Forum Senior Member
Joined: March 04 2008
Location: Retirement Home
Posted: August 06 2010 at 15:54
WARNING: THE VIKINGS ARE BACK AGAIN !!
Beware infidels, the Viking ships has returned and this time filled to the brim with marauding Hammond organs, flutes, guitars, microphones, bass and drums.
The Windmill's To Be Continued album is the most recent Norwegian export. An album full of great symphonic neo prog which will win The Windmill new kingdoms.†
I got in touch with Jean Robert Viita for their saga.
When and where was The Windmill formed and do you have any background from any other bands ? Why did you choose that name ?
It was initially formed in my head the summer of 1996. I and my family were living in Brussels for a period, and once on a trip back to visit people in Norway we drove through the German town LŁbeck. The only person awake in the car was me, and I was listening to Camel's Moonmadness, while driving upon a hilltop filled with windmills. They all seemed to rotate with different speeds, but still in correct time with the music. It was a fascinating sight, and there and then I decided that when time allowed I would start a progrock band and call it Windmill. After moving back to Norway in 1998 I joined a band called Desert Breeze, a party band playing covers. During some years I met different people from other bands, and asked them what they really liked to listen to when alone. That way I met musicians who where dedicated "progrock" fans, and who would love to play this kind of music. It was initially meant to be a sort of project, more like an experiment, while keeping the other bands going, and we started just some jam sessions and was meant to put together a couple of numbers for a one off performance in 2001. We started to rehearse the King Crimson song "In the Court of the Crimson King" and also the first track of the album "Cinnamon" which I wrote most of back in 1979. Of course the gig was cancelled, but we all had been re-bitten by this bug called "Symphonic Prog rock" and decided to continue. So that's really how the whole thing started. As for previous bands I can just say that all of the members have been active in different bands up through the years, some more known than others.
For my own sake I can mention that my first band which was started around 1970 together with our drummer Sammi, played this kind of music, and that's where Cinnamon originates from. And I know that our Bass player Arnfinn played with a progrock band once. But apart from that I only know that most of us have been involved in cover bands playing rock'n roll and blues.
And for the name,.... I think I do remember already explaining about it earlier, but we just had to insert ďTHEĒ in th front to avoid being mixed up with the British artist calling himself Windmill.
To start with; please give me your (long or brief) thoughts and lowdowns on your only album to this date To Be Continued from 2010.
Well itís a good feeling finally to have reached our first goal.
It took a long time finish, due to the fact that we all hold ďnormalĒ daytime jobs in order to support ourselves and our families. That meant we had one or at times two nights a week to do any recording. The studio was situated 1 hours drive from where most of us live, so by the time we finished work, had some food and drove out, the time would be around 1800-1900 in the evening. Of course we didnít always feel motivated after a whole day at work and the long drive, but we somehow managed to get our acts together. We also at one point lost all the tracks for the 21 minute long ďA day in a heroís lifeĒ, and that was at the time quite disastrous, and the mishap did set us back some months as well. And yes we had backup, but we forgot to reconnect the external hard drive, so the machine just deleted the track from there as well. Well it was an amateurís mistake, and we managed to track down the files after a while, but the project itself was lost. At least we didnít have to make new recordings.
Well, finally we sent the whole production off for a final mix to this guy David here in Norway, and heís a pro who knows what heís doing, and things from then on started to move real fast. So within a couple of weeks the whole thing was finished and all of a sudden the reviews started to pop up around from the whole world. That felt weird, and we still are a bit ďoutsideĒ ourselves when reading all the nice feedback. We have been working for such a long time with these songs so itís almost impossible to have an opinion about it anymore. Of course we like the songs, and we do stand for the production. And of course we are proud of what we have achieved. But itís kind of out of our minds now, so we have started composing for the next album.
How is the writing and creative processes in The Windmill ?
Thatís a tricky question. For this first album I must admit that I already had many songs lying around, so we used mostly my compositions on this one except ďThe colour of seasonsĒ which is written by Morten.
There are no standard answers to how the creative processes are run in the band. Sometimes I have a track fully finished with lyrics (sometimes written by my friend in Scotland Brian McNeil) and music. Then we all are involved with the arrangements. When one of the band members comes up with an idea, we always try to test it out before deciding whether to use it or not. Other times we do have bits and pieces from jam sessions and discarded songs that fit perfectly in to a new track. I very often get ďbullockingĒ especially from Arnfinn because I hardly ever write anything down on paper initially. I do explain that with the stupid excuse, that I want us to learn everything by heart, and thus keeping our brains sharpened. In fact itís just because Iím too lazy and impatient to take the time to write anything down except the lyrics of course. We do record new stuff on rehearsals in order to remember what we do from one day to another. Lately we have been sharing more and more on the composition part, and it feels good to involve the others in this process as well. But I will still come up with 20 minutes pieces almost entirely ready to be recorded. So will Morten I think. The problem is that the days are to short for all our ideas and it is difficult to choose from the material. Well I guess thatís a ďluxury problemĒ.
I take it that you did the whole manufacturing bit, the promotion and the distribution bit yourself. How difficult was is to find a good studio and manufacturer for this album and how difficult is it to do the distribution bit yourself ?
We were in fact lucky that our guitarist at that time already had a studio, so we did most of the recordings there. After a while some of us purchased smaller studio equipment, and we could start recording flutes, saxes, guitars and keys in our own homes. Due to that we saved some hours on the road, as we just sent the files over to the main studio to be inserted into the project. Thatís kind of handy, and for me anyway very high tech. (I used to do some recordings back in the 80ies and those were purely analogue). We did have a recording deal with a brand new label here in Norway as we started, but the poor guy running it got quite ill, and was ordered by his doctor not to get involved in anything for some years, so the deal was cancelled and we had to do the whole thing ourselves. The production was already so far advanced that trying to get a new deal would delay the whole process even more. We are also very lucky that my wife Kirsten is a painter, and had already painted the cover picture years ago. Then Morten have relatives who work in the graphic designer business, so we got a far amount of help to put the whole coverbit together after our instructions.
As we got in touch with David to do the final mixing, he offered us a deal for the digital distribution via Helping Hand Records, which we did accept. For the physical CD, we do the whole thing ourselves, which would not have been possible without the web. We have our own little web shop on our website,(www.thewindmill.no)and whenever orders for CDs and/or T-shirts are received we do the packing and ship it off. I must admit that itís been far easier to sell a couple of copies than I would ever have expected, but In Norway itís not easy, due to lack of interest by the media, and by that I mean the leading newspapers.
How would you describe your music and which bands would you compare
your music with ?
The description we put on our music is Symphonic melodic neo prog if I remember it correctly...
When it comes to comparing I think it is difficult to say as we have a lot of influences from early 70ies and up to today. But we have by others been compared to Camel, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, IQ, Arena, Pendragon and even The Flower Kings and others. I see that as an honour, as all these bands are amongst my favourite bands.
When it comes to Norway, the black metal scene springs to mind. But the prog rock scene is very strong at the moment with some outstanding bands. It is also a truly underground scene with very little or no media exposure. How does it feel to be less socially accepted than murderers & arsonists and how do you handle the marketing and media bit ?
Last question first. Iím very happy that murderers and arsonists still get more media exposure than us, (it would be a sick world if they didnít) and as for social acceptance, I think itís growing world-wide, also in Norway. We have to keep in mind that we are a small country with a population half the one only in London. It is true that Norway has a strong but to Norwegians relatively unknown black metal scene, more famous abroad than here. Thatís also the fact for the prog scene. I did mention the lack of interest from our leading newspapers (how big can a newspaper be in Norway?) The editors in these papers seem to have forgotten who theyíre supposed to be working for, and sit there with their swollen heads, thinking highly about themselves, forgetting that we are only 4-5 million people living here, and there is no reason to be cocky about it. So for an unknown band to be reviewed in a leading Norwegian newspaper is almost completely impossible (without having blonde hair and huge tits). You need to be known already and in order to be ďknownĒ or at least be heard of, you need some interest from the leading media. Itís a catch 22 really, and you need to know someone who knows someone to get inside.
But we have some honest local papers that do their share, bless them.
We have been fortunate to be reviewed in Classic Rock presents prog, and we also have an AD for the CD in there. Next issue in August-2010 we will be found amongst other bands on the attached CD from the same magazine.
This is a magazine that sells around 30†000 copies of each issue worldwide, so thatís quite some exposure for a modest band from the outskirts of Europe.
Having said that, itís a sad fact that almost all music scenes suffer from diving CD-sales, as the industry were ignoring the obvious facts for way to long, without having any means to meet the new market for downloading music.
The major labels stuck their heads in the sand, and hoped it was all just a nightmare that would blow away. To late now. The web has come to stay, and when people first start to get things for free, theyíll never go to pay for it if they can choose. So the artists themselves started to go on the road again.
That was good, but the concert organizers are now starting to suffer as well, as people start to get too much of a choice to see great bands and artists. The recent years have seen lots of great bands only in little Norway. But we are few, and people canít be bothered to travel for hours to get to a venue even if there are some huge names on the poster. Festivals are bankrupt everywhere due to lack of people and unsold tickets. Itís almost the same in all genres, but of course prog is narrow already, so you feel it even more. But we mustnít give up hope. At least itís rewarding to be able to do what we like, and as long as thereís only one person in the world interested in what we can offer, itís worth the struggle.
I think your band is a perfect fit for the many summer prog rock festivals in Europe. Any chance you will tour abroad or are you confined to Norway ?
Thank you very much.
We are hoping to be able to join some festivals next summer, but it all depends if we can afford it. If they will pay us the expenses to get us there, we will come. We have a guy working for us in Scotland and UK, although itís still a bit early to tell. And of course travelling to Holland, Sweden, Germany etc. is not that hard, so it shouldnít be that expensive either. But we are definitely not confined to Norway.
What is the latest update and what is the plans for this and next year ?
Latest update is that we have been joined by a new guitarist Mr. Stig AndrŤ Clason, Mortenís son, as Bent (whoís playing on the album) resigned a little while before the release du to health issues. Our new guitarist is young, eager and upcoming, and itís nice to have a 20 year old guy in the band. He may show us some new perspectives on issues,that weíd never think about ourselves. And of course he is very good as well.
Anything you want to add to this interview ?
To all the listeners out there
Thank you for reading this interview, and donít download music for free. Youíll end up with no bands left who can afford to do recordings...
Donít forget to visit our website: www.thewindmill.no for news and updates.
We wish all of you a wonderful autumn.
On behalf of
Thank you to Jeanni and
The Windmill for this interview
Their album To Be Continued can be purchased from†
their homepage or any good prog stores
Rock Progressivo Italiano!
Joined: December 19 2007
Very informative interview--thanks Torodd! This is an excellent album, and I look forward to their being accepted to the site. I'm sure it won't be long . . .
"A good album should always be much more about questions than answers." Bill Bruford
My Gnosis Ratings
Joined: December 28 2006
The Windmill can now be found in our database.
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