MOTORPSYCHO / Connected to the unknown – like H.P. Lovecraft / Interview with Snah

MOTORPSYCHO / Connected to the unknown - like H.P. Lovecraft / Interview with Snah

Nobody must be / should be introduced in one of psychedelic rocks most legendary band – let beside that “psychedelic rock” isn’t exactly describing what MOTORPSYCHO is all about.  It’s simply more than words can say – if you would explore the Motorpsycho universum consisting of myriads of  albums and side projects over the years, it would cost you days. So we don’t try to describe anything – we just sit and listen to “Here Be Monsters”, the wonderful new album of the Trondheim three. And like nearly any year in the last 25 years, they are playing an European Tour bringing us exstatic gigs like that in Cologne at Buergerhaus Stollwerck, where they played nearly 3 hours  of new and old and unheard songs, of brutal walls of sound, endless instrumental passages, and cozy little folk melodies. Leaving the band and Motorpsychonauts exhausted and happy. It’s still a sensation to experience this magnificent band  – after all these years.’s Martin Hannig had the honour to talk with Snah, who formed the band with Bent back then long ago. Pic also by M. Hannig Snah, you must have played nearly every location here in Cologne….

Snah: Oh yes, here at Stollwerck, Gloria, Live Music Hall, Gebaeude 9 – Cologne is always a good place for us! And whole Germany as well. Bent told me once that you all learn german at school in Norway…

Snah: Oh ya, ever since  I was 13 years old I learned german for 4 years I guess. But it was not really hard for me – my mother is german as well. I didn’t get to speak much german in our house sadly – she spoke a lot of german with my elder brothers. Ok so you’re half german…

Snah: Well in fact she was from Sudetenland, which is part of Czech republic… interesting historical background! Snah, last weeks we saw a lot of legends dying. David Bowie, Prince, Lemmy: do you feel personally connected to one of these?

Snah: All 3 of them really! Even though I wasn’t into Princes music: he’s part of the collective musical backbone. You can not recognize his music or not recognize it because in the 80ies we had only one radio and one TV channel in Norway…. but with Lemmy it was more like losing a friend you know. He was a wonderful man and so inspiring. – It’s the way of nature, people getting older. Your beard is getting grey, I see ….

Snah: And hair is falling off (laughs). It’s a part of life. I’m gonna hang in here and play as long as I can. This is the Motorpsycho way. You’ve been around for so long…. Can’t remember any german band doing this, for example.

Snah: And we’ve seen so many bands come and go and come again. Also the records industry – up and down. And we are still here maintaining the same output and working with the same people that work for 20 years for us. Like our agency Powerline promotes our business in Europe. And Stickman Records also is a long term relationship. Which is very rare nowadays …

Snah: It is! I feel really privileged not being fucked over by some idiot commercial companies. And people are still coming to your shows!

Snah: Yeah we had a sell out last day in Dresden and also Berlin was sold out like 800 capacity –which was great. That’s good for you and for your income!

Snah: Well touring is quite expensive! As long as we don’t lose money it’s a good thing. Snah, looking at your many projects beside the band I guess you are an artist in the truest sense of the word.

Snah: For every year I feel privileged to be doing what I’m doing. Try to do it right with Motorpsycho and my other side projects as well. It’s really important to have this freedom and opportunity to do certain stuff and various stuff. But Motorpsycho is always the main project! And I think that is also what Bent said he felt with Spidergawd. It would take so much time touring … Yes Per told me that Bent couldn’t play all the shows with Spidergawd.

Snah: I’m sure Bent want to do this! But it’s not possible. Time is limited…. I heard about this Rockheim award for Motorpsycho in Norway… what is this Rockheim about?

Snah: It’s like a museum thing you know. Like a hall of fame. In some ways we are a museum band now. In that sense we are institutionalized in Norway. Is this band an institution in Norway?

Snah: It started the last 10 years. But it’s an ambivalent thing for us, because Norway has a really poor tradition in rock music. Well – like Germany I guess? Ok, let beside Krautrock ….

Snah: Yes Krautrock! We don’t have any of this phenomenon!  Apart from tradition – I guess you are around for so long people in Norway might think – hey they are STILL around – they MUST be good!

Snah: (laughs) yeah! And they don’t get rid of us! And on being part of Rockheim – did you get a special prize, like maybe some money?

Snah: Oh no. You know they want to incorporate you and you play it a bit like a jester in the court. At least it should be a big grant for someone in there. If they take the arts seriously they should know that the artists seldom earn money. And if they really want to help us they can give us money. So we can rent a tourbus, or pay for recording, that would be an approbiate thing, and worthwile, and you would be truly happy. Of course you can’t live on their applause! But: I don’t want anybody to give me money, I want to earn it by myself. As I said: it’s an ambivalent thing, all these establishment  and museum things… but I guess you’re old enough to do it in many ways…

Snah: We are. We are not 22 years old… So you don’t have to rage or start a revolution against something, you are just being honoured!

Snah: It’s so okay for us… and we didn’t suck any corporate cock. We stayed true to our projects throughout the years. I can say today, like 25 years later, this is what we wanted to do without any compromise, and this is fuckin bloody serious STILL! So it’s okay – we can take this accolade. We don’t have this hall of fame thing in Germany, which is poor I think. We had this Krautrock bands and more, who invented a new kind of music in the 70s…

Snah: It was a great catalyst for so many things to happen! Do you have a band you would take in a german hall of fame?

Snah: For sure I would put Can and Kraftwerk in it. It’s timeless music. And it’s original music. In it’s time it was a sign for a cultural change. And they did something new and unheard and created a new genre. Like Motorpsycho creates new sounds and an own genre every year. For me there is the so called rock business with hundreds and thousands of bands – and there is Motorpsycho, apart from it since 1990. Doing it their own way.

Snah: It’s a continuous work. And we take any kind of influence. We do whatever kind of style and we don’t really care about trying to be trendy. I ask myself quite often: how can they be there for so long? It just happened, right?

Snah: It’s because we take the opportunity and we want to have the freedom to do whatever we want to do at any given time. So we can do any kind of side project, everything is good for the band. Like a melting pot with synergies and influences from all side projects. There is no borders to what we can do. You will continue this…

Snah: Yeah, we are still writing music, and now we are writing music for a theatre play in Trondheim. Talking about “Here be Monsters”, the origin of this also had something to do with a museum…

Snah: It was the anniversary of the Teknisk Museum in Oslo. They wanted us to do something. They gave us money to write new music. They ordered “something”. So we started out to make “something” in a really short period of time. Within a couple of weeks we came up with a skeleton of arrangements of what would be “Here be Monsters”. We played one big show in the museum where we performed all the material with the keyboard player Stale Storløkken. He was supposed to be on the record, but he couldn’t  do it. But you could bring it out as a live album with Stale?

Snah: Yeah we could do that, but it wasn’t really finished in a way. There was so much more to do for us. You felt like we could do make more out of it?

Snah: Yes totally.  There’s “Spin Spin Spin” – a wonderful cover version of a Song by Terry Callier. Who came up with this quite obscure song?

Snah: The first time I heard Spin Spin Spin was actually from the band H.P. Lovecraft. But then a friend of mine played me a record, The New Folk Sound By Terry Callier from 1964 with Terry Callier playing guitar and singing and with 2 double bass players, a tremendous document. Then I heard that song and I realized he wrote it!  I was looking after that song and found out that it actually could be written by a someone called Kent Foreman. Everybody seems to think that it’s a Callier original, but on some Labels you find Foreman as the original author of Spin. On the H.P. Lovecraft record there is also Foreman in the credits. And I read about the LP you mentioned from Callier was just all cover versions…

Snah: Really? Interesting!  Never heard about that!  Maybe it’s an even older folk tune? You know Terry Callier did a couple of albums for Atlantic Records as well, and then he went into obscurities in the 70s and 80s… … he was a computer programmer….

Snah: Like this… and he came back touring the last years of his life. He played in Norway a couple of times. Sadly missed him. His voice is really really nice!  On your version of Spin I noticed the excellent vocal arrangement, which I think you worked hard on.

Snah: We basically had this H.P.Lovecraft feel in the back of our heads while we were doing it. It’s not that for from that arrangement. But anyway it’s our take. It’s like a hippie dream…

Snah: But it’s still so nice to sing it. We play it live tonight in a slightly rougher version. For me 2016 it’s like a closing circle. On “Lobotomizer” you had this H.P.Lovecraft words on the LP, you know that “death may die” thing, and now you play that song, with that H.P. Lovecraft band story… like closing a circle.

Snah: (laughs) I think it’s a never ending thing with H.P. Lovecraft, the author. I love him. So creepy!

Snah: He’s so… doom and gloom… deep down in the subconscious of man… Like “The Mountains Of Madness”. Especially “The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward”! The tale of a young man dealing with black magic. Terrible. It will keep you awake for some times! I like how he used the words “unspeakable fears, unspeakable terror”. Sometimes when you have this big clouds of depression, it’s like this, you know. You don’t want to be there, you don’t want all this cosmic depression, the blackness and all this. You don’t wanna know what’s really going on (laughs). You want normality and balance. I think the Godzilla myth in Japan for instance has very much to do with the fear of the tsunami and earthquake – and I think it’s pretty much connected to this. We have no clue about the vastness of the universe or the energies and what is really taking place. We only have our own nervous system in order to try to decipher what’s going on. Yes we are just trying to find out, look at the skies, to get to know something like God’s plan – but we sure don’t know anything about the universe.  And Lovecraft is like a connection to the unknown I guess.

Snah: Yes. And that goes also for our music. Sometimes we have this mentality … Lovecraft and Motorpsycho – both connected to the unknown….

Snah: (laughs) There is so much stuff happening all the time. We don’t really know what we’re doing. On stage of course but also when we write. Out of improvisation you start to cristalize melodies…. it’s music in it’s rawest form. It doesn’t always work you know. Sometimes we play really bad of course. But the risk we taking I think it’s worthwile and push ourselves forward. That is why we continue to tour. A serious issue now: the Bataclan assault… did you ever think of like – oh my god, what if we had been playing there?

Snah: This kind of thing can happen anytime anywhere anyplace. Of course it’s a nightmare. What can I say? I don’t think that I can elaborate on this because it’ so devastating and unheard-of. France isn’t on your touring schedule….

Snah: We barely play France. Sometimes we play Paris. France liked our poppy records around 2000 a lot, like “Let them eat cake”, „Phanerothyme”. But they didn’t follow up. And we had a fallout with the record company there. Then we started with that heavy jamming on our albums – they didn’t like it. They found it inconsistent. They were right of course!

Snah: (laughs) Yeah, but they were offended. Okay Snah – that’s it – thanks a lot for talking to us.

Snah: See you tonight!