Haraball released their second LP (Half Tux) on Fysisk Format this year to critical acclaim and have become a much needed breath of fresh air in the Norwegian music scene.
Bad Sounds sat down with singer and lyricist Jon Eivind Eriksen for a chat about Haraball, punk rock, The Fall, Norwegian music, and life on the road.
BS: So, what’s the deal with the cancelled interview for your last record?
It was all done, and then you didn’t want it published. What gives;) ?
JEE: Because you wrote the answers yourself, and made us sound like a douchey Bro core band.
BS: Oh yeah, that’s right… just trying to have some fun.
JEE: You should do one with n†††elback
BS: They don’t need more publicity…
BS: Watching you play over these last few years, it’s seems like your sound has “grown up”. How do you feel about the old songs vs. the new ones?
JEE: You might say our balls have dropped…
Our set has definitely improved with the new songs. They’re more fun to play, more to the point; but we still play the older stuff now and then. Sometimes rediscovering a song and playing it differently or better.
BS: Who influenced you in this “new sound”? (I’m calling it a new sound, as to me it sounds like a different or reinvented band.) It seems to take you away from the more traditional Norwegian punk sound into a more international world. Comments?
JEE: Hmm let’s see. We’ve listened to a lot of good stuff; trading tips and exploring a bit. Also, Trond and I attended the New York’s Alright Fest in 2013 and what we saw there definitely broadened our horizon.
BS: Hardcore punk is alive and well in NYC?
JEE: Yeah, there’s a lot happening. Lots of great bands sounding like themselves and nothing else. They have shows at places that reek of diarrhoea and people bring fireworks.
BS: The sound on Half Tux is darker and more angry, the humour has taken a back seat to “spite”. Everything ok in your lives?
JEE: I’m fine, but thanks for asking.
The humour is still there, it’s just a bit darker perhaps. I wouldn’t say it’s angrier, but maybe crazier and wilder.
BS: How do you feel about the hardcore scene in Oslo vs. the scene in for example Copenhagen?
JEE: Pretty much the same as here.They’ve got Repo Man Records which is the equivalent of Tiger, their Ungdomshuset to our Blitz, and this band called Night Fever which is the bizarro land Haraball. They’re the ones in Denmark asking what’s with all this metalcore?!
BS: Why do you think metalcore and emocore has had such a long life in Norway?
JEE: I think it’s because it’s what people grew up with. The music you discover in your teens pretty much follows you. I mean, like for us, we were too young for hair metal and too old for nu metal. We got Mudhoney and Nirvana so I guess we were lucky.
BS: What do you think has happened to todays “punk scene”? Do they have it too good? Is there still a healthy scene in this country?
JEE: I’d say so. I mean, there’s less threat of nuclear war now, but there are other problems. Life is still horrible, just in a different way.
It’s like that Werner Herzog movie Stroszeck, where this poor guy who is beaten up daily in Germany, and moves to America to find happiness. But it turns out America is worse, because there they beat him up on the inside.
BS: What would happen to Haraball if they moved to America?
JEE: We’d get beaten up on the inside, like poor Stroszeck.
BS: The golden years of Norwegian punk: Svart Framtid, Kjøtt, Betong Hysteria etc.
Are we romanticizing the glory days?
JEE: There’s so much nostalgia going on these days. It’s a disease. Not just in punk though, it’s everywhere. I know the first cut is the deepest and all, but it gets very tiring…
We all love those bands,but they’re gone, and now you have new bands. I mean, let’s say Haust was a band from the eighties. They’d be pretty fucking legendary now.
BS: Seems like you still have enough to complain about (in your lyrics)…
Do you actually do something about it or are you just old and complacent?
JEE: Not really. I have enormous flaws that I don’t work on.
BS: How come you haven’t taken the band for an extended European tour? It’s about time, no?
JEE: We were supposed to tour Europe but we’ve had some problems. We went to Sweden this year and it was awesome! They were nagging, so we went. We’ll do Europe someday, but as of now there’s not enough nagging. They gotta start nagging. Nag hard, you Germans!
BS: You’ve just finished a small Scandinavian tour. How has it been touring with Okkultokrati and Haust?
JEE: It’s been great! Two of our favourite bands and we get to see them for free every night, with a free beer in our hands. Couldn’t ask for more.
BS: Any good stories from the road?
JEE: Will was pretty funny in the taxi to Tromsø airport. He was riding shotgun and trying to pay the driver to run the red lights, and asking him if he wanted a sip of his beer. When he said he wouldn’t risk his job, Will asked him if he was a lesbian. He also tipped him a bottle of wine. When I asked about that lesbian comment he replied, “yeah, I try to be politically correct”. This was like 7 in the morning and we had slept for maybe two hours.
BS: We all know Kongsberg is where it all began. How do you think the town has influenced your sound? You’re all ex- Tilflukt guys right?
JEE: Yes, that’s where it all started for us.
We went through all the different styles at the time, new school, youth crew, even emo haha. But it was always the hard and heavy stuff for us, Norwegian bands like Angst, Kort Prosess and Contention, and stuff like Acme from Belgium and Rorschach from the US.
Also, Will and Vegard’s sxe band Tiebreak is definitely an influence, and we keep up the smart ass punk of that Fairfuck 7“. People should seriously buy that record, it’s awesome. There are plenty for sale on Discogs.
BS: But you had to come to Oslo right? The scene was dying in Kongsberg?
JEE: Yes, we dropped out and moved to Oslo; and then a new sxe scene appeared after we left and kept Tilflukt going.
BS: What made you want to start a new band in Oslo?
JEE: It was William’s idea. He’s had a bunch of riffs all along and waiting to start a band again. So he pulled a trick on us all: First he asked Daniel, who he knew had a rehearsal space, to try out some of his riffs with drums; you know, just for fun. Then he asked Vegard to come along to see how it sounded with bass. Then he asked Trond to drop in to see what could be done with double guitars. When I dropped in to try some vocals Will was already talking about releasing records and having shows at big venues like blå and stuff like that. Daniel was still unaware he was being tricked though. He was saying yeah sure we can record the songs just for ourselves and maybe play a private birthday party or something; but William had bigger plans all along and Daniel just had to go with them.
BS: What happened to your straight edge lifestyle?
JEE: That went up the hill like 16 years ago. We started drinking in San Sebastian on an interrail trip. Chugging 40`s of San Miguel and smoking cigars and throwing up on the beach. It felt good.
BS: We all know about your obsession with The Fall. How has The Fall influenced you?
JEE: I like his voice.
BS: The Fall. The greatest or THEE greatest band ever?
JEE: Hmmm that’s a tough one. I’d have to go with “the”. They keep releasing a lot of stupid comps and live albums now.
BS: How do you think Harball are perceived in the Oslo scene? Are you loved, hated or just tolerated?
JEE: Maybe not loved but definitely feared and respected.
BS: Are you really that “dangerous” now? You’re all closer to 40 than 30… haha
JEE: I was joking, of course… I don’t know, people say all kinds of things about us. But everyone seems to agree that we’re tight. We’re the band that takes band rehearsal seriously.
But yeah, people are starting to catch on because of our latest record.
BS: How do you feel about all the reunion punk bands these days?
JEE: Some of them still sound good, like Negative Approach. And they’re cool people, really funny guys; but a lot of reunited bands are just depressing. Compared to some of the new bands around now they’re just sad. I’ve noticed that 90’s bands are reuniting, like Helmet. That’s just offensive.
BS: Why do you think particularly Norwegian bands can’t take constructive criticism? Is the scene too small?
JEE: The truth hurts, I guess. Nobody wants to be told that they suck.
BS: Are there too many bands in this town you think?
JEE: Nah, I don’t think so. I’m happy every time I hear something new that doesn’t suck.
BS: When it comes to playing in a band; what would you have told your 20 year old selves if you could go back in time?
JEE: When someone sets up a European tour for you and you don’t go because you can’t find a car, you’re an idiot.
BS: So this new record Half Tux, sounds pretty damn good. Tell us about the studio setup and recording process for this record. Anything done differently than last time?
JEE: We didn’t use a studio this time, just a room that has very good sound for some reason, good drum sound especially.
BS: It’s the work of sound wizard Trond again?
JEE: Yup, he did the recording and mixing as always. We finally broke even with this record, so it looks like he’s finally getting paid.
BS: “Perfect like a nazi” what’s that all about?
JEE: I don’t know. Probably about jealousy.
BS: What’s the story behind the cover art?
JEE: It’s sort of dreamy.
BS: Several of you play in other bands as well. How do you find time for both? And do the rest wish you would focus on just one project?
JEE: Daniel has this other band called RPM that does REM covers at the wrong speed. Sometimes he starts RPM’ing our songs too, which is very confusing.
JEE: But no seriously, all our other bands suffer because of us.
BS: Ok, time for some lists.
Name drop some good local bands:
JEE: We saw a band at Uffa called Kommunalt Svømmebasseng. They were inspired by Neil Young but sounding more like Zen Arcade era husker du. Nowhere near as good of course, but still…and it’s funny, because that’s all it takes. To slightly resemble something good is enough.
BS: Name drop some shitty local bands:
JEE: Anything sounding hard and at the same time mainstream is pretty depressing. And anything sounding like crab.
BS: When you don’t listen to punk, what’s on your turntable?
JEE: The Rolling Stones, Neil Young. The big dawgs.
BS: What record should everyone have in their collection?
JEE: That would have to a record with 8 billion copies pressed; probably something by John Lennon or Elton John.
BS: What direction are you heading in 2015…what will the third record sound like?
JEE: I’ve been practicing saxophone
BS: You’re gonna do your version of The Stooges Funhouse or something?
The 3rd album should be experimental right?
JEE: Yeah, we’re gonna have to do something different. We want to make something really sick. It’s not going to sound nice, that’s for sure.
BS: Last question: Why should people care about Haraball, why should people care?
JEE: Because our band could be your balls.
Next gig is at the Svart Framtid Fest with Hank Wood and the Hammerheads at Blitz on Sunday the 16th
Cover photo: Frank Michaelsen
Listen to “Half Tux” here: