Monday, May 16, 2011

The New Brigade - Iceage

In a society dominated by synthesizers and Macbooks, it has become progressively difficult for contemporary punk bands to flourish and still endorse the spirit of traditional punk rock. Nowadays, it seems as though the only punk bands that can still make a name for themselves are those that infuse it with thick layers of noise, jovial 60s surf rock or 90’s slacker alt rock. Despite the fact that Copenhagen quartet Iceage heavily utilize the thick reverb of modern noise rock, these teens have captured the recklessness, rebellion and apocalyptic chaos of what punk rock was traditionally founded upon. Quoted as “having the makings of greatness” matching up to the likes of punk heroes No Age and Fucked Up, Jacob, Elias, Dan and Johan are only in their late teens and have already exhibited blatant signs of weathered musical chemistry which shines on their debut release ‘New Brigade’. Embracing the guts of mutinous punk rock, the greatness of this teenage act lies in their ability to capture the perfection of imperfection. Manic guitars paraded out of tune, drums clamorously played at a high velocity and a wealth of reverb over inaudible vocals showcase the bands stylistic sophistication promoting a unique, raw post-punkness which Iceage manage to nail. I briefly caught up with the raucous teens to chat about the Danish punk scene, macbooks, their recent LP ‘New Brigade’ and keeping well away from meaninglessness.

GC: When was Ice Age born and how did you guys meet?

IA: Some of us met in grade school, I think you call it that, many years ago. Johan and Dan met each other when they were six years old; I got to know them when I was about ten. We all go pretty way back.

GC: I here you guys are on the bill for the Roskilde festival in July. How’s it going to be playing alongside acts like ‘Weekend’, ‘PJ Harvey’ and ‘Iron Maiden’?

IA: Well we’re probably not gonna be playing the same stage as Iron Maiden and stuff. We played there before; last year actually, it’s really fun… Such a big stage.

GC: How does it compare to playing a smaller, quainter venue like what you guys are used to?

IA: Yeah it’s a lot different – you don’t feel as close to the audience, you feel like you’re on television or something like that

GC: A large proportion of the garage and new wave punk scene in Denmark is pretty Danish sounding. I guess one of the things that stands out in your music is your choice to sing in English. Was this a conscious decision or more of a natural progression?

IA: Yeah more natural, we don’t really enjoy writing in Danish. I don’t know why…it sounds weird. I mean, I think it can be good too in that it can be very direct, it depends how you want it.

GC: I guess this has probably aided your international recognition too…

IA: Yeah I think so, definitely

GC: Having been here for around three months now, it’s hard to find much wrong with this city or country, aesthetically and politically. Is Danish punk focused primarily on things like protest and rebellion? Do you look inwards to Denmark for inspiration or outwards?

IA: Well, there are also quite a few political bands…not so much right now. A couple of years ago it was very radical, left wing and anarchical…but it seems like that has kind of faded a bit. I don’t think we look to other countries for inspiration, you can find a lot of it in Denmark. I dont like our government either, thats just not what we´ve chosen to make songs about. Probably because we dont see a chance at changing a thing.

GC: This brings me to the lyrics in your songs. A lot of them are quite hard to understand in the way that you can’t actually hear the words being sung. Was this done for stylistic purposes? To maybe give it that raw edge…and what are you guys mainly singing about?

IA: Well first of all I don’t try to sing like you can’t understand what I’m singing…that’s just how it sounds. We do have the lyrics with the record. And yeah what are we singing about? Very different things, personal issues mainly. We are not supposed to explain exactly what all of our songs are about. They are in the sleeve of the record so people can make of them what they want. we write about stuff that affect our lives like brotherhood, sex, love, pressure, trying to stay away from meaninglessness and feeling like shit, but also more abstract issues.

GC: Having listened to quite a bit of your music, it’s really got that quintessential, post-punk rawness, a sound that conveys so much about the band to the listener. What does DIY mean to you and how important do you think it is in an age of macbooks?

IA: Well, it’s something I appreciate. I don’t like it when people make a scene and then on the first page they’ll have this propaganda about how they did it themselves. It’s just something you should do. You
shouldn’t promote it. It gets annoying if you keep telling people that you’re doing this yourself. It should be more of a natural thing.

GC: Given the fact that you guys are still quite young, do you feel that it's easy for your success to go to your heads? Is their now a greater ambition for you guys to produce another record? Also, how do you think your song writing has matured or changed as you have grown older?

IA: I don’t think it will get to our heads. It’s just a matter of knowing what you and your music is and is not instead of believing what people tell you you are. That and not being a idiot.

As for the next record - of course we have great ambitions for it - but not ambitions to free some kind of expectations from the outside world. The next record will be what we want the next record to be and now we are working on making it become that.
It’s hard to tell how the songs we have written since new brigade differ from the old ones yet, but I think some of them might have a heavier and sometimes more vulnerable feel.

GC: On a global basis, It’s quite hard these days for punk bands to break into the ‘indie’ music scene. Artists like Jay Reatard, No Age and Weekend prove that punk/post punk acts need to have something special in order to do this. You guys have been compared to these bands quoted as having “the makings of greatness”. How does it feel to be compared to bands of this magnitude?

IA: It’s really weird getting all these emails all the time with people offering you crazy shit…it’s hard not to get carried away with it all. You don’t really know how much of it will happen and how much is real, because at the end of it, it’s just emails.

GC: Yeah, and you guys mentioned before that your potentially going on a tour with ‘Fucked Up’ in Europe

IA: Yeah I mean it’s not 100% sure; we got a list of potential countries. But it was weird that they had heard of us…I mean they’re not really an idol band of ours but it is cool to be recognized by a band like ‘Fucked Up’…to be honest I’ve never really listened to them. But I have no fucken idea how our music gets heard by these people. It’s crazy.

Check out the first single and video off 'New Brigade'