An arcane indie rock band with psych and powerpop overtones from Miami Beach are an unlikely bunch to be named after a Monty Python sketch, yet the musical collective Ex Norwegian indeed are.
‘No Sleep’, the ninth album arguably takes the band back to the beginning, crafting straightforward pop/rock songs with effective arrangements and quirky lyrics with strong melodies. The main trio of Roger Houdaille, Michelle Grand, and Giuseppe Rodriguez will be touring later this year to support the release.
BabySue writes: If you like pop songs that stick in your head like glue and never go away, you’re gonna totally dig this album. No Sleep features eleven super smart guitar-driven pop tracks that are sinfully addictive. A few of the band’s more recent albums have featured a more raw basic sound. On Sleep, they return to the more produced and polished sound they had when they were just getting started.
Sweet Sweet Music talked to Roger Houdaille.
What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?
It was fun to realize we even had an album to work on! Originally the plan was to compile a sort of “best of” collection and do heavy promo and tour behind it. But once we started fleshing out the project and working with the PR / MGMT people, it became clear that it made more sense to do something totally new and “No Sleep” was born. I didn’t have any songs ready but in a week or two, there were enough to start rehearsing them, which was something we hadn’t done in a while…rehearse the songs a bit before actually going to track them! Although it was a very quick process, we had a good time recording backing tracks at our friends’ studio and eventually putting all the bells and whistles on it.
At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?
I remember introducing the song “Triggered Weeknd” at rehearsal and first run thru it just came together effortlessly and sounded great. That was interesting for me because I didn’t think too much of the song at that point so the band really made it something special and it sort of became our lead single. Overall, there was a good energy and because of the spontaneity of it all, there was also a good level of excitement which I hope transfers itself onto the record.
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
Ex Norwegian started 10 years ago and it was a little fun to think back on how we did things with the first album versus the ninth! Social media seems to be more and more important. While it’s easier to reach more people it’s also a lot harder than it was. Stuff like college radio or even traditional PR we don’t do anymore. So it brings us a lot more work as artists! Companies we used to work with now train the bands to do their own work. But at the end of the day, truth be told without the internet, we wouldn’t have released any albums or have any listeners, so there comes a gratitude with the modern music industry for allowing independent artists to even exist.
The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?
It probably won’t! At least not in traditional sense. We actually did try to do something bigger than before with “No Sleep” but it backfired bigly when the company in charge went out of business right around the release date. We had to cancel our US tour and everything. But for my meaning of ‘success’, the fact that it exists is enough. I do think Ex Norwegian is a band with a wealth of catalog that will survive as long as interest in this kind of music exists.
Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?
Yes, I think the band fits in well. We get most of our sales and reviews from the power pop community and done the International Pop Overthrow and all that. And although we do get labeled often a power pop group, I think we merely flirt around with the genre.