There’s nowhere in the world that we can’t go. There’s music everywhere. Including Denmark. And from Denmark come the three-piece rock band Vinyl Floor. Thomas Charlie Pedersen (vocals, guitar), Rasmus Bruun (guitar), and Daniel Pedersen (drums, vocals) are the men in the band. They spoke to us yesterday and this is what they had to say…
Backseat Mafia: Tell us a little bit about yourselves – how did you all meet and how did the band come together?
Charlie: My brother and I started playing together more than ten years ago and that was the beginning of what would later become Vinyl Floor. The band was then called Guernica and Rasmus joined in 2004. Guernica went through some changes in the line-up and band name. In 2007, as Vinyl Floor, we began to further develop our sound and style. After a year of rehearsing and playing shows we recorded our first album “Do You Still Dream” which was released in 2009.
BM: What sort of music did you listen to growing up – were you influenced by what your parents listened to or was it stuff that you discovered yourselves?
Vinyl Floor: To some extent we’ve all been influenced by our parents’ record collections. We still remember the power of listening to vinyl records, played in the living room at a very young age. We took it all in and that’s probably part of why our music is a nod back to the great artists of the 60s and 70s. We listened to a lot of that stuff including British concept albums from that period. Even though we’re from Denmark we feel that our music has been strongly influenced by both British and American music.
C: I can still remember listening to Tommy by The Who at the age of 15 for the first time and being totally and utterly blown away. I felt like it was written entirely just for me and perfectly expressing what it was like to be a teenager. Ever since then, I have wanted to do my own concept album at some point.
Daniel: Besides listening to 60s and 70s music I also remember being totally in awe of Grunge when it broke through in the early and mid 90s. I was amazed by how the bands were able to combine catchy melodies with progressive rawness. It was my brother who first discovered this new sound and I then bought a lot of CDs by bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden etc. You can probably hear some inspiration from those bands in our music as well.
Rasmus: Well, during my childhood and early teenage years I listened to a wide variety of music on the radio. It was about the age of 15, when I learned to play guitar, that rock music became the dominant genre for me.
BM: I’m afraid that in Britain our knowledge of Denmark and its culture is probably limited to Forbrydelsen (The Killing in the UK) and Borgen and, maybe, knowing that The Raveonettes are Danish. I can only apologise. So can you talk us through the Danish music scene – what are the charts like? And what is the homegrown music scene like?
VF: Well there’s a lot of interesting new music in Denmark. However radio and media is primarily dominated by electronic music, dancehall and pop acts singing in Danish. This is absolutely no critique but Denmark is such a small country so the outlet inevitably becomes somewhat limited. We have a very varied underground community though. Bands of many different genres.
VF: Yes, those are definitely among our goals in Denmark.
BM: What about the SPOT festival – that seems to be something of a gateway festival for new Scandinavian bands – is that a target for the band?
VF: Yeah we’ve never played SPOT and would very much like to do so since it’s a great and important festival. We have received most attention from outside of Denmark so it would totally make sense for us to play there. Also we now have a manager so we’re working more on our international contacts than ever before. However one minor issue with the SPOT festival – the way we see it – is that it has started to feature and promote already established acts. Its original idea was actually to stage upcoming acts only.
BM: But you guys are from Copenhagen – it looks to me as though that city focuses more on club culture and electronic music – is that fair? If so, has that made it harder to gather momentum – is there a town more focused on indie music and rock in Denmark?
VF: Yeah, we think you’re right. As mentioned above, Denmark has a strong scene for electronic music and clubbing. Electro-rock has been the big thing for quite some years now. Compared to what sets the standards here, we’re probably pretty ‘old-school’ sounding to many. And that’s not complaining about it – we’re very happy doing what we do – it’s just recognizing that Denmark is a very small country with just not very much room for variety. That being said, we’re proud of hailing from a country with many interesting bands. Some of them are just not very well known. Recently we played two gigs in the town of Aarhus. They seem a bit more indie and rock oriented there though.
BM: You recorded “Peninsula” [look out for a forthcoming review !] in Sweden – was there a reason for recording outside Denmark? Is there a strong musical rivalry between the two countries, and with other Scandinavian nations?
VF: We think we just needed a change of pace really. We did our first record at our own place and we spent a lot of time working on “Peninsula” there as well. It just seemed like a good idea to leave the comfort zone for a while. When researching studios we found Studio Möllan in Sweden. The producer (Emil Isaksson), with whom we share the same passion for analogue sound, really was the right choice for us. Emil was also able to provide a Swedish string quartet and horns. Some of the songs needed a grandiose vibe that these instruments could bring.
On a side note, our own space has now been turned into an optimised full-blooded recording studio so we’ve begun recording there again. However we’d like to have Emil working on the next one as well. Sweden really appears to have a strong musical community with everybody working for each other and helping each other out. With recording, touring, lending each other gear and so forth. We could feel it while there. Also Sweden generally has gained more internationally successful accomplishments than we have here in Denmark. But no rivalry really, no.
BM: Where did the gorgeous cover art come from for “Peninsula”?
VF: It was created by Simon Mejstrup Sørensen, originally a friend of a friend. He’s such an amazing artist who draws everything himself. Add to that he’s full of wild and crazy ideas which definitely appeals to our sort of deranged minds. He’s very easy to work with. Usually Daniel comes up with some basic ideas or a sketch inspired by the lyrics which Simon then translates into cover art. For “Peninsula” we needed the illustrations to go with the storyline. Simon was the perfect choice for that. We hope to work with him again on the next record for sure.
BM: Was it an easy writing and recording process?
VF: Yes it was. We spent most of 2010 rehearsing and arranging the material, making sure the running order of the songs flowed and matched the storyline of the concept. We also arranged strings for the first time in our lives. Once we entered the studio it was recorded in 14 days during two separate sessions. We did some additional vocals at our own place afterwards, but all in all it was a relatively quick and smooth recording process.
BM: You’re heading over to the UK in May – where are you playing and how did that come about? Is it difficult for a Danish band to make headway in the UK?
VF: Well, we don’t know how we’ll be received as a live-band since we’re playing the UK for the first time, but some of the positive album reviews we have had come from the UK. So we have a feeling our British ‘tone’ may appeal to British concertgoers. We are playing two IPO festival concerts in Liverpool in May. The Cavern Club on the 16th and the Cavern Pub just across the street on May 17th. The festival arranger, an American guy named David Bash, asked us to do these shows and of course we had to say yes. We much appreciate the opportunity to play in the UK!
BM: For the brothers in the band – what is the dynamic like between the two of you when you rehearse and play? I used to play rugby with my big brother and I have to say that it was one of the most wonderful things in the world to be on the field with him – is it the same for you two?
C & D: Afraid of making it sound like a complete soap opera, we’re both happy to say that writing songs and playing together is an absolute joy and a great thing in life to be able to do. Yes, we do get to see each other A LOT, and yes, we can get on each others nerves sometimes and perhaps have ‘brotherly fights’ once in a while. But no Gallagher brothers here after all! We are lucky to have Rasmus to make sure of that!
BM: Are there any other Pedersen brothers – if so what are they doing while you two are making music?
C: Nope, no other Pedersens. Luckily for Rasmus, since he’s already busy handling two of us.
BM: For Rasmus – what’s it like playing with these two? Are you the peacemaker? The deciding voter?
R: Actually sometimes I feel like I am a younger brother. I have known Daniel and Charlie since I was 10 years old and when I was 18 Daniel and I became roommates. Also my parents and Charlie and Daniels’ parents are neighbours so we are all like one big family. But, yeah – sometimes I do feel like I am the peacemaker and the guy who has to make a decision so that both brothers are satisfied. But mostly decisions are made together in a smooth way.
BM: Finally, you’ve come into a small fortune, and one of the things you decide to do is stage a new festival in Copenhagen. Money is no object. Who is headlining alongside you and why?
VF: Well we’d probably be incredibly selfish and stage a grandiose one off-performance of “Peninsula” from start to finish. With strings, choir, horns and all. Surviving members of The Beatles, Genesis, Procol Harum, The Who and Pink Floyd would all then be present to make a special appearance sometime during the set. Would that be too demanding?