N ROLL FANTASY
TALKS WITH ROCKWIRED
ABOUT FREAKSHOW, WOMEN OF A CERTAIN
AGE AT STURGIS
is the sort of rock
n roll Cinderella story that only happens in the movies. Usually
it’s the kind
of story that gets written by CAMERON CROWE (ALMOST FAMOUS). It is a
began in darkness (North of the Arctic Circle in the country of Norway)
by five young men willing to chase that often elusive rock n roll
dream. It was
a journey that had these Norwegians hop-scotching back and forth from
and getting lost in the enthusiastic responses to their live sets.
where the fantasy
comes in. Their debut CD FREAKSHOW is due out in stores on November 15,
and boasts production credits by legendary rock producer EDDIE KRAMER
HENDRIX, KISS and GUNS & ROSES). How many bands would kill for
a chance to
get a legend producing their first LP?
band itself is one of
the more interesting rock n roll packages to come along in a while.
to pin it all on their Norwegian ancestry but it’s their
sound (rooted in the
hard rock tradition of bands like STONE TEMPLE PILOTS and AUDIOSLAVE)
them stand out. As far as
packaging is concerned, one only needs to view the striking artwork on
their forthcoming CD sleeve to know that these purveyors of hard rock
putting artistry back into rock albums thanks to art director MATT
photographer ASTOR MORGAN.
the time of this
touring schedule had been
interrupted by hurricane KATRINA. (They were to play a series of dates
I spoke with
the bands rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist DAGGI
“DJ” HELLING. Here’s how
I hear that you were supposed to
Yeah. We were
play a lot of places in Louisiana.
Places like La Fayette, Baton Rouge.
A lot of these places aren’t there anymore. We have friends
Orleans including some
people from our management company. So we had to call off the tour and
in LA. We were supposed to go on to Florida
but now that’s been cancelled because this new hurricane.
(HURRICANE RITA was
72 hours away from the Gulf Coast the
interview took place. It never hit Florida.)
What a lot of people don’t realize is that when foreign bands
come to America,
a lot of them have names that are
already taken by American artists so we thought lets directly translate
something from Norway
so we don’t run into that problem. One meaning of the name
could mean moody, as in
“Why the long face?” or it
could mean waking up on Sunday after spending Saturday night partying
in the mirror. So it could have both
a positive or a
negative meaning depending on how you want to look at it.
How did HANGFACE begin?
First of all there
few rock places in Norway.
It’s a very pop friendly country. It's either pop or black
metal and HANGFACE
isn’t any of those things. We all met in this town called
TROMSO, which is
above the Arctic Circle
where there is 24 hours of
night. Me and the lead
vocalist (BJORNAR FLAA) are from the south of Norway
and the others (Bassist HOGNE RUNDBERG and drummer ESPEN HOGMO) are
from the northern part of the country. So we met up there,
started playing together and that has been the line up ever since.
Who influences HANGFACE?
a long answer for
that. The lead singer (BJORNAR FLAA) likes everything form Irish folk
Death Metal. I like a lot of blues. I love U2, METALLICA and a lot of
driven music. The drummer (ESPEN HOGMO) is a big fan of IRON MAIDEN.
bassist (HOGNE RUNDBERG) loves the BEATLES and the RED HOT CHILI
the lead guitarist (TOM ESPEN PEDERSEN) likes GUNS AND ROSES. HANGFACE
combination of sounds from the 70’s 80’s and
90’s all put together.
How is an American audience
different from a
awesome. They aren’t afraid to let you know if they like or
dislike what they
hear. An American audience
has a lot of
energy that you can feed off of. It’s like going to a
football game. It’s loud
but in a positive way.
You played QUART (Norwegian Rock
years in a row.
Yes. We shared a
people like NO DOUBT DAVID BOWIE, BJORK and ALANNIS MORRISETTE and its rare that anyone is ever
asked back let alone three
times in a row.
We touched on this a little
earlier but what’s the
music scene in Norway
very pop country.
There is only one national radio station there and it’s
extremely limited in what
you hear or have access to whereas in the US you have choices and the
the band had to make the decision to leave Europe and go to the US to
EDDIE KRAMER on our album. It wasn’t something we could turn
You walked right into my next
question. How did you
get to know and work with EDDIE KRAMER?
We were on a self
tour one year and one of the places we were playing was a music
seminar called SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST in Austin TX. During the day they
seminars and in the evening you have executives checking out new
KRAMER was the guest of honor and he’s worked with legends
like JIMI HENDRIX,
KISS, GUNS &
ROSES and all the way up to VELVET
REVOLVER. We ran into him and gave him a demo. He lives in New York and he wanted to check
us out and we told him that we would
be playing CBGB’s
York. We put his name on the guest
and he didn’t show up. He called us and apologized and we
told him about our
show at the WHISKEY A-GO-GO. He didn’t show up for that one
either. When the
tour was over we went back to Norway
and he called us and apologized and asked if we’d be busy for
the next few
months. We said no and he said “Good, because I want to
produce your first
album.” How could
we refuse that?
debut album is FREAKSHOW.
Yes. The street
date for it
will be November 15, 2005 from RED EYE DISTRIBUTION.
Explain the artwork of the album
The art director
is a man
named MATT TOUCHARD who is based in New Orleans
right. He got out
in time. Anyway, he won four awards for the artwork he’s done
for the CD. It’s
like their version of the Academy Awards. It’s the highest
award given in his
field. Anyway, the song FREAKSHOW is about reality TV and
that’s why you see
all these Television sets on the CD sleeve and the woman who is a sea
under water and human on land. When we first set foot on America,
the first thing we noticed were
characters with these talk shows like
OPRAH, DR. PHIL, and JERRY SPRINGER. It was kind of like
“Welcome to America!”
but to be honest with you it’s got nothing to do with the
people. Americans are
the most friendly people. But back to MATT TOUCHARD, he
just wanted to bring art back to album sleeves like the old days where
all this artwork to look at while you were listening to the music. Particularly for bands like LED ZEPPELIN.
It’s great that
artistry is coming back to the
packaging of rock n roll.
That’s good to hear. These
days it’s too easy. All they seem to do is pose
picture and that’s it. But if you’re JENNIFER
LOPEZ, that’s all you need
because she’s so beautiful.
What was it like in the studio
with EDDIE KRAMER?
I was really
intimidated. I mean, he’s worked with legendary guitarists.
He’s worked with
SLASH and JIMI HENDRIX. Now we’re good friends and
he’s great at capturing the
vibe of the band or the faerie dust
as we call it in the studio and when tensions were high, he’d
tell us stories
about KISS or stories about SLASH. I mean, the man is rock history and
who wants to write a book about it just needs to talk to him.
He’s great with
using ANALOG and mixing it with PRO-TOOLS to make a great sound. The
experience was great once we got over the pressure.
It couldn’t have been
JIMI HENDRIX and I’ll
be the first to admit it but because I’ve worked EDDIE,
I’m real confidant
in what I do now. The band had Thanksgiving at his house last year and
more of a family figure than a producer in my eyes.
Any plans for videos
Yes. On the last
tour we had
a video photographer with us. We’ve got a lot of footage from
the tour bus and
backstage. We have a video for FREAKSHOW on our website (HANGFACE.COM)
but we need
a new video because there were only four of us then. We’ve
just recently added
a lead guitarist for the band
TOM ESPEN PEDERSEN?
the strangest thing that’s ever happened on
The best thing is
incredible hospitality of the audiences. People we’ve met on
tour have given us
keys to their homes and let us stay in their houses so we
didn’t have to sleep
in our tour bus. That was amazing. The most absurd thing was when we
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis SD.
This guy came up to us and
said “I’m gonna
show you guys what Sturgis is all
about!!!” We had the camera rolling and this guy walks us
over to the other end
of the bar where his 55 year old wife is standing on a barstool. Then
over and she had no underwear on and she was rubbing the lower parts of
body and I got whiplash from turning my head away too quickly. It was
disgusting. Nothing’s topped that yet. She looked like
someone who’d play bingo
with my grandmother. We recorded that on video and I’ve never
wanted to see it.
What do you want the audience to
walk away with?
Music is something
everyone has a strong opinion about. If someone sees us and they say
care for this kind of music but man, what a show!” that would
be fine. Or if someone says “I love
this kind of music and I love this band” that would be
better. If we don’t do that, than we haven’t
done our job.
are you future plans?
doing a west coast
tour from Vancouver
all the way down to San Diego. But
things are constantly changing. You’ll just have to visit
LA treating you?
We love it.
by good people. This is a city that can wear you down or build you up.
grateful to be around good people.
READ THE MOST RECENT ROCKWIRED
ON-LINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH HANGFACE HERE