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Album Review: TBA

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Interview: Ungdomskulen

Ungdomskulen, a Norwegian trio of uber-geeks, are currently melding rock and dance together to produce some staggeringly vibrant and compelling sounds. They can be found supporting The Young Knives up and down the UK on the back of their latest release, 'Cry Baby', and I managed to yank the band's Kristian Stockhaus away long enough to quiz him on his knowledge of his homeland and The Dark Knight.

Can you describe what life is like back in your home city of Bergen in Norway?

It’s like Fawlty Towers but without the old drunken general spinning around and lots of RAIN.

You’ve been through several band name changes before finally settling. What were they?

Standing Ovation, Goddamnit and Thundersome which we used for one concert only.

I liked the band name ‘Goddamnit’ by the way. Any reason why you changed?
We changed that name ‘cause we really wanted to crack the Christian-rock market.

As I understand it Ungdomskulen is Norwegian for ‘youth school’. Did you choose it because you have fond schoolboy memories?

We had very mixed feelings about school, but the vibe in "middle school" is intense and all over the place, and that’s what we wanna be as well.

Tell us about the song ‘Ungdomskulen’. Is it really a tribute to yourselves?

Yes, it’s a tribute to ourselves and the trials and tribulations that we have gone through over the years. It’s important to give the band a little carrot that a tribute-song can be, when they’ve/we’ve worked so hard.

You’ve been labelled as “math-rock” and “frantic dance-punk” before but how would you describe your sound?

Punk-prog covered in digital ketchup.

Your first album was called ‘Surf’s Up’. Do you enjoy riding the waves?

It’s about surfing porn and not about surfing waves. We wouldn’t last a minute on a surf-board.

You’re a trio of musicians and have likened yourself to a three-headed jungle animal. What would your mating call sound like?

It would sound like the voice of god laughing through a thick layer of flanger.

You keep a blog of your various exploits. Do you feel it’s important to provide a particularly personal insight into your world?

Yes and no. I think that band’s homepages can get a bit serious and anal. A blog is more vibrant and experimental and helps to keep things fresh. It’s not really newsworthy stuff we put on there but more of general vibe of the band as far as thoughts and art goes and if the common man is interested that’s a killer.

I understand you didn’t particularly enjoy our capital’s Underground system! What happened?

We do enjoy it. It’s only a bit confusing for the naive country-lads that we are. We are not used to metal-horses cruising the underworld but we are really for public transport. Save the planet!

Last time we interviewed you guys you’d just about to release ‘Cry Baby’. Has the extra media attention and increased audiences changed your daily routine much?
It’s hard to keep any routine as we are on tour a lot, but I guess it’s healthy to break patterns and see things in a different perspective. As far as media goes they’re like fart, you know it’s out there but you pretend it’s not.

Have you any plans on how to top ‘Cry Baby’?

More sugar, less boogie, more underwater-love. We are gonna make it cool like a weekend-dad with a Harley.

We learnt last time that you quite like Batman. What makes him your particular favourite?

Batman really reflects our decay as a society by having it all and not being happy. He’s like a modern version of the character in “Citizen Kane”, looking for love in the body of a pricy object. He’s got a big heart but a lost soul, taking it out on the scum of the street as a total cleansing of his vendetta-fuelled mind. What’s not to love?

If you could have just one of the Dark Knight’s amazing gadgets which one would you choose and why?
I think having Alfred around would be pretty amazing. The geezer got heart!

You spent some time recently filming and editing your own video. How did you set about creating it?

For the ‘Batman’ video we got together one night and just filmed in √ėyvind’s living room - he’s the only one in the band with a nice clean white wall. We collected a lot of sheets and clothes and stuff, and then we just got loose and improvised in front of the camera. It was a total free-jazz jam of the body.

Was it an enjoyable process?

Yes, we had a ton of fun, but it was also hard honest work. Not really for the weak spirited or lazy.

What music usually gets played on the tour bus?
It’s a broad variety of stuff I’ll tell you. We are really into anything that doesn’t suck and sometimes we are even into that stuff as well. But we don’t like really sucky stuff.

You’re touring the UK in February and March. Which venue are you looking forward to playing the most?

We are looking forward to them all. It’s wrong to call favourites - some venues might end up getting jealous and we don’t want that now do we?

Finally, have you got anything special in store for us in your upcoming shows?

No, just the regular boring stuff.

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