Torstein Flakne - Stage Dolls Interview Exclusive Print
Written by Dave Prince   
Friday, 05 March 2010 08:01

When Über Röck's resident melodic rock expert Dave Prince recently found himself in AOR Heaven with the new Stage Dolls album 'Always', he could never in a million years have expected his glowing review would have lead to us being contacted by the band's record label looking to arrange an interview with the band's singer/guitarist Torstein Flakne. Who are we to stand in the way of a real fan (who just happens to write for an Uber cool Rock website) chatting with one of his heroes, eh? So we duly linked Dave up with Torstein, and what follows is two guys shooting the breeze about their mutual love, Norway's (almost) forgotten sons Stage Dolls.



Hi Torstein. Thanks for this opportunity to talk with you.  Congratulations on going straight to No.1 in your homeland with your latest album 'Always', which for a Hard Rock band is an amazing feat. It's released here in the on March 1st , (On AOR Heaven) but how does that make you feel?


Thank you Dave, good to talk to you too! We know we have a lot of fans here in Norway but to go straight to #1 was quite a shock. Terje (Storli) our bass player and I had a little party that day! We reached #2 with 2 albums in the 1980's and the same with our 'Best Of' in 2003, but it's actually the first time we've hit the top spot. It's a real honour.

Did you ever dream back in 1983 (when the band started) that you would be here in 2010 (27 years later!) with a No.1 record, still touring - making new fans along the way?


No, not at all. In the beginning, we just worked hard to get gigs! I don't think we really thought about albums or the future! It was tough for a three-piece because promoters thought they got less for the money? Terje quit his daytime job and he thought he would give the band one year? Well, here we are! Having said that, we felt early on that we had something special going on, so I guess it's got to do with hard work and believing in yourself, together with coincidences and a little luck?


Stage_Dolls_Love_CriesYou first came to my attention back in '88/'89, thanks to your exposure on MTV's Headbanger's Ball with the promos for 'Love Cries' & 'Still in Love'
Can you remember making those promo videos and any stories from behind the scenes?


I remember that time very well. We shot 'Love Cries' outside LA in the desert. And it was very, very cold, even for Norwegians. We jumped around on a big podium for hours wishing it would stop soon, Ha! Ha! But, it turned out nicely I remember.  'Still In Love' was done in New York and we used a pier for most of the live footage. It's really strange nowadays to see the Twin Towers behind us, with all that has happened since.

Back in 1989/90 you toured the UK with Michael Monroe (Hanoi Rocks), and with a number of bands from the 'Hair Metal' era such as Faster Pussycat and Warrant. Were you happy to be lumped in with that whole genre? I always thought that the Stage Dolls had that, something extra, that made you stand out from the crowd?


I'd like to think so! We've always (there's that word again, Ha! Ha!) looked upon ourselves as much more of a straight-ahead rock band than the 'Hair Band Era', but in those years everybody looked like that really. The gigs with those bands and also with Blue Murder in the US, were really great for us, they certainly gave us new fans who have stuck with the band since, but I think we still retained our own sound throughout.... Remember we were from Norway, in the middle of the USA for the first time or whatever? From what I remember, all of those bands treated us very well, and it was a real pleasure to tour with them.

What was it like working with someone as great as Ron Nevison on 'Stripped'?


Ron did a great job on the songs he worked on. He's got a very good 'eagle's eye' over a production and I quickly became very confident with him. I think those songs developed that little extra something due to his contribution actually.


What with the 'grunge' scene making waves in 1992, you must have been worried especially when Steinar Krokstad left? Also did the thought of quitting ever enter your head?


To a certain extent we were, it's true..., but quitting? No. It all happened really fast. I guess, not just with us, but also with a lot of bands... But what can you do? We couldn't just start to write grunge music and we didn't really want to either. That would have been silly. Those were hard years. Suddenly, you felt very dated. Steinar left for Vagabond and we couldn't find a drummer to our taste.  Then, out of the blue, Morten (Skogstad) came up as an alternative. He was an old friend. We had one session with him, and I remember just counting in to 'Ten Tons Of Rock & Roll', and after two bars, I knew he was the next drummer. He was just 'right'.  Polygram decided to release the 'Greatest Hits' album in 2002-3, slowly the phones started to ring again, in the right way. We did a tour and there we were again.


TorsteinDo you have any regrets when the band was put on hiatus - during the nineties? I know during this time you released a solo album which featured a much more laid back side to your song writing and which I feel was almost a prototype sound for the next few Stage Dolls albums. Was it a pre-planned move or did it just come naturally to you.


Not really... The solo album was related to the post-grunge period also. We really had no projected plans so I took some old songs and some new, and did the solo-album. It wasn't really something I had wanted to do, as I've done most of the writing in Stage Dolls as well, but when you put different musicians in a room you get different music, and it kinda has it's own rewards. I still meet both Ketil and the Lindvall brothers occasionally and we still talk about the good times we had in the studio back then. It was just different.


I must admit, 2004's 'Get A Life' came as a surprise as during that time Hard Rock was having a resurgence but this 'Get A Life' came from out of nowhere and put the Stage Dolls back into the spotlight as one of the world's premier Hard Rock bands! Were you happy with how the album was received?


Now, yes. 'Get A Life' was a bit of a blind shot in the dark for us. We really didn't know how it would be received. The plan was to just write 10-12 songs that we liked ourselves and try to record them like we used to. Really true to our roots so to speak, and in that way it was a tremendous success. I'm really happy with it now yes.




One word - ROCKFEST - I was personally devastated that the show was cancelled - can I have your thoughts on the whole matter?  Would you come over to the UK for a tour or would you prefer to do a one off event, like
say FireFest?


Well, I sympathise! I was disappointed as well.  I don't know all the circumstances, but for our part, we simply couldn't take the risk of bringing the band and crew all the way to England without knowing whether we would play? I know that people, even from the US, had booked flights over to see us and that's really sad, but it was just way too much of a risk.


As you may know already it just got announced - I'm really looking forward to Firefest in October. (The band are playing on the Sunday 31st). We did a show in Germany last year and for me and the whole band, it was unbelievable to go on stage and get such a reception abroad. They even sang all the lyrics. Remember, it's been nearly twenty years since the last time we played there, so when we go on stage, it'll be with a lot of good feelings. I promise a killer-show with (I hope) most of the old songs the crowd love, and some new.


Stage_Dolls_AlwaysWhat are your immediate plans regarding shows/the band/ and the future?


Oh, you can never really tell that. Right now, we're working with 'Always' in Europe. Then, hopefully, there's a Japanese release later this spring. This summer, we'll do a Festival tour in Norway, starting mid-May. For info on that, I would guess our website or the Facebook page are the best tools to use. Then we'll do Firefest, as I mentioned, in October and start working on a new album after that. I'll tell you definitely right now, it's not gonna be six years till the next one, that's for certain.


Finally, we have a section of the Uber Rock website called 'Hell's Gigs' where bands/band members detail particularly awful gig experiences - do you have any horror stories from your past that you could share with our readers? The funnier and nastier the better.


OK. Loads of bands have stories like this, I guess, but we've actually done it. We actually played for 1(yes, person once, Ha! Ha! That was back in the 80's in the middle of Norway... Luckily both he and the barman were massive Stones fans, so we finished in style, ha! ha!


Huge thanks for this Torstein!!!


My pleasure, Thanks to you...!


And with that Dave was left a quivering mess, composing himself just long enough to once more pound out 'Eye of My Heart' from the band's latest album on the URHQ stereo.  It's great when you get to chat with your heroes, especially when they are as genuine as Torstein, so we at Uber rock would like to thank him for taking the time to speak with us in such depth.  We'd also like to thank Mike Exley at Stage Dolls record label for arranging everything and making one Uber Rock writer a very happy man indeed.