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Howlin’ Sun

Een debuutalbum dat een mix van Cream, Hendrix en MC5 aan muzikaal vuurwerk bevat; daar wilden we meer van weten. Tor-Erik, Magnus en Torgrim klommen gezamenlijk achter het toetsenbord om onze vragen te beantwoorden.

Door: Cor | Archiveer onder hardrock / aor

Hi guys, how is life in Bergen, Norway these days?
It’s cold, wet and dark (as every winter in Bergen) and we mostly spend our day in a storage container where we are practicing and writing our 2nd album; having a ball in the winter cold.

You’re pretty known in your home region because you’ve been busy touring in your neighbourhood building quite a live reputation; can you give us an introduction into how it all started and what we may expect if you should be able to promote this album live on stage in our neighbourhood?
Unfortunately we do not have a great story of how it all started. It has been a gradual thing, growing out of a band some of us played in for a couple of years. It has all been a bit random, but we are happy with how it all turned out. We will be playing a couple of select gigs in Norway this winter, and there are some plans being made for a Northern-European tour in autumn as well. We would really like to swing by the Netherlands, so if any promoters or venues in the Nederland are reading this: we are open for offers.

Your music sounds like it’s performed so freewheeling with lots of fun; almost like a jam. Are the songs written as a band in the rehearsal room or is it still a case of one or two people coming up with the idea, writing it out on paper?
Most of the songs are made at rehearsal. Someone gets an idea and we play it out until we are happy with the sound and the structure. There is always a bit of disagreement, but we usually end up on the same page. This process tends to be a bit tiresome, but we think it´s worth it. We usually have lyric-writing session to get the ideas flowing before Tor-Erik tweaks the lyrics to fit his vocal lines.

Listening to 'Howlin’ Sun’ makes me think of bass and drum work of Cream, with something in the direction of Hendrix on guitar in a raw sound reminding me of garage punk rock somewhere in between MC5 and Gorilla. Who do you consider to be your sources of inspiration?
Yeah, the bass and drum work of Cream, Hendrix’s guitar playing, the energy from garage rockers like MC5 is certainly something we admire and draw inspiration from. Also old greats like Dylan, Neil Young, The Beatles, The Sonics and Led Zeppelin are big inspirations. We also listen and take inspiration for newer acts like Jack White, The Hives, Little Barrie, Black Keys, Mystery Lights, My Midnight Creeps and Dungen.

The overall sound is authentic old-fashioned from those good old days; especially the guitar and the voice. I can imagine some vintage guitars, amps, microphones and recording gear being used. What can you tell us about the recording process and the used instruments and gear?
Almost everything on the album is done live in studio. We tracked the songs live together in one room. Playing together in one room gave us the right feel and makes it sound a bit more authentic, but it also caused some challenges. To get a good sound with the tube amplifiers we used we needed to play at a high volume, which causes a lot of bleed from the guitars into the drum microphones. That meant we couldn't edit any of the tracks and had to play until we got the right take. It also made it impossible to cut out the small mistakes that gives character to the recording. We used a mix of vintage and new gear on the album. The bass was mostly done on a 60s Fender Musicmaster and the drums on a Gretsch USA Custom from the early 2000’s. There are a couple of different guitars on the album, but the only vintage one was a 50s telecaster with terrible intonation. Most of the guitar tracks are done with our live rig; Gibson SG Standard with Manlius Ttops pickups trough a Music Man 410 amp from the ‘70s and a Gibson ES 333 with Lollar Imperial pickups trough a Vox AC30. The keys on the album were recorded on a Vox Jaguar Organ trough a Vox AC50.

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The mix is done on a D&R 4000 Warm Audio mixer and some of the tracks are recorded trough a Tascam 414 tape cassette portastudio mkii 4 track recorder. Most of the compression is done trough a Stam Audio 2A, a clone of the 1968 Teletronix LA-2A and vocals are mostly done trough Beyerdynamic m160 microphone. Electro voice RE-20 is also used on a lot of the guitars and the drums. The last song on the album ‘A Little Bit Of Rain’ was done with one room microphone through the A2 compressor directly to tape. We came through the door with two acoustic guitars and left two hours later with a final mix of the song. I was great fun to record a track in that way as well. Eirik Marinus Sandvik has done all the engineering and pointed us in the right direction when we got stuck on the details. Great guy and a great musician. His solo project Marinius is definitely worth checking out!

The album is also released on vinyl; very suitable with your music in my opinion. Is this because of personal preferences or is it also because vinyl is commercial attractive again?
Yes! The market for vinyl is growing in Norway and it is our preferred format. The large cover format, the sound of the needle and the extra headroom you get with vinyl is really nice. Both the physical aspect, the sound and the belonging rituals appeal to us. Our preferred hang out Apollon is a record shop that sells beer. The label Apollon Records has a strong connection to this fantastic record shop and bar, this also makes vinyl a natural choice. The album is also released on CD for the lovers of compact discs.

Which tracks on the album do you consider to be your favourites to play live and why?
We love to play live, but we do not have any specific favourites. All the tracks really work great live, in their individual way.

Some songs seem to be very suitable for slightly different and (much) longer versions when played live. Are there songs which are played in extended or completely different versions when played on stage?
We usually to keep our live sets pretty tight, but sometimes we drag the songs out and introduce new elements. The focus is more on getting the energy and rawness right than having long jams.

The artwork of the album is quite psychedelic in line of late sixties/early seventies. What can you tell about this design. The idea and the maker?
We are very pleased with the artwork on the album. The design is made by an American artist named Dana Trippe. We instantly knew that we wanted her to do the cover art when we saw her work, and fortunately she said yes. She does some beautiful photo art that people should check out.

I came across a picture of what seemed to be cover art of the single ‘Westbound’ great artwork; is this available on vinyl 7” and made by the same artist?
Yes, Dana has also done the art on that one as well. Unfortunately it has not been printed on vinyl yet, but we hope we can do it at some point in the future.

As we speak your debut 'Howlin' Sun' is on the brink of release (release date is February 2nd). How are the reactions so far from the people who got the promo version?
It is exciting times. The album has been ready for almost half a year now, so we are really stocked to finally getting it out there. Most of the reviews will be coming in the next couple of days, but the ones we have seen so far has been really positive. Let’s hope the good trend continues!

On YouTube I came across some live acoustic footage. Is there also an acoustic version of the band consisting of two persons (because that’s easier to get gigs and because it encounters less logistical challenges), or was this just for that opportunity?
We do that sometimes to mix things up a bit. A lot of our songs work well as stripped down versions, and it is fun to do other things than the usual setup. That being said; the full electric setup is always more fun.

Thanks for your time. As a final question; what are the future plans?
Thank you! We will spend our time making and recording our 2nd album and playing as many shows as possible.

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