>> RETURN <<
Conducted by Terje Hoiland, translated by Geir Aamo.
Now back on the scene with the album ”The Best of Return”, the CD has shifted an unbelieveable 65,000 units on the Norwegian market, making it one of this year’s best sellers. The album will also be released in Germany, Japan and Sweden in the near future. Return have lately been on a mini tour promoting the ”The Best of Return” CD, and Rock Of Norway was able to interview the band, catching up with the latest developments in the Return camp.
Rock Of Norway : With pretty much no activity on the Return front for the last 8 years, I was very surprised to see the band head out on the road again. What inspired you to start touring again?
Return : The record sales played a part in it, as did the fact that we are facing a completely new audience these days. I guess we may more or less have expected many Return fans of old to turn up, but instead we actually find ourselves with a mostly new teenage audience. Having then sorted out the practical family- and job related issues, going on tour was not that hard a decision to make.
Rock Of Norway : How have you organized the tour, and do you plan to continue working together after the touring is done?
Return : We will do a mini tour of Norway this summer, as well as a few gigs this autumn. Beyond that there are no concrete plans for Return in the future. Obviously, we want to keep the integrity of the band, as opposed to, say, Smokie, who keep rehashing the same concept over and over again.
Return will always comprise the same members, and none of us will be able to branch out on our own with the band name. Return never officially broke up. We had our heyday from ’86 -’93, and had the guts to say stop when we felt we had no more to offer. We saw the music world changing, but backed out when we realized we could not change with it.
Rock Of Norway : You are touring now, and have the possibility of recording shows. Are there any plans to release a Return live album? Or are there any other concert recordings sitting in the Return vaults?
Return : A live ”Best of” album is not part of our plans at the moment. We feel such a project would be justified only if we included new songs or re-arranged older ones, possibly in acoustic, unplugged style. We do, however, record shows, so we will see what happens eventually. As previously mentioned, though: There are no concrete plans for a live album at the moment.
Rock Of Norway : Any chances of a new Return studio album happening?
Return : There are no concrete plans for that, either. We are awaiting the reactions to the tour, and will see if there is a market for a new Return album.
Rock Of Norway : What have the members of Return been doing in the time following the break you took in ’93? I am aware that Knut Erik worked on the project Cozmos Factory, but what do you do for a living these days?
Return : We all still live in Stange, Norway. Bassist Tore has his own sports shop, Stange Fritid. Singer Knut Erik has returned to his old job as a carpenter, and drummer Oivind is employed helping young, local musicians develop. Guitarist Steinar still makes a living as a songwriter and musician. On board this time around is also Henning Ramseth, serving as a 5th member of the band. He has been involved with Return earlier, has an excellent voice, and provides backing vocals, keyboards and guitar.
With regards to Cozmos Factory, this was a one-off project, but it will resurface soon under the monicker ”Spinnvild” (Norwegian for ”utterly crazy”). This will see the release of a rocking new album, ”Rett i koppen”*, featuring Norwegian lyrics and produced by well-known Norwegian musician Oeystein Sunde. *A rather intranslatable expression taking its cue from an instant soup concept – don’t ask! ;-) The editor.
Rock Of Norway : For those not familar with Henning, I should add that he featured on an offical demo by the band Matches For Maggie, which included Oeyvind Haakonsen’s brother, as well as singer Erik Hawk (ex-Artch). Furthermore, Henning is involved with a new project, which Rock Of Norway will investigate later.
Return have gained a certain cult status in the melodic hard rock genre, perhaps particularly in Germany. Have you had any interest from foreign record labels following the excellent sales of the new ”The Best of Return” album, and what is the promotion strategy this time around?
Return : We have had much luck with the promotion here in Norway, but the progress thus abroad has been minimal. The reactions to the album have been very mixed, and we have problems finding a distribution deal, in other words getting the CD released in the first place! Sony own the rights to this album, but we have not been approached by any other labels so far.
Rock Of Norway : Did you rehearse a lot prior to the present tour?
Return : We had about 15 rehearsals before this tour, and really, really enjoyed ourselves in the process! If you can imagine the sheer joy kids feel when they see snow falling and get out their skies and sleighs to go playing in the snow – well, we just had such a blast playing together again!!!
Rock Of Norway : Are there any plans to re-release Return’s 5 studio albums? Many of them are practically impossible to find today, and there is even a bootleg of ”To the Top” on the market.
Return : Sony will re-release our back catalogue on mid-price CDs. In other words, all the studio albums, including ”To the Top”, but not the ”Replay” collection.
Rock Of Norway : What music do you listen to these days?
Return : [Oeyvind]: Since I am employed at a music work shop, I encounter quite a bit of more recent music, but I still enjoy melodic hard rock. I bought the 21 Guns album the other day, and was mightily impressed with that! [Steinar]: I am also into the melodic side of rock, and I have a cover band going, named Bomsi Daizy, which specializes in AC/DC songs.
Rock Of Norway : Having discussed music with the band a few more hours following the interview, I came to the conclusion that hard rock was still the music style for all of us. The band also looked and sounded very, very happy to be playing live again, and had an extremely enthusiastic, young audience singing along to each and every Return tune!
With Return’s new found, young fans singing the words to the songs like this was something they had done for years, the music critics’ claim that ”hard rock is dead!” seems more than a little misguided. And if hard rock is indeed dead, I would dare say the music critics should watch out for the 65,000 living dead walking the streets of Norway. There seems to be more of them every day now… ;-)