Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Golden Grass interview with Adam Kriney


Anyone need a hit of acid?  Don’t worry; Golden Grass has got your back.  The cool thing though is you don’t even need to dose to get into that far out headspace, the walls undulating around you while the carpet is breathing underneath your feet and the colors are starting to take on tastes as the frenzy starts to creep up your spine…  This is some far out stuff, man.  There are a lot of bands out there right now that want to sound like they just fell out of the 70’s, but the truth is, most of them don’t succeed because that was another time and place, another headspace that most people can’t get into these days.  Golden Grass on the other hand, have effortlessly traversed time back and forth, collecting bits and pieces of what they heard along the way to fashion a motley, yet almost divine, psychedelic Frankenstein of music encapsulated in the fuzzed out distortion, swirl of the organ and rumble of the bass.  Heavy blues and garage rock are all the rage here, tasty riffage that will lodge themselves in the deepest parts of your brain, their lead singer floating above it all with tight vocal melodies and rhythms that hum and vibrate above the din of distorted noise and rock.  The band described their sound as “soulful boogie rock” and I wouldn’t disagree with that statement, but there’s a tasty driving energy behind it that propels the music from mid-tempo semi-psych blues rock into full-blown psychedelic territory while retaining all of the toe tapping, slow head nodding traits mentioned above; namely I think they might have listened to a good deal of Jimi Hendrix which always adds a bit of a driving force to something without nudging it out of place for genre.  Having just released their debut Self-Titled full-length album for Svart Records I decided the time had come to talk shop with these dudes.  Musician extraordinaire and Golden Grass drummer/singer Adam Kriney thankfully took plenty of time to fill all you lucky folks in on all the details he could muster with his keyboard.  So kick back with a nice fat one, listen to some sweet music below and get yo’ self educated, Psychedelic Baby style fool!

© Michael Frost

Who all is in The Golden Grass right now and what do they play?  Have you all gone through any lineup changes since things started?

Adzo - drums and lead vocals
Micky - electric guitar and lead vocals
Jojo - bass guitar

This is the first and only line-up for the band.


Are any of you in any other bands or do you have any active side projects going on right now?  Have you released any music with anyone in the past?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Adam has a huge history, most notably as the band leader/visionary/drummer/singer for LA OTRACINA and also has done a lot in the free-jazz/improv/experimental world with his group Owl Xounds and his old label Colour Sounds Recordings.  He’s also been the touring drummer for such acts as Nebula, Cult Of Youth, Castanets, Cloudland Canyon, and Amy Annelle’s The Places.  Michael had a great rock band called Whooping Crane that eventually changed names to Strange Haze and he was a touring member of Tav Falco’s Panther Burns band for many years.  Joe had a great doom band called King Resin, but they only played one show, and nobody was there to see it, yet the echoes carry on, and the resin still hits…

How old are you and where are you originally from?

We’re only one and a half years old as a band, and we live in Brooklyn, New York.

What was the local scene like there when you were growing up?  Did you see a lot of shows growing up?  Do you feel like the local scene there played a very large or important role influencing your musical influences or in shaping the way that you perform today?

We’re not related to anything local here.  We just live here.  Of course we saw a lot of shows growing up!  Every experience from the past informs the future, but our biggest influences are things we’ve never seen, nor heard in person!

What about your home?  Were either of your parents or any of your relatives musicians or maybe just extremely interested or involved with music when you were a kid?

My mom was an old school hippie.  She saw The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Grateful Dead, etcetera; pretty much every band that came through New York City or New Jersey in the mid-to-late 60’s and 70’s.  So, I was raised going to concerts.  I saw all of the classic bands when they toured in the 80’s, of course it wasn’t the same, and I was with my mom, ha-ha, but yes, it was very influential!  Plus, she had friends who showed me heavier music like metal and prog when I was young!  My mother played accordion growing up, but as far as I know I’m the only performing musician, or artist in any way, in my entire family, on all sides.

What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music?

I do not remember life without music.  There has always been music intentionally being played my whole life, tapes, LPs, concerts, etcetera.

If you were to pick a single moment, a moment that seemed to change everything and opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities that music can present, what would it be?

I sure do, and I have written about this moment before in an interview with Dustedmagazine.com back in 2007.  It was finally “getting” free-jazz when listening to the Faith & Power: An ESP-Disk Sampler CD that came free with Wire Magazine issue #221 in 2002.


When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what brought that decision about for you?  What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that?

I started to play music in grade school and onward into high school, which included clarinet, flute, and piano lessons, and I played in the concert band, like every kid does.  But, I always wanted to play drums, although I didn’t know why…  A premonition, who can say?  Anyway, my mother always denied me that because we were poor, lived in a small apartment, and there was no money to buy drums and no place to play them.  But eventually, when I was sixteen, I bought a drum kit with my own money, and never looked back.  I started a hardcore band soon after that and, on and on…

When and how did you all originally meet?  What led to the formation of The Golden Grass and when would that have been?

We met at an ice cream shop.  It was fate really, as I was asking for a double scoop of mint chocolate chip, and Michael was asking for extra malted, and Joe wanted rainbow sprinkles, not chocolate ones, and then we all looked at each other, with hearts in our eyes, and we awkwardly asked each other if we “played with anyone else”, and no one did.  We were all looking for “someone new to play with”, so we went to a small room and played with each other, and it was sooooo good.  So, we kept doing it.

What does The Golden Grass mean or refer to?  Who came up with the name and how did you originally go about choosing it?

It’s an obscure reference to a mistranslated Elv-ish manuscript from the unpublished forth Lord Of The Rings book.  Joe wanted to call the band THE IS-WHAT-IT-IS but Adzo and Micky thought that was too intellectual for cats these days, so we stuck with The Golden Grass.

Is there any sort of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Keep it groovy, keep it swinging, and if the girls don’t like it, we’re doing it wrong!


Where are you all located at right now?

I’m in my bedroom in Brooklyn answering these questions, Micky is on top of the Empire State Building taunting penguins and Joe is still waiting for his rainbow sprinkles at the ice cream shop.  We’ll all be meeting up for rehearsal at 1 PM today, though!

How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at?

Simple, it’s not “where we’re at” at all!

Do you feel like you’re very involved in the local scene?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or anything?

Since rock n roll is dead in New York City, I go to a lot of metal/black metal/doom type of shows because it’s the closest I can get to what I really want to hear.  Occasionally, I find some new groups I really love, like Mournful Congregation.  I go to lots of shows because I’m always hoping to get turned on to something cool or have a good time.  It’s rare that I do, but I keep trying!


Has the local scene played a large or important role in the sound, history or evolution of The Golden Grass?  Or do you feel like you all could be doing what you are and sound like you do regardless of where all were at or what you were surrounded by?

I think that salted-peanuts have influenced our band more than the local music scene.

You all have a sweet sound that comprises a lot of classic and contemporary influences from what I can tell.  I’m curious who you’d cite as your major musical influences?  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

The biggest musical influence on our band is Chris Farlowe eating a sandwich, pastrami, presumably, while singing “Black Snake”, when he was in Atomic Rooster.

How would you describe The Golden Grass’ sound to our readers who might not have heard you before in your own words?

One hundred percent punk/hardcore free, zero percent irony, and heavy soulful boogie rock that lifts you up and keeps ya there!

What’s the songwriting process like with The Golden Grass?  Is there someone who usually comes in to practice with a riff or a more complete idea for a song to work out and compose with the rest of you, or do you all just kind of get together and kick ideas back and forth until you work something out that you dig?

We accept all forms of process.  There are many paths, yet only one truth.  Go!


What about recording?  I’m a musician myself and I think that most of us can appreciate the end result of all the time, work and hard effort that goes into recording an album when you’re holding that finished product in your hands.  Getting to that point though and getting stuff recorded and sounding the way that you want it to, especially as a band, can be extremely difficult to say the least.  What’s it like recording for The Golden Grass?

Very easy, we love the studio, we rehearse constantly.  We go in and paint our masterpiece, and utilize the technicians and engineers that are absolute experts at their game to help us achieve the perfect outcome!  It’s pure joy when we record, no stress whatsoever.  As a producer, I’ve never had a group so easy to capture the exact vision!

Do you all prefer to head into the studio and let someone else handle the technical aspects of recording so you can concentrate on performing, or do you all like to take a more DIY approach to handling that kind of thing?

The studio technicians and engineers are part of the team along with us that make the album come to reality.  The whole process is fluid, open, dynamic, and focused.

Is there a lot of time and preparation that goes into getting a song to sound just the way that you want it to with every change and aspect of the song worked out ahead of time?  Or do you all get a good idea of what a song’s going to sound like while leaving some room for the song to evolve and breathe during the recording process?

Our recorded versions always include overdubs of extra vocals and guitars, obviously, and sometimes an organ or extra percussion, etcetera.  We usually have the ideas in place before we go in to record, but once we’re in the process, we just have fun until the tune is finished.  Our music is built with breath included and our songs are always played fresh.  Our music is alive.

2013 was a busy year for The Golden Grass.  You all released the 456th Div. demo cassette tape, in two pressings limited to 75 copies.  Did you all release that yourselves or was that put out through someone?  Who recorded the material for 456th Div.?  When and where was that recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?

It was issued on my label In For The Kill.  Two songs were early demos, one song was recorded live at our first gig, and one song is a rough mix of the A-side to our 7”.  We released the tape because our 7” was delayed and we needed something to start selling at live gigs.


You also released the “One More Time” b/w “Tornado” 7” single on Svart/Electric Assault Records limited to only 400 copies worldwide in 2013.  Were those tracks written or recorded specifically for that release or had they been around for a while looking for a place to call their home?  If they were recorded specifically for the single can you tell us about that?


We selected and recorded those tracks specifically for the release.


You all have started off 2014 strong with the release of your debut full-length album, the Self-Titled CD/LP on Svart Records.  Do you feel like you all have learned a lot since the release of 456th Div. last year?  Did you all try anything radically new or different when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material for The Golden Grass release?

No, we didn’t do anything differently.

I know there was a Beer Colored Vinyl version of the album which was limited to only 100 copies but when I was looking around I also noticed that there’s a Green Vinyl version but I couldn’t find out how many copies that’s limited to, do you know?  And is the Black Vinyl version of the album an open-ended release or is that limited as well?


I don’t know the numbers, it’s not really that important.  What is important though, is that clear green vinyl rules!


Do The Golden Grass have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, a single or a song on a compilation that I might not know about?  I know you all recorded a track for a compilation a few months back but haven’t seen it pop up on anything quite yet.

We have a track on the Sweet Time Vol. 2 compilation 7” coming out on Who Can You Trust? Records and we’ll be issuing a European tour 7” this November when we’re there on tour.

With the release of the Self-Titled album not too long ago does The Golden Grass have any releases in the works or on the horizon at this point?  I know I read somewhere that you all had begun seriously tracking some demos for your next release already, busy dudes that you are!

We’ve got about ten new songs we’re working on, all in various stages of completion.

With the completely insane postage rate increases that have been steadily rising over the past few years I try and provide our readers with as many options for picking up releases as I can.  Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up your stuff?


With international postage the way it is I especially try and provide places for people to pick up import releases.  Where’s the best place for our international and overseas readers to pick up your stuff?


And where’s the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases?

The Golden Grass Facebook page.

Are there any major plans or goals that The Golden Grass are looking to accomplish in 2014?

Just some minor goals, like purchasing a cheese slicer, hemming our trousers, that sort of thing.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?  Do you all enjoy touring?  What’s life like out on the road for The Golden Grass?

We go out on the road a few a days every month, we try to stay busy.  First real tour is this November in Europe.  Touring is fun, typical stuff like fast women, crazy drugs, motorcycles, gang fights, stabbings, helicopter getaways, that sort of thing.

Do you remember what the first song that The Golden Grass ever played live was?  Where and when would that have been at?

Our first show was at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, September 6th, 2013 and the first song was “Please Man”.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?

Some of the best bands we’ve played with are: Ecstatic Vision, Satan’s Satyrs, Natur, Hessian, Metalleg, Outsideinside, Electric Lucifer, Night Bitch, Electric Citizen, Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Verma, Main Street Gospel…  Maybe I am forgetting some bands.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

The Merry Pranksters, on the bus.

Do you have any funny interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?


No, you have to come to the shows and create some new funny stories with us.


Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent like, flyers, posters, covers and shirt designs?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re tying to convey with your artwork?  Do you all have anyone that you usually turn to when it comes to that kind of thing?

Yes, it’s a big deal.  Some of our talented artist friends who have helped us are: Niko Potočnjak, Soner Ön, Marylene May, Max Warmbrodt, Jesse Balgley, Stephen Voland, and JD Emrich.

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various methods that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your music?  What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music?

Vinyl rules, tapes rule, CDs rule, sounds rule!  Put it on, smoke a big one, enjoy!

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so, can you tell us a bit about it?

No hip-hop, ever!  Everything else is cool.

There’s always been something magical about an album to me.  Kicking back with a set of headphones, reading the liner notes, staring at the cover artwork and just letting the whole thing carry me off on this trip, it’s better than drugs for me to be honest.  Having something to hold in my hands, something to physically experience along with the music always made for a much more complete listening experience, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Yes of course.

As much as I love my music collection I try and keep as much of a digital backup as I can for several reasons.  Probably my favorite thing about digital music is how it’s allowed me to really take my collection on the go with me for the first time in my life.  It’s really changed what I listen to as I don’t have to go through everything I own if I feel like finding a particular album.  Beyond that though, when you team digital music with the internet, that’s when you really have something on your hands.  Together they’ve exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and allowed people to have unparalleled access to and communication with the bands that they like.  On the other hand, while people may be exposed to more music than ever there not necessarily paying much attention or inclined to pay for it.  Illegal downloading is running rampant right now and with everyone being given a somewhat equal voice thanks to the internet it’s harder than ever to get noticed in the chocked digital jungle out there.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

I don’t care.  Put the music on and enjoy it, what more can we ask for?

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but I swear there just aren’t enough hours in the day to sift through one percent of the amazing stuff that’s floating around out there.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Refer back to the bands we’ve played with that I mentioned above.

What about nationally and internationally?

The Tower, Skogen Brinner, Seremonia, everything on Who CanYou Trust? Records, Plant Tribe, Cheap Thrill, Hooded Menace, Mounrful Congregation, Saturnalia Temple, everything on Electric Assault Records, Lesbian and their side band Fungal Abyss, Danava, Glitter Wizard, everything that Chad Davis does especially his cosmic music, everything on Sound Of Cobra Records, Seven That Spells and their side band Jastreb.

Thanks so much for doing this.  I know my interviews aren’t short but I sure as hell know they’re informative and I really appreciate you taking the time to fill in our readers about so much of the history of the band and sharing stories, it’s been a blast!  Before we call it a day, sign off and ride into the sunset is there anything that I might have missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about at this point?

Thanks for the interview.  Keep on groovin’ and keep on movin’…  Down the line!


DISCOGRAPHY
(2013)  The Golden Grass – 456th Div. – Cassette Tape – In For The Kill Records (1st pressing limited to 50 copies with patch, 2nd pressing limited to 25 copies with patch)
(2013)  The Golden Grass – “One More Time” b/w “Tornado” – 7” – Svart/Electric Assault Records (Limited to 400 copies, 200 copies in the US and 200 copies in Europe)
(2014)  The Golden Grass – The Golden Grass – CD, 12” – Svart Records (Beer Colored Vinyl with patch and stickers limited to 100 copies, Green Vinyl limited to ? copies)


Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Förtress interview with John Madsen


Delivering a hefty dose of riff-worship via Sabbath and Mötorhead with deafening, skull crushing stoner psych noise and solos that tear through the ether like razors through flesh in the vein of Van Halen meets Earthless, Förtress is leaving little more than a decimated pile of noise in their wake.  So far, they’ve dished out two heaping helpings of their psychedelic, stoner metal, sludge rock in the form of two consecutive EPs in 2013, Of Bones and Legends.  I wandered across some live Here Today Sessions that I’ve linked below and was instantly floored by their visceral combination of all that I hold holy and dear about psychedelic music and the infusion of the occult obsessed brutality and aggression of early 70’s proto-metal without loosing any of the luster, appeal, or energy of either part of the equation.  While effortlessly performing their death defying genre balancing act, Förtress keep busy crafting some of the best head-bangin’, face meltin’, ass kickin’ music that’s out there right now.  God damn is it nice to hear a band that’s not only able to pull off dual-lead lines, but who’s capable of simultaneously interweaving solos along the way that slither and glide like a demonic serpent between notes, swells, crescendos, and breaks, sewing destruction, fire, adrenaline and havoc wherever they tread.  It’s not just the guitars that grabbed me by the balls when I heard these guys for the first time though, not only could I hear their lead singer, but he had lyrics and I could understand what he was singing about.  Real lyrics, not toss away shit I won’t remember in twenty-minutes, the kind of vivid imagery that instantly draws you in like the intoxicating vapors of a witch’s incense burning in the blackest darkness of man’s subconscious, the promise of power from the lord of the pit risen to deliver whatever you desire most, the sweetness of the apple in the Garden Of Eden…  The second time I ever heard “Forest of The Wicked” I was already chanting the words along, pumping my fist in the air and shouting at the empty room around me and I knew I was going to have to track these dudes down!  I try to explore every corner of the globe musically, simply probing for the best of what’s out there right now and it’s times like this that I’m happy I do what I do because I may have otherwise never come across these guys.  Enough of the words though, I won’t bore you any further with unneeded introductions I’ll let the music do the talking, click the links below to stream some sweet music and videos and read on for an extremely enlightening conversation about all things Förtress with bass player John Madsen – and remember, keep it psychedelic baby!
Here Today Session – Live Session:  Howl, Stampede, Forest of The Wicked, Year ofThe Witch


I only recently found out about you guys, what’s the lineup in Förtress at this point?  Is this the original lineup or have you all changed lineups at all since you started playing together?

Förtress is:
Lead vocals and guitar - Nicklas “Mr Sex” Kirchert
Backing vocals and guitar - Simon Sonne Andersen
Backing volcas and drums - Cato “Tisse” Jørgensen
Backing vocals and bass - John Madsen


We only started the band two years ago and back then we were called Fortress.  But a polish neo-Nazi band had the same name, so we changed our name to Förtress, hah!  The line-up is the original one, though.

Are any of you in any other bands at this point or do you have any active side projects at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone else in the past?  If so, can you tell us a bit about that?

Simon plays and writes the music in the blackened death metal band By The Patient.  I think they’ve released two or three EP's and are just on the verge of releasing their third full-length. Check 'em out they're really talented.  Nicklas and Cato play together in a prog band called Cacafogo.  They’re just about to release their debut album.  It's a great ensemble of musicians.  I've only recently started to play, so for now Förtress is my only project where I play music.  But I’m a booking agent for other musicians, so my life is pretty much all about the sweet tunes, man.

How old are you and where are you originally from?

We're all around the same age, ranging from twenty-six to twenty-nine.  We're all from Denmark, but two of us are from the northern most part and the other two are from the south-eastern area.  We all met in Copenhagen and became friends.  Some odd years later, we started a band.  And look at us now, ha-ha!

What as the local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you see a lot of shows growing up?  Do you feel like that scene played a large or important role in shaping your musical tastes or in the way that you perform at this point?

I’m from a small island called Bornholm where we had one real venue.  We started a festival back there in those days, because of the lack of interesting musical and cultural offerings for kids my age back then.  Of course you’re somewhat influenced by what’s going on locally as well as nationally, but I think my friends and good tunes influenced me the most; what I value as a good tune that is.

What was your home like when you were growing up?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or maybe just extremely interested or involved in music when you were growing up?

Neither of my parents play anything, but they were totally supportive of what I did.  And when I came home and said that I wanted to start a festival they both got involved right away.  Actually, everyone got involved in some way or another and the festival is still a part of the local community today.  I think this is the either or ninth year.  I’m actually hosting it and Förtress is playing!  It’s called Wonderfestiwall and is located at the foot of a great rock with an oldmedieval fortress on top, he-he!  The circle is complete!

What do you consider your first real exposure to music to be?

I dunno man, my mom singing lullabies when I was a kid, or listening to Metallica, or The Red Hot Chili Peppers through my brother’s door when I was a kid…  I remember years later, during my preteens, when I actually put on those records myself I didn't know that it was the same bands I had listened to coming from my older brother’s room, 'cause the fucker never wanted to tell me what it was, ha-ha!  But I recognized the songs and loved 'em even more.

If you were to pick a moment, a moment that seemed to change everything and open your eyes up to the infinite possibilities of music, what would it be?

The first time I stood on a stage in front of a crowd.  It was September 2012.  We played in front of a sold out venue with seven hundred people or so, because we were supporting a locally known rap group.  I had never played an instrument outside the rehearsal space and I was shitting bricks.  But the young rap fans just connected with our energy in this tongue-in-cheek way.  I think it was kind of an epiphany for me, you know?  I was twenty-five at the time and I realized that I'm able to do what ever the fuck I want.  Very carpe diem-ish I know, but still very true.

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get it?

Bass guitar.  Two years ago.  I think I “borrowed” it.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what brought that decision about for you?

That too goes a couple of years back.  Simon and I knew each other from Bornholm where we grew up but we really started becoming friends when we moved to Copenhagen.  Here we started working together at a daycare center, you know, for toddlers.  And in between changing diapers and feeding the little dudes, we found that we had similar tastes in music.  We liked and disliked the same things and at one point we looked at each other and went, “You look mighty fine with your beard and tattoos, and you listen to some great jams.  Do you wanna form a band?”  At that point I couldn't play a thing.  Simon told me I should just pick up the bass and he could teach me the basics.  I’ve always read a lot, so writing lyrics came naturally to me.  We headhunted the two other dudes and now two years later we’ve just played Roskilde Festival, Northern Europe's biggest festival; which was a big deal for us!

Is there any sort of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

We drink a lot.  We talk about girls a lot.  We smoke a lot.  Kinda what every rock band does I think, ha-ha-ha.  Oh yeah, and we really have a shitload of fun playing and we don't try to hide it on stage.  If one of us starts laughing during a show we never hide it.  We encourage it.  The rock scene, maybe especially the Danish one, can be so introverted and serious all the time, which is fine let me be clear about that, but we just got bored with that and wanted to do something different.  We want to rock like in the old days.  We just wanna have a good time and show people that it’s okay to laugh even though you wear black, ha-ha.

Where’s Förtress located at?

We’re located in Denmark, Copenhagen on the island of Amager; and damn proud of it!   A lot of people seem to frown upon Amager, because dudes and dudettes out here are kinda cray cray.  But that's how we like it.  A lot of our friends from other bands rehearse out here as well.  So, we have a strong little community of bands helping each other and playing with each other and having fund-raising parties, and that kinda stuff.  Oh yeah, and the rent is affordable.

How would you describe the local music scene where you all are at?

People are into rap and indie music, which is cool.  I like a lot of rap and I like the energy of it.  I like a lot of indie bands too, but it's really angry, or sad, or like I said before, introverted.  This is where, and why, we fit in the Danish music scene.  Bands like us have been missing.  I think people in our country are oversaturated with these kinds of vibes from music.  We try to make people party and forget they have to look cool and be angry.  We try to make them raise their devil horns and go, “Fuck my ex-girlfriend, fuck that I have to go to work at seven, fuck that I need to look cool.  I wanna party with these dudes!”  And it’s actually working.  We see so many different people coming out to our shows.  From the high school girls, to the skater dudes, and the ol' timers who listened to Sabbath and that kinda stuff back in the day.  Actually, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the Danish underground rock scene right now, and we’re definitely a part of it.  The last ten years or so the scene has been close to death, but now all kinds of rock bands are forming and playing shows and getting the crowds going.  I don't think we kick-started the scene, but we and a handful of other cool bands picked up rock music at a time where Danish rock music wasn't listened to that much in our home country.  But we’ve all been fighting, proving ourselves and winning ground.  We’re a part of a rock crusade and we won't stop until we’ve won over every single person out there.

Do you feel like you’ve very involved in the local scene at all?  Do you book or attend a lot of shows or anything?

We’re definitely a part of the local rock scene and it’s growing, and more and more people are listening, coming to the shows, and buying our shit every day.  It’s an amazing time to be involved in the Danish rock community.  We play a lot of shows.  I think we’ve played fifty plus shows in our tiny country this year so far, and we’re going international this year as well.  We have some dates planned in the Netherlands this October.  It's gonna be great.  And yeah, of course we attend a lot of shows.  I think I go to at least one concert a week and at least a festival a month.

Are you involved in recording or releasing any local music at all?  If so, can you tell us a bit about that here?

Well we are local music, so I guess we’re involved.  We recorded our latest EP Legends at Danish legendary producer Jacob Bredahl's Dead Rat Studio in Aarhus.  And yeah, well, the scene is blossoming with local bands getting record deals, putting out records, getting booking deals, touring the festival circuit.  A shit load of stuff is happening for the rock bands in our country.  I work as a booking agent for other Danish artists so I'm involved that way as well, promoting and getting jobs for great musicians.  But it’s totally different genres of music, mostly reggae and dancehall; but you just can't fuck with good tunes now, can you?

In your opinion has the local scene played a large or integral part in the formation, history, sound or evolution of Förtress as a band?  Or, do you all feel like you could be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do regardless of where you were at or what you were surrounded by?

Oh, it did.  We started Förtress because we were so bored with what the local scene had to offer for guys who liked rock and metal.  So, Förtress is the spawn of Simon’s and my own frustration.  We couldn’t figure out why Norway and Sweden could produce so many talented and really good rock and metal bands, when we in Denmark only had Volbeat at the time; although ten years before it had been D-A-D.  So, we took matters into our own hands and made Förtress a product of what we liked to listen to and what we liked in a bands visual profile and how they acted on stage.  We just stepped it up a notch and showed, mostly ourselves, that it’s possible for Danish dudes to make good ass rock.

You all have any extremely cool sound.  How would you describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?

I think it’s a mixture of a lot of stuff.  There’s definitely some 70's vibes going on with some Sabbath stuff and Thin Lizzy, but there’s some 80's in there too.  And of course we’re also influenced by more modern bands, Mastodon, Red Fang, Kvelertak, The Sword and stuff like that.  But to put it short, I think we’re just playing hard rock and we like to party.  So, if you like beer and you like to have fun, then chances are you’re gonna like us!

Speaking of what you all sound like, I’m curious to hear who you’d cite as some of your major musical influences?  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

Well, a lot of the above answers actually cover that question, but I personally like a lot of stoner stuff too, stuff like Weedeater and Conan.  The musical range is quite large in this band.  We listen to everything from hip-hop to classical, but of course our hearts are totally devoted to all things rock and metal.


What’s the songwriting process like for Förtress?  Is there someone who usually comes to the rest of the band with a riff, or maybe a more finished idea for a song, to work out with the rest of you?  Or do you all just get together and kind of kick ideas back and forth until you kind of distill an idea from it all that you can work with?

Simon usually has a riff or two in the bag.  Then we try to put it together with some other stuff, sometimes by jamming, other times by just tossing ideas out.  When we have a song put together I start writing the lyrics.  The others sometimes kick in with ideas for the lyrics and when we’re all happy, we have a finished song.  It’s a very democratic process, everybody is heard and every opinion counts, but we’re all quite aware what our sound is, so we almost instantly know which direction we’re going with a new song.

What about recording?  I think that most musicians can obviously appreciate all the time and effort that goes into the recording of an album when you’re holding that album in your hands.  But getting to that point, getting stuff recorded and sounding the way that you want it too, especially as a band, can be extremely difficult to say the least.  What’s it like recording for Förtress?

We have some real tech nerds in the band.  They really get into the recording process and listen to the stuff over and over again to make sure that it sounds good, that we sound the way we’re supposed to.  So, I’m not afraid that the next record is gonna sound amazing.  We’re actually planning to go into the studio during August and September, and we’re looking into all different kinds of ideas regarding studios, producers, and mixing and mastering.  It’s very exciting.  But first, we need to write a bunch of new songs which is always super fun.  You get together with the guys for a longer period of time, and you fart a lot and talk mostly bullshit, and then you jam together.  I love that.

Do you all take a more DIY approach to recording where you all handle the technical aspects of things so that you don’t have to work with or compromise on the sound at all with anyone else?  Or do you all like to head into the studio and let someone else handle that side of things so you call can kind of concentrate on getting the best performances possible out of yourselves?

Simon is very into the studio process, so he always gets really involved; and Nicklas too.  Well, we all do in our own different way, I guess.  I too, of course, want the record to sound amazing, but it’s not me who’s sitting up till two in the morning listening to the stuff over and over again.  I leave that for some of the other dudes.

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into getting something to sound exactly the way you want it to, every aspect all worked out and planned before you all record?  Or do you all get a good skeletal idea of what a song’s going to sound like, but allow for some room for change and evolution during the recording process?

Some things are pretty rehearsed and we know exactly what to do when we record it.  Last time we went to record though, one of the songs was half finished and had no lyrics whatsoever.  So, when I finished my bass lines I had to go to the next room and write lyrics but I actually liked that song the most when we finished recording.

Do psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs play an important role in the sound, songwriting or recording processes, or the performance aspect of Förtress at all?  There are a lot of musicians that really appreciate and utilize the altered states that drugs of any sort produce and harness them for the creative process and I’m always curious about it.

I smoke a shitload of weed; the others not so much.  All of us really like beer and it’s almost certain that at least one of us will get hammered while rehearsing, but we’re actually pretty good at not getting drunk before we get on stage because every one of us loves to be up there and being shitfaced on stage would just dilute the experience of it.  After the show though, all of us get super wasted!  That’s why it’s important to have good roadies who both know how to handle your gear, as well as help you when you’re drunk trying to carry your gear, ha-ha!

You all released two EPs in 2013. There was Of Bones which I know was released digitally and Legends which was released as a 12” LP. Can you tell us about the recording of the material for Of Bones? When and where was that material recorded? Who recorded it? What kind of equipment was used? Was Of Bones ever physically released or is that a digital only release?


We released Of Bones together with our first label, the Copenhagen-based Black Cheese Records.  At first, we didn't release it digitally but as a very limited cassette tape.  I think we made a total of fifty tapes and we gave like ten away, but we sold the last of them on our first tour.  They went like cold lemonade on a hot ass day.  Our old record label boss had to manually sit and record all the tapes by you know rewinding, recording, stop, turn tape, rewind, record, and so on, and so on.  We owe him a huge thanks.  He was the first motherfucker who believed in us and he did a ton of shit for us for free!  We recorded all of it in our old rehearsal space on shitty or old equipment.  It only cost fifty dollars worth of hash that we gave to the guys recording it.  It has a very rough and “fuck-it-let's-just-go” vibe to it.


As I mentioned before you all also dropped the Legends EP in 2013 as well.  Was the recording of the material for Legends very different than the session(s) for Of Bones?  Who recorded that material and where was at?  When would that have been and what kind of equipment was used in this case?


I think I pretty much answered that earlier.  We recorded it at Dead Rat Studio with Jacob Bredahl.  Danish metal royalty.


Does Förtress have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a song on a compilation or a demo that I’m not aware of?

No not really. We’re about to go into the writing process to write new stuff for our full-length debut, so that should be a lot of fun.  I can't really talk that much about it because we haven't decided more definitely about the process.  But I can assure you that it is gonna kick ass and we’re trying to stay true to our own sound, as well as stepping it the fuck up.  But hey, people should just come to one of our shows.  If they like that energy, they’ll like the record as well.

With the release of your two EPs last year are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon for Förtress at this point?

He-he, yes.  A full-length, hopefully in early 2015.

With the completely insane international postage rate increases that just don’t seem to be letting up where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up your stuff?

Well, God bless iTunes and Spotify.  And hey holler at us if you want!  We’re always trying to help if we can and we answer every request personally.

What about our international and overseas readers?

I like them, I think.  I haven't met them, but they seem real nice!  And don't you motherlickers worry.  We’re coming for you!

And where’s the best place to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases from Förtress at?

Facebook I’m sad to say it a necessary evil.  It keeps us connected with you guys and that’s why I love it.  You can also find us on twitter: @fortressdk or instagram: @fortressdk.

Are there any major goals or plans that you’re looking to accomplish in the rest of 2014 or 2015?

Yeah, we’re going to tour internationally this year and hopefully more so in 2015.  We played Roskilde Festival this summer, which was the initial goal for Förtress when we started out.  Now, I’d like to get booked for that festival again and another personal goal for me is to tour Europe and the States with an established band, such as maybe Valient Thorr, Mötorhead or dudes like that.  I'm certain it’s gonna happen at some point.  We just gotta keep rocking hard, grabbing people by the nuts and forcing them to like us!


Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?  Do you enjoy touring?  What’s life like out on tour for Förtress?

I love fucking touring.  It is hands down the most fun time.  You drive around with your friends all day, cracking jokes, eating bad food, drinking beers and listening to music.  Then you get to the venue, have sound check, dinner, you play the show, meet a bunch of cool new people and after that you drive some more, get some more beers, get hammered and do a ton of stupid shit on the road.  Then you wake up and you start over.  Of course after a while it gets kinda trivial, but it truly is a good time.  I love every second of it and I feel privileged that I’m able to do it at all.


What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year (2014)?

Well, we’re still playing the Danish festival circuit.  I think we have five shows left during the festival season.  After that we’re touring Denmark and the Netherlands in October.  But we’re primarily going to focus on writing and recording new material this fall.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you all have had a chance to play with over the past few years?

We’ve supported Kvelertak, Valient Thorr and Hark recently.  Those guys are really cool and we’ve had such an amazing time already.  We’re all excited about who's gonna be the next cool band we get to support.  I'm hoping Mötorhead.  That would be like a childhood dream come true for me.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Mötorhead and Valient Thorr, fifty dates all across the U.S.  That, my friend, would fucking rock!

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

When we played at our release party for Legends, a party where my mom showed up, our drummer Cato played completely naked, ha-ha-ha.  My mom was in the front row, just in front of me.  She didn't see his dick at first because she was taking pictures of me, ha-ha, but when she did see it she went completely red and ran to the back of the crowd.  Man, I would love to see the pictures she snapped; a lot of ball action going on I reckon.  One time a large part of the crowd was crazy drunk at our sound check, so they started moshing and crowdsurfing for the fucking sound check.  And when our drummer was done these really wasted dudes came up to him all cross-eyed and just gave him bro love, you know?  Like, “Wow man you are an amazing drummer.  That was the best drum solo ever” ha-ha-ha-ha, during the fucking soundcheck.  Ha-ha-ha, the rest of us just laughed our asses of.

© Michael Boe Laigaard 2013

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like fliers, posters, shirt designs, covers and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you attempt to convey with your artwork at all?  Is there anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to that kind of thing?

We give a lot of thought to that stuff.  I think it’s really important to have a complete product.  And as a band, I think that the visual aspects, like how we dress and act on and off stage, cover art, stickers and stuff like that is almost as important as the music.  Needless to say, the music takes priority, but these things come in as a close second.  And this is not news.  All the greatest bands in the world do this.  Even if they say they don't.  Actually, everybody does this.  Not just bands.  When you want to make a product that other people would like, you have to put your heart into it.  The closer we can come to a total package where everything seems “Förtressy” the better, you know what I mean?  We play bare chested, we have tattoos and beards and long hair.  This gives us, and the crowd, a sense of unity.  I write lyrics about black magic, witches, well generally occult stuff, 'cause I draw inspiration from fantasy, D&D and Magic Cards and stuff like that.  So, of course the cover of Legends was done by magic card artist Rob Alexander, who tried to work all the song titles into the front cover.  From my point of view, there has to be a cohesive line going straight through what you’re trying to project and get people excited about.

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference, can you talk a little bit about why?

I prefer vinyl by far.  But I listen to iTunes mostly, because I use it when I'm biking around town getting from point A to point B.  When I'm at home and I want to check out an artist or band I just heard about I usually use Spotify, because you can listen to all their stuff for a small fee.  As a band we like to put our music out physically one way or the other, but we’re grateful for iTunes and Spotify, so we can get our music out to a potential worldwide crowd.  Technology, uuuh!

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

But of course.  I think we all have one.  We all like to present new and old new stuff to each other and we influence and learn from each other all the time.  My collection is mostly rock and metal.  I’ve got a shitload of CDs, because when I grew up that was the preferred medium.  I only started my vinyl collection a year or so ago, but it’s getting decent.  I try to buy the bands vinyl every time I go to a show.  I also have a lot of my moms old 7”s like The Beatles, Credence and old Danish singers.  It's pretty cool to drop some acid and listen to them.

I grew up around a large collection of music and my dad would always take me out and pick me up random stuff from the local shops that I thought looked cool and from a pretty young age I developed a deep appreciation for physically released music.  I would kick back with a set of headphones, read the liner notes, stare at the cover and let the whole experience carry me off on this trip.  Having something physical to hold and experience along with the music always made for a much more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Of course!  Who doesn't??  I think everybody around our age has done that at least once in their life.  We still do it.  That’s how you're supposed to listen to music.

Like it or not, digital music is here in a big way.  In a lot of ways though digital music is just the tip of the iceberg, when you combine it with the internet; then you have something really revolutionary on your hands.  Together they’ve exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and it’s almost eradicated geographic boundaries and limitations overnight.  On the other hand though, while people are being exposed to more and more music they’re not necessarily interested in paying for it and for a lot of people music is becoming this disposable experience to be used and then forgotten about when you’re done with it.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

The music made to be disposable, will be so, and will fade away within a couple of years or whatever, so I'm not afraid.  It will sort itself out and have a short life, because it’s made to be that way.  The music that’s created as a piece of art and is meant to live on forever will do so.  Music fans will always uphold the truly beautiful music, so I'm not afraid.  Rock and roll may fade away from time to time, as Alex Tuner said, but it will always resurface when it’s most needed and there’s nothing the labels and the moneymakers can do about it.  As long as there is music, there will be people with soul and depth and the will to make it, regardless of the money or current trends.

I try to keep up with as many bands as I possibly can but there’s just not enough time to sort through even one percent of the amazing stuff out there right now.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of?

You should definitely give Pet The Preacher a listen.  They’re an extremely talented trio powerhouse playing dirty blues-infused sludgy rock.  They’re good friends of ours and they really rock.  They just toured with Pentagram and Acid King.  Of course, you should check out Simon’s other band By The Patient if you're into death metal.

What about nationally and internationally?

I really love this Danish band called Spids Nøgenhat (Liberty Cap).  They’re a 70's themed band.  They sing in Danish about freedom, love, smoking weed and the occasional acid trip.  I don't think the language is a barrier though, because the beauty and truth of the music speaks for itself.  I'm really into Weedeater.  It's just heavy and slow, and about smoking weed and drinking some beer and whiskey; fun lyrics too.   You should check out Behemoth as well if you don't know them already.  They’re this Polish blackened death metal band who are just amazing!  It’s like going to a satanic mass watching one of their shows.


Thank you so much for taking the time to make it this far.  This took me a while to put together and I know it has to have taken you a while to finish!  I swear I don’t have anything else to spring on you or anything.  Before we call it a day and everything though, after having played twenty questions with you, I’d like to open the floor up to all for a moment.  Is there anything that you’d like to talk to me or the readers about at this point?

We’re just excited that you guys wanna talk with us and like our jams.  Thanks a bunch man.  It's so overwhelming that people from far away actually listen to, and like, our stuff.  Thank you from the darkest pit of my tiny black heart.  And we wanna come party soon!  Bars, venues, child birthdays, taking your dog to the farm, vaginal exams…  If there's a stage we will rock it!

DISCOGRAPHY
(2013) Förtress – Of Bones EP – Digital, Cassette Tape – Black Cheese Records (Limited to 50 cassette tapes)
(2013) Förtress – Legends EP – Digital, 12” – Warner Music Denmark


Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014