If you’re a fan of glam rock and if the likes of KISS, Alice Cooper, Van Halen and Thin Lizzy fill your CD player (um, I mean mp3 player), but you’re not familiar with Wig Wam then, let me be the first to tell you, you’ve been missing out – big time.
When Glam (vocals), Teeny (guitar), Sporty (drums) and Flash (bass) got together to jam in 2000, it wasn’t long before they turned their just-for-fun endeavor into a full-fledged glam rock revival extravaganza i.e. Wig Wam. The band hit the studio, dug out all the leather and spandex they could find, and set out on the road to conquer Europe and, seemingly appropriate, Japan.
Having just released their fourth in-studio album entitled Non Stop Rock n’ Roll, frontman Glam took some time to catch up with The Rock and Roll Report and give some honest, and witty, insights into everything from the disappointing state of Norway’s music scene, to the futility of drugs, to Gene Simmons’ potential ability to sell horseshit (and who could disagree with that?!)
Q: Wig Wam has been writing and recording music for quite some time now; how did working on this new album differ from the previous ones?
A: Non Stop Rock n’ Roll was definitely the easiest and the funnest Wig Wam album we’ve made so far, most of all because we did this without our egos coming between us and the music. This was more of a band effort, so to speak.
Plus, Flash contributed more than he had ever done on the previous records [and] I think that brings a whole new dimension to the band. Further, we felt no pressure at all! Our record company hadn’t heard a single tone before we were finished in the studio so, we also had total control and no limits.
Q: Was there a process you followed in putting the album together?
A: No specific process really. Often it starts with a riff or a beat, or even a title, you know? Sometimes one of us comes up with a theme that another one gets off to, and the snowball starts rolling. And sometimes we come up with complete songs individually.
Q: Of all the Wig Wam songs ever recorded, which is your favorite?
A: I guess Daredevil Heat. It still gives me the adrenaline rush, you know? Plus the lyrics really capture what we went through in that period: we were literally living on the road at high speed. Pack your suitcase, off on the road, check in, pack out, eat some, get dressed, play, autographs, shower, re-pack, check out, on the road, check in, sleep some, eat some, get dressed, play etc.! Constantly racing time, you know? I mean, we did 287 shows in just one year and on top of that we did “some” interviews and TV shows; no wonder why it took us some time to get back [laughs].
Q: Do you ever listen to your own music or have you played it so often, recording and live, that you prefer not to?
A: You’re right: during the writing process the melodies and words are eating you up from inside, and then it’s time to give birth to them in the studio, and it’s like watching a seed start growing. And sometimes it’s pretty frustrating because parts of the arrangement you heard in your head didn’t really sound as good in reality as you’d expect it to. Then you start changing harmonies and the song takes a new direction: sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
You listen, and listen, and listen [and] then the same thing with the mix, and then with the mastering. When you have the final product in your hands you turn it on and play it to death [and] then you’re simply not playing it anymore! These days I’m re-discovering the first albums, you know?
Q: You always look fantastic; who designs and puts together the outfits?
A: *Blush* You really think so? Thanks! I design them or mix something I found somewhere with stuff I draw for my tailor.
A: I think Paul is the most talented songwriter and musician in the band so I think I’d choose him, but business-wise I’d choose Gene. I bet he can sell horseshit and make a fortune of it! [laughs]
Q: What’s been the best show you’ve played so far?
A: Hmm, that’s a very difficult question. I have no idea: I leave that to our fans to answer.
Q: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
A: You bet! If there’s time for it, I prefer to have my meditation time while doing the make-up. Real quiet, no speaking, just transforming slowly [and] then I do my warm-ups. If there’s a shower in our dressing room, which there use to be, I put on the hot water in the shower and do my warm-ups in the mist.
Then I go through my build-up: getting the adrenaline pumping. I usually just walk and walk, and walk, in big circles while stretching and humming. Then: ready for action! I know it would’ve been easier just to snort some white, but man; it’s much cheaper and healthier to trig the substances of your mind!
Q: What do you think of Norway’s music scene? Is it encouraging to new talent?
A: Well, in Norway we have a tendency of trying to feel international and forgetting that 90% of the country couldn’t give a shit about what’s urban and/or international. They care about feeling somewhat connected and want something to relate to.
While the journalists try to overdo each other by being music scientists rather than appreciating music for the common man. 90% of new talent is discovered via reality shows like Idol and X-Factor in Norway. They are often overhyped, just to be slaughtered the next, and less artists are capable of doing a proper show these days because they hardly learnt how to crawl before they’re “stars”. And the press go: ”Oops, the 15 year old did a bad show [so] let’s bury the no-good-crap-singing-bastard.” What do they expect?
A: Yeah, of course. Norway is packed with good bands that got their thing going before the record industry died. I can highly recommend JORN. The guys live just a hundred meters away from me and Jørn Lande is definitely one of my favorite singers. We also have a band called Street Legal who deserves your ears attention.
If you’re into Thin Lizzy; Street Legal will do it for you.
Q: The best advice you’ve ever been given as a musician?
A: You can achieve anything you want, but no one will come knocking at your door to invite you. And the ones you meet on your way up are the ones you’ll meet on your way down.
Q: The best advice you could give to a fellow musician?
A: You can achieve anything you want, but no one will come knocking at your door to invite you. And the ones you meet on your way up are the ones you’ll meet on your way down [laughs].
Q: The most surprising thing about Wig Wam as a band?
A: That we still are alive!
Q: Best Wig Wam moment to date?
A: Our first sold-out Tokyo show. It was like a goddamn zoo! And, of course, winning the Norwegian Eurovision final. Who would have thought a band like us would become the Norwegian people’s choice to represent the nation with a hard rock song in Eurovision? It made me so proud. And still today kids are singing “C’mon C’mon C’mon” in kindergarten. Now, that’s something! I wish my granddad could have seen it. He died two weeks before Wig Wam exploded.
Q: So when will we be seeing Wig Wam in Canada?!
A: If Canada wants us, we’ll be on the first plane over. And congrats with the Olympic ice hockey gold medal: you’re simply the best!
Visit Wig Wam at:www.wigwam.no