What does every country in the world share as a method to connect past borders and languages? Why the good old guitar of course! The guitar is truly the international method for communication. Every country in the world has their own guitar heroes and virtuosos seeking fame and fortune outside their nation’s borders. Case in point is the 2011 CD from Norway-based guitar ace Steinar Karlsen. Steinar’s CD, Ulydium is receiving great press from the guitar mags and web sites over in Europe and for good reason. Combining a love of The Ventures, Link Wray, a touch of The Shadows and much more, Steinar’s ten track Ulydium CD rocks up a storm. Plus, being all instrumental, you can really focus on the music and there’s even a hint of Scandinavian folk-jazz music that permeates the surf-flavored rock sounds. Steinar gets amazing support from his band mates Morton Skage (bass) and Kåre Opheim, while a number of guest artists add various sonic embellishments. The CD sound and the CD packaging is also first rate, adding the finishing touches on an album that will definitely put smiles on the faces of serious instro rock fans. presents an interview with

mwe3: Steinar, can you give the readers some insights into your early exposure to music and the guitar? Who were your most important musical influences while growing up in Norway, both Scandinavian and world wide?

SK: My first expoure to music as I can remember was the Beatles’ "Michelle" and "Girl"—these songs have always been my favourite Beatles songs. I also listened a lot to my Dad’s collection of 7" records, primarily country and western style. I started playing guitar when I was nine, inspired by country and early rock music. In my later teens I started listening to blues guitar records by B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The Norwegian blues guitar players Knut Reiersrud and Vidar Busk have also been important to me.

mwe3: You cite influences like Link Wray and Marc Ribot. I know the Ulydium CD is popular with the rock instrumental listeners but I also hear some Led Zeppelin style Jimmy Page riffing in your playing. How about surf and jazz guitar styles compared with rock and metal influences and how do you balance all the guitar styles on your CD and can you also say something about your band on the CD?

SK: I listened a lot to Led Zeppelin when I was younger, especially the riffs and acoustic stuff has inspired me. Balancing different styles on Ulydium was to me an important experience. As long as the band and the melody player has the same basic sound for most of the songs there is a lot of play room for doing different styles like jazz, rock and twang inspired music on the same record. I think this variety of styles makes the album stronger and more interesting. My band—Morten Skage on bass and Kaare Opheim on drums are both musicians with a lot of experience from styles like pop, rock, country and jazz. They helped me a lot keeping this thing together.

mwe3: Can you say something about the guitars you’re playing on the CD? What are your favorite guitars and what amps do you prefer and how about the various effects that help you obtain that definite 1960’s style echo and twang?

SK: My main guitar on Ulydium is a modified Squier Telecaster with a Telecaster P-90 bridge pickup made by Klein Pickups. My blues guitar, a Korean made Epiphone Sorento, is also used on a few songs. The baritone parts are done with a Gretsch Electromatic Jet Baritone. In addition to these I have used a Holiday (Harmony) Bobkat from the ‘60s at some live shows now. The Bobkat suits my music very well. A great twang guitar!

I prefer 15-20w tube amps. The amazing Swart Amps Atomic Space Tone is used on almost every song on the record. It has the huge ‘60s reverb and tube tremolo. On stage I also use a Fender Blues Junior together with the Space Tone. The echo sound is the Ibanez Analog Delay (AD9) from the early 1980s. And sometimes I bring my Voodoo Labs Tremolo, it is a bit faster than the built in Space Tone tremolo.

mwe3: How is the current music scene in Norway for your music? What musicians and bands are your contemporaries in Scandinavia and Finland, on the guitar side and the rock side? Do you also play in other bands?

SK: My kind of music is far from mainstream. I have noticed that at some festivals and venues they seem to be skeptical to music without vocals. But this record is me, and it was important for me to get it out there. Besides my own concerts I have done a few split gigs together with my other band Good Time Charlie, which has been a good way to get gigs. Los Plantronics, The Beat Tornadoes and Fatboy are some of my contemporaries in Scandinavia. And there is a lot of good blues and rock ‘n’ roll bands in Norway. Amund Maarud made one of my favourite records in 2011.

mwe3: Are you planning to feature more recordings in the future? Is there a story behind the title, Ulydium for the CD? What about your other upcoming plans?

SK: The whole idea behind Ulydium was to keep the melody and riffs in focus and not let the guitar solos take over the world. The album contains solos, but I have made them so short you hopefully want to hear them again. When I started to record the album I wanted to keep much of the simplicity from the instrumental twang music of the 1960s, but with a modern touch. Explaining the word "Ulydium" is hard to do, because it is a Norwegian word play. Though I´m not sure I can explain it in Norwegian either!

I´ve just finished the songwriting for an Ulydium follow up. We will start recording in May, and hopefully release the new album later this year or early 2013. I´m also gonna do some more gigs with both the instrumental project and Good Time Charlie this year.

Thanks to Steinar Karlsen @


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