Interview with Span

Norway’s hard working and promising rock act Span has got more and more attention for the past couple of years. Now they are said to become Norway’s biggest hard rock ambassadors. Metal Express met the band for a chat on Monday the 23.rd of February, the Norwegian release date of their debut album Mass Distraction”.

The band:
Jarle ( vocals / guitars )
Fridtjof a.k.a. Joff ( guitars )
Fredrik ( drums )
Kim ( bass )

Metal Express: Congratulations! Your debut album is out, but it has been ready for more than a year. What has taken so long?

Joff: The reasons have been beyond the reach of the band. It has been political matters, arranging the release in both the UK and the States and such. However, I’m a big fan of making things properly, to have a plan, but it has been frustrating to wait this long. In periods we’ve forgot about the whole album, being trying to play live as much as possible. Now it’s such a new, strange thing to have released an album.

Metal Express: In which countries will it be released?

Jarle: It was released in the UK early this month, today in Norway and soon in Sweden and Denmark. In a while it will be out in Australia, and this summer it will be ready for the States. I hope the album will be distributed to Germany and Spain as well. I would love to tour in Spain!

Well, that’s the plan. But first we’ll do heavy promoting in England and Norway. We’ve already played a lot in England.

Metal Express: How many songs are already written for your next album?

Joff: We’ve done a lot! Actually we are finished with our four first albums! (smiles) Well, we are writing new material all the time. That’s necessary to us. However, it is cool having a lot of songs and to let them live with the band, playing them live and developing them. A lot of new songs make more sense to us when we play them to an audience; we get to know the songs as they are growing all the time.

Jarle: However, we are very satisfied with Mass Distraction.

Metal Express: All right, just before the release Span got a new bass player, Kim. Kim, how do you do?

Kim: I’m fine. I am brand new in the band, but I don’t feel like it. I’ve got a shot gun start, touring constantly for 4-5 weeks. I’ve felt included from the very beginning, the chemistry in the band has been great. The collaboration works greatly, both socially and musically. I feel like an veteran in the band.

Metal Express: You’d never met the other guys before the audition…

Kim: No. I hadn’t even spoken to them, but the audition worked fine.

Jarle: We were sure after having played one and a half song. This was our man!

Metal Express: What did you play?

Jarle: ”Stay As You Are”. It felt like we’d played it with Kim for years, something inexplicable happened.

This was a Thursday and we asked Kim if he wanted to come with us to England the Monday after. He quit his studies and learned all the songs during the weekend. The next week we were touring.

Joff: At the audition a lot of guys had learned the songs really well, but they hadn’t understood what Span is trying to do. The small things. Kim was already way into the small things.

Metal Express: The last year the press has tried to describe your music. There have been a lot of comparisons to different bands, for example Aerosmith in the 70’s, which to me isn’t even close to the target. So I have to ask you Kim, what’s your opinion on this?

Kim: As a neutral… well, in general I’m against comparisons like that even though I often use them myself. I just would say that Span is LOUD ROCK. If people don’t have the reason to play it loud then this is a request to everyone to turn up the volume. If your amplifier goes to ten, turn it to eleven, for Heavens sake!

Metal Express: …a comparison to Spinal Tap, then?

( Laughter )

Kim: Well, that one wasn’t intended. We are riff rock with tooth!

Joff: Our music is a synthesis of everything we’ve been listening to. We’ve listen to a lot of funk, metal and riff rock. I even have a weak heart for the rockabilly style, and you can spot the references in the music.

Metal Express: When I heard you live at John Dee last year ( John Dee, Oslo – 17. Oct. 2003. Read review in Metal Express’ Review-section ), you sounded much more punk than you do on “Mass Distraction”. How come?

Joff: We get more enthusiastic when we play live.

Jarle: That show was sold out. It was in Oslo, home, where we hadn’t played live for a long time, so we got extra energetic. We base the tempo on our heartbeats, so, when the heart is beating extra fast, we play faster, more punk.

Metal Express: This is the time to include member four, the drummer. Fredrik, speaking of tempo, you as a drummer has a bit to do with that…

Fredrik: No. The the other guys don’t allow me to interfere with the tempo.

( Laughter, )

Fredrik: It is the adrenaline on the stage that decides the speed, making the songs faster live than on the albums.

Metal Express: NOW we are talking about a comparison with Aerosmith in the 70’s…

Jarle: That wasn’t just adrenaline!

Fredrik: The punk references exist even if you can’t hear them very well on the record. A punk band on a stage is punk, but punk on a record is…dull. It is dull because that live attitude punk bands had, I say had because these days there are no real punk bands left, just fake ones… anyway, punk is music that has to be played live. And we love to play live. We play in a band to get to play live, and we make albums to get to play even more live. Playing live gives us I big kick, we get enthusiastic and punk is what comes out. To me “Papa” sounds cooler played in a punkish way than it is played funky.

Joff: A lot of our older material was more punk oriented. These have turned out as B-sides and stuff, because they don’t fit to be studio versions. So they have been given lower priority than the “real” songs.

Metal Express: You have been inside the music business in the UK for quite a while, and what happens in the UK is important to the rest of the music industry. In which direction does rock move, you think?

Jarle: I think there’s a new rock wave going on. And that’s good for new bands, but there’re a lot of people who straps on their guitars while they should’ve done something else… WE play rock because that’s what comes out of us when we start to play, and we have been doing this for a long time. Seven year ago we were told “You are ten years too late, girls!”, but rock comes and goes.

The last forty years there has been a rock and roll wave every tenth year. Every tenth year the Saviours Of Rock are announced, and in between it’s announced “The guitar is dead!”. I think people in the music industry govern this, so that people don’t get tired of a genre. But to us, if The Back street Boys or The Darkness is the biggest thing on the planet, we don’t care.

Joff: In England there are bands that do all kinds of rock music. The Darkness has been doing their thing for nine years, and everybody, on an underground level, new about them. Everybody found them amusing but none really thought those guys would get a record deal. We’ve played with them, great guys who just have been doing what they enjoy the most.

Where the press aims their focus; what’s hip today, that’s irrelevant. Most artists who do well are playing the music they love, no matter whether it is the new thing or not.

Jarle: In the UK you’ve got bands like Ocean Size, Jetplane Landing and Jar Crew. They are doing incredible cool things. They will get more and more noticed.

Metal Express: You’ve been touring with Ocean Size, haven’t you?

Joff: Yes, and on that tour, when we had one day off we spent the evening going to a concert with them. They are enormously good!

Kim: I had never heard about them before, and a normally don’t become a big fan of a band the first time I hear them live, but this time I did! After their concert I went right to the merchandize-stand and bought their record. I hereby highly recommend Ocean Size!

Metal Express: Who are the most important bands in rock music today? Who is carrying the banner?

Jarle: Span.

Joff: Kurt? ( Norwegian World Idol winner. )

Jarle: None really carries the banner. It’s individual. To me it’s different bands… like for example Cooper Temple who has been doing their stuff in England for a long long time. It’s personal, to me Lok from Sweden is the best rock band in the world…but now they’ve broken up.

Joff: I think that bands like Foo Fighters and Queen Of The Stone Age have got such a broad approach is great. They’ve become popular because they play good songs and they perform them well, and they mean what they are doing. Their success is not based on humour or something else than the music itself. That’s very cool.

Fredrik: But they are not carrying any banner. None does any longer. If so, then we are talking about the pop-rock-segment, like Coldplay and such bands. Those bands who is more pop than rock. Good bands, by all means, but I can’t see any new The Beatles or The Rolling Stones anywhere. Bands like that don’t exist anymore, now there are just a lot of bands, and none of them is carrying any banner.

Kim: I want to add… one can criticise rock or one can salute it, but the cool thing with rock music is that it brings out the animal in people. That’s what the festival summer is about. 50 – 60 per cent of those who go to a rock festival don’t listen to rock the rest of the year. They listen to smooth pop. But when they need to set free the beast inside they turn to rock. And rock will always have that purpose, I think, and people will always have this need. So no single band or a few are carrying the banner, but all rock bands together are making the wheels turn.



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