For the first part of the Lazy Acre Takeover (here) we caught up with Monzano to talk business. Well, we say business but it was mostly zombie talk, not understanding Japanese Record Label bosses and the beauty of wearing two pairs of long johns. Thought the long john conversation was strictly 'off the record'. Enjoy. Firstly, how would you describe the music you make? Sjur Lyseid: I would call it pop music but a bit more adventurous than radio pop music. I don't really listen to a lot of indie rock these days. It's definitely where my roots are but I feel our music is more adventurous. Did you start off with an idea of what you wanted to create? Or did it grow organically? S: I think there are certainly influences but the influences were probably further back in time. It wasn't like we sat down and listened to these four records that we wanted recreate. It's hard to describe your own music [laughter]. I kinda like pigeon-holing actually, it's a nice way of classifying your existence but when it comes to your own art it's hard. With the release of 'Apple Handsome' through Lazy Acre you've used tracks from your previous records. I believe this is your first release through a British label. Eivand Ajhmal: Yeah first for a British Label S: It's actually a 'Best of'! E: We did a greatest hits EP [laughter] Is this a sign of change for you? Like maybe this was the comma on the last five years from the first EP and now you'll be changing your sound? S: We talked about this yesterday during rehearsal. We're playing our last show of the year tomorrow and don't think we'll play much in Norway next year. We kind of did the same thing for two years with the two records, though the last record was a lot better. We want to do something else now. We don't want to make the third record sound remotely like the first two. We'll probably end up sounding like ourselves anyway. E: Yeah we'll still sound like Monzano but we want to push ourselves to make it worthwhile for ourselves. There’s no point making music that you're not happy about or excited about S: Because I've produced records for other bands for a couple of years now, I kinda get sick of the conventions. Like why does a drum kit look like that, what's the point in confining yourself to how a guitar should sound. So I think that's probably the direction we'll take, though I'm not sure. We'll have to discuss it more. E: I think it's good to have a few ideas on where we're going and if people want to go in different directions that's not necessarily a bad thing. We might end up with something more unique. Still way ahead I suppose. S: Yeah, it's probably next fall until we record again. In the end I always want to move on and do something else. If you were totally satisfied with what you've done you'd never move on. Look at Kevin Shields for example [laughter]
"The government we've had for the last five or six years has been supportive and funding has been a lot easier to get because they put a lot of effort in to supporting culture"

Scandinavian countries are often seen as producing really beautiful sounding bands or really satanic death metal bands, especially within Norway. What's your take on it and how do you feel you sit within that spectrum? S: It's definitely a niche. A few years ago We had the whole Scandi-rock thing with Turbonegro all those bands and that was really dominant in the music scene here for several years. Then all of these jangly pop bands started to pop up. It's hard to describe from an outsiders perspective as we're part of it but I think it's true though. E: The indie scene in Oslo is quite good. S: And it wasn't. A few years ago I felt like we were the only ones doing it. It seems as though Oslo has a pretty healthy music community at the moment. Much more than in London. Everyone we've et so far seems to know each other to a certain extent. With that said, how good is Norway for supporting it's music scene? S: I guess so. The government we've had for the last five or six years has been supportive and funding has been a lot easier to get because they put a lot of effort in to supporting culture. E: On the other hand Oslo is full of part time musicians who could make great stuff but they have to be part time because there’s not enough funding for everyone. S: And it's a very small market. You have to make music that will reach a lot of people in other places. Norway as a whole is as big as London, or half the size in terms of the amount of people that live here. The whole community thing is good as we all go to the same bars, even if they into hip hop or black metal or whatever and even though Black Metal and Death Metal are niches, I still bump into the people that do it. Which is a good thing. But on the other hand, is it a weakness? Can you big here but then struggle outside of Norway. Do you know many bands that have been able to do it? S: Norwegian bands have generally not been very successful in the commercial sense in either the UK or the States. And I think part of the reason is because Norway is so small. Because the gap between commercial success and the underground is so small, people tend to make music in order to get commercial acceptance, though that might not be interesting to niches elsewhere. That’s part of why Black and Death Metal are well known abroad. How important do you think it is to speak English when you're in a band these days? Are there a lot bands speaking in Norwegian here? S: There’s more of it recently. There’s been a trend of reviews saying Norwegian music gets better reviews here. In order to reach out though you have to speak in English. There's no point singing in a foreign language without adding something to it, or not mastering it. You've been releases in Japan. Have you been out there to play any shows? S: Not yet. There's been plans in the making for a long time. There has been some communication issues though [laughter] E: Yeah, it's been kind of difficult. There has been plans but the label also has a lot of plans and they're probably doing it part time like we are. It's difficult to make it happen but there are plans from us and them. Maybe next year. S: It's very hard to understand what he writes [laughter]. It might happen next week we're not sure. He's expecting you now... S: He might have ordered plane tickets. Our second EP is called Bonus Trucks because the Japanese label sent us a request for bonus trucks. E: We were on the way to go out there but it ended up that we needed more time to get the album finished. It's realistic to do it and we still want to do it. After we cancelled the first time we haven't had time to do it. Did the record do well? S: We don't know [laughter]. They've sent us pictures of the record in record stores with Japanese signs up.
"I had a huge period of trying to find my post apocalyptic skill. I was with a bunch of friends trying to find out if we could survive as a gang"

Photoshop S: Yeah. E: Doing well is sort of relative these days. S: In terms of selling records probably not. E: How many record do you sell to be able to call it a success? S: Our videos get played on MTV. I read somewhere that you describe your band as 'the world’s most apocalyptic band'. In the unfortunate event that a Zombie Apocalypse happens, how would you survive? S: I had a huge period of trying to find my post apocalyptic skill. I was with a bunch of friends trying to find out if we could survive as a gang. My skill was that I had sensitive skin [laughter]. I could sense a nuclear fall down. When it's hot I get rashes and when it's cold too. I think that was my skill, though I don't think that would count. What's your skill then? E: I don't know, I haven't figured mine out yet. I wasn't part of that conversation from the very start. S: I was obsessed with the apocalypse for a while. More the post-apocalyptic side. Not necessarily the apocalypse I find that kinda boring. The post apocalyptic stuff is definitely interesting. E: I'm assuming that we'll be there... S: We'll survive the apocalypse, the problem is what happens afterwards... The question was more specifically about a zombie apocalypse...! S: Oh yeah. Would you go it alone? Being the mad guy that shoplifts and only cares about himself? Or would you group together? S: Yeah I'd try to be smart and not be Mad Max. I wouldn't get a gun. E: We spoke about this when we came back from tour this summer. If you were alone in the world... S: The guitarist said he'd go to a zoo to find out what sound a giraffe would make. If he was alone in the world that's the first thing he would do. [laughter] because he's never heard a giraffe before. E: I was obsessed with printing everything off the Internet before the power goes [laughter], then canned food, lots of canned food. S: Then find a cruise ship and sail to America. E: I'm thinking a cruise ship would be cool. You have to start it. And pull it. There's a good chance you'll wake up still alive though. S: I think we've strayed off topic... E: I can't even remember the question.
"Doing the video at twice the speed was faster than you can imagine. If you listen to it, it's crazy"

The name of the band is from the 'Catss Cradle' book by Kurt Vonnegut . Do you think if he was still alive he'd like your music? S: I have no idea. I think he was a jazz guy. So maybe that the new direction? S: yeah [laughter] E: We'll see. S: We have a jazz song. It's really bad. Nh. Yeah it lasts for about 8 seconds. Pretty Monzano style. S: It's a free form jazz song that lasts for 8 secs laughter Was it fun shooting the video for 'yes we cant'? Did you get dizzy? E: Was it fun? Perhaps I should explain. I was so ill that day. S: he had heart failure... E: Pretty much! I was in charge from it from the beginning when I probably shouldn't have been. I arrived pretty late and when I got back they'd put something together. S: The thing is he had an idea which involved a lot of extras but it was a sunny Sunday in August and only four people showed up. So we had to rearrange everything so we actually came up without that idea on the spot. So it's very improvised and It was really hard because we did it at twice the speed of the original song so that's why I looks so weird and why my lip sync isn't so good. It was fun, it sorta works. It's hard working on a video though as you only see the set, rather than the video. But I think it looks cool. E: I think from what a lot of people have said, it worked out, especially with people almost dying and people not showing up. S: It was falling apart. E: Doing the video at twice the speed was faster than you can imagine. If you listen to it, it's crazy. S: The funny thing is he practised his guitar track at double speed and we ended up not using it [laughter] E: I now know how to play at twice the normal speed though just in case we ever need it. Normal speed is just too easy now... S: The show we played after that, we played that song really fast [laughter] E: All in all it was fun. Especially as it was improvised. It turned out pretty well. Lastly at the moment we're sorting out our 'Ones to Watch' list for 2011. Do you have any tip for us? Maybe Norwegian Bands we should be looking out for? S: It's hard for me to be unbiased because I've just finished up two records in the past two days. My Little Pony and Einar Stray. I thinks it's going to be called Chiaroscuro, which means a painting technique in black and white or something like that.
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