After years of ploughing the fields in Austin and spin-offs as far reaching as Tokyo, Aarhus, Seattle and Liverpool; it’s time for Oslo to carry the flame of the Psych Fest family. Between the 5th and 8th of December Oslo will host its first Psych Fest at the venue Revolver.There are 13 bands from 7 countries and 3 continents making for a proper festival lineup.
Behind the Oslo Psych Fest we find a host of volunteers led by three old veterans of the Oslo scene (left to right): Bartender/booker Joao Caveira, Øystein Braut, bartender and member of psych rock band Electric Eye, and Ben Sand, booker at Revolver (and co-editor of this fine rag).
Bad Sounds sat down with the crew to discuss the upcoming festival, the history of psych fest and the scene in Oslo in general:
What’s the history of Psych Fest as a concept? When did it start?
Austin Psych Fest started in 2008 as a small start-up word of mouth festival, and has now grown considerably and attracts fans from all over the world. There have been a few spin-offs but Austin is definitely regarded the mothership.
Is there any organisations amongst the cities involved?
I would use the word “support” not really organisational help. They like what we are doing and try to help promote it a bit perhaps, but mostly its just an independent arm of a functioning international mannequin.
Are there any more cities planning psych fests?
Not that I’m aware of, but Tokyo and Aarhus had their first ones this year.
So why do you think psych music is all the rage these days?
All the rage? It wouldn’t seem so in Norway where we get on average 50 people to our shows even though we have booked some of the biggest, “cult” names in that scene for the size of our venue. People in Norway have a healthy appetite for going to shows, but seem sceptical about just putting down their money and taking a risk on a new band. They calculate every expenditure as being a direct minus on their beer account, so they hold onto their kroners in an almost Charlton-Heston-on-a-shotgun manner.
Ben: I remember in London and LA just randomly heading to clubs to check out a band and pay the entrance, sometimes you were surprised, other times they sucked, but at least it was something to do, and it supported the scene.
How did you guys meet and why did you decide to start this festival in Oslo?
We all met at Revolver. All of us are involved in the music industry or scene, whether that be by playing in bands, DJ-ing, booking or promoting. All three of us have spent years in this environment and realised there was a definite need for something like this in Oslo, so at the beginning of the Spring we spoke about it, and here it is! We are taking all the financial risk for the shows as well, so we are hoping the word spreads and people realise this is not the time to ask for guestlists: Support the Psych Scene!!
How did you choose the bands for this years festival?
Partly luck, partly calculated. We were mulling over a specific time to have it in December, but one of the agents I work with often (Kjetil Moen) booked Disappears back to Revolver after their show last year, so we thought what a perfect headliner for the Friday, so lets choose that weekend and build around it. Then Stian from Goldstar managed to get Wolf People onto the Saturday and all the other bands fell into place. Some we booked directly as part of a tour, others are flying in for the show, some we are flying in, and yet others are taking ferries or hopping in vans to be part of this (hopefully) great 3 days. It’s been humbling how many bands are willing to forgo fee’s and actually drive or take ferries to Oslo to represent their countries/cities Psych scene and help make this a truly international affair. Kudos to them all!
Which bands are you most excited about for this years events?
Ø: The Holydrug Couple and Wolf People on the same day!!
J: Los Plantronics and Sauna Youth
B: Sudakistan, Holydrug Couple and Disappears.
How much work goes into setting up a festival like this?
Oh Lord. I haven’t had as many meetings in a span of 3 months as I have in the past 5 years booking in Oslo. It’s a lot of logistics, backline meetings, crew, promotion, hotel deals, posters, budgets budgets budgets, company logistics, timings, airport pick-ups and drop-offs, DJs, riders, catering, soundmen, projectors, special cocktails, press, interviews, etc etc.
Are you getting a lot of foreign interest?
We have gotten interest from lots of people in Europe which is great. People are flying in from the U.K and Denmark and even France to be part of the festival.
Do you have deals for out of towners?
Yeah. Comfort Express (the hotel down the road) does a very, very kind price on rooms if people mention that they are here for the Psych Fest. It’s where all the bands are staying too!
So lets address the big non show going elephant in the room. What needs to be done to get the Oslo public interested in foreign psych music?
Unfortunately, everything here seems to happen 2 years after the rest of Europe. It’s perhaps something geographically, but it’s also a mentality thing. Norwegians don’t like to be told of a good band, they want to “discover” them. This might take some time. Even if a band has 2 page spreads in the biggest music magazines on earth they can play here to 2 people if they haven’t been discovered yet or the right hipsters haven’t been name-dropping them. Its an uphill battle to try and get bands to come early for the joy of seeing them on their first tours, but also realising we are going to lose money and then the corporate venues will book them the year after and sell-out. So we end up making life easier for the bigger venues and losing money ourselves. C’est La Vie
Your psych shows have been well attended, but could interest a larger audience, no?
I’m not sure there is a bigger audience. We could have put Thee Oh Sees at John Dee last year, but they didn’t even sell out Revolver and they, lets be honest, have been one of the most hyped bands for the last 3-4 years. I still cannot understand how they didn’t sell out at Revolver…..
You’ve booked some great bands for this years festival. How can you get people to come early for the openers?
I don’t think Oslo-ites will come early to a show unless they are promised lapdances from Mila Kunis, backrubs from Channing Tatum or endless free shots of fernet branca and beers for 8 kroner. Even if Gandhi and Jesus were playing a free Psychedelic reenactment of the Dark Side Of The Moon on sitar and tablas people would still probably turn up when the last song was ringing out of the cosmos.
With that said, EVERYONE should be there by 8pm. We’ve booked some great opening acts.
I understand you have some special guest for this event too?
We have been very fortunate to have certain friends who want to support the festival as a whole, one of them being the band DEATH BY UNGA BUNGA who will perform a special “Psych-Set” inside the bar upstairs at Revolver for free (in an attempt to also get people out early) at 4pm. That needs to be uploaded to youtube for sure. Also another long-time amigo in Serena-Maneesh will be doing a special show at Henie Onstad on Sunday after the festival for the Arne Nordheim event. They are loosely billed as the “After-fest”. We also have special djs coming from England and Sweden to play after the basement gigs as well. It promises to be an exceptional 4 days.
Are you planning on repeating this festival next year?
If we don’t hemorrhage money this year, then YES! The plans is to bring it forward a bit and have it in September and pray to the Gods above that the weather holds for some outdoor fun too.
You’ve put on psych fest promoted shows for a while now (dead meadow, crystal stilts, Moon Duo, Cosmonauts etc.) Any other psych fest shows in the works?
Those have been working relatively well, Dead Meadow, Moon Duo and Crystal Stilts all sold out which was excellent. Some of the other shows we took a risk on just because its important for people in Oslo to be able to see Cosmonauts or Spindrift in a small rock club in Oslo instead of having to take a bus to Gothenburg where the scene is considerably healthier. There have been numerous times a band has driven over from Gothenburg and said “Yeah we sold 800 last night” and they struggle to push 80 in Oslo. Can anyone tell me why? We’ve searched and given up finding an answer.
Check out info and sounds from all the bands playing this years festival below.
You can pick up your tickets at www.tigernet.no while they last!
THURSDAY 05th DECEMBER
LOS PLANTRONICS (NO)
“MARIACHI DEATH SURF since 1996 – “meksikansk styrke, norsk kvalitet” – a stunning blend of electrified swamp-R&B, garage-soul-boogaloo, rockabilly, mariachi madness, Stax instrumentals, blaxploitation sounds, surf guitars and spaghetti tunes, it features some x-tra ordinary contributions from BENDIK BRÆNNEs celebrated horn section, space-surf guitars from guitar virtuoso EIVIND STAXRUD, animalistic voodoo groove from SLIM SLAMMER, low bass-frequences from LARS ERIK LARSEN (which hits you where it hurts) and primal fuzz-tones from guitar slinger and head honcho, SIGNOR HAVN.”
SAUNA YOUTH (UK)
“Sauna Youth are a four piece punk rock band from London, England. They pose the question “why can’t you be the Ramones and Steve Reich?” in much the same way Kurt Cobain once asked “why can’t you be Black Sabbath and the Beatles?” They are MINCE / PINES / BOON / ECKE. They play at Power Lunches all the time. They have a 12” out on FAUX DISCX / GRINGO RECORDS. Get on it.”
“DREAMLANDS” by SAUNA YOUTH
“Part Thee Oh Sees, part DFA1979… Pillaging, powerful stuff.” -PITCHFORK
FRIDAY 06th DECEMBER
“Disappears is a rock band from Chicago formed in 2008. The band plays a mixture of shoegaze, krautrock and garage rock. The band was formed by Brian Case (ex-90 Day Men) and Graeme Gibson and fleshed out with guitarist Jonathan Van Herik and bassist Damon Carruesco. They played Pitchfork Music Festival in 2009. In 2010 their debut album Lux was released on Kranky Records. After their second album Guider was released in 2011, Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth joined the band and the band went on tour through the US and Europe. Shelley left the group in 2012, citing touring scheduling conflicts. He was replaced by Noah Leger (Electric Hawk, Anatomy of Habit).” – Wikipedia
ELECTRIC EYE (NO)
“Electric Eye members are Oystein Braut, guitarist of The Alexandria Quartet, Njal Clementsen of Bergen noise-rockers The Megaphonic Thrift and Low Frequency in Stereo, underground studio-guru and guitarist in artrocker-act Hypertext, Anders Bjelland, and Jazz/Noise/Drone-drummer Oyvind Hegg-Lunde. A well experienced quartet, which have spent the last 5-6 years touring all over Norway, Europe, the UK and the USA with their respective bands.”
“…Intense psychedelic noise rock collapsing into a distorted, rythmic mindfuck of saxophones, guitars and hallucinogens… Sounding something like Brainbombs and Fun House-era Stooges in a tripped out frenzy, and accompanied by deeply unnerving live visuals, Narcosatanicos are an acid drenched, cacophonous, glorious mess…” They played Aarhus Psych Fest this year.
EAGLES GIFT (FR)
“Eagles Gift is a psychedelic band based in Angers, France. They unite their souls in a strange kind of tribe -somewhere between Indians and Cowboys- to create some mystic dark energy… The light which they radiate, has a healing influence, it is the spiritual peace of the higher attuned spirit.”
SATURDAY 07th DECEMBER
WOLF PEOPLE (UK)
“Wolf People are an English psychedelic rock band based in London, Bedford and North Yorkshire.”
THE HOLYDRUG COUPLE (CHI)
“With a sound that evokes the dreamlike natural wonders of their homeland, duo the Holydrug Couple are a part of the burgeoning psychedelic rock scene rising out of Chile. Based in Santiago, members Ives Sepúlveda and Manuel Parra have cultivated a drifting, bluesy sound that weaves a gentle, repetitive tapestry of guitar, drums, and vocals around the listener, softly enveloping them in layers of melody. The pair made their debut in 2011 with their first LP, the self-released Awe, before quickly getting the attention of the eclectic, Brooklyn-based label Sacred Bones, where they released their Ancient Land EP the following year. In early 2013, the pair emerged from their home studio with Noctuary, their first full-length for Sacred Bones.” – Gregory Heaney/Allmusic
THE HEDGEHOGS (DK)
“The Hedgehogs is a four-piece psychedelic garage-rock band from Aalborg, denmark, formed in 2009. The first EP – The Extended Play Sessions – quickly sold out and since then the band have played all over denmark with great bands like Dragontears, Tyvek, Spider Babies, Highway Child and the Setting Son.”
Minimalist heavy psych with the freedom of jazz. New album out 2014. Playing Tokyo Psych Fest as well!
DEATH BY UNGA BUNGA (PSYCH SHOW)
“A gang from Moss/Oslo, Norway. The new breed of norwegian garage/beat/psychedelic. Inspired by a fascination for 60’s music and culture, wild fuzz, freaks, intoxication, Roky Erickson, love songs, church burnings, Joe Meek, dancing, beat, mod, The Sonics, Moss(the city), boots, Brian Jones, Northern Soul, Gaahl…” Playing a FREE psych set at 4PM on saturday in the Revolver bar.
SUNDAY 08th DECEMBER at the Henie-Onstad Art Centre
(photo by Ingrid Pop)
Come out on Sunday and lick your wounds while listening to some noise by one of Norway’s most interesting acts.
From the hok.no website:
“Serena-Maneesh has since 1999 been through numerous incarnations, but the project has become synonymous with thecomposer, singer, musician and producer Emil Nikolaisen. After a few releases, Serena-Maneesh has been established as a big name internationally. Nikolaisen spent four years on the album Abyss in B-Minor who came in 2010, and received excellentreception everywhere. The year before Serena-Maneesh participated in HOK´s To Be Heard Is To Be Seen exhibition and concertseries, with a now legendary concert at the Art Center’s outdoor stage, where the band took the concept literally and played behinda three meter high wall of amplifiers. HOK gave Emil Nikolaisen the commission to create a new work in Arne Nordheim’s spirit.Nicolaisen himself was enthusiastic about this, and writes about a something special meeting he had with Nordheim while working as an usher in a church:
Nordberg Church, 2005: Head and hands down a wash bucket. Completely disconnected from the patchbay, bitter coffee andstale air. In exile to give the heart some air, getting my growing apathy to life. Some sneaking into the church door, outside thewashing assistant´s viewpoint. The person is obviously the wrong address, the wrong church. I explain dazed directions, slightly, from the hereafter. Register a gentle voice and a friendly ‘thank you’. . A beam of light reveals a weathered face on the way to the door and I’m going to exclaim .. “Arne Nordheim!” But I let it be. I’m just the cleaning lady. Teh Mexican. Subclass. The rat.Nordheim himself would probably think it was nice to have a chat. Now I´ve finally met him. Rats, Mash people, storm, tapeplayers, oscillators.
Entrance NOK 150 / 100 (students) for sale at the reception desk.”
All band info and photos courtesy of artists/promoters.