Wonderworld is the new band that features singer/bass player Roberto Tiranti from Italy, guitarist Ken Ingwerson and drummer Tom Fossheim, both from Norway. All 3 of whom double as Ken Hensley’s [ex Uriah Heep] “Live Fire” band.
The band’s debut was released in October of last year and met with great reviews in the music press and amongst new found fans, and easily sits at the top of my favorite releases for 2014. This interview has been a long time coming J , thanks to Ken for getting it done.
You can read and see more of Wonderworld at their site : www.wonderworld.no And look them up on Facebook!
First off – one would easily assume the band-name came from the Uriah Heep album from 74. How deliberate was that and what inspired your own song of the same name?
Yes, we picked the band name off the Heep album. We met because of Ken Hensley, he is the man that made us all play together, so it was partly a tribute to Ken and to a great band and a great era. On top of that we felt it was a suitable band name 🙂
I think the word itself just inspired us to write about the place called Wonderworld, that we sort of had an idea about as soon as the project developed and the artwork was in place etc.
How long has the idea of you 3 recording your own album without Ken Hensley been floating around and how fast did the ideas and songs come together?
Actually the three of us met the first time while we were recording “Trouble” for Ken Hensley in Spain, in March 2013. We immediately felt a unique energy and connection, so already the first day I told Tom that I had this idea about a powertrio, and that Rob would be perfect for it. So we asked Rob the next day, and he was in. Then we more or less started writing as soon as we were done with Trouble, and one year later the album was recorded.
Was it an easy decision [and why] not to have any ‘guests’ on this album?
Yes, we really wanted this album to be pure trio. We played with the idea of having Ken playing some organ on it, and there were other keyboard players that wanted to contribute, but we quickly left that idea, and finished it as a trio.
Now Ken H. didn’t play or write on the album, but I’m curious how much of an influence he may have had as far as how you guys approached things in writing and in studio [the harmonies work well on various tracks] ?
Well, Ken was definitively an inspiration as the idea behind the album was to go back to the roots and keep it fairly simple. The whole idea about the sound started when the three of us were jamming in the studio. THAT’S the vibe we wanted.
Can you give me an atendote on the tracks –
Wonderworld [was this the first track written?]
No, it wasn’t the first. The first was Break The Chains, I believe.
The inspiration behind it was Tom’s solid, heavy drumming, so I wanted to have a heavy vibe to it. And Roberto came up with the idea of singing about this ‘wonderworld’ in a talking/singing kinda way.
Break The Chains
The first track we wrote. I think I had AC/DC in my mind playing around with it, but the intro riff is very classic 70’s trio.
Surrender [my fave track here. perhaps the most commercial feeling].
The last song we wrote for the album. It was actually a struggle, and we bounced ideas back and forth for a while, before we landed on the final idea. I remember Roberto wanted to put in a pre-chorus, but I insisted on keeping it simple, and we were all happy with the result.
Voices [an interesting choice for a cover. why this one as? did you feel it was necessary to include a cover or did this song just come up?]
Well, we wanted to do a cover. Actually we did two….the other one might show up in the future)
We discussed various songs and ended up with Voices because we feel it’s a really good song, we found our own vibe to it and Roberto sings it really well. We also wanted a song that was slightly off-center compared to what we’d normally do.
Every Now And Then
Also one of the first songs we finished.
Very happy with the breakdown in the middle and also an epic guitar solo.
No One Knows [epic ballad, lots of feeling in this track]
Thanks! Yes, Roberto is a great ballad singer, so we had to do a ballad. On the other hand, we didn’t want it to be a lighter swinging power ballad, so we kept it to a minimum production-wise. Here, I also just used the same guitar and amp as the entire album, just rolling off the volume and cleaning it up slightly – instead of acoustic guitars, chorus guitar and keyboards 😛
The Sound Of The World [another great song, love the changes from the light verses to the heavy chorus. Great vocal!]
Yeah, probably the most “modern sounding” song on the album, with it’s 6/4 signature, and leslie guitars.
We even managed to throw in a small drum solo there. haha.
A New Life [love the lighter chorus, has a very 70s feel]
Again Tom’s heavy drumming and John Bonhan inspiration was kickstarting this one. Kinda has a Led Zeppelin vibe to it, with an odd solution to the chorus where we chose to take it down and make it more hippy’ish.
Hero Without Stains [a bit of funk feel, reminds me of Glen Hughes solo stuff]
Slightly funky song with a classic powertrio riff. Got some hints of Extreme in it. Also a cool riff in the guitar solo that we tend to extend forever live 😀
I also dig the ending where we usually keep jamming live.
Kissing The Sky [a very fitting end track]
Thanks. I had this melody and chords that made me think of The Eagles for some reason, that I felt would give the album a nice ending, without going for a typical ballad. A friend of mine wrote the lyrics to the melody, because Roberto was busy finishing the words for the rest of the album, and we landed on these Hendrix type lyrics. It’s actually more or less a duet between Rob and me, as we sing most of it in harmony and it starts with my vocals.
Was there many leftover ideas or songs that didn’t get finished that may give you guys a head start on a follow up album?
Actually we finished all the ideas, and only recorded a cover as a leftover.
Where were the 2 videos shot, and is there plans for any further ones?
Break The Chains was filmed during the recording of the album. I think we spent like 2 hours recording and I went back home and edited it myself. Efficient shit 😀
I Surrender was recorded in Genova, pretty close to Rob’s house + some scenes from Oslo actually.
Sort of in the middle of doing a video for No One Knows these days. Need some more footage…hehe.
How was the band’s live debut? did entire album get performed? and anything else? Is there many shows upcoming?
The first 3 shows we did were great. There’s always a slightly slow start, doing new material live, but already on the second gig we felt quite confident. We played pretty much all songs, except Kissing The Sky, mainly because we had enough lyrics to learn already, and Rob and I need to be super tight on the words for that one. We also did some fun cover tunes – especially Tom Sawyer by Rush, which is being well received 🙂
Do you guys foresee Wonderworld ever getting to North America?
You never know. As a matter of fact, a friend of ours in the industry just went to Miami today, and he’s gonna work on trying to get us a couple of gigs, so we’ll see what he comes up with 🙂
How did you come across the cover art? Was it was a piece already done that you used? [Would look great on some merch and vinyl]
Yes, I really like this artist called George Grie, and I was looking at his work one day, and just saw this beautiful drawing that would be perfect for us. So I showed it to the other guys, and we all just went for it.
We are working a limited edition of the vinyl right now actually, so it should be ready in May 🙂
Feedback has been good on the album!? Lots of great comments, reviews out there. It’s got such a cool classic hard rock feel; varied – rock, a bit of funk, lighter moments….
Yes, I haven’t seen one bad review. Everybody has been very nice and positive. So that obviously makes us all happy and confident that we’re onto something good here.
Going back a bit…..what are some of your fave moments from the album[s] you’ve done with Ken H. ?
I’ve done 2 studio albums with Ken now, and I really liked the process of them both. “Faster” was done in Riga and we had a great time, and “Trouble” was done in Alicante, Spain. I’d probably say that “Trouble” is my favorite moment, because that’s where we met and started this adventure.
The guitar solo [and Hammond interplay] on The Curse is such a cool piece. How did that develop between you and Ken H.?
I came up with the idea of a breakdown, because we lacked a part in the song. So I threw a few chords at Ken, he started playing it, and together we developed the melody and let it grow.
Trouble was a more direct hard-rock album, and more like a band album, and one that developed in the studio while things were on a roll. How much were you guys around for all of the recordings, mixing, putting things together? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbxILif7osg
We were there most of the recordings. The mixing process was done entirely by Dani and Ken, so we didn’t have any input on that.
But yeah, we developed all the riffs, tempos, keys etc live in the studio.
What are your favorite from the 2 albums with Ken H to perform live, as well as the Heep material?
Hm….I’d say The Curse and “I Don’t Know”. That’s a heavy one, and Rob sings it great.
As for Heep material July Morning is always a winner.
Prior to working with Ken H. curious how familiar you guys were with his albums with Uriah Heep? any favorite albums? songs? singers? bass players….?
Ken: I was very familiar with it because my ten year older brother was a huge fan. So even though I wasn’t more than a small kid, I heard all the albums all the time. My favorites are Look At Yourself and High And Mighty actually. I stopped listening to Heep after Byron left, so to me he’s the only singer next to Ken. My favorite song is probably Weep In Silence.
Tom: To be honest I was not familiar with Ken’s work with Heep at all. I’ve heard Easy Living before but that was it. After I started to play with Ken in 2007 I discovered a lot of great music. My favorite songs is Devil’s Daughter and Sunrise. Bass-player has to be John Wetton because of his time in King Crimson and later UK…
Rob: Very easy for me to choose! Best album: Sweet Freedom. Best songs: Sweet Freedom and Stealin’ and Gary Thain for me is the perfect bass player, he was light years ahead the musicians of that period.
Can each of you guys give me a few music idols or influences [on your respective instruments, singers]? as well as a list of favorite albums?
Ken: For me it has always been a weird mix of English and American bands. So it was Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore on one side, then Van Halen, Journey. You throw in some Australian AC/DC, German Scorpions and Norwegian TNT in there, and you have a nice cocktail 🙂
Tom: Zeppelin, Purple, Kiss, Yes, Journey, Ghost, Steven Wilson, hard rock/metal, progressive music in general, jazzrock/fusion.
Influences: John Bonham, Peter Criss, Nicko McBrain, Ian Paice, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl, Terry Bozzio, Alan White and Bill Bruford of Yes, Marco Minnemann, Dennis Chambers, Thomas Lang among a lot of others.
Impossible to give a list of all time favorite albums because there are too many…
Rob: My list it could be too long 🙂 Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, Queen, Mr.Big, Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Gino Vannelli etc. etc. Basically bass players and singers in the bands I mentioned gave me a lot of inspiration in my life.
What’s next for you guys — live shows? New album?
Yes, we just finished a couple of shows in Italy, and we have gigs coming up in Norway in April, more Italian gigs in May, and some festivals during summer. Even the fall is beginning to shape up. We are also in the middle of writing new songs for album number two, so maybe you’ll see another album in 2015 😉
Interview : March 2015, KJJ