BLACK DEBBATH – Put shit where shit should be put
Andrea had the pleasure of meeting up with Lars, Egil and Aslag from Black Debbath last month.
Me: Are there still problems in the right wing? The album is old by now, not sure how actual it is today..
Lars: It’s always actual.
Egil: It’s one of the eternal…how do you say problemstilling in English?
Egil: Yea, it’s one of the eternal terrors of Norwegian politics
Aslag: It’s like a Greek tragedy
Egil: Right now they are having a boost. They have some ‘good days’. But that’s a source for tomorrow’s problems. At the moment, their ratings are going high, but the problem we are talking about will always be there.
Lars: It’s also a problem in being too big.
Egil: Absolutely. The bigger they get, the more potential they have for internal problems. Terrors. Internal terrors. And external.
Me: What’s the blackest debbath in Norway right now?
Lars: There are no things too black for us to discuss.
Me: Indeed, it’s the season when everything is white now out here
Lars: Then there’s this sculpture park. It is maybe one of the darkest things we have ever written about in our music, our art. But there’s no such thing as too black for us. What do you think, Egil?
Egil: I think the pension reform. That’s the darkest.
Me: You’re getting close to that moment, so maybe that’s why.
Egil: We are writing about things that are close to us.
Egil: Yes, that’s a pension form. That’s close to me. I dress in the pension. That’s a black outfit. But actually I would like us to change name to just Debbath. The blackness is associated with evil.
Me: And there’s no way that debbath should be associated with evil?
Aslag: We should be associated with hope. And love. Constructive things.
Egil: A debate shouldn’t be a dark and evil force. It should be positive and constructive. Actually, we could either remove the black or add the white and call it…
Lars: The Black and White debate?
Egil: Yea, that would be good since we look at things from both
Aslag: Or Black Debbath White?
Egil: Yea. Or grey debate.
Aslag: Or charcoal (with a very long vowel at the end)
Lars: In time, we should change the color to charcoal. That’s more true to our current state and color of the hair and beards. We have to be honest.
(Photo: Magnus S. Stivi)
Me: How did you guys meet?
Lars: Well, have you heard of cupido? (note: cupido.no)
-endless amount of laughter
Lars: It was back in highschool actually. Sometime around 25 years ago.
Aslag: And I met them a few years after that, at some sort of art school. I actually knew Cristofer (Schau) and through him I met Egil.
Me: And what were the first thoughts when you met each other?
Lars: I remember the first time I saw Egil was at some sort of concert at highschool. I was in my first grade, he was in the second. Some sort of charity, live for Africa concert.
Egil: That was the first concert that I ever played.
Lars: It was pretty funny. The humor was one of the first things I noticed at that guy.
Aslag: I knew Egil through mail or hand written post. He was writing down instructions to me and Cristofer, telling us what to do with the detective club we had back then. He was the secret boss of that club. The secret mr X. that gave us instructions about how we should solve cases.
Egil: That happened ages ago when the only means of communication were either by post or by pay phone. So you actually had to call at certain hours and the other person had to know when you call and be there to answer. It didn’t work at all.
Aslag: The first time I saw you was also a concert of Gartnerlosjen. A crazy appearance from these guys.
Egil: Lars actually joined the band shortly after that, because Cristofer invited him. And then we played a show at our school. That was a memorable show.
Aslag: I remember you wearing this tiny white thing around your hand and dancing around wearing something very close to being naked. This is somewhere back in 1989 I think.
Lars: Lots of water and other drinks have gone since then.
Egil: And now we are at our careers’ tops and it’s never been better.
Me: So, are climbing higher now? If you say you’re on the top…
Egil: Well, there’s only one way to go.
Me: Exactly. So sorry to break the bad news but you’re going down
Egil: That’s ok. It’s always ups and downs. The top is a bit higher than usual now. And it’s fun going down.
Aslag: It’s more fun going down. There’s a lot of humor involved in going down.
Me: Speaking of directions. If somebody had followed your album, Welcome to Norway’, where do you think they would end up?
Aslag: I think the album is very helpful.
Egil: The album is starting to get old now.
Lars: We were thinking about doing a new edition actually.
Aslag: Indeed, we need to refresh it. Every travel guide needs to be updated and a lot of places we are talking about are closed down. Some were actually closed down when we made the album.
Me: There’s still brown cheese though.
Aslag: And the bunad, still going strong.
Lars: A lot of it still fits today, a lot of food is still the same…
Aslag: But maybe now sushi is the new traditional food.
Me: Or kebab
Lars: That’s what probably people call now for traditional food.
(Photo: Stig Pallesen)
Me: What’s the biggest ‘must’ when someone is coming to Norway?
Lars: I guess it’s just to visit the sculpture park.
Aslag: Yea, it’s looking so good right now. Beautiful, all the snow, the jerk off path, being alone in the woods
Egil: A man can go up and do the most beautiful thing he can do to himself.
Me: A woman cannot do that?
Egil: Of course she can. They just have to go separately and it should be ok.
Aslag: Yea, as long as you are alone and cold.
Lars: What else to do in Norway?
Aslag: I guess it depends on what you are going to do tonight.
Egil: We go to see ‘Men without hats’ at a very small club.
Aslag: There’s a lot of cool rock’n’roll gigs going on around here, and I do recommend watching ‘Men without hats’.
Me: The reason that one of your albums is in English is because you had enough of the Norwegian press dissecting your lyrics all the time?
Egil: It was mainly that we came up with the idea to make a rock’n’roll travel guide to Norway.
Me: So you really meant it?
Egil: Of course. We always mean what we’re doing. I think the idea for this one came up on the firs album where we had this song called ‘King of Norway’. We thought it would be good to inform foreigners who knew little to nothing about Norwegian culture.
Me: Did you get any happy people who felt culturally satisfied?
Lars: Yea. Very little.
Egil: Initially we planned to release the album outside of Norway. But when the time came it was too much of a hassle.
Aslag: We weren’t smart enough to make it happen. We were working with this Norwegian record company – EMI and at the time the album was released they had some merge with Virgin. Many people lost their jobs, we even released a single that never came out due to so many people being sacked.
Egil: I remember this old joke. How do you stop the AIDS epidemic? You let EMI handle the distribution. That was pretty much the case with this album.
Me: You are the guardians of public opinion. What are you protecting it against?
Egil: Stupidity…and aaaa
Me: Isn’t that what public opinion is made of?
Lars: We are protecting it from itself actually.
Egil: It is getting out of hand now with everyone being able to comment on everything on internet. When we started, the ordinary man didn’t have so much access to comment.
Aslag: You could send stuff to papers, in writing, but they would filter it and such
Egil: And now everything is out in the open
Me: And you think there are no filters today?
Egil: Yes, stuff is filtered, but people can get their voices heard. And that was our mission before.
Me: Then you accomplished it too well.
Egil: It is a paradox, indeed. Now, that we have no function anymore, we are more popular than ever.
Lars: Catch 22
Egil: No, actually it’s 23.
Me: You leveled up. You reached the top again and where are you going from here?
Aslag: We are the guardians going down.
Lars: People need directions and we give that to them.
Egil: Where we’re going, well, the next album should probably be the album we have been talking about our whole career. We have been playing kinda 70s hard rock. We should take it to the next level and make that 80s with thin guitars, synthesisers, programmed drums.
Me: You also need to work a bit on the voice.
Egil: It would be a concept album. That 80s sounding album that every good band made.
Me: You’re few years late, but why not.
Egil: True, but you just have to follow the curve. Now that we made our masterpiece, it’s probably time to go down.
Me: What song would you dedicate to the Pope? The one soon to be ex-Pope.
Aslag: The evil man?
Me: Yea, the emperor
Egil: I actually made a pope song. I made my own pope poop song. I’m not the poop. But it’s not a Black Debbath song. But I would like to dedicate this one.
(an impossible to write down debate about the Pope looking like the emperor in Star Wars)
(Photo: Stig Pallesen)
Me: Why did you write a ‘tribute to women’ album?
Aslag: Because we like them.
Lars: We like to watch them.
Me: In the kitchen, like the song says?
Egil: In the kitchen, in the bedroom. There was actually a demographic problem with our audience. There were only guys.
Aslag: It still is. The album didn’t change any of that.
Egil: It was our hope to reach out and get some more women into our audience, so that maybe we could sit down with them after the show, talk to them, etc
Aslag: But it backfired. We got even more guys. The guys thought that there’d be women at our shows, but of course, the women didn’t end up being interested in us more than before.
Me: Maybe you should make a tribute to men then?
Egil: Maybe that’s a good thing to do.
Aslag: Yea, but that’s too typical. Everybody does that.
Egil: But we could celebrate the male-ness.
Aslag: Yea, maybe this male-ness is a good idea.
Me: You should give me some credit on that album.
Me: Why did Ibsen inspire so many of your songs?
Aslag: He once said a smart thing. The minority is always right. It’s from ‘An enemy of the people’.
Me: Do you think he was a rocker?
Lars: Of course he was a rocker. Have you seen pictures of him? A lot of hair, beard.
Egil: You know that he made the Gibson signature model guitar? And the Flying V and the Les Paul? He made all of them.
Aslag: And a lot of his texts were rock’n roll. Plus, he’s still kicking ass in a way.
Lars: We were actually asked to make an Ibsen related show at Øya festivalen. It was the Ibsen celebration year. And it was a collaboration between the festival and the Ibsen memorial or so. They ordered us to do it. It’s not our fault.
Me: You take no responsibility?
Lars: No, no, no. It’s an island festival afterall.
Aslag: But we thought it was a good idea. And then it backfired. It got us even more guys at the concerts.
Me: My next question, and I don’t know if this can backfire in anyway, is why should one clean the room (author note: the song title is Rydde rommet, and rommet can mean both space and room in Norwegian)
Egil: It’s actually more about cleaning the space. We should ask Aslag to tell us more about this.
Aslag: It’s a lot of things that people forget out there when they do travels in outer space. I think everybody should pick up their litter and take it back.
Me: What should they do with it after that?
Aslag: Put it in the bin.
Me: But then it needs to be trashed again.
Lars: Yes, but it shouldn’t be floating around out there.
Aslag: It’s like the dog shit, you know. People should pick up the dog shit.
Me: Yea, in space you don’t want to come across that floating around.
Aslag: Or think of when you are going to the toilet. There could be things in the toilet, like shit all around. And that’s not good. It’s better to put it where shit should be put.
Lars: So it’s important to put shit where shit should be put.
Egil: Our next album title
Me: And provide it to all the dog owners on the planet. Do you think that the police who goes around on horses should clean the horse shit?
Aslag: We have a solution for that. They should just take a big bag and tie it to the tail and then have the horse shit in the bag.
Lars: But this is an example of where the shit should be put. Tie bag to the tail, get shit it.
Me: What would you do to those who download your music (illegally).
Lars: Go on!
Egil: We have no solution for that. It’s expected that people like our music, so it’s better that they download our music illegally instead of other music. So it’s better that they download music illegally, rather than downloading films illegally. Yea, as long as they…
Lars: As long as they pay!
Aslag: As long as they actually listen to our music it’s ok. They can do whatever they want.
Lars: As long as they come to our shows, buy our tshirts, our rock’n’roll aprons – we made new ones. And dust cloths. They are also rock’n’roll.
Aslag: We are gonna release some of the merch at our Rockefeller show, on April 27th.
Me: So I’d best be there then. But now, I am out of questions…
Lars: Should we make some for you? Like: Are you planning to play outside Norway?
Egil: Yes, of course, we are planning. But mainly Scandinavia for the time being. Like Sweden and Denmark.
Me: Did you play abroad so far? If yes, how did Norway’s neighbors react to your sarcasm and irony?
Egil: We actually played at Sweden Rock. And the crowd loved it. It was crowded in the tent and I heard that people couldn’t come in. The Swedish people are also understanding the humor and the people are singing along. So that feels pretty good. We’ll see if we get to play to other countries too. We get some requests from various places.
Aslag: Time will tell.