Wig Wam: "I’d have a bottle of cognac backstage and it was empty when we left"

Wig Wam in a still from the Out Of The Dark video
(Image credit: Frontiers Srl)

Formed in 2001, Norwegian glamrockers Wig Wam were ‘reborn’ last year when their classic anthem Do Ya Wanna Taste It soundtracked the credits of HBO’s hit superhero show Peacemaker, sparking a viral dance craze and arresting a decade-long slide.

Fierce and frivolous, their new album Out Of The Dark rides the momentum, and a chat with affable singer Åge Sten Nilsen suggests the career uptick couldn’t have happened to a nicer band. 


What’s the significance of that album title, Out Of The Dark? 

Well, first of all it was a song. Our guitar player had a brutal break-up, and then of course we dramatised it. I had this idea for the video, about this character who gets sent to a mental institution. I already had two straitjackets at home that I used in my Queen show [Nilsen has previously performed as Freddie Mercury in a tribute act]. 

When we did I’m Going Slightly Mad, I’d get pulled around the stage in a wheelchair. The title can also be seen as our way out of the dark, when Peacemaker happened and we got a second chance. 

It seems like people are pleased to see Wig Wam back on top. 

We’ve always been underdogs, at least in Norway, because we did Eurovision [they came ninth in 2005]. The way we were looked upon by the other rock’n’rollers in Norway, they had a hard time swallowing a band like us because we weren’t drug addicts, we had fun and we loved putting on a show. 

But that wasn’t credible enough, to not be junkies. So it’s good to have acceptance from our fellow rockers. And of course we made some money, so it’s good to finally have a decent meal again.

How would you describe the vibe of the new record? 

Our last album, Never Say Die [2021], was very heavy. For this one we decided to go back into the fun part of rock’n’roll. 

Bad Luck Chuck is about that guy we all know who’s striving to become someone he’s definitely not going to become, because he’s choosing the wrong path. If you’re looking for love, don’t go to a brothel, for example. Uppercut Shazam is about someone who keeps taking shit until they’ve had enough. It’s also about the war in Ukraine, a shout-out for the underdog to rise up. 

You’ve said that in the noughties, your hellraiser alter-ego Glam gave you a drinking problem? 

I’d have a bottle of cognac backstage and it was empty when we left the stage. At the same time, that kinda saved me. After Eurovision we sometimes had to do three gigs a day. We were worn out. For me it was like: “If I have another shot, maybe I’ll lose that tiredness.” Alcohol helped me to be that crazy Glam character. But at the same time, I was sometimes carried to my bed, and didn’t even remember being on the stage. That’s not good at all. 

What was it like to interview you in those drinking days? 

Well, you can check that out on the BBC. During Eurovision, they dragged me out for an interview. I’m not proud of that. I mounted the hostess. I was blind drunk. Back then, I was playing my part as Glam and he was mentally a fucked-up person. 

What are the best and worst things you’ve ever tasted? 

I eat everything. I wanna taste it all!

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.