Denmark’s premier roots-rockers THORBJØRN RISAGER & THE BLACK TORNADO have released “Fire Inside,” the roof-raising second single off their new album Navigation Blues, out September 30th via Provogue / Mascot Label Group. According to Thorbjørn, the song was inspired by one of the band’s biggest influences: the legendary rock band ZZ Top. “The song was written right after Dusty Hill died last year, and I felt the urge to make a homage to ZZ Top, which is one of my all-time favorite bands,” he recalls. “I can’t tell how many times we’ve ended up in a very loud hotel room afterparty after a concert with ZZ Top ‘Tres Hombres’ on volume 11 and a bunch of cold beers!”
Over the past twenty years, Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado has blazed a trail across Scandinavia, Europe, Canada, the US and Asia. They’ve been captivating crowds with their dynamic stage presence and a sound that fuses soul, Chicago blues, boogie and rock ‘n’ roll with a voice where Ray Charles, Van Morrison and Billy Gibbons meet in the middle. They’ve brought dancing shoes to Europe’s largest festival stages and low-light noir-ish blues to Jazz clubs around the globe.
About to release their eighth studio album, the multi-award-winning band has opened for Bonnie Raitt and the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Risager himself has been sharing the stage with legends such as Buddy Guy, Doyle Bramhall II and Robben Ford.
Growing up in the small town of Jyllinge, about 30km from Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen. Risager would sit in the fishing village’s harbour, looking out where the sunset met the distant hamlet horizon. Staring out into the expanse of clouds and the undisturbed landscape opposite as the breeze ambles past, blowing on the fjord, which hides Viking stories of times past, watching the sun go down – he would sit, think, reflect and wonder about the world beyond.
Having formed in Copenhagen, the band are real road warriors, spending 9-10 months a year touring, but it’s something that they’ve never taken for granted. “Every concert is a unique experience. You just look at the audience’s smiles and reactions, and you know that what you’re doing makes sense.”
Their prolific travels around the globe have swept up fans across every corner, including non-other than Elwood Blues himself, Dan Aykroyd! Who hailed their “Hot rhythm and blues”, saying Risager has “got a great voice, great delivery and feels the blues. The songs are original, but sound like they come from a Stax recording session circa 1965.”
Navigation Blues opens with the title track, a sepia-tinged pre-war blues stomp that sees Risager yearn, “Truckloads of darkness here, and my matches are soaking wet…will this black night ever end.” Offsetting this is the rolling rhythms and searing guitar licks of “Watch The Sun Go Down” – a ZZ Top-styled southern rocker that soundtracks a glorious dusk desert sunset with a fizzing coolness that puts its foot on the pedal and rides off into a Tarantino horizon.
Two decades on the road have given the band an incredible ability to know what makes people move – in both feet and heart. On Navigation Blues, they use this skill with complete precision, whether it be the front-porch blues of “The Way You Make Me Feel” to roof-raising rockers such as “Fire Inside” or “Headed for the Stars” to the gentle ache of “Blue Lullaby” and “Heart Crash.” But their showmanistic sense of adventure is never far away, which can be seen on the rock ‘n’ roller “Hoodoo Lover” or the boogie of “Taking the Good With the Bad.”
From the humble beginnings staring out from that harbour in Jyllinge to the bars of Copenhagen and now, regularly selling out 1000 capacity venues in their native Denmark, Sweden, Germany and beyond. International awards, National TV performances and praise lavished on them from a Hollywood legend – Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado feel like they are only just getting started.
“We built it up from the ground the old-fashioned way,” he reflects. “If you wanna make a living out of playing the blues, it’s not enough to play only in one country, so we’re thrilled to be able to play all over.”
At twenty years in, the band are in white-hot form and will be showcasing their new material across Europe for the rest of 2022. “Playing live in front of an audience makes you feel alive. That’s the best way to describe it, I think. It’s good to feel alive,” he smiles.
The Black Tornado Band
Thorbjørn Risager Vocal, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Emil Balsgaard Piano, Organ, Wurlitzer, Clavinet, Farfisa
Joachim Svensmark Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Synthesizer, Piano, Viola, Drums, Percussion, Glockenspiel, Mandolin
Kasper Wagner Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Baritone Sax, Flutes, Clarinet
Hans Nybo Tenor Sax, Bass Clarinet
Peter W Kehl Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Trombone, Perc
Søren Bøjgaard Bass, Moog Bass, Baritone Guitar, Synthesizer, Piano, Percussion
Martin Seidelin Drums, Percussion
- Navigation Blues
- Watch The Sun Go Down
- The Way You Make Me Feel
- Fire Inside
- Blue Lullaby
- Taking The Good With The Bad
- Whatever Price
- Something To Hold On To
- Hoodoo Lover
- Headed For The Stars
- Heart Crash