Norway has always been producing some great punk-rock and hardcore punk music. And if you are not only into old school stuff like Svart Framtid, Bannlyst, Stengte Dører, Kort Prosess, my favorite Life… But How To Live It? but also into more recent bands like The Spectacle, then you should know about BEYOND THE FENCES. The five guys (Kjetil, Thomas, Audar, Knut, and Stian), who were living in Bodø at the time when they were making music with BTF, produced the great “No Ceiling In The Sky” 10” and later on joined other awesome Norwegian hardcore punk bands. Their singer Kjetil also played drums for Mount Eerie on tour and has also got a singer/songwriter project called The Well In Hell. The following interview is taken from issue #3 (from 2007) of the Norwegian zine No Cage Is Big Enough (named after Beyond The Fences’ song) made by Christine. P.S. Check out the awesome video after the interview!
One of the main reasons why I like you so much is that you have something to say, your lyrics bring up subjects like feminism/equality and animal rights. It’s about time that political AND catchy band comes from Norway. Where do you get your inspirations from and who write the lyrics? Can the rest of the band stand for the lyrics?
Kjetil: The world is fucked up. For me it is a personal thing.
I am fucking sad for this world and how we get tired of fucking fighting alone, groping around, enough of youth from the Western world committing suicide, or being self-destructive. It’s fucking fucked up. I cannot express my self explicit enough, because it is not possible to use words for this. Words can merely describe. Our music is fueled with anger, but realizing that anger is not somewhere to rest―we have to transform the anger into love, if we want to reach a little further than being a store selling records.
Talking more… internally, our band and the culture we come from, I believe that one of the main reasons that inside our modern Western culture, there exists dress-codes, youth subculture images such as punk, Goth, football hooligans, religious movements, Neo-Nazis, one reason is a longing inside us for acceptance. We try to look the same, talk the same way, and walk the same way. Except being aware of all the ugliness human beings have done on the Earth, another source of inspiration I can mention personally, something I see growing between the members of this band, is that we see that we are different from each other, and how that is truly great, making the kind of music with the kind of spirit that our diversities naturally brings forward. How could our own individual identities be defined by a leather jacket, or by which branch of rock’n’roll music you listen to? The same way, back to your question about message and lyrics, why should it be necessary for all members in a band to share all opinions or statements made with lyrics? Standing on a stage, no matter what kind of club, or bar, or venue, squat, one got power, when eyes and ears pay attention to you. Better use that opportunity in a good way, when for instance television, which is another medium except musical except musical shows people spend time watching , may keep people deaf, because there seem to be no difference between the news on war in Iraq, and an action movie―there is no reaction, we are sleeping. Let’s wake up!
Your music is nothing but amazing, it gave name to my fanzine and I even have a BTF tattoo, do other people like your music too or is it just me? How have people’s responses been?
Kjetil: I feel like we are reaching a good feedback, from all “kinds” of people. I think our music is kind of… including, just in its sound, even though are part of the international PUNK community, we are not trying to reach only a specific group of youth culture. We scream, we play loud music… Compared to for instance our friend Magnus Eliassen who perhaps in pretty higher degree makes music that some would categorize as pop, or singer/songwriter music, Beyond The Fences is pretty “punkrock” talking merely musically. But still I feel like we have “matured” in understanding that human beings are human beings, no matter what color their skin is, or what kind of hairstyle have, or what kind of clothes they wear, and the same way about musical genres… We are not consciously trying to be either punk, or rock, but our minds are open. Returning to your question, without mentioning specific sources or response , different kinds of people, in different ages in Norway have given us feedback that we do something that appeal to them (since No Cage Is Big Enough fanzine is partaking in the international punk and hardcore community, that sometimes expresses more or less stereotypical patterns of identity, dress-codes, I feel like it is needed to be said, this thing about “different kinds of people”, how all people are different from each other, no matter really if they dress the exact same way. I believe the true meaning of punk is something where we can truly be ourselves and really see our diversities.)
As before-mentioned, I think there is a combination of trying to stay sincere, have a message, along with an understanding that we cannot hold on to all the anger or frustration that we feel, if our music really is our offer to make this world a little better place. In my life, important to outline, for my own happiness, I would like to work full-time feeding hungry human beings in famine, heal wounds in wars, and protect forests being cut down. Still, music will be kind of contribution, hoping that this sound can have some affection. I know that music can be important, it sure has been to me.
What have you been up to since 2003 when your demo first came out, until now in 2007 when your 10” is out? And do you have any plans for the future?
Kjetil: We have just released 10” vinyl named “No Ceiling In The Sky”, with the help of our good friends in Smart Patrol Records and Untermensch Records. Scenester Creditals in the United States will probably during 2007, release a CD version of our 10”, possibly including a couple more songs from our earlier demo, hopefully with improved mixing. Part from that, our schedule is pretty open.
I know Kjetil and Audar live in Oslo, where do the others stay and how does that work out for you?
Stian H ifra Skivika: I live in Bodø and play in Käthe Kollwitz.
Knut: I have moved to Trondheim with my girlfriend.
Kjetil: I just moved to Bodø.
What has growing up in Bodø done to you? Do you think there is a difference in growing up in a place like that and a place like Oslo?
Knut: I did not grow up in Bodø, but moved there in 2001. Bodø has been very inspiring to me, meeting some of the best people I’ve known, and forming this band.
Kjetil: Since I have not grown up in Oslo, I would not know, but I have made some silent perceptions between those specific towns you mention, Christin: Oslo and Bodø are pretty different in population (Bodø has 45.000 people, Oslo has… 700.000 people) Spending time in Oslo I feel like even though people live there, they are “passering-by” Oslo, as if it is nobody’s home, but just a large gathering of restless people.
This issue is supposed to be about “growing older”, do you have anything to say about that? How old are you and how do you react to the fact that we are all growing older?
Knut: I’m 26, soon to be 27. Being the oldest guy in the band, does not make me feel “older” that the others. I think we are all on the same level mentality. But growing old, also changes a lot. I sometimes feel very different from how I am now, and how I was at the age of 16.
Kjetil: Yes, my age is 22 years old now. I am growing. But yet, I know that the essence of life is not really changing and get older. We have the same needs. Punk rock movement is something that is fixating, maybe actually a little bit similar as TV commercials, on the “youth” stage in life (as opposed to other stages in life: childhood, being old). The past years I have been a lot curious on what different religions and other cultures than my own teach about life, death, the meaning of life, how to live, in this world that we live in, and trying also to understand what nature is, what is my personal nature. In light of Western culture, taking an example from my own current situations in life―three members of my family just died. My family was shocked, perhaps not above an average Norwegian family. It’s like they were all saying “How could this happen? I knew there existed such thing as death, but I had never dreamed that even our own family would be affected by it!” With this, I am sort of trying to make fun of how people in Norway seem to forget they are going to die. I think these reactions to death speak a lot for how Western culture sees life in itself, during its time. Same as punk-culture, with commercial media, in its superficial ways, is pretending that we are going to be teenagers forever. We simply will not. And so we cannot fucking change the fact that we ARE all growing older, every minute, ever day. Referring to processes of turning into an “adult”, maybe that is when we are not any longer recognizing that we are getting older, but stay in a static vacuum, where both our own characters and our emotions, and our days are copies of copies of copies. Mediocrity. Our time is precious. But the fact that we are getting older I think is great! It cannot be fought, so why try to fight it?
What bands do you listen to and what have influenced you the most? List as many as you like.
Knut: New Your Dolls, Johnny Thunders, Catharsis, Fru Pedersen, Far Out Fishing, Hjertesvikt AS, Bannlyst, Svartidaudir, Kort Prosess, Tom Waits, JR Ewing, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Misfits, Svart Framtid, Floque, Slagsmålsklubben, Dia Psalma, The Faint, The Clash, Bøyen Beng, Dead Kennedys, Small Faces, The Kinks, and many many more.
Stian H ifra Skivika: Breach, Refused, JR Ewing, Neurosis, The Faint, The Ramones, The Spectacle, The Clash, Cult of Luna and many many more.
Kjetil: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mount Eerie, Catharsis, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, John Coltrane, Undying.