Hailing from a country that is best known musically for producing Black Metal bands, Norway’s melodic rock trio Fenrik Lane are the latest band from Australian based Melodic Rock Records to be featured as one of our “best things you’ve never heard”.
Whilst firmly entrenched in the roots of melodic rock, Fenrik Lane also have a very distinct commercial modern rock sound that rivals anything that is heard on rock radio today. If songs like Diamonds In The Waste, Runaway Car and Cover Your Eyes found their way into the hands of a MAJOR record label, Fenrik Lane would certainly not be featured as one of the “best things you’ve never heard”, because you would have already heard!
There is a distinct uniqueness to the bands sound and their songwriting and arrangements are certainly not those of your everyday melodic rock band. The bands total revamping of Rhianna’s song Russian Roulette is a perfect illustration…check out the video clip below.
Collectively, Knut, Christer and John provide an insight into Fenrik Lane….
Let’s start with the basics first – how long has the band been together and what is the inspiration behind the band name?
We have been playing together since 1997. We started out under the name “Breed”, but it was similar to a lot of other band names, so we decided to change it to Fenrik Lane in 2002 with the release of our EP Come Down Here. In 2003 bassist Anders Isaksen was replaced by John Erik Soltvedt and in 2004, after winning the World Idol, vocalist Kurt Nilsen left the band to continue his solo career. The band has continued as a trio since then.
Band name: Fenrik means ensign or second lieutenant. Fenrik Montgomery Lane was actually an English soldier in WW2. He was the only survivor of a downed ship outside of Norway. He had the opportunity to go back to England, but he decided to fight for the Norwegian army as a gratitude for saving his life. He bravely died for a country that was not his own.
You have twenty seconds in an elevator to try and convince someone to listen to your CD ‘317’, what do you tell them?
Here is our CD, mate. Maybe you will love it, or maybe you will hate it. But if you don`t listen to it, you will never know.
Can you introduce each member of your band and give us a rock “n” roll fact or myth about each?
John: I was thrown in jail after a concert for calling a cop an idiot. Norwegian police officers are quite sensitive it seems 😉
Knut: We were playing a gig in Floroe, Norway, and during the concert I got carried away and jumped off the bass drum and hit my head in the ceiling. I immediately turned to Christer and yelled “Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding?!” and Christer just said YEAH!, because he didn`t hear a word I said.
Christer: My bass drum pedal broke in the middle of a song at a concert in Bergen. I didn’t want to finish the song half-assed, so I immediately decided to run to the front of the stage and stage dive. Totally right decision, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Your latest CD release is titled “317”. How long did the process of writing and recording the songs take? Given this album has been out for quite a few months now, has the process already commenced writing for the next album?
We started in 2007 already with the demos of Runaway Car and Going Nowhere. After this we decided to try out all ideas we had and to find a sound that we were all pleased with. In between all the trying and failing we had a lot of concerts because we needed the money for the production that grew larger and larger. This is by far the biggest and most expensive production we have ever had.
About a new album, we have already 8-9 songs ready for recording, and will begin to record 2 of them probably in May.
The production and arrangements throughout “317” are amazing. Going into the recording of the album what were you aiming for as far as the sound was concerned?
Thanks.:) We were aiming to have a much heavier production than our previous releases, and to create our own sound to it. We have read in some reviews that we are compared to everything from U2, Snow Patrol to Stage Dolls and System Of A Down. All great bands, and we appreciate the comparison, but we have no ambition of sounding like other bands. That is not our intention, but it is almost impossible to make music without some people saying: ” Hey, that sounds just like……..”. But we will keep trying…
In terms of your songwriting, what do you consider to be the most important ingredients that need to feature in a Fenrik Lane song?
A catchy chorus has always been our “trademark” since we started out, filled with lots of backing vocals. We always try to put some surprise elements in our songs (example: outro on Paranoia) and will try to take this further in the future. We have never been a “look at my skills” band with lots of showing off, and we will never be. We don`t feel that it is important for our music. If people like it, there are a lot of other more skilled bands they can listen to. A good melody with creative arrangements is all good for us.
One of my favourite songs on “317” is ‘Diamonds In The Waste’ which is better than anything I hear on radio here in Australia. What is the inspiration behind this song and do you have any interesting stories to share from the recording/writing of this song?
“DITW” is a song that our producer Eirik Groenner and former vocalist Kurt Nilsen wrote for Kurt and was supposed to be a nr.1 single for Kurt`s new album in 2008, but his record company felt it was to heavy, so they put it away. Since Knut and Christer already had played guitar and drums on the demo of it, there was a Fenrik sound to it, and our produced Eirik felt that the song would be better suited for us. After we recorded it, everyone agreed that the song “came home”.
You recorded a cover of a Rihanna’s song titled “Russian Roulette”. What was the decision behind covering this song and how did you go about deconstructing the original to add the Fenrik Lane stamp of authority over the song?
John came to rehersal one day and said: I think we should cover Russian Roulette. I know you don`t like the song, but the beat has something special. We were sceptical at first, but when he showed us what he was thinking about the arrangements, we were all in.
What or who inspires/influences your music the most, in both a lyrical and musical sense?
As mentioned before, we don`t try to sound like other bands, but if an idea is similar to other music, we try to get a Fenrik twist over it.
What bands did you grow up listening to and how did they help create the style of music that can now be heard throughout your album?
Good music is good music who ever makes it, but some bands have got our attention more then others. Metallica, Iron Maiden, System of a Down, Bon Jovi, U2.
I have to ask, what inspired your CD cover art and do you care to share the specific meaning behind it?
The title 317 comes from our childhood when we used to watch the TV show MASH on my father’s uncle’s TV. He was the only person we knew with a satellite dish, and without knowing the name of the channel, we watched that show about those medics in the Korean war on channel 317, hence the medic T-shirt in the cover. The song Hot Lips is about Major Houlihan in MASH, and we also sing about channel 317. The mannequins have been an important part of our image since the beginning, and we felt it was time to include them on the cover again (They were last seen on the cover of our first CD “Come Down Here”)
Having gone through the process of writing, recording and now releasing your CD, as well as playing live shows….I gotta ask, what’s the most rewarding aspect of doing what you do with Fenrik Lane?
A fan contacted us mail after our release and said: “When I heard Bulletproof for the first time, I immediatly started to cry. I played it the whole night, and the beauty of the song just knocked me over”. When you touch people like that with your music, it gives us a great feeling.:)
What touring plans do you have during 2011? Do you have any shows lined up during the Europe summer touring craziness of June/July/August etc?
We have no gigs planned for Europe this summer. But we contacted Andrew McNeice and said that we were interrested in coming to Australia for a little tour. He is working on making that possible. We surely hope we will be given the opportunity.:)
Listening to your album, I certainly can’t help but be swept away by it’s endless hooks and melodies and musical twists and turns, much like a suspense movie! Referring to movies, what kind of movie do you think your music would be suited too and why?
Damn, that was a difficult question. Guess a lot of these songs would fit any movie including guns, fast cars and people beating the crap out of each other.
You hail from Norway, for those reading this in galaxies far, far away, what do you have to say about the rock scene in Norway? Are there many other bands that play similar music to Fenrik Lane, or is it all Norwegian black metal haha?
The blackmetal stage in Norway is huge, and there are lots of great bands in that genre like Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon and Enslaved. Not many bands in Norway are similar to us. There are a lot of great bands from Norway, especially Bergen. Datarock and Royksopp have all had their base in Bergen and international succes. The nearest to us must maybe be Madrugada. I have seen people mentioning us as the next big thing from Norway since Stage Dolls. If given the same succes, we say: “Yes,please”.:)
With 2011 already a few months down, here’s a chance to gaze into your crystal ball. In 2011, Fenrik Lane have:
1. Released a new single.
2. Toured Australia
3. Played on stage with AC/DC.;)
Sounds Like: Melodic Rock with a distinct modern rock sound
Band: Knut Glesnes – Lead Vocals / Guitar, Christer Unneland – Drums, John Erik Soltvedt – Bass / Piano
Latest Release: 317 (Melodic Rock Records)