Ken Ingwersen (Ken’s Dojo) interview 2010
Guitarist Ken Ingwersen has just released a new album under the name of Ken’s Dojo. It features some big name guests including Glenn Hughes, Ken Henslay and err Chesney Hawkes.
Hiya Ken… Thanks for doing these… Could you tell us please first what are you currently up to? The new album is just out, right… so, (recording, gigs, plans etc.)?
“Hey Jason….; Good to speak to you! I’m currently in Riga, Latvia! I’m here to record a new album with Ken Hensley (ex Uriah Heep). We’ll be here for 3-4 weeks, and right now we’re laying down the basic tracks. It’s gonna be a solid rock album, and I’m really looking forward to how it will sound, because the songs are really strong… Then, on top of that, I have, as you correctly say, just released my own album…, so I’m doing some interviews and stuff for that in between sessions. The reception to that has been really good so far!”
Yes.. Could you take us through your new album ‘Reincarnation’ then? e.g. the story behind the songs, songwriting process etc.
“No problem…. Basically the motivation for the album started way back… I’ve been in this industry for many years now, and spent the last ten years writing and producing pop songs for major labels all over the world. I really enjoy this kind of work, but as you get more professional, you also end up in an administrative circle, where music becomes less and less a part of the day’s work. So, I figured I’d do something fun and just for me, for a change….no A&R’s, no artists, just me?”
“I started out writing some instrumental tunes and figured I’d do an album and release it digitally? But, after a while, I came to realise that I’m too much of a song and melody guy to just do instrumentals…. I mean, I love great singers! So, I started a process with some vocals of my own just to see how it would go? As time went on though, I figured, hey, I know so many great singers…. I might as well ask one or two for a favour. I contacted Mike from Circus Maximus first (he’s currently on tour as a stand in for Roy in Kamelot) and we wrote 2 songs together. That sort of created a path for me to grow into, and from then on in, it just grew out of my hands; becoming this cool album I now have in my hands!!”
Yes; how did you get so many guests on your album? How do you think the rock press and fans will react to seeing say, Chesney Hawkes’ name on the credits? (He puts in a very decent vocal for me – much rockier than I was expecting, actually!)
“Well, really, it’s been so easy as I’ve played live with more or less all of them, and most of them are great friends of mine too; it feels really natural. When it comes to Ches, some of the press have asked me about him…some of them don’t see him as a rock singer…. But, to me, he’s just an amazing singer and a super-nice guy, so it was only natural to ask him to join in! I’ve been writing with Ches for years and he has turned in to a really good friend over the years!”
Now, you famously produced TNT’s ‘Transitor’ album of course? How did you get that job? And, when you are producing an established band like TNT does the producer get much say in the direction of album?
“Sometimes… ha! ha! I was asked by Ronni (Le Tekro) to produce his solo album first of all. And after that, he told me he was so impressed by my work, that he wanted me to do the next TNT album as well, which was “Transistor”. Being a big fan of the band when I was a teenager, I embraced the gig totally. We all got along very well, and had a good creative period. They were totally open for outside ideas……”
“It was actually harder to talk them into sounding more like TNT and less like whatever was in their CD player at that time though…ha!ha!”
You’ve worked with many other artists too. Who have been the most enjoyable and why? Any other artists you’d love to work with in an ideal world?
“That’s a tough question because you have to take your opportunities when they arise! There are so many artists I’d like to work with; in fact, the list is just as long as a list of people I don’t wanna work with…Ha! Ha! But, I’d love to do a vocal session with Eric Martin or Steve Perry. I think that would be amazing…!”
“Actually, I enjoy working with all kinds of artists…., it’s the diversity that makes it cool… There’s no special favourite!”
Whatever happened to Street Legal and how did you come to join them? The album ‘Thunderdome’ was very enjoyable but I’ve not heard much since from the band.
“Well, ‘Legal released an album last year actually, with 2 other guitar players. They didn’t use me. They’re still around, but at the moment they don’t have a steady guitar player. I’m actually gonna do a gig with them on a rock cruise in October! UFO and several other bands are on the bill. It will be a fun reunion!”
“I’m not too sure what their plans are for the future, but I’m sure there will be more music from Mr. Boge….. He’s not a quitter!!”
“When I got the gig, I actually replaced Tore Moren (Jorn’s current guitar player) on a live show. Tore didn’t show up. I did the gig, and afterwards, the guys just asked me if I wanted to join. It suited me well at the time and it was fun just to be a guitar player in a band, not having to think about everything? I’d just came out of the process of doing more or less everything in a project called Speed, so I enjoyed the simple fact of being just the ‘guitar player’ for a change!”
You mentioned earlier that you have played on and produced lots of pop/soul artists’ albums. Do you have a certain style of guitar playing that you have to adapt/use on these types of albums?
“Hmmmm….not really. I mean, the biggest difference on those different albums, is that the guitar often really only has a minor part in the sonic picture, so you have to play somewhat more economically than in the average rock band, where the guitar is wall-to-wall, carpet sound, and often the only instrument that defines major and minor scales. The same goes for sound. It’s a totally different world fitting a guitar sound into pop productions, so I often choose other types of guitars and amps than I do in the rock world. Again though, variety makes it fun!”
Has the Internet helped get your music out there or in some ways e.g. illegal downloads has it made matters worse?
“Both, I guess! I mean, I found my album on line, as a torrent, way before it was released. That’s not fun to watch, especially when it happens to you directly! But, on the other hand, it’s now so much easier nowadays to promote your stuff, like on facebook, or myspace etc., keep in touch with your fans and make contacts in your work…. So I guess, you have to take the bad with the good?”
Who are your main musical influences and in an ideal world, who would you love to tour with?
“That’s difficult… I started out listening to ACDC, Gary Moore and Van Halen. Sort of a best of UK, US and Aussie mixture…. Ha! Ha! Also a lot of classic UK rock acts like Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Rainbow, and Whitesnake, so I guess them. But then I moved around, listening to all kinds of music, so that today I enjoy anything from John Mayer to Muse…. Who knows!!”
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?
“I like to work out. Not too much lifting and shit like that; I really enjoy martial arts. I actually hold a Kung Fu Black Belt, so I’m an instructor at a local gym in Oslo. I also enjoy working with computers, on all sorts of things…I’m the “guy you go to”, in my area, when it comes to computers. Read; a nerd….Ha! Ha!!”
A Final Message for your fans…
“I hope you enjoy my “Reincarnation” album…. I know I had lots of fun making it, and maybe I’ll see you on tour some day, either with that or with Ken!!”