Tore St Moren of JORN
by John Kindred
In the Hard Rock and Metal communities, Tore St. Moren most notably is known for his role as one of Jorn Lande’s primary guitarists. Sharing this role in Jorn’s band since 2000, Moren has been featured on six studio albums, three compilation albums, two live albums and two DVDs, and a tribute album to Ronnie James Dio. However, his body of recorded work extends beyond his role in Jorn.
Hardrock Haven’s exclusive interview with Moren delves deeper into his musical past and sheds light on the future.
Hardrock Haven: Greetings from America Tore! It is good to talk with you.
Tore St Moren: Hey, nice to hear from you too. Greetings back from Norway!
Hardrock Haven: For those who don’t know by now, you have been one of the featured guitarists in Jorn Lande’s band for years. Can you briefly tell us what you were doing prior to joining Jorn? How did you land the gig with Jorn?
Tore St Moren: Before I met Jorn and the guys I was in a band called Street Legal for some years. We wrote their first album Thunderdome, but I decided to move on when Sid Ringsby, Jorn Lande and Willy Bendiksen asked me to join their band The Snakes after they had split up with Bernie Marsden and Mickey Moody. While writing material for the new album we traveled around Norway playing covers as Wild Willy’s Gang. When we had recorded the first three tracks for the album we found that they sounded quite different from what The Snakes usually did, so we decided to put them on the first JORN album instead. And the rest is history, as they say.
Hardrock Haven: How long have you been playing the guitar? Who are your influences?
Tore St Moren: I started playing when I was 11, and for the first couple of years it was just a hobby. I was also in the school marching band where I learned to play cornetto, tuba, and drums.
My first influences were Ace Frehley and Gary Moore, but when I heard Yngwie’s first solo album I was blown away, and I knew instantly that playing guitar was going to be my path in life. I’m also very much into Santana, Satriani, Iommi, Scott Gorham and Michael Lee Firkins just to mention a few.
Hardrock Haven: Tell me about playing the ProgPower VII Festival in Atlanta, Georgia (United States) in 2006 with Jorn? Was this your first trip to the U.S.? How did the audience react to the band and the live performance?
Tore St Moren: The PP VII was an awesome gig for us! That was in fact our first, and so far the only, trip to the US, so we didn’t know what to expect. The audience was fantastic – unlike anything we’d anticipated. Obviously we have quite a few fans over there, so it’s really sad we haven’t been able to come back yet.
Hardrock Haven: The band (Jorn) just released the DVD, double CD release of Live in Black, are there any good stories about that show?
Tore St Moren: The show was really an awesome experience. We have a good following, and our fans are very dedicated. That, however, turned out to be a bit of a problem for the festival and their security routines. The passageway between our stage and the main stage where Aerosmith played was a bit on the narrow side, so we were instructed by the festival management to cut our set short by 10 minutes in order to move all 22,000 people safely to the Aerosmith gig in time for their show. That’s why we didn’t play “Song For Ronnie James” that night, as it was the last song on our set list.
But Sweden Rock Festival is always a very cool place to be. You get to hang out with both old friends, colleagues, and your heroes at the same place. Y&T were on before us, so I finally got to see them live and meet Dave Meniketti. That was pretty awesome.
Hardrock Haven: Can you tell Jorn fans what is like working with him? How do you guys write the songs? Do play any part in writing the lyrics?
Tore St Moren: Usually someone brings an idea to the table. For me it’s usually a riff or a composition that I record and give to him. Then we work through it and fit it to one of his lyrics or melodies.
He, on the other hand, usually has got most of the song done in his head by the time he presents it to the rest of us, so we just tag along and add our personal touch to it.
As far as lyrics go I’ve participated once when I came up with the title Worldchanger and presented the concept that I read into it.
Hardrock Haven: Now I discovered Jorn through the band Masterplan, then went back and discovered Jorn’s solo music. And after hearing the music and your guitar performances captured on those releases, I now count you as one my favorite guitarists to listen to. Do you see yourself as a “guitar hero” or just someone who is good at his craft?
Tore St Moren: Thank you. The term guitar hero suits me just fine. When I grew up there was nothing cooler than to be a guitar hero. But in the ’90s when the trends changed and the establishment decided that people like Kurt Cobain etc. were the coolest guitar players in the business, most guitar players jumped on the grunge-train. I didn’t. I still went on stage every night with my long ’80s hair, no shirt on and long pants, playing solos the same way I always did, never compromising my style. What I do both musically and visually is a natural part of who I am. I believe that’s the key to success. Be true to who you really are.
Hardrock Haven: What inspires you to write music?
Tore St Moren: I get inspiration from many different sources. Sometimes it’s a song I’ve heard, sometimes things I hear on the news. I very often get inspiration from places I go to and the people I meet. Other times it’s just a feeling I get inside, or a sound I hear when I’m out and about.
Hardrock Haven: You have released two singles on iTunes, “The Journey” and “Benedicte’s Song,” in preparation for releasing your first solo CD. What has been the response been from fans and critics to your music?
Tore St Moren: The response has been awesome. Although instrumental music is a much smaller niche than the traditional classic hard rock that we play with Jorn, I see that people enjoy my songs. Mainly because I focus more on melody, I suppose, rather than technique and speed. Although I love to listen to shred music I personally prefer to play a more bluesy and melodic style.
Hardrock Haven: Shredguy Records is the label that is releasing your solo music. How did you hook up with Michael McDowell?
Tore St Moren: We made contact through old myspace, and he put “Instrubrutal” from the first Carnivora album “Judas” on the Shredding Across The World album. We started talking about the future as I was in the early stages of writing material for my upcoming album. I wanted to release one song to see if there was a market for me out there. Michael put out “The Journey” on iTunes and Amazon. I made it on to the charts, so we decided to release one more track called “Benedicte’s Song” (which also charted), and now I’m about to finish off the album.
Hardrock Haven: What can fans expect to hear from you musically that maybe you don’t to express in Jorn or your other projects?
Tore St Moren: I think the main difference will be that I get to work my way through a whole melody, and not just the 20 to 30 seconds I usually get per song for a solo. This allows me a lot more space for musical expression and atmosphere, and I think it really lifts the whole experience for the listener. I also get to play more diverse musically. This time it’s really about the guitar melodies and not about fitting into one specific genre or sound-scape as you will always have to when you’re in a band or with a singer.
Hardrock Haven: Can you tell us about some of your other past projects? Rain is one that comes to mind, still have the promo of Stronger from 2006, there are some great tunes on there.
Tore St Moren: Yeah – I’ve always liked “Stronger”. It’s a good album with strong melodies and the production is quite good as well. Sadly we ended up being too busy working with other projects, so the band kind of disintegrated I guess. Street Legal is another band that I’m working with at the moment. I co-wrote the first album with them, but decided to put my efforts into JORN, so I didn’t play on the album. I play gigs with them whenever I can, and it looks like we’re going to make a new album this winter. I was also in Arcturus for a while. I recorded one album with them called Sideshow Symphonies, and we also released a live DVD called Shipwrecked In Oslo.
Hardrock Haven: Besides your solo CD soon to be released in the fall or early spring, are there any other cool projects in the works? Any comment on the next Jorn release?
Tore St Moren: As I mentioned before it seems like we’re writing a new album with Street Legal this winter. I’ve also just written and recorded one song with/for Lance King, so you might wanna check that out later this year. The new JORN album is in progress, and the release will be sometime early 2012. We’re currently writing the new material, and recording will start in November. I also did a guest appearance on the debut album from a Czech band called Sebastien earlier this year, and I might do something on their next album as well.
Hardrock Haven: Any thoughts on the passing of Ronnie James Dio? Was it an emotional writing and recording “A Song for Ronnie James?”
Tore St Moren: What many people don’t know, and some don’t want to understand about that song and the “Dio” album is that we had already been working on it for almost two years, in between our other albums when he was first diagnosed with cancer. The video was filmed three months before he passed away. Jorn and Ronnie were really fond of each other; they spent quite some time on the road together when Jorn toured with Yngwie opening for Dio some years back. Jorn wanted to show his appreciation for the man he considers being the greatest hard rock singer of all times, so it was truly a sad day for all of us when we got the news about his passing. That same night was the first time we played “Song For Ronnie James” live.
Hardrock Haven: Tore it was great to get the chance to talk with you? Is there anything else you might want to say in wrapping up the interview?
Tore St Moren: It’s been nice talking to you too. I would also like to add a big thank you to the fans – You guys rock – SHRED IS NOT DEAD!
Tore St Moren artist page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tore-St-Moren/260658053960
Tore St Moren fan group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/torestmoren/
Tore St Moren website: www.torestmoren.com (Under construction)
Jorn website: www.jornlande.com