Payin' Dues: Atlanter

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Atlanter began as an acoustic folk-blues duo, comprising Jens Carelius and Arild Hammerø, before recruiting Jonas Barstein and Morten Kvam and plugging in. “Acoustic folk blues is the red wine of music,” Arild Hammerø tells The Blues Magazine. “But you know, an electric band is more like champagne, and champagne is a superior wine that goes with all types of cheese.”

Tell us about your second album, Jewels Of Crime.

All of the songs on this album are from rehearsal recordings. We then listen to our improvisations, and work with what we like. It’s democratic bliss, crystallisation, magic, thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis and delusional grandeur.

It took three years to record…

The biggest reason that it took so long was the long breaks between sessions. When we first get together, things go very fast. In the start we spent some time with our producer Erlend [Mokkelbost] to pick out the songs we liked best. Often a session would become a grunge party, where many hours of valuable studio time were spent creating a Seattle vibe.

So Mokkelbost produced the album.

He has a really good ear, and made us aware of stuff in our music we hadn’t worked with before. Atlanter has a tendency to play for 20-30 minutes, eat some cheese or some fruit, then play again and again, without stopping. Erlend made us stop, and try to finish our ideas.

You’ve got some amazing guests on the album.

[Algerian Tuareg collective] Imarhan N’Tinezraf were playing at the Oslo World Music Festival, and we invited them to do some vocals on the song, Jewels Of Crime. They were nice people. We tried to communicate with very simple French, and it worked well. Hanne Kolstø joined us with some vocals, too.

What turned you on to playing?

I borrowed a fuzz pedal from a friend when I was 11, and on the button it was written, ‘If you press this button, you will never get a regular job.’ I pressed it.

How did you discover the blues?

Jimi Hendrix’s Blues. It’s just lots of cover songs by Hendrix, but there was a photo of all the classic blues guitarists in the booklet: Muddy, BB, Albert King, Robert Johnson… That started my journey to the blues.

Jewels Of Crime is out now via Jansen Platerproduksjon.