Fjording it up: TMF meets Katzenjammer
As with their recent album A Kiss Before You Go (their UK debut but second album overall), you might think you know what you're going to get with a Katzenjammer show but you'd be mistaken. A quartet of live wires, they brazenly switch instruments and stage positions practically every song and nail everyone single one, with a sold-out crowd at XOYO seeing them deliver a blistering 90-minute set of flawless musicianship and infectious fun.
It helps that, in the nicest possible way, they're complete lunatics on stage with random interludes - Marianne Sveen introduces 'Cherry Pie' by joking that she knows the way to a man's heart because she used to be one - and highly energetic displays from everyone, with numerous highlights such as Solveig Heilo's trumpet solos, Turid Jørgensen's fabulously committed 'Mother Superior' vocals and Anne Marit Bergheim urging the crowd just to make any kind of noise before 'To The Sea'.
Thankfully when we met up with Anne Marit (front left) and Solveig (front right) outside XOYO in the unseasonably balmy British weather, they were - impromptu rapping from Solveig aside - altogether more calm as they spoke to us about A Kiss Before You Go and their UK tour to date.
Can you just introduce yourself to our readers and regale them with a unique fact?
A: My name is Anne Marit and I play in Katzenjammer. A unique fact? I absolutely love crop circles.
S: Well, my name is Solveig Heilo, I play in Katzenjammer. I would love to have something….yes! I just bought a chocolate fountain. That’s a unique fact. It’s my childhood dream.
Did it meet expectations?
S: It is better.
Just want to say congratulations on the album, genuinely love it. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came together and whether there were any main differences between this one and your debut?
A: Yeah, it’s the result of touring the whole world the past three years. We’ve grown as musicians and persons and not necessarily in the same direction, so there’s been more, not quarrels, but friction in the band. I think it’s been good in the development of the music. We’re more distinct this time. We know what we want to do. Do you have anything to add?
S: Friction creates energy and I think that’s something that happened on this album.
Any reason this was chosen as the UK debut as opposed to your first album?
A: It’s just time and it’s all about timing basically. We’ve tried to focus on Europe for a while now and we’ve been in Australia and USA as well, so now was the time to go 100% into the UK. We wanted to do it properly.
There's a definite tonal shift halfway through, marked by 'Cocktails And Ruby Slippers'. Was this a deliberate choice or just something that happened organically?
S: We try to stitch together the songs in a good way and I think we should not try to smooth out the differences; I think it’s cool to emphasise them. By switching from the eerie start in the beginning to the happy, happy, then it’s the best introduction to Katzenjammer and what we’re about. We’re not afraid to switch moods and for 90 minutes in the concert, or on the album, we will take you through emotional rollercoaster and as everything else in life, your mood is going up and down and I think that reflects that very well.
So you’re going to leave me traumatised tonight…
Sol: [laughs] Yeah. Hopefully. Demented and traumatised.
Tonight's your final date of your UK tour, how has it been going so far?
A: Over all expectations, that’s a very Norwegian way to say it. We didn’t have any expectations when we came. It’s our first real tour, but we’ve almost sold out the whole tour and it’s been wonderful. The audience has really welcomed us in a very good way. We can’t be more satisfied.
S: It’s been a really good tour. Really good.
Have you noticed any differences between UK audiences and others you've played to at home and in Europe?
S: It’s not a huge difference but there’s sometimes slight differences. Main difference is that the crowd doesn’t cheer just for cheering. They are kind of more honest in their reactions sometimes, but not everywhere. That gives you a genuine feedback which is quite interesting, instead of just happy, happy, go, go all the time. We grow by playing in Britain because of the reactions we get.
On that note, have you had any bad crowd reactions?
A: No. We’ve done a few events here, played at the Embassy and for very important people with ties [mimes doing up a tie] and stuff like that. They can be harder to engage in that way, but that’s the same everywhere I suppose.
What everyone seems to know about Katzenjammer is that you're all multi-instrumentalists. Can you tell us a bit about how that developed and whether you have some instruments that you've yet to master?
S: You get friends with some instruments and some instruments you just don’t get along with. I think an instrument that I am really friendly with is drums, and the development of the instruments has been very natural. We’ve got a new song that required a banjo. We bought a banjo and started to play and had to learn to serve the song.
What's next for Katzenjammer?
A: We’re working on the third album, we just started writing songs for it. We’re still going to continue touring Europe and come back for a few festivals here in England this summer, like Cornbury and Beautiful Days…
A: Hopefully another tour in the fall, we’ll see.
Finally, we're big fans of food at TMF so if we were to come around to Chez Katzenjammer, what culinary delights would you serve us?
A: Salmon. Like fresh salmon from Norway, like sushi... [talks Norwegian to Sol]... sashimi for starter. And you would get moose as a main course with lots of Norwegian potatoes and vegetables. For dessert, you would get chocolate fondant.
S: Or chocolate fountain!
Katzenjammer's second album A Kiss Before You Go is out now. Read our review here and then do your eardrums a favour and buy it.