Monday, July 13, 2009

Baker's Dozen: Interview with Firetop Mountain

This is the second installment of A Baker's Dozen, a series on Write.Click.Cook.Listen, in which I interview a Write.Click.Cook.Listen certified artist asking them thirteen questions. Recently I interviewed (via email) a mother approved Norwegian band called Firetop Mountain. Their song How Can You Dance at a Time Like This began our Something Missing Mix.

TB: Who are the current members of Firetop Mountain?
FM: Michael Stensen Sollien, Kim Stensen
Sollien, Anne Mette Hardnes, Olla Helland-Pedersen, and Nils Roland Lier.
TB: What events inspired you to write the song "How Can You Dance at a Time Like This?"

Michael: I think this was the autumn of 2006. I remember watching an interview with the Arctic Monkeys on TV where they admitted their lyrics were pure nonsense. At the same time North Korea was doing their first nuclear test. The contrast was too much for me. On one hand the world was threatened by everything from global warming to terrorists and dictatorships, and we're still dancing like it doesn't affect us. Seemed like a good time to write some kind of protest song. And, I'm a terrible dancer.

TB: Firetop Mountain recently released Indians Aren't Afraid of Heights. It was your first album. Describe the emotions that you were feeling leading up to its release.

FM: It took us one and a half years to release the SOB so relief would be the feeling that comes to mind. All the anxiety and insecurities we dealt with before and during recording. When we first held a copy of the CD in our hands we felt ecstatic joy.
TB: On May 9th you posted a blog on your MySpace page entitled we got distribution! What was it like trying to find someone to distribute your album?
FM: We thought that we could do without a distribution company until just a few weeks before we were to release the record. We finally came to our senses when we realized no record stores would sell the record if we didn't have a distribution deal. So we called Indie Distribution and luckily we got the deal right away. They've been very helpful.
TB: Your press release lists the Cure, Death Cab for Cutie, the Lemonheads, and Radiohead as influences. Are there any other bands that have influenced you?
FM: Being the music nerds that we are, we are influenced by so many bands, even bands that we don't want to mention 'cause that will make us look like dorks. Besides the bands you've already mentioned, I think Jimmy Eat World has influenced us a lot. So has a lot of early nineties power pop bands like The Posies, and Popsicle and Norwegian bands Beezewax and Motorpsycho.
TB: Where has Firetop Mountain performed? Do you have a favorite venue?
FM: We've never been outside of our own country but that's on top of our to-do list. Our favorite venue in Norway would be Palace Grill in Oslo. It encompasses everything about what a venue should be. Great sound, great atmosphere, and room enough for everyone to get their groove on.
TB: What is the Norwegian music scene like? Any up and coming bands we should know about?
FM: The Norwegian music scene has made a huge leap these last few years and there's a lot of interesting bands. The music scene is very small, everyone knows everyone, and especially the indie bands are very good at helping each other out. Our favorites are Sigh and Explode, Lukestar, Harrys Gym, Hiawata!, Little Hands of Asphalt, My Little Pony, and our producer: Ornulv Snortheim. A great blog to keep yourself updated on the Norwegian indie scene is NoMusic.
TB: What are Firetop Mountain's plans for the rest of the year?
FM: We want to play a lot of concerts, of course, and we've discussed that we might go record our second record sometime during 2009. We've got a lot of good vibes from people hearing our new songs and we miss hanging out with our producer in that sweaty basement.
TB: Tell me about Mother Likes it Records.
FM: It's our own label. When we first created our MySpace page we wrote "mother likes it" in the label field as a joke. The name stuck. And our mothers really like our music.
TB: You played your first live show in June 2007. Is that the most memorable one you've played to date? What is the oddest thing that has occurred at one of your live shows?
FM: Our first gig will always stick with us. Everything was just perfect that night so I guess you could say we had a good start. As for odd things happening at our concerts: Michael has a tendency to say very odd things between songs and Kim almost fell off stage once due to her too many beers.
TB: Does Firetop Mountain get a chance to do any cooking?
FM: Until recently Kim, Michael and Ola lived together in Oslo and naturally there was some cooking. We made one kick-ass Mexican Stew! Other than that; Mette is know to whip up some pretty amazing band dinners from time to time, and Ola has a secret chicken burger recipe that'll knock your socks off!
TB: Anything else you would like to say?
FM: Ketchup is not the answer to everything. Mustard is.

To further investigate Firetop Mountain visit their web page here. To purchase Indians Aren't Afraid of Heights go here. To see their mother approved music in action, check out these videos.

How Can You Dance at a Time Like This live in Oslo

Mette and Michael playing Suffocate.

And one more enjoyable song. This is the album version of First Date.