Published in N by Norwegian in-flight magazine, January 2013. Original article here.
Katzenjammer: The British invasion
“We love coming to London!” Katzenjammer are all grins and cheer as we meet backstage at the Islington Academy, just an hour before they are due to play the sold-out venue upstairs. There’s little about the cramped, stark dressing room to suggest what a roaring, raunchy show that Anne Marit Bergheim, Marianne Sveen, Solveig Heilo and Turid Jørgensen will deliver in just a moment. The Norwegian band has a Bavarian beerhouse folksy pop sound, with a hint of circus, delivered on a myriad of instruments. And Katzenjammer’s definition-defying brand of quirk is like catnip to the Brits.
“We arrived in London this morning … no, yesterday!” Turid laughs; the group has spent a lot of time in their tour bus lately. Dressed in a white trilby and shiny black leggings, Turid is the tall blonde often found playing various guitars, but the four women continuously swap the dozen-or-so instruments around on stage, and they all take turns as lead singer. Solveig, the guitarist, drummer and sometime trumpeteer, looks a sharp contradiction tonight in her messed-up ice-blonde hair and classic tweed dress: “We feel so welcome in Britain! We’ve got something of a cult following over here, people show up and we sell out venues. Britain is happening for us now – we’re just getting started.”
With Birmingham last night and Oxford tomorrow, Katzenjammer has had a busy tour across the UK, the second this year. But what’s the draw of Britain? “It’s always been sitting there as a tough place to break, but there seems to be an appetite for our music here,” says Anne Marit, the banjo and accordion player. Solveig interjects: “The UK audience seems to really come along with us when we play, no matter which city we are in. Brits are hard to impress because they have seen it all, so they respond in a really honest way.” Marianne, whose powerful voice is complemented by armfuls of tattoos, is a fan of touring in the UK because its diversity complements Katzenjammer’s own: “We really don’t pay attention to what music or style is popular. We just play what we love.”
Katzenjammer will continue to push on with its British invasion, because as Anne Marit says, eyes poking out under a heavy fringe: “The world is a tempting place”. There’s little cheek to be found in the the four friendly and thoughtful women while in the dressing room, but this will change; some sort of transformation is clearly about to happen. Soon Anne Marit will charm the audience with her attempt at Cockney slang, and Solveig will flash her backside to the audience “because now you’ve seen it it’s not interesting anymore”. The same can’t be said for Katzenjammer.