With the release of their new album only days old and with the band already causing more than a fuss on the underground, Mass Movement caught up with Eirik Melstrøm from Norway’s premier no-nonsense Scandi Rock pionners The Good, the Bad and the Zugly. Hold onto your bare arsed chaps, we’re going in!
Interview by Ginge Knievil.
Photograph by Ilda Borsand
MM: Hello! Misanthropical House has just landed and the vinyl is hitting the letterboxes of punks here in the UK. For those who’ve been living under a rock, tell us a bit about the band and the new album.
EM: GBZ is going postal! One of the songs that didn’t make the cut for the new album was actually called Going Postal, a Bukowskian tale of bass player Zugly’s seventeen years working for the Norwegian postal service, which is enough to drive anyone insane I guess! Hopefully the record will find its way safely to punks across the British Isles. Anyways, we´re an Oslo based ensemble with roots in the wilderness of a dark and rural place called Hadeland. Misanthropical House is our third studio album, not counting the compilation album The Worst Four Years from last year, with stuff from before the first studio album of 2013.
With the new record we tried to reflect some of the core values characterising Norwegian society at the moment. It all seems to centre around whining and complain about even the most insignificant stuff. You can say that complaining has become the way of life after we found oil in the sixties. And nobody seems to challenge the fact that it is making us into a rather petty, decadent and self-serving people. And we’re no exception, after all, we are Norwegians!
Like with the song Vik Bak Meg Satan that deals with an illness that one-third of the world’s population can relate to, but no-one talks about. Taboos still exist! After decades of living this lifestyle it should not come as a surprise that it’s starting to take a toll on both our bodies and our minds. As we plunge into premature middle-age we have all encountered the inevitabilities of growing older. So we whine about rapid bodily decay. Yet Norwegians seem to keep quiet about this stuff, nobody is wearing their hemorrhoids with pride anymore. The song Vik Bak Meg Satan is an ode to the unspoken atrocities happening to countless of bleeding assholes throughout the country. Someone had to step up and address this stuff!
And with the song International Asshole – wow, it just occurred to me the seamless rectal transition between those two songs – we all have that one friend who travels to the Far East just to get a decent cup of noodles; who is blogging photos from a cozy fucking farm in France, and who keeps talking about how cheap it is in India and how long you can stay there on just one month’s salary. Two hours in Paris, eight hours in Shanghai, another four-day weekend to New York. Do these assholes ever go to work? The world wouldn
t have to care for CO2 if it wasnt for backpackers just like you. What’s wrong with Oslo and Google earth?
MM: Hadeland Hardcore was a revered punk rock opus for those in the know. Such was its popularity on the underground, were there any concerns, like “how the fuck do we follow that?”
EM: The fact that we are still able to endure and finish the process of writing, rehearsing, recording and releasing an album is nothing less than a miracle. So, we haven’t really had time to think too much about that. Everyone’s talking about the difficult third album, we’re just happy there IS a third album. So, no conscious decisions were made as to how the album should relate to what we’ve done before, and that might be the reason why it turned out okay. Our main objective is to play music that makes you want to “drink beer and feel fine,” and we tried to stick to that formula.
MM: My social media feeds have been clogged up with people praising Misanthropical House. They’re all saying it’s a beast and that it’s your best work to date. With reviews starting to filter through as well, how happy are you with the response thus far?
EM: The response so far has been really great, especially from punks and press abroad. Hopefully that will generate some opportunities to play more gigs outside of Norway. Don´t really know why, but it seems like more people have picked up on this release than the previous ones. The Norwegian national press however is growing more and more tabloid, and there is no longer room for stinking deviants such as ourselves, with crummy day jobs and dysfunctional lifestyles. They only focus on acts that can make it to The Graham Norton Show, or former musicians that are now participating in Dancing with the Stars or any other kind of mind-rotting TV concept. So you can say our bitterness is equivalent to a king size bottle of Fernet Branca at the moment. That said, the record has been well received by the underground scene, and we´re really happy about that.
MM: People have also noted online, especially certain quarters of the Jugend, that the sound on the new album is more Turbonegro than Turbonegro at this present time! Would you agree with that?
EM: We’ve also noticed that. First of all a great compliment. The Turbonegro reference has stuck with us since our beginning in 2010. Back then we were said to be copycats, but I think both the new album and Hadeland Hardcore proves that we also have our own thing going on. And, we’ve been a part of the same scene as Turbonegro and Anal Babes since the 90s, and we love many of the same bands as T. did back then, like Poison Idea and The Dictators, so we’re cast from a similar mold I guess. The difference is that they have chosen to go down a different path musically, while we refuse to change. Whether that makes us original or retarded is yet to be seen.
MM: For all the punk rock fury, there’s some great humour to be found in GBZ’s lyrics. What inspires this and are they any influences outside of music?
EM: The lyrics are mostly based on whiny observations from living our dreary everyday lives. Like with Norwegians in general, our scope of vision is extremely narrow and self-centered. And from that vantage point it seems like there is a bottomless well of inspiration at the moment. Apart from said haemorrhoid pain and aggression caused by travel-horny idealists, the record includes an attack on positive mindfulness psychology and self-help life coaching lessons – Mindlessness. A song about the realisation that you have fooled yourself into believing you were a true hardcore punk – I Lied About Being A Hardcore Man. One addressing the perils of living in the woods – It´s a Jungle out There, In the Forest. And one concerning the rising trend of quizzing at the pub – I Need A Place To Drink. Whatever happened to just walking into a bar and not having to answer a bunch of questions? There is one thing we never do, we don`t mix beer and IQ.
MM: I caught you guys live in London a few years ago when you headlined the DeathTime ASSembly in 2016. That was a pretty special weekend. Are there any plans to come to these shores again?
EM: That was a great couple of days! It was our first ever UK show. Would love to come back, but no gigs scheduled at the moment. If someone wants to hook us up, we´ll be there!
MM: You’re on the bill for Hellfest in France. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but that must be a pretty big deal for you guys. Are you looking forward to giving that festival bill a kick up the arse?
EM: Yes, I think that will be our biggest show so far. Whether it will be the best I don´t know. It will have to compete with Hillbilly Huckfest, a small downhill bike festival in Norway we did a few years ago. We played in the back of the barn for a extreme sport crowd that went completely mental. It was total havoc. But, of course, Hellfest will be great. We´ll light up that Sunday 1pm crowd like an accusation of sexual abuse will do to a high ranking politician. The line-up the rest of that day is probably the best gathering of Scandirock-gems this side of the millennia. Hellacopters, Gluecifer, Turbonegro, Backyard Babies… and us. It feels like being accepted into the Scandirock hall of fame.
MM: You questioned “Who Will Save Scandi Rock?” in 2015. In your opinion, who else is currently saving Scandi Rock at this present time?
EM: We can only speak on behalf of Oslo, but as long as Last Train (the bar and venue) is still running there is life in the otherwise festering carcass of Scandinavian rock. In a sad way it seems like we are the last frontier. The new acts coming out of Norway these days have strange-sounding Norwegian names like Blomst and Svømmebasseng; carry fanny-packs over their shoulders and sip virgin mojitos that cost 15 punds. So, if you wanna visit the last frontier of Scandi Rock, we’ll be waiting for you with a beer at the end of the empty bar at Last Train, probably passed out and severely broke.
MM: As with all my Mass Movement interviews, I give the bands the final word. Thanks for taking the time to chat, now the stage is all yours. Go!
EM: Buy our records, come to our shows, drink beer and feel fine! In the spirit of this interview it seems fitting to end with a piece of lyrics from the album. Even though we live in challenging times it could have been worse, we could have all been born before rock.
WHAT WOULD I DO?
If I was born before rock?
WHAT COULD I DO?
If I was born before rock?
THERE WOULD BE NO!
Songs about alcohol and dope
Tell me my friend, how would I cope?
Misanthropical House is out now and you can purchase that bad boy here