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GONZO WEEKLY #167: Jon meets Erik Norlander

In the three years since I first started working with Gonzo Multimedia several of the artists associated with the company have become personal friends. People Like Judge Smith, Liz Lenten and Erik Norlander.

For those of you not in the know Erik Norlander is a progressive rock keyboardist, composer and producer from California. He has written and produced over 30 albums since 1993 with his chanteuse spouse Lana Lane, his band Rocket Scientists, his own solo albums and numerous guest appearances. Erik's evocative keyboard technique is reminiscent of the legendary Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz and Jon Lord while still very unique and forward-moving in its own right. Erik takes many of the classic riffs and phrases of his heroes and reinvents them with highly emotional pitch bending, vibrato and authoritative phrasing.

This technique combines brilliantly with Erik's mastery of sound and production. Erik has personally led sound design efforts on several major brand synthesizers, and his knowledge of synthesis and audio engineering are second to none. Erik's perpetual live use of vintage and classic instruments, particularly Moog synthesizers, give his concerts a depth and authenticity of sound seldom seen in modern stage productions.

Erik Norlander was born in Hollywood, California, and grew up studying both jazz and classical music on several instruments from a young age through his years at the university where he also graduated with a degree in English Literature. While clearly a prog rocker, Erik is surprisingly quite adamant that he prefers melody over flashy playing and strong songwriting over artsy meandering.

Rocket Scientists is a progressive rock band formed in the late 1980s by keyboardist Erik Norlander and vocalist / guitarist Mark McCrite. The band released their first CD, Earthbound, in 1993 joined by session bassist Don Schiff. Schiff quickly became a part of the band for their second release in 1995, Brutal Architecture, and the three toured in the US and Europe in 1997 along with drummer Tommy Amato culminating in the live CD, Earth Below and Sky Above: Live in Europe and America. In 1999, Rocket Scientists released Oblivion Days.

In 2015 they released their 7th studio album, Refuel. The full-length album combines both vocal and instrumental songs with the band's signature songwriting, performance and production style in 12 unforgettable tracks. Refuel also features stellar performances by guest musicians Gregg Bissonette (drums), vocalists Lana Lane and Kelly Keeling along with others including the brass players from the band's previous release, Supernatural Highways, and Norlander's Hommage Symphonique album which also featured Schiff and McCrite.

“Refuel is nothing less than a return to the big, fat sound that these guys have possessed; sounding like a real band, getting together to make real music, in a real studio ” - Tommy Hash, Ytsejam

“In the famous Rocket Scientists style, this is quintessential and entertaining melodic progressive rock.” - Craig Hartranft, Dangerdog

Erik Norlander has been featured multiple times in KEYBOARD magazine in the USA as well as four appearances in the Japanese KEYBOARD magazine along with multiple appearances in BURRN!, STRANGE DAYS, PROGRESSION and ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN. He has been interviewed on numerous radio shows and continues to receive energized reviews in numerous publications around the world.

Something that is less well known is that Erik is one of the sponsors of the annual Weird Weekend that I promote in North Devon each year. In the current financial climate sponsors are getting hard to find, and I would like to publically thank Erik for his generosity.

It has been a long time since we spoke, so just before Christmas I gave him a ring, basically so we could chew the fat...

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