"I know the name is kinda cheesy, but these guys are from Norway, they don’t know English very well, but they are great trust me!" - Hakim (in the men’s room at Three of Clubs in Hollywood right before our second show in L.A. I was there too, my back facing the conversationalists.)
I used to skate for about six hours everyday, and when skateboarding started to feel wrong (due to badly performed knee surgery and the slow death of vert-skating) I called up my sponsors and had them stop the shipments of boards, baggy pants, trucks and wheels. At about the same time I had started going to Forsøksgymnaset in Oslo, a very alternative school were the only thing the students had in common was that they didn’t really belong anywhere else. I met Christer there and we founded BigBang with second cousin Erik on Bass.
There were junkies of all degrees, leftwing activists (the majority), Satanists, skateboarders, hip-hoppers, and maybe one or two "straight" people who were really the interesting ones. Of course they had a story like a car crash recovery or mental illness etc. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been there.
Playing with Christer and Erik became a substitute for the long skate sessions and it was all about band practice, at least for me. I remember people saying you need to play shows and start recording. I also remember being a skater and hating how skateboarders were supposed to listen to "skate-rock".
We have released many records and done some fun things since then, but you can look that up online. Here’s what David Fricke wrote about our first US release: From Acid to Zen that came out last year:
It's a shotgun buffet, like those early U.S. LPs by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones that combined album tracks and singles from unrelated sessions, and it succeeds the same way: like an instant greatest-hits record.
Singer-guitarist-songwriter Øystein Greni has the right history in his genes - his dad sang in a Norwegian band that opened for Led Zeppelin in 1968 - and he grounds songs like "Early December," "Hurricane Boy" and the brilliantly titled "From Acid to Zen" in the eternal power-chord charge and fish-hook riffs of the Stones and the Who. But Greni also has a knack for wringing fresh excitement from the familiar: the country-angel harmonies and ice-Byrds guitar in the new version of "Wild Bird," the improbable dream of Badfinger and Hüsker Dü in "The One." For Greni, who co-produced the new tracks with Phil Nicolo, From Acid to Zen is a big step in a bigger gamble.
Another step would be our new album Edendale with strong ties to my adopted home in California. The area of Los Angeles today known as Echo Park/Silverlake used to be called Edendale around the time when the silent movie industry took off. Charlie Chaplin's studio -now a storage place - is on my block, and Walt Disney's first film studio was across the street from the local Trader Joes. In Europe we tend to romanticize things and people from the past; here it's all about moving on to the next project. Ironically, as much as I wanted to get away from the stale museum-like atmosphere of Europe, I get here and start focusing on LA's fascinating past!
Edendale was recorded in Los Angeles at the legendary Sound City Studios (Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash, Metallica), with an impressive list of collaborators: Producers: Greg Richling (Wallflowers, Black Flag) and myself Øystein Greni, Technician/mixer: Bryan Cook (Queens of the Stone Age, Raconteurs, The Bird and The Bee), Mastered by: Gavin Lurssen (Robert Plant/Alison Krauss, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello). Guest guitarists: David Rawlings (Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch), Maria Orieta, Jared Nelson Smith (Hello Stranger) and the magnificent Joshua Moore on piano and pump organs etc.
Oh yes I forgot to mention; there have been many lineup changes. All bands have these situations were the Brotherhood of the Treehut must be challenged by the Love of Music. I really admire the bands that stick together thru thick and thin. This has not been the case with BigBang and the tales of fighting and grief are many and not all boring. But trust me, somehow we are all still friends.
On this record (and hopefully on our upcoming tour) Olaf Olsen plays the drums and Nikolai Eilertsen plays bass. I do realize that I am very lucky to play with such fine musicians!
As for the celeb name-dropping, we are friends of Midlake of Denton TX and my stab at a guitar part might’ve made it onto their new record. We also warmed up for the great band the Raconteurs on the UK leg of the "Broken Boy Soldiers" tour. And the legendary Billy Gibbons of ZZ-top joined us at a show in Los Angeles playing guitar on "Welcome to the Mountains".
Some more quotes with comments!
"Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with balls. BigBang are the hottest, most exciting thing to come out of the Arctic Circle right now' The Sun (U.K)
We all know the arctic isn’t so hot, but the balls part was flattering.
"They seem to have perfected melding Allman Brothers-like harmonies, the hum-along quality of a really good Tom Petty, and the guitar outbursts of a J. Mascis moment." - Evan George, LA Alternative
The Allman Brothers - I never listened to much, but the other two I quite like!
'Tight as a nun's wotsit live BigBang combine dreamy Tom Petty type vocals and lyrics with hints of a mellower Led Zeppelin melody wise. Beautiful'" Disorder Magazine
A nun´s wotsit?
"BigBang lit the power-pop chime and song writing of Big Star and late eighties R.E.M with the power blues dynamics of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble' " David Fricke, Rolling Stone
Or how about The Band instead of double trouble? Huge fan of Big Star though!
'These guys reach for rock's truest revelation: to ride the thrill infused sound until finding oneself at a higher elevation'" Flaunt Magazine