Barren Womb might be the hardest working band in the Norwegian underground, touring relentlessly, and offering a slew of releases since their inception in 2011. They are complete masters of their craft, capturing their raw and unpolished live energy in studio recordings.
CVLT: We know that music is a form of cultural expression and, like any other type of art, it can be educational. Considering your music, do you think is educational in some manners?
TONY: It’s not educational in a traditional sense, but there’s certainly a message and a philosophy behind it. Modern western society’s idolization of status and individual success makes for a cold, unwelcoming and cutthroat world for the vast majority of earthlings, most humans included. Our music often reflects different facets of the dreary, oppressed existence under the thumb of a ruling class. At the same time, it also speaks to the power of being an outsider, and what could be if respect and equality for all walks of life were the central tenets which society was organized around. No one is truly free before everyone is free.
The sound from this latest material ‘Lizard Lounge’; if listened carefully, takes you to all sort of areas. From a typical American high-school punk, to reminiscent passages of the Swedish metal band Shining. Basically, your song ‘Karma as a tour Manager’ makes me think of ‘Låt Oss Ta Allt Från Varandra’ by Shining. What an interesting mix of styles and areas your artistic approach goes to.
What albums have influenced your career so far?
Thanks! Although Shining and high-school punk is not something that has informed how we write music in any significant way, it’s really cool that you hear that in us. There are way too many amazing albums that have influenced us to list here. Instead, here are some artists that have been instrumental to our sound and continue to inspire: Fugazi, Hot Snakes, Lightning Bolt, Nomeansno, Primus, Run The Jewels, Shellac, Sonic Youth, Viagra Boys and Tom Waits.
Do you look for a certain niche where to unfold or does your music simply pups out as you feel it and the stylistic framing remains to the public’s appreciation?
We have developed a certain style over the years that feels comfortably our own and serves as a loose framework to experiment within. Our sound falls somewhere in the realm of noisy rock n’ roll/hardcore/post-punk, so that’s probably the niche we feel most at home in. What the public thinks is the farthest thing from our minds when we are working on songs, that kind of anxiety only becomes real when we are on the verge of releasing a new album. When we write and record, it basically comes down to what feels like a good Barren Womb song to us.
What song from the current material surprised you the most and in what manner?
‘Hairy Palms’ might have been the biggest surprise for us. We had been struggling with that song for 6-7 years, never quite getting it right, then all of a sudden we discovered Viagra Boys and the song quickly fell into place after that. With its stomping, disco-esque beat, it’s a bit of a venture outside our comfort zone, but it works surprisingly well.
When talking about Nordic music, you inevitably think of extreme metal. Lately, however, several projects from different musical spheres started to show off. Can we refer about indie or punk as being fashionable there?
There’s a subset of people who dig punk and indie here, but it’s not exactly fashionable. Like extreme metal, these genres are firmly rooted in the underground, even though a select few artists cross over to dip their feet in the mainstream. The underground scene in Norway is thriving though, with a bunch of amazing bands and a true sense of community, and we are proud to be a part of it.
After nine years following an uncompromising DIY path, Timo and Tony can be melodic, scathing, catchy, intense, punky or heavy as a concrete Chevy. ‘Lizard Lounge’ shifts between screeching guitars and total anguish to sore and mellow passages, only to leave you floored again with a catchiness unexpected from a band operating in their style
How does exactly DIY movement look like from the countries where you come from, Finland and Norway?
In our experience it’s not really that different from any other country we’ve visited around Europe. If anything, it feels like the gap between the DIY underground and the rest of the industry is a bit smaller in Norway and Finland. This is probably just down to the fact that the population is relatively small compared to for example Germany or France, which necessitates more cooperation between bands and hopefully contributes to blurring the genre lines a little.
What expectations are born when a DIY project is approached by a label? Is there a fear of not producing the same music? That the audience will somehow turn their attention away? Tell us a little about this transition!
We have always been a highly autonomous band and would most likely not work well with someone who didn’t respect this. A sense of freedom and ownership over the creative process is key, and these aspects would quickly evaporate if we were forced to cater to outside opinions. What an audience will like or dislike is simply beyond our control, those kinds of dubious calculations are best left in the hands of SkyNet. Luckily, there’s been a mutual understanding of this in every working relationship we’ve had. We are in a perfect spot now with Loyal Blood Records, not only because they understand our mindset and support us 100%, but also because we are in a fantastic company on their roster.
CVLTARTES is a Romanian publication. Do you know any Romanian bands?
Unfortunately not, but we would love to hear some! Got any good tips?
Sure, you can try: Methadone Skies, RoadkillSoda, Breathelast, The Sonic Taste, Zammorian, Valerinne, Cardinal, White Walls.
You’d move to Romania only if:
We could visit first. We’ve never been, but it’s high time we did some touring there.
‘Lizard Lounge’ is out now through Loyal Blood Records!
Cover photo: (c) Dan Gschib