Audrey Horne: rock is in their blood

With their fresh, inspired music, Audrey Horne are among the very good surprised of the last few years. Ever since their debut album, No Hay Banda, somewhere between grunge and Faith No More-ish rock, the Norwegian band has evolved towards more standard classic rock. At least that’s the musical bias of Youngblood, the band’s fourth offering, released earlier this year, which puts new life into an authentic and timeless type of rock.

But Audrey Horne is also – as those who have had the opportunity to see them will tell you – a great live band, led by Toschie, a frontman with a healthy dose of personal charisma and a true presence. He’s also a consummate artist, since, aside from being a singer, a performer and a lyricist, he also works as a tattoo artist and has even created the artwork of the latest album.

Toschie tells us more about all these topics.

« I think most in today`s culture is too perfect, and polished, whether that is music, fashion, technology etc. »

Radio Metal: Your first album No Hay Banda had a kind of mix of grunge and crossover rock in the vein of Faith No More and since then you have progressively slipped toward classic rock. How can you explain this musical path?

Toschie (vocals) : I guess it is just a natural progress, we have been together for 11 years now, and we have evolved both as musicians and as persons. The fact that we wrote all music together through jamming in our rehearsal studio, and recorded most of it live also naturally brought the music more in this direction.

Is it important for the band to be in constant evolution, to have each album distinguish itself from the previous ones?

Yes. Evolve or die! It helps us staying interesting to the listener, and it also makes it more interesting for us to play together.

Many bands nowadays take refuge in the good old influences, particularily from the 70’s, whether it is musically or in the production. Do you feel that at some point modern metal ended up lacking some kind of authenticity in the sound or the playing?

I think most in today`s culture is too perfect, and polished, whether that is music, fashion, technology etc, and in general the way we are being expected to present ourselves as persons. But nobody is perfect, and we all have our flaws and fuck ups. So I guess people are starting to miss the human element and so they consciously or unconsciously start to look for that element, also in music. Those who are really into it want the real deal.

The album is called Youngblood. This gives a sense of renewal of generation. Do you feel like being the new guard of classic rock?

No, we do not see ourselves as such a thing, but we do however feel that we are putting our own touch to this genre, and that we hopefully can breath some new life into it, although it is very much alive and well in its own right.

One thing that made most classic rock bands popular are their ballads. But strangely there are no ballads to be found on Youngblood. Was it a choice from the band to make a full rocking album?

Well, to be honest we just did not finish any ballads for this album, but we did so consciously because we wanted to make a high energy album that mirrored how we are as a live band, and in this process the more slow ones got left behind and eaten by larger beasts, much like it is in the animal kingdom. Survival of the fittest.

There’s a live kind of feeling in this album. Was it your goal to get closer to that feeling ?

Yes, like I said, this was one of our main goals for this album. We are proud of every album we have ever made, but at the same time we have also always felt that we never have been able to capture this energy on album, so that was why we decided to write and record in a different way this time around. And having done so, we have realized that there is no going back from here.

The beginning of the song « Cards With The Devil » has a feeling that can remind of The Rolling Stones’ « Sympathy With The Devil ». Considering the similarity in the title of the songs too, is this a wink at this Rolling Stones hit?

Hehe. Believe it or not, but it is just a coincidence. Although I do love that song. The beginning of that song was done so because we felt the whole song had a cool groove, and we figured it would be a cool start with this jungle groove. So if we stole the idea, it was more from Van Halen, hehe.

« You don`t need to stick to certain rules, and can let your imagination run wild, which often gives the best result. »

People always categorize rockers between the Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Would you say you guys are more in The Rolling Stones category?

No, I guess we have the rock attitude of the Stones, but we have even more the melody focus of the Beatles, not that I compare us to either of them. We are more the Burt Bacharach of hard rock.

In that same song, the chord progression we hear at the beginning and the end and the way it is played sounds strikingly similar to what we hear in the song « Gambler » from Whitesnake but also in « Psycho Holiday » from Pantera. This is surprising but is this purely coincidental?

When you write music, you are always bound to end up with something that has similarity to some of the enormous amount of music that has been made before, so I guess we are influenced by stuff, and when we write, we usually realize when things sound similar to other things, like a riff or a melody line, but if we feel it stands rightfully on its own in a song, we don’t care. Off course unless it feels like we are stealing.

Do you think that, in a way, the gap that separates Whitesnake and Pantera symbolizes the open-mindedness of Audrey Horne, the kind of distance the band is able to cross?

Hopefully, we draw inspiration from all kinds of music, and within the band the range between our individual influences is pretty large. I like to think that this is why we make music that have strong roots in traditional hard rock, but with a slightly different and personal touch.

The cover artwork looks like something Kiss could have done. As a matter of fact it does resemble the artwork for Kiss’ Rock N’ Roll Over album. Was this a reference for the album’s artwork, the kind of spirit you wanted it to have?

Yes, it was. I made the artwork after the band asked me to do it, and when they asked me if I could make a drawing of each our heads, I realized that it had some of the same feeling as Rock And Roll Over, but we felt it was a cool thing. After all, most of us got into music because of Kiss.

Your previous album was produced by Joe Baressi but this time you asked a Norwegian producer called The Magnet to do the job. Did you feel there was something missing with what Joe Baressi did? What pushed you toward The Magnet?

There was absolutely nothing wrong with Joe, we just wanted to do something different, and Magnet, being a performing artist, we felt was the right man for the job. He have experience with both sides, producing and playing live. He is also an amazing talent when it comes to understanding music. So all in all we decided to go for him. He is also a good friend from back in the day, and it is always good to party with good friends.

The album Le Fol was selfproduced. Weren’t you interested in re-attempting the experience?

No, not really. Too many arguments!

You’re the kind of singers that have a strong presence live. Is this something you have borrowed from the classic rock singers? Who are your references in terms of stage performances?

Thank you, yeah I have learned from watching and listening to those guys. David Lee Roth, Paul Stanley, Ronnie James Dio, Eddie Vedder, David Bowie, Steven Tyler,Tom Waits, Bruce Dickinson, etc.

And in terms of vocal performances?

Pretty much the same guys, stage performance is not necessarily just jumping up and down. You can be very calm and still deliver one hell of a show, just look at Robert Plant these days.

« Making images for tattoos are a lot like writing lyrics. You use it to tell something about someone, their life, experience and passion. »

I’ve read somewhere that you also are an artist tattooist. Can you tell us more about this activity? Do you actually connect this in one way or another with your work as a vocalist and lyricist?

Yes, I do. A lot of ideas for lyrics comes from my images as a tattoo artist, and the other way around. Making images for tattoos are a lot like writing lyrics. You use it to tell something about someone, their life, experience and passion. So to me they are two sides of the same coin, and are perfect to combine. You don’t need to stick to certain rules, and can let your imagination run wild, which often gives the best result.

Norway is well known for its black metal scene but since the last ten years a great hard rock scene has emerged, including Audrey Horne but also a band like Sahg and others. Where does this passion for rock in Norway come from?

The heart. I don’t think it is any different from the rest of the world, we just probably color it with a different brush than what they do in, say, England or Poland. We are colored by our culture and environment.

The most well-known and influential rock band coming from Norway surely is Turbonegro. What do you think about this band? What impact have they had on Audrey Horne and the rock scene in Norway in general?

I like them, and they have influenced many bands here, in one way or another, in the way that they showed that an underground band with some crazy ideas could take on the world.

Interview conducted by e-mail in April 2013.
Translation : Spaceman

Official Audrey Horne’s website : www.audreyhornemusic.com

Album Youngblood, out since February 4th, 2013 via Napalm Records

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