Interview with Truckfighters, AB Club, 7 February 2014.
We talked to Ozo and asked him about the tour, the live shows and the album.
The band has played here before! Yes, we played here with Kvelertak, in March.
And now you are headlining, and it's a sold out show. It's been that for a couple of weeks!
How does it feel? It feels really good! AB Club is not a super big venue, but it's always nice to sell out. Next time we sell out the big hall (laughs)
Can you still control your ego? (more laughing). Hey but things are getting serious! I heard you guys were able to quit your daytime jobs last year. So you're becoming real 'rockstars' now! Kind of. We don't drive around in fancy cars but we pay our rent and food, and that's about it. I used to work with kids in a youth centre, and I also worked at a ski resort. Now I just play music.
I have to be honest with you: I have never seen Truckfighters perform live. But people say that Truckfighters are such an exiting live act. In what way way is your performance different to that of other bands? I think many other bands don't move that much on stage and they don't interact with the audience. They play more for themselves, standing more still, trying to be on stage and look awesome, instead of playing music for the people who are there.
Energy is the key word to your live shows. A fan even wanted me to ask you what drugs you are on, because he wants it too, that amount of energy ... What is the big secret? I think the big secret is to stay as far away as possible from drugs and try to take it easy with alcohol, because if you look at athletes, sportsmen and people like that, they don't drink or take drugs, so why should we do it. Especially because we play music, we need to stay in good condition and care about our health. Otherwise we wouldn't perform, we would only look like a very tired band on stage. I've seen that so many times when I see bands play live. There really aren't that many bands that impress me because I think a lot of them find more joy in the 'rocklife', drinking booze and hanging out with the girls, that side of the story. I think 95% of all bands just do it because it's an excuse to party. For us it has never been about that, it has always been about the joy of playing music. That's why we started playing our instrument and that's why we play in this band. Just because we think it's so much fun to play music. So that's the secret!
But how many pairs of shoes doet it take a month, with all that jumping on stage? That's what I REALLY want to know! (laughing)The guitarist is more the 'jump-guy'. I don't jump that much, but he needs to buy new shoes several times each year yes (laughing).
Do you feel that being a good live band is an important part of the total succes of the band? Absolutely! From the moment we started, we have always felt like we wanted to play as much as possible live and build a fan base from the live shows. We never had a big record label or agents or stuff like that, so we grew from one time to another. The first show there might have been 20 people, the next show it was 45, and the next show was 90. So we've been working the hard way and the slow way.
And you personally: do you prefer touring over recording? It depends. Sometimes you get really tired of touring as well, because it's really exhausting. To perform one and a half hour on stage each night, it's really tiring. You need to have a break from that. Otherwise you lose the exitement in doing that. And then it's good to be in the studio to record. What you get is: the joy of playing live is growing when you're in the studio, and the other way around, when you're playing live, you want to record stuff. You need to have both sides.
Only one show left in London and then the band is off to the US again? Is that because you feel there is still more 'work to be done' there, when it comes to popularity? Of course, the US is a very big country and we're still an underground band. We want to play more in Europe as well, of course, but this spring we will play in the US in March and then we will go back in May to play there for four weeks more. But then we will play in Europe for the summer festivals. (Pukkelpop!).
Universe is the new album.
In Tarot -you know, fortunetelling cards-, The Universe is the last card. It says: all lessons learned, all rewards earned, but the end of the story. Please assure me that that is not the reason why the album is called 'Universe'? Oh, then we have to start over again! (laughs). Actually this album has taken so much of our time, that it has consumed us totally. It's been 'our universe', it's been all we thought of for many years, finishing this recording. It's not about the big sky and stars and planets or something. It's more like our small universe, but to us it's all that matters. It's a great name but we don't mean it as a grand blah blah blah. It's really something small for us, this album meant everyting for us for a while.
On the musical level, in what way is this album different to earlier albums? I must admit: I didn't hear a stoner rock band when I listened to it ... I think we never ourselves said we were a stoner band, because we don't smoke weed and stuff like that. We always say that we play some kind of fuzzy hard rock, but that 'stoner rock' label, I think it's more other people who put that on us. The first things we did sounded a lot like kind of Kyuss or Fu Manchu and of course that's stoner rock. But for us it's more like: we play the music we like at the moment and we don't try to do a specific song or style. We play whatever we feel like. Sometimes it sounds like something different but we don't care. We don't want to be the band that does the same album over and over again. We want to push ourselves to do new stuff.
On the lyrical level: what inspires you? It depends on which song, it's realy divergent. One day you see something in the newspaper and you write something about it, but the next day you're up in the mountains and in nature, and you get inspired to write about something ordinary in life. I don't really write about politics, I don't care about that, and I don't have time to investigate all that stuff. It's more like small thoughts you get from time to time and from day to day. I don't have something that I feel I absolutely need to write about, not 'one big message'.
The band released an EP in 2013 and now a full CD with 7 songs, which is not an overload of songs ... Why release an EP and not save up the songs for the full CD? The plan for the EP was to also record some live songs, because we never recorded or released any live songs ever. That was the first plan. And the other plan was to release the full album in 2013, but we didn't feel like we were completely satisfied and we had to set up the distribution, and the release was kind of pushed forward all the time. Then we thought: people are expecting us to release something so let's release one song on an EP and put two live songs on it as well, because that's something we haven't done before. And it was also a kind of sign to show that we were still alive.
Why did you pick 'the prophet' to make a video of?
We don't know! We picked 'Chairman' as the first video, but that one was a really complicated one, so we thought, maybe next we'll do one of the easier, short songs. It's easier for a video director to do a 3-4minutes video than one of 14 minutes. It's a lot more work, and since we only use friends and people we know, -we don't hire a professional videomaker to make an expensive video- , they do it just for fun. So if we expect them to do a video for a 10- minutes song, then it's a lot more work for them to handle.
If one day for some reason, you couldn't perform anymore, what would you be putting all that energy into, alternatively?
I would probably work more with the label, because we have our own label singing bands, and I would probably try to evolve that thing. I would still be in music, but on the other side, kind of.
Thank you very much for talking to us, Ozo!