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In Words: Cornerstone

- Steen Mogesen - May 2001 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Steen Mogensen live with Royal Hunt (2000)
ę Claudia Ehrhardt

Steen Mogesen (by email) - May 2001

It's been awhile since Cornerstone's Arrival was released, finally I prepared the questions for Steen and within 24 hrs. he answered! So, here we go....

How you came up with the name Cornerstone? What does it mean for you?

It actually came to me as I was writing the songs, the album has a story line or theme about the beginning of life, if you imagine the first reptile / man that leaves the sea and walk on land, how difficult it is for him to adopt here, and then take him through life, with all the good and bad things that happens to us. He's like the Cornerstone in evolution.

When you had the first idea to do a solo album or a side-project?

It was in November 1997, we just ended the Paradox tour with Royal Hunt, at that point I felt it was a natural progress to me, to start working on something slightly different from Royal Hunt, so I took a closer look on some of the material I had been writing through the years, but it didn't really suit the idea I had. I wanted to make a classic, melodic and song oriented album, so I actually started from scratch and began writing on the Arrival album.

How do you got in touch with Dougie White? Was Dougie White your first choice?

First of all I have to say, that we really had a great time recording the album, Dougie flew in to Copenhagen very well prepared and he really made the songs come alive, giving them his own personal touch. The very first time I heard Dougie was in 1995 on a Japanese promo tour with Royal Hunt, we were driving in Tokyo and out of the speakers came a new Rainbow song Ariel, I think, and he blew me away, here was a really classic British hard rock singer. So it was a natural thing for me, to try to get in touch with him, when the Cornerstone thing came up! And he was cool about it when my manager phoned him up, before Dougie came in to the picture, I tried a couple of local guys, but they really didn't make it happen.

Most of the recording band are members of your main band Royal Hunt. What was the reason to work with them? Why not with other musicians?

As a bass player it's extremely important to me, to have a killer rhythm section and Allan S÷rensen was the first choice that crossed my mind, as for the guitar part, I had Jacob Kjaer and Tony Rahm (Narita) to lay down their emotional guitar play, which I felt suited the album perfectly. At last I had Andre Andersen to join on the solo keyboards, to give the album the final touch. The reason why I didn't used many "outsiders" were mainly because I didn't want to take to many chances with musicians you do not know, as I wanted the album to be perfect.

Are there plans to do another album?

It's already in the works! All the demos are done and Dougie has been joining in on the songwriting, it's gonna be slightly different from Arrival, but it's still a little bit early in the process to tell any details.

Will you work with other musicians in Cornerstone in future? Anyone you would like to work with?

Allan S°rensen is in the rehearsal mode in this very minute, and we'll start the recording sessions in June. As for the guitar parts, there's a really interesting local guy called Kasper Damgaard who will join us in the studio, as far as the keys, nothing is confirmed yet, but there's a couple of interesting players on our list.

Are any shows planned for Cornerstone? Or will is be just a studio band?

There were actually planned a support tour for us in April, but unfortunately Dougie had to go through a throat surgery, and is in his recovery right now. So we were forced to cancel it. But if everything works out decently, your definitely gonna see Cornerstone live sometime next year!

Why do you named the album Arrival?

As I mentioned before the album has a theme about the beginning of life, and what this 'reptile / man' see on his way through life. The opener of the album is the story of his arrival from the sea and how hard it is for him to adopt to life on land, so I basically named the album, in the light of this story.

How are the reactions so far?

They have been overwhelming! We haven't received one bad review! They have all been over the top in general, which of course pleases all musicians and create a positive vibe around the album and with people who are involved with Cornerstone, record companies, promoters etc. To be honest I really didn't know what to expect, coz the album isn't exactly a metal album, but I guess a good melodic album always will work.

Some people see in Cornerstone similarities to Royal Hunt's Fear, especially coz with John West Royal Hunt got a different sound. Even if Cornerstone is more rock and not bombastic like Royal Hunt.... What do you think about that?

I guess it's kind of natural, if there is some similarities, I've been a member of Royal Hunt for 12 years and I have always been working very close with Andre Andersen on the demos for Royal Hunt. I guess you could call me the garbage man, we discuss each song and arrangement closely, and mostly it ends up where we all agree on the songs. I actually wrote a song for the Hunters in 1997 called The Final Lullaby which were released as a bonus track on the Paradox Album.

Can you tell a little bit about the story of Walked On Water?

It's was the first song that I wrote for Arrival and it kinda created the vibe for the rest of the album with it's slow paced tempo and moody arrangement. I mentioned before the basic line of the story.

How much influence had Dougie on the album?

We had four extremely intense days of recording the vocals, but it was actually an easy task for me, coz Dougie flew to Copenhagen with all the songs planned out. What kind of feel that would suit each song: he said I'm doing this in a "Bowie" way or let's put some "Plant" into this. And It just sounded perfect to me, there's no doubt that his input on this album really gave the songs the final touch.

How you got the deal? Did you do the album first and looked for a label afterwards? Or do you had a contract before the recordings?

Both I would say, I had a handshake deal with a Japanese label before I started the recordings, but then again you'll never know anything for sure in this business. I actually finished the album before we shipped it to any labels, and we ended up on another label in Japan (Marquee) and (Massacre Rec.) in Europe which were responding very fast.

Who had the idea for the cover artwork? And who realized it?

I presented the idea to a designer I know, and he worked on different layouts which he presented to me, and we agreed on the final result which I think suits the album perfectly.

You have a homepage. Is it under the control of the band? What can fans ex­pect to find there? Any specials planned?

Yes, it is. It's actually Allan S÷rensen who is running the page, he's the computer freak and is doing updates frequently. It's a pretty simple website with bio, pictures, interviews, links and sometimes we do a competition.

Can you tell a little bit about what you have done before joining Royal Hunt? Have you played in any other bands?

I actually started in a school band playing Beatles, Santana and old classics, which was a very cool time for me, just to be able to play, or at least try to play with a "band". After a couple of years I formed a band with a friend of mine, playing Thin Lizzy covers in his moms garage. At a certain point I was asked to join a band called Rebellion featuring ex-Witch Cross guitar player Ole Poulsen and Henrik Poulsen (Narnia / Prime Time), we did a couple of demos and shows in the Copenhagen area, but we couldn't manage to get a record deal.

What are your main influences?

Everything from Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells to Queen and Deep Purple, as long as there's some kind of interesting melodies or hooklines involved I'll probably dig into it.

Which band / musician influenced you to start playing yourself?

It must have been my brothers band, he was playing guitar with some school mates doing old classics like Johnny B Good and House Of The Rising Sun, but it was the first time I saw them live on stage, that really made my day, imagining myself standing up there, I guess he was my very first "Rockstar" and kickstarter.

Do you play any other instrument?

That really depends on the quality terms of "Playing" I had some training on piano and guitar in my youth, which gave me some essential tools to find my way around in music. Chords and harmonies etc., but to call me a guitar player is a little bit over the top, I am and will always be the "bassman".

The final question.... What can we expect from Cornerstone in future?

Now that's a good question Heaven Knows as Robert Plant is singing, we are planning to stick around for some time, and continue to record albums that are worth listening too. See you on tour!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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