“I know the name is kinda cheesy, but these guys are from Norway, they don’t know English very well, but they are great trust me!” – Hakim (in the men’s room at Three of Clubs in Hollywood right before our second show in L.A. I was there too, my back facing the conversationalists.)
I used to skate for about six hours everyday, and when skateboarding started to feel wrong (due to badly performed knee surgery and the slow death of vert-skating) I called up my sponsors and had them stop the shipments of boards, baggy pants, trucks and wheels. At about the same time I had started going to Forsøksgymnaset in Oslo, a very alternative school were the only thing the students had in common was that they didn’t really belong anywhere else. I met Christer there and we founded BigBang with second cousin Erik on Bass.
There were junkies of all degrees, leftwing activists (the majority), Satanists, skateboarders, hip-hoppers, and maybe one or two “straight” people who were really the interesting ones. Of course they had a story like a car crash recovery or mental illness etc. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been there.
Playing with Christer and Erik became a substitute for the long skate sessions and it was all about band practice, at least for me. I remember people saying you need to play shows and start recording. I also remember being a skater and hating how skateboarders were supposed to listen to “skate-rock”.
We have released many records and done some fun things since then, but you can look that up online. Here’s what David Fricke wrote about our first US release: From Acid to Zen that came out last year:
It’s a shotgun buffet, like those early U.S. LPs by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones that combined album tracks and singles from unrelated sessions, and it succeeds the same way: like an instant greatest-hits record.
Singer-guitarist-songwriter Øystein Greni has the right history in his genes – his dad sang in a Norwegian band that opened for Led Zeppelin in 1968 – and he grounds songs like “Early December,” “Hurricane Boy” and the brilliantly titled “From Acid to Zen” in the eternal power-chord charge and fish-hook riffs of the Stones and the Who. But Greni also has a knack for wringing fresh excitement from the familiar: the country-angel harmonies and ice-Byrds guitar in the new version of “Wild Bird,” the improbable dream of Badfinger and Hüsker Dü in “The One.” For Greni, who co-produced the new tracks with Phil Nicolo, From Acid to Zen is a big step in a bigger gamble.
Another step would be our new album Edendale with strong ties to my adopted home in California. The area of Los Angeles today known as Echo Park/Silverlake used to be called Edendale around the time when the silent movie industry took off. Charlie Chaplin’s studio -now a storage place – is on my block, and Walt Disney’s first film studio was across the street from the local Trader Joes. In Europe we tend to romanticize things and people from the past; here it’s all about moving on to the next project. Ironically, as much as I wanted to get away from the stale museum-like atmosphere of Europe, I get here and start focusing on LA’s fascinating past!
Bag of Leaves
To The Max
Head Over Heels
Now Is Not A Good Time
One Step At A Time
Wild Bird (Live)