Siamese Fighting Fish

author TL date 11/10/12

For the past weeks Copenhagen violin rockers Siamese Fighting Fish have been touring eastern Denmark thin along with A Road To Damascus in this year's installment of the Rock'N'Charity tour, which you can read much more about over here. We caught up with them before the show the bands played together in Huset, Nakskov, for a chat about the tour, the new album and about their choices moving forward as a band among other things.

From left to right in the above picture, Siamese Fighting Fish are:

Violinist Christian Hjort Lauritsen, guitarist Andreas Krüger, singer Mirza Radonjica, drummer Villads Berg, guitarist Rasmus Krøyer, bassist Morten Bo Jakobsen You guys are currently playing as part of the Rock'N'Charity tour alongside A Road To Damascus. Can you tell us about how you became a part of the tour and what your thoughts and considerations were in relation to it?
Radonjica: Initially we were contacted by Jakob (Munk, bassist in ARTD. Ed.) and the timing was right for us. We were just putting out second album out and it was a thing that I could personally relate to very much because of my own father's death. So it was a no-brainer for me I just had to convince the other guys, and they said okay so we just went on from there and it turned out to be a really great idea. How do you feel like the Rock'N'Charity tour has been different from regular tours and how do you think the tour has gone here coming up on the end of it?
Radonjica: Well the different feel comes from us obviously not getting paid. Other than that, we've experienced people buying tickets just to support the charity, so that's a cool thing. Otherwise it's just been a tour, but a really cool tour with some guys that we can relate to musically as well.

Krüger: It's been cool to play with the same guys every weekend, forming sort of a brotherhood on the road.

Radonjica: Also lots of little things like backstage passes and stuff, all of that has been lined up professionally this time around. Instead of playing in tiny venues we play in some of the best venues that the various towns in Denmark have to offer. And how do you feel it's been going so far?

Krüger: There's been more people at the shows than we expected actually, so it's been a very cool experience every night. Good vibes and lots of partying.

Radonjica: It's also been nice to feel that all the hype we do on our facebook and such is actually working and that people are really coming out for the shows. By now we are really really close to reaching our goal of collecting 50.000 DKK, so when you consider that we've had expenses for transportation and food and such, that's a pretty good chunk to come out with for two bands that are mainly just big in Copenhagen. Basically it's been a really good tour. Setting it up has been a lot of hard work. I'd advise any band to do it, just know that it's a lot of hard work as well. Must be a pretty big satisfaction for you guys as well, having raised all that money?

Radonjica: Well that was actually my main point. I didn't want to do something like this without setting a goal, just going out there and trying to raise "as much as possible". Then you can raise 3000 DKK and it feels pointless. We had to set ourselves a goal and try our best to reach it. That's why I think this tour is legit. I didn't want people to be able to say that we're just doing this to get into venues to play shows. I wanted us to set a goal that shows that we do care and we are serious about supporting this charity. Although we get to play a lot of shows and have a lot of fun we're also very serious about this work. You guys departed on this tour just after releasing your second album "Breathe:See:Move" and that album actually charted at number 8 in the Danish album chart for about a week or so. Can you tell us how your reaction was finding out and how you feel about it here a few weeks later?
Krüger: Actually it's just been going so much better compared to the last album. I don't remember how many copies we actually sold, but we've been very surprised with everything that's been happening since the release, including the making number 8. It's overwhelming. Also with all the reviews and with these concerts having so many people showing up. Finding out about making number 8 though I just thought to myself "what the fuck?!"..

Radonjica: I was sitting at home and I got the text from the label manager and he was like "You guys are number 8". I didn't believe him because I work at the label as well and I just thought my colleague was messing with me. So he said no, he was being totally serious and I was like "well that's weird?". I always want to look at things from both sides and when you think about it is also kind of a little terrible that a band like ours can be number 8. Because that means that record sales must really be waaay down these days. We did sell quite a few records, we doubled the number we sold of the first record in just a month, so it's really cool, but it just hit me and I thought it was crazy. It really got us some recognition and some hype and it just shows that however small it is, there's still a scene in Denmark for rock music and for people who like to think outside of the box. A lot has already been said and written about the development in your sound moving from the first album to the second one. Which words would you use to describe the development in your band both in terms of mood, musicality and technicality?
Krüger: I would say that we focused a lot more on just producing good songs and making the songs work. On the first album it was like we were coming together as a new band and we had a lot of ideas all the time and we wanted all of them to be in the songs. This time we tried to make it work with fewer ideas and a more simple sound, because if there's too much going on in a song then it just won't sound good, so that's something that we've focused a lot on making this record.

Radonjica: I think also that as a band we had a better idea of what we wanted. I think many bands make the mistake of putting out a record when they're not ready. I'm not saying we weren't ready to make our first album, but we kind of reacted to a demand from a label saying "we like you guys, you should do an album". It was not like we had 10 songs that were done, we just thought "let's just do it". That's kind of the band, we just do things like that. This time around however, we knew exactly what we wanted to do. Maybe we weren't in total agreement about the minute details in the sound, but we agreed on the songs and all of us were happy with these songs.

Krüger: I think we also just work a lot better together as musicians and songwriters. With the first album there was a lot of discussion about what sounded good and what didn't. This time we've been a lot more on the same page. Some of the main strengths of the new record are some of the great violin parts delivered by your new violinist Christian Lauritsen who took over for Jonas Klitgaard when he left the band. Can you tell us then, what kind of difference is has made to have Christian join both as a musician and as a person?
Radonjica: Christian has totally surprised me as both a person and as a musician. That guy is a fuckin' tornado. He has crazy ideas, he's indenpendant, he knows what he wants and he's totally his own. He is creative as fuck and that makes it really good to work with him, because I would say him and I we have a lot of ideas, and then we have Andreas and Morten (Bo Jakobsen, bass. Ed.) and they have a lot of ear and structure. So Christian and I will be constantly going "we should do this and that!" and they'll be going "sure, but we need to fit it in the songs".

Krüger: Yeah Christian is like a chaotic mess of constand ideas and it's cool that Morten and I can then try to sort those ideas and pick and choose what we think works the best.

Radonjica: And he can drink anybody in the band under the table as well, it's amazing.

Krüger: I would say he has surprised me the most as a person because he's the biggest gangster.

Radonjica: True man, he is fuckin' gangster. On the new album you kind of try a variety of different directions in a lot of different songs. As far as I know, the songs are all written over a longer period of time, so I've been wanting to ask whether it's important to you guys to get to show different sides to yourself on the same record, or would you say that some of the songs on the new record are more indicative of the direction you're moving in as a band than others?
Radonjica: Nothing is indicative because we need to sit down when we want to write a third record and just debate and decide what is working for us with where we are as people right then. When we were writing the first record I was still feeling the remnants of a relatively emo period of my life, so I was writing with a lot of negativity. Now I'm in a different place, maybe I've grown up a bit.. The songs are diverse however because we just wrote them how we felt them. We took what sounded cool whether it was funky, aggressive or mellow like in "Yes, Say No". It doesn't matter, we take what works as long as we can all recognise ourselves in it.

Krüger: It was cool because we kind of locked ourselves inside the rehearsal room and just started talking and playing ideas for each other and inspired each other. The songs just happened that way, without too much thought like that.

Radonjica: I couldn't tell you if on the next record we might have some songs in Danish, or if we have more piano or if we have less distortion. I couldn't imagine that last thing happening right now, but still, we want to take it as it comes and it should be fun to us mostly. When you play this kind of music you're not doing to satisfy anyone but yourself I would say. Have you guys been the kind of band then, that writes a ton of songs, maybe 20 or 30 and then you pick the best ones or...

Radonjica: Fuck no! We write ten songs and we put those ten out. We do that because no song is written without everybody being completely confident that it's finished. We don't do halfassed shit with just three or four chords. We think about it and we listen to it a hundred times and then we go back to the rehearsal room and say this and that part don't work, let's do something else. It's a democratic and really, really slow process.

Krüger: It's been a lot quicker this time than last time though. You mention the song "Yes, Say No", and obviously your (Radonjica. Ed.) girlfriend Siri Olesen guest on vocals on that song. As an outsider you can imagine that suggesting this idea might have been a little bit touchy in the band, so it'd be cool if you can tell us a little bit about what kind of considerations you had going with this idea.
Radonjica: I thought it would be fun to do that song with Siri because it's a breakup song, and I'm obviously still dating her and hopefully I will for a long time - So I thought the story, which has kind of a Yoko Ono thing going, would be fun to do with her, and I thought it'd be a good story to sell. Also she's a good singer so that was also part of the consideration of course, but we did have our discussions about it. It was not an easy thing because we saw that it could cause trouble if it turned out it wasn't good enough. We wanted to try out other singers but were pressed on time, so luckily I think it turned out pretty good.

Krüger: I think it also makes the story make more sense because Mirza and Siri are dating, because it makes it that much more personal for them to sing it, and I feel that you can hear that in the song. With only little over a year in between the releases of the two albums you can say that you guys have been relatively quick with those releases compared to a lot of other bands. What has it meant to you to be able to follow up on your debut this fast, and do you think that generally it's a good idea to release new material so quickly or was it just this time around?
Krüger: I think it's a good idea. I don't think it's that fast either, but for us the timing was very natural. When we got bored and tired of rehearsing our set, we started writing new songs.

Radonjica: In general I also think that it's an oldschool thought that taking time writing the songs makes them better. It might, but you don't know that. That's not certain and as the industry is evolving right now everybody needs to step their game up. So very much in our character we thought "fuck it, let's just do it, we're not going to lose anything on this!". If somebody thinks we do a shitty record, or if we flat out do a shitty record, that's not going to make us stop making music and it's not going to make some label tell us to relax. We have the freedom to do whatever we want and that's what we're going to do. We don't want to set any limits to that. Maybe in half a year we put out an EP like we did last time, because people need to be fed. Their attention span is sooo short. That's actually what I'm getting at. I understand that following up on your debut quickly is smart, but couldn't you worry that if you take too little time between writing two records, then maybe you don't get enough new ideas and those records turn out to be too much alike?

Krüger: I think we had those thoughts as well. We were pretty confident though about the new songs being better, but we did worry a bit about that.

Radonjica: I didn't think so. I wasn't thinking about whether it sounded the same. It all came down to us having the songs ready and if people think they're too similar to the old ones then so be it. It's not like that many people know us yet anyway. We can catch more people by putting out more records and that's exactly what has happened. I don't think there's anything wrong with this. What are your immediate plans for the band after your current tour ends?
Radonjica: We have some big things coming up, not all of them confirmed. We're going to New York on November 7th to play a showcase at Nordic Spotlight. That's the first thing. After that we've got something else coming up in November which we can't talk about yet. Also we're hoping that with all these things happening, we're hoping that more established places and festivals are starting to pick up on us, because that's the last step we need here in Denmark to be able to go out to other countries and say that we've actually accomplished something back home. Of course we want to play abroad because there's hardly a market for this kind of music in Denmark. The people there are there all have our record now. We need to go abroad and get us a label that has some muscle. Not some shitty bedroom label. We need something real and that's what we're hoping for in 2013, and we're also going to hit Europe on a big tour then. Coming up on the end of the interview, can we hear about what you guys are listening to these days?
Krüger: I don't really listen to rock anymore, for me it's more about electronic stuff. The one rock band I do listen to right now is The Damned Things.

Radonjica: I'm kind of slow so I only recently discovered Deaf Havana but they're a really amazing band. Also I'm falling back in love with Dance Gavin Dance at the moment. I've also started listening to a lot of Danish stuff, like the new stuff from Jacob Bellens who's the singer in I Got You On Tape. That stuff is really cool too. Then of course there are the locals like Stream City who I listen to a lot, and like some of the heavier A Road To Damascus - not the gay stuff, haha! That's all for today, I'll let you have the last words for the fans:
Radonjica: Buy our album and come to the shows! I'll give you a kiss for that!

Krüger: And be a good person!

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