"If Tom Waits entered some kind of talent show they would have told him "Dude, you shouldn’t sing!""
Talking about great bands there are many aspects one can analyze. And in my opinion Audrey Horne are great in every aspect. Great musicianship, great songs, great albums, great live performances and most of all it’s a bunch of authentic guys making great rock music. As they just released their new, fantastic album called "Blackout" their singer Toschie talked to us about it and proved once again to be one of the nicest and most interesting guys in the rock music scene. Did I mention they’re great?
Well, I’ve seen Audrey Horne in the UK, in France and in Germany, so I need to find a new country to catch you playing live. Why not in Greece?
Yeah, yeah, yeah... Why, not in Greece?
Have there been any talks about you coming here?
No! But, then again, I don’t know that much about that kind of talk really. I just go where I’m told to go, basically... (laughs). I think we should come there, because I see there are quite a few shows down there and I recently saw someone I know who played in Greece and told me about it.
Well, maybe the last few years our financial situation made us a bit outsiders as bands got more reluctant to come here, but it’s true that there’s a change recently and I think I know some people that would love to bring you here...
As I said, we’d love to come, but they should talk to our booking agency. I’d love to come, but it’s not that much up to me. I guess I have a saying, but...
Now, let’s get to the actual start of the interview that I planned in which I want to congratulate you for "Blackout". It’s an album I truly enjoy and I already like more than "Pure Heavy". How do you feel about it?
Thank you! I appreciate it and I’m really glad to hear that you like it. I like it a lot myself. Of course, every band loves its new album and every band thinks the new album is the best they ever did. I think it’s very good, cause when I look back at it, in my opinion “Youngblood” is a better album than “Pure Heavy” and I think one of the reasons is probably the time we spent writing it. Because, we wrote “Pure Heavy” very fast. It was written, recorded and released within a year from “Youngblood”.
This time we took a lot more time. It took us about two years I guess to finish this album. Not that we worked constantly on it for all these three years, but I think it’s kind of like making wine in a way (laughs). On “Pure Heavy” we just wrote those songs, rehearsed them and then just recorded them, but on this one we did what we’ve done earlier, especially on “Youngblood”. We took more time. We wrote songs and we recorded them - we did a demo recording - and then put them aside. And then we took them back up and we rearranged them and we wrote new parts for it and really took our time to write the music. And I think for us as a band that it’s kind like wine: If you give it time it gets better.
Like I said, when we released “Pure Heavy” I was confident that it was a good album, but throughout the entire period of recording “Pure Heavy” I was asking myself “is this as good as “Youngblood”? It this better than “Youngblood?”. And one day I would feel it was better and the next I would feel it was not better. It was always this doubting. On this album we took a lot of time, but when we went into studio I felt very confident that the songs were a lot better than they were on “Pure Heavy”. I think “Pure Heavy” is a good album, but I think the songwriting on this album is much stronger, in the same way as in “Youngblood”, where I felt the songwriting was stronger than in “Pure Heavy”.
I see what you say. I’d say “Blackout” is a more cohesive” album. From start to finish it just flows and there’s not much ups and downs. I think that’s a really good thing...
Yeah and thank you! I agree with that! I think “Pure Heavy” was a bit more “a bunch of songs thrown into an album”, as opposed to this one. I feel that this album is stronger and like I said I feel it has better songwriting and the production is more interesting, it’s got more live nerve in the songs than we had in “Pure Heavy”. So, I think all in all it’s a stronger album, yes.
"We don’t write music to change the world. We write music to have a good time listening to it."
Well, I’m working on my review for the album and the basic idea that I have is about “a rock party, where the DJ is making people having a great party, but at the same time he loves to throw a bit early Iron Maiden in the mix” or something like that... (laughs). How does it seem to you?
Well, yeah. I think our album is like that. Many journalists that I’ve talked to, over the last month or so, say that it’s an album that makes them cheerful. And I think that’s a good think, cause that’s the whole point of our music. We don’t write music to change the world or anything, but we write music to have a good time listening to it. I feel that people respond to that. I feel that - like you said - it’s a good party album. And that’s what we want to achieve. Not to be a party clown band, but to make music that makes you happy. Music that makes you want to party or whatever...
"If Tom Waits entered some kind of talent show they would have told him "Dude, you shouldn’t sing!""
Don’t know if you remember but last time we talked I asked about your voice and how I love it but have a difficult time describing what you sound like and only today while I was listening to the album it came to me! “He’s kind of a sophisticated Bon Scott!” (laughs)
(laughs) That’s a compliment definitely. I remember about this conversation we had where I talked about how when I grew up and I wanted to be a singer in a band, but all the singers in the bands that I liked had such a high pitched voice and I didn’t. So I felt “I can’t do that”, cause that’s what you have to do to sing in a hard rock band.
Then I started listening to - I think I mentioned - Eddie Vedder amongst others and Mike Patton and vocalists like that, that used their voices in a totally different way. Like you say with Bon Scott, he didn’t necessarily have a very technically great voice, but he had an expression and he used that. He used his voice in a best possible way and that’s what I’m trying to do as well.
Today I’m very confident with it, but earlier as I said I always felt I needed to be able to scream more and to reach high notes. But, at one point you realize that it doesn’t really matter. It’s how you use your voice. It’s not necessarily how high you can reach or how loud you can go.
Think of a singer like Tom Waits. If he entered some kind of talent show or that idol show, they would have told him “Dude, you shouldn’t sing!”. Because he doesn’t have a pitch perfect voice. But there are hardly any singers out there that can express themselves with their voices the way he can. So, today I’m very confident in the way I use my voice.
Particularly, I got this feeling while listening to the title track of the album, which by the way is my favorite so far. Why did you decide to call the album “Blackout”? Is it because you felt it was a strong track or is there any other story behind it?
It’s partly because of the track, but not because we felt it was the strongest. I also think it’s a very strong track.
When we started talking about the artwork of the album at first we talked about me drawing something. I made the artwork of “Youngblood” for instance and I’ve done a lot of our merchandise and stuff and since I work as a tattoo artist the other guys felt that it was time for me to draw another artwork again. While we were working on the album, basically what happened was that I was really inspired by a guy called Storm Thorgerson. You know him?
"Our music is very much inspired by the classic rock music, so, I thought that we should make an artwork in the same historical path"
Of course... Hipgnosis...
Yeah! So, I was really inspired by him and the albums that he did and I thought that our music is very much inspired by the classic rock music. So, I thought that we should make an artwork that sort of was in the same historical path as some of these bands. But I didn’t want to copy anyone. I was looking a lot of his artwork, for instance “Wish You Were Here” of Pink Floyd and “Lovedrive” of Scorpions and a lot of the UFO albums that he did the artwork for. Very often it’s a very nice, a very beautiful picture in many ways. But, there’s always a disturbing element in them.
Then we started talking about how some bands have a constant, like Iron Maiden have Eddie and Motorhead had Snaggletooth and then the other guys started telling “yeah, we should have something that is more constant”. And I said “You know what? We’ve been doing this for sixteen years! It’s a bit late to start branding right now!”. And then we talked about it “well, what is constant about Audrey Horne?”.
One of the things that we came up with was the white shirt and the black tie that I very often wear when we play live. So, I said “let’s use that. Cause, everyone who comes to our shows will recognize that. They will recognize the white shirt and the black tie. And from there I went “what if we do a picture of a white shirt and a black tie? But, let’s put something in there that sort of is slightly out of place”.
Then we talked about how if you are an office worker you often have a pen in your shirt pocket. I think it was Thomas that said “what about the cliché when the pen starts to leak and you get this ink stain on the shirt?”. And then from the ink thing I went to the octopus and I said “what if we put an octopus in there?”. So, I talked to the photographer and he liked that idea and we decided to do it in water, so that there was sort of a link between the element and the octopus. And when we did it I showed it to the others and they liked it and decided to use it as the artwork for the album.
And that’s why it’s called “Blackout”. When we named the album we had a bunch of suggestions for an album title, but when we saw the artwork and then looked at the song titles, somehow fits that picture. I can’t really say why, but it just stood out and so we decided to just call it “Blackout”. It’s more because of the artwork, basically. We kinda named the album after the artwork as opposed to make an artwork after the album’s name. We did it the opposite way...
"When you are in a hard rock band, people usually expect leather and long hair and I always find it interesting to challenge that stereotype"
That brings me to another question I had about the shirt and the tie you wear on stage. Kind of joking here, but there’s a lot of guys like me who have to wear it for their job and don’t like it and then you don’t have to but you do it... (laughs)
Well, firstly because I’ve always been fascinated by that. Not the office working man with the tie, because a guy at the office who wears a tie, usually wears a tie just because he has to, like you said. But, I’ve always been fascinated by the more… upper class British style. Because, it’s very vain and very sophisticated and I always liked it. I know that a lot of those people are not necessarily very nice people, but I think their style has always been fascinating.
And it’s also the fact that when you are in a hard rock band, people usually expect leather and long hair and all that and I always find it interesting to challenge that perception of a guy in hard rock band. I find it interesting to challenge that stereotype in a way...
"We’re old school; we’re always getting fascinated by these albums that have a grand, pompous, over the top opening part"
Back to the music now, how come you chose "This Is War" as the opening track and the first single of the album?
Well, basically, because when we wrote it we wrote it with the intro part, which is very pompous and over the top in many ways. So, basically it was because we felt that with that opening, with that intro part it naturally became an opening track.
When we talked about that we said “well, it’s the longest song of the album. It’s one of the most progressive songs of the album.”. But then, I don’t think you have to give people too many pop songs as first songs to make them interested. I think you just have to give them a good song. And we felt that it’s a very strong song and we should put it as an opener, because people are gonna like it. It’s catchy… It’s a bit challenging maybe, but then we decided that people might need that challenge.
But, first of all, it was that with the intro of that song it sort of stood out as an opening track by itself. We didn’t necessarily think of it as opening track until we made the intro part for that song, because the intro thing is not written as a unique part in its own that we could have used for any song. It was written for that song.
On “Youngblood” we had the same kind of opening with “Redemption Blues” and on “Audrey Horne” we had the same with “These Vultures” that led straight to “Charon”. So, we felt it was kind in a pattern that we’ve done things before and we felt it suits us to have that grand opening thing on an album. We’re old school; we’re always getting fascinated by these albums that have a grand, pompous, over the top opening part. So, when we wrote that it said itself that it should be the opening track.
"Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy are an obvious inspiration in this band, but we also grew up listening to Duran Duran and Michael Jackson"
Another favorite of mine apart “This Is War” and the title track is “Satellite”. It’s the most enjoyable should I say, fun track of the album and what I thought listening to it is “now we’re waiting for the night to become satellites”... (laughs)
I get that. Cause when we wrote “Satellite” we felt that it was so much fun, because it was something a bit on the side of what we’ve done earlier. But, nevertheless it’s very consistent to a lot of the music that we love. People can say that we grew up listening to Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy, because these two bands are an obvious inspiration in this band, but we also grew up listening to Duran Duran and Michael Jackson and stuff like that. And this song was more in that disco, 80s, pop, Michael Jackson way...
So, we felt it was so enjoyable to do that song and also the same was when we did “Waiting For The Night”. It was also a song that was a bit different to what we’ve done before, like a breath of fresh air into the band. So, these two songs have a lot in common in that way, because when we wrote and recorded it we knew it was something new. We enjoyed it a lot and hoped that the people would enjoy them as well.
But, you know, we’re painfully aware of the fact that this is the track that some people might hate and say “what the fuck did you do now? When did you go all funky and happy?”. When you write music you can’t really pay attention to those kind of thoughts. You just have to trust your own judgement and where you want to go with your music. I think it’s a brilliant song. I loved doing the vocals for it.
When I did the vocals I talked to our producer and he said that “This song is a bit different and you can’t sing this the way you sing some other songs. You have to look at the lyrics, cause this a sophisticated but very sleazy guy who says these words. So, you have to find the character in you and do the vocals that way.” When I did the vocals, he sent me a file with this song and came home and listened to it, I immediately felt like “this is too far, it sounds like I’m acting. I’m singing like I’m someone else”. But, after I listened to it a couple of times I really liked it and I was like “I love the way the vocals sound on that”. Because it’s kind of out of character for me, but at the same time it’s me being a character. I really enjoyed that song.
You mentioned the classic rock influences, the metal influences and the pop influences, but I sense a bit of punk influences as well on “Audrevolution”. Am I right about that?
Yes! When we wrote this song we kind of felt the punk rock of bands like Turbonegro and Kvelertak and bands like that. It was very much obvious for that song. Some guys in the band like me and our bass player Espen, we listen to a lot more punk and hardcore related stuff. So, it’s natural that it comes in our music as well. Also, Arve [editor: Ice Dale] listens to that stuff as well.
There’s definitely a punk attitude in it. And when we recorded it, we were very aware of the fact that this song doesn’t need to sound very sophisticated. It just has to have that punk rock attitude. So, there’s definitely a lot of that in this song, yes!
"Ice Dale and Thomas are the guitar players’ version of Layney Staley and Jerry Cantrell"
Another thing that is a trademark of your music apart from your vocals and stands out in this album as well is the guitar work of Ice Dale and Thomas. And I always have a hard time figuring out who’s playing what until I see them playing live (laughs)... How do you distinguish them and what do you get from the playing of each of them?
For me, it’s no problem at all to hear who plays what, cause they’re very different in their style. Ice Dale is very bluesy in his way, he has a very Slash / Jimmy Page style of playing guitar. So, I can hear his pattern very clearly, as opposed to Thomas who is a lot more brave as a guitar player. He’s very much more into Randy Rhoads / Eddie Van Halen style, where he kind of challenges himself a lot when he plays. So, he always ends out in deep waters when he writes stuff, because he just tries to take it as far as possible, as opposed to Ice Dale who is more bluesy and more focused. Even though they’re both melodic, Ice Dale is more traditionally melodic in guitar playing.
I think together they blend so well. They’re kind of the guitar players’ version of Layney Staley and Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains, who got very different voices but when they sung together on “Dirt” or on any of the old Alice In Chains albums there was something in their voices that makes it really hard to say who is really singing what.
And that’s the same with Thomas and Ice Dale I think. They have very unique way of playing, but when they play together it’s often hard to tell who’s doing what, because of the way that their guitar playing blend so well together.
I get it. Also, Thomas looks a lot a lot like Jerry Cantrell sometimes... (laughs)
Yes, he does... (laughs)
"Ιt’s important to have bands like Prophets Of Rage these days"
So, in a typical way of closing the year, do you have some favorite albums of 2017?
Yeah, I have many albums that stand out. Actually, some of the artists that have stood out the most for me this year is more on the country music scene. There’s a guy called Sam Outlaw who did an album called “Tenderheart”, which is brilliant. It’s not the honky-tonk country thing, it’s more in the West coast style, closer to bands like The Eagles. He made this brilliant album, called “Tenderheart” and you don’t have to love country music to love that album. It’s just an absolutely great album.
Also, lately I’ve been listening a lot to the new Mastodon, called “Cold, Dark Place”. It’s an EP, but it’s four fucking brilliant songs. I think they get better and better the more I listen to it.
I love the Prophets Of Rage album. I think it’s really good and these days with the political climate that is sort of all over the world, it’s important to have bands like Prophets Of Rage who make a stand, speak their minds and stand up against a political view that’s spreading all over the world.
Same with a hardcore band that is called Stray From The Path. They released an album that’s called “Only Death Is Real” and all its lyrics are very political.
There’s another album that I have to mention which was released in 2017 and I hadn’t heard until two weeks ago, but I’ve been listening to it a lot lately. It’s by a band called Dyscarnate who’s got an album out called “With All Their Might”, which is a very hard, brutal album, but it’s so groovy and fantastic. It’s an amazing album.
The Bronx got a good new album, Comeback Kid got a good new album... Lots of good albums...
Ok, last one. You toured with Danko Jones and it was a great pair of bands. Do you have any other artist like that that you’d like to tour with and make another rock party each night?
Does it have to be a newer band?
Oh, ok... Let’s say any band out there...
If you tour as a support band it’s always good that you get to play for more people. I think we talked about it the other day. One band that would definitely be good for us is Volbeat. They would be a perfect match for us to tour with, because I think their audience would like our music and we would get to play for a huge audience.
But if you ask me which band I would prefer musically, if I get to tour with the band for my own sake then there’s a lot of bands. I wouldn’t mind doing the Guns N’ Roses tour...
To be honest I did this question cause I had one band in mind called The Night Flight Orchestra. Listening to their latest album I thought “Man! If these guys toured with Audrey Horne it would be the best rock party out there”.
I definitely agree with that and music wise that would be perfect. Thomas, Espen and Kjetil love that band. I love that band too, but not as much as they do. They’re really fans of that band. That would be a perfect match.
When I say a band like Volbeat, I’m thinking that they would be perfect because it would make us able to expose our music to bigger audience and Volbeat after all is a huge band these days. But, I would love to tour with Night Flight Orchestra. I’ve been listening to a lot of them, especially their two latest albums. I’m more fan of the previous one. I like the new one a lot, but I think the previous one was even better.
Well, let’s see where it will be the next time I’ll see you playing live. Hopefully in Greece, but no matter where, I’ll be there in the frontlines enjoying the party, that’s for sure...
I will see you there and we’ll talk more then. Have a couple of beers and then we can discuss our plan of making Audrey Horne dominate Greece!