Dan Bornemark's T-shirt with the "Free Hand" cover motif says it all: The singer, multi-instrumentalist and main composer of Green Asphalt is a huge Gentle Giant fan. This can be heard clearly on his band's self-titled debut album, which nevertheless sounds highly independent and is a found food for all those listeners who like complex prog songs full of playfulness
In an interview with eclipsed, the 57-year-old Swede talks about his soft spot for children's music (he has released several albums for small listeners), his long-standing friendship with the musicians of Gentle Giant and, of course, about the "Green Asphalt" album, whose creation process took 17 years. But as they say, all's well that ends well!
eclipsed: Dan, you come from a very musical family, as both your father Valter and your mother Gullan composed. How old were you when you learned your first instrument?
Dan Bornemark: I always say: When I learned to walk, the first thing I did was run to the grand piano - because that's where my whole family was. My two brothers and my sister were always at the instrument - or at least when my mother or father weren't playing. Whenever there was a free minute, I'd go to the grand piano and strum away on it. (Bornemark plays some dissonant tone clusters on his electric piano.) That was fantastic! Then when I was four or five, I tried some chords for the first time, but the most important moment for me was when I could finger an octave. As I got older, I played more often, but my siblings would always close the door and say, "Shut up." (grins). But I'm very glad that I continued
eclipsed: Did your parents encourage you to make music?
Bornemark: Not really, because I learned a lot of things on my own. However, my mother taught me how to write music and a bit of music theory. Actually, though, my big brother Sven was the one who knew the most about music theory, and he told me, "Learn all the chords and the names to them, and you won't have a problem." Today I wish I didn't have all the music theory in my head, because back then music was still like a fairy tale to me. I also believe that non-musicians have an advantage because they perceive music as it is without knowing why it is that way. By the way, it took me forever to realize that the bass lines of "Three Friends" and "Mister Class And Quality" (both from the Gentle Giant album "Three Friends"; note) are identical and only played at different tempos.
eclipsed: Do you have a good relative ear or possibly even an absolute ear?
Bornemark: I'm very self-confident about my relative hearing. (grins) My two daughters, however, have absolute pitch and always complain when I'm off when they sing
eclipsed: Was there a particular moment when you decided: I want to follow in my parents' footsteps and become a composer as well?
Bornemark: I never really had any other choice. I had no talent for sports, but I liked collecting chanterelles - though I didn't want to become a professional chanterelle collector. (laughs) Music was always the obvious choice for me, though there was always competition between my siblings and me, because I wanted to show them how far you could go with a chord. (Bornemark plays various major chords over a constant root) I said, "Listen to this - and this!" They were never impressed, but exactly motivated me, because I always wanted to be like them. In the mid-seventies they had a band called Press, and they played the best music I knew. (The only album "Release" was made in 1977/78, but came out in 2010; note)
Gentle Giant came in second, and then Genesis and Frank Zappa. It was great to have my older siblings as role models. Even more important was our shared love of the magical art of counterpoint (musical compositional technique in which multiple voices are equal; note). We didn't learn counterpoint in the strict sense, but our mother had a good feel for it. Everything she played was characterized by perfect voice leading and counter voices that moved independently of each other and finally found their way "home", that is: to the last chord. And when we later discovered Gentle Giant and the other bands, it got even better ...
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