Your biography has been covered in your ProgArchives profile so let's bypass the biography details. But which bands were you influenced by and why did you choose that name ?
I picked up the name Symphonic Slam because I wanted to reflect a larger sound. All my projects in the past had Meletrons,or Chamberlins, and since I was playing six synthesizers with my guitar, it all added up to a very large symphonic approach, but with a rock ( Slam ) flavor.
I was influenced in the very early years by guitarists Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel, Joe Pass, and Kenny Barrel. The bands that influenced me were Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Moody Blues, Beatles, Stones, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton,and, Dick Dale. Classical guitarist were Andres Segovia and Carlos Montoya.
You moved from Finland to USA in your youth. How old were you when you relocated to USA and why this relocation ?
My parents immigrated to America when I was 6 years old. Dad was a Chemist with a great interest in geology.
He wanted to explore the great Mohave desert in the California Nevada areas. Her also had an interest to establish his family in America because he always feared the Soviet Union.
It is claimed you were one of the first musicians to use a synth guitar. Please tell us why you took up that not so cheap and I guess quite bad tempered instrument back then.
I had performed with my Les Paul, Fender amp and echoplex full time for decades. I started playing guitar with the idea of making a living with it at an early age, and I did just that. I played in night clubs full time for about 10 years. I was also a guitar teacher for 4 years. So I desired a fresh sound, I was hungry to see what could be done to make the guitar do more.
My first attempt was to try out the GuitOrgan by MCI. This was a micro curcuited B-3 inside a ES-335. The frets were cut in six sections that functioned as a micro switch.
This allowed me to play the guitar and organ at the same time. But, it also was a very limited, and did not offer for me, anything I wanted to live with for very long. I then contacted and, met with Oberheim, and asked him to hook up the guitar to synthesizers. Oberheim said that he had already worked with that idea, but that I should contact a man named Bob Easton of 360 Systems.
What 360 Systems had done was invent a device called a Pitch to Voltage convertor. The convertor was hooked up to a hexiphonic pick-up allowing it to be sent to a synthesizers.
Bob Easton had the prototype sitting on his work bench, it was hooked up to six Oberhiems. I fired it up and Bam!, I fell in love.
I made a deal with Bob immediately, and at a price of $10,000 he sold it to me. I had it shipped to Canada where I was in pre-production for my first Symphonic Slam album.
This system was a great tracking unit because it was polyphonic. There was no harmonic problems like the later developed monophonic systems that never worked or tracked well.
This was a high performance moon rocket that responded perfectly to my style.
Since I used the system on every song on that album, the word got out real fast about this monster guitar rig. To my good luck A&M Records released the album world wide off the starting blocks.
The press and media caught on to the new sound, and my famous 360 Systems Polyphonic Guitar synthesizer won me the title "Father of the Guitar Synthesizer."
Later on, I heard Frank Zappa had bought one from Bob, but could not use it because it was running Moogs. The Moogs drifted so bad the systems could not be kept in tune. So I bought Zappa`s
polyphonic guitar as a back-up, but not the Moogs. Jimmy Page called us and wanted to buy my system at a hefty price, but I refused, and explained I was doing tour support with it and was planning another album later.
Stevie Wonder also wanted to rent the system for one of his albums, but I was on the road.
Six units were built, mine being the first, and the first to record an entire album with it on a major label, with a world wide release. There were pitiful monophonic guitar synths on the drawing boards at that time, and even though players were trying to get their footing with them, they ended up being more of a bad joke than a sincere musical effort.
Over to your first two Symphonic Slam albums. Please tell us more about the self titled debut album from 1976.
I had just completed an album recorded at Capital Records in 1974 with Neil Merryweather, The band was called "Space Rangers". I had written most of the originals for the Space Rangers years earlier with a group called Zebra, which were recorded at Pat Boons Lion and the Lamb studios.
But our producer Tony Carey died in the middle of the project. So when I started with Space Rangers, I used the same material over. Neil wrote the words, I wrote most the music, and played lead. When a conflict of interest in relation to actually getting paid came up, I left Space Rangers along with Bob Silvert, the Meletron player.
I then was asked to record a demo with Epic Records in San Francisco, However, in the middle of that production, the producer was fired. He gave me the tapes and said good luck.
So I decided it was time to go elsewhere. I took the band to Canada, played clubs for a few years, and one day had Chum FM play the demo over the air. The president of A&M was listening and called the DJ and said "Tell that kid Timo Laine to come and see me." We got signed to record Symphonic Slam. The material was a collection of musical ideas I had been saving while playing clubs and concerts over the years.
The songs for Symphonic Slam took years to develop, and about 9 months to rehearse and record.
The second album Timo SS II was released two years later. Please tell us more about this album.
After A&M Records option came up for the second term, they wanted for me to record a disco album. I told them that that was like asking Segovia to record a surf album.
I put an ad in the LA Times under venture capital, and since I was still on the billboard charts got an investor to start Lady Records of Canada Inc.
I bailed out of the record deal and started the production of SSII. The album was recorded at the Righteous Brothers studio in California and A&M studios Hollywood. The players were Jimmy Haslip - Bass, Linda Nardini - Keys, and Jan Uvena - Drums. David Stone, my Canadian keyboard player, went on to play with Richie Blackmore, so he stayed behind in Canada. Jimmy, after the SSII album, started Yellow Jackets.
SSII was me doing a lot more vocals and more melodic tunes that I had written on the road with in Canada.
In 2011 Musea Records was contacted by Denis Meyer, The author of the book Rock Anthology. Denis had asked Bernard at Musea Records, that it might be a good idea to re-issue
the SSII album, since Denis had proclaimed Symphonic Slam as one of the top Progressive rock bands in the world. So They contacted me, and Denis Meyer became the executive producer on the re-master and it was re-issued last March 2011.
Then there was no more albums under the Symphonic Slam name. What happened and what were you up to in this time ?
I came back to the states to try and release SSII. I pressed 10,000 units and went to get distribution here. But I was about $200,000 short on my PR campaign. No support, no distribution.
I shelved the project and filed a BK.
After that I got very sick for a long time. My doctor told me "Whatever you have been doing all these years you better take time off or you're gonna die."
So took up oil painting, and started a large collection of international exotic Coleoptera and Lepidoptera ( Beatles and butterflies).
I went to Costa Rica, Southern Mexico, Trindad, Tobago, and collected bugs. I joined the Musium of Natural History, Lorquin society. and started displaying my collection at the various museums and universities. My goal was to collect every exotic bug in the world. And I'm telling you, I came pretty close to having a collection to rival that of the Museums. I also painted African wildlife, like Elephants, Rhino, etc. Did a lot of landscape paintings of Hawaii. Spent a lot of time collecting
on all the Hawaiian islands.
I also got married to my Kimberly, and had two sons: Timo Jr and Jesse.
You also have your own solo career. Please tell us more about your solo albums.
I figured it was time to get back in the swing of things, music wise. So after listening to players like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Eric Johnson, I figured I can pull that off.
So I started to record instrumentals featuring the guitar, but with a good dose of synth.
Musea re-released the debut Symphonic Slam album in 2001 if I am not mistaken. Please tell us more about how Musea got involved.
Bernard, the President of Musea Records, contacted me and asked if he could re-issue the first album.
So I contacted Universal and negotiated a mechanical License in favor of Musea Records. The re-issue came out, and I was
pleased to see the press was starting to put things back on the map
You resurrected the Symphonic Slam name again and released the third Symphonic Slam album called Her Fire in 2005 if I am not mistaken. Please tell us more about this album.
I figured since Musea is going to put the stuff out again I better write a follow up CD. I wrote and recorded Her Fire. The album was originally going to be called "Cave Canem"
which means "Beware of Dog" in Latin. But my wife said "Why are you calling an album full of love songs 'Beware of Dog?'" Duh!! So I named it HER FIRE and painted the cover with a two faced woman
I asked Les Carlsen (lead vocalist of BloodGood) to help with the vocals, since my voice was still out of shape. Noe Cruz on Bass, and Bob Winn on drums.
You are again working on a new Symphonic Slam album according to your homepage. Please tell us more about this new album and material.
I'm putting material together with a hopeful release date of 2012. Like the A&M release, this contains spiritual content, and will be a big production.
The first tune is 17 minutes inspired by Revelations.
I have a great keyboard player named Steve Eddy that rivals Linda Nardini and Dave Stone on this work. I also have Jeff Hull on Bass. I may use guest artists
also to be determined Maybe Jimmy Haslip. I have talked to producers as well including Ken Scot.
- Pro Review (Nov 24, 2011)
Timo Laine Symphonic Slam
Musea Records will be releasing
Timo Laine`s SSII cd world wide
in March 2011.
This CD is a re-issue of progressive music featuring the Timo`s first polyphonic guitar synthesizer system.
Artist on the release are Timo Laine, Linda Nardini, Jimmy Haslip, Jan Uvena, Now Cruz, John Lowery. Bonus trackes will be on the CD .
Musea Records (Nov 27, 2010)
BigNews.Biz - Sep 09,2011 - Wildomar, CA - Timo Laine Symphonic Slam defines guitar synthesizer. Synth Guitar Fans looking for guitar synthesizer are discovering Timo Laine Symphonic Slam. It's bold. Hard driving guitar synth Rock with sophistication. Timo Laine Symphonic Slam has a reputation for progressive rock. "Her Fire" is a must have for any Timo Laine Symphonic Slam collector. Timo Laine Symphonic Slam delivers innovative guitar. Timo Laine Symphonic Slam delivers amazing live guitar synth performances. For additional releases and appearance schedule, visit http://www.TimoLaineMusic.com.
Time to take the buds out and crank up the volume. This is rock that shatters expectations as if to say. "If it ain't Laine it's lame." Defining hard driving guitar synthesizer that makes your heart skip a beat, Symphonic Slam, is re-taking the throne with the aim to reign over the genre Timo Laine defined 35 years ago. Never gone, this artist and the band were just planning an explosion, time to wake the dead with every chord. They don't call it Symphonic Slam lightly. You haven't lived until you listen to "Sara". If you can't find the fireworks in Symphonic Slam you probably never will.
It's all there, the edge and sensation of soaring on notes. It's rock perfected to pure ecstasy. the variety is astounding, rhythm, beat, electric solos, defiant lyrics and endless energy. Timo Laine in the speakers and a Harley ride just might be as close to heaven as you can get on this side. True Rock fans will recognize the name and the music. As essential as air, you don't find this kind of power in ear buds. You haven't really experienced progressive rock until you play some heart stopping Slam. You won’t want to miss "Monotrim Project" by Timo Laine Symphonic Slam. Give it a listen.
About Timo Laine Symphonic Slam
Timo, over the years, has become known for his masterful guitar and guitar synthesizer styles. Timo released a ground breaking album with A&M Records worldwide in the early years of his career. The recording broke new ground as the first major guitar synthesizer work. Timo had hooked up six separate synthesizers to his Les Paul guitar. Each string had its own synth that could be set up separately. The guitar was played thru regular amplifiers, but the synthesizers were pumped thru a wall speakers and all blended together. The wall of sound that came from that setup was absolutely amazing. The album was called "Symphonic Slam" followed by "Symphonic Slam II", "Her Fire", and Timo`s latest cd, "Guitar Works Special Edition", a follow up of all instrumental compositions. Timo has performed with acts such as the Rolling Stones, BB King, Tina Turner, Rush, Chuck Berry, and many other major artists to name a few. On Timo's CD "Her Fire," Over the years Timo has worked with many notable artists on his albums including Noe Cruz, Jimmy Haslip, Bob Winn, Mike Meucci, Mark Vaughn, Dennis Brown, and Larry Class. The band includes Steve Eddy on keys, Jeff Hull on bass, and Mark Stevens
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BigNews.Biz (Sep 11, 2011)
SYMPHONIC SLAM — Symphonic Slam
Review by acceleron2001
5 stars As a longtime signed and seasoned pro recording artist who will remain anonymous for this review, I must say that Symphonic Slam is one of the great albums of all time- PERIOD. It's too bad some people just don't get it. Then again, great music is never understood by the masses, and it just goes to show that sophisticated music is only for sophisticated minds. This is exactly the case here, as Symphonic Slam was WAY ahead of its time, in too many ways to list here. A great album- PERIOD.
Posted Saturday, June 12, 2004, 14:04 EST | Permanent link
Acceleron - Prog review (Jun 12, 2004)
After participating to numerous concerts or studio recordings next to stars so different as THE ROLLING STONES, Chuck BERRY, Tina TURNER or RUSH, the Canadian with Norwegian origins Timo LAINE is recognise as the true pioneer of synthesizer-guitar. This is how he and his band SYMPHONIC SLAM (With keyboardist David STONE, Drummer John LOWERY and himself at the vocals) recorded in 1976 what would remain the first true album based on this very peculiar instrument. Beyond this anecdote, this eponymous album comes to us with a wonderful esoteric cover, an emphatic progressive rock that owes a lot to PINK FLOYD and that can sometimes remind of CAMEL in their "Mirage" period, or even WINDCHASE.
Music Review (Jan 17, 2002)
This pioneering Canadian prog band featured the talents of Timo Laine who created a real specialized talent with his use of a new gizmo….the 360 systems polyphonic guitar synthesizer. Essentially ‘Slam’ deliver a rich keyboard based sophisticated poly synthetic nodes with support from John Lowery's drums and David Stone’s keyboards. Musically this album covers a lot of ground with progressive rock standing out as the clear line with Jazz, AOR, Pop , 70’s Classic Rock and Blues. A few years later after the break-up of Symphonic Slam, David Stone would join Ritchie Blackmore’s “Rainbow”. Symphonic Slam debut album contains some pretty eclectic material which reminds very at times very much of Mirage era “Camel” , FM (Canada) and with a degree of “Windchase” tossed in for good measure.
All Time Favorite Prog rock (Jun 29, 2007)
Timo Laine, godfather of the synth guitar has released two cds this year, “Monotrim Project” and “Her Fire” with symphonic slam. Timo has been playing synth guitar from the very beginning and has been faithful to his LGX-SA because it is simply one of the best tracking guitars on the market. Check out our dealer list to try one out for yourself.
Godin Guitar News (May 29, 2004)
SYMPHONIC SLAM — Symphonic Slam
Review by xlr854
5 stars I own this album. I bought it immediately after seeing them perform at a bar In sarnia , ontario called hughies junkyard. I found the music to be Excellent & still enjoy it very much to this day!! First band i have ever seen That used a guitar synth. I found the songs to be unlike anything out there On the rock scene. The music was very refreshing at the time. The Musicianship was extraordinary & they had a big sound for just having 3 Members! I've played it at parties i've had & everyone would ask --who is this? This band is great! I wish they would reunite & tour the bars as i would Definately love to see them again! I find alot of todays newer bands kind of Boring----nothing new & exciting , they pretty much all sound the same. Maybe if symphonic slam got together -even for just one more time , it might Ignite some fire in an up & coming band or two! I own the album & have Transfered it to cd. Now when i have friends in the car i let them give it a Listen. I get alot of positive feedback about the music . They love the energy This band has. I'm 51 & when i'm alone at home i crank this band up & still feel Like i did when i first seen them in 76 , 77. It makes me feel damn good. Ahead Of they're time----yes , & i can't help but wonder what they would be playing If they were together today. I'm sure it would be ahead of they're time & just As good as it was back then. I,m sure they would pack a club just like they Did when i first seen them & i know alot of musicians that would show up , Young and old to see this band!! Sometimes i wish i could go back in time just To see them again!!!!!!!!!!
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2005, 03:24 EST | Permanent link
Fan - Prog Archives (Sep 15, 2005)
(Studio Album, 1976) Title information (Edit) | Free MP3 | Reviews | Buy Music
Symphonic SlamSymphonic Slam album cover 3.88
Excellent addition to any