By Walter Price
“I need a place to go when I’m feeling sinister…a rooftop with a pack of cigarettes.”
Remember the line from Winston Churchill “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”? Well, if ole Winnie was around today he could have just as easily been speaking about the perceived complexities behind The Violent Years.
Mandal Norway’s The Violent Years (Kenneth Bringsdal, Kjetil Sjølingstad, Jack van der Hagen, Lars Erik Humborstad, Eivind Thorsvik) seem to travel musically on the darker side of hope on their first full length album, 2012’s Trying To Get Overbut that’s not to say it’s a doom and gloom experience. No, what you get is a man, band co-founder, Kenneth Bringsdal, almost apprehensively laying out sceneries that are banging around in his conscious. In lyrical, vocal and composition manners you’ll find reminiscent of Ian McCulloch, Rhett Miller or perhaps a hypothetical Eagles helmed by Nick Cave and Steve Kilbey.
Although Trying To Get Over garnered critical and fan praise, I think it’s fair to say these down-home guys have a bit of reluctant acceptance of it all. Maybe there is some trepidation of possibly losing the warmth in community they have in the small water framed hamlet they call home. Fame can be a tricky and sometimes devastating experience and not something one should take too lightly.
Trying To Get Over is as fun as it is deep. Country-ish at times alt-rock with humble and righteous storytelling that is as charming as it is poignant and introspective. .
With a new studio completed and a future album in the works, I have a strong feeling that worldwide adulation is inevitable. I am a willing and eager spectator waiting in the stands to see what plays out for these five players who seem more at home with a fishing pole than the limelight.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with The Violent Year’s Kenneth Bringsdal.
There is a bit in your bio that says “…they’re a band that summon mysteries” and I find that to be the case when looking into your history. Can you take us from the start of the band in small town Norway?
Well it’s quite fundamental really, friends hang together and communicate. Instead of smoking weed or/and be hatred we enjoyed doing positive things. Music is positive. The mystery bit origin from esoteric experiences mostly I`d say. When you feel you are close to someone, and experience the similar “something” that very often is just abstract matter…..Well I consider that interesting at least. Basically that is what started the band among dozens of circumstances!
I have to ask who the Ed Wood fan is in the band or does the band’s name have nothing to do with the film of the same name?
I don’t think Ed Wood himself is an icon or anything close to that. But I saw the logo of the film and at that time that title suited very well what I’d been looking for. I still think our band name is very interesting despite the fact that a lot of people think we are heavy-metal or rubbish like that. We are not into metal music by the way….We are from a place were 97% of the musicians either play heavy stuff or blues/cover bands.
I’ve been writing since I was young and always wondered about the fact that people can live with so much bad taste. Why do they overlook the good stuff and identify with all the crap. So for us music is not something where we feel we’re a part of a scene. Unless we think worldwide…..In our town and our country we’re like an untrodden path and not many seem to bother. It’s all about pop or doing something crazy, be crazy on TV, undress, have 5 arms, and so on… Normal contemplative music as ours is misunderstood as being safe and not important for people. Well why are all on anti- depressive drugs? They live lives that are in many cases very, very unreal. So summoned up we are intervening our way.
There is a ton of music history in the band’s sound, conjuring up thoughts of many great artists ending up in your very unique style. How much do influences play in writing and recording?
Influences? A lot, I’d say much more than I will admit to myself. We learned from our heroes and I could make a pretty long list of beloved artists and groups. If it’s real and touches the nerve I love it. It’s as simple as that! Sometimes I even write inspired by myself…..That is when you´ve become independent as a writer. Not 100% independent but you write more without thinking about it. I have a tendency to write a songs core very fast, my head functions that way. The flow zone. I read a lot about how creative people’s heads work…It’s a madness and unless you control that active right side of the brain you’ll get depressed and start feeling lost. So my inspiration is also myself, but my heroes will guide my very much anyway. I think there is a common understanding among writers. As if we are searching for the same well, and drink from it.
TVY seem to have the luxury of not having to rush into the studio on a regular record label cycle. How does this affect how the band writes and records new material?
Haha……we are so on our own. We do have a brand new studio now so the lazy days are over. Enough said!
‘Trying To Get Over’ is a pretty phenomenal album from start to finish. Was the time between the previous EP and this release a testing ground for what you wanted your first full album to be?
No, testing happens at home with my guitar mostly. If a song is rejected, well I reject it at home. It’s all about finding the right time, and have money……It’s a shame really we´ve worked so slow. We´ve never moved to the big city to be heard, we are so happy living in this small town where everything moves very slow. There are songs to fill 15 albums but now we are working on a 10-12 track violently beautiful organic thing. It will be harsher and more groove based than the sinister first album.
How much of the writing process is collaborative?
It depends but I prefer working with them finishing the songs.
With the rich and tactile sound the band creates the studio work seems like it could be tedious. How do you find the studio part of making music?
It comes down to the quality of the studio. The debut album is one very cheap recording. This time we´ll sound more exclusive….
Now you guys are about to start work on a new album, are you guys recording all of it in your own studio this time round?
Yes and we´re happy as happy can ever be!
What can you tell us about the new album?
A solid more cemented sounding….it’s not recorded yet, but it will be our best record so far. Not that the first is weak, I love the variation on the first. We wanted to show that…..This record is harder and we´re gonna play better. More violent sounding.
How are your touring plans coming along?
I really don’t think about touring now….My head is only focusing on recording…..Hopefully this album can give us a long tour. We want that very much.
Speaking of touring, how much trouble can five good looking guys get into out among the wild inhabitants of the world?
Not much trouble, we are very gentle persons and because of where we´re from we are somehow a little shy. We avoid any trouble, but girls are always welcome. They make you feel less lonely….Not talking about cheating on wives haha, but meeting nice people in general is important. And pretty girls make you play better….
What should the world know about The Violent Years?
We are fly fishers……We live in a country with a lot of nature and we spend a lot of time out fishing!
It’s the best a man can do…..It’s a very very interesting thing to do. We talk a lot about and have inside competition on who is getting the most fish or the biggest…..Try It.!
Wilco vs. Band of Horses?
Thank you for chatting with us today. We are eager to hear what the new tracks sound like!”
Thank you and tight lines!