When we had an e-mail interview last time, WIG WAM toured in whole Norway just after the band won at MELODI GRAND PRIX in 2005. Time flies, WIG WAM released 3 full albums after that and came to Japan 3 times (twice in 2007, and in 2010), and the band broke up. Also you released your solo albums, came to Japan for solo gigs in 2009. You work for a lot of musicals like THE SHOW MUST GO ON for example as well, also NORDIC BEAST and AMMUNITION. What do you feel when you recall after those years?
Åge: Yes, it’s been quite a journey and I have experienced a lot. Good, bad, beautiful and ugly. Still when I look back I appreciate the bad things equally as the good things, because the way I see it the bad things that happen to a person really is a gift from above. My song “Smooth Seas (Don’t Make Good Sailors)” is very much written about that perspective of mine. The bad things make you appreciate the good things even more, and makes you develop as a human and become a better person. And it really makes you more prepared for the future and the next life…
In retrospect I see clearly now how much effort I put into WIG WAM and how deep I went into the character “Glam”. But even though he was a fiction character he was a also a boosted image of who I really am too. A volcano within my very self so to speak…haha
We had a lot of fun in our first years with WIG WAM, and I really thought we were growing to become blood brothers. But after our success it became clearer and clearer the differences of personalities within the band. And at times I felt betrayed and disrespected, which demotivated me big time. WIG WAM really was the perfect band I had been dreaming about being a part of, but as time went by it became very clear that the four of us had very different perspectives on life , brotherhood and music. On “Wall Street” it even became easy to see through the music we released. When everything fell apart and we had our bitter break up I still was extremely busy with both my solo career and my Queen show. And suddenly I found my self in a band(Nordic Beast) with John Norum and Mic Michaelli of EUROPE, Mikkey Dee from MÖTORHEAD and Hal Patino from KING DIAMOND. AND I formed a band with Erik Mårtensson. Just leaving the past behind and moving forward you know.
These were exciting times for me, and even though Nordic Beast only did exclusive gigs inbetween the Europe and Motörhead tours, we sort played an important role to bringing Europe into the new style of which John and Mic really wanted to explore music wise, and for Mikkey it was a possible exit if Lemmy would call it a day. So we started to talk about writing original songs together to take it a bit further. Then Lemmy died, SCORPIONS called Mikkey, and Joey Tempest seemed to take on a more adventurous musical direction. Hal left KING DIAMOND and I had a brand new band called AMMUNITION. So it all kind of fell to place.
One of my favourite moments when I look back on these years that have past is our first visit to Japan. Masa Ito presenting the band live on stage, and the dedicated and loud fans in the audience will live in my memories forever.
(l to r) Jon Pettersen (G), Lasse Finbråten (key), Åge Sten Nilsen (Vo), Magnus Ulfstedt (Ds), Victor Cito (B) and Erik Mårtensson (G).
AMMUNITION just released the self-titled album AMMUNITION in Japan on the 17th of January from KING RECORDS, and in Europe on the 26th of January from FRONTIERS MUSIC. For the 1st album SHANGHAIED the band name is Åge Sten Nilsen’s AMMUNITION, now the band is called just AMMUNITION. Why did you guys change it? It shows the band have got united much more ever?
Åge: When Erik and I formed AMMUNITION WIG WAM had just recently broke up. Erik and I had been recording my demos for the fifth WIG WAM that we had planned to release in 2014. Suddenly these songs had no mission. And they were clearly not solo songs. They were pin pointed for a rock band. So Erik suggested we’d form a new band instead. He suggested we’d call the band “GLAMUNITION”, and I responded that the songs sounded more like “AMMUNITION” songs than “GLAMunition”…and WAM! we had a name. We decided to use my name too, to make it easier to promote and to get gigs. In many ways “Åge Sten Nilsen’s AMMUNITION” was treated like a solo project. Especially when it came to money. I paid for the recordings, the videos, the everything. I even paid the guys a fixed ive fee even though it would mean I would lose money on several occasions. And needless to say, I made the calls and the decisions. After a while the guys started to give me more input and initiative, and at one point we started to share the income like brothers and treat it like a REAL band. That’s when we decided to skip my name from the band name. The first gig in which we used the “AMMUNITION” backdrop was at Väsby Rock Festival in Stockholm. I remember people really paid attention to the change, in a positive way. So when we were recording our second album I suggested we’d simply call it ‘AMMUNITION’ since it’s really our first BAND album.
Åge Sten Nilsen (Vo)
Erik Mårtensson (G)
Let us know each track from AMMUNITION album and which songs are your favorites though we know you love them all 🙂
Åge: It’s always hard to pick ONE favorite among 11 babies. They were all born into this world with a lot of hard work, care and love. But I guess I can appreciate them all in different ways. The songs that I look forward to bring to the live shows the most are Gung Ho (I Told You So), Tear Your City Down, Virtual Reality Boy. I think they all will be killer live songs to keep the party going. They all have that big chorus to make the audience sing along, plus they have a real cool live vibe. Can’t wait to hear Victor doing that bass solo on Gung Ho.. for example.
To me “Eye For An Eye” has the strongest message and probably the best change to be played on average radio. It’s a pretty obvious single and a possible cross-over. I really love this song. It’s about how mankind never learns from his mistakes, and keeps burning the bridges one by one, by revenge and greed…
Another favorite is of course Freedom Finder. We have been playing that song live for a while, and I love performing that song. It’s really about our guitarplayer Jon. He has been living in a Caravan for quite some years. Like a bohem. Living a pretty un-normal life. But hey…who are we to judge Everybody should be free to live their lives as they want. And one persons freedom is another ones grind.
Jon Pettersen (G)
The band replaced Hal Patino to Victor Cito (Borge) on bass, Robban Bäck to Magnus Ulfstedt on drums. What do they bring to the band and what is the biggest difference between SHANGHAIED and AMMUNITION albums?
Åge: That’s right. Hal was becoming a burden for the band not showing up for gigs and not answering our calls etc. So we brought in Victor, whom I had been trying to form a band with some years before AMMUNITION. Just when we formed AMMUNITION he was contracted to a long TNT tour and wasn’t available. Then during our first period of AMMUNITION he started to call me on a daily basis having a hard time dealing with the TNT camp. They weren’t excactly treating him too well, and I felt terribly sorry for him. As soon as it was no way back for Hal I gave him a call. And he instantly quit TNT and joined AMMUNITION. 2 days before his first gig in Switzerland. Boy did he change the sound of this band!!! He is a real BASSplayer!!! And he is one of the nicest guys I know as well. With Robban it was a different story. Since AMMUNITION was a very fresh band our fees weren’t exactly high… And neither was his other bands fees, ECLIPSE. He desperately needed more income to support his family, and I had been paying the bands fees out of my own pockets for quite a while before we turned into a BAND, not a “solo band”. Then he was offered a full time membership in the band MUSTASCH. Music wise I know he would have prefered to stay. But you gotta survive. This was just before we did our first tour of Spain. So you can say the timing wasn’t perfect….to say the least. So we brought in John Macaloso for the tour. But he didn’t deliver and showed up in a pretty bad state….We had to send him home and called in Magnus Ulfstedt. His first gig with us was in Barcelona 2015. And he was awesome. He’s a bit heavier than Robban, a hard hitting drummer that gives us the punch we need. And his humor is fantastic 😉
Victor Cito (B)
Magnus Ulfstedt (Ds)
Also the band left AOR HEAVEN and got a deal with FRONTIERS MUSIC in Italy this time, in Japan you guys left MARQUEE/Avalon and got a deal with KING RECORDS.
Åge: You’ve done your homework 😉 Yes we did!! It’s good to be back on FRONTIERS and KING. With “Shanghaied” we pretty much did license deals and my own label owned the master rights. I looked upon it as an investment. And now it looks as though it’s gonna pay off 😉 “Shanghaied” is really boosting now on account of the promotion for our new album. #25 in India, and charting in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium etc
Lasse Finbråten (Key)
You guys are touring in Norway and Europe, any plan to come to Japan for some gigs? You came to Japan with WIG WAM in 2010 last time. And What was the most impressive thing(s) when you ever came to Japan 4 times?
Åge: I REALLY REALLY hope so !!! We can’t put a gun to someones head to play in Japan though. So I guess we are just waiting for some requests. We would surely love to travel to Japan, no doubt about it. I’d love to re-connect with the Japanese Wig Wamaniacs!! It’s been TOO long !!! The most impressive memory from Japan was as mentioned earlier our first trip over. I would never dream that so many fans would show up at the airport to welcome us. And before getting on the plane we received news that the Tokyo gig was sold out. That was pretty unbelievable !! I also have great memories from our other trips to Japan too. 2010 was probably the best live experience. We had a great album out and a cool stage show.
About your solo works, you released new solo album SMOOTH SEAS (DON’T MAKE GOOD SAILORS) last year. And you sing for musicials like THE SHOW MUST GO ON for example, you have appearances on TV shows, you’ve been working hard. What makes you do so many things besides the reason you love to sing?
Åge: If life is a rainbow, why settle on just one color. There are so many melodies running through my head, and so much music to be made. So I need to bring it out. My solo work is of course much more personally. And the songwriting is more like self therapy. With AMMUNITION it’s much more social, and we just enjoy writing together and get that adrenaline rush. And yes, I like to make big stage productions too, like my Queen show. It’s has more or less been my daytime job for 10 years, and has given me the opportunity to keep myself self employed. The same with TV etc. I’d rather sing two hours worth of Queen classics for 100 people each night than working on some factory..he he
I heard you’ve quit smoking, it’s really good for your health. Any change after quitting?
Åge: I have quit smoking on a regular basis. it means that I still can enjoy a cigarette once in a while. Now it’s ME who has the control, not the cigarette. Well, I feel a lot better and my voice is much crisper. So it definitely has had an effect. Pretty funny though, I managed to have a cigarette on stage in Russia last week, and was caught by the secret police. Penalty; NOK 20.000,- :-0 Guess I won’t be smoking on stage again…EVER ha ha
I wonder what happens to NORDIC BEAST though we know you’ve been busy and also other members especially John Norum and Mic Michaelli have been busy for EUROPE. You guys will be together in the near future?
Åge: Nordic Beast is right now a sleeping beast. And I don’t know what will happen to the project. It was a great project where John and Mic could finally play some more heavy stuff, and for Mikkey Dee to do something else than Motörhead. When Lemmy died he soon was headhunted to Scorpions, and has been extremely busy ever since. And Europe has finally started to play the music Mic and John craved to do. And I’m in a happier place too. So you can say, the band aid that NORDIC BEAST was worked for us all. It got us moving forward in seperate ways. But Mikkey still calls me and asks if we can regroup again.
Who knows? I would love to. But then with original material of course… Let’s see what the future holds…
at MELODI GRAND PRIX 2017 in Norway for EUROVISION SONG CONTEST.
Your message to your loyal fans in Japan since WIG WAM days, they miss you a lot and hope you’ll be back for gigs in Japan.
Åge: I’m extremely flattered that you still remember me after all these years. I thought you had all forgotten about me and moved on, really. I will never ever forget the way you open your arms for me and WIG WAM, and I’m simply dying to come back to meet you all. I have already sent messages to CREATIVEMAN among others to try to return with AMMUNITION.
But I guess they will need to hear it from you too…. I think they believe that no one will show up for AMMUNITION concerts in Japan. Prove them wrong!!! Let’s get back together and get ready to be AMMUNITIONIZED!!!
AMMUNITION – AMMUNITION (2018, FRONTIERS MUSIC & KING RECORDS)
AMMUNITION – SHANGHAIED (2014, AOR HEAVEN & MARQUEE/Avalon)
Åge Sten Nilsen – SMOOTH SEAS (DON’T MAKE GOOD SAILORS) (2017, Grappa)