Posts Tagged ‘Lasse Lokøy’

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New year, new Sløtface album—the political Norwegian punks are slated to dish out their second LP, “Sorry for the Late Reply”, at the end of January, which touches on everything from climate change to frontwoman Haley Shea’s expatriatism from her native U.S.

Today, the four-piece is sharing the fifth single from the album, an exhausted acknowledgement of the need for meaningless New Year’s resolutions. “Keep hoarding books I’ll never read, keep making plans I’ll never keep,” sighs Shea in a matter-of-fact tone recalling Sadie Dupuis, over a grungy take on pop-punk that would sound right at home on a Speedy Ortiz record.

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“This one is about all the promises we keep to ourselves, and all the good advice we give but never take,” she shares of the track. “I’m a master of thinking I can always be better, work harder, sleep less, do more, but maybe that’s not always possible. It’s about working on taking care of yourself and taking advice you would give to someone else.”

Band Members
Haley Shea – Vocals
Lasse Lokøy – Bass
Tor-Arne Vikingstad – Guitar

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From performing for inmates in a Norwegian jail chapel to hitting up the Art Rock festival stage straight from a hospital ward, Sløtface don’t do things by halves. Informed, intellectual, badass and upfront, the young band from Norway’s Stavanger have not only made waves thanks to their pop punk hooks and sharp, relatable lyrics, but also their steadfast belief that a band can do more than just make music.

That approach has already afforded them some rare experiences, like, as lead singer and songwriter Haley Shea puts it, their own version of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison performance. “That was our reference point,” she says.

“We did a government-funded tour of these Norwegian high schools that have this cultural program and the inmates at this prison receive the same high school education, so obviously they have the rights to the same cultural exchange program. We played in their chapel in the prison to like 30 inmates who were between 18 and 60 years old. We had no idea what to expect, but it was really interesting. It was a really special experience.”

Intimate performances have been the group’s preferred gig of choice since they spent their formative years kicking around Stavanger, cutting their teeth as Slutface (before social media censorship prompted a slight name change). An obsession with classic high school movies meant it was a natural step for the band to smash out sets at parties whenever possible, and they came to love the tight confines of Norwegian living rooms.

But regardless where in the world they play, Shea is just happy if they reach like-minded people, bring them together and – most importantly – entertain them.

“Obviously it’s really fun to play big stages with, you know, thousands of people, but we still enjoy a really sweaty atmosphere, whether it’s at a tent at a festival or club, just because you’re closer to people and you can feel their energy levels.

“But then we did Sløtface karaoke,” she laughs, “as the closing slot at this big Norwegian festival where we were the band and the audience members came up and sang. We had like five or six people up onstage at all times and that felt like it was a giant house party – one with like 2,000 people.”

She pauses for a moment; reflects. “When we go to a show, we want to be entertained, have a really good time and make friends with other fans, so we hope that that’s what people get out of listening to our band and coming to our shows. We are kind of being inspired by each other, and by all of the cool things that young people all over the world are doing to make the world a better place.”

This month Shea, along with guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad, bassist Lasse Lokøy and drummer Halvard Skeie Wiencke, get to broaden their reach even further as they head to all corners of the globe, playing their first shows on our soil just before the release of their debut album Try Not To Freak Out.

The anticipation is high on both sides. “We’re really excited. It’s also the farthest away from home we’ve ever played; it’s like the exact opposite of the world from where we live.”

When it comes to their live show set-up, Shea and her bandmates embrace their punk sensibilities, and they like to use gigs as a chance to let loose. “We’ve always tried to lean as close towards a punk live show and a punk aesthetic as we can,” she says.

“People use their stage personas for different things, but they also provide a chance to release a lot of anger and frustration. That’s kind of what I use those stage performances for: to be like the gassiest, angriest version of myself; the person that I can’t really be in real life because I want people to like me too much. Onstage it doesn’t really matter if you piss a few people off.”

Try Not To Freak Out is a pure, undiluted expression of the band’s intentions, an album that melds the Scandinavian hard rock and metal scene’s trademark energy and intensity with the pop sensibility Sweden has been championing over the last few decades.

With each member bringing demos to jamming sessions, the group built the record from cherry-picked parts, trying a swathe of different directions before Shea began carving out the lyrics. Indeed, it’s their differing musical tastes that she attributes to the idiosyncrasies on the record, although at the end of the day, Freak Out takes the nostalgic, familiar hum of American high school movies and makes it the band’s own.

That’s not even to mention the lyrics, which seem more nuanced and referential than those that carried Empire Records, their 2016 EP. Lead single and feminist pop opener ‘Magazine’ makes clear Shea’s intentions as a songwriter from the very outset.

“Patti Smith would never put up with this shit,” she snarls, the song going on to challenge the patriarchy while both addressing and rubbishing societal pressures. There is a reason, after all, Shea has been called the heir apparent to musicians like Kathleen Hanna and PIL-era Johnny Rotten.

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There are times when the record slows – when Shea takes the time to address her intense, often anxious thought patterns, as on mid-record stand out ‘Night Guilt’.

Part of the reason that Shea can talk about anxiety so honestly is that she still finds herself hounded by it. Some might think that success and acclaim have a calming effect on shattered nerves, but often the opposite is the case, and Shea still has to fight hard to conquer her negative thought spirals.

“Some days it’s really, really tough,” she says. “When you work really hard on something, you want it to be the best that it can be, and you get that sort of fear about not quite meeting expectations that you have for yourself.

“So there were days when I was really struggling with anxiety and then had to sing a song about anxiety. That was a little bit tough.”

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Try not to freak out, but what could be your new favourite band are releasing their debut album this September. Following a handful of EPs, four in their native Norway, two in the UK, Sløtface are finally about to make the step up into the big leagues.

“It’s time for it to come out now,” explains bassist Lasse Lokøy. “I feel like we dared to do a bit more than we’ve done before on this record. We have our first song that’s over five minutes, which feels like a big thing for us.”

“We moved back in with our parents for six months to write the album because we couldn’t afford to pay rent and just write every day,” continues vocalist Haley Shea. With the four-piece writing everything together, there’s a lot of back and forth over every movement. They spent a long time writing because they wanted thirty songs to play with. They ended up with 25, “which is a lot for us.” Hacking it down to ten brand new cuts saw the band get rid of songs they loved a lot, but just didn’t fit with the rest of the record.

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A big part of ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ is about dealing with anxiety. The record’s title is the band “telling ourselves not to freak out,” to not worry. “It’s a lot about the anxiety of such a big project and that thing a lot of people feel in their twenties where you don’t completely know what’s going on. You don’t have a plan, and you’re a little bit lost. Being back home makes me question ‘Am I doing things I thought I wanted to be doing? Is this how I wanted my life to go?’ A lot of those feelings came out on the record.” There’s also a tongue in cheek grin alongside it. “As if people would freak out because we’re releasing a record, it’s super cocky,” grins Haley. “We found it funny though,” adds drummer Halvard Skeie Wiencke.

The band’s debut is less plug in and play than everything that’s come before. They had time in the studio to redo bits they weren’t happy with, play with the song a little more and add extra textures. There’s apparently a little bit of everything, from trumpet and cello to one song where everything is completely live. “Even the vocal take is live in the same room,” explains Haley. “We got to do all the different things we like to do, [and so] the album has a lot of directions within it because we just wanted to write the ten best songs we could. We didn’t spend much time thinking about ‘Is going to be our pop punk record, or this is going to be our rock record?’ It has all the different sides to us.”

Lead single ‘Magazine’ was inspired by college as well as a long conversation that saw the band asking, “Can we actually do this? Can we write a four-chord song?” and realising, “this sounds like it should be in one of those high school movies, is that a good thing?” The answer is a resounding yes from us and the band alike. “A big part of the album was accepting that songs that are more popper than we’ve done before are okay. It doesn’t make us a lazy band to do poppier stuff; sometimes it’s just good.”

The songs might have a bit more fizz in their glass, but the lyrics aren’t holding anything back. “I wanted to tell all of the stories that your favourite indie rock bands that are all male have told, and been really good at telling,” starts Haley, referencing both Arctic Monkeys and Los Campesinos!. “They’re really good at telling specific stories about youth but from the male perspective. College rock has this bad rep for being this misogynistic genre, so we wanted to turn that on its head and tell those coming of age stories from the female perspective. Lyrically I hope that people think that things are relatable or hear things that have happened to them but we also wanted to show people that we’re a more versatile band than we may have got the chance to be in the past.”

“We enjoy being in the studio but the type of music we play, it’s supposed to be onstage,” adds Lasse. “It’s where we belong.”

Sløtface’s debut album ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ is out 15th September.

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