Interview: VAINSTREAM (29.10.2006)

Die Trashcan Darlings sind die „Pioneers of Glamour Punk“ und gehören für mich schon seit längerem zu den interessantesten Bands des Rockbiz. Einen Tag nach ihrem großartigen Auftritt im Wiesbadener Kulturpalast führte ich dieses nette Interview mit Sänger Strange? Gentle und Gitarrist Chris Damien Doll.

Why did it take you so long to do a new album?

Chris Damien Doll: First of all we had to change members, we changed two members since the album, then we changed the drummer again and the bass-player we actually changed in the middle of recording the album, we recorded four songs with the old bass-player. So this is something. We play the songs for a while, and then we do it again

Strange? Gentle: I think this is pretty much it. We lost the second drummer just when we were about to stop touring for the EP. Nothing really happened. We just started writing songs. Sometimes the songs come fast, sometimes it takes a while. So when the songs were done, we lost the bass-player and we had to start exercising again. I think that’s pretty much it.

On the DVD you said you where not so content with the last one, like production and sound and everything. Are you content with this one?

Chris Damien Doll: Yeah. I still think we can top it, I mean, it’s not perfect by any means, but it’s the best sound we ever had. We did Lipstick Menace on a bankloan and we had no chance to paying that money back unless we finished the album and released it. So this is what we did.

Strange? Gentle: But that doesn’t mean we don’t like Lipstick Menace, because Lipstick Menace is a very cool album. It’s a little raw sound for some of the songs, and maybe this time the production fits the songs on the album more as a whole

Chris Damien Doll: And this is also a very important thing we tend to forget, that we chose a totally wrong studio for this and the guy who was doing it is a great guy and he knows a lot of stuff, but he had just gotten a new kind of computer-program for recording, so instead of recording and then mixing bass and drums and keeping them along the songs, he had to mix everything on each track separately. And this of course took shitloads of time and some of the songs are great on the album and some we wish it would sound better. A lot of the songs we play just a little bit too fast from our liking. You know, I don’t think most of the audience would have noticed, but if they had been just a little bit slower it would have been just perfect.

How did you get to work with your german label East Side Records?

Strange? Gentle: They were on holiday in Norway and it’s a father and a son that runs the company and the father collects punk records so he had been in a shop collecting Norwegian punk singles including ours and one day I just got a letter from him that this was the best singles he bought on his holiday

Chris Damien Doll: And he mentioned a lot of famous bands

Strange? Gentle: And then he asked if he could release it in Germany and we said no they are already out, but they agreed on the EP with A-sides from the singles

Chris Damien Doll: We were actually looking for a way to release those songs. 4 or 5 songs on Gore Gore Boys were recorded on the same session. We just picked I just wanna die and another song of this session for the first single. Then we got a small record company to pay for the second single but we still had no money to release the EP. So when they wanted to reprint the singles in Germany we thought this makes no sense to do more singles, we did barely sell these. And so we got all the songs out and it sold really quickly

Did East Side also sell it in Norway?

Strange? Gentle: No, we did a CD version and they did the Vinyl version and then we changed. They got some Vinyls from us and we got some CDs from them. Half a year later we did another single or an EP. They are great guys, we work really well with them

You’re doing a lot of Vinyl stuff. Is it because you like it much yourselves?

Strange? Gentle: I love it, but we’re not doing it this time

Chris Damien Doll: We are actually

Strange? Gentle: But haven’t done it so far

Chris Damien Doll: Strange? used to be a really serious record collector and most of our friends are. I collect records from certain bands too, buy everything you get. That’s why we thought it would be really cool to do it, but in Norway Vinyl was passed since years and when we released the two singles we thought noone would buy them and this is actually what happened: Noone bought them. They sold out but it took a while and it wasn’t until Gore Gore was out on CD that people bought it. We released Lipstick Menace in Germany on Vinyl in 2002 and it sold really well. But we noticed that the Vinyl released, even among punks, who traditional want vinyl, it just tends to sell a bit slower, people ask for a CD, so this time the East Side figured okay we do it the other way around and do the CD first and if enough people ask for the Vinyl and enough people buy the CD maybe we’ll make a Vinyl and I think it will be probably out next year

I was originally thinking more about the Single stuff, cause there is so many?

Strange? Gentle: The three first were made maybe because I loved it and there was two split singles, one was with The Revolvers and in Germany it’s natural to do it on Vinyl and there is no point that a CD Single is better to release as a Vinyl single

Chris Damien Doll: Printing a CD at least for us costs the same if it’s thirty seconds or 70 minutes and if you want to print like two songs on a CD, first of all it’s considered to be a cheap single, cause you just get two songs, still if you do it with four songs it still costs a portion to print, so this means we would have to wait longer to release and we just wanted to get the stuff out and people bought our vinyls and they still do. Even the people used to be into collecting the most vinyl now listen to it on CD’s or mp3 so whatever. So I don’t know maybe the next time it won’t be a physical release at all

Which bands would you call your main influences?

Chris Damien Doll: Well I don’t know

Strange? Gentle: It’s not like we listen to some kind of music and try to be like that or anything

Chris Damien Doll: There were a lot of bands that listened to the Backyard Babies and tried to copy them. And what I also think that it’s important is that we didn’t come out to a trend that was happening. You know it’s not like Gluecifer made it big and we wanted to jump on that band. We started at the same time as these guys. It was Grunge then, so we took it from underground bands and from bands we had listened to for long, but most of these records we had listened to to death, so it was bits of pieces here and there. I don’t know, if we had mentioned the Sex Pistols or Hanoi Rocks, these bands would have done it enough, but our aim was not to fit in any category or try to copy people

Strange? Gentle: I think it’s more happening by chance. The sound that comes down when me or him sit down with the guitar turns out as a Trashcan-song. It could have been metal and it could have been punk or whatever, but it became what it is. I’ve never tried to make a song sound like anything at all. Sometimes of course you can actually hear that this guy is listening to jazz.

Chris Damien Doll: I think we put more into as most other bands in this genre do. I mean there’s more guitar riffs and more clever arrangements then the powerpop bands have, we have better melodies and better backing vocals as most of the hardcore bands and most of the punk bands have, we’ve a better attitude then most of the Rockbands, so we just take the stuff that we like and see what we can do better. So it’s really hard to pick one band. The ten or eleven years that we’ve been going, you read interviews with bands that answer this question and at so many you can see what the hip influences are. If we wanted to be hip like three or four years ago the right thing to say would be Hanoi Rocks, New York Dolls, Iggy & the Stooges and Motörhead, because these T-Shirts you could buy at H & M, and of all the bands they said were influenced by these bands I think 99% of them sounded like Gluecifer or the Backyard Babies, but those weren’t the hip influences. When I read other bands answer this question more to see if they are posers or if they mention something that actually would every other band mention. We listen to everything from Chuck Berry and Doris Day to Phantom of the Opera.

Strange? Gentle: Black Metal, everything! Good music is good music and you get inspired from here and there, but there’s never the idea to become another band. Then we could start a coverband or something.

What makes Scandinavian bands so special? Why do they understand to rock?

Strange? Gentle: I think this is the same reason. In America everyone wants to be Kiss or Cheap Trick, Aerosmith or Metallica, but in Norway you had the underground scene, from six to zero the bands played and played and so the underground scene just got better and better and it just exploded. People started to discover it outside of Scandinavia

Chris Damien Doll: Traditionally most bands that come from England and America. I think what happened after Grunge died it was really that all guitar music died, you know like dance… there really was no rock anywhere. And I think America and England still don’t have regained their stuff, they start to get some famous rockbands now. And also 9/11 of course has something to do with it, cause America is really close now, both with importing and exporting the music. At the same time in the mid-90s there was this huge confidence in Scandinavia, you had a few bands that made it, Hellacopters, Gluecifer, Turbonegro, and these bands got their confidence from the Black Metal Bands that made it a couple of years earlier, Darkthrowne, Mayhem, Satyricon, all those bands, so people suddenly realized „Okay, it’s possible to do it from here“. And that’s probably what you see with a lot of bands from Scandinavia too. If you see a band on stage that doesn’t really believe that they can have Madison Square Garden, it’s not interesting, if they stand there and think they look stupid and that their songs are stupid, and they think the audience shouldn’t be there because they are not good enough then they aren’t good enough. So I really think it has a lot to do with confidence and also that the studios have gotten better, so it’s possible to compete with American and English releases

Strange? Gentle: But of course there is talent as well. This happened in England in the 60s with the Beatles and the Stones and then you had the punk scene, the CBGB’s, this time it happened in Scandinavia, because of course there is very talented musicians, I mean Nicke from the Hellacopters isn’t famous by chance, of course he has something to deliver. So do we.

Chris Damien Doll: With that said we were never part of the Rawkscene of the 90s, you know, RAWK, this kind of mix of Deathmetal and Rock’n’Roll that a lot of these bands do. We respect the bands that kind of made it, created the scene, but then you had all these awful copycat-bands, just 200 beats per minute and no melodies and just Rock’n’Roll clichés all the way

Strange? Gentle: You know like Trashcan, me and Chris and the earlier drummer Skinny we are like record collectors, because we love the music, but we loved the music way back before we started the band, so it’s not like we discovered Rock’n’Roll in 1994 and wanna be part of it, we did since we were sixteen years old

Chris Damien Doll: So I think we didn’t jump on that bandaera, we didn’t get big with that bandaera, and we’re not gonna die if this bandaera dies out, we will just gonna be there and we’ll get more and more recognition and hopefully more fans

Strange? Gentle: I think that’s happening right now

Do you think Myspace is a big chance for bands?

Chris Damien Doll: Yeah, I think so. Because it is like this old rule if you want a lot of media, or the important media, you have to know the people who run that stuff. And if you don’t know this people or they have already decided they don’t like you for whatever reason, maybe because of a gig that wasn’t good, or maybe picking up their girlfriend one time in the city without knowing it, then they’re not gonna write about you. So at Myspace you reach directly out to the people and among others you meet the people who are really interesting in finding new music. To me the internet is really important as a fan because I can look up for most of my favourite bands when they’ll release a new album and I can’t read interviews with them in the magazines they publish everywhere in Europe but I have to do it on the Internetfanzines. So this I like. But if you wanna become really big really quickly you still need the guy with the money on Universal behind you to push you and get you to play large tours and this kind of stuff. It’s not like Myspace will make us really big really quickly, but at least we get to spread the word.

Did you already notice that more people get to know you through it?

Chris Damien Doll: I think a lot of people mentioned it on the tour actually. Yesterday was a couple of people and I also think in other cities

Strange? Gentle: Of course it’s different then ten years ago to tell your friend about a band. Not only you have the opportunity to burn CD’s, you can listen to anything, cause everyone is on Myspace now, so I use it all the time. If I want to check up with some bands it just takes two seconds instead of trying to find CD’s, of course it’s really easy access. Of course if everyone is on Myspace there is much more competition as well

Chris Damien Doll: The cool thing for me about Myspace, except directly communicating to the fans, you hear about all of those bands everyday, somebody has a band or somebody likes a band, I can’t be asked go to a record store and listen to all of this records, but if I sit there with the Computer anywhere I can say okay lets see what this band has on Myspace, listen to their four songs and if their sound is good then you can make up your mind about it. Some have videos on there, some people are good at updating their blogs or pictures… I found a lot of bands like this and then I try to get the CD if it’s possible. And if I’m not lucky I just try to keep track what’s going on. So this is cool. And sometimes of bands you like they have songs up which aren’t available yet in the store

Strange? Gentle: We like Myspace. It’s a good way to meet bands, but also to meet people in general.

Chris Damien Dolls: And we get shitloads of offers from there, especially in America now. There’s lots and lots of concert offers and stuff, as well as people want to order something or just saying hi and they like the music, which is cool.

There are so many people that say you’re good band, but even better on stage or also people told me they didn’t like your records much, but when they saw you on stage they were like „Fuckin’ great Liveband“. Are you thinking about doing a Live-CD?

Chris Damien Doll: I think we already kind of did that now with the DVD, because most of the songs were live and at any case I don’t think it’s the right time, we’ll have to have more material before we can do this. We just did the DVD, we’ll do a compilation of all our EP’S and Singles now, and a Live-CD would be just another compilation. We have a new album, then the Compilation and then we’ll have to do a new studioalbum. There’s so many songs. We’re writing songs everyday. And also I think that people say that you’re a good liveband doesn’t necessarily mean that the live-record is gonna be great, because it’s really the energy and atmosphere and stuff

Strange? Gentle: It was always the idea to make the band we always wanted to see live, that was a very important part of it and you can’t get that on a record or a DVD

Chris Damien Doll: And I think what we’re doing instead is to get more livesound on our studiorecords, so that people get new songs with more energy. And I think the last album is the most energetic we have done since the first couple of singles. So I’m happy with this

Strange? Gentle: There is also songs that don’t necessarily work as good live. We had a new song on the album and I’m sure we could make it work, but it’s written for a bright bass and so we would had to bring another member or something, so some of the songs are just written for the album and the setlist is more or less written for the Live-shows, we pick the songs that we think will present the band live the best, and I think it works very well

Chris Damien Doll: We are also of course really happy that people think we are better live then on album, there is a lot of Britney Spears out there who’d love to be better live then on album. For us the album thing is, if we sell records we can put more money and more time into the records and make it sound more live, but I think we did really great with this one and the next one is gonna be better

How long do you think will it take?

Chris Damien Doll: We can’t promise anything, but I think probably 2008 and there will be some new songs on the Compilation-album next year. So we are already going back to the studio, maybe in March to do a couple of songs then. It’s always difficult to set a date, but I guess. We already have songs finished

Where do you get your nice clothes? Is there a special store?

Chris Damien Doll: Different places. I think I got all of my caps that I got before my hat from different female family members, stolen from my Mum or my Grandma. The hat now is actually made for me, I got it as a present from my girl. Scarfs and stuff you can just pick up anywhere, they have this at H & M or Lindex or something like this if it is on fashion, you just go our for leopard print and buy everything. Apart from this we get it from anywhere. In Oslo we get a lot of clothes and order something from the Internet, I work in a porn store where I can also order other stuff. I don’t know, second hand shops. We used to go to London every year to buy clothes, but there are no cool stores there anymore. I think it’s just because we like dressing up. It’s more fun. It’s also kind of a reaction to this Grunge thing again, looking at your shoes, and I also think there is a lot of Bands that do that

Strange? Gentle: Shoegazers!

Chris Damien Doll: Yeah, shoegazers! „I’m so bored, I’m gonna go home, There is so many people, I don’t like the situation“ Go home

When I was talking to Silver they said the Oslo scene is so united. Would you agree on that?

Chris Damien Doll: No

Strange? Gentle: Yes and no. There are different scenes in Oslo, but there is a scene we used to call the „Elm Street scene“, which includes us and them and a lot of other bands. And yes we are united. Like I said we did a single together with Silver and Trashcan members, a project called „The Silver Darlings“. We do stuff like that, but on the other hand there is a Westcity-scene, Hardcorescene, Blackmetalscene. But it’s a small city, so everyone knows each other even though you don’t work together

Chris Damien Doll: It’s kind of like every band for themselves. If you have the better connections you get the better gigs and just because you know someone who has better connections, that doesn’t mean you’ll get anywhere with it

Strange? Gentle: Everyone wants to be as big as Turbonegro

Chris Damien Doll: Everyone knows them of course. We meet the guys in the bus and its… I don’t know. The cool thing though is, we don’t see this in Germany a lot, because there are so many people living here, so if you go to different cities you hear about fights between psychobilly and rockabilly boys „because you hair is to big“ and „your hair is to small“, you know, so there is not enough people in bands in Oslo for this, so we hang out with people from the Blackmetalscene, the Hardcorescene, the Postpunkscene, it’s just everything, people in popbands, yeah it’s like a Cocktailparty I suppose

Is there anything left you wanna say?

Chris Damien Doll: If you made it this far in the interview you might as well go on buy our record. That’s a nice closing statement.

Interview: Manuela Schon