Certain bands are truly exciting. Iceage are certainly one of those bands. Infamous for their exhilarating live shows and their unique twist on punk music, Iceage are amongst the most promising bands of our generation. I chatted to bassist Jakob Tvilling Pless about the process behind the Danish punks' sophomore album, You're Nothing, the way the band approach writing an album and their plans for the rest of the year.
How has life been for the band since releasing Youíre Nothing? How has the response been?
Itís been quite good. Weíve been touring a lot, mostly in the States. I think people have given us nice comeback for the most part.
How do you know that youíve succeeded as a band? Is writing music for you about reaching out to fans, or is it that you just like to write music that you enjoy for yourselves?
I feel like we succeed as a band when we make something that we like ourselves and we make something that is something we appreciate ourselves. But, I guess going out and playing shows and stuff is about playing for people. I think the whole making music part is very much for ourselves, but when we go out and play, I guess we do it for the people. So, I mean, itís a 50/50 thing for me. But, when we write music itís not like weíre trying to make music that people like. We make songs and if people like it, then I guess itís all good.
How was the process behind Youíre Nothing? Is recording as intense as your live shows or is there a more chilled out vibe in the studio?
Itís very much more chilled out in the studio. We went to this island called Mōn, a Danish island, south of Copenhagen and we had six days there, in a studio thatís built in an old farm, We just spent six days there recording. We didnít have anything else to do there, so we basically used all the time there to record and just mess around in the studio and get new ideas and stuff.
How prepared were you when you went into the studio? Did you have an idea of what the record was going to sound like? Had you written most of the album? Or was it when you got into the studio that the record started to shape itself?
Some of the songs were made just after the release of New Brigade but the last couple of songs we wrote before recording. "Youíre Nothing" was written the day of or the day before. I mean, there was a couple of loose ends in the songs that we [fixed] in the process of recording it, but most of the songs were, at that time, already old. But there was a couple of songs that we made the day before.
Is songwriting a group activity?
Yeah, itís a group activity. Sometimes, one of us has an idea and a couple of riffs and comes the writing place and says ĎďHey, letís try this outĒ, then we try it out, and someone comes up with another idea, and sometimes it merges together and becomes a song. Also, I think the songs develop a lot when we play them live and we get new ideas about how things can get better. Itís a group activity, Iíd say.
When youíre writing a song do you think that you want to sound a particular way to fit in with your sound as a band or is it whatever comes to mind that could be cool for the album, youíll go with it?
I think itís different from song to song. I think sometimes youíll think of a certain song or band or something, and sometimes it just comes to your mind. So, itís very different how things turn out and how you get the ideas for stuff.
What inspires the lyrics on the record? Are they entirely personal or do you draw from more abstract sources, like books or other music?
I think itís both. Some of the lyrics are personal and thereís people and thereís feelings, and some of it, some of the ways itís written is inspired by other writers. I guess, you canít really comprehend being inspired in the way you write when you read other stuff. But itís all very personal, the feelings and the people that are written about in the lyrics are all very personal, all of them.
How important are lyrics to your music?
Do you write the music first and the lyrics later or is it the other way around?
It differs. I mean, Elias is the one who sings them, so heís for the most part the one who writes the lyrics but if one of us wrote the lyrics he would probably change it a little bit just to make it fit into a song and sometimes he writes the lyrics before we write the songs so itís different, I suppose. We donít really have any specific formula we use when we make songs, it always differs.
Why did you decide to have Danish lyrics on one of the tracks on Youíre Nothing? Would you consider that more often? Was it an active decision or did it just seem right for the song?
It just kind of happened. We talked about re-writing it into English, but it didnít make sense at all. It made the most sense leaving the lyrics in Danish. It was more of a spontaneous decision.
Youíre Nothing is an amazing album.
No problem. It displays a lot of talented musicianship, and youíre obviously a very talented band. Do you actively try to push yourself as musicians or do you just write what sounds good? Do you try to be the best musician you can, or is it just about what what sounds good for the song?
I think the way we play together comes natural but, of course, we always try to do new stuff or try to do things we havenít done before. For the most part, it just comes natural what we do. Itís a hard question for me to answer because, for the most part, it just happens.
Would you consider yourselves to have reached your full ability as musicians or are you still learning and expanding your abilities?
I think youíre always learning, at least on my part.
Can you see Iceageís sound changing at all, coming up to album number three? Can you see yourself still playing the same full force music or mellowing down at all?
I donít really have an idea whatís going to happen. We made a couple of new songs after Youíre Nothing which sound a bit different, but I have no idea. I think weíre just going to go along with it and see how it turns out. We donít really have any plans to change our sound.
How do you enjoy touring at the moment? Youíre infamous for your live shows. Is it it tiring? Is it hard work or do you just enjoy it?
We really enjoy it otherwise we wouldnít be doing it. Of course, itís tiring being on tour for a month and having to sleep on peopleís floors every night and not being able to just lie on your own couch and just relax when you want to but for my part, I like being on tour. I donít really see it as a job, I mostly see it as a thing I do because I like it. I think we all enjoy being on tour and we all get better playing together when we tour, so it makes sense in a lot of ways.
When you started out with Iceage, did you imagine being able to reach out to so many people around the world? I mean, so many kids all over America and Europe understand and love your music. Did you see that coming?
Laughs. No. Not at all. It feels good. I wouldnít be able to do what I do now if it happened so I'm very happy thatís the way things turned out.
What are Iceageís plans for the rest of the year? Do you have plans to release anything or just to keep touring?
We might release something. I donít know whatís going to happen. I think for the most part, weíre just going to tour on and see what happens. If weíre ready to record something, weíre probably going to do it, but we donít really have any plans recording wise. Weíll see what happens.