Razorbats are a band we’ve known about for some time and have had a few false starts from that debut album that blew us away which ended with that lineup playing the legendry Slugfest. three albums down and several line-up changes later the band is like a phoenix out of the flames and with this new album blazing a path for world domination and global success. I caught up with mainstay Kjetil and flung some questions in his general direction and with a flick of his fringe answered them all without flinching as we get down to the nitty-gritty and what’s going on in the world according to Razorbats…
Hi Kjetil, Hope you’re good? The feedback I’ve had from people who’ve heard the new album has been amazing and the songs are going down really well with everyone who’s heard them. Is that what you’re hearing?
Yes, sir! The feedback has been crazy good and I think ‘Mainline Rock ’N’ Roll’ is our best selling album after just a couple of weeks! Almost all the reviews have been 9/10 or 10/10, and as far as we know more than 150 radio stations in Europe and America have played the singles. Also done a bunch of radio IDs all over the place, from Argentina to Poland! The guys in the band are all buzzing, and it feels like we really have a special album on our hands this time around! Great to get some positivity in this mind-numbingly boring Covid world!
When you were writing and recording ‘Mainline’ did you feel you were onto something?
Not really! We tend not to write finished songs before we go in the studio. We just have rough sketches of the songs, with a main guitar riff, a chorus and maybe an idea for what to do in the verse and bridge. But they are not complete songs by any means. You don’t really hear what you’re doing in the rehearsal room, so you often end up with parts that don’t really get the full potential out of the songs. Especially for the singer it is a lot better to write the melodies in a studio setting where you can clearly hear what works. Something might sound amazing with guitars blasting at 115 dBs at rehearsal, but when you do the same in the studio it sounds like Phil Collins on PCP trying to serenade a pissed off pimp at a rave party!
We thought most of the songs showed some promise, but it wasn’t until Paul recorded the main vocals that we started to get an idea of how well the songs worked. And when Last Erik Westby at H10 Productions sent us the finished mixes we were all blown away! I think that was when we knew we had made a great album! It sounded huge, punchy and the songs jump out of the speakers. The songs also work well together as a whole, with enough variation that you can listen to the entire album without getting bored. From the pop rock of ‘Working For The Weekend’ to the cinematic semi-ballad ‘Little Ms. Crazy’ and the Mötley Crüe style album closer ‘Nightcrawlers’. That is something we always try to do, and people seem to think we really succeeded this time.
Was the process any different from previous recordings?
It was very different! On the previous albums we have worked with a producer/engineer called Kai Christoffersen. He is great and a lot of fun to work with, but we wanted a different sound on ‘Mainline Rock ’N’ Roll’. When you work with a producer the sound of the record is often the producer’s interpretation of what you’re going for, and not necessarily the sound you have in your head. So we decided to produce this one ourselves. All of us have recorded a bunch of albums, and we had a pretty clear idea of what we wanted it to sound like. So we felt it was time to take the plunge!
The production side of it was pretty easy since knew what kind of sounds we were going for, but the engineering part was a bit difficult to get right. All that technical stuff, physics, computer geeking, and gadget-noodling is fascinatingly tedious for guys who basically just want to play loud rock music and drink beer! So the album probably took twice as long to record, because there was a lot of trial and error going on. We had to learn all the basics of the craft as we were recording, and of course, re-recording when we fucked up! Which was A LOT!! Three different studios were used in the process. One professional studio and we also built two home studios to record guitars, bass and keys. It took a lot of time, but we are very, very pleased with the results!
How is Covid affecting you guys up there in Norway? Did it alter your plans for recording the record?
I think we have coped well with Covid here, and there haven’t been as many deaths and break downs in the health care system as we’ve heard stories of from other countries. But we have had very strict restrictions. So we didn’t get the chance to be all of us together in the studio at the same time, as we were recording. That was a bit strange for the boys I think, because they didn’t know what the others were doing until it was their turn to lay down parts. And when they were done, they didn’t always hear the songs again until the rough mixes were done. But at the same time I didn’t have the studio full of loud, drunk rockers coming up with seemingly fantastic ideas after the 11th pint and maybe something extra to not pass out. So recording was a bit more efficient, and a little bit less fun. Apart from that, we were more or less able to make the album they way we had planned.
Talk us through the new album. How have line-up changes had a bearing on the sound of the band? Through the changes you’ve still managed to keep the Razorbats sound what have the individuals brought to the record?
We have always had this mantra in Razorbats, that the band should be whatever we want it to be. It’s OK to try something a bit different, and we don’t have to just make the same record over and over again. So line-up changes have had a pretty big impact on the changing sound of the band. The guys who recorded the ‘Bring It On’ EP and ‘Camp Rock’ album were very much into old dirty punk rock and garage rock, and I think you can hear that very clearly on those releases. That line-up collapsed during the record of ‘II’ after alle the basic tracks were done. We actually had done most of the vocals with the old singer, Even Berg, and I think we were just missing some guitar solos and backing vocals. We got Paul in the band to redo the vocals and finished up the album, and because of that we consider ‘Mainline’ the first real album with this line-up.
I don’t think the song writing has changed all that much over the years, and I think that’s the main reason the band still sounds like Razorbats even though the musicians have changed. The guys who are in the band now are more into classic rock, glam and melodic hard rock, and that’s why we sound less like a punk band and more like a modern hard rock band now. I personally love the direction we are heading in, and it will probably influence the song writing as well in the coming years.
All the guys have brought great things to the recording. Even more than before! Most of the songs are still written by me, but this time I didn’t make demos for all of them. That way the others would play what came naturally for them, instead of copying parts I had already written. I think that made a big difference. We did it the same way for the songs we hadn’t play before at rehearsals. The guys had usually prepared their parts at home, and we tried out a bunch of things when tracking. Asle also plays a couple of the guitar solos on this album, and he did a great job!
The song called ‘Rebel Soul’ was an old song Paul had leftover from a band called Hollywood Vampires that he was in 10 years ago, so we recorded that one. I always liked that band, and the song was too good not to use! ‘Nightcrawers’ was a collaboration between all of us. I had the main riff, and we came up with the rest of the song at rehearsals. Martin, the bass player, wrote the words for that one. So all in all the boys were a lot more involved in every aspect of the writing and recording on this one, and that made it a lot better!
What about live. Did you get the chance to road test any of these songs before the various lockdowns around Europe?
Nope! Not a single one of them… But we knew that we needed some more party songs that would work great live, and had that in the back of our minds when deciding what songs to record. Hope it worked!
What about live plans, getting out there and playing shows especially in other territories and of course plague Island (UK) shame there isn’t still a slugfest I bet you guys would love to come back here and play that?
We have one gig booked in Oslo in June, but apart from that, there’s absolutely nothing going on. Extremely disappointing, because playing live is what we live for! I think I am the only one who likes being in the studio, but even I prefer playing live. It’s not just the shows. It’s all the rituals that go with touring. Spending endless hours in a beat-up van from the early 80s with a bunch of smelly guys, drunk or hungover, blasting music on the stereo and laughing at lame jokes. Showing up late to soundcheck so we don’t get one, check-in at the hotel with one room for those who are getting shitfaced that night and one room for those who will drive the van in the morning, so they can get a couple of hours of sleep. And then the reward of playing kick-ass rock ’n’ roll and watch people have a great time and sing along to the songs we have spent so many hours getting just right. Hang out with the fans after the gig and talk about the show, music and life in general. It’s the best feeling ever! Those who have not experienced it are missing out on one of the best things life has to offer! Damn, I miss touring!!! We’ll be back in the UK as soon as humanly possible to make your asses shake!
Anyway back to the album. I’m loving it are there any particular songs you are most proud of on the record?
Thank you! That’s great to hear! It’s difficult to single out just a couple of tracks on this one, because I think it’s a very even record and no real fillers in my mind. We haven’t done a song quite like ‘Little Ms. Crazy’ before, so we are very proud of that one. It’s not really a ballad, but more of a slow, cinematic rocker with a great opening riff that Asle came up with. That one came out great, and people seem to like it a lot! ‘Rock ’N’ Roll Kills’ was a lot of fun to write. We needed an introduction to the theme of the album, and that is what the song is. The album is about rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, and all the dumb shit people like us do. So we wanted a warning to tell people that if you choose this life, you’ll probably go to hell! At least that is what we were told as kids. But it is of course just a load of bollocks, and what will really happen is that you will have a great time! Like this line from the chorus: Cruising like an easy rider. Feel the breeze softly on my skin. All around the road gets wider. The straight and narrow is somewhere I’ve never been». Of course the dudes in the Easy Rider movie got killed by rednecks for being different and part of the counterculture, and there are consequences to choosing that kind of life!
What about the easiest or quickest to write?
All of them took a long time to complete since I didn’t have them finished before we started tracking. So none of them really stand out in that way. The words to ‘Working For The Weekend’ were quick to write! It just tells the story of a guy who works a dead-end job, hates his boss and just wants to get drunk and have a good time with his friends. For some reason, that one came very naturally to me!! Hahahaha…
The flip side of that was there any songs you didn’t think were coming and found difficult to complete? Talk us through your process?
‘Venice’ was a pain in the ass to finish! I had the chords, melody and some of the words to the chorus for months, but could not finish the damn lyrics until the night before Paul was going to sing them. I always need some sort of angle or approach to the story of the songs before I can write them, and I just couldn’t find a good one. That is one of the drawbacks of writing the chorus first, and then figuring out what the hell a song is really about! It is a break-up song, but I wasn’t sure why this guy was breaking up with his girlfriend. I liked Venice as a metaphor because it’s considered a romantic city, but it is also very slowly sinking into the sea and drowning in a sense.
So I did what most people would do when you’re stuck and the singer is gonna track the song the next day. I started drinking! And after five hours, six beers and bottle of wine I came up with the pre-chorus line ‘There’s no fire’. There was nothing big that had happened that made him break up with her. He had just fallen out of love. He still loved her as a friend, but that romantic fire was gone and he felt he was living a lie. He had actually tried to break up with her before, but came back to her. At 4AM in the morning and another bottle of wine it was done, and I could get up in the morning, puke like a sailor on shore leave and go to the studio to record Paul! Good times!!!
What have I missed that Razorbats need to let people know?
We need to let the people know that we now have distribution for the new album in the UK through Glunk Records and that it is a lot cheaper for them to order from them! (drop Glunk an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for details)
Who are those bands that have had the biggest influences on the band? Who’s got the most annoying touring habits? Which band member has hidden depths or talent? who would shock us with their record collection out of the band any hidden shame perhaps a Phil collins record or a secret Ed Sheeran fan amongst you? C’mon these are the questions people really want to know.
Ohhhh!!! Tough question! The biggest influences are Cheap Trick, KISS, Hanoi Rocks, Aerosmith, The Ramones, Rancid, The Bouncing Souls, Def Leppard, The Hellacopters, Poison and Joan Jett (just to name a few). Basically all the cool and often popular rock bands from the 70s, 80s and 90s. We like some more obscure stuff as well, but most of us would rather put on ‘High ’N’ Dry’ by Def Leppard over some weird band with one good song that no one has heard of, except a few hipsters with silly beards! We have some guilty pleasures, but they are the normal stuff, like Samantha Fox, ABBA and Scooter! Fun songs to be played at high volume in the van to lighten the mood!
All the guys in the band are pretty easy to get along with, so there are no really, REALLY annoying habits I can share with you. But after a couple of days the van usually smells like a cheap hooker died in there, so maybe showering after the show or in the morning would be a good idea? And the farts can be a bit overwhelming at times. We don’t spend money on proper food on tour and there’s more than enough beer drinking. The natural effect of that combined has a very characteristic odour, that is more of an entity or life-form, that an actual smell! We call him Bob!
Finally, anything else you need to get off your chest?
Yes! Listen to the album, and buy it if you can! We love you all and hope to see you at a concert venue as soon as Armageddon is over!
UK fans can buy signed copies whilst stocks last from – Glunk Records