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JR Ewing - most Scandinvians are depressed people

JR Ewing? Isnīt that the bad guy from Dallas? Right! But we are talking about five rocking guys from Norway who donīt care about rules, about standards, about anything than their music.

Thatīs exactly the right attitude to join the STALKER. We met guitar-player Erlend: Get to know why most Scandinavians are depressed, why ugly musicians make good music and why smoking weed inspires a songwriter. Ladies and Gentlemen let us introduce you the Norwegian answer to pure Hard Rock with no compromise: JR „Fuckinī Ewing...

When did you guys first recognize your passion for music?
Erlend: I guess when I was around 7-8 years old, and I heard some Leonard Cohen and Michael Jackson at a friends house. He had a cd-player, which was an amazing revelation to me. From there on I was taken.

How did the idea come out to form a band?
As far as JR Ewing goes, me and Andreas were on our way to a hardcore-festival where the bill was packed with dumb arrogant tough guy hardcore bands. And right then we had an idea to do something different than that, something with a bit more emotion and anarchy to it, where music meant more than Nike sneakers. Soon after that we joined up with our friends Aaron, Jonas and Martin and formed JR Ewing.

Could each of you introduce one of the band members? Maybe even tell us some bad and good habits. You know we are curious:
Iīm Erlend (guitar), good habits is that I work hard when itīs something I love. A bad habit is that I get too self-righteous. Håkon, good habits is that heīs the kindest person around, bad is that heīs too quiet at times. Andreas (vocals), good habits include great taste in music, bad is his self-pity. Kenneth (drums), good habits is that heīs very reliable, bad is his taste in music. And Petter (bass), his good habits is that heīs always in a good mood, the bad ones are that he never remembers anything. And I mean anything.

I know the question must get on your nerves now but why did you guys call the band JR Ewing. Is there really a connection to Dallas?
Because we ripped off the band Charles Bronson ... (laughs)

Although you are a really young band, you already had a bad time to get through. That hard, that you guys even thought to separate and quit the band? Is that right, what did happen?
Well, 2004 was a very rough year for us, losing friends and girlfriends. At times we thought about breaking up, but once we started doing the record it all seemed better.

Anyway, you made it and you guys yourselves said, that you were even shocked as you heard the result... Is it true that you never expected to create such an album like Maelstrom?
During the recording of the record we knew what we were doing was going to be pretty different. But it was a needed change, as we were tired of doing the same thing year after year. But it was especially at the end of the recording session we understood how different it became, but that made us very proud. That we made something so different, without losing focus on what we feel our band is about.

Describe the album in a few words. What makes it so different to "Ride Paranoia"?
Itīs more thought-out, a lot more varied, more melodic and more emotionally driven I believe. „Ride Paranoia“does include a lot of the same things, but we were more afraid of changing at that period in time, and we didnīt have time to work on things enough in the studio.

Where would you categorize your music style?
Some people call it „avant-garde punk rock“. I think itīs more fitting than a lot of other lame descriptions that has been changed.

Where do you see your musical influences?
They are too many to mention, and they range from the last 60 years. Some can be heard more in our music than other, but most of them bear somewhat of a relevance to our music.

Would you agree that your Norwegian roots influenced your music?
If so, it must come from the classical aspects of the Norwegian music past, as the pop music that has been coming from Norway the last 60 years is pretty much all crap.

Do you have a kind of Idol?
No...maybe my dad. Heīs a good guy.

The last years have been so busy with all these "superstars" and "idol" shows. Kurt Nilsen from Norway even won the title "Worlds Idol". What do you think about castings shows like that?
Its good entertainment, but sad on the other side. It breads a dumber side of pop culture, where people with only a talent of singing well and good looks win. We all know that some of the best music ever made has been done by people who look bad and sing worse. But itīs what they have inside that matters, the way they channel the feelings though the music. Itīs never been about holding a note or looking cute. Those ones are forgotten within months.

Letīs talk about the song writing: What is important for you to express in a song? Do you have to be in a special mood before writing the lyrics?
It all varies. Some songs we just want to be a direct energy thing, and some songs we want to express something deeper and have more layered ideas. As long as it sparks something in us when we play it, itīs right. Andreas writes the lyrics, so I donīt know. I think he smokes a lot of weed before he writes them.

People say that most of the Scandinavian musicians suppose to have this melancholic and sad mood in mind. Is that right?
Itīs kind of a cliché, but there are a lot of depressed people in Scandinavia. Itīs too fuckinī dark up here at times! But whenever the sun comes out, weīre writing chipper happy songs.

Is JR Ewing a band with a particular attitude? If yes - what is your message?
We just do our thing without looking back, and we know we never do anything for any other reasons than to make music that moves us (and hopefully others). We donīt have a cheesy political message, weīre all for personal freedom and common sense.

Which attitude do you guys admire most in other bands?
Bands that do their thing without listening to other people around them. They last and make the best music.

Thatīs a perfect last word. Thank you for this interview Erlend!
Youīre welcome!

Author: Jasmin Froghy, Photos: hfr., translation: Klaudia Weber
Date: 2006-02-14

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