Norwegian noisemakers Spielbergs spent 2018 making waves at European festivals, and putting the final touches to their debut album, 'This Is Not The End'. Now it's here, and the trio are bringing it to the UK for a five-date tour. Say hello to frontman, Mads Baklien.
Hey Mads, how's it going?
I'm doing great these days. A lot of good things are happening for our band; we're releasing our debut LP 'This Is Not The End' on 1st February, and then we're off on a UK headline tour. Really looking forward to that!
Tell us about life in Oslo, is it a nice place to live? What's going on over there at the mo?
Oslo is a quite small city but big enough to make you feel you're in an actual city, at least for us Norwegians. We love it here! You have a lot of choices in Oslo. You can hang around near the city centre and live the urban life if that's your thing, with clubs and shopping and all kinds of cultural activities, or you can, as I like to, hang out in the more quiet neighbourhoods in the outskirts, eating and drinking at small cafés and pubs. We have great forests for hiking and skiing and stuff all around the city, and we have the sea to go swimming in during summer. Top notch restaurants are popping up everywhere, and yeah, Oslo just keeps getting better and better in my opinion.
Does popular music in Norway differ much from the UK, or are the charts all Ariana Grande and Bastille?
I really don't pay much attention to the charts, but let's see. At the time I'm answering these questions there's definitely some Ariana on there. We have Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper from that movie. Haven't seen it. We have Billie Eilish, Halsey, Kodak Black, Imagine Dragons, ugh I can't stand them, and yes what do you know… Bastille too. But we also have a lot of Norwegian pop and hip-hop acts going on here I can see. I'm guessing you don't have that much of that over there.
Do you feel like the musical landscape in Norway has shifted at all over the past few years?
Yes and no I guess. It seems to me that we are constantly mirroring whatever goes on in the world. We have our own mumble rap acts (in Norwegian!), we have the EDM stuff, though I guess Norway can take some international credit in that department, with tropical house dude Kygo and Alan Walker. We have some pop artists doing well internationally as well, like Sigrid. We also have more and more kids with guitars coming up it seems, which is good news!
That said, we have now, and have had for many years, a fantastic punk and hardcore scene, great metal bands, great indie-pop and rock and what not. I think we have a pretty healthy musical landscape going on over here.
What first got you into wanting to make music?
I've been playing music for as long as I can remember. We had a piano at home, that was important. I specifically remember my parents buying me some sort of candy-filled mini-keyboard that you could play on when I was a kid. I remember draining the batteries on that little thing, teaching myself to play the music from the Australian TV show Against The Wind that my parents and all of Norway were watching at the time. Later they bought me some cheap Casio knock-off keyboard and then eventually, my first electric guitar. I was nine at the time. I was crazy about the 'Black Album' by Metallica and taught myself to play every single riff and solo on that record. And that's when I also started making my own riffs and soon after, songs.
When did you start putting together your debut album, and how did you find the creation process?
We started making songs for the album the very moment we started playing together roughly three years ago. Actually, the first song we finished was 'We Are All Going To Die' which is on the album. So the songwriting for the album has been going on for a while, but the process of recording and producing the album is another story. The first recordings we did was in our rehearsal space with Tord Øverland Knudsen of The Wombats and Marius Drogsås Hagen from Team Me. They brought their laptops and mics and preamps and stuff, and we just went off. We later continued in their studio, and we had a blast. They are both such chill and positive guys. They really contributed to the creative process in so many ways.
What's your favourite thing about being in Spielbergs?
My favourite thing is to make the songs. We have been very clear with each other from the beginning that we don't want to have any boundaries for what kinds of music we can make. We can do whatever we want as long as we think the songs are good songs. But I am also so thankful for the fact that our label By The Time It Gets Dark likes what we do, and all the crazy things that have come out of that. These guys are just brilliant at what they do, and they make it quite exciting to be a Spielberg.
You're back in the UK next February, how important is it for bands in Norway to break into other countries?
Yes, we are! And we will visit places I've never been before. I hope I get to see some sights along the way. I love history, and you guys definitely have a lot of that. I also hope I will get to eat some good food along the way.
For a band like ours, I would say it is vital to break into other countries. We really want to do this thing. And even though I hope there are people in Norway that like our music, the market for guitar-based indie punky pop rock by a bunch of dudes is limited at best. And I believe it is limited in other countries these days as well! But we're a small country compared to many others. So just by doing the math, it's potentially vital to try our luck in other countries.
Do you think the whole Brexit thing is going to impact how often you'll be able to come over and play in future?
I have very limited knowledge of this issue to begin with, but for a band like Spielbergs, it's already very expensive to play abroad. Paying for bringing your equipment, buying your own plane tickets, renting a van, paying for a room. And receive a very limited fee at the end… If we were to have to pay for visas and tour carnets on top of that… We're a Norwegian band signed on a British label. It would definitely complicate things. Let's hope there will be some kind of deal between all parties that makes life liveable for musicians.
What would you most like to achieve in 2019?
I hope that many people will listen to our album, I hope that they will like it, I hope that many people will come to our shows, and I hope we will get started working on LP2.
Taken from the February issue of Upset. Spielbergs' debut album 'This Is Not The End' is out on 1st February.
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