Earlier this year, Oslo Ess released their latest album Alle Hjerter Deler Seg – our review of which can be read here. We recently caught up with the band for a chat – read below for tales of recording in beautiful scenery, lyrics in jibberish English, artwork and helicopters!
Thanks for the interview! Could you introduce yourself and tell me a little about the band?
Oslo Ess is a five piece norwegian singing punk rock band from Oslo, Norway. We’ve been a band since 2009 and have released three studio albums and one live acoustic album since 2011. Our last two studio albums went no. 1 on the Norwegian Billboard Charts and our first album was nominated in the rock genra on the Norwegian Grammy Awards. We tour a lot and we have the unofficial Norwegian record in touring Norway, playing 215 shows in Norway only in 2012.
We have a nineties California punk rock sound inspired by bands like Rancid, NOFX, Social Distortion and Bad Religion, but in addition to that we are inspired a lot by song writers like Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and live performers like Bruce Springsteen. Whereas our albums have a slighty radio wrap to the sound our live shows are all about punk and raw energy.
You’ve recently released your new album Alle Hjerter Deler Seg – could you tell me about the writing and recording process of it?
We did the last part of the writing process and early stage of recording in one of Norway’s finest studios called Ocean Sound Recordings at a remote island called Giske on the far west coast of Norway. A beautiful island in the Atlantic ocean. We had demos on a few of the songs, and lots of more scattered ideas and fragments of songs else from that. So when we got to the studio we basically just sat down and collected the ideas and looked at what we had.
After a few days of jamming and getting the sound right we recorded the rythme section for a week and headed back to Oslo and another studio back here to do vocals and overdubs. The beautiful scenery at Giske was great for inspiration for writing the songs, but it felt good coming back to a more urban environment with all it´s urban features to finish the lyrics and do the vocals and stuff. The English producer Nick Terry tracked and coproduced the album, and he was great and very inspiring to work with! Bjarte Lund Rolland, the Kvelertak song writer and guitarist, also hung out a lot and coproduced like he did on our last album.
Were there any tracks that were more of a challenge to complete than others?
The song Leter etter jobb was a bit of a challenge. It’s the only song on the record with an acoustic sound and the only one that we tracked down live in studio. We did it on a Sunday morning after a Saturday night off. I could tell you that we did that in order to get a chill vibe on it and I guess we did, but the truth is that we just didn´t have the energy to do any other songs that day. It turned out good, though, but it’s not a part of our live set.
My personal favorite is Himmel og Helvete. Could you tell me a little more about that track?
Yeah, Himmel and Helvete is a fast mother fucker. We love having one or two tracks like that on our records. The chorus is a pretty naive melody, but it has a lot of punk in it as well. Simple and catchy. I think I wrote that chorus when I was 17 or something, but I never had the guts before now to sing such a simple melody line…but it works! The title means Heaven & Hell and the song is about girlfriends vs tour life and being doomed to be living in long distance relationships.
Which track is your favourite or the one you’re most proud of?
My favorite track is the ska inspired tune Det Brenner Under Beina Mine. I think it has a great and cool swing to it. The guitar melody and the bass line together makes it swing real good, I think. The lyrics are quite cool and we are very happy with the instrumental part as well. First producer Nick Terry goes bananas on the Mooger Fooger delay pedal, than there is a heavvy guitar solo leading in to an B3 organ solo played by Lasse Hafreager, an old Norwegian legend on the keys. It’s a good one i think and it´s been rotating on a lot of radio stations this summer and been a live favourite for us lately.
Are there any interesting stories from the studio?
I don´t know, I guess the studio itself is a good story. Like I said, it´s a beutiful house on a beach on small and very beautiful island on the west coast with the Atlantic Ocean right outside the window. On a windy day the waves comes up and splush on the windows. The first song on the record is called Stormen (The Storm) and that fits quite good for the location. Living there for ten days was like a vacation, like we forgot that we were actually working.
Another funny thing is that when we write songs we often start with singing the melody with jibberish English words, just to focus on the melody line and not being too busy thinking about the words untill the musical part of the song is finished. Sometimes we translate it into Norwegian later or try to stick with the theme, and sometimes we just start from scratch in Norwegian. But with this one song Down at the Docks we just couldn´t find a good way to translate it and keep it fitting to the melody line, so we just left the chorus in English, as a quote. It turned out quite funny, but it is one of the few Oslo Ess songs wich are strictly fiction and not based on events from our lives.
The artwork for the album is absolutely beautiful – could you tell me a little more about it? Did you go to the artist with a specific idea in mind or did you let them have free reigns with it?
Yeah, the artwork is beautiful! The same artist, Remi Juliebø alias “Painbucket”, did our last two albums as well, but the difference this time was that the suggestion for the artwork came from him. Along with the title acually! So he pretty much showed us a sketch with a title before he even had heard the record and just said “I wanna do something like this” and we said “Go for it!” and were absolutely blown away when he showed us the finished piece. He paint everything he does by hand and puts it on the computer later. Everything is handwritten, even the record labels logo and the bar code is drawn and scanned.
How would you describe your shows to someone who hasn’t seen you live yet?
Our live shows are high energy punk rock shows. All members in the band have been playing punk rock shows since we were fifteen years old and have a lot of experience. And we all love to play live shows! After playing about 500 shows in four years together we have gotten pretty tight as a band and with eight singles that has been listed on national radio stations our crowd is getting bigger and bigger and theres a lot of singing along in the crowd. This summers festival tour has been absolutely amazing and with the growing audience we’ve also put a lot of extra stuff and effects in our show wich is very cool for both us and the audience I think.
If you could play a show anywhere, where would you choose?
After playing a lot of big festivals this summer I kind of miss playing small clubs again. It’d be cool to play, what’s the place called again, The Crowbar in Denmark Street, London? Yeah, I was there a couple of years ago and that place looked real punk! Back here in Norway we´ve played all kinds of places like on mountain tops, on downhill skiing slopes, small record stores, shopping malls, schools, prisons, military bases, small squats, big arenas, on trains and where ever, so we’re joking about that the only places we haven´t played is in a submarine or a space rocket. So I guess one of them would’ve been cool as well!
What would you say the best show you’ve played has been?
I think finishing the biggest festival in Norway, the Øya festival in Oslo, this summer maybe is the coolest thing we’ve done this far. But it can be a bit uptight playing that important shows, so I guess playing a sold out 100 capacity show at Last Train, a legendary brown rock pub in Oslo during the By:larm-festival a couple of years ago was the best one. We made the bouncer open the door on our last song so the line of people outside could hear us and they were dancing and going crazy in the street.
And finally – if Oslo Ess could put their name to a product, what would it be?
That would be a helicopter business! We love that shit. Or it would be fun to have our own beer or red wine!