Katzenjammer are an all girl Norwegian quartet who briefly wowed the UK with a whirlwind tour in May this year. I caught up with Turid and Marianne from the band just before their XOYO date in London.
SXP: So it’s the last day of the tour then. How many dates have you done in all this time? Turid: Five? Marianne: Yes, five
SXP: Was it Brighton last night? Girls: Yes
SXP: I saw some pictures on Facebook and you were on the beach. Turid: Oh yes, it was great!
SXP: But it’s got pebble beaches. Are you used to beaches with pebbles on? Marianne: Aw it’s nice actually. Turid: What? Marianne: It’s stones. Turid: Ah. Marianne: Someone asked me if the sand is nicer but I think it’s nicer with the stones because you don’t get sand in your shoes and ears. You just get pebbles in your ears. Turid (laughs)
SXP: So how’ve the gigs gone then because I’m guessing this time more than last time, because your album’s out now you must be getting recognition from people actually knowing your names, people knowing the songs... Marianne: I’m surprised at how many people know the songs from our first album, especially, because people tend to sing along to the singles because they’re the ones they’ve heard on the radio but at a lot of the gigs people know the words to the old songs. That shows they’ve maybe been watching Youtube clips or buying our first album.
SXP: Three of you met at the University of Pop? Marianne: Yeah sort of... It’s a private school... for popular music.
SXP: You may have heard about the Brit School here with Lily Allen and lots of other British performers who’ve gone to this school and what tends to happen is they come out with good stage presence but what they haven’t got is what you’ve obviously got is this talent for playing musical instruments... Marianne: Well the first year everyone does the same in the music line but in the second year you choose between being in the studio and writing songs and recording and producing everything or you can choose to be performing musicians. So I did performing musician and Turid did production Turid: But I think this school is way smaller than the one you are talking about. Marianne: It’s growing but I think it’s still pretty much a small academy but it’s important for education so...
SXP: Do you think it made you what you are now or do you think you’d have achieved it anyway? How much do you think it added value? Marianne: Well we wouldn’t have met if we weren’t there so no, we wouldn’t be a band if we hadn’t gone to that school... Turid: ...But the band was in the spare time so it was our project and we never played at the school with this band. But of course you get a big opportunity to meet people and play music with people who like the same music as you. You’re also able to have practice rooms for 24 hours and it’s a lot of equipment and stuff and the networks of people you can use.
SXP: I’ve read that you can play 25 instruments between you and you obviously like swapping instruments... Is that a deliberate thing or is it just you like so many different types of music... Marianne: The whole concept of Katzenjammer started off as a whole lot of really good songs just lying around not being played and Anne-Marit had an accordion and a mandolin and they ended up being the basic instruments. So we started off with two instruments that are not usually the basis and we are all pretty much sound trained people so when we hear a sketch of a song we feel the song beside the sound. Demon Kitty Rag was originally a bit different but we felt it needed a banjo and a banjo ragtime-ish style so then we had to get a banjo and that’s where it went off from there.. And like everything else we have no particular limitations in arranging things in a particular style. So if you learn to play a couple of instruments you can learn to play many more if you just try so we started off with a few and ended up with lots. Turid: But I have to say on stage we have 13 or something instruments, it’s on the record that we have that... we couldn’t play the tuba on the stage for example...
SXP: Are there other types of music you haven’t played yet that you think “oooh let’s play that”? Peruvian or Afro-rhythms? Marianne: I think African folk has never been discussed actually but you never know... Turid: That’s the good thing about playing in this band. We never plan. We’re writing our next album from now but we never sit down and discuss how the record will be. We just make songs, play them to each other and it just makes it all so much fun though.
SXP: Is there a vibrant music scene in Norway because apart from you I’ve only heard of Saint Thomas and Aha? Marianne: We’re not very good at exporting our own music but we’re working on it though and providing more money for exporting Norwegian music.. But we have a band called Donkeyboy who is trying to reach out to other countries. I think the music that has reached the furthest abroad is metal music but that’s not what you hear on the radio either. In fact death metal and salmon are our two biggest exports, apart from the oil.
SXP: So you’re coming to the end of the tour tonight... at the end of the night will there be televisions thrown out of the hotel window or is it on the tour bus and that’s it straight to bed..? Both: But of course, we’re really good girls! Turid: We don’t party much. Well not on tour.
SXP: But it’s the last night, you can do whatever you want. Marianne: Well we’re going to the Netherlands to play at the weekend, you know. Turid: Well we have the day off tomorrow but we’re going to leave pretty much right after the show but I guess we’ll take a couple of beers. Marianne: I think you’ll understand even better when you see the show because the whole concept of our band is no-one can hide ever. If you have a regular band with regular musicians, maybe if you have a bad day or a hangover, you can hide behind your instruments for a day. We don’t have any lead singers or front figures. We’re all the same and we rotate and do not hide...
SXP: You sort of hide because you’ve got that big wig... Marianne: (laughs) Not any more! Well, only sometimes I do. I actually found the explanation for it because it takes a lot of time to do the hair and I get bored easily. It saves me an hour of time every day! When we have a six week tour I have to wear a wig, that’s it I’m never doing my hair again! But you get tired of looking the same, you know and that hour I’d like to spend making more music instead.