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Did you have any visa troubles getting into the US?
We didn’t have any trouble. I know lots of people who’ve had trouble. It’s just very hard, that’s all. Some people travel without visas. More underground artists have to because it’s so hard to organize to get a visa, and it kind of requires you to work with professional people. It makes it a lot easier to have someone in the industry to help you out, and not everybody has that. But it’s such a big rush for American audiences, that bands outside of the industry can come and play. It’s something that Norwegian musicians are always talking about. [mock grave tone] “The U.S. Visa.” Endless conversations.
Is your band still performing as a trio at this point?
Yup. A trio—guitars and synthesizers and drum kit and me. I guess we tend to do a bit of unusual stuff, but that’s not a very uncommon arrangement. When you have a band with just three people in it and you want a big variety of sounds to fit with different music pieces, then you kind of have to make a lot of really strange things happen, unorthodox use of instruments. So we’ve been doing that.
Listening to the latest record, it's almost hard for me to imagine a band getting those ideas across. The feeling seems really direct and solitary. How does having a group of people up there broadcasting those ideas change it, as opposed to just being the work of a solo performer?
I think the live show is pretty similar to the record. At least that’s what people say. I think what we try very hard to do is keep the very spontaneous and at the same time very dynamic structures of the music. It’s more interesting, I find, to play live rather than just make everything more stereotypical to just make it work. To kind of trust this impulsive urgency in the music. I think as long as we do that, it will sound quite similar in some way to the album. There’s always fun things that can happen. Different rooms and sounds and audiences and all that between song stuff.
I just heard from somebody last night that U.S. audiences expect you to talk between songs. “They really want people to talk??” Is that true?
I mean, there are plenty of artists who prefer not to. I think a good live performance can sort of cast a spell that you might not want broken.
It was just a funny comment. It sounded very mainstream to me. Very sort of “entertainer”-ish. I’ve seen so many American bands who don’t say a word. So I was thinking maybe this is not really so necessary.
Did you ever think that they had Norwegian friends who told them that your audiences expect them to be silent?
You’ve done a lot of sound installations in galleries. What do you think the main difference is for a person attending something like that, versus a pop music concert? Do you think it is just a matter of expectations?
Well it really just depends on the sound installation. With the pop concert it really just depends on the venue. Also it depends on whether the sound installation is played through regular speakers or is kind of more like an adventure. When I started doing sound installations I had very distinct expectations of myself. I thought, “Oh, I have to stop writing melodies. I have to do something stuffy, because a sound installation is when you come into a room and something is just blasting.” I couldn’t really do that, so I just made sound pieces that I found interesting and then played them in a quite traditional way, I guess. Found a way to put up speakers and found a way to make the room interesting for it. So, it kind of worked that way.
Actually, last week I did a sound piece at a conference where I was physically present, it was kind of a lecture, but on a tape, like a cassette tape. That was really great because on a big old Walkman you can adjust the speed. And that’s really cool...unless they run out of batteries. That was really interesting for me to do something where I was present as in a concert, but I didn’t say a word. I was just playing on these tapes. That was nice because it had that presence that you really expect from a concert, but at the same time it had the focus on sound and that kind of calmness to it, that kind of not being nervous thing about it, that a sound installation to me has.