Kings Of Convenience aren’t some new breed acoustic duo. Acoustic music has been around for decades, but they still feel like something new, like a warm spring breeze coming in after a long cold winter.
These two average guys have struck a chord the world around and now they are reaping the wares of their work. Tell them how much you like their music. Tell them the world is a better place because of them. Just don’t tell them they sound like Simon & Garfunkel. Don’t go there.
Across the ocean we spoke. Eirik, after having some troubles with a sore throat, had to cancel our prior engagement, but once in a while things end up working out for the best.
I heard you’ve been having problems with your throat.
Yesterday my throat was feeling quite sore, and tomorrow we are going to Amsterdam to do a concert and I was very worried that I wasn’t going to be able to perform because of my throat. But I’m feeling better today.
Have you been busy doing shows?
Yeah. We basically go all over Europe all of the time.
How are you accepting the accolades?
It’s very good. That is the nice part of music, to please people. If people like our music and come to our shows, I take that as a sign that people are enjoying what we are doing.
In America we are being bombarded with pop and metal. I have the feeling it’s the same all over the world, but do you feel like you are a breath of fresh air to music?
I think we are. We do have the same musical trends. I think we are different from what is coming from the mainstream. There are subgroups of people doing the same thing as us, and you will always have that.
Did you expect to have this much success in today’s musical climate?
In a way we knew by calling our album Quiet Is The New Loud that it would get a lot of attention from music journalist. If you have a good slogan or you can say something with words you may write something. We knew that we would get attention because what we were doing was different. We wanted people to debate, not debate our music, but what I mean is that there is this tendency now to fill up music with more and more sounds and the music has become louder and louder. That is the general trend of society because people are so stressed out and with one minute of silence they become bored. I think we are a reaction to what is going on in society.
Have you always played this form of music?
I started playing acoustic guitar. I’ve never had an electric guitar. We used to have a rock band, a kind of rock band, there was an electric guitarist who made a lot of noise, but I still played my acoustic guitar. So we weren’t a very loud rock band, but we were still a rock band. We went through different stages of sounds.
Is the songwriting natural for you two?
Sometimes it is very natural. With the harmonies, we tend to sing in thirds. It is very easy for us to make a third part harmony. Sometimes we work on more interesting harmonies which take more work and that doesn’t come as natural. We have to really work on that and experiment.
Is there any band that you looked up to for inspiration?
We loved the band Ride. Then some other bands from our hometown that we used to see and they would sing harmonies.
Do you write together?
We write things together. There isn’t one song that was a hundred percent made by one of us. Mostly one person brings in an idea and the other person brings the idea to life and finishes the idea. They may have a lyric or a chord and together we finish it. To make it a whole is a lot of work and we do that together.
Some of the songs have great little riffs. Do you draw melodies from the riffs or the reverse?
We work with very few elements so each element is very important. Each guitar part has to have a substance of its own. We aren’t just filling gaps with instruments. We have to be aware of each element and what we are doing with it.
Do you think people enjoy the music so much because you are relating something we can all relate to?
I hope that is the case. That is where I find the most pleasure in music, when people tell stories I can relate to. It makes experiences in my own life more meaningful when I feel like they are singing to me. It’s like a friend I never met. Someone I can relate to even though I’ve never met them.
Music does mean a lot when it speaks to you.
And to tell you that you that you are not alone.
Do you find yourselves getting compared a lot to other people? Who is a compliment? Who drives you crazy?
I’m very bored with being compared to Simon & Garfunkel. That isn’t interesting to be compared. It’s so superficial because we sing harmonies and play guitar. We don’t have much in common with them. I like when people compare us to things that aren’t so obvious. Like being compared to Stereolab and Run-DMC. (laughs)
No way. Run-DMC?
Yeah. Someone came to us after a show and told us, ‘I can tell you’ve been listening to Run-DMC.’ He was right, because when I was twelve or thirteen years old I was into Run-DMC. He told me that he could hear it. We have some songs that aren’t on the album where we sing in rounds where we have call and response singing. He said it sounded like Run-DMC.
That’s a good ear.
Yeah. That pleases me. Because I feel like they are really listening when they compare us to things not so obvious.
I was wondering if you ever listened to older Beach Boys stuff.
Beach Boys are a group that I feel like I should check out. I know very little about them.
I only listen to the one album really, Pet Sounds.
What is the most flattering thing you get from fans?
I feel like when people say we are fantastic singers they don’t know what they are talking about. I’m a perfectionist and I know we never learned to sing and that we are basically experimenting. We are still in the process of becoming better singers and songwriters. I’m flattered when people say our music is good music. I’m the kind of person who wants to always do something better. I’m not expecting anyone to call me a genius. I think we have so much more potential.
When was it released overseas? And when was it finished?
In January. But we finished it in May.
Between that gap, what were you doing?
Mostly touring and doing promo stuff. There are so many countries in Europe. We had to go to a lot of countries.
Now you’ll have new experiences to write about.
Honestly, it gets kind of monotonous and strange. The hotel room, airport, or a taxi ride. It may be in a different country, but it’s always the same.
It reminds me of the new Stereophonics album where they sing about exactly those three things.
Really? I don’t think you can write about those things because it’s not a personally challenging experience. It’s boring. That is one of my problems, when you have success as a musician because that is what your life turns into. It’s this endless monotonous process that doesn’t develop you personally. You don’t have much to sing about from living like this.
Going into this did you realize what was totally involved?
No. I’ve been surprised by how much we had to do. I thought when we had our record deal, I thought I’d just be making music and having a lot of time off. It turned out very differently.
You’ve found out the hard way about the music business.
Yeah. I wish I had a substitute that could do all work. There are so many things that I don’t want to do that I have to do. That is also difficult because when you are in a creative process living a life of compromises, it isn’t a good thing. If you want to create art, your whole life can’t be a compromise. You have to be strong in your own way and do things your own way. This is a problem for me at the moment.
The next time around is there anything you may do different?
I hope the songs that we are working on now will be better songs. And I hope the recording of the next album will be more pleasant. Recording this album was a lot of hard work and we struggled a lot recording it. I hope the next album will come easier and more pleasant.
+ charlie craine