Berdon Kirksaether is one of those rare breed of guitarists
that can do it all. Earlier releases, including Ray Of Light from
2011, bordered on meditative guitar centric New Age and atmospheric
rock instrumental while 2012s Blues was straight up rock
with a nod to ZZ Top / Rory Gallagher sounds with Berdon taking lead
vocals. 2014s Latenighters Under A Full Moon is
another kettle of fish completely. Describing the musical mission
on his latest release, Berdon explains, It struck me one day,
what if I set out to make some kind of a "concept" album,
mainly in the blues/swing territory, bringing in traces of agent/surf
guitar and a little bit of Tom Waits, Freddie King and some Latin,
for good measure? Once I started thinking about it, it all came together
real quick. Sounding as if he's channeling the spirit of Roy
Buchanan, Danny Gatton and Jimi Hendrix rolled into one, the 11 track
album, credited to Berdon Kirksaether & The Twang Bar Kings,
is an all instrumental feast of jazz/blues packed with some nice
surprises. Backed up by the Twang Bar Kings, including Olaf Olsen
(drums) and Stein Tumert (bass) (along with range of guest
musicians), Berdon Kirksaether really swings the blues for instrumental
rock. Fans of Freddie King, Ry Cooder, late 1960s Fleetwood
Mac and even Booker T. & The MG's will enjoy the soulful, bluesy
guitar instrumental sounds of Latenighters Under A Full Moon.
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Your new CD Latenighters Under A Full Moon is yet another new
kind of recording from you. How does it fit right in between Ray
Of Light and your Blues album? Its a great idea merging
guitar instrumental and blues. What was the motivation behind making
the Latenighters album with your band The Twang Bar Kings?
Berdon Kirksaether: To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure
how it fits in between those two albums. But, eventually, there is
a common thread, it's still me playing my guitars and expanding the
painting with some friends that happen to be great and inspiring musicians
in the bargain. Let's just say that strange things might happen once
you leave the acoustic guitars in the closet and go downtown at night
with an electric guitar, drums, bass, organ and a couple of saxophones,
aiming to party all night long. It struck me one day, what if I set
out to make some kind of a "concept" album mainly in the
blues/swing territory, bringing in traces of agent/surf guitar and
a little bit of Tom Waits, Freddie King and some Latin, for good measure?
Once I started thinking about it, it all came together real quick.
The Latenighters album is the story about a bunch of guys going
out for a marathon of different bars, dives, loose connections, discos
and a few pit stops along the way. It culminates with the two last
songs, Walk And Your Feet Will Follow, when you get so
drunk that looking at your feet, moving one after the other, is actually
the only way to keep going, and Latenighters Under A Full Moon,
portraying the survivors stumbling home at the end of their long night
From the day I got the idea, it took about 2-3 weeks to have all the
It's quite exciting to try to tell the story instrumentally, without
any help from voice and words. I tend to see each album as a separate
film and the songs as different scenes. Bob Dylan once said that writing
a song is like riding a bull into an alley in a town you've never
been to before. So my motivation is mainly that I'm ready for that
ride whenever that bull might appear... and then roll film.
mwe3: Who else plays with you on the new Latenighters
album, where and when was it recorded and who else was involved in
the production, mastering, engineering and album cover art design?
And what is that cool front cover a picture of?
Berdon Kirksaether: The project started with me recording the
guitar melodies at home in my studio, using drum loops to establish
the grooves in the right tempos. Then I recorded rhythm guitars and
in the end, bass. I made the tunes and recorded them over a period
of 3 weeks. All guitar lines were first, second or third takes. That
was one of the ground rules that I decided on before I started recording.
If I had to do more takes than that, then I'd skip the whole thing.
I firmly believe that spontaneous recordings have a far better chance
of touching people, besides it started with me playing something that
I responded to on a personal level.
first musician I called when I had the idea for the album was Olaf
Olsen, a really good drummer and a friend, who happens to live 5 min.
from my house. We have played together from time to time throughout
the years and jammed a lot since we live so close to each others
Olaf was in between tours with "Big Bang", one of Norway's
premier rock bands, and was ready to try anything as always. I think
that was the key in making this album, because its not exactly
your average blues/swing album. It's probably a bit eccentric. Olaf
immediately grasped my vision and the drum tracks were all recorded
in one day. That was done in the studio at his house and engineered
by the two of us. Once we had laid down the grooves, I sent the songs
to Stein Tumert in Hamburg, Germany and he replaced the bass that
I had recorded in the first place, in his North By North West studio.
Being the solid player that he is, his lines sounded a lot better,
but still retained the atmosphere of the demos. Then Stein and I decided
that we needed some extra color and sugar on top. Stein approached
a keyboard player that he knows in Hamburg, Leo Volskiy.
Leo agreed to add some flavor to the stew, playing piano and Hammond
B3 organ on 3 of the songs. Those tracks were recorded in Stein's
studio and engineered by him. I think Leo's contributions worked out
great. Later Stein found out that a Wurlitzer would add to the feel
on "Another One Going Down". He played and recorded it himself
and was unsure of it. When I heard it, I immediately liked it, so
I told Stein it definitively was a keeper. Having come that far, I
was thinking that it would be interesting to bring in yet another
instrument. I knew Øyvind Sørby, whom I'd met at a garage
party many years ago. Øyvind is a great guy and a skilled sax
player, but most importantly he is willing to try anything to find
out if it actually works out. And some of the things I asked him to
play were a bit strange, but Øyvind made it work and passed
the audition with flying colors. Last man contributing was Finn Tore
Tokle, another old friend and outstanding musician who plays in several
major bands in Norway. I asked Finn Tore to play bass on the bossa
nova track "Rendezvous", because I know that he's really
into that kind of rhythmic, syncopated bass lines. I recorded him
and he made it shine.
did a lot of the mixing in my studio here in Norway, and Stein did
the rest in his studio in Hamburg. We talked a lot about how we wanted
the album to sound and early on we decided not to compress and limit
much, but go for an organic, warm sound allowing the instruments to
breathe like the recordings of a bygone era.
Then we sent the finished mixes to Otto Burls mastering studio
in Hamburg, just like our previous two records, Ray Of Light
and Blues. Both Stein and I think it sounds like we intended,
thanks in no small part to the musicians involved.
As for the cover art and design, it was a collaboration between Conrad
B. Larsen from Roller Records, Stein and me. I found the picture that
is the foundation and Stein added two more pictures, so it really
is a collage of three different pictures. Conrad refined it and made
it look like an album cover. All other art, such as inside cover,
back cover and label is Conrads doing in its entirety. The front
cover symbolizes exactly what it says:
In the back of the picture you see the last men standing, walking
and counting on that their feet will follow. Latenighters Under
A Full Moon! In the front of the picture there is a man on a
bicycle delivering newspapers, though a bit early to be up and working,
from a musicians point of view.
mwe3: Whats been the reaction to Ray Of Light
and Blues and now the new Latenighters album in Norway
and Scandinavia? Are you planning any follow up to Ray Of Light,
which you did say you might play live at some point?
Berdon Kirksaether: Ray Of Light was a low-key album;
however, it was well received in Scandinavia. Both Stein and I feel
that it is a timeless album, and it got good reviews in the press.
It keeps selling without any marketing, just word of mouth, so who
knows what may become of it in the long run? What pleased me the most
was that Steve Hackett (Genesis guitarist) heard the album and bothered
to send an email to Roller Records and talk about the album in favorable
terms. Blues also got good reviews both in Norway and Europe,
got airplay in Norway, Germany and the Netherlands, and got me my
first interview in mwe3. The follow up to Ray Of Light will
be released in 2014 and I think Berdon Kirksaether & Companeros
will play some of it live this year.
mwe3: Whats the music scene like in Norway for your music
and other instrumental guitarists, who else are you listening to these
days and do those influences creep into the music on the Latenighters
Kirksaether: There used to be more live clubs a few years ago,
and all sorts of tribute bands seem to be on the move these days.
So I'd say the market is tighter now, especially if you're not a major
artist. But we did not start playing music for the money, anyway.
So we'll just keep on doing the things that we do, like always. As
for guitarists I've been listening to for the last year or so, I have
to admit that I've been listening to a lot of the old stuff. Albert
King, Freddie King in his funky phase, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy's great
album A Man And His Blues, Alex Harvey Band, Cream, Chris Cain,
Matt Scofield, Andy Timmons' Sgt. Pepper" instrumental
album, and of course The Stones in the early seventies. I saw that
Good Time Charlie guitarist, Steinar Karlsen released an instrumental
album in 2013, but I didn't actually hear it until the last few weeks.
Sounded great, I really liked his approach. I have played live recently
with guitarist Espen Liland. Hes a great and creative blues
guitarist and nice guy who inspire me whenever I hear him play.
mwe3: The guitar sound on the Latenighters album is
quite good. I was thinking Hendrix and Trower at first but then I
detected other jazzy and even bluesy influences. What inspired you
to cut an instrumental album so bluesy and rootsy as far as this one?
Freddie King, Peter Green, Clapton... definitely great sounds to draw
Berdon Kirksaether: Well, it was not a conscious choice, but
I grew up listening to those players and many other great guitarists,
so eventually some of it must have crept into my own playing, through
the years. At least I hope so.
But to start with, I try to capture sounds that excite me and there
are a lot to be done only by changing between pickups and tweaking
the controls on the amp, making every song sound a little different.
It makes me play a tiny bit different from song to song and that affects
the other musicians too. I think it's very important to approach each
tune as a separate film scene, trying to imagine which colors and
tones to use in order to play the story in the best possible way.
To me the story in every song is the main concern, that way I'm more
likely to be able to play from the heart. And most important: I record
the songs before I get to learn them, that keeps it fresh and I think
they connect more easily with people that way...
mwe3: What were your guitars of choice on the Latenighters
CD and what other effects, amps and pedals are you using on the new
album and live in concert as well?
Berdon Kirksaether: Mostly I used my main guitar, a trusty
Stratocaster from the early 90's with Lace Sensor pickups. It's a
great sounding guitar and a very versatile instrument, as well. I
also used my Jay Turser 335, which is Jay Turser's take on Gibson
335, on some tracks; I think it was on "Go Cat Go" and "Walk
And Your Feet Will Follow". I used an Epiphone Les Paul on "Midnight
Haze". Apart from that, it was all done with the Stratocaster.
it comes to amps, it was a Fender Twin on a lot of it and The Peavey
Blues Classic 60W with a 15-inch speaker on the rest. The Peavey amp
was only produced for a couple of years in the 1990's. It is a fantastic
amp, it can sound like an old Fender amp from the late 1950's and
when you tweak it, it can sound like a cranked-up Marshall, with that
great natural overdriven tone. If you roll down the volume, you can
still hear the tubes working. It is definitively one of my favorite
amps of all time. For this album I used a Fender Blender stomp box
on many of the tracks, just to push the tone a little bit, a great
device. On "Midnight Haze" and Latenighters Under
A Full Moon I also used my old Colorsound Wah locked in that
sweet spot position that makes it cry in a very pleasing way. On "Latenighters"
the Fender Blender and the wah were combined with a Boss OC 2 octave
pedal. I think most rhythm guitars were clean through the Twin, but
I used the Neo Ventilator rotary pedal occasionally on some parts.
The microphones that we used on the guitars were Audio Technica AT
4081 ribbon, or an Avantone CR-14 ribbon in conjunction with a Shure
57. Pre-amps were Universal Audio LA-610 mic-pre/compressor and Universal
Audi solo 110.
Live rig with Berdon Kirksaether and the Twang Bar Kings:
Guitars: Fender Stratocaster w/Lace sensor pick-ups (main guitar);
Jay Turser 335; Fender Telecaster w/Seymour Duncan Pick ups
My live rig the last year or so, has been mainly the Peavey Blues
Classic amp and I mostly have these pedals in use: From amp - TC Flashback
delay, Voodoo Lab Uni-Vibe (sometimes Dunlop Hendrix 70th anniversary
Uni-Vibe), MXR boost/overdrive, and the Boss OC2 Octaver. Sometimes
I also use a Lovepedal Babyface Tremolo as well.
Live rig with The Ground:
Guitars: Fender Stratocaster w/Lace sensors pick-ups. Mascis Squire
Jazzmaster w/P90 pick-ups, Fender Stratocaster w/Texas Special pick
Amplifiers: Blackstar HT Club 40W and Peavey Classic Blues 60W (or
sometimes Epiphone Senior Valve Senior 30W)
Pedal board: From amps - Boss DD6 delay, Neo Ventilator Leslie pedal,
Carl Martin Tremovibe, Voodoo Lab Uni Vibe, MXR Boost/Overdrive (or
sometimes Visual Sounds Angry Fuzz), VOX Brit Boost, Boss OC2 Octaver
and Colorsound Wah
Live rig with Berdon Kirksaether & Companeros:
Takamine PT06 acoustic guitar (can be seen in the Ray Of Light
video), Garrison G20 acoustic guitar and Dolphin electric/acoustic
Pedals: Alesis Microverb III (or Amtech reverb), Boss DD6 Delay, TC
Flashback delay, and Boss OC2 Octaver (just a little bit of octave
employed-I use it more like a boost pedal for solos)
What are you looking forward to in 2014 as far as new music, live
shows, recording and other up and coming things?
Berdon Kirksaether: In May 2013, I launched a new band, called
Berdon Kirksaether & Companeros. I was asked to put together a
band playing acoustic, atmospheric music for a cultural happening
in the area that I live, called 24 Hours. It's an annual kind of festival
thing, with lots of musical and cultural events, going on for 24 hours
straight. I approached Øyvind Sørby on saxophones and
clarinet, Erik Gabrielsen (who played bass on a couple of tracks on
Blues) and drummer Geir Inge Hansen. The debut concert was
a success, so we decided to go forward with this ensemble. Actually
we did perform two songs from Ray Of Light on that concert.
Two months later, Geir Inge went out on tour with a jazz-rock trio,
and was replaced by Per Eriksen, the drummer on the "Blues"
album. We recorded 12 songs live on a cafe stage in the beginning
of July last year, with no audience on the premises. Another friend
of mine, Frode Skinstad, who is bass player in the roots/blues/rock
band "Jug Rock", was at the helm and recorded and engineered
the record in two days. It turned out great and Frode and I have mixed
some of the songs and are due to mix the rest in February/March, so
it's due to be released this summer. This album is a cross between
Instrumental music and vocal oriented songs.
I have also started working on the third Twang Bar Kings album that
will represent yet another turn musically, though with a blues related
base. It's going to be more groove oriented than the previous albums.
It will feature mainstay Stein Tumert on bass/keyboards, as well as
maybe Erik Gabrielsen and Finn Tore Tokle on a couple of tracks. Olaf
Olsen will once again appear as the master of drums. That album is
scheduled for release this year as well.
third project in line is the follow up to Ray Of Light which
will feature Finn Tore Tokle on bowed acoustic bass and Per Eriksen
and Olaf Olsen on percussion, Stein on keyboards and yours truly on
acoustic guitars. So if everything works out as planned, we intend
to release three records in 2014.
Apart from the records we plan to gig with the Twang Bar Kings in
Norway, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium, Berdon Kirksaether &
Companeros will do concerts in Norway and The Ground will reappear
live this spring. So there are lots of things in the works! You can
follow us on www.rollerrec.com.