In The Press
January 21, 2016
Norwegian progressive rock pioneers Aunt Mary have announced the band’s return with the release of the NEW DAWN studio album on February 12. The heavy rock icons approach this come back with a new line-up, and plans to stage select appearances across the globe. Pioneers on the Norwegian heavy-rock scene in the early 70s, Aunt Mary was considered among the absolute elite of European rock bands. Alongside Deep Purple, Ten Years After, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and others, the band shared the scene, at times overshadowing these cornerstone acts. They officially broke up in 1973 following the release of their heavily progressive oriented album Janus, and the successful tour staged to support the title. Over the next several decades, they sporadically staged appearances, and issued an album of Blues covers in 1992 titled Bluesprints. After a period characterized by both musical joy and personal profound grief over the last several years, Aunt Mary looks towards 2016 with optimism and a keen commitment to cement the band’s legacy as a cornerstone act in the Scandinavian and worldwide history of rock.
In 2013, initiated by Norwegian guitar legend and producer – and devoted Aunt Mary-fan – Ronni Le Tekrö, the original line-up prepared to enter the studio when band mate and bass player Svein Gundersen announced his resignation. Rather than capitulate and not see his vision through, Le Tekrö approached Bernt Bodal to join. Back in the 70s, Bodal was the bass player in the band Host, Prog contemporaries of Aunt Mary. He had moved to the U.S and worked his way up from ordinary fisherman to be the founder and part owner of American Seafoods – one of the world’s largest seafood companies. Simultaneously he kept his bass playing skills on a master level, playing with rock stars like Steven Tyler, Sammy Hagar, Alan White, Spike Edney, Roger Taylor, Brian May, Roger Daltrey, Jeff Beck and Eddie Vedder. He also contributed his musical talents on one of Ronni Le Tekrö’s solo albums.
With Bodal now committed, the band prepared for the studio sessions. More shocking news blindsided the Aunt Mary members as singer Jan Groth announced he had to resign due to illness from cancer. He urged the others to continue without him, and again Ronni Le Tekrö exhibited his producer genius. He introduced the band to Glenn Lyse, 2007 Norwegian Idol winner, which turned out to be another match made in heaven. With Lyse formally taking over as Aunt Mary’s front man, the band entered the studio and began recording. Jan Groth died in August, 2014.
Having barely finished the recording sessions, the band mates received yet devastating news: Drummer Ketil Stensvik had also been diagnosed with cancer. And in April, 2015 Stensvik passed away. Less than three years after the first plans for a new album with the founding members of Aunt Mary, guitar player and the band’s main songwriter Björn Kristiansen found himself the only remaining part of the original line-up. After thorough consideration, and discussions with the new members of the group, he decided to carry on.
Early next year, Aunt Mary will begin touring accompanied by Ronni Le Tekrö’s band, TNT. Music history will be written as Norway’s first and leading heavy-rock band will share the scene with Norway’s first and leading heavy-metal band. As their new drummer, Aunt Mary has recruited Ole Tom Torjussen. NEW DAWN is produced by Kjartan Hesthagen and Henning Ramseth (the latter also plays keyboards on the album).
Despite the adversity that has repeatedly challenged Aunt Mary, Kristiansen, Bodal, Lyse, and Torjussen celebrate plans to return to the stage, bring new music to their decades of fans, and to find new ones in North America, Scandinavia and across the globe. Aunt Mary guitarist, and principle songwriter Björn Kristiansen shares, “..after many years without any new album from Aunt Mary it`s with great pride and joy I`m now looking forward to releasing our new studio album NEW DAWN. The majority of the songs on this record are writtenbased on my ideas, with great help from my band mates. Being the sole remaining original member of the group, I`m from the bottom of my heart grateful for this opportunity to again be able to share our music with old and new friends around the world!”