I recently sat down with the well-read Audrey Horne frontman Toschie to have a chinwag about as many things as I could think of.
Mostly of course, about their fourth full length, Youngblood and it’s divergence from their usual sound, but, also other expected randomness too.
Boy, I thought I could talk, but the cheeky-grinned vocalist beat me hands down. With his band’s latest release the Norwegian Grammy winners have brought about a change in style, but appear more determined than ever to rock your socks off after a move to Napalm Records.
That said, what Toschie didn’t do was waffle. You sort of get the idea that had his calling not have been music, a career path in academia would not have been an unsurprising choice.
Have you ever thought about changing the band name so people don’t ask you about Twin Peaks any more, does it ever irritate you that everyone harps on about the name of the band?
I guess we are so used to it by now, it feels very natural to us, so we would need a stronger reason than that to change the name, but off course, I have answered that question a couple of times by now but it is all part of the job he he.
What kind of feedback has Audrey Horne had from fans of your other bands? Black metallers aren’t known for their um, love of rock.
Well to be honest, mostly positive. Most of them are actually quite open to it, but those who are extreme truly hates our guts. But that is all right, we don’t need to please everyone. And I think we are capable of pulling off a decent career without their support.
AH is now over 10 yrs old, with your move to Napalm will you be upping the ante, material output/tour wise?
Yeah hopefully, moving to Napalm has given us a chance to spread our gospel and we are now working with Avocado [Bookings] on the tour side, so hopefully this will give us a better chance to get out there more often. So far it looks really good.
What spurred the change in style with this album, because it is quite a diversion from the previous material. Was it part of the trend for going back to the retro rock sound?
Yes and no. Uh, probably a bit because when you deal with music, or anything else really, of course you are influenced by some waves that are around in music, things that are happening, so of course the whole going back in time thing has probably influenced us. Because we listen to a lot of bands that have done the same, bands like Graveyard and Rival Sons, and there are loads of bands that have done that, so of course in a way that has probably subconsciously influenced us or affected us in a certain way.
But the main reason, really, was that normally when we make an album, Ice Dale or Thomas, the guitar players, they sit at home and they sit like this (mimics guitar playing) and they have their little computer and then they write stuff and then they record it and add some programmed drums and they sort of, the word I would use is they “compose” the music in a way, and then you go “oh maybe this part will fit with the one that I made two days ago”, so you start composing.
And then, when they sort of have something that is remotely close to a song, then they give it to me and they’re like “hey I made this and can you make something out of this?”, and then I’ll write the melody lines and harmonies and lyrics and all that.
But this time what really made for the change in style was basically that when we talked about how we were going to start writing material for this album, we talked about what we wanted to do, and basically what we really wanted to do, the most important thing, was that we said that we always made albums that we are proud of but we never really got that live energy thing into our album, cos we make an album and then when we start playing them live, and after a while the songs sound so much better when we play them live, in many ways.
So we said that maybe we should try to do something to try to get that live energy, and we decided that we should try to record it as live as possible this time.
That’s what Clutch just did, they did exactly the same thing. They recorded the whole thing all playing together, and it came out brilliant.
Yeah. So when we decided to do that we said that maybe we should write them in the same sort of spirit and not just sit at home separately, so we decided to just go into a rehearsal studio and plug in the gear and just make music. And I think when you write music like this as opposed to when you write music like before, then you get a totally different vibe.
And of course we grew up listening to classic hard rock, everything from Kiss and Maiden to really old stuff like Zeppelin and Deep Purple and stuff like that, so I guess it just kinda came naturally.
Was it like something going off in your head, that sort of went “we’ve so got to do this, this is amazing”?
Yeah, because when we’d written, like, five or six songs or something, we were like “this sounds very old school compared to a lot of things we’ve done before”. I think on our previous, self titled album Audrey Horne, there were a lot of songs that were sort of pushing towards that classic hard rock feel, so when we’d written these songs we thought maybe those were too much like this, but we just said “no, let’s just write songs, and we’ll record it and it is what it is” because we never really sat down and said we need to fit into this or that.
Every album you’ve written has gradually entered into the charts at a higher number, hasn’t it? This one just went in at number 10.
Yeah, in Norway it went in at number 10.
Yeah it’s ten places each time, so maybe next time you’re going to write a number 1…
Yeah, well let’s hope so! So I think, in many ways, that was the reason why it turned out as it did. So it was probably a bit because we were affected by the whole thing that goes on in the music scene, but mainly it was just that we did the whole thing in a different way.
How did it affect the band as whole, jamming and writing together, because that was obviously very far removed from your comfort zone?
It was actually a very positive for them because then everyone sort of gets ownership, you know you get a closer relationship to the songs because everyone’s involved with every little minor detail. And there’s a lot of that. We have this thing in Audrey Horne where we say that you’re never allowed to turn down a suggestion until we have tried it out.
A good idea…
Which is good in many ways but it also makes for 32 different versions of one thing (goes off on a manic imitation of the process of trying lots of things). So there’s a lot of time spent on details where you go, like “fuck, do we really need to spend time doing this?”, and we’re like “Yeah, we have he suggested it, we have to try it.”
It’s so far detached from the Lombardo/Ward situation, where they feel like they’ve had a lot of the power taken away from them. So did you all decide ten years ago that was how it was going to be or has that developed over the years?
That has developed over the years because when we started out it was definitely a couple of us who made most of the money, but now we all make the same amount because we split everything in five. Even lyrics, even though I write all the lyrics I split it between all of us. Which is basically because usually when a band goes to shit, it’s, you know, musical arguments like you want to go different directions, but money is the number one thing.
We’ve been around for quite a while, we’re not 19 years old, we all have mortgages and shit, you know, so we decided that it’s good for the band, even though some in the band write a lot more and comes up with a lot more ideas, we still have this.
Like this time everyone spent the same amount of time even though someone brought a lot to the table and someone was just, like, smoking. But they’re still there and everyone has an opinion on stuff, we decided to split everything, and that was basically to make everyone happy.
It would take away a lot of the tension when it comes to touring and stuff like that as well, I would assume.
Of course we argue, but we argue about different stuff, you know.
Tell me what you argue about. What’s the worst argument, or most common argument?
The most common argument in Audrey Horne is probably, uh, I think it’s more on a personal level, you know, that you do stuff that annoys other people. We all have stuff. I am the one who forgets everything. I once left a venue and this guy came after me with my stage outfit and was like “errr did you forget this?” and I was like “aaah, sorry”.
Were you naked at the time?!
No no no I had normal clothes on at the time, my off-stage clothes. And then another guy came, “Hey I found a cellphone and a credit card” and I was like “Oh that’s mine”. And the other guys were like “Jeeesus Christ”. And then a woman comes up and says “I found a watch backstage”, and I went “f*ck it, that’s mine”, and it just underlined how forgetful I am. The other guys were like “You bring the backdrop, alright?” and I was like “Yeah sure, no problem”.
We came home and someone asked for the backdrop, and I was like “Uh oh”. So I forget everything and of course that annoys them, you know, cos they tell me “Okay alright you take care of that” and then I’m “Uh, oh that was me? Oh…err… oh nevermind, I forgot.”
It’s like forgetting the rest of the band. It’s if you’re on the plane, “God yeah I left the band at home!”
Yeah yeah it’s pretty close to that. So that’s what we normally argue about. You know you spend a lot of time together, you get on each other’s nerves every now and then.
Artwork. You did the artwork, didn’t you? Are you an artist, do you do a lot of art? Do you draw other people’s album covers? Who have you done and how do you go about it? Is it all CGI or hand drawn?
It’s all hand drawn. I’m very… what do you call it… analogue? I don’t do anything that has to do with modern technology, computers. I have a lightboard, and I have pencils and paintbrushes and yeah, so I’m very old school in that sense. So I make everything and then, like this time, I made everything and then I hand it over to a designer and say “Can you sort of make it look like it fits on an album?”. So no, I drew that. I work as a tattoo artist as well.
Oh well, there we go, that explains it. Sorry, I didn’t know that.
And so yeah I draw a lot, I make paintings, I do all kinds of stuff. But I’d never really done it with the band, but that was mainly because I felt it was, what’s the expression, too close to home, in a way ?
My taste in a lot of things are very different from the rest of the guys in the band so I kinda always felt that, you know, it’s just gonna be issues and what if they don’t like it and they don’t have the heart to tell me this… that wouldn’t be a problem because they would have to heart to tell me that it’s shit.
They’d probably say it straight to your face, wouldn’t they? It’s sh*t! Hahaha.
But this time it was actually Ice Dale who said that, you know, because we talked about, like image cos we’re not a very image-based band, we don’t dress up or anything, we’re pretty much as we are, you know. And he said that what we should do is try to personalise the whole band, more to sort of make it like something a bit more recognisable because we’re not very recognisable.
Mmm, yeah, you re-branded with your logo and everything recently..
Yeah we did. So we decided to do that. And it was Ice Dale that said that “Well, you do a lot of artwork for a lot of other bands so why don’t you do it for us?”. So I said that I wanted to do it but had never really felt that it was… I’d never really been comfortable with what I felt that you would have been comfortable with.
So then he said that “Well I think that’s a good idea, because then we can sort of use that thing to sort of personalise the band a bit more.” So I came up with the idea, actually the idea was his idea – the head things – that mainly we should just draw the heads and not the full figures.
And I made a sketch and I was like, it reminds me a lot of Rock n Roll Over by Kiss. But that is one of my favourite album artworks so I guess it was a bit, but it was also very much inspired by Marvel Comics and that whole thing, and you know, like I told you, the way we wrote the album and then the way we organised all the economy and everything.
I felt that we needed to make something that sort of visualised the fact that we sort of are one. So that’s what I did. And it’s been good because normally when we release an album, people hardly ever comment on the art, but on this one it’s been like everything from praises to people going “What the F*CK have you done?!”.
So I’ve been yelled at quite a lot for that.
Yeah but I think it’s been mainly from the more, the press that are more…
A-holes? That would be one word! But more, the ones that are more into extreme metal. And to them this is more… you know, cos some of them said that “You used to have really mysterious and dark artworks, why do you have this cartoon drawing now?”. Because we want it!
Instant reaction really. Because it’s our band, not yours!
Yeah, basically. But some people try to get it. I’ve read reviews of the album where they’re like “This is an amazing album”, but one guy said “apart from the abortion of an artwork.” Which was, of course I made it so I’m like “F*ck, man”, you take it a bit personal, but then again you don’t, because you go “Whatever”.
I would think that drawing would be even more personal than music because it’s just you that’s creating…
Yeah, cos when they say the band sucks then that’s five of us, but when this sucks it’s just me who sucks.
I think it’s just downright rude. You can’t criticise art because it’s all subjective. Actually speaking of ink, that was one of my questions about you, you obviously have loads but I haven’t seen anyone ask you what they represent.
Not much really. They’re just mainly things that I think look cool, basically. Some of them symbolise, yeah…but it’s more I’ve got a lot of stuff that has been made by artists that I know, artists that I really like. And basically, normally… like the ones on my neck were done by a guy in Germany who does exclusively traditional Japanese stuff.
And I talked to him and I said that I thinking about getting a really old school rose, and he was like “You’re thinking about a rose?”, and I was like “Yeah”, and he was “I’m thinking not.” And I was like “Well what are you thinking?” and he was “I don’t know what I’m thinking, but I’ll think about it”.
And then he came back with a… what is this one? Is this red? (He points to one side of his neck) Yeah okay, then he came back with this one, I keep forgetting which side.
Your memory really is bad, isn’t it!
Yeah. And I asked what it was and he explained it to me, that it’s a Japanese ghost, and it’s a story about betrayal, and all kinds of… well basically I just looked at it and was, like, looks cool! And that’s basically what most of my… I have some tattoos that are more personal, you know that, represent something but most of it is just things that I think look cool.
Just think they look pretty.
(Imitating Fox) I like pretty things.
You like pretty things, that’s why you wanted a rose. Ok, why is Sweden Rock so important to you as a festival to play? When everyone asks you the standard questions which I’m not going to ask, by the way, but always when asked about Sweden Rock, you get very animated. Why is that such a big thing for you?
Well to be honest it’s a big thing mainly because that’s probably… I have turned down gigs, you know, if something important like my best friend is getting married, then I can’t do a gig on that day because I’m going to my friend’s wedding…
… stuff like that. But apart from that we, you know, you always have to give up something if you’re doing a gig. Sometimes it clashes with something you really want to do. But Sweden Rock… Thomas, our guitar player, he always goes to Sweden Rock, he’s been doing that for years. And he just refuses to play gigs as long as that festival is on.
We had a gig, a festival just outside of Helsinki, it was like two stages and then, you know, a band plays there and when they’re done the next band starts there (gesturing to demonstrate a staggered lineup between stages). And we were on one stage and as soon as we got off, Kiss started on the other stage, and Kiss is like Thomas’s all time favourite band, and we were like yeah, we are playing there and Kiss is going on after us!
(Imitating Thomas): “But that’s Sweden Rock, I won’t be at Sweden Rock”. So he just refused to do it. So the whole thing is like a sort of Holy Grail thing, something that you know, something holy that we can’t touch, no matter what. So we always try to get on that, we’ve been doing that for years, trying to book us on that.
How did you react when the thing came through that said you’re playing it. Was he like fist pump and then like “F*ck, I’m not going to be able to watch the bands.”
Yeah he was like yeeaaaah, and then he was like “I’m probably going to miss some bands and I can’t drink that much, and then aaah well I’ve got the rest of the festival”.
But then the other band he plays in, Sahg, they were booked for the next day, and he was like “F*ck, I’m playing two nights, you know, I can’t be drunk for two days!”. But also, it’s very… the line-up is very old school and everything, so it’s kinda like all of these bands that we used to love when we were kids, so it’s a really good festival. So Rick Springfield is f*cking playing there this year.
I don’t really know too much about him but our bass player went all like (trembling) “RIIIIICK SPRRRIIIINGFIELD”.
If you’d said Gojira I’d have been like that, or Dave Grohl… So is it therapy for you to write your lyrics? Because the lyrics haven’t moved too much away from the darkness side of it, if you like, but the music is far more of an upbeat and happy vibe.
Mmmm. I’m a miserable f*ck! Heh. No no, I’m really really a happy person. Nah, I think I’m very content and happy so it’s interesting to write as if I were really miserable, because it’s easy to relate to. Everyone has been there, you know.
You have your dark moments and you have your ups and downs so it’s easy to relate to. I used to refer to, what’s his name, oh I’ve forgotten his name now… the guy who plays Hannibal Lecter… I forget everything….
I can picture him… Anthony… Hopkins…
He was asked why did he do this horrible character when he did Hannibal Lecter.
But he said that, well, basically they’re a lot more interesting, because evil people are more interesting, because good persons like Mother Theresa, it’s not really hard to understand why she’s doing what she’s doing because you can relate to that.
But Hannibal Lecter, you can’t really relate to someone like that. So it’s more interesting because it’s sort of, it’s part of a universe, or it’s part of a person’s mind that you can’t corner or can’t access really. But I find it really hard to write lyrics.
Do you get down afterwards, when you’ve written something really emotionally miserable?
No, no I don’t. But I find it hard, because I don’t wanna record something that is shitty, so I rewrite things a lot of the time. And then some lyrics I’m really happy with and some I’m happy with but I’m thinking, this should have been better but I can’t really figure out how to make it better.
And then some lyrics are really, aaaah, actually to be honest a lot of lyrics, well some of the lyrics, are sort of understood when I’m talking to journalists because they start going on about is this related to this and that, and you sort of realise that there’s so much going on that it’s not, umm, that it’s in your subconsciousness.
And a lot of the stuff is in your subconscious and you suddenly realise that sort of it makes sense in a way.
No-one understands my brain either.
On Facebook I can confuse people in a split second, really. Right. Redemption Blues – will you have a lot of explaining to do when you get to the Pearly Gates?
Oh. Yes, I probably will have. Not as much as some other people, but there would be some things that he would say “Now what the hell were you thinking?”.
I was thinking I would get away with it!
I would say, “I don’t know, I forgot about that!”.
Is it going to be a big long list..or like a post-it, or is it going to be a War and Peace?
Nah, I think I’m reasonably well behaved, and I don’t think I’ve…. I’ve done things I’m not proud of, of course, everyone has. But I think that… who is meeting me? Is it God?
I don’t know… (Some garbled discussion about who mans the gates)
It’s Saint Peter. I’m going to do some research, and when he pulls up his list and say “Well can you explain this?” I’m gonna be like “Can you explain THIS?”. You know it’s all in the bible if you do your research, there’s probably fucked up stuff.
If he’s Catholic then he’s done a lot worse than you have. Young Blood. You can go back in time to give yourself a piece of advice as a child. What would it be?
Hmmmm…. a piece of advice from myself… I would probably say just do the same as me, but work a little bit harder. Get a rose! No I think probably, you know, work harder because, you know, when you look back you could always have worked a bit harder on stuff.
That and probably, I used to have really long hair and one of the things, you know, when you’re going to cut your hair eventually, just do it all away, not do the half up here, you know the grunge…
I would get on the same time machine, come back and be like “Don’t you f*cking listen to him, keep it long”.
Short hair or long hair, nothing in between. Nothing in between! That would have been my most valuable advice to myself. Long hair or short hair, make up your mind.
There Goes A Lady. Who would you pick to play yourself in a film bio, and who would be your leading lady?
Mmmm. Who should play me? I would pick, uh, you know there is actually a movie that was made, Young Blood, with Rob Lowe, so maybe him. No, errr, I think… I’ve always liked…. once again I forget names.
This is going to be a difficult one. “You know that bloke…”
That guy who’s Vlad Dracula…
Gary Oldman! You actually look like him, like a young Gary Oldman.
I do look like! Okay cool. Cos yeah I would pick him. And my leading lady would be, uh, maybe Nicole Kidman because she would fit him I think.
Really tall. Yeah.
She looks a bit scary, and I like that in a woman.
And she’d probably make a good vampire. For the right money, would you ever write an industry – sorry, this is for Show And Tell – for the right money, would you ever write an industry kiss-and-tell name-and-shame, you know like Heidi Fleiss, that madame, I’m not calling you a madame or anything…
Ummm, it depends on whether I like the people I’m naming… no, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t. No.
No? Naww. That’s sweet.
The kiss-and-tell book by Ace Frehley, have you read it?
It’s two of Ace Frehley’s childhood friends who wrote a book about him, it’s basically just pissing all over him. But when they’re doing it in such an extent that the ones you feel sorry for are them because they come across as extremely bitter. Basically they’re like “Well he became famous and rich, why didn’t he buy me a house?”. But it’s an interesting book. But after I read that I could never write a book like that.
Cards With The Devil. Would you enter a game of chance with the Devil if you knew that if you lost, you would lose your soul? Would you take the risk?
It depends on what I was getting out of it but if it was important enough I probably would.
You would take the chance.
Yes. I actually read a book about that too. A Swedish writer who wrote the book, I don’t know who, but it’s about a German, a poor man but he comes from a rich family but he basically fucked up his entire family. And he plays with the Devil and then he, of course he loses and he becomes immortal and he tries to kill himself all the way through the book. But, you know, he never really makes it.
What’s that called? I have to look that up.
It’s called Notes Regarding The Player, you know a chess player, and then it’s a Russian name, I don’t remember but it’s a really good book.
Oh I’ve got it on the recording so I’m going to look that up. That’s something I’d be interested in, reminds me of Hellraiser.
The writer is called Carl-Johan Vallgren.
I Wanna Know You. If you could mind-meld with any human, living or dead, to actually really know them, who would you choose?
Hmmm. I would probably, not that this has anything to do, well it has some parts, but we’re not as big Twin Peaks fans as we come across, but I would probably say David Lynch, because he’s so totally 100% impossible to understand at some points. But then, I know that there’s a reason for everything he does, and there’s a kind of purpose with everything he does, and I would love to understand that a bit more.
Just how his mind works.
Yeah. He does transcendental meditation, and he uses that to come up with ideas. And it’s quite interesting stuff.
It’d be quite scary to merge minds with him in case you never got back out…
No, it could be like acid or something, you know, you drink and then you never come back.
What’s that film where he goes in through his own head?
Oh err, Being John Malkovich?
That’s it! That’s exactly what that made me think of. ‘Straight Into Your Grave’ – Ward/Lombardo situation? What are your thoughts?
It is just a sad thing when bands start sacking founding band members because of money. I guess they reach a point where it is just work, and forget why they started doing this in the first place. Are drummers that expensive?
‘Pretty Little Sunshine’ – What one thing is guaranteed to always turn your smile upside down?
Basically just how mean some people are, especially if you see how much hatred people spread on the internet, and doing it anonymously. Anyone can be a bad ass hater from the comfort and security of their own bedroom. But seriously, it is such a sad thing, and it really lowers my belief in the human race.
‘This Ends Here’ – You stopped smoking in 2008, have you replaced it with any other vice?
Yeah, there is a thing called “snus”, a lot less unhealthy, and it does not effect my voice or my general health, so it is more harmless. It is a big thing in Scandinavia, but I guess the rest of you think it is just weird and disgusting. But, you got to have some vices.
‘The King is Dead’ Who do you predict will be the arena acts of the future in say, ten years from now?
oh, tricky question. I have no idea, but I hope bands that have something true and honest will play those stages. Music is getting more and more predictable, and perfected towards what the media tells us to like. But I think a change is about to happen, and people want something that is less bread and circus. Bands like Rival Sons should get those gigs. We would be happy to do it as well he he.
Lastly, Temple Of The Black Moon with Dani Filth and Rob Caggiano. Any update? Have you spoken to Rob since he joined Volbeat?
No idea, all I know is that things take time in that camp, since they are all very busy in their respectable bands. I have not talked to any of them in a while, so I guess you would have to talk to Tom Cato. He should know.
Get yourself along to see them, they are really quite something.