Rock Impressions

INTERVIEW WITH AQPOP (italian version)
by Giancarlo Bolther

Would you like to introduce your band with his history?
Thomas: Aqpop has actually been a band for a long time. It started when Thor Jørgen and Andreas (Knudsen) went to school. Which was long before I got to know them. We went to the same school, but I am three years older than them and we were in musical opponents. Aqpop was at that time known as "Chime Poppers". It wasn`t until years later, I started to meet Andy in parties.
My girlfriend and Andy has a mutual friend. And we were both interested in what we both were into musically. Andy told me that "Chime poppers" needed a substitute guitarist when Thomas (Wolden) went to the military. I said "yes, of course", because I recently split my own band. Later the former bassist Sasan quit the band and I started playing bass in Aqpop. So that was my first experience with Thor Jørgen and Andy. The historical side of music, you`d better ask TJ about.
Thor Jørgen: The band has been what one might call serious since 1999, even though me, Andy and some other friends recorded stuff even before that. Later I got to know Karl Morten. We wrote some songs together and released two 7’ singles as Aquarium Poppers. Two years later the Chime Poppers and Aquarium Poppers projects merged into AqPop. Jade (Hasselgård) already played in Chime Poppers. Recently we got a new drummer in replacement for Andy and the band is now: me (guitar, vocs and more), Jade (keyboard, vocs), Karl Morten (guitar), Thomas (bass) and Eskil Laksfors (drums).

Your new record is very sixties and psychedelic, what kind of music do you want to create?
Karl M: I’m into 60s bands like Byrds, Zombies, Kinks and of course the Beatles, and yeah we’re inspired by the 60s. I’d like to create a blend of pop, psych and folk.
Thomas: I agree that our music is psychedellic indeed. But I`m really not sure were it goes from here. Recently we got a new drummer (Eskil). He has brought a whole new dimension to the band. Aqpop got better in just a few weeks after he joined us. We are certainly happy for that and look forward to working with him in the future. When it comes to the musical side of things, we are now just letting it flow at the moment. We made some new songs and rearranged a few old ones. I think they turned out fine. We are also thinking about getting into the studio, but we have yet not set a date.
Thor: The songwriting is split pretty even between me and Karl. I like psychedelic music, but I don’t try to write psychedelic music. But of course listening to 60s psych inspire you.
Jade: We want to create music that represents our souls and visions, we like a wide specter of music, and it of course influences the music we make, but we want, like (almost..) any artist, to create something new that has its own identity.
Karl M: I don’t second that. I think I’m more targeted to genres and specific bands than the rest of the band. But then of course, a good song is a good song, whatever genre.

Can you tell us more about the the making of the new album?
Karl M: Having about 70 songs ready it was hard to nail that down to one album. We picked the 20 we liked the best.
Jade: We got some financial support from a Norwegian music fund, got a local label (35g) and a US one (HHBTM). We used a small, quite plain studio, called Shabby Road.
Thomas: The recording process was actually quite easy for me and Andy. We recorded all our stuff in one day. Playing together. With TJ as a guide through the session. We were given two weeks to record our record, but ended up recording on and off for a month. Thor Jørgen made it all finish adding guitar, piano, organ, vocals, and electronics. And of course Karl M. and Jade did their parts.
Karl M: Some of our best songs (Origin, One Disappeared, Canned Cans
Beloved) didn’t make it to the album due to the recording equipment in the rather lofi studio. They just couldn’t be recorded properly. Or maybe we didn’t practice enoght upfront. In any case it’s good to have a stack of good songs ready for the next release.

Where have you found the ispiration to write this album?
Karl M: We just had a big stack of good songs that we wanted to record. I don’t feel that we wrote and album right there. The songs ending up on the album was written over the years. I think Command Smileable is the oldest song on there and maybe Screen the newest.
Thor: I’m inspired by the music I listen to. For example Beatles, Radiohead and Muse.

Have you found some difficulties in finding a label to record the album?
Karl M: It was hard to find someone willing to finance the whole thing, including both recording and pressing. We had some, even though limited, options but finally signed to the local label 35g. They financed part of it, the fund we got part of it and the band the rest. HHBTM distribute the record in US. Hopefully we’ll take it to the next level next time.

What kind of intruments and equipments do you like to use to record (vintage or modern)?
Thomas: When it comes to equipment we are using what we`ve already got.
Thor Jørgen and Karl M. both use telecasters trough a Marshall cabinet on the album. I use a Johnson fiddlebass and a warwick corvette through an ashdown rig, and Jade (and Thor Jørgen) use an old Juno and a Yamaha synth. Some of the organ and theremin bits are all Midi. We recorded on a computer with Logic pro as software. If I could choose between a modern studio and a vintage one I would have to say that my dream is to record in a vintage studio, but your options are mostly better in a modern one.

How do you manage the compositive process?
Thomas: I only wrote the first demo of "Relate That Something", but we all write our different lines for the songs. Usually Thor Jørgen and/or Karl M. has an idea and they make a 4-track demo of the song. Then we all contribute arranging the song in the rehearsing room.

In your music there is a lot of improvisation, do you like to jam?
Thomas: I think our music needs improvisation. As I said before the whole songwriting prosess usually starts with brilliant ideas from Thor or Karl And the band takes the songs wherever they might go. For good or worse.
Thor and Karl are the actual songwriters, but we all add flavour to them.
We sometimes even ruin the songs too. WE LOVE TO JAM!
Karl M: Having the song sorted out in the head upfront - arranged with drum beat and bass lines certainly make it easier to guide process and get the song the way it should be.
Jade: Yes, in jamming one can find a lot of inspiration, and often accidentally come up with great new tunes. Jamming also brings the band together musically, and makes us play tighter when we play the written songs.
Thor: I love long improvised parts, but some songs need to be short. In live shows some of the songs get longer than on records. Syranid for instance. We use to do a jazzy improvisation intro on Beautifully Smart She’s Standing There when doing it live.
Karl M: Actually, I hate jamming. Partly because I’m not skilled enough, but I’m more into the 3-4 minute pop gem than the 12 min impro. Guess the other guys jam when I’m not there, haha.

How much tradition and how much modernity we can find in your sound?
Thomas: We all definetly have old-time influences, but Thor and Karl wrap up our songs. I think they both have very unique styles of playing. Thor has full control and flexibility to harmonics and sort of sets the sound.
Karl M. has nice way of keeping it simple. But I guess it`s the ideas, the melodies, that sets our sound.
Karl M: I’m very much into 60s/70s british folk bands like Comus and Dulcimer and of course Byrds and if that shines through I’d be happy.

Are you planning a tour to promote the album?
Thor: We’ve been mostly playing Trondheim and Oslo here in Norway. We would very much like to come to Italy and play, but no plans are set at the moment.

What kind of show are you thinking to realize?
Thor: We’ve been playing most of the songs from the album. No particular fanzy show at the moment. Mostly focusing on playing well and having fun while drinking beers.

Psychedelic music was huge in the sixties and have had a revival in the eighties, what do you think about the bands from the eighties, there are some that you like?
Jade: My bloody valentine..!
Karl M: Sonic Youth, REM and Pixies come to mind. Lots of great music from the 80s. Especially from the US.
Thor: I was born in 1983, but I’m not that into the 80s musically. Like the 90s better.

Nowadays it seems that there is a lot of interest in psychedelic music again, do you think that this kind of rock is having a new revival? If yes why?
Karl M: As long as there are minds there will be psychedelic music.
Jade: I believe it's a timeless genre, and that it will always be there, either it's played by main artists or underground. Much because of the electronic instruments that are here to stay, which will always encourage to experiment with sounds. And because of the globalization that keeps us in touch with other musical genres and traditions which was the inspirations to psychedelic music in the first place (along with drugs of course. wich we don't like to speak about..).

Would you do a list of the best psychedelic rock albums of all times?
Thor: Beatles - Revolver, Beach Boys - Pet Sounds, Dipsomaniacs - Braid of Knees.
Karl M: I second those, but would like to add Zombies - Odessey and Oracle.

Which are your fave bands/artists, the ones that inspires you best?
Karl M: Hood, Neutral Milk Hotel, Guided By Voices/Robert Pollard and Loch Ness Mouse. When it comes to songwriting The Byrds have been important.
Jade: Paus (a sweedish singer-songwriter), Thomas Dybdahl, Stereolab, My Bloody Valentine, LOW, Radiohead, I especially like Kid A, which speaks to me in many ways with its large atmosphere and melancolic sound.
Thor: Beatles and Radiohead.
Thomas: To be quite honest I´m not even a psych-fan. Except that I love The Dipsomaniacs. That is perhaps the only psych-influenced band I listen to. I like to listen to a lot of different music, but I have to say that Motorpsycho and Pearl Jam are the bands that I listen to the most, in addition to The Dipsos. I also love jazz and some funk, but I`m definetly a rock type of guy (but please don`t give any metal!). In addition to playing with AqPop, I play in a Country-band called Bigton Gulch Town Orchestra (puh!) which relased an album last fall called "Regret every kiss". Feel free to check that out as well!

How do you feel about the new bands and the new genres?
Jade: The more genres the better, It's wonderful that musicians finds their own sound and expression. In this confusing world it is important to find ways to express yourself and your feelings, sharing is the best you can do to eliminate the borders between people, and by expressing yourself you might help someone else to find their own expression.

Do you have a philosophy? Your vision of the world is...
Jade: Find your own way, be truthful to yourself, trust yourself and allow yourself to trust others. What you give is most definetly not always what you get, so take care, and do what you feel is the best.
Karl M: Have fun with your family and friends. Drink beer and listen to good music. Haha.

Which are your ambitions and expectations about the future and which is the greatest challenge for your future?
Karl M: To continue to write songs.


Reviews (in italian): Beautifully Smart

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