Make your own free website on

............WinterStrain............ "WE WILL BE THERE"

Arnulf Øvre - Guitars

Shifting Sands Band Interview
New album..........Shifting Sands
Shifting Sands Reviews
Polar Rock Festival
Geir Helge Fredheim - Vocals
Arnulf Øvre - Guitars
Karl Gudmund Birkely - Keyboards
Lars Rikard Kvaal - Bass Guitar
Rolf-Erik Nyland - Drums
Not any old backing vocalist....
My "Wee" brother
RTTM as described by Deenfan
Reviews of Return To The Mirror
Return To The Mirror Sound Samples + Downloads
My Review Of Return To The Mirror
Related Links
WinterStrain Pictures


You are listening to my favourite guitar solo by Arnulf. Taken from A Battle which is track 9 on the cd. Simply stunning guitar work. Out of 10 I give this solo 11 !!!

Born - 5th June 1972

Interview from November 2006

Hi Arnulf . How you doing mate ?


-  Hi Steven. I’m doing fine thank you.


So….The Polar Rock festival. Now the dust has settled what was your favourite memory of the concert/weekend/party/company ?


- Well, the concert with WinterStrain is pretty hard to beat. One of the best gigs we’ve done, and possibly the largest crowd we’ve performed in front of. The mood was almost electric, and the response was great. The party at Rolf’s afterwards was equally great. And not to forget, I was part of the Tony Mills band, performing Siam and solo material. That was very special.  It was also very nice meeting you and Mcophie again. I still am in awe that someone would travel from another country just to see us. I guess that was more than one memory...§:D   I hope one day to come over again, not just for Polar Rock, but for a family holiday ! Watch this space ;o)



I remember sitting next to Steve Harris in the grill house at Roys  and he was well impressed with your guitar playing. How big a compliment is that to you coming from Steve Harris ?


- That’s really flattering. He’s been in the business performing on many Shy albums for the last 25 years or so.  So getting that compliment from such an experienced player, it makes me think that at least I’m doing something right. §:D  You sure are Arnulf !


So lets get talking about Shifting Sands. How easy do you find it to come up with solo’s for each song there is a guitar solo on (when Karl gives you some space…LOL )  ?


- I find it very easy. We write melodic stuff, and that’s what I love to play. The solos are more epic this time, pushing the envelope even further. They will probably be more orchestrated as well, meaning more harmonized lines and such.  Cool.



How much writing of the new songs have you been directly involved in with Rolf Erik ?


- Most of the material actually. 2 of the songs have been written by Karl and Rolf Erik. The rest of the songs are either written by me and Rolf or by the three of us together.



Be honest here !!!     What sounds better. Shifting Sands or Return To The Mirror ??

I know……bloody hard question !! LOL


- Bloody hard indeed! Almost all musicians use to say that their latest record is the best they’ve ever made. Now I understand how they feel. I think that Shifting sands is more thought through and arranged on any level. The song quality is at least at the same level as on RTTM. But is it any better? Well that really is up to the listener to decide.



Let’s say I’m a genie and I grant you one wish for the new album. What would it be?


- To sell 100 million copies of the album, thus making it the bestselling album of all time. §:D  Just 100 million !! You are dropping your standards ;o)



Besides the second album, what does WinterStrain have plans for in the future ??


- The third album, the fourth and so on. But we do hope to do some more live gigs as well.



Do you find it takes the pressure off when you have a guy who can do keyboard solo’s as well as you doing guitar solo’s or is it more of a challenge by seeing Karl as a competitor and try to do a better solo than him ?


- I don’t feel any pressure regarding solos. It’s hard to compete with Karl, he’s the best keyboard player I’ve ever heard. But I don’t regard music as sport. The only one I compete with is myself, I always try to come up with better stuff  than I did the last time. Actually I think me and Karl complement each other perfectly.You certainly do !


There were some outstanding power chords on RTTM. Are we going to see more of the same on Shifting Sands and is there any wonderful riffs so far which stick out the way the riff on The Family Secret stood out ?


- Thanks a lot. Yeah, I guess there will be lots of more riffing. I believe the riff on one of the fastest songs, In the arms of the night really sticks out. We performed that song on the Polar rock festival, and it was very well received. Most of the song, including the riff, was written in 1990/1991. It was a live killer in those days as well. I might add that there will be even more dynamics in the guitar department. More heavy guitars, and more clean guitars, more of everything really! §:D



You are getting married next year. Congratulatons !! Any plans for WinterStrain to play at the reception ?


- Thank you very much. Not any plans yet, but it sure would’ve been fun.  Just don’t have rice there or Rolf Erik will never be on his drum stool ;o)



Are you working on any other side projects at the moment ?


- The only concrete one, is a newly started pub cover band. We haven’t got a proper name yet, but there’s been a plethora of fun suggestions at the WinterStrain forum. Apart from that, I’m writing some instrumental pieces now and then.



To date, what has been the highlight for yourself regarding WinterStrain ?


- Finally releasing the album after so many years is still the highlight. The festival performances at Z Rock in England and Polar Rock comes close though.



Do things ever get tense between the band members in the studio ?


- I don’t think that’s happened much. We know each other very well and have been friends for many years. Any hints of conflicts quickly disappears due to lots of joking. There’s always a relaxed atmosphere.


Who gets the job done quick in the studio and who is a pain in the arse to get things right ?   LOL


- I tend to be quick, perhaps too quick. In retrospect I wish that we spent much more time on the guitars on RTTM. I believe we spent something like 3 – 4 days or so. Regarding who is slow, I think we’re all pretty efficient when we finally get the opportunity to record.


Is there anything we should all know that you have not answered already ?


- The Winterstudios have been upgraded a lot since last time, and me and Rolf are now more experienced, so I would expect a better sound on the next album. Most of the band members have invested in new equipment as well. Our sonic palette has been expanded a lot.  



And finally my good friend. Is there any message you would like to give to the fans out there who are awaiting the new album??


- Thanks a lot for buying our first album. I really appreciate it. If you liked the first one, then I think you’re in for a treat with our second.


A pleasure as always Arnulf. Thanks for taking time out and hope to meet up with you and the gang again…very soon !

Interview from April 2006

What a weekend  Arnulf !!!  Z Rock was a blast.


- It certainly was. I was feeling naturally high the whole weekend. §:D


 How do you feel personally Z Rock went for you ?


- I feel extremely satisfied. It’s probably one of the best concerts or happenings in my life. Not meaning it was a perfect experience, I had some tuning problems with my guitar. But in the big picture, that’s peanuts. I was in a very good playing mood, and the audience was great. Fantastic response.



Do you believe it was worth the effort for the band to travel such a long way for the gig ?


- Of course! I mean, it’s the first time any of us have played abroad. The promotion effect was very significant as well. Many of the people in the audience had never heard us before. It should take some good reviews of the album to match such an event. And then there’s the aspect of meeting the fans, like you and the other guys. Very rewarding.


What was your favourite memory of the WinterStrain gig ?


- Very hard to pick one. I think both Rumours at speak and A battle went great. It was particularly fun to play those, since we didn’t play them at the gig in February. The first time we played them live, was two nights earlier at Notodden, Norway. I also enjoyed Mountain inside the stone, Sail and Another time. In general, the most special thing was sharing stage with Tony Mills, which lead me to your next question.


What was it like sharing the stage with Tony Mills ?


- It was great! He was on the other side of the stage, but we did connect with some smiles now and then, and of course via the intertwining backing vocals. We improvised the harmonies, which made it special I think. Sometimes we did the same line, and sometimes it was perfect 3 part harmony I think.



Tony Mills sang backing vocals at Z  Rock for WinterStrain, how does it make you feel that WinterStrain will back Tony Mills at The Polar Rock Festival ??


- Very excited. I think he really deserves something in return. Actually it feels a bit surreal. I guess I didn’t see this coming when I heard the first Siam record 12 years ago or so. It will be great playing some Siam tunes live. I have never played them on the guitar before. I’m also looking forward to sharing the stage with guitarist Ian Richardson of Shy, who will join us on guitar.



If I had to pick a songs I thought the band played  the best I would say Mountain Inside The Stone. What was your favourite song on the night ?


- Mountain inside the stone was definitely one of my favourites. As I mentioned earlier on, hard to pick one. In addition to Sail, Another time and A battle, the opening track Another day rocked as well.



 I know you never got the right sound you wanted for the gig on the guitar. But the sound for the audience was very good. What was the problem ?


- Well, I’m quite satisfied with the main heavy rhythm sound and the lead sound for solos. I was using a Peavey 5150 amp which is a bit similar to Marshall which I’ve always used. The main problem was that I didn’t have any clean sound, for parts such as the end of Another time, Broken defence or the acoustic solo of Sail. The reason for this was that there was no footswitch available for the amp I was using. Thus my option was to turn down the volume knob on the guitar, which worked in a way, but was far from the sound I’m used to.


So how much are you looking forward to playing the Polar Rock Festival as this will be the biggest gig any of the band have ever played in front of ?


- I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully it will be the biggest crowd I’ve ever played for. However, I did a warm up gig for 1500 people with my band Seraphim 8 years ago. That was a real pleasant experience. But I hope the Polar Rock festival will gather more people.


You guys were really tight as a band . Considering you have only had 4 gigs and 3 rehearsals were you surprised by how well you actually played ?


- Actually, no. We have real good chemistry, and everyone in the band know the songs really well. Some of the interaction in the band is almost second nature. This dates back to the early days when we rehearsed two days a week. We were pretty tight back then, but of course not on the same level musically.


Any other gigs planned for WinterStrain other than the Polar Rock Festival


- Not really, but I’m sure there will be more gigs this year. I have been asked by the principal at the school where I’m working if we might do a gig there for their 50th anniversary this autumn, but nothing has been confirmed and signed. So I’m still not sure if that’s going to happen. Most of the kids at the school are 16 – 19 year old.


Is there anything of the weekend in Crewe you would change ?


- That would only be the footswitch/clean guitar problem. Apart from that, everything was great. It was fantastic meeting so many friendly and fun people. It was also great to meet so many cool and friendly musicians. We got a lot of good response from the other bands. The guys in Shy was the ones I talked most to, and they are all great guys.



Do you have any message to the fans who came along and  supported you at the Z Rock gig ?


- Thank you very much. I’m really honoured and deeply touched. I really appreciated it. I have very warm memories of the whole event and will cherish them for the rest of my life.



I can’t thank you guys enough for taking me out for my dinner on the Saturday night. So again, for the record I thank you all so much. Rolf’s face was a picture when the Italian owner said his gold card was refused !! 


- You’re quite welcome Steven. The dinner was very good, and the vibe was great. Rolf’s face, it was a Kodak moment! §:D



We had great fun at the hotel over the weekend. What was your favourite memory of the stay at the hotel ?


- I guess the party after the gig Sunday might have been it. Although I don’t have a vivid memory of the whole event, due to heavy alcohol consummation…§:D



Well Arnulf. Thanks again for a wonderful weekend and we will catch up again when I am over in June. I am really looking forward to see if you can trick me into getting drunk !! Maybe I will just the one night !!


- You’re quite welcome. The pleasure was mine. It was great meeting you, and I’m really looking forward to meeting you again. You might have some beers in Norway, but go easy on the moonshine…§;D  Take care, and remember:


Have a good time, all the time!!! 





Interview from November 2005

It is now only 6 days to the release of “Return To The Mirror” !! A major step towards your dream. Tell me, how does it feel?


- It’s feeling good. It’s still a bit hard to believe. We’ve been working on this album since 2001, and some of the songs are 15 years old, so it feels like a relief to finally get it out there.



 What are your hopes for this release?


-I hope that those who like our kind of music get the opportunity to hear it and buy it. And of course, it wouldn’t hurt to sell a ridiculous amount of copies as well. §:D



 The new cd is already in the process of recording !!  Are you happy with the way things have started in the studio ?


- So far I’m very satisfied. We have learned a lot from recording the first album, so the pre-production is running more smoothly this time. Everyone in the band is more involved through the whole process. The songs are a bit more epic and symphonic this time. Right now we’re working on an old one, “Company”, which has been rearranged a lot. It’s a real epic, and one of my favourites from 15 years ago. 



Tony Mills has agreed to work on the  new album. Possibly coming over to record the backing vocals in Norway. ! Don’t you think that could be dangerous as you guys all love a good “BEER” session!! Won’t that mean not much work will get done on the album !! 


-Ha ha. I think it just means that everyone will be more comfortable and at ease. Tony is a professional who’s been in the business for many years, so I’m sure he will get things done. He did a brilliant job on Return to the mirror by the way. Everything we wanted, and then some. I’m really looking forward to meet him. I’ve just been in touch with him via email and phone, and he sounds like a great and down to earth guy.



Any plans for a celebration for the release next Monday or shall it just be the same old routine?


- I guess it’s the same old routine, infinite amounts of beer.



I have it on good authority that you break a string every session !!  ha ha ! Any defence to this allegation ! ;o)


-Ha ha! Back in the olden days it might have been a shred of truth to that assertion. But after I changed to heavier strings about 8 years ago, I rarely break any strings anymore. (I use GHS boomers, 010-046, the best strings I’ve tried)



I personally can’t wait on the release. I am really looking forward to it. If you said to me, ”There is one song you must go to straight away”, what would that song be ?


- That’s a very difficult question. I can’t pick just one, but I can narrow it down to four songs; Another time, Mountain inside the stone, Broken defence and Sail. Those are my favourites at the moment.



Do you have any plans for live gigs with WinterStrain to promote the album ?


- I don’t know of any plans at this point, but I’m sure there will be some gigs to promote it. I’m really looking forward to that.



You do remember that there is an offer of a live gig in my back garden!!   Remember I can’t pay cash, but I can offer as much beer as you like!!  Does it still sound like a good offer?


- That sounds like a great offer. But keep in mind, we love beer, say no more. §:)



Arnulf, thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions from me.


-Thank you for your interest. It’s always a pleasure talking to you Steven.



And on a final note is there anything you would like to say to the fans out there awaiting the release of Return To The Mirror!!


-I hope you like our record as much as I do. There’s plenty of more to come. We have already several songs written for the third record.


Thanks Animus…..I mean Arnulf. A pleasure as always ;o)

Below is the first interview with Arnulf from August 2005

First can I say a big thank for your feedback with

helping me build up your “FIRST” ever WinterStrain

Fan Site !!


- Glad to be of any help. §:D


So, Arnulf, who gave you the inspiration to chose the

guitar as your instrument?


- I saw a TV show back in '81 when I was 9 years old.

It was a live show featuring Al Dimeola, John McLaughlin

and Paco DeLucia. I was totally floored. Real guitar

pyrotechniques! I got real inspired after that,but it

wasn't until about 4 - 5 years later I started to really

figure out how to play the guitar.


Do you remember your first ever gig and what was

your band called at the time??


- It was in March 1990, the band was called Close Race.

It consisted of four people which today makes up the

backing section of WinterStrain. Rolf was singing lead

and drumming. I remember being a bit nervous, but it was

good fun as well. We performed together with some other

local bands, and got pretty good audience feedback.


We all know you as Animus on the forum. Where did

the name come from??


- I recorded some music a few years ago under that

artist name. It is a bit experimental stuff, mostly

composed on keyboard. I recorded two Cds which have

just been distributed to friends. The material spans

from dark ambient stuff to more melodic pop, and it's

99 % instrumentals. My brother is working on putting some

mp3s of the project on his website. A link will be posted

on our website as soon as it happens.


Who is your favourite band and why ??


- I think it is difficult to pick just one band.

Rush have always been important to me, but Beatles

is probably the band I would  pick, if I had to name

just one. The reason for that is purely their fantastic

melodic material.


What is your favourite drink ??


- Beer.


Who is your ideal woman ??


- My girlfriend.


If you had one wish, what would you wish for ??


- World peace.


Which band member has the most annoying habit ??

and what is it !!!


- Probably me, correcting everyone else in any matter

regarding to music. §:D.


What is the most frightening thing ever to have happened

to you ??


- Hmm. Maybe a car crash.


Tea or coffee ??


- Coffee.


I you had the chance to play one gig in your life and

have one support act play for you, who would you pick

and where would it be ??


- Rush as support act performing in some sort of

enormodome in a large city somewhere.


What are your dislikes ??


-  Rap/hip-hop, unfriendly people.


If you could turn back the clock and change one

thing…what would it be??


- Probably undoing the moment where Adolf Hitler was

being born.


Who would be the guys you would pick to start up your

own super group ?? 1 drummer,1 bass player,1 keyboard

player and 1 singer !!


- Drums: Neil Peart, Bass: Geddy Lee, Keyboard: Kevin

Moore,Vocals: Steve Perry.



Well Arnulf. Thanks for being so kind  and allowing me to

ask you a few questions. It was a pleasure and I am sure when you are

famous the questions will be a little harder ;o) Ladies and gentlemen,

please put your hands together and thank Arnulf for sharing some

personal thoughts and memories with us all.


(thunderous applause from your devoted crowd !!) :o)