Indietracks interview #30: Making Marks

Interview by The Smittens! 

In 2012, Making Marks arose from the ashes of Norwegian indie pop band My Little Pony, who released two full length albums, won awards in Spain toured several times all over Europe, and also visited the US and Canada, including an official showcase at SXSW 2011. Since April 2012 they have been Making Marks and have toured in Italy, the UK and Scandinavia, and also supported Allo Darlin’ in Germany and France. Their first single ”Ticket Machine/Like Spinning” was released on 7” vinyl by London based Fika Recordings in October 2012, and two more singles and a debut album are due to be released by autumn 2013.

Colin: We haven’t seen you since tour last month and we miss getting to hear your set every night – now that you have a new single and an album out so very soon, I was curious to know if you all are changing up your set with any new surprises?

Ola: The set we played in the US was quite short, so we cut a few songs from the set we played on our EU tour just a few weeks before. When we played in Sweden the other day, at the Cosy Den festival, we took those songs back into the set. We were cut off though, because the bands before us had taken too long. The joys of being a headliner! Anyway, we have some new songs lined up too, that we’re going to record in London with Darren Hayman, in between gigs on our UK tour at the end of the month. The album’s already done, but it’s going to be a B-side for a 7″ we have coming out on the brand new Norwegian label Snertingdal Records, and a song for a new compilation that I don’t think has been announced yet. Exciting!

David: You write your songs in both your native Norwegian and English. Do you find it challenging to have to be charming in two languages? Also, in your travels in the US, which state was your favorite?

Ola: The main goal of our music is to be charming, yes, and it’s definitely way easier to be charming in English. We have funny accents! In Norwegian we’re not that charming, but then again maybe no one really is. Our favourite state was Vermont, no doubt. It was very pretty and Winooski where we played had a fish lift for fish that needed to get up the river, but were feeling tired. How nice is that? People there seemed very considerate.

Dana: Here’s a simple one: I want to know what kind of underwear each of you are wearing today.  (I will go first just to take away the intimidation factor – I am wearing blue and grey striped boxer briefs from a store in America called ‘The Gap’).  Also, tell us one things about yourself that we wouldn’t know just from looking at you.

Jørgen: Boring but comfortable; all baby blue boxer from a store in Norway called ‘H&M’. I once played drums for Jeff Buckley’s old drummer, Matt Johnsons solo project. -That’s how cool I actually am.

Max: When we go on tour we have lots of traditions, like for instance naming the cutest boy and cutest girl after the show every night, and for the whole tour. We also often have contests, for instance who can eat the most eggs on tour (and others which will remain undisclosed). Including your time as My Little Pony, you guys have been around for a while, so what are your tour traditions? and what was most different about touring in the US vs. Europe?

Jørgen: I guess we’ve never been big on traditions. When we one time got served champagne before a gig in Germany we decided to make that a tradition, putting it on the rider. That champagne made us very happy and talkative and funny on stage, we hardly remembered to play our instruments. We never really got champagne very often after that so the whole ting sort of faded out, but whenever we get some form of bubbly alcoholic beverage we make sure to do a huge thing out of it. Italy is good for keeping that limp tradition up.

In Norway it’s way more important to be technically good at playing than actually making good heartfelt music and clever melodies. This gradually switches the further south in Europe you get. Down in Italy and Spain indie is indie, not fucking Muse or Kings of Leon. The focus is totally on the music, the trueness and geuinity of making good melodies and just being in a band with your friends. The same goes for US.

That genre of music environment suits us perfect. It’s no real spot for that in Norway.

A big difference between EU and US, though, is the technical state of things. We get to play bigger venues, better gear; both sound- and instrument wise, and there’s actual backstages with catering and free drinks, showers and hotels. Not to be posh or anything but those material goods feel damn nice sometimes.

Colin: Okay, here’s another playing question relating to food – basically, I am curious as to whether you’d prefer to eat before or after the show. I know the Allman Brothers liked to play hungry, but I can’t remember which side of the satiation spectrum you all tend to fall on. I already know that nobody likes to play thirsty!

Jørgen: Definitely like to have had some food in advance, but no heavy stuff. Half of us are vegetarians and like to eat light, that makes it possible to both eat and play without being weighed down from slow digestion. Wouldn’t like to play hungry but there’s an important balance there. We’ve been touring for so long that we know exactly what and when to eat now. Post show you may bring on the heavy stuff, both food and drink wise.

Max: We’ve played in Sweden a bunch of times and always really really loved it. It reminds us of New England, but people dress way better and you hear Robyn everywhere you go. We’ve also played in Denmark & Finland a couple times each, but, unfortunately, never in Norway (a gig in Oslo last summer was cancelled at the last minute). We’ve heard that intra-Scandinavian rivalries can get pretty catty. What do you all *really* think about Sweden and the Swedes, and the Swedish pop phenomenon in general? And the Danes & Finns?

Jørgen: It’s not as bad as it seem, or as we may make it appear. I don’t know what the other countries has going against us, probably the same old stupid neighborly jokes that’s been around for ever. As kids in Norway we grew up on Scandinavian, mostly Swedish, literature and undubbed movies and TV series. I listened to, and read, Swedish without even thinking that it was another language. Being in these other Scandinavian countries now and getting every conversation returned in English makes a hopeless case of being this “Scandinavian family”. -so yeah, maybe a tiny bit aggregation there.

Any how, the Swedes sure make good pop music, and we’ve drawn alot of inspiration from them through the years. Don’t think that works visa versa, though, they tend to talk alot during our shows. -We like them still.

The Danish and the Finns I really don’t know much about, all we get of their music is the occasional dreaded Eurovision contribution. They seem like a nice laid back kind. Wish I had more dirt on them, I really don’t.

Indietracks Compilation 2013 by Making Marks