In terms of contribution to music Sweden might have ABBA, Denmark Bang and Olufsen and Finland? Well I suppose Finland had Sibelius. But top of my all-time favourite Scandi Music Noir is Norway’s own, Katzenjammer.
Despite meaning ‘hangover’ in Norwegian, and ‘cats wailing’ in German this all-girl band are a serious antidote to the dominant Nordic preference for metal. When you say metal in Scandinavia it tends to mean sounds so heavy you wonder why they don’t melt the polar ice caps even without global warming.
So, instead of brain endangering head banging this lot are full of colour, verve and joy. A band that to me symbolises absolute happiness and I found them at a point in my life when I was at my most carefree. I had it all ahead of me and it was a time when I actually believed that heart break was something you could be positive about. Because of songs like Rock, Paper Scissors, Katzenjammer were the most perfect band for my late teens/early 20s. They taught me that it’s okay to be scared of the future and not know who you are. The important thing was to just try and have a good time finding out.
By their own admission their music is a mash up of; folk, rock, pop, bluegrass, and soulful circus music. So many genres that back in the day when record stores liked to categorise albums, they could probably have occupied every slot (Ok well maybe not rap). These are four women from Norway singing in English, touring the world, whilst playing over 30 instruments between them and appealing to people of all ages. Look at the crowd in their live videos, I’ve even seen a toddler at a Katzenjammer gig with its grandparents.
I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a livelier live show than theirs. The pure energy and love of their craft is electric and it’s hard to find a way that sufficiently describes the joy of the live performance. Maybe it’s like Tim Burton on uppers, with the use of a full colour pallet.
One of the things I always most admired was their ability to switch so effortlessly between the studio and the stage, their albums meticulously crafted and yet when live, offering fire, joy and rage. For me girls that play the drums and the trumpet must be the most attractive beings to walk this earth. As Jane Austen said - It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife, who plays the trumpet.
But now it’s all past tense because in 2016 they split up. I miss them and I miss the time that we shared. The day they broke up I cried more than your average Take That fan the day Robbie left. However, at the time when I needed them most they were there for me and when I most needed the optimism of their music.
I’ll leave you with the nicest thing about these wonderful women. I’d been to their gig in Bristol. I’d danced and sung all night and had one of the best times of my life, so much so that I could barely walk afterwards and the friend I had gone with had to carry me. They were signing stuff at the merch stand. So we went over, but at that point my stutter kicked in hard. I couldn’t get any words out. After several attempts, in the end Anna-marit gave me a piece of paper. On it I wrote ‘I love you so much. Thank you.’ She jumped up and gave me a hug. I floated home on a cloud of joy.
Thousands are sailing
"I first heard it when my dad was driving me to school; he’d a CD playing in the car and it came on. I cried like I never had before." Will talks of the impact that Thousands are Sailing by The Pogues had on his life.