"How the hell would Gene Simmons know if rock n' roll is dead or not?"
Our scheduled interview with Toschie at BeatPol club in Dresden, just a couple of hours before Audrey Horne would hit the stage, as special guests of Danko Jones. He was having a cup of coffee and relaxed as he was he took a seat to talk to us about Audrey Horne’s news. The kings of “true Norwegian soft rock” don’t have their new album out of the oven yet, so that allowed us to discuss about a few interesting topics including the formation of the new songs, the change in their music style, if rock n’ roll is dead, drinking guitar players and the new upcoming season of Twin Peaks of course.
K.P.: So, when is the new album coming out?
Well, the record label was like “you can’t release it that month, you have to release it that month” etc. There are all kinds of rules, so we came to a conclusion that the album will be released when we are finished and we want to release it. Probably around new year I think... Cause we’re gonna record it this year, this summer...
K.P.: Are the songs ready?
Yeah, we have a bunch of songs ready, not all of them. We have to work on it when we get home, after this tour.
K.P.: Where is it heading towards musically? Is it a continuation of the previous album?
Yeah, it’s pretty much where we’ve been with the last album I guess. We don’t really know what we’re gonna do sound wise, if we’re gonna go on a different direction. We’ll see...
"We can’t go back, just because some people want us to. We have to do what we want to do"
C.K.: “Youngblood” and “Pure Heavy” have marked a turn in your sound, so after these two albums you must have a good idea if your audience has accepted this change...
I think most people liked it. Of course, every now and then we meet people that are like “we love all your albums, but the new ones not so much”. Which is fair, because you can’t expect everyone to like what we’re doing, but we’re always going to the direction that WE want to go. If people don’t like it, if people come to me and say that “I like your first two or three albums much better”, then I’m like “cool, but we can’t go back to that, just because some people want us to. We have to do what we want to do”.
C.K.: A big debate about bands that have drastically changed their sound is “what do you do with it?”. Do you act like it’s not out there and move forward or try to combine it with the new sound? What’s your case?
We always move forward. But, of course, we always look back to see what we will do with album after it, what we’ll do afterwards. We always look at what worked and what didn’t. Because, for every album we release we’re always excited for how it sounds, but then, when we play them live and after a while, some songs just fall off the wagon and we keep going.
When we make an album we always try to do something new; it doesn’t have to be like a big change, you know... We don’t have to suddenly make polka music or disco music or whatever, but we something that we feel is new. It can be the sound or it can be writing some songs that are a bit different from what we’ve done before.
We always try to do something new and then we don’t know if it works or not until later, because we have to live with the music for a while until we get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.
"We have changed so much, it’s kind of like this was a different band in many ways"
K.P.: Well, last time we had the chance to see you in Manchester you only played one song from the three first albums. Perhaps, someone coming to the show is eager to hear some old tunes...
Yeah, yeah... there’s always someone coming to us and saying he wants us to play something from the first albums, but we have changed so much since the first album that some of that sound and some of these songs, it’s kind of like this was a different band in many ways. We had keyboards back in those days... Every now and then we play some of those songs, but we always feel almost like it’s a different band and we tend to play songs mainly from the last three albums.
"Fuck you! I paid the same amount of money for this ticket as all the people that came to the show last night, so you should give me the same show"
K.P.: Well, since I mentioned the Manchester show, I have to say it was a blast for us, but there were only about 50 people that attended the show. Yet, you played as if you played in front of 20.000 people… You gave it all!
We always do that, no matter what! We do it because, when we start playing we have fun no matter what! If you play a live where there’s a few people and they don’t seem to be very into it, we sort of just go like “ok, then we can play for each other”. You know, like we’re rehearsing. Sometimes you see a band playing in front of a small audience and they’re disappointed. “Last night we played for 2.000 people and today we’re playing for 30 people”. And then they’re disappointed and they show it. If it was me I’d be like “Fuck you! I paid the same amount of money for this ticket as all the people that came to the show last night, so you should give me the same show”. So, the people that paid tickets to see the show, they’re going to see the show, no matter if it’s a small crowd or a big crowd, it doesn’t really matter.
"It’s very rare that people leave our show and say "they were boring""
C.K.: Well, there’s a reason we still talk about that Manchester show with Kostas, because they say a true rock bands shows its value on stage, and not only you’re ten times better on stage, but you played for fifty people as if you were headlining Donington. I’d like to know if you think believes that this pays off for you...
Yeah, it pays off. Cause every time we play people have a really good time. You can go and see a band and then come home and if someone asks how it was, you can say “Oh, it was good! The band was really-really fucking good!” Of course, it’s better if you come home and say “The band was really good and we had a great time”. The audience has a better time if we party with them. It’s the same the other way around. We have a better time if we interact with them. And I don’t want to be cocky, but I think it’s very rare that people leave our show and say “they were boring”. Of course, it happens… Some people just don’t like what we do (laughs), but I think people respect us, because we respect them, in a way. It’s a give and take situation.
"It’s hard to do traditional hard rock and somehow maintain interesting in it"
C.K.: Until the same titled album Audrey Horne was a band that tried new things, to combine different elements and make something that I had a hard time to relate with any other band. With the two last albums, it’s not that you don’t have a personality, but you focus on a more traditional rock sound. Which approach was more difficult or easy for you? Trying to sound unique or to stay loyal to some typical elements of rock music?
When we write music it’s difficult no matter what. But, these days the hardest thing to do is the easy thing. If you’re gonna make a song that’s basic and simple, that’s the hardest thing. Cause those songs can be fucking boring! So, it’s hard to do traditional hard rock and somehow maintain interesting in it. It’s easier when you do something like we did on the first album, cause you can just put so much into our music.
On our first album, I have no idea how many guitars tracks or vocal tracks we have... there are tons of them on that. So, you can always just go like “ahh, it’s not quite there, let’s put on one more guitar or let’s do one more harmony”. And thus we made it interesting that way.
Now, we do more the opposite. Now, if we have a song we’re like “hmm do we need that part? Is the song needing that part really-really-really?”. And then we just take things out and instead of having tons of guitars, we try to keep as few guitars on there as possible and then make those guitars as interesting as possible. That is harder in a way I think, because every choice you make you have to really think “is this a really good idea or not?”.
On the first album it was like “I need something. Ok, let’s put that on and let’s put that on!”. It was like some sort of stew [editor: Toschie acts like he tastes some of that stew”]. If it doesn’t taste right, just put more ingredients in there and you just put so much that in the end you’re like “Oh fuck! This is good. I haven’t tasted anything like this before!”. And then you almost forgot what you’ve put in there...
When I’m listening to our newer album I can hear everything that’s there. On the first album there’s so much in there, that I don’t remember it. If we took it apart, track by track, I would probably say “We did that? Wow, I didn’t know”. But one is not easier than the other, it’s just different ways of difficult. Songwriting is difficult.
For this new album that we’re gonna record now, we put all the ideas for new songs, just recorded them quickly and when we sat down to see what we have, what is worth working on, I think we ended up with seventy ideas. And then we’ve cut them down to about thirty ideas, but we’re not gonna record thirty songs. Maybe half of those won’t end up in the studio. So, it’s been a lot of time doing this and it always feels like you’re missing something. We’re always like “Do we have enough songs that are this and that? Do we need more of this or that?”. It’s always like that. It always feels like there’s something you haven’t achieved yet.
K.P.: In the logway, this change in your music has to do with the change in the music you like to hear? It has to do with how evolve as musicians?
It has to do with that. It’s got everything to do with that. We evolve as musicians and we evolve as people and we get older as people. You know that from your own experience. If you think back fifteen years “what I did and did not like?”, “how did I dress?”, “what kind of music I listened to?”. People change and we change too of course. We never ever sat down and said “ok, we need to do something more like this and that”. We just write music and then it changes.
"Gene Simmons is and old, big, fat guy who lives in a big house and I don’t think that he hangs out at rock clubs and checks out new bands. So, how the hell would he know if it’s dead or not?"
C.K.: I want to ask something that may sound a bit intriguing. I read an article a few days ago that had a statement from Kasabian saying they will save guitar rock music. And my first thought is “have they ever listened to a band like Audrey Horne?”. This is guitar rock music...
People say that every now and then. And, you know, magazines like to make a hype out of things, so there’s always something like “this band is gonna save rock and roll” and this and that... And there’s always people saying rock n’ roll is dead. Like Gene Simmons from Kiss, he said that, he said rock n’ roll is dead. I’m a huge Kiss fan, but let’s face it: Gene Simmons is and old, big, fat guy who lives in a big house and I don’t think that he hangs out at rock clubs and checks out new bands. So, how the hell would he know if it’s dead or not? Rock n’ roll doesn’t need to be saved, it’s fine. If you go to a club, there’s always a good band playing. It’s always gonna be there.
C.K.: My point is that you have one of the best guitar duos I’ve ever heard or seen playing live. Don’t these two guys make a difference? They are extremely good. As a fan of music don’t you see as well that these two guys make a fantastic guitar duo?
Yeah, absolutely! They’re amazing guitar players. Even better on this tour, because they don’t drink so much (laughs)
C.K.: I don’t know if that’s good or bad. We always have that conversation if some bands played better before they quit drinking...
Oh, they still drink, don’t worry... But, they don’t drink that much before the show. I’m really pleased with it… (laughs). I think all the guys that I play with are great... Sometimes I just stop and watch them and I’m like “Holy fuck, they’re so good!”. All of them, really! I totally see that myself, I’m not that so used to it that I don’t notice that...
"In hard rock there are many singers that either scream a lot or they can reach a not too high for even dogs to hear sometimes"
C.K.: Well, if this is the one thing that stands out in Audrey Horne, then the other is your vocals. They’re kind of exceptional. But, when someone asks me what your vocals sound like, I’m having a hard time to say if you sound like something specific. You sound like... Toschie. How could you describe your vocal style? Who’s influenced you and what would you answer to someone who would ask you what your voice sounds like?
I don’t know. I’ve never really considered myself as very talented. Some people just have a great voice, I don’t have a unique voice in the way that the singers that I really admire, like Freddie Mercury, Ronnie James Dio, Eddie Vedder -he’s an amazing singer I think -, Tom Waits, have. I never considered myself that. But I think I’m pretty good at working with what I got. Especially, in hard rock there are many singers that either scream a lot or they can reach a not too high for even dogs to hear sometimes (laughs). My voice is more like if you put George Michael in a hard rock band. And I think that might separate me a bit from the more typical hard rock singer.
"The vocals need to carry the songs"
K.P.: Well, it’s also the great vocal melodies you write...
We always sort of had this focus on that. The vocals need to carry the songs. If you have a guitar riff that’s really cool, but we don’t somehow manage to write a good melody line over it, then we’re like “we can’t use that guitar riff”. If we can’t make good vocal lines on top of it, then there’s really no point in having it. At least, we’ll have to use it in a part of the song that I’m not singing.
"You have a band that’s melodic/cross/death/black/core/groove metal. What the fuck is that really?"
C.K.: Well, you play hard rock music, but for some reason your music applies a lot to metal audiences. I don’t know if you were considered a metal band in your first albums - the line is quite thin there - so, where do you think you stand overall as a band sound wise?
These days we were probably more hard rock, back then. I mean, it’s not really important, it’s just a label. And people love to label things. Like the metal genre it has turned into subgenres that turned into subgenres of that again. And you have a band that’s melodic/cross/death/black/core/groove metal. What the fuck is that really? And then you hear the band and you’re like “it’s metal!”. It’s death metal or whatever... I think we’re labeled as a straight up hard rock band...
"It’s like I’m on school every day when I’m on tour with them, because Danko opens his mouth it’s so fucking brilliant!"
K.P.: Now, how is this whole tour with Danko Jones?
Oh, it’s brilliant! I think this is a very good package, because we both love each other’s music and they’re extremely nice people, really nice people to hang out with. Also, they’re extremely professional and so are we. Both bands are a lot about entertaining the audience, which is cool, because you don’t go to see a band like us that we are all about entertaining and the next band hardly spoke to the audience. It’s like I’m on school every day when I’m on tour with them, because Danko opens his mouth it’s so fucking brilliant! (laughs)
How does he come up with all these brilliant things he says? The way he’s... so cocky...
K.P.: Like a peacock...
Yeah... So pure and himself on stage. You learn a lot watching from the back. We’re always like “oh we need to do this”, “we got to do these things”. Our bass player is looking at me and says “watch and learn”! (laughs)
C.K.: Do you think you have enough time to present yourself on stage during this tour, being special guests?
Yeah, I think so. Of course, we would love to play a longer set, but we’re the support band.
C.K.: I think Danko Jones audience will dig Audrey Horne if they haven’t heard you before...
Well, we get a lot of good response from the audience after the show in the merchandise booth. There’s always people coming out to say “I haven’t heard of you guys, but this was fucking amazing”. It’s always nice to hear that people just come in and they’re “wow!”...
"I don’t think David Lynch would agree to do a new season of Twin Peaks, if he didn’t thought it had something brilliant to offer to the audience"
C.K.: Just before we close this interview, are you looking forward to the new season of Twin Peaks or are you not even going to watch it?
Oh no, of course I’m gonna watch it! We actually discussed it because someone from the band said that. He asked me “are you gonna see this?” and I was like “yeah! Of course, I am”. I think it was Ice Dale/Arve and he said “well, I’m not gonna see it, it’s gonna be shit!”. It’s David Lynch and David Lynch doesn’t do anything for the money or the fame, he’s always been very true to his art, so I don’t think he would agree to do a new season of this, if he didn’t thought it had something brilliant to offer to the audience.
He’s an amazing artist. I love his movies and I love the way he thinks, I’ve read some books about him. So, I’m not really scared, I think it’s going to be good, because he’s always good. I’ve never seen a movie he put out that’s shit. And the second season of Twin Peaks, the original, that was not him. He let someone else someone else do it. And when he watched it he was like “No! No! No! This is too bad!”. Then he came in and started working on it. I have high hopes. And if he disappoints me, at least it will be the first time he disappoints me.
C.K.: Well, let’s put it that way. We all have high hopes for Audrey Horne...
(laughs) That’s good...