard to play. Some of the early material is pretty challenging and a lot of the later ones too like songs off the ‘Unleash The Fury’ album – there’s some tough ones there and on the new album there’s a lot of fast and really intricate stuff but I enjoy it a lot and I think the band really seems to pull that off well. It seems to be really good material for the current line-up and very natural for us to play.
Glenn: I noticed that and its the second time I had seen Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force and I was there at The Mean Fiddler in London, 2003 and it was tight then but it’s even tighter now. I mean, because you’ve got Yngwie there and you’ve got Tim (‘Ripper’ Owens) it’s like having two big personalities there but they’re not as such fighting against each other – they really like working with each other. It’s not like an ego battle or anything like that and I guess that was one of the main things that a lot of fans thought, ‘God, hows this gonna turn out, are they gonna be fighting for space and time etc but everything’s tight and it works really, really well.
Bjorn: Well, I think both of them are as well known and successfull as they are for a reason. They both have very professional attitudes as well as humble personalities. People a lot times maybe don’t think that about frontmen. It’s been a pleasure working with both of them and as far as I’m concerned there’s never been any problems between anybody in the band. We’re getting along great and it’s been really nice. Additionally, no matter how great anybody in the band is, the vast majority come to see Yngwie.
Glenn: Yeah, I’m pleased it’s all going well because without sounding corny or cliche and even Yngwie said this, was that it was one of the best line-ups that’s ever been put together of ‘Rising Force’. How did you feel when you got picked by Yngwie and how did it come to be?
Bjorn: It was nice and was very honored. I’ve been really good friends with Patrick (Yngwie’s drummer) for years. We had worked together a few times before, through sessions and one off gigs. Then I jammed very briefly with Yngwie once. When he needed a bass player for a show at the NAMM Convention in 2007 he asked me. I did it with almost no rehearsal at all. It went alright, I guess – lol. So when Mick Cervino wasn’t in the band anymore they asked me.
Glenn: What do you like most in the set list – are there any particular things that stand out from it?
Bjorn: I like the songs from the new album. They seemed to work really well live like ‘Death Dealer’ and ‘Damnation Game’ and ‘Magic City’.
Glenn: That’s one of mine because with me loving Florida and going to Fort Myers twice a year it means a lot to me. It’s almost like a tear-jerking song to people that love that area – it’s a really nice number.
Bjorn: Yeah it is.
Glenn: Is that in the live set now?
Bjorn: I’m not sure. It’s all up to Yngwie what we’re gonna do but we did play that quite a bit towards the end of the US Tour and the audience really seemed to like it and we like playing it – it was cool.
Glenn: I think it’s one of the cool parts of Yngwie’s albums or live to see what song Yngwie is gonna sing for everyone.
Glenn: He always picks a good one out.
Bjorn: Yeah, totally.
Glenn: When I saw you guys he was doing ‘Cherokee Warrior’ and that was really, really good.
Bjorn: That was a good one too.
Bjorn: And in my opinion ‘Magic City’ is even a step up from that.
Glenn: Yeah, it is yeah. What are you looking forward to when you go on to playing Japan with Deep Purple?
Bjorn: All of it. There are so many great things about Japan..
Bjorn: I think that some people think that, ‘Oh that’s sort of a strange combination in a way because Yngwie’s music is a lot heavier’ than Purple’s in a lot of ways especially the new material but I think it’s a good thing to put 2 bands together that aren’t necessarily exactly the same. The fact that Yngwie sort of grew up with Deep Purple is a also great.
Glenn: I know, I’d like to see you back over in the UK, say you do the Download Festival. Now we got like ZZ Top, Whitesnake and Def Leppard. To get Yngwie on the bill that would be something else.
Bjorn: That would be great yeah – absolutely.
Glenn: I suppose you’d like to play Sweden Rock as well?
Bjorn: That’d be nice – that’s a very nice festival.
Glenn: Right. Have you got any like cool tour stories that have taken place over this last tour or in the past that you’re allowed to talk about?
Bjorn: Oh that’s a good one. You know, I don’t even know if I really do... I mean there’s always stuff that happens but we’re a band that doesn’t drink or party and do crazy stuff and we spent a lot of time on the bus – we usually leave after the shows and stuff.
Glenn: I know you’ve grown up loving Yngwie’s music from an early period – from the early 80’s. What’s it feel like now to have gone from one side of the stage to the other?
Bjorn: Very natural. Anytime I’ve seen him play in the last 10 years I always felt like I should be on the other side. I like the way he works. I have a lot of respect for his playing, songs and career. I always dug his strong stage personality. I have played with a lot of arrogant and rude guitar players (and musicians) in the past .Working with Yngwie is the opposite.
(Profile Denver - Photo by Catherine Watters)
Glenn: Yeah. I know you work with Yngwie, but you’ve got another band called ‘Soul Signs’ haven’t you?
Glenn: Tell me about ‘Soul Sign’ because I’ve got to be honest, I don’t know too much about it at the moment.
Bjorn: Yeah, it’s a band that I formed after I got off the road with Quiot Riot back in 1995 after I started writing with my great friend Magnus Andersson who’s a great songwriter. We did some great collaborations together but had a very difficult time finding the right players, so he left to work on other projects. I started playing live with a new line-up in the late 90’s and we did a lot of shows around California . The band got put on hold after I was in a couple of car accidents (I was not at fault – laughs) and also because everybody including myself were doing a lot of session stuff so we got sidetracked. “Okay, let’s put the band on hold for a while”, and a while became a long while. (Laughs). We recently picked it back up and started writing and recording some new stuff and some old stuff and it looks like we’ll have something pretty soon that’s presentable. We shall see.
Glenn: Yeah. I will check you out as well because just by going on how you play with Yngwie, you’re a mighty fine player and it’d be good to find out what you can express for yourself.
Bjorn: Thanks you, sir ! With ‘Soul Sign’ you’ll see a different side of me. Some of the bass stuff for example and some of the music will be more simplistic in a lot of ways. Not too much intricate stuff ... .. you’ll see
Glenn: Yeah, “Check it out and see what you think to it”. It’s always the best way isn’t it?
Bjorn: Yeah, I sort of hate comparing it to other bands because then people tend to think that it’s influenced by those bands, which isn’t the case at all. Some people think we sound a little bit like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, although we never really dug the grunge thing, (although I think Alice In Chains is alright). Laughs
Glenn: Yeah. You’d sooner see what other people say about it. Talking of other bands, what other bands have you enjoyed playing in and being part of in regard to playing live and also during studio sessions? And what certain things stood out to you about playing with those bands?
Bjorn: Working with Robin McAuley was a nice experience. He’s not only a good guy, but another example of a seasoned musician of high caliber that doesn’t feel the need to prove himself or put down the people around him.
Glenn: Yeah – the MSG Guy.
Bjorn: Yes, we formed the band Bleed together which disbanded but we did quite a few shows as Robin McAuley Band. He’s a happy, positive guy. Then there are artists who are bitter and angry because they have either lost the success and money they once had or because they never quite reached star status. That mixed with not being the greatest musicians.
Glenn: I guess it’s a bit of a let-down when you’ve looked to people and their styles and everthing else and then suddenly you find out that this some people are complete *rs*h*l*s and it’s a surprise with others as you find them really nice people. But all that is left for you to know.
Bjorn: Yeah, that is so true.
Glenn: Yeah.makes sense. How is the music scene in California or in LA overall? Has it got a big rock scene or is it still very trendset and very rappy..
Bjorn: Yeah. California is a great place in a lot of ways, but yes it’s extremely trendy. Most bands keep jumping on the bandwagon and try to be the next hip thing not realizing that they’re just riding the coat tails of the one or two bands that have already made it in that particular genre or style.
Glenn: Yeah and the labels only sign so many and that’s it – they’ve got enough and then they’ll chuck the ones off that aren’t doing very well and keep the main money pullers no doubt.
Bjorn: Yep. I think the artists that are out here, I think you can blame them but they are also a reflection of the industry and the labels and how they operate unfortunately. There’s still the major labels – their offices. A lot of them are in the United States and California and New York and they’re still being trendy and they’re still being, in my opinion arrogant towards the overall music that is really popular in people’s eyes and in the rest of the world.
Glenn: Would you say that the X-box and the Guitar hero has made a big impact as well to bring back in the Rock & Metal scene and make it look healthier now or would you say it’s also had a negative effect?
Bjorn: The negative effect could possibly be that kids don’t pick up real instruments instead, but as far as consumption I think it has probably helped giving a lot publicity to a lot of classic artists that otherwise wouldn’t have been discovered by many of these kids. I think it’s inevitable that Rock & Metal is coming back and what once was our roots will have (and is already havin’) more and more a impact on the music that’s getting signed, mainly because Metal and Hard Rock is so big in the rest of the world, and with the internet everything is kinda like coming together as one thing.
Glenn: That’s what I was really impressed about, the fact that the communication thing in getting in touch with people and like ‘MySpace’ and ‘Facebook’ it’s just become like its own world, it's own little planet. It’s brought on so many bands and it’s brought styles back up and we didn’t realise they were still there – everything is still there but it’s healthier because it’s been more underground so it’s all come up as a big resurgence all at once so to speak.
Bjorn: Yeah. It’s the greatest. It’s also made it sort of oversaturated in a way. It’s given anybody who’s in any corner of the world a chance to show off their music but at the same time, in my opinion, there’s too much stuff out there for it to be as efficient as it could be. It’s becoming harder and harder to even promote yourself at all on myspace.
Glenn: Yeah, I get a lot of bands that find me via myspace but as you say, there’s too much now.
Bjorn: Yeah, it is too much and it’s a shame and it makes it harder for the bands that are really good. We’ll see. It’s had a good effect on the labels and the industry but it’s also had a bad effect on the industry and the artist – the artist with all the free streaming and the free downloading and all that stuff. We’re just gonna have to see – see who figures out what’s gonna work and who sort of figures out a way to control it a bit.
Glenn: Yeah, be interesting to see how it all happens as well.
Glenn: Who would you say are the bassists that have been in Rising Force that have stood out to you?
Bjorn: Marcel Jacob was very good. Svante Henrysson was also very good. Barry Dunaway is my favourite. Overall his versatilty was great and you can sorta tell that he has a lot experience playing blues, R’n’B and all that stuff, and I really like his note choices.
Glenn: What’s your favourite Yngwie album or albums?
Bjorn: My favourite album? That’s a tough one.
Glenn: Would you say the new one, ‘Perpetual Flame’?
Bjorn: I would say that is one of my favourites. I think it’s really good and of course the early stuff is great. I’m a big fan of ‘Odyssey’ and I’m also a big fan of ‘Fire & Ice’ – I think that’s a really good album showing off his classical side. Great line-up too.
Glenn: Has working with Yngwie put a big interest in what you’ve released or been part of?
Bjorn: No, not yet, but of course there is some curiosity from some people.
Glenn: What turned you on to becoming a teacher of the bass guitar?
Bjorn: When I first started playing I got some good directions of solid foundations. I didn’t take a lot of lessons but was lucky to establish correct fingering and some basic theory. I think that sort of inspired me to teach because I kept seeing a lot of up and coming players with bad habits or incorrect techniques and lack of basic scales and note knowledge.
I enjoy teaching and I keep learning at the same time because I’m sort of practicing at the time time. I always get a lot of great questions from students that make me think “Okay, that’s a great question?” and to I answer that without lying or looking like I don’t know I simply have to figure it out ! (laughs)
Glenn: Yeah. What have been your favourite questions that you have been asked by your students?
Bjorn: “When would I use what you just showed me?” or “Why do I need to know that?” I like to teach stuff what’s commonly useful to the student based on my own experiences.
Glenn: Yeah – well that’s gonna make you a better player as opposed to just being able to play 12-bar isn’t it as it will turn you into a strong lead player as well which is.. well especially what you are doing now - you gotta be on the ball and virtually like playing a lead instrument like along with Yngwie.
Glenn: So it makes a lot of sense.
Glenn: Plus they can play a long to a lot of your more intricate things and take it from there. You are creating stronger students as well.
(Detroit - Photo by Scott Strelecki)
Bjorn: Absolutely and it goes both ways: By getting back to the basics and playing excersises slowly and with what I’m preaching to my students often reminds myself how I need to practice, how I need to keep approaching things and it’s been very helpful to myself. I’m glad I’ve been doin a lot of it throught he years.
Glenn: So there’s no doubt quite a few of your students are in aspiring bands these days and really making you feel proud of what you’ve showed them?
Bjorn: Absolutely. I got quite a few students that have moved on and started working as session players or in well known bands and it’s really nice to see that. I have one 13 year old student who’s band just got signed with a major label. Another very famous female keyboard player who plays the bass parts on keyboards but wants to pick up the bass instead. Also a guy who’s band reached #1 on charts in Europe for a while.
Glenn: Choughin’ ‘ell!!
Glenn: That’s amazing! Yeah – I suppose you sometimes think, ‘Bl**dy H*ll, if I teach ‘em too well they’ll be stealing my work.
You’ll have Yngwie ringing you up and saying you’re services are no longer required because he’s got this kid who’s 13 who’s much better.
Bjorn: I keep joking with my students about stealing my gigs sometimes and then I keep thinking to myself, ‘You know what, that’s not too far from the truth’. I mean, I’d be happy if anytime they step in and they do good gigs – but yeah – pretty funny. Joking aside, there’s room for lots of great bass players in this world, and I hope even more of my students become successful.
Glenn: Yeah. What have you learnt most from the music business so far – either good or bad?
Bjorn: I think that the bad thing for most musicians is that they don’t have a good insight in the business side of music...
Bjorn: ...And that’s tough and I hate to say it but I think the hardest part for me has been finding musicians that are realistic about the business. For example people will argue with you because they don’t know the difference between artist royalty and songwriting royalty. For me dealing with ignorant musicians has been usually been the most difficult.
Glenn: Yeah, yeah.
Bjorn: You know musicians can be very difficult because they are very, very emotional people. They always think artistically even about the business and it makes really hard because a lot of things aren’t black and white
Glenn: I guess that’s way there’s so many bands that have just gone through the system and spat out the other side because they’ve not researched it right and not realised it’s really a business – it’s not just music – it’s a business as well.
Glenn: And if you’re not cutting it great with regard to the managent and the record company then you’re out the bl**dy door.
Glenn: And they’ll just get some more – five more.
Bjorn: Musicians often lie to themselves. They’ll work for cheap or do charity gigs or gigs for “exposure”. Very stupid, and it needs to stop. We need laws that stops the slavery period.
Bjorn: The music business is a business just like any other, just a bit tougher sometimes.
Glenn: Exactly. What would you say your favourite bass is – is it your Fender Bass that you’ve got in most of your photos?
Bjorn: I love that one. I’m used to it and I’ve done a lot of adjustments and modifications to it to suit my needs so that probably still is my favourite, if I have to pick one. But I also have a brand new Fender Jazz Deluxe that I really dig and will bring on the next tour.
Glenn: Why did you decide to join Takara? I mean like there’s so many strange connections between like yourself and Yngwie like with Jeff Scott Soto singing for Takara for a while. Was that why or did you just like hook up with those guys by chance?
Bjorn: It really is. I met Neal in Takara through a good friend of mine (who passed away a couple of years ago in a car accident) who knew Neal and told him: “You know Neal, if you need a good bass player, you should talk to Bjorn”.
Bjorn: And that’s how it all started and we started playing a little bit and writing and rehearsing and then Neal had a lot of things going on in his life and sort of put the project on hold but just recently released a new album that I’m on.
Glenn: How did it come by playing with Stuart Smith in ‘Heaven & Earth’ and how was that for you?
Bjorn: That was actually through a journalist in Los Angeles that I knew that recommended me to him. They’d just finished that all-star album that he worked on with Ritchie Sambora, Joe Lynn Turner and all these people. He didn’t really have a band yet. I did another additional bonus track on the ‘Heaven & Earth’ album and then he needed a band to tour and stuff like that so we played some shows at NAMM, some major clubs in town.We had Kelly Hansen, who‘s now with Foreigner, on vocals and we played in Canada with Def Leppard, Sammy Hagar and stuff like that.
Glenn: With North America being such a damn big place, what would you say your favourite parts are why?
Bjorn: Southern California (laughs)
Glenn: What made you decide to live in Southern California? Any particular reasons?
Bjorn: I came over as an exchanged student to Minnesota in 1989 for 5 weeks and spent 1 week in New York and I came back home and I was like, ‘Man I just wanna go back and visit again and see more of America’. I always wanted to visit LA and check things out. I was only here for 4 days but I brought one of those fold outmaps and rented covertable car and just drove all over the place – all day, enjoyed the weather and drove through the ghettos not even knowing they were ghettos. Just went all over the place and got lost. I just fell in love with that – just thought it was the greatest thing. I just kept driving and driving and driving and you’re still in the same city. I was like, ‘This is crazy’. And of course I figured it would be a good place for me as a musician, and it is, especially for session players. If you’re trying to launch a band and build a following LA is the worst place to be. It’s big, expensive to live in and has a lot of traffic, distractions and people trying to do the same thing.
Glenn: Yeah, it’s just so big. I mean, how many times can you fit Britain into Southern California?
Bjorn: Like 3 (laughs) Yeah, I know. Geographically it’s just amazingly big. Same thing with the US, and you don’t think about it so much when you’re in the cities and you fly between the cities but once you start driving you’re like ‘Holy Cow’. It’s insane but what I enjoy about travelling through the country is the nature. It’s so beautiful and diverse - You got the deserts and the Red Rocks in Arizona and you got the mountains and the beaches and you got so many different climates. It’s a beautiful continent.
Glenn: I totally agree. I mean I’ve spent time in Georgia and Florida – it’s a vast area but there’s so much there – it’s got everything.
Glenn: What do you miss about Sweden when you’re in Southern California?
Bjorn: My family and my friends mostly, I don’t miss the weather (laughs). I’m really glad I grew up there because I like the mentality of how to raise children and how to educate children and how to keep people informed in the media and things like that. Sometimes I miss that but I think I’m in a place in the United States where people are very open-minded and they’re more internationally experienced and adapted than some other parts of the United States.
Glenn: Yeah and there’s so many lying, b*llsh*t*ng fake people over there and you don’t know who is real and who isn’t. Do you find that yourself where you are?
Bjorn: Totally and I think a big part of is society which I think is great in a lot of ways because it has a lot of freedom but overall is lacking neutral media and quality educational systems.
(Gothenburg - Photo by Johan Barrdahl)
Bjorn: People aren’t necessarily as informed about history and geography and the rest of the world and it’s a shame because this is such a great country. It really has so many great things about it. I’m surprised that it’s still sort of under-developed in a lot of ways.
Glenn: And then there’s the credit crunch as well affecting things. Has that affected the attentence at gigs?
Bjorn: I definately see that. I also see some acts touring less and getting booked less as a result of that. It’s sad especially now that artists are relying on touring as a major portion of their income.
Glenn: And you guys have got to pay the rent or the mortgage and feed the family but some Agents dont wanna budge on fees for artists.
Bjorn: That’s right. It’s just funny how people used to and still say: “Oh it’s gotta be tough being a musician – you don’t know when the next paycheck is coming in” Well now everybody’s in that boat. There’s no guarantees in life and that’s why I always tell talented people and kids to keep chasing their dreams. I tell ‘em, “Go for it – do what’s gonna make you happy”. In the end that’s really all that matters.
Glenn: Here’s another crazy similarity between you and Yngwie – you both managed to get out of the army at an early age when you were both drafted in as Officers – how did you manage to get out of the army?
Bjorn: I didn’t really try too hard. I got relocated to do the same thing in my home town where I could rehearse with my band. I thought that was going to help. Then I had physical signs of me not feeling very well – I had some amazing stomach cramps and stuff like that. So I went to the Doctor and the Doctor said, “I need to get you outta here cos it’s not good for you”. It was one of those things, like it wasn’t really the activities there themselves, it was just the fact that I felt like I was in a prison and the infantry that I was part of – me not knowing that much about the structure of the army or anything, I was still thinking to myself like, ‘What do we need an infantry for? We’re like in 1990’, not 1920, and funny enough like 2 or 3 years later they close down the infantries.
Glenn: What made you want to become a Recording Engineer? Was that because you were working in the studio and you thought, ‘I’ll learn the tricks of the trade from both sides of it’?
Bjorn: That, yeah, correct. I was. One of the big reasons that to be able to record my own band and things like that and sort of not having to rely on other Engineers. After spending a lot time in different studios I was very disappointed with how the way a lot of the engineers worked. It wasn’t that they didn’t try their best. Part of it was attitude, but mainly I just think a lot of them didn’t have the ears for it, like what needed to be louder or softer in the mix or recorded differently or what-not. I just saw how it was a lot of times sabotaging good songs and good music. I hated that. I guess I also found interest in working with it – I thought it was fun. I both wanted to and needed to learn more about it.
Glenn: Yeah – that makes sense. Who would you say you’ve been compared to as a player and what are your thoughts of that?
Bjorn: Well, people a lot of times used to think that Billy Sheehan was a heavy influence, which was patially true. I have always admired his playing and hard work. Although I’ve never really sat down and fully copied any one bassist, album or song, even just to learn. Instead I would play what I thought they were playing more to catch the vibe that I thought they were trying to get across. I always liked to have my own stamp or interpretation of the song/s whenever I played someone elses music. I think studying other players is a good way to learn but there comes a time when one needs to find their own style or identity.
Glenn: And be yourself.
Bjorn: Exactly. There’s a lot of players that I admire for instance like John Entwistle, but I guess I’ve toned down a lot of as playing a lot of fills and playing a lot of crazy basslines which I sometimes do a lot, but more the way that John Paul Jones approaches the bass in Led Zeppelin. He is phenominal. He plays all over the place but it still doesn’t sound like it’s too much. He’s probably my all-time favourite.
Glenn: Yeah. How did the Fender Endorsement come about and what does that mean to you as a player?
Bjorn: It means a lot. They are very particular about who they endorse. It’s a company that’s been around for a long time and they are very cool people. It’s been easy to establish a good working releationship with them. They are very down to earth and they listen to the artist and they are very interested in the artist. I got to know a couple of them when I worked with Yngwie the very first time in ’07 at the NAMM show and I think it was like a mutual thing – we clicked on a personal level and of course playing with Yngwie helped, but I think they look at things deeper than that as far as ‘Who do we wanna work with?’ and ‘What’s this guys personality like?’ and ‘Is he gonna stick around or is he just here to get a free instrument?’ – you know that sort of thing. I’m very loyal to my sponsors, and it’s great to work with Fender. They’re very smooth.
Glenn: What would you say you are most proud of as a musician and as a person so far?
Bjorn: I think at this point in my life I think just the fact that I’ve gathered all sorts of aspects of the business. I feel more safe and confident. My playing has become more consistent and balanced. I know even more now when to play and when to hold back and when to open my mouth and when to shut up, and all that takes years to learn. I don’t care how humble you are or how arrongant you are. It takes for most people years of experience to really get to the point where people respect you in many different ways. I think that I’m happy that I’ve gone through a lot of the stuff that I’ve gone through. You have to have good intuition, but I think a lot of times without experience it’s almost impossible to get to a level where you are doing things consistently good.
Glenn: What are you most looking forward to this year?
Bjorn: Definately playing with Yngwie again ! I’m also glad that I’ve stayed out of some of the session stuff that I used to do, which has enabled me to focus a bit more on writing and recording my own stuff.. I developed my home studio a bit more, so I’m looking forward to using it more. As far as playing with Yngwie again It’s nice to be in a band where I’ve already done quite a few shows and a couple of tours and I’m still really excited about playing with him again. That’s a nice feeling.
Glenn: You’ve had a very nice varied career so far and people that you’ve worked alongside with and that. How did it come about doing backing vocals for Lizzy Borden?
Bjorn: I’ve been friends with Martin Andersson, the bassist, for years, and they needed a handful of people to come in do some choir back-ups on the latest album and me being good friends with the whole band I was like, “Yeah sure”. They are great people so it was like, “Yeah, I’d like to do that”.
Glenn: I’ve actually got a promo-copy of that album so I’ll have put it on and listen out for your vocals.
Bjorn: (Laughs). You should, and besides it’s a great album.
Glenn: Right I’ll let you get off – we’ve been talking away for over an hour.
Bjorn: Wow – time flies when you are having fun.
Glenn: Well it’s been anbsolute pleasure talking to you.
Bjorn: Likewise, very much so Glenn. Have a great evening.
Glenn: You too. You take care Bjorn – it’s been great talking. See ya later matey.
Bjorn: Yeah, You take care.
(NY - Photo by Photosynthesesisphotography.org)