Norwegian group Sløtface sit across and beside me on a warm Brisbane afternoon at Ric’s Bar, as BIGSOUND continues to be built around us. It’s the first official night of the annual music conference and festival and Sløtface are one of the most highly anticipated – and international – bands on the bill.
Their debut album, Try Not to Freak Out, has garnered great early reviews, while the band’s effervescent brand of rock has been landing the young group on many an international festival line up through 2016. It’s evident that grabbing Sløtface at this particular point in time is a rare opportunity and one that we’re going to remember once their profile takes on a more rapid, upward trajectory.
Sitting with the group – Haley Shea, Lasse Lokøy, Tor-Anne Vikingstad and Halvard Skeie Wiencke – you’d be forgiven for mistaking them for local BIGSOUND punters; they’re effortlessly charming in a down to earth, friendly way, while remaining incredibly polite and considered as we talk about how they’ve been balancing band life with their work and uni commitments back home.
“It’s really great to be young and doing this,” we’re told, as they laugh in agreement. “That’s a good excuse because even if you’re stressed out, you can tell yourself, ‘Well at least I’m doing this now,’. I have some commitments but not like a dog or a family.”
“We’re going to be on tour for two months and we won’t be home until the first weekend of November,” Shea adds. “It’s been easier to be like, ‘I can’t work for these months’ – at least we now have one thing to focus on.”
Sløtface may still be wrestling with having a burgeoning career in rock n roll with being away from home for large parts of the year, but as Try Not to Freak Out has already dictated, this is a young band well up to the task. As they take us through their current schedule, it’d be easy to feel overwhelmed, but Sløtface take it in their stride – this is definitely a ride they want to be on.
“It’s really exciting because for a year, most of our listeners were from Australia, compared to the rest of the world.” we learn. “For us, that was quite exciting to know that someone on the other side of the planet was listening to our music. To get the chance to come here, we’re really lucky to get these chances to do these kinds of things. It’s all worth it.”
“We’re touring now and then Europe for the rest of September and October, but for the first two weeks of November, our only vacation time, we’re going to chill and then write more new music over the next two weeks. We’ll probably be out on tour again in December and then touring again for the first half of next year too. It’s super exciting. It’s our first real long tour, we’re doing so many fun things.”
The band is quick to admit to the realities of being on the road as much as they have been this year; it’s not all backstage parties and late nights once you’re in the thick of it.
“There’s the childhood dream where it’s like, partying and rock and roll, but mostly it’s travelling and waiting for stuff!” they laugh. “You have that one hour on stage where it’s all worth it.”
“You walk off stage and feel like it’s been the most fun thing ever, but then you have to wait 23 hours to do it again.” Shea says. “I think it’s put how small the music world is into perspective. Even if you look at our record label in Australia, sometimes we might bump into them at a British festival; after a while, you start to know people all around the world, which makes the music industry seem really small. When I was younger and listening to a lot of bands and obsessing over a lot of bands, it would seem like they were so far away, but then they may have known a band who was from our hometown, because they’d also met them somewhere too.”
“This week, we’re only in Australia for five days,” she explains. “There’s an eight hour time difference; our schedule is packed from when we wake up until we go to bed every single day. If we were older, maybe we wouldn’t be able to do it as well. Our label loves it; they’re like, ‘Let’s do all the things while you’re still young enough and still look good in pictures!'”
This idea of music and indeed, working in music, bringing people closer together is a point that remains one quite close to home. Growing up in a seemingly isolated music community and wanting that avenue for escape is one many music fans can attest to – Sløtface are in the cool position where they’ve escaped and now they’re living out their own perceptions of what being a touring musician entails.
“It’s one of the coolest things about being a musician,” Shea says. “You get to play festivals and play with other bands where you finally get to see those bands who you really like. Obviously, we grew up in Norway and not too many of the bands I loved growing up came through. Now we get to go where they are and see them live, which is a really good perk of the job.”
Photos by Michelle Grace Hunder.