Weaving an inescapable and thrilling lure of blues, heavy metal, and classic rock into something organically unique, Norwegian rock band Electric Woodland has been earning eager attention and acclaim through their stunning debut album Potrero. It is a rigorously tantalising encounter which seduces the passions through its skilful infectiousness and riveting old school bred and modern fuelled enterprise. The quartet is making rich marks with their sound and now release so we had to find out more. Thanks to guitarist Christian N. Olsen-Ruud, we explored the origins of Electric Woodland, the making of its first full-length release, opportunities for band in their homeland and much more…
Hi Christian and welcome to the site. Thank you for sharing your time with us as we explore all things Electric Woodland.
Firstly can you tell us about the beginnings of the band, how you all met etc.?
Well, Peder (vocals, guitar) and Emil (drums) are brothers, and Marius (bass) is their cousin, so they didn’t have much of a choice. I (Christian, guitar) first got to know Peder when we both went to the same secondary school and started hanging out. The band started when a mutual friend had built a porch, and asked Peder and I if we wanted to bring a couple of acoustic guitars over and break it in. All of a sudden people started to say that they wanted to come as well, and before we knew it, we had 150 people who were going to show up. We built a stage, Marius and Emil joined, and since every festival around seemed to have closed, we started both the band and a festival called Runerock (Rune is the name of the guy with the porch).
How did the great band name come about?
We come from a place called Skogbygda, which sort of translates to Woodville or Wood village. Growing up in rural Norway and Skogbygda has had a great impact on us, so I guess we wanted to give it a little homage. The other half of the name is from one of our other passions, classic rock, blues rock, and one of the great masters, Jimi Hendrix. As well as giving homage to Skogbygda, we thought that mixing Electric Ladyland in there would sort of define what we wanted to do. Down to earth hard blues rock from the Norwegian forests.
Is Electric Woodland the first musical endeavour for you all?
We’ve all had more or less serious bands before, but Electric Woodland is the first band where we’ve really worked with song writing and recording in the way that we’ve done now. The EP was also the first real studio work we’ve done, but luckily we’ve had great people working with us for both the EP and the album, who have helped us out a lot.
Your music is boldly flavoursome with numerous essences of different styles adding to the mix. What are the predominant inspirations for the band and you as musicians?
As you say, our inspirations are many, and it’s a mix of everything from Robert Johnson, through 70s classic rock, to newer stuff like Queens of the Stone Age. In essence it’s a mix of everything we’ve loved when we grew up. When we get asked about this we usually go with the big bands that everyone knows like Queens of the Stone Age, The Doors, Deep Purple, etc., but our biggest influence over the last couple years has probably been a local artist called Amund Maarud. He’s not only helped us out a lot while recording and through Snaxville records, but he’s got a lot of the same influences as us and blends them together into some really cool stuff.
You recently released your debut album Potrero which follows your well received self-titled EP of 2009. How do you see the progression in your sound and songwriting between the two releases?
The four songs on the EP were basically the first four songs we wrote as a band. When it came to Potrero, we wanted to use a bit more time to develop our own sound. While both have a lot of the same influences, Potrero is a bit darker, and both a bit more bluesy and heavy at times.
The album feels a confident and mature collection of songs but with plenty of potential for even greater heights; is that how you feel about it now it is out there drawing in acclaim and new hearts?
Definitely… Although we started to experiment with our own sound on Potrero, it was still only our second recording ever. I do feel we are gaining momentum as song writers and as a band. After recording Potrero, we kind of know more of what we enjoyed recording and what we enjoy playing, so the next album will hopefully reflect that and show some more progression.
Tell us about the recording of Potrero, I believe it was recorded onto analogue tape?
We recorded it at Snaxville Studios in Skogbygda, with the help of Amund and Henrik Maarud. It’s a top, modern studio, but they record everything on analogue tape before any modern technology touches it. We did it in a couple of sessions with some time in between, so that we could think about what we had done and do adjustments in the song writing for the remaining songs if they needed it.
What was behind the decision which it has to be said works a treat in defining the album’s sound.
Again, a lot of our inspiration comes from old blues artists and 60s and 70s rock, so to get that genuine dirty and gritty old school sound, this was what we had to do. The general feeling of recording on tape just felt right as well. You don’t get a million takes when recording on tape, and I think that is a good thing. Each take gets more focused. In a way, it’s also what you always imagined a studio to be. Not just plugging the instruments into a laptop and there’s your album, but you get the whole studio ritual that gets you ‘in the zone’.
Did you go old school/vintage in other aspects of the recording and creating of the album?
A lot of the equipment we use is either vintage or new but made to sound vintage. Some of the pedals we use are clones of old legendary pedals that people like Hendrix, Gilmour and Iommi used, and that’s sort of where we want to go. In addition, a lot of the other equipment in the studio was vintage, form old 70s tape delays to microphones that were used by the BBC in the 60s and 70s.
Is this something you will look to do again or have you already new ideas to explore with the next release?
I think it is important to try to evolve the sound in some way, but in our case it will probably be to try to dive even deeper into that way of working. We really enjoyed it, and really like that type of sound as well. We just need to push it one step further.
There is a raw and gritty texture to the songs on the album, was this deliberately sought or an organic success which just happened?
It was definitely on purpose. We listened to different stuff before recording, and decided that this was what we wanted to do. It’s the sound that we felt the songs needed.
How does the songwriting work within the band?
Usually Peder does most of the writing. He often comes to rehearsals with riffs and lyrics, and we arrange it together into finished songs. Peder and Emil tries out a lot of stuff when they’re both home as well (we rehearse in their old hen house!).
Bad Shoe and the song Electric Woodland steal top honours on the album for us amongst only great tracks. Give us some background to the pair.
They’re two very different songs that’s for sure. Bad Shoe is a rather happy-go-lucky, straight forward, feel good song, where Peder wrote most of it and just brought it to a rehearsal. Electric Woodland is a lot grittier and heavier, and a lot more jam based. It is also without a doubt the song that has evolved the most of all our songs. Some of it was actually some of the first material we produced, and it was almost on the EP as a very straight forward rock song. We started working on it as a band, and suddenly we had new riffs, parts and vocals that took it in a completely different direction.
Is there a particular moment on the album which gives you an extra satisfied tingle inside?
One of the things I’m most pleased with in the response to the album is that everyone seems to have a different favourite song on it. I think that Electric Woodland is probably my pick of the bunch. It’s one of my favourite songs to play live, and the way we just jammed to make it into what it became was a great moment for us as a band. It also has great energy.
Obviously Norway is your home, a place where different music seems to find a place but black metal and folk based styles seem to be what people most assign to the country. What is the reality as a band from there and have you found a ready appetite there for your blues seeded sounds?
There’s a lot of melancholic music in Norway. Maybe it’s the long, depressing winters, but if it’s pop, rock, blues or black metal, there’s often a hint of melancholy in there somewhere. It’s certainly true for Norwegian folk music and black metal, and of course, for blues as well. A lot of people also like a bit of rock and classic rock, so I think we fit in nicely!
We get the feeling that across Europe and now starting in the UK recognition and attention is awakening to your presence, how are you seeing this now Potrero is out?
We do feel we’re starting to build up steam. You feel that gradually things are beginning to move, with an interview here and there, some radio plays here and there, gigs at a bit bigger venues, etc. We’re in this band because we love creating and playing music, but getting some recognition and that people enjoy what you do feels great. It’s something we spent a lot of time and effort on, and take a lot of pride in, so that people don’t think it’s just bullshit really helps!
Is Electric Woodland an active live proposition at home and what are the prospects of seeing you tour across Europe and the UK at some point?
We’ve been a bit unlucky with some health issues in the band this year, so we haven’t been able to do as much as we’ve wanted to, but we’ve still managed to get quite a few gigs under the belt. All of us have other jobs, so we try to do a gig whenever we find the time. We hope to do a bit more though, and a tour of the UK and Europe would be great at some point. So tell your local promoter!
For all bands the internet has been full of pros and cons for their musical journey, how have you found it so far?
When four guys can sit and play what can be pretty introvert music, in a forest in the middle of nowhere in Norway, and suddenly have about 200 fans on Facebook from India, you see what a powerful marketing tool the internet can be. It also makes everything so much easier and gives you so many more options when it comes to producing and publishing records. Bands no longer need a record label’s financial backing to be able to produce something, which can mean that you get a bigger variety of bands out there for people to listen to. You get music in all shapes in all shapes and forms, which can be both good and bad, I guess.
What is next for Electric Woodland and across the rest of 2014?
Hopefully, we’ll get the time to write some more music. We’ve got a couple rough drafts of songs for the second album that we want to keep working on, as well as doing a few more gigs this year.
Thanks again for taking time to chat with us.
Any last words you would like to leave us with?
If you get the chance, check us out on Spotify, give us a like on Facebook, and tell us what you think!
And lastly putting yourself in the place of an interviewer what question would you most like to ask to who?
Black Sabbath and the question would be if they needed an opening act!
Read our review of Potrero @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/electric-woodland-potrero/
The RingMaster Review 25/09/2014
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