Norwegian blues/stoner band Lonely Kamel released one of the year’s more impressive and undeniable raucously fun albums in their third album Dust Devil. Bursting with gloriously heavy grooves, oppressive heaviness, treacle thick melodies, and wonderfully consuming blues/sludge metal/ doom sounds; the album is an essential listen for all rock fans. Taking time out to chat with us we asked vocalist/guitarist Thomas Brenna and guitarist Lukas Paulsen about the album and Lonely Kamel the band.
Hello and welcome to The RingMaster Review.
For those yet to discover your sounds could you introduce the band members and tell us about the band. How did you all meet and come to the point of forming Lonely Kamel?
Stian and Thomas worked together in a bar in town. Both eager record collectors. After making a club concept called Klubb Pudding playing all kinds of hard bluesy rock they decided to start a band playing groovy and hard shit. The indie pop/rock “genre” was starting to get really big in Norway at the time and they hated it. Thomas had been writing a few songs, and after a little while with another drummer and a couple of strange guitar players and two live gigs, Lonely Kamel was offered a spot as opening act for Orange Goblin at a bigger venue in town. We had 5 songs ready (including Pentagram’s “Forever my queen”) so we called this guy called Lukas if he wanted to join us as a lead guitarist two weeks before the show. He had been playing in more progressive kind of metal bands earlier, but we knew he had the love for that hard and heavy bluesy music and it worked out great. A couple of months later our first drummer left town with his family and we needed a new one. Someone told us to call this guy (Espen) who had just left another band. I knew he was a fantastic drummer and we jammed out for a couple of hours. There was no doubt, he fit perfectly both as a person and musician. That was 3 and a half years ago and we love hanging out together making music. Good times!
With Norway more renowned for its death and black metal bands and sounds did you find an eager reception for your varied rock sound or is there a hidden world the rest of Europe has yet to discover in Oslo and beyond?
We are somewhat of a Lonely Kamel in Oslo. The rock scene which was really good in Oslo and Norway ten years ago kind of disappeared and is slowly crawling back towards the surface after ten years of bullshit indie pop and Hip hop/R&B. We can feel a bigger buzz these days, times are changing again, but we still do the same thing, producing classic hard rock. Looks like the kids are getting back into the classic hard rock again listening to Zeppelin, Sabbath and are starting up bands inspired by bands like that. Yeah, we have had an eager and overwhelming reception in Europe, but there is nothing like a big scene for our music in Norway. There are all these crappy indie-bands that media makes a big hype around. So we decided not to bother trying to make it in Norway. There are a few good bands down our alley though, like Brutus and… hmmm… probably a couple more.
As mentioned your music is spiced with a fine array of flavours, classic hard rock, stoner rock, blues, a touch of sludge etc, what are the major influences that have formed your music?
We listen to a great variety of music, but the stuff we are jammin’ around most of the time is hard rock, stoner and blues. All of us have favourites in other genres as well, and since we just like to make good songs we add whatever we find suitable for the song. Then later somebody says: hey, it sounds like southern rock or sludge or whatever. Well, that’s fine with us. Call it what you will, the song remains the same. To name a few bands that we love: Mountain, Free, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Blue Cheer, Pink Floyd… yea and a lot of other more unknown stuff as well like Black Cat bones, Leaf Hound, Night Sun, Dust and so on. A lot of people are telling us that we sound more American on this album and want to know the inspiration. The fact is that we are more inspired by the British heavy blues era (68-72). Leaf Hound, Peter Green, Groundhogs etc. It is really inspiring to watch those bands play. Great musicians and some great songs which make us wanna play and make new songs.
Maybe unconsciously. But we didn’t make any changes to please the label or anything. Most of the music was already there. The recording process was fast and raw, the way we like it. Prime goal was to capture the energy we have live. And we are a bit heavier and primitive live than for example the sound on our second record. But all this things were something we talked about before we ever talked with Napalm. We wanted to make a darker album catching more of the heaviness than the previous two. I think we progress as musicians and songwriters on every album and already we got a couple of new ones ready…
There seems a deeper American feel to the music of Dust Devil is that fair to say?
Yes it’s fair to say ’cause anyone can have their own opinion of our music. But we didn’t go out and buy a lot of American records to inspire us to get a certain sound. We just play hard rock. We listen to the same shit as we’ve done for many years, and the process of writing Dust Devil was pretty much the same as Blues For The Dead. We gather in the rehearsal room and if someone has an idea or a song we try it out. As mentioned earlier the British heavy blues is one inspiration, but also the American scene, not special for this album. Often the songs start off more as an American early blues sounding idea, but that changes when the band comes together. For me (Thomas) especially when I write songs I like to keep it stripped down to a simple but catchy riff. Sometimes we just keep it that way and sometimes we build on it. Nothing new for this album, I always loved guys like Son House, Muddy and that honest music.
Since your debut album in 2008 how has the band as a whole and your music evolved would you say?
We’ve evolved in many ways. We know each other better as musicians, we are more skilled musicians. That opens up new doors when it comes to writing music. And sometimes it’s like: hey let’s go down this dark road and see what happens. Or maybe we are in the mood of stripping a song down and make no attempt at making it original. Just try to capture a certain vibe.
Dust Devil is wonderfully varied, each song having its own flavour whether with a heavy blues feel , or stoner essence to name a couple. Do you intentionally spice songs this way or do they find their own identity as they become more solid?
I often have an idea in my head while making a song like I wanna make a really hard song. I try to make a suitable riff. Sometimes it turns into something completely different. I think we wanna make all kinds of rock, we don’t wanna limit ourselves. It’s like no matter what the songs sounds like in the beginning, the way it’s build up etc you can always hear the lonely kamel in the finished product. (Thomas)
How does the songwriting process happen?
Usually Thomas or Lukas get an idea, a riff or a complete song or two which they bring to the rehearsal. if the song is almost finished it’s only details, but if it’s just a riff or two we work together trying out different things developing the song. As an example when I (Thomas) wrote “Evil Man” I wrote it as a slow, doomy and dark song. Recorded it on the 8-track and kept it for a couple of years before I discovered it again and tried to play it in a different way. It worked out pretty good so I wanted the guys to listen to it. They liked the changes to it and we stuck with it. Sometimes we just start to jam in a key and Thomas starts to sing something and before you know it you’re on your way making a new song.
Lyrics are written by Thomas. inspiration is found everywhere, but mostly things going on around me (Thomas) in my daily routine. Sometimes it’s about getting high or drunk, sometimes it’s about a girl and sometimes I get depressed in the winter which makes you see the world from a darker place. It’s not like we live on the streets and everything is hopeless. So I don’t feel that urge to write only about dark times. It’s about having fun and make the listeners feel the same. I almost always write the lyrics after making the melody because I like the lyrics to have that same feeling as the melody. On this album specifically the lyrics are a little darker. I got a friend who struggled with psychosis and experienced the Devil more than one time. Songs like Seventh Son and Blues for the Dead are inspired by that. And all this shit going on around the world with hunger, terror and stuff makes it easier to write “angry” songs and lyrics. But there is also room for humour and fun and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Too many bands think the need to walk around with pout faces and be angry to look tuff. We wanna show people we have fun and want people to feel good listening to our music. I think the next album gonna make people wanna drink more and make more love, ha ha!
You are just coming off a tour how did that go?
The tour was fuckin’ amazing. We travelled with 3 other bands and we came along really well with all of them. There were absolutely no problems. A lot of people showed up on our shows, we drank lots of good beer from different countries, met tons of nice people and yeah… on a scale from 1 to 10 it was 11.
Did any one particular show stand out?
All shows were cool. The one in Berlin was one of the highlights. The place was packed, mosh pit and crowd surfing, it was a Friday night and we played really well. It was our 15th gig in 15 days and we were pretty tired and Thomas got the flu, but the crowd just lifted us up to one of our career highlights. We got booked for some festivals and stuff as well that night so that night stood out among all the other great nights on that tour.
Have you found any one country in particular more eager for your music?
Our main arena has been Germany. That’s where we’ve played most of our gigs, and our booking agency is located there. Things have gone really fast for us. We haven’t had the time to play in all the countries we wanna play in. Central Europe has been good in general.
Any places you have yet to experience that you have a yearning to take your sounds to?
Oh yes! UK, Portugal, Spain and lots of other places. South America, US of A, Japan. We just got started, we wanna play everywhere. Playing live is what it’s all about. That’s when you meet people and connect with your fans.
What are the favoured sounds that travel around with you when touring?
Lukas: Free – Free me, Moonshine, I’m a mover.
Thomas: Fleetwood Mac “Then play on” for every mood, Motörhead or ZZ Top to get fired up for a show. Early Pink Floyd to relax or leave the planet for a while!
What is next for Lonely Kamel?
Everything! Hopefully this is the beginning of something beautiful. Right now we gonna stay up north for a couple of months making new songs, go fishing and look forward to next year. Hopefully there will be a tour with festivals and stuff from march/April 2012.
Many thanks for taking time to talk with us, would you like to leave us with a last thought or comment?
Blues, grooves and a bottle of booze! that will get you a long way….and come see our show!
Read the Dust Devil review @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/lonely-kamel-dust-devil/