Healing Waters.. Tore Ostby Speak's Out.
Ark were formed from the ashes of ‘Conception’, and ‘TNT’ in 1990 were Tore Ostby (Conception) and John Macaluso (TNT) became friends and decided to start the project now known as ‘Ark’, who released their debut album through Rising Sun records in Germany in 1999.
So what style of metal music do ‘Ark’ play? The answer is simply Progressive Metal with an ambient twist. If you take the likes of Dream Theater, Bjorg, Peter Gabriel, The Police, Watchtower or maybe even Psychotic Waltz then you have the perfect picture. As strange as it may seem this does actually work really well together. Tore still carries a flame of Conception in his guitar work. Joining Tore & John is the talented vocalist Jorn Lande, who surpassingly sounds just like Dave Coverdale (Whitesnake), which does not surprise me at all, considering he was the singer for ‘The Snakes’ Micky Moody & Bernie Marsden.
Anyhow, Ark have released their latest offering for new album Inside Out titled ‘Burn The Sun’ and it is one of my favourite albums of this year so far. Tore speaks to Jason Brown about the bands history, and what the future holds for the band. Here is what he had to say.
My first question is, why did ‘Conception’ break up and are you still friends with the guys?”
“Well we had to move on as we felt it was time to do new things and I had already started to move on with John Macaluso from ‘TNT’ so ‘Ark’ was basically on the way. Ingar had started his black metal band ‘Crest Of Darkness’ and Roy went on to join ‘Kamelot’, and the old ‘Conception’ drummer went on to play in a blues rock band .
We had been playing together for 10 yrs now and it was time for a change. We were very proud of what we did and we would like to thank our fans for their support over those years. We are still friends and we still keep in contact.”
My next question is, what do you think of Roy’s band ‘Kamelot’ and Ingar’s black metal band ‘Crest Of Darkness’?
“Well to start with, ‘Crest Of Darkness’ is not my cup of tea but it is very good to see he is doing so well and to make quality music. As for ‘Kamelot’, they are a great band and I think they have had some progress from album to album. I have just heard the new album which is out later this year and it is great, it is more speed metal influenced.”
Did ‘Conception’ ever do any material that never got released?
“Yes we did some material that never got released. It was not proper studio recordings, they were mainly demo stuff. We are still getting a lot of e-mails saying that we are still getting a lot of fans, which is great!! Noise records told me that ‘Flow’ is selling really well at the moment, even more than when we were together!!
There is no way we can get back together again because Roy's work and Ingar and myself, we are too busy. What we want to do now is to sit down with all the old band members and talk about releasing the un-released material on a video, of some shows that we did and put them out on video and DVD. We will also put out a best of CD which will also feature some un-released songs on a extra CD, DCD.”
What would your reaction be if ‘Conception’ reformed and were asked to play some festivals like WOA? Would you do them?
“I really cannot answer that question, sorry.”
As we are talking about ‘Ark’ could you tell me when the band was formed?
"OK the band was formed by John Macaluso and myself in 1990 and we use to share a rehearsal room together both TNT and Conception, and I found out that he had the same interests in music as I did, the same tastes in music etc...’ We both like the jazz and Latin styles of music as well as the heavy metal influences. It was not until 1995 when we first seriously started to write together and we had a couple of months were we recorded some songs in the studio some basic stuff which came to be the first album.
We found Jorn Lande to sing on the debut album. I played the bass guitar and lead on the debut. After we recorded that album we needed a keyboard player and bassist for the nest album, so Jorn recommended Mats Olausson (Yngwie) and Randy Coven (Steve Vai) as he had played with them a couple of times in the USA. Things just worked out great for the band!!”
So why the name ‘Ark’ and were there any other names for the band?
“Well, the ‘Ark’ was chosen because of all the elements of music that we listen to, and it basically means that ‘Ark’ is open to all kinds of music, same with Noah from the bible, and how he took all those animals into his ark, and we take all the music!! There were no other names for the band.”
So Tore does the name of the band reflect in the bands music?
"Yes I would say so very much because like Noah he took all the animals and we took all the music with the different blends of styles of music that we like.”
So who are the bands influences?
“We have so many influences. I could sit here all day and tell you them all. We are very influenced by the 70’s prog like Rush, City Boy, Gentle Giant, Genesis and Yes, as well as Pink Floyd. Then we have jazz and Latin music influences. We also like pop music like Bjorg, The Cardigans, anything from Pantera etc...”
How many demos did the band record before releasing your debut album?
“Well the debut album was the first thing we recorded. It was a demo but ended up been a full length album.”
This album was released through ‘Rising Sun’ records, could you tell me more about that release, as I have not heard it yet and was there a title for this album?
“Well it was self titled and the basic tracks were recorded in our rehearsal studio with just John and myself. We later on found Jorn and it took some time to release this album as it was pure hell trying to find a suitable singer for this style of music, but Jorn was a perfect person for the job. The album sold pretty well actually as we did not know what to expect from the fans.”
From the debut album, what songs did you like and dislike and why?
“Well I liked all the songs from that album. They have all the different characters throughout the record. I’m very satisfied with that album.”
So why did you leave ‘Rising Sun’ records?
“Well they were not the most professional record company that I know, and they were not following the terms for the contract so we went through some legal stuff and found a new label.”
Will you release this debut album through ‘Inside Out’ records at a later date?
“Well I am going to talk to the label about re-releasing this debut album or let Rising Sun records keep the album in their catalogue.”
So how did the deal with your new label ‘Inside Out’ music come about? Also how long is the deal?
“The deal with ‘Inside Out’ came about 6-8 wks ago after we had finished all the legal stuff with ‘Rising Sun’ records. We had to get the new album out fast as we have different labels releasing this album in different countries, like in France it is ‘MTS’, and ‘Inside Out’ out the contract for Europe except for Norway etc...
Sorry but I cannot tell you how long the deal with ‘Inside Out’ is going to be. We are happy with the labels that are helping us.”
Now lets talk about the latest album ‘Burn The Sun’ why the title and did you have any other names?
“Yes we had another title for the album, it was going to be called ‘There Is No Concern On The Outer Shield’ and then we ended up with ‘Burn The Sun’ which seemed to be more suitable.”
Why did you pick this cover for the new album?
“It was done by a German guy called ‘Mathias Jankne’ through our producer Tommy Newton who recommended him to us. We will be using him again as we think he is a great young artist.”
Did you choose Tommy Newton to produce this album because you had worked with him before?
“Yes we did. It all started when John and myself went on holiday to France and we thought we would drop on in Tommy along the way and we played him our songs and he just freaked out, he loved the material and he wanted to work with us straight away!!”
Was the album recorded in Hamburg? Also how long did it take to record this album?
“It was recorded close to Hamburg, but not in the city itself. It was recorded in the studio ‘Area 51’. It took 6 wks to record the album and we are totally happy with the end results of the album.”
Briefly could you tell me what the songs are about on the new album?
“OK, ‘Heal The Water’ is about the global situation were people do not seem to be too bothered about nature and themselves anymore. ‘Torn’, that is a song about mental pressure and stress. ‘Burn The Sun’, that is about ambitions were people are just interested in making money all the time. The whole album is a universal concept about the core of the earth to air, sea etc...”
Tell me about the song ‘Absolute Zero’, which reminds me of Bjorg especially with the vocals. No disrespect, but I can’t stand her voice, but Jorn and the music fits this song so well., tell me more about this song?
“(Laughing) it is great to hear a male Bjorg. The whole song started in new York were you can hear the jungle underground scene and after a while we wanted to take Nordic influences to enhance this cold attitude.”
Do you agree that you have influences by Bjorg, Peter Gabriel, and The Police in the bands music?
“Yes I can relate to that question with our music, but like I said we have so many influences.”
From the new album what songs do you like and dislike and why?
“I like all the songs from the new album and I would never release an album if I did not like the songs.”
Besides ‘Ark’ does anybody else in the band have side projects besides Mats been in Yngwie Malmsteen?
“Yes we all have some side projects. Mats is touring with Yngwie right now.”
Is the band planning on doing a promo video right now?
“Not at this moment in time but we are looking into it.”
What about touring plans?
"We will start touring in September in France headlining, but we are not sure if we will play in the UK, I would like to.”
Well do you have anything to say before we finish? Best of luck and it was nice speaking to you again after all those years.
“Yes it was great speaking to you Jason. I would like to thank our fans for their support and I hope they like the new album.”