Singer Thomas, Guitarist Morten and Drummer Jacob
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Transcript by: Ulrika Henriksson
Thanks to Tania Baggo at Target Distribution for the help to get this done.
Thanks to Target Records for providing the promo pictures of the band.
Live pictures taken from the archives of Anders Sandvall
I hooked up with band-members Thomas – lead vocals, Morten – guitar and Jacob – drums in the Danish 70’s hard rock/kick ass rockn’ roll act Karma Cowboys with the intent to talk about their brand new album SHAKE IT. We talked about the new album but we also talked about the bands history, labels, touring and what the future has in store for the band. This is the first interview with Karma Cowboys in metal-rules.com and if you’re into retro hard rock/rockn’ roll with a lot of feeling and attitude then be sure to check out the next big act from Denmark.
Hi Thomas, Morten and Jacob, how are you today? Here are a “few” questions that I have about your band Karma Cowboys and about your debut album SHAKE IT, are you ready?
Thomas: Yes hit me.
Jakob: Okay lets go.
I thought we could begin with you telling us a bit about the band, like who the founder is and when and where the band was formed?
Thomas: I invited some good friends and musicians to come with me to play a gig on a Greek island. The guys didn’t know each other and met for the first time at the airport! We made the set list in the plane, rehearsed on the ferry and played a hell of a gig!!! It turned out that the combination of people was fantastic, magic, and the spirit of the band was born on that tour with pure positive vibrations, kick-ass rock’n’roll, wine, laughter, ouzo and naked women…
Jakob: Actually the band was formed without me. But I was told that the guys teamed up for a trip to the Greek island of Antiparos. Thomas knew a bar owner there and he wanted a rock’n’roll band to play in a beach bar for 3 weeks during the summer. Thomas summoned a band consisting of Morten, Nik, himself and a drummer I don’t know. They had a great time there and wanted to continue as a band when they came back to Denmark and to write original material. Then I met Thomas and Nik at a party in Copenhagen. We got drunk and jammed a few Zeppelin-songs. A week later Thomas called me and asked if I wanted to join his band.
Have any of the members been active in other acts before joining the Karma Cowboys?
Thomas: Yeah. We’re all seasoned musicians with a lot of different influences and experiences behind us – That’s what makes it such a strong constellation.
Jakob: Yes, we’re all highly experienced with 20 or more years of professional musicianship in the bag each. I guess we have 20-30 album releases to answer for in total. Morten still is the guitar player of BAAL, Nik played with Gone Fishing in his early days and has been played with a shit load of other acts since. I played with Garbo and the hip hop band PELDING, and I worked with Camille Jones for a few years too. Thomas has done all sorts of crazy stuff; theatre, circus (working as a clown!!), Led Zeppelin Experience, and in 2008 he released an album with the Future Garage Sale Item – project.
Where does the band name come from?
Jakob: Well, you know… No, we just thought that all the associations that come from that combination just fit our band philosophy.
Thomas: We believe the name fits the spirit of our band very well!
The law of Karma combined with the Cowboy as a free spirit believing in treating people with respect and dignity…
We’re all dedicated to delivering a pure hearted kick-ass rock’n’roll show with a whole lot of love, experiencing that wild karma mechanism, where it all comes 10-fold back from the audience in the wildest synergy…
Do all of the band members live in Copenhagen?
Jakob: Yea more or less…
Thomas: Copenhagen – and a little bit of Stockholm in Sweden…
Who writes the music and lyrics in the band and what are your lyrics about?
Morten: We all take part in the writing process.
Jakob: That’s right, but all the songs come from an initial idea, which in the case of this record came from Nik and Morten. Then we moulded that idea into a song collectively – and recorded it right away. The lyrics are done in collaboration between Nik and Thomas, and they are about … well … a mixture between themes of karma stuff – giving and sharing love – and cowboy stuff…
Thomas: Yeah we’re all part of the process.
Have you done a lot of touring so far?
Jakob: We have not been touring intensively with this band. We have all done a lot of touring in our former bands, so we thought that it would be better to start off doing some supporting gigs. In that way you can get a crowd that is already there. So, we played as a supporting act for Deep Purple in Aarhus in November, and 4 gigs with Mustasch in Denmark this winter.
Thomas: We’ll be touring some more in the near future! We are a very strong live act and the right place for us to be is on stage rocking the crowd.
Is Karma Cowboys a democracy where every member takes part in decisions that concerns the band?
Jakob: Yes, KC is very democratic. Democracy is power, democracy is karma!
How would you like to describe what kind of music the band plays? And was it given from the starts that the band was gonna play this kind of music?
Morten: Kick Ass Rock,…… it all starts when Thomas sings.
Jakob: Yeah, it’s built around Thomas’ strong identity as a singer. The rest just comes very natural to us…
Thomas: Pure hearted Kick ass Rock ’n’ roll with a whole lot of Love – This is the kind of music we do best, straight from the heart.
Who are your musical influences?
Thomas: We’re all inspired by a lot of different sources. All good musicians and writers with something to say! Here’s just a short list but there are many more:
Ennio Morricone, Bob Marley, Sonny Boy Williamson, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Waits, Led Zeppelin, John Lee Hooker, Jerry Lee Lewis, AC/DC, Rage against the Machine, The Doors, Radiohead, Dave Grohl, Little Richard, Deep Purple, Josh Homme, Jack White…
Jakob: I think we all have different musical influences as we all have long lives with music and different music styles and genres, but all the great bands and performers of the bluesy driven riff-rock are off course influential to this band. It’s inevitable to mention the creators of the genre in the late 60’s and early 70’s like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix etc. But it’s also great to hear the re-newers of the genre like Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Desert Sessions and Them Crooked Vultures) and Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather).
Karma Cowboys plays riff based music but you only have one guitarist, do you have any plans on taking in a second guitarist in order to get a richer guitar sound?
Morten: LIVE, yes
Thomas: Yeah when we play live, we bring at least one extra guitarist to power the pumps!
How did the harmonica end up in your music, I think it sounds great:)?
Thomas: Thanks man! Actually that’s where it all started for me. My entry to playing music was through a Hohner Blues Harp…
Jakob: Well it kind of explains it self when you hear Thomas blow that horn…
Do you have a big fanbase in Denmark?
Jakob: We are working on it…
Thomas: and it’s growing every day – and every night after a gig…
Did you record any demos before you made the debut album?
Morten: The album is actually well mixed demos!
Jakob: We skipped the process of demo recording to keep the tracks alive and kickin’…
Thomas: We’ve tried to capture a real strong mood, atmosphere and energy in every song, so some of the recordings are made at home in the sofa playing on coffee-pots or whatever available others in an abandoned shipyard smashing a closet and other again by a fireplace in a cottage in the woods of Småland (a landscape in Sweden).
Let’s talk about your brilliant debut album SHAKE IT for a while, you did release it at the end of last year, but how long did it take you to record and finish the album?
Morten: We started in late summer 2004. We recorded 4 tracks in 3 days in a studio that burned down to the ground a few weeks later. It was followed by recording sessions in studios, rehearsal rooms and a cottage in Sweden until we had around 30 songs recorded. Then we compiled the album and mixed the tracks … and BANG! … 5 years later the album was done…
Thomas: It’s a process where we had to define our stile and sound – and believe in it to! We almost gave up until we got contacted by a label that had heard our music on MySpace.
Were there many songs that didn’t make it on to the final edition of the album?
Morten: We had some dead ends, yeah…
Thomas: You win some and you loose some. But some of them might find their way to the next…
A few of the song titles are “Bad TV”, “Shake It”, “Crazy Woman” and “Keen On Gasoline”, what are the songs about, and do you write about things you have experienced yourself?
Jakob: “Shake It” is a presentation of our band. “Keen on Gasoline” is about the love of racing cars and/or women.
Thomas: Yeah, the songs are about experiences we or friends have had…
You did release a CDS called “Slammed Shut” how did the CDS go?
Jakob: The two singles “Shine on Tomorrow” and “Slammed Shut” were released as promotional tools, to catch some attention and hopefully to get some airplay on the radio. Unfortunately there is a big gap in Danish radio when it comes to classic rock’n’roll.
Thomas: They have had some airplay in Germany, Netherlands and UK. There are some people with good healthy interests there.
Is the CDS avaliable only in Denmark or as download?
Morten: We don’t know if the singles will be released outside DK yet, but the album is released in Germany, Benelux and UK at the end of April.
Thomas: The whole album is available @ iTunes, so that should work no mater where you’re from…
Are you happy with the outcome of the album now that you look back on it or do you feel that you should have done something different in any way?
Morten: Personally I’m very proud of the album and I think the process has been very spontaneous and playful, so it couldn’t be any different. That’s what makes it the perfect album.
Jakob: The next album will be recorded in the same spirit – but hopefully it will be done a lot faster…
Thomas: Yeah, we’re very happy! We’ve got some real fine reviews and strong fan reactions, THANX!!!
You got some raving reviews in Danish press and media, congratulations to that, you sure deserve it. How does it feel to read those reviews in the papers?
Jakob: It’s great to see that most of them understood the idea behind the band and the album – and loved it!
Thomas: It’s thrilling, exciting and a REALLY good feeling!!!
What do you fans think about SHAKE IT?
Jakob: Thumbs up all the way.
Thomas: They’ve given us a really good reason to keep on rockin’ and finish the next album soon!
Have you read any reviews in foreign media and press?
Jakob: I guess there will be some reviews in German media when the album is released there.
Thomas: Yeah we’ve got some reviews from Germany and the Netherlands already and from what I understand they’re really good – “Weltklasse” is good right?
You did a one day tour in Denmark to promote the album where you did 6 shows during 12 hours, how was that and how was that idea born?
Jakob: It was a crazy day! We had a meeting discussing how to make a spectacular release party, and this was the perfect idea! We are a band that can play any place and under any thinkable conditions, so why not do just that? Why not spread the love of rock’n’roll all over the city to celebrate?
You have shot a video to the song “Shine On Tomorrow” what can you tell us about that video?
Thomas: We had it all planned – but nothing came out as we expected! We had to improvise a new location and a new story on the spot…
Jakob: A very spontaneous project. We had to move inside due to heavy rain, so we asked the owner of the book-store on Blaagaards Plads in Nørrebro (a street and location in Copenhagen) if we could shoot the video in his store. A very unlikely location for a rock’n’roll performance, and that’s what makes it cool.
Are there plans to shoot more videos from the debut album so far?
Thomas: We’ve also made the video for “Chant No 1”!
Who has done the cover art-work to the album and what do you think of it?
Thomas: Jabbah laid his hand on it and like our band name it just fits the music right where it’s at!
Jakob: The artwork was done by Robin Hart and myself, so I think it is smashing!
I read that the first studio you entered burned down, what happened?
Jakob: Stupid kids playing with matches I guess… The firefighters went in to rescue all the tapes and hard drives first – I think there were 3 or 4 finished albums in there, but the rest of the equipment was gone in the flames.
Where did you continue on the recordings?
Jakob: Other studios, rehearsal rooms, and in a cottage deep inside the woods of Sweden.
Thomas: yeah and in B&W – an abandoned shipyard and in Mortens sofa…
The band have produced the album, is that correct? How come you wanted to do it on your own?
Jakob: As it was our first album we wanted to define the sound ourselves. But maybe we will work with a producer next time.
Soren Andersen and you did mix the album together, how come you chose to work with Andersen?
Thomas: He is a great guitarist with a whole lot of love for rock’n’roll.
Jakob: Soren was the unlucky owner of the studio that burned down, and he was the engineer of that very first recording session with us. In that way he knew what the band was about and what sound we wanted.
Do you think that you’re gonna continue to work with Andersen in the future?
Jakob: It was a good collaboration, so maybe.
Thomas: Yeah sure, in some way or another!
Was it hard to land a record deal?
Jakob: Not really… We had some negotiations with a US label that spotted us on MySpace. Then Target heard of us and offered a better deal.
Thomas: It all took some time though. When you sell your soul you wanna make sure it’s done right.
You are signed to the Danish label Target Records, how come you chose to work with them?
Jakob: See above… They are the most honest and hard working rock label in DK!
Are you happy with the work and promotion Target has done for you and for SHAKE IT so far?
Jakob: Yes, very happy. The budget is almost non-existent, and in that context they have done an amazing job.
For how many albums are you signed for?
Thomas: for this one and optional deal for one more.
Is SHAKE IT available outside Denmark? Who distributes the album world wide?
Thomas: Well, except for iTunes it’s not worldwide yet…
Jakob: It’s being released in Germany by Germusica and Soulfood.
Target has also got a booking agency, do you co-operate with them?
Jakob: Yes, we agreed on the full package.
Thomas: Target works as our Booking Agency in Denmark…
From what I have heard is Target’s main focus and priority the Danish market, are you gonna try to brake outside Denmark and Scandinavia or Europe in the near future?
Jakob: Off course!!
You were support act to the legendary Deep Purple in Aarhus last year, how was that?
Thomas: Supporting Deep Purple was a really good experience. Good to meet some old heroes and see that they still pull it of. And fantastic to enter the stage in front of a big crowd ready to rock. We feel completely at home and totally alright in front of an audience that size – That’s why we are here!!!
Did you only do one single gig with Deep Purple or were you supporting them through an entire tour?
Jakob: Just the one show in DK, but they were interested in having us supporting them on future tours in Scandinavia, so we’ll see…
You also did a gig at The Rock in Copenhagen on their Rock The Night Festival which is mainly a glam/sleaze festival, how was that?
Jakob: Also great!
You are also gonna be support to the Swedish act Mustasch when they’re heading through Denmark in January/February this year, how has it been to be on the road with the maniacs in Mustasch?
Thomas: Great tour with Mustasch! Nice guys and good people with a sense of humor!
Jakob: Maniacs? I don’t understand… the Mustasch guys are a bunch of very nice and loving sweet pies….
How has the Mustasch fans treated you?
Jakob: Most of them loved it
Thomas: – after a doze of the karma vibe they had to let go and just dig it, even though Mustasch has a much darker tone.
Who takes care of your website and your MySpace site?
Jakob: The guy who directed the video for “Shine on Tomorrow” also made the website, but we keep it updated.
Do you think that MySpace is a good way of promoting the band and your music?
Jakob: It’s not as big a promotional tool now as it was.
Are you active on Facebook as well?
Jakob: I little bit, yeah..
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question you get from fans?
Jakob: Thomas gets the fan mail…
Thomas: “When can I see you again?” ha ha
Do you have any idea on when the next Karma Cowboys album is gonna be out in stores?
Jakob: A good guess would be early 2011…
Are you happy with what the band have achieved so far?
Thomas: So far so good – Next stop world domination!!!
Jakob: Yes, very much! We have released a record that is the essence of our band, we got recognized for it, we have played some good gigs, and we are confident that the next record will be even better…
I had the pleasure of seeing you live when you started the tour together with Mustasch and it was a very nice experience, and along on the stage you had a second guitarist, who was that?
Jakob: Berit Fridahl – she’s a super cool guitarist.
Thomas: yeah she’s great. With a vibe that fits Karma Cowboys very well!
In your bio it says “Now, Karma Cowboys are ready to win over the world”, what can you say about that statement?
Jakob: That it’s true.
Thomas: Our pure hearted Kick ass Rock’n’roll is meant to be all over.
Are you gonna do more live shows or maybe tours this year? I would love to see you live in Sweden.
Jakob: We would love to tour in Sweden!
Do you have any festival shows this summer booked so far?
Thomas: It’s not easy to make the festivals with a debut band without radio airplay, so let’s see…
Jakob: The Target guys are trying to book us for some of them.
How would you describe a live show with Karma Cowboys?
Jakob: An ass kicking rock’n’roll experience, full of love, full of spontaneous ideas and full of energy.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy SHAKE IT?
Jakob: It’s how rock’n’roll was meant to be…
Thomas: Dust your broom and shake your tail feather its great balls of fire!!!
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom to share with the fans and the readers of metal-rules.com?
Jakob: Shake it! Naked!
Thomas: Love, Live, Rock’n’roll!!!
Well, that was all I had for this time, thanks a lot for doing this interview, I really appreciate it and I wish you all the best in the future, thank you also for bringing the world such a brilliant album as SHAKE IT!!
Thomas: Thank YOU!!!
Jakob: Thank you for doing this.
More info about the band