Norwegian rawkers Razorbats released their debut album and their singer Even Berg talks about “Camp Rock”, its cover, his… moustache, the band’s influences, the ‘70s, Ginger, the songs they like to make and play and many more. Interview: Yiannis Dolas
Rockpages.gr: This is your first album, your debut. Was it hard to get a deal and record it? What was the most difficult part in the process and what was the more fun?
Even Berg: Yeah! A great feeling having an album out! Selfdestructo Records had already released our “Bring It On” EP the year before. And when they heard a couple of tunes from the “Camp Rock” recording sessions they wanted to release the album as well. Good news for us!
The big difference though was that we decided to bring in a producer this time. We were not quite happy with the sound of “Bring It On” and wanted to get a more 70’s classic rock sound to it. We ended up very happy with Kai Christoffersen at Calmeyer Studios. Both because of the sound he gave us and his contributions to several of the songs. Of course there were some challenges along the way, but when I think back the process was mostly just fun and smooth sailing. A constant feeling the record was going to be a classic!
Rockpages.gr: When you listen to the album again now, do you think there are things you’d like to be different, or better? Would you change something?
Even Berg: There is actually just one thing that bothers me. I should have said “Hey!” between the first and second verse on one of the songs. I always do that live, you know. But to be honest, for the first time after a recording session I am actually totally happy with the result. Of course we are convinced that our next album will be even better (if possible). Just like it should be.
Rockpages.gr: What’s your next step after releasing the first album?
Even Berg: Well, we had a busy autumn after the release. Playing live in Norway. We had a lot of fun and got a very good reception wherever we played. The exhausting part of it was of course too many hours sitting in a too small car with a bad hangover, but that’s rock n’ roll, right?
In January this year we went back to Calmeyer Studios and recorded three new great songs. The plan is to release an EP in September. And we will do two gigs in Sweden in May. The coming summer is set for several festival gigs in Norway and Slugfest in the UK. The day before Slugfest we’re playing at The Pipeline in London. So we’re really looking forward to playing outside of Norway for the first time.
We’re heading back to the studio again in October to start recording the follow up to Camp Rock. It will hopefully be out in the fall of 2017.
Rockpages.gr: On the album sleeve and back cover there are several “older” bands logos. Were those bands influences to you guys?
Even Berg: Yes, of course. Kind of uncool bands these days, right? We’re quite honest guys who don’t care too much about the latest fashion or whatever. We think it’s perfect and hopefully it’s the right time to bring real rock n’ roll back to life. The cover is just as much about the story of the picture, though. The shot is taken from a gig with a band that later turned into the legendary Norwegian band Backstreet Girls. Check them out!
Rockpages.gr: From the album’s sound, production and style of songs it’s obvious that you must like the Hellacopters a lot! How do you contribute in the huge Scandinavian tradition of great rock bands?
Even Berg: You’re absolutely right. The Hellacopters are definitely one of our favourite bands. And a very big part of my record collection are bands that belong to that genre. The combination of classic seventies rock and punk has always been a pleasure to my ears.
Rockpages.gr: “Kids Of The ’70s” is one of the best songs on “Camp Rock”, how did you come up with that?
Even Berg: It’s actually quite funny. Kjetil (the guitarist) came up with the riffs. And wanted me to write the lyrics. And I tried. But I wasn’t able to. When the chorus came up I couldn’t get “You shook me all night long” by AC/DC out of my head. I even suggested that he had to rewrite it! I thought it was much too alike that song. He denied and wrote the lyrics himself. Of course I realized soon enough that I had been totally wrong. Turned out to be as you’re saying, a great song. And after just a few rehearsals AC/DC went out of my head.
Rockpages.gr: You guys certainly are younger that the ’70s generation. How were you turned on to this kind of music that came from that decade?
Even Berg: Hard to know. To me it all began with listening to albums like “Crazy Nights” by Kiss or “Trash” by Alice Cooper. And when I found out that those bands were already quite old back then it made me curious about what they sounded like in the 70’s. And to me there was no doubt. Virtually all the bands sounded better in the 70’s.
Of course there’s a lot of great bands that started in the 80’s and 90’s too, but that’s either Guns N’ Roses or an underground thing. And the same thing happened when I first heard the wave of punk that appeared in the mid 90’s I checked out the “real” punk from the 70’s and loved it.
Rockpages.gr: How can you be influenced by the ’70s, or ’80s and still create music that is not a copy of that era, neither a revival, but something that steps on that to make something new?
Even Berg: That’s the magic of music and being in a band I think. I don’t know how many times one of us has come up with a new idea for a song and one of us has said it won’t work, because it sound too much like something from the past. But as we start jamming on it and I start singing along we always end up with something different than we thought that sounds nothing like what we first heard. I also think we benefit as a band from not having the exact same music background. One of us is more of a “pop approach” to songwriting, another one is a lot more punk or classic hard rock etc. Together we end up with a great combination of several influences and obviously music that doesn’t bore people.
Rockpages.gr: What do you think of the revival of the ’70s kind of movement in rock music today that looks very fashionable? Do you believe is just a trend, or lack of inspiration that leads to that?
Even Berg: I really didn’t know about any specific 70’s revival movement at the moment to be honest. Maybe it is. Music is always like that. A new trend replaces another and some years later the old trend is suddenly back. I have never really bothered about it. At least in my adult years I’ve actually never changed at all. Maybe my taste in music goes a little bit wider these days, but it’s still based on the same type of bands as when I was 15-20 years old.
I grew a moustache about 15 years ago. And it’s still stuck under my nose. It was just the most uncool thing you could wear back then. But a few years ago I noticed that it was on it’s way back. That was weird. Suddenly I was one of the trendy guys. Now I think it’s back to being uncool. Haha. I don’t know and I don’t care. Whatever style or genre a band chooses I don’t think it’s because of lack of inspiration. Of course it’s impossible to be totally unaffected by the latest style and fashion, but I guess and hope that bands are playing the music they do because they actually like it. I know there are some exceptions though. But they will never last long as a band.
Rockpages.gr: The album has some fast songs, as well as mid-tempo. What are the hardest ones to write, the faster, or the slower ones?
Even Berg: Haha! I’m not the right person to answer that question because all of my songs seem to end up being mid-tempo songs. So, I guess the mid-tempo is the easiest then. But thankfully I’m not the main riff maker. It all depends on the mood you’re into at the moment I think. We have some periods with a lot of punky songs coming up and other times with mostly slow ones. To choose I will bet on the slow ones though. They are more transparent in a way and has a real thin line between acceptable and being too cheesy. (I love cheesy stuff, though).
Rockpages.gr: One more highlight of the album for me was “Desolation Highway” can you tell us a bit about that song?
Even Berg: Yeah. We just had to do it the 70’s traditional way, right. At least one ballad on an album. It was quite a new experience for all of us actually. We had never wrote or contributed to such a slow song before. Of course this was one of those “too cheesy or not” moments, but I think it ended up fitting perfect on the album. Glad you liked it. The plot is quite typical cliché. A sad story about somebody’s choosing the wrong path in life and regretting it afterwards.
Rockpages.gr: The old music industry mode is dying with record sale dropping, artists’ income dropping and younger people getting used to get music for free, both legally and illegally. Do you think you guys and all the new bands like you can do something about that and change things? Do you see that a new model of distributing music can be created?
Even Berg: It has actually already been created. It’s still in a very small scale, but some artists are “boycotting” the music industry by releasing their albums by pre sales by fans. I just have to mention one of my absolute favourite artists, Ginger Wildheart. He’s mainly known for being the front man in The Wildhearts, but after their last split up he gave Pledgemusic.com a chance. The thing is that you choose a certain amount of pledgers/ money you have to get in and only if you reach 100% the album will be released. He actually said that he would have given up on music if he didn’t reach it. Thankfully he ended up with 555% and a killer triple album. The last three years I’ve bought a lot of records this way and I hope that people gradually accept that you’ve got to spend money on your artists to make them last. It’s simple common sense.
I have never understood this development. Suddenly music is available for free (almost) and then mp3 files appears to be good enough. Sounds crap to me.
Rockpages.gr: How easy or difficult is it for a band like Razorbats to survive in the music scene today?
Even Berg: Oh. That depends on what you mean by survive. We do this for fun and as long as it is we will keep on rocking. Of course it matters whether people keep liking us or not, but we feel we have something great going and that they will.
I actually think we might have the benefited from not following the latest trends. There’s always rockers around. We just have to make sure they are aware of us.
Rockpages.gr: What are your dreams about Razorbats in the future?
Even Berg: I’m not a typical dreamer to be honest. As long as we stick to the plan we’ve already got I’m happy as hell with that. That means a new album every second year for the next 20 years and as long as we deliver great rock ’n roll I have a feeling Razorbats will grow and have an awesome time!