Stage Dolls interview 2010

The Stage Dolls released their 9th album ‘Always’ early this year, through AOR Heaven. Here we catch up with singer and guitarist Torstein Flakne…

Hello Torstein… What are you currently up to? (recording, gigs, plans…)

“Hiya Nikk…!! As you mentioned in your introduction there, we have the European release of the new album “Always” coming up, through AOR Heaven on March 1st there in the UK., so there’s a lot of interviews and stuff right now. It’s already released here in Norway and just hit the top of the charts….!”
“We finished the album in November and took a short break before doing 2 shows in Norway at the start of January (Trondheim and Oslo) – Oslo was the official ‘Launch’ of the new record and you can see some photos of that on our web page
We plan to have a rehearsal period later in the winter, before going on a major Norwegian tour in the summer. We spend a lot of time on the road these days… It’s a wonderful position to be in to be honest!”

Could you take us through the excellent new album “Always” then? (e.g. story behind the song, song writing process)…

“OK… The opener is the title-track. That’s basically just a good time Rock &Roll song. That was the last song I wrote and I’d just had the chorus/hook in my head for weeks… the rest of the song came together very quickly.”

“Next is “Rainin’ On A Sunny Day” which was the first track written actually. It’s maybe not a typical Stage Dolls cut, but as long as it’s a good song we don’t dwell on fitting into a particular style….? The lyrics talk about how your life can change very fast? I met Darryl Tookes later in the process of this album, and he wrote a beautiful bridge-part over my guitar solo, so the solo had to go, ha! ha!”

“Then it’s “Rollin”, also a rocker but more groovy, I think? This was co-written with Darryl and his son Christian…. I love the riff underlining it. Terje Storli (bass) plays his 12-string on it.”

“The ballad “Eye Of My Heart” is, I guess…a ballad?”

“Then, there are 2 more straightforward songs… “Highway’s Open” and “Better Off Pretty”…. Our friend Mark Spiro helped us out with some magic backing vocals here.”

“Then, next comes ‘Taillights’ which to me is a personal favourite…. It’s very unusual in the way it builds up. It’s not the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus song. I’m really happy with the guitar work on that….”
“Next is “Saturday Night”, a kind of praise to women I like… He! He! We wanted it to be a little 50-ish, with a kind of dance-hall type feel?”
“Where The Blacktop Ends” is the only cover on the record. Terje is a huge country fan and suggested that we tried to do our version of this? I really like it. We even brought in some Harding-fiddle on the solo by Martine Lund Hoel….”

“And, the last song (“My Strangest Friend”) is a quiet duet that I did with a friend of mine, Mari Myrholt. She was working in a studio nearby and we asked her to try this? I think it turned out beautifully!”

It’s 25 years since the release of your debut album, “Soldier’s Gun”, what have been the highlights and low-points of your career?

“Releasing the first album was, of course, a highlight at the time! We’d done so many rounds between the record companies with the ‘No’s’ ringing in our ears, that, in the end, we financed it ourselves, so it was a big thrill to see it out…..!”

“Besides that, going to the UK, Europe and the US in the late 80’s was a dream come true for us… I guess the period in the early 90’s when grunge was taking over the rock scene was a low? We didn’t really know what to do, Ha! Ha! But these last 10 years have been very strong again! A new generation have discovered our music and the interest, right across the board, has been wonderful.”

The band has had very little personnel change in that time, how easy has it been to keep the dynamic between the 3 of you?

“Quite easy, really! We usually burn out drummers – Ha! Ha! – But Morten (Skogstad) has been with us for 17 years now, so he’s obviously a tough one, Ha! Ha!”

“Being so close on the road and in the studio means that we don’t meet that much privately these days. I think we know each other very well and have learned to respect each other.”

What have been the most memorable live shows for you and why?

“Back in the 80’s, we did a couple of nights at the Marquee in London…That was quite an event for me as I grew up reading and hearing about that place in the 70’s!! All my favorite bands had been there and played there, and now I was standing on that same stage!!”
“Apart from that, we’ve had so many that it’s hard to point out any one in particular!”

If given the chance which bands would you like to tour with and why?

“I would love to go on tour with Cheap Trick!! I bought their first album in the 1970’s and have been a big fan ever since. They have everything… Excellent songwriting from Rick and everything done with a smile. Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers is also a choice for my ‘Perfect Tour’!! I used to listen to a lot of Mike Campbell and still do.”

How did you get your first break into the music business? What piece of advice would you pass onto budding musicians?

“Well, I played in a band called The Kids as a teenager and we had quite a major hit here in Norway in 1980 with “Forelska I Lærer’n” (“She’s In Love With The Teacher”), which I wrote with the singer Dag Ingebrigtsen…. It was almost like a hysteria-thing and you could say I came ‘head first’ into the business then?”

“In reply to your second question, Morten usually says “Buy yourself a football”, but I think my best advice would be to find out what you’re really good at? That can be either, song writing, a certain instrument, and bits of both…, etc.”

“The things you do have to be good in your own head! If you’re not satisfied then hardly anyone else is going to like it! Then it’s hard work, very hard work.”

How do you view the current music scene? Have you seen an upswing in interest over the past couple of years in metal and hard rock?

“For us, a whole new generation has come along, really…, both to our gigs and with buying the albums. I think they trust us in a way! We’ve never done anything else other than play this type of music. I think that goes for similar bands as well. The music is in a way timeless and I think real fans can identify with that!”

What is your plan for the next 5 years or so? Do you have a ‘Five Year Plan’?

“He! He! No, I wouldn’t say that, but I’m sure it won’t take 6 years ‘till the next album, for sure! This year we will do the Norwegian tour, then I know there’s a major festival date in the UK. in discussion right now, if that’s OK with you guys, yes? And, hopefully some other dates in Europe will follow that? Put it this way, we don’t have any plans to retire! Ha! Ha! Maybe, that’s the ‘5 Year Plan?”

Has the popularity of MySpace, Facebook, LastFM etc helped spread the word on the band’s music?

“Oh absolutely, definitely! We receive mails to our website all the time… and fans on the Facebook page etc. from all over the world… It’s a fantastic medium. Times have changed drastically looking back! Remember the days when we just had the LP cover to get info from?”

Finally, a message for your fans…

“Well, I hope you all like the new album and if the circumstances are there, I hope to see as many as possible of you, in front of the stage, in the years to come!! Thanks for the interview!”

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