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Former Silver frontman Ivar Nikolaisen, currently in Kvelertak.

In the light of having recently aged one year (happy birthday me!), I’ve been dipping my toes in the pool of my youth, reminiscing about the music of my teens. As I’ve mentioned in my ‘Ramble On: Introduction’ post I was spoon fed fantastic music from an early age, but was of course distracted by Britney and Christina like any other 90’s girl. Luckily, I hit a crucial point at 14 when my dad gifted me Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish you were here’ for Christmas with a note saying ‘It was about time I started listening to some real music.’ For a while, I was pretty stuck in the music my dad had always played me, and to be fair, in many ways, I still am today.

However, I also started developing my own taste and discovered that current music wasn’t all that bad either; I became obsessed with finding new music and rummaged through Myspace and NRK Urørt (a Norwegian website where unsigned artists can share their music) for hours to find obscure and unknown bands, and I became a frequent face at my hometown Bergen’s underage venue 1880, which is now, unfortunately closed – because why would one put funding into a wholesome, cultural venue that supports young people and provides them with a platform to develop their creativity? WASTE-OF-MONEY.

Anyway – I’m rambling. While reminiscing and listening, I realised that my 15 year old self had a pretty decent ear – that is, of course, if I choose to completely ignore the 800 emo bands I was listening to, which, in order to retain my credibility, I will. Below, I’ve selected five, mostly Norwegian, slightly obscure bands that helped shape my taste in music and nudged me in the direction to where I’ve ended up today

Kaizers Orchestra, Norway

Kaizers Orchestra’s one of those bands you either love and adore, or absolutely hate – there’s normally no in-between. Me, I loved them and their industrial marching band, oil barrel slammin’, oompah rock ’n’ roll. The band sadly disbanded in in 2013, but luckily enough, I was able to see them a handful of time in their heyday. Guitarist Geir Zahl’s band ‘Skambankt’ is also well worth a listen.

Major Parkinson, Norway

Major Parkinson, Bergen’s own boogie-Tom Waits. They stood out like sore thumb on the scene, in a very good way; fantastic song-writing and live performances, with an absolute unique sound which I’m to this day still unable to put a label on.

Silver, Norway

Hardcore band Silver was Kvelertak singer Ivar Nikolaisen’s old band, and my teenage heart skipped about a million beats when they played an underage show in my hometown that I was lucky enough to attend. I probably had one of my first ever bangovers after this show, and awkwardly had my photo taking with the band after. I’ve tried to dig out this photo for the article, but was ‘unfortunately’ unable to find it.

Johnossi, Sweden

Swedish duo Johnossi consists of singer and guitarist John and, you guessed it, drummer Ossi. They had me at their ‘Execution Song’ and their clever use of semi-acoustic guitar and pedals.

Warship, Norway

Warship singer Lars Lønning is most known as the frontman of comedy stoner band Black Debbath (who, I might add, have some fantastic music videos, just check out the video for ‘Den Femte Statsmakt), however, he put all jokes aside in Warship, where he serves up everything from heavy riffs to mellow bluegrass alongside his eerie Ozzy-like vocals.

Photo via the ‘Hendrix live at Woodstock’ documentary.

First of all, let me start by saying that I’ve sat down to write this article three times now, the first two times getting too stoned (sorry Mum & Dad, I did it for the art!) to do anything but eat fistfuls of granola and play with my cat while listening to Santana’s Woodstock set on repeat. This time, my mind is clear – fuelled by coffee to the point of explosion, the western way. Now, let’s get to it.

If there’s one historical event in music I would have loved to be a part of it’s Woodstock, three days of peace, love and music – although the reality of it would probably be getting lost in a crowd of half a million people in a time before phones, while tripping balls on acid – which would be either fantastic or incredibly stressful – it’s a double-edged sword, rabbit-hole roulette.

Either way, there’s no denying the mark it made in music history, and even with all political views aside, that spectacular line up is worthy of headlines on it’s own: Hendrix, Creedence, Santana, Ten Years After, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Johnny Winter, Sly and the Family Stone, Ravi Shankar, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Mountain, Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – I mean are you fucking for real…? Last week marked the 50 year anniversary of the festival, which is why it’s been on mine, and oh-so many other people’s minds.

Being born about 40 years too late to attend and experience the festival in it’s messy and beautiful glory, I’ve done my best in the past couple of weeks to live out the Woodstock experience as well as I could fifty years down the line; I spent three days at Sonic Blast Festival in Portugal with a group of friends, dancing in the apocalyptic rain to Earthless at midnight, before partying at Jimi Hendrix’s London flat during the Woodstock weekend anniversary, drinking his favourite rosé which was handed out for free. Needless to say I felt like an absolute piece of shit the next day as we obviously managed to get our hands on more than the allocated bottle per person.

Anyway, I’m rambling, back to the festival.

Woodstock happened at a crucial moment in time; The Vietnam war was raging and brothers and sisters dying, Martin Luther King Jr had been tragically killed a year before and people were fighting for equality, whether it be due to gender, race or sexual orientation. Then all of a sudden, an angel of a farmer under the name of Max Yasgur kindly leased one of his farm fields to the festival promoters, which then attracted nearly half a million people who celebrating peace, love and music. The festival, did not go down well with the locals, fearing what these scruffy looking longhaired youngsters would get up to in their town. Luckily, Max Yasgur came to their defence:

“I hear you are considering changing the zoning law to prevent the festival. I hear you don’t like the look of the kids who are working at the site. I hear you don’t like their lifestyle. I hear you don’t like they are against the war and that they say so very loudly. . . I don’t particularly like the looks of some of those kids either. I don’t particularly like their lifestyle, especially the drugs and free love. And I don’t like what some of them are saying about our government. However, if I know my American history, tens of thousands of Americans in uniform gave their lives in war after war just so those kids would have the freedom to do exactly what they are doing. That’s what this country is all about and I am not going to let you throw them out of our town just because you don’t like their dress or their hair or the way they live or what they believe. This is America and they are going to have their festival.”
Max Yasgur to the Bethel town board.

If you take away the musicians actually performing and only focus on the logistics of it all, Woodstock wasn’t far from being the Fyre Festival of 1969; they had initially pre-sold 100 000 tickets to the festival, but as attendees started to show up, fences weren’t ready and the amount of people were so high that they were unable to stop the massive stream of hippies pouring into the area – hadn’t it been for traffic being so bad, they estimated numbers would have been higher. With nearly half a million attendees, they were also running severely low on everything; food, water, medical supplies, you name it. Still, despite the sporadic rain, lack of, well, everything, protests from the locals and just general chaos of it all, Woodstock was a peaceful celebration uniting hundreds of thousands of people through to their love of music and acceptance. Today, we might just need a Woodstock more than ever, the rainforest is on fire, and the world is ruled by mad men – we all definitely need to take the edge off a little bit.

After a mere four years of working freelance for Orange I decided it was time for me to make an attempt of getting one step further, to second base, you might say. ‘Can I pretty please have a monthly column where I write about everything music related, and give it a cool Lester Bangs sorta name?’ I was holding my breath waiting impatiently for the reply; ‘Let’s give it a go.’ Shit, so I’m doing this – a monthly column of me sharing my thoughts on whatever, but what do I call it?! Then all of a sudden, there it was, clear as day; ‘Ramble On’ – it’s perfect! I landed on this name as I, well, talk a lot, and the Zeppelin song is an absolute banger.

Growing up I knew Led Zeppelin from my dad’s record collection, to me they were one of those epic bands from way back when, when rock ‘n’ roll was still new, and giants walked the earth – there was no one like them, except maybe Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. All three giants from lost times that helped shape music the way it is today. I never dreamt in a million years that I’d ever get the chance to catch any of them live, well, Zeppelin for obvious reasons, that ship tragically sailed and sunk on the 25th of September 1980 with the passing of John Bonham. 

Ozzy, photo by Fin Costello

However, I’ve managed to see Robert Plant twice, first with Alison Krauss in 2008, then second at the iTunes festival at Roundhouse in 2014. My heart skipped a beat both times as I cried myself through ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ – how could I be hearing these songs played live? I’ve also seen another quarter of Zeppelin in the flesh with John Paul Jones playing with Seasick Steve, where he played a variety of instruments alongside bass, some of which I’d never seen before and to this day am still unaware of what were. Obscure to say the least! 

I’ve somehow also managed to catch Black Sabbath twice before it all ended (although not with Bill Ward, gutted!) – first time in 2014 with Motörhead (which again for me was a major childhood dream come true!) and Soundgarden supporting, not knowing the importance of what I was witnessing and the end of two eras to come as both Lemmy and Chris Cornell, two such massive figures within their own genres, passed away within the next couple of years.

Pink Floyd

Last summer I also got to see Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, my Virgo birthday brother from another mother; I’d been obsessing over Waters since watching his ‘In the Flesh’ DVD at 13, and being gifted Floyd’s ‘Wish you Were Here’ for Christmas that same year. Fast forward a few years to finding ‘Live at Pompeii’ and the damage was done, hell, you don’t get that stuff these days. The stuff they use to have, do, well, we probably don’t get that these days either… Anyway, I’m loosing track as I often do, hence the name ‘Ramble On’ (works well, huh?), which brings me to my next point of the fact that I have yet to see Jimmy Page perform; the ultimate guitarist, and the final boss of rock ’n’ roll legacy. Maybe just break out that Earls Court dragon suit one last time…?!

Despite being fortunate enough to have caught these incredible artists decades after it all begun, I can’t help but speculating and dreaming about how it would have been to see them in the glory of their heyday, when Black Sabbath spent more money on coke than recording, Pink Floyd exploring psychedelics and visuals at the UFO club, and Led Zeppelin melting minds with four day long versions of ‘Dazed and Confused’ while taking on the title as ‘the greatest band in the world’. Until time travel’s invented I’ll just watch ‘The Song Remains the Same’ religiously instead, and ramble on.