Norway’s made a name for itself over the years when it comes to producing excellent sounds from the underground. Stavanger-based indie-punk quartet Sløtface are the latest in the country’s long legacy of alternative excellence, marrying dirgy grunge with slick, modern pop punk and irresistible storytelling for tunes so infectious they’ll lodge themselves in your head for days after just one spin. Seriously, listen to new single Pitted below and tell us you’re not singing along already.
Fresh from the release of their debut album Try Not To Freak Out, we catch up with drummer Halvard to find out more about the band, their new album and what they have lined up for next.
Can you introduce yourselves – where are you from, who does what and what are your roles in the band?
“We’re all originally from a city on the west coast of Norway called Stavanger, but now after the summer we’re a little bit spread out between Bergen, Stavanger and Oslo. So Haley is the singer and writes all the lyrics, Halvard plays drums, Tor plays guitar and Lasse plays bass.”
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
“In 2012 Haley and Tor-Arne had written a couple of songs which they wanted to record demos for. We had all played in different bands before and knew each other through these and through school, so the four of us started playing together. And since it worked out really well we just kept doing it.”
What were your key influences/inspirations in getting the band together?
“I remember when Lasse first asked me to join the band, he introduced it as ‘like it’s going to be chill like The XX kinda music’, not quite what it turned out to be. But yeah, we all of course have different influences and listen to a lot of different genres, but our common influences when we started out I think were a lot of the typical Britrock bands like Arctic Monkeys, The Clash, The Cure and so on.”
What’s the story behind the name of the band?
“We were originally called Slutface. It was sort of an inside joke at the time, but fit with our wish to have a provocative and ‘in your face’ band name. We wanted to be a band that would make people dance and have fun and therefore didn’t want a cautious band name. As our message evolved towards becoming more explicitly feminist and we learned more about feminism and riot grrrl, we also felt like we grew into the name and it took on a new meaning. We want people to think about why they think of slut as a negative word and your associations. Then we changed the ‘u’ to the Norwegian letter ‘ø’ due to censorship, but it’s still pronounced the same way and represents the same idea.”
How would you describe your sound in three words for people who’ve never heard you?
“I would say pop-slash-rock cause it leaves a little bit of room for their imagination so they can listen for themselves and make up their own mind.”
What makes you special/different to other bands out there?
“Hmmm I don’t know if we’re really that special. I guess we just like making music and using our voice while doing it. We try to do our own thing, and only do things that reflect us in some way or another; maybe that makes us special in our own kind of way?”
What’s the story behind new album, Try Not To Freak Out?
“The spring of 2016, we put our lives on hold and spent six months writing 25 songs, which was [then] cut to 14. We recorded those 14 in the summer, and then picked the 10 best tracks to be on the album. So it’s been done for a year now, so we’re super excited to finally release it. As mentioned, Haley is the wizard and lyric writer, but from what I’ve understood, Try Not To Freak Out is about trying to keeping your head over water and dealing with things happening within and around you as you’re suddenly in your early twenties and feel what it really means to be an adult.”
What were your key influences on the album, and what drew you to the themes it covers?
“Musically we were influenced by everything we listened to in the period of writing and recording the album, so to name a few artists and bands: Bully, LCD Soundsystem, Frank Ocean, FIDLAR, Phoenix, Weezer, Ida Maria.
What do you hope people will take away from the album, and your music in general?
“I hope people dance, laugh and have fun listening to it and maybe get a break from everything around them. At the same time it would be great if it also encouraged them to think: about gender roles, life, everything.”
What’s been the highlight of your time in the band so far?
“Being on this Norwegian scientific television program for kids called Newton. No really, it’s impossible to pick a single highlight, there’s been so many good moments. I think the release of our debut album is going to be a very important milestone for all us though.”
How did it feel to head to Reading and Leeds Festival this summer, and then to Australia afterwards? A proper world tour!
“Reading and Leeds was amazing, and we are really looking forward to the album tour, and we’ve been working hard and twisting our heads to make it special. It’s gonna be so much fun!”
What are you most looking forward to about the future?
“Releasing the album, and going to Australia, and touring Europe and then making more music; we’re looking forward to it all.”
What do you have planned for next?
“We’re actually playing a wedding this Saturday, so that’s a first, and then we’re going directly to Australia. The next six months is mainly going to revolve around the album. After that we don’t quite know, but it involves writing more music at least.”
Sløtface’s new album, Try Not To Freak Out, is available now. You can hear the full thing below. Check out their official site for full dates of the UK leg of their tour, which kicks off in Bournemouth this week.