Siamese Fighting Fish

author TL date 31/01/11

"We Are The Sound", the debut LP of our friends in Siamese Fighting Fish, is hitting stores today, Monday 31/01/2011, and it is meant to help the world at large get to know the band. With that in mind, we set out to be ever helpful, and arranged an interview with the band in which I got sit down with all six of the guys, asking them exactly what I wanted. Knowing now how inquisitive I can be, the band will probably think twice about giving me such an opportunity again, because the resulting interview spanned 40 minutes of video, and a small bible's length of text. If your Danish is awesome, you can be lazy and click the player below, and just let the dialogue play out - I recommend doing so in HD, seeing as my lack of knowledge about video-conversion meant I had to spend several hours uploading it all, and I would like to think I wasn't completely wasting my time. If your Danish is not so awesome, worry not, for I have meticulously transcribed the gist of it all below the player, separating the epic text in a couple of main topics. Still though, unless you have some time to kill, I recommend dividing this over a few reads, interesting as it very well may be!

See also: "We Are The Sound" reviewed!

Siamese Fighting Fish are:

- Mirza Radonjica - Vocals

- Morten B. Jakobsen - Bass

- Villads E. Berg - Drums

- Rasmus Krøyer - Guitar

- Andreas Krüger - Guitar

- Jonas Klitgaard - Violin

About the band's formation and lineup changes So guys, could you start out by telling the people how your band came to be?
Villads: Well, things started out in 2005, when Morten and I get together in a band that eventually doesn't work out very well. However, we get the feeling that we have some chemistry..

Morten: Strictly musically speaking!

Villads: Ha, yes of course - as a bassist and drummer I mean! Anyway, we agreed to stick together, and we did after that and two other projects went wrong, before we eventually got to Siamese Fighting Fish. We started out with Morten's cousin Palle on guitar, and we had another name at the time but..

Morten: Well things happened in connection with the 2008 Melody Makers Contest. We were in the contest while our name was Last Page, and we had made it to the finals when we decided that, if we wanted to win, we had to change our lead singer. He was actually a cool guy, but at the time there were a lot of small stuff going on, and eventually Villads started looking for another singer..

Villads: Yeah, actually I secretly placed an ad looking for a singer online, even though the other guys were actually thinking of giving our current singer another chance - I guess I can be impatient like that when it comes to my music. I then come into contact with Mirza through this ad on Aage Jensen's website [Ed: Danish music-equipment re-seller], and - proving that music is a cold and cynical business, we go jamming with Mirza behind our old singer's back..

Morten: We're sorry about that Karsten..

Villads: Yeah, sorry Carsten - Anyway, despite Mirza coming in with a massive hangover, it turns out we love our sound with him and later that day, we call Karsten Hede and tell him that we're sorry but we've found another singer. Okay, so then you play with Mirza in the finals, winning a recording session which leads to the release of your first ever record, and then, between that and your next EP, some more things go on with your lineup?
Rasmus: Yes, Mirza and I go way back, and he had been listening to some solo material I had been making. So he told me that his band needed a guy who could give their sound 'the missing 20%'. So I tried out and, as far as I remember it didn't go too well, but at some point the guys needed me to stand in for Palle at a gig, and after that I was welcomed in the band anyway. Okay but then at some point before recording the next EP, you had another guitarist called Jakob instead of Palle?
Mirza: I think what was basically happening was that we were in the process of finding out who we were as a band. We wanted to be a little heavier, and at the same time, Palle had some health-issues and he himself informed us, that he wasn't up for the task anymore. So we got another guy in, who was with us for some time, helping us shape the sound on our second EP, but it didn't feel like a permanent solution, and in the end we felt like we needed to find out exactly what we wanted moving forward. So the four of us, Morten, Villads, Rasmus and I, we met and talked about it. This was the first time we talked about getting a violin, some keyboards and a new guitarist, but within a month we found these two other guys, and after that, the record pretty much started writing itself. Okay so these two guys come in and, meaning no offense to Andreas, what I'm most interested in hearing about is how you suddenly decided that you needed a violinist in your rock band?
Mirza: Well the idea came from my work as a booker. I had booked Jonas's other band Herö, and I saw them and I started thinking about adding violin to our band. So I wrote Jonas and asked if he wanted to try that, and he said yes although admitting that he had no idea about how to go about it.. but that was alright because neither had we.

Jonas: Yeah, I hadn't actually ever tried playing their kind of music before, so it was really an experiment for me..

Villads: It also has to do with us being very occupied with trying to have our own sound rather than just trying to sound like someone else.. Okay but, to begin with it was kind of difficult for outsiders to find out whether Jonas was just helping out, Herö still being his main thing. Is it fair to call him a full-time member of SIFIFI now?
Jonas: Yes it is. So we can hear that you've changed personnel a lot before getting to this point. Can you talk a little bit about how your ideas and ambitions have maybe changed from then to now?
Andreas: Well I was actually contacted by Mirza to help the band change a bit. I was playing before in another band called King's Cross - which was somewhat more poppy than this one - and Mirza wanted to bring me in as this kind of pop-guy, to try to bring balance and structure while the other guys where trying to think outside of the box. I think though, that we're still continuing to develop, and that our second record is going to sound different than the first one..

Mirza: I remember that when I joined the band, being 20 years old, I didn't really consider what we should do as a band, I was more concentrated on just getting in the rehearsal room and then getting out and impressing some ladies. And then later, I got to a point when I felt like we needed a guy like Andreas, because the rest of us were coming up with so many crazy parts, but we weren't really putting them together too well. We'd made only two songs in six months, and that's not very productive. Well, what I'm actually trying to get at, is that you guys used to talk about being inspired by Incubus and System Of A Down, and that's been getting harder to hear in your music, so I was wondering if you've just gotten more different influences?
Andreas: Well yes but it's kind of just us having a north pole and a south pole in the band, with someone like me listening to a lot of pop music and then people like Mirza and Morten who like completely different things..

Rasmus: I think it was also us trying to not lock down so much on the idea of being heavy, and instead trying to be more open-minded and let ideas come more naturally.. And then of course all of us also started to pitch in more and more..

Mirza: You can probably also attribute it to how it's become more popular to burn CD's and stuff like that, because we, like other people, have had opportunities to listen to a lot of very different and very unknown bands and we maybe take that with us into our own music. And we're also very proud of being a niche-band ourselves, even though I'm not sure we're going to stay that way..

Andreas: Yeah and the response has been surprisingly good when we've been out playing out stuff, which is great considering how our songs are sometimes pretty oddly structured. It's cool to see that people have liked it whether they're fifteen or fifty-five..

About the debut LP So now you're about to release a new album [Ed: at this point it's already out and reviewed]. Doing so is arguably something quite different to just releasing an EP - Can you tell us about why you decided that it was sort of time for you to step it up and make an album rather than just another EP?
Morten: Well you could say we want to get out of the sandbox and make an album that can function as a foundation for our band to grow. It's a more complete product and it allows us to appear much more professional. I'm guessing it also signals that you're getting ambitious?

Andreas: Yeah I mean, we were surprised to get into a dialogue with Target Records, talking about making a record, but we discussed what it involved among ourselves, and eventually we decided to go for it, and by now we feel like we've succeeded. At least we feel that way, and we hope the listeners will too. Okay, so you went into Bad Coffee Studios and started recording the LP with the help from..?
Andreas: David Mørup, Thomas Goschebart and Mattis Jakobsen Right, so why there, and why them?

Mirza: Well we were actually meant to have had Carpark North's bassist Søren Balsner as a producer, but then his wife was pregnant and his band was offered to support 30 Seconds To Mars, and meanwhile, we were kind of uncertain about the idea of putting our record in the hands of someone else. So in the end we decided to call our own shots instead, because it meant a lot to us for the record to be ours, and to have noone but ourselves to blame for any mistakes we might have made. So we went to Bad Coffee because they also allowed us to have it like that.

Andreas: Yeah and I had recorded with David and Mattis before, so I already felt comfortable working with them. Putting together an LP seems quite a different thing to do, than just laying down a few tracks for a demo or an EP. You had to work together for long, extended periods of time, and can you tell us about how the process affected you as a band?
Villads: Well, luckily we're still here!

Morten: We started out with great enthusiasm, and.. Well of course there's still great enthusiasm..

Jonas: It never went away!

all laugh

Morten: No, what I'm trying to say is that it was definitely a challenge mentally. Noone here doubts that what we've made is good, but it's still be hard work. It took way longer than we had planned..

Andreas: It's taken half a year actually..

Morten: And we thought we could do it in a month..

Villads: So anyone crying about being thrown out of X-factor can shut up. Being a musician is all blood, sweat and tears!

Mirza: I also think that, like a lot of bands, we really discovered the boundaries of our own knowledge, especially about what comes after the recording is actually done. You really need to take your time to nurse it and iron out all the little things..

Andreas: And Bad Coffee have been getting more customers, so getting appointments with them over the summer wasn't always easy.

Rasmus: It's funny compared to the writing-phase, in which me and Andreas actually just took home the things we'd been rehearsing, and recorded the album on his computer in only a week. But eventually you did finish the album, and it's set to hit stores on January 31st..
Mirza: And it was meant to drop on August 1st...

all laugh The album's title will be "We Are The Sound" - Can you tell us why?

Mirza: Well, I like it because it's sort of un-Danish. Some people might say that we haven't earned the right to call our album that, but I don't give a sh*t, that's our ambition. That's the reason why the six of us have been together. The wording "We Are The Sound" is taken from an Alexisonfire record, and I think it's just a cool, catchy phrase, and that's what we wanted - Something that would catch on at first look.. So it's a little bit of an attitude thing, with you guys wanting to fuck humility a little bit, expressing your confidence and ambition?

Andreas: Yeah that's pretty much it And you dare to say that, even having faced all these things you didn't know while making the record?

Mirza: Well it's not so much a way of saying "fuck what people think", because what people think of our music does matter - it's just more of a way of trying to stand by who we are and what we want with our band. That's what people need to understand about us. Then I have to ask who it is that you are on this particular record. Is this a record that's like a compilation of your best material till now, or is it more one which sees you trying to work together some sort of preconceived concept?
Morten: I think everyone in the band has a different opinion on that. Personally I do think the record has two sides to it, without it ever being so different that it makes it weird to listen to the whole thing in one go.

Villads: One thing to remember is that we'd only been together in this lineup for 6 months when we started this record, and while you can definitely hear that it is us playing on it, I think that a future record could see us having a more clearl idea about who we are as a band. Well what I mean is that band's tend to either make their album like a compilation of things they've been working on lately or, alternatively, figure out that they want to make a record and then have a clear idea from the beginning, about how they want it to sound..

Mirza: Yeah we definitely did the first thing, seeing as five of the songs are ones that were on our first EPs. They have been changed a lot, but you might be able to sense that Andreas and Jonas didn't come in until half the songs were already written. And I think that's actually alright because then people can decide what they like the most, and then we can in turn decide whether to listen to them, or whether to just keep doing what we ourselves think is awesome.

Andreas: It is however, a statement that we are a new band now. We have some luggage from the band's past, but overall it's a new start. There's a respect for the work which was done before Jonas and I joined the band, it's just been reinvented somewhat. Speaking of the old songs and about them being changed and so, what should an existing fan be prepared for on the new album?
Rasmus: That the same songs aren't really the same..

all laugh

Mirza: I think people should just listen with an open mind and throw the old recordings away. I understand there's some nostalgia for the old stuff, and people have already complained a bit over the new version of "K.I.T.T And The Heroic Villains", but the new version is the one that counts. Some of the songs have not only been rearranged, they've also gotten new lyrics and new meanings, so yeah, just listen with an open mind. And about the new stuff - What should we expect from that?
Morten: Well you should expect us to unfold more musically. Adding the new sounds from the violins, to the vocals and the guitars, there's a lot more going on melodically.

Andreas: It's actually funny because when I came into the band, neither of me and Rasmus had tried being in a band with two guitarists before, and it's insanely important for us to work together well. But it went really well, and Rasmus practically moved in with me and we worked together every day.

Mirza: They became lovers!

Andreas: Yeah we were referred to as "the marriage" after two weeks, but it ended up with us making some guitar work on the record that we're really proud of. Speaking of the record's cover art, can you tell us how that was made and why it looks the way it does?
Morten: Well I can say a bit about that, since I actually made it in collaboration with a guy called Terkel Christensen. It's supposed to symbolise what I talked about before, with the record having two sides, or two faces, or like on the cover, two halves of the brain. You'll also see some bits of lyrics on it if you look closely, and the thing is meant translate a juxtaposition of..

Andreas: Logic versus chaos

Morten: Yeah, you could say that

Mirza: It's tied with some of the lyrics, and the idea here is that we've parted the brain in a fair side and an irrational side, and the songs are partly driven by that rational side of fairness - be that in political or religious fairness or whatever - and the other side, which is the irrational side, is driven by the kind of emotions that we've all had towards this girl or this guy who makes us mad. That's the very unclear idea that you probably have to ask us to understand.

Record deals and future plans While making the record, you guys were getting involved with Target, getting some sort of contract. Can you tell us a little about what that's all about, or is that secret business type stuff?
Mirza: No, it's not very secret. Target contacted us, offering a distribution deal, including promotion. That means they take care of sending the record to all the reviewers and to relevant radio stations, they handle the production of the physical records and they'll also handle the production of some merchandise. However, we still own the master, which makes it a cool deal for us because we can say in a year for instance - to another company - that we want them to help us release this album in Germany. Then we're allowed to do something like that, which is great for us, and that's as good as contracts tend to get for debuting bands these days, unless you're Burhan G. So basically if you split with Target some day, then they also won't be making money off your Greatest Hits records or something..

Mirza: Exactly. Okay, so when the record comes out, what do you guys have planned?
Andreas: A hell of a lot of concerts!

Morten: Yeah we're booked a lot both in Denmark and abroad

Rasmus: Yeah we're going to Jutland!

all laugh

Mirza: We plan to play every weekend in February, March and some of April.

Morten: We got shows in Sweden planned and..

Andreas: Italy..

Mirza: Holland..

Morten: Tyskland

Mirza: Russia unfortunately isn't happening.. Norway..

Andreas: Everywhere in Denmark of course

Morten: Maybe a trip back to Malta?

Villads: Hopefully also some festivals. That's a big dream for all of us, to play on one of the bigger ones.

Mirza: Yeah we're probably aiming for either Spot! or Roskilde - That's sort of what would fit us. We can't play on Skanderborg for crying out loud! Not if you want to be a niche-band..

Mirza: Exactly. We do have some indirect contact with Roskilde's booking, but as you know, there are a billion bands trying to play there and it's quite difficult. Anyway, we're also planning to do some other things with our music. It's not set in stone, but something with dubstep and remixes, and later today we're making a DVD of this acoustic concert with some of our old songs. In going to play concerts abroad, how do you plan to get people to come to those shows?
Mirza: We plan to enlist the help of bands from the areas we're playing in. We know it's no good to go down there on our own, because people won't have heard about us. Well, obviously they've read about you on!

Mirza: Haha, oh yes, of course they have! But we will do whatever we can. Some of the gigs might even be acoustic just like this one. Whatever it takes for us to sell some cd's, sell some tshirts and get some people to visit our facebook page. Apart from just playing concerts, you guys are known for doing other things to promote your band. We've already been to a couple of your underground parties, and today you guys are playing entirely acoustic renditions of some of your songs. What is it with you guys doing all sorts of other things, compared to other bands that may just try to play any time and all the time?
Andreas: I personally think that it's been awesome joining a band with this mentality, because like you say, a lot of bands think they just need to play a lot and then eventually they will end up on Roskilde. But if you don't do something to promote your band, in a creative and original way, then I don't think people will be able to tell your band apart from others', because there are so many, both concerts and bands on facebook.

Morten: But it isn't just promotion, it's also just for fun, getting everyone to come out and have a big party..

Rasmus: It's also I think because we're such good friends. Other people are often in bands together making music, and then they have other friends outside of the band. We can come home from playing for a long time together and then I will more or less call Villads and ask if he wants to do something together, and maybe he can't, then I'll call Jonas..

Andreas: You go for the bald ones first!

all laugh

Mirza: I think restlessness is also part of the band's character. Something needs to happen all the time. And talking about the parties, there's going to be another one, and it's going to be even bigger Yeah, you told me earlier that you've gotten sponsored by Fiskefjæs? [Ed: Booze, like Fisherman's Friend]

Mirza: Yep, they've given us a sponsorship and we're organizing a crazy party some time in April or May. Does it not also help you in bridging the gap from the stage to the audience?

Villads: Exactly. It helps us meet our fans at their own level..

Morten: We have fans?

Villads: .. Listeners then.. Point is I hate musicians who act like they're stars and like they're better than others. So this is also our way of inviting everyone to be part of a great big SIFIFI family, whatever you're a sound tech, a fan, a groupie or something else.

Mirza: It also helps people attribute something to our name, even if they don't like the music, and I think that's important, thinking about how many bands I know, even though I don't like their music. I also want to ask you what your overall ambitions for this band are? What is the ideal situation for you guys?
Andreas: Straight to the top!

Villads: As a drummer, I would like to be the new Bono

Mirza: I haven't even thought that far ahead..

Andreas: It's more about looking at the steps directly in front of us, thinking about what's realistic in the moment, and taking it one step at a time.

Morten: I think all of us would really like to play some festivals, playing on a summer day with a lot of people, and going on a death-binge afterwards.. That's something we care more about than selling platinum or something. It's more about getting some experiences and spreading some art. I know all of us listen to a lot of music, and we would love to be on the other side of that, giving that experience to other people.

Villads: If I may again be the philosopher of the band - There isn't anything better than using whatever talents you have to go out and make people happy. Of course we'd like to be able to make a living and play Wembley, but that's not why we do this. We play music for the sake of music. That's what I'm getting at though. I mean, some bands just want to be bigger and bigger - but for you guys, do you have sort of specific place, or maybe just a kind of gig, that you would like for this band to get to play?

Andreas: It's not the destination that counts, it's the journey!

Mirza: Let's not be blue-eyed though. If we get offered something big, we'll likely take it, I mean, fuck it there are lots of chicks to be had from something like that! But right now, things happen gradually, and we're enjoying being able to be exactly what we want to be. To me right now, the coolest thing in the world is for someone to say "hey, you're that dude from that band". Other than that I want to try not to get too ambitious..

Andreas: You do this also just because you can't really help yourself. All of us have always had music in our lives, and it's just some sort of need that won't be ignored.

Morten: We wouldn't mind writing a rock'n'roll classic one day though.

Mirza: Can we become the new System Of A Down?

Morten: That would be cool with me.

Recommendations and last words from the band: Morten here claims that you people listen to a lot of different music, so here in the end, we need you guys to give us some recommendations. You're the experts, so what should people be listening to?
Rasmus: SIFIFI! Well, while we're waiting for the album then?

Andreas: Dubstep! Hahaha.. It's hard.. I guess Flux Pavillion, which is a dubstep act that is pretty much the only thing I'm listening to at the moment.. Which I guess is ironic when I play in a rock band..

Morten: I'm gonna go with a semi-unknown band called Agent Fresco. I think that's some really funky shit, and they're also a band that dares to break some conventions, being fucked up while still having lots of great melodies.

Villads: System Of A Down. They're one of my biggest inspirations, and even today I think you can draw parallels from them to us.

Rasmus: I just discovered Oceansize, and I think they're pretty cool. I come from a more ordinary kind of rock - like Smashing Pumpkins - but I'm expanding my taste after joining this band.

Mirza: Well I'm really liking The Damned Things at the moment..

Andreas: Yeah they're really cool!

Mirza: .. and I will always recommend Protest The Hero, Alexisonfire and Cloudkicker. While we were making this record, I didn't listen to anything but Cloudkicker.

Andreas: In fact, we eventually wrote a song based on Cloudkicker. Mirza told me to listen to Emarosa, Cloudkicker and Closure In Moscow, and then I started writing a song based on the drop-b guitars Cloudkicker uses.

Mirza: So they come highly recommended - And if you want some Danish bands, everyone should check out Trusted Few and Stream City.

Jonas: I wanted to say System Of A Down as well, but I also listen to a lot of Radiohead. I love them and they're still a super cool band. Well, that is about all I have, and as usual, I will let you guys have the last word:
Andreas: Steal our record!

Mirza: I just hope that people will come see us and listen with an open mind - and listen to us more than once! We're not love at first sight, we need for people to get to know us. Give it some time, because that's what it takes to get into our universe.

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