Interview with Stian Pian Thoresen and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
SPT: Fortunate. I started out as a drummer ages ago, because I didn`t have the patience or structure needed to learn to play guitar, bass or keyboard. The drumming came naturally, and I could get away with little or no practice, and still keep up with the rest of the guys in the band. That was fortunate.
A few years later I thought: «Singers are practicing even less than drummers, AND they get to be in front…» So I started singing in stead. Luckily, that came pretty naturally as well. That also was fortunate.
A few years ago, I started working on the STiAN PiAN project, and I kind of stumbled upon a chance to record a track with Bruce Kulick from Kiss. Now THAT was fortunate!
Today the project has turned into a kind of all-star rock epic, with musicians from just about every band I have ever loved involved. To name a few artists helping me out: Vinny Appice (Dio / Black Sabbath) Ralf Scheepers (Gamma Ray) Roland Grapow (Helloween) David Stone (Rainbow) David Reece (Accept) Matt Starr (Ace Frehley) Dicki Flizsar (Bruce Dickinson) Rik Fox (W.A.S.P.) Gary Shea (Alcatrazz) Brian Tichy (Foreigner / Billy Idol) etc –Fortunate.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you`re from, how you came to make music etc?
SPT: My background right now is a white plaster wall with a couple of framed art paitings on it. Naked ladies on both paintings. Hmmm… -This is probably where I live.
Scandinavian dude, born and raised in Norway. That beautiful country with the fjords, the mountains, the northern lights and the church burnings. As a youngster I got into rock music when I discovered bands like Twisted Sister and Motley Crue. I really wanted to become like Dee Snider, but my mom insisted I had to become an adult in stead. After a while I learned about Scandinavian rock bands like Europe, Pretty Maids, TnT, Talisman, Return, Treat, DaVinci and Fate. And I realized you don`t have to move to Hollywood to become a rock star. (But it certainly looks more fun from the videos.) Two guys at school knew how to play «Strutter» and «Deuce» (Kiss), so I bought myself a drumkit and we started a horrible band called Circus Children.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? –What do you like to write about in your songs?
SPT: I get inspired by lots of different things. Emotions definately tickles my creativity. Watching the news can make my head switch into music mode, and suddenly sad or more aggressive melodies and riffs demand my attention. The next day, I might be watching Monty Python, and weird musical breaks or funny lyrics insist that I pause the program to hum the ideas into my phone`s voice recorder. My best ideas definately comes when I`m driving. I guess the window-wipers are my biggest inspiration, in musical terms.
When it comes to lyrics, I am all over the place… I like working hard on getting the lyrics just right, but that does not mean they have to tell an important story. My favorite lyrics from bands I look up to are often a bit unusual, surprising or just plain funny. Not one foul word about Whitesnake`s masterpiece «Still of the night», but Mr Coverdale always tells the same story. I absolutely LOVE that song! But lyrically, I think both Steel Panther`s «Community Property» and Edguy`s «England» are pretty impressive.
A couple of STiAN PiAN lyric examples:
From THE UGLY ONES:
I saw her standing all alone, she looked like Elton John.
I thought I`d like to take her home.
That`s the one, I know her name.
Oh shit that was Dave. He`d look better with a shave.
Now the night is closing in. Dim the lights, I`m going in…
From HOOK AND EYE:
I`ve been trying for hours and hours now. -Is this task harder for men?
I have to get it off somehow. -I`m never wearing a bra again!
From ONE CARD SHORT OF A DECK:
You were my queen of hearts, I was a simple knight.
I know you`re playing solitaire tonight.
Might be a joker, but I`m no fool, I`ve got the upper hand.
I`ve learned my lesson, I tried your wonderland.
From I NEED YOUR LOVE:
Too broken to hold on, but in too deep to let you go.
You taught me how to love, but you never taught me how to stop.
These tears are words, that I can`t express. I need your love.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
SPT: At first, my aspiration was to get groupies, or at least one. After a year I settled for a high five from my dad.
A few years later, my aspiration was to write stuff that would make people all around the world react with a very high emotional level, such as crying, getting mad or screaming. So I got a part time job, writing error messages for Microsoft.
Now my aspirations are more or less to see how far I can get with my music. –Oh, and groupies of course.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
SPT: Probably when Rick Altzi (Masterplan / At Vance) kind of out of the blue sent me a message, saying: «The track I NEED YOUR LOVE is one hell of a song!.» -Rick is one of my favourite singers ever, and that message totally made my day. Now the two of us are doing that track as a duet!
PD: Promoting one`s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
SPT: There are sooo many talented and skilled musicians out there! Looking thru Youtube, you`ll find a new Yngwie Malmsteen every Tuesday… And incredible voices that sometimes makes me reconsider, and start a new hobby in stead. Ping pong maybe, or knitting. But I`m sure there`s loads of great knitters out there as well. I saw a ping pong show once, not what I expected… And I could probably never learn the kind of triks those girls were doing…
Anyway, if you`re doing something, do it right. You should try to be really really good at at least one thing, compared to your opponents. If that one thing can`t be technical wizardry, it may be promotional tricks, it could be image, humor or writing great songs. I aim for the writing great songs part, but sometimes I end up in a mashup of humor, image and promotional tricks. On the STiAN PiAN project I have so many talented people working with me, that I have most of the technical stuff covered right there. I write or co-write the songs, and go all in on the promotional work. I also get help from third parties, like Christina Avila. Her agency, C A PROMOTIONS are helping us getting our music out to new people constantly. So glad I found her! Dana Sheldon deserves a huge shoutout for promotional efforts as well. Emberly «Poison Ivy» Arp, Petra Leek and Tina Keatley Have been playing my demos on their radio shows for years, and I kind of love them all. Lots of radio shows have given my demos airplay, but these girls keeps letting me in again and again. -Like I said: Fortunate.
PD: How do you promote your live shows and tours?
SPT: Great question! –I don`t.
This project has too many variables to justify any live shows. I can`t put together a band for touring, with five guys posing as the 60 stars that are playing on the first album. We are 12 singers, 15 guitarists etc, and these are musicians located in different states, from Scandinavia and England, Germany and Italy, you name it. Sounds pretty hard to arrange. And expensive too… I really wish I could though! Ask me again in a few years, maybe album number two will be just me and a steady band.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
SPT: I have decided to accept that the world is evolving, also in the music industry. I loved the old vinyl records! I hated both cassettes and CD`s, but I loved vinyl. When the invasion of mp3 came, I hated that too, but I am not always right. Most of the time, oh yes! But not always. On the plus-side, easy access. We all like that. You can easily discover new and great music you wouldn`t even know existed without streaming and downloading. You can argue and say that a lot of the older stuff is drowning in this pool of endless new material, but the real classics like Zeppelin, Dio, Queen and Deep Purple isn`t the ones being forgotten or squeezed online. Quality sticks, there`s just more of it now. I actually like it. But if someone should ask me in an interview, I would say I hate everything else than vinyl records.
PD: What song do you wish you`d written and why?
SPT: I`m glad I didn`t write Stairway to heaven or Bohemian Rhapsody. I would totally have ruined them.
I wish I wrote Pull me under, Still of the night, or Takin`me down. I could say a billion songs I wish I wrote, but these three have an energy I love. They all seem to awaken a partymonster that lives inside of adult me. A part alcoholic, carefree, tabledancing funBob that I catch myself missing from time to time. Dream Theater, Whitesnake and Hardline… I`m getting thisty just mentioning them.
PD: Is there anything you don`t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
SPT: I think some of the things that were rotten in the industy before actually has gotten better after the homestudios and YouTube stars emerged. I f you wanted to get your music out and heard before, you had to og thru a label or record company, where you might be unlucky and meet the equivalent to Kevin Spacey or Harvey Weinstein there. All the power was in their hands. The table is somewhat changed now, with several ways to your goal. I wish there was more regulations to how much sites like Spotify etc can earn from being a kind of a song-pimp, where the transaction actually is done by the artist and the listener, but the middle man gets his fur coat for enabling the deal. I like Spotify though, but I will probably hate them when it`s my money they are getting.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
SPT: Final mix and mastering of the first tracks to be released from the STiAN PiAN project. We have met delays upon delays for years and years, but at the end of the summer I know we`re there. Unless of course, theres a new pandemic, again. My computer dies, with all the music files unavailable, again. There`s been a lot of speedbumps on the way towards the first release, but we are seeing the end of things now. There is light in the tunnel, and by that I do not mean a candle in the arteria rectalis. However, I can only speak for myself.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
SPT: You can learn more about me and my project by visiting www.StianPian.com where you also can find a bit of merch. My music will be available there as well, and as soon as we are done with the mastering bits, you can find us at every major streaming platform out there. You can also find me thru Facebook, both as the artist and the private weirdo. If you want to know even more, call my mom. She knows shit about me I don`t even remember.