What happens when you mix a healthy offering of the blues with some bits of classic rock, stoner rock, doom and psychedelia for good measure? You get Lonely Kamel. The Norwegian four piece have a few albums out already and over the summer they released the brilliant “Shit City” – an album which really captures the band at their best – full of energy, creativity and big rocking grooves and riffs. After reviewing the album, I was offered the chance to pick their brains and get answers to some questions, ranging from “Why call something ‘Shit City’?”, to music in general and touring. There were some interesting things learned (Not every Norwegian football fan supports Liverpool FC being one of them!) and the rest… Well it’s best to just take a look really. Step on in to “Shit City” and enjoy your stay!
AN: Your latest offering, “Shit City” was a great release, one of the best stoner-come-retro rock sounding records of the year so far. My first question is, why call it “Shit City” and what was the working title if there was one?
Lukas Paulsen (guitar and backing vocals): I’m glad to hear you like it! We decided on the title pretty fast. The snow was melting, everything was fucking dirty and people just throw their garbage in the streets. It was also a time of frustration for some of us. Like when you wanna move far away from the city but you can’t because that’s where everything happens. So it’s kind of a love hate thing. Same old fucking shitty boring city, but at the same time it’s the shit. The place to be.
Don’t think we had a working title.
AN: There are a lot of sounds blended together on this record. How did you go about the writing process? Did you go in with a plan along the lines of “This one will be more blues sounding…” or something along those lines?
Lukas: No, we never deliberately try to go in a certain direction. This band is about making cool songs that we like, and we like hard rock and blues. If one of us comes up with a cool riff or a piece of music, we play with it and work on it until we all like it. And then it sounds like Lonely Kamel.
AN: How is this album different to your other releases (if there is a difference) and is it your favourite one so far?
Lukas: I think Shit City is the record that has captured the live energy in the most natural way. The songs are technically harder to play. The result sounds less stoner, which I personally think is good, but it wasn’t intentional.
I don’t know if it’s my favourite Lonely Kamel album. I have favourite songs from each album. Shit City is the one I am most satisfied with guitar wise.
AN: There is a real British classic rock feel to this album. Bits of UFO and Led Zeppelin are really prominent on the record (to me anyway). Are these two of your biggest influences or favourite bands? If not, who has had an influence on your sound and style?
Lukas: Yes I was a total Led Zeppelin nerd when I was young. I still think they are the best band ever. I started listening to some UFO many years later. I already knew how to play guitar at that time, so it was more a case of Hey that Schenker dude and I have something in common. He’s just a tiny bit more famous than me though, and a tiny bit better… Actually when I think about it, the first Scorpions record Lonesome Crow was one of my favourites when I was younger. Both the Schenkers play on that so maybe I have been influenced.
My guitar heroes are Ace Frehley, Jimmy Page, and Paul Kossoff. Without a doubt.
The other guys in the band have other influences of course. Captain Beyond, Howlin Wolf, Motorpsycho, Mark Lanegan to name a few.
AN: Tour wise, you’re playing a handful of UK dates this autumn. Are there plans to return here on a bigger tour next year?
Lukas: The UK is the place where I would like to get famous if I had to choose. We all want to play more in the UK, but up till now we have been playing mostly in Central Europe because our booking is good there.
We try to play as much as possible in the UK, so hopefully we can get some cool contacts over there. I’m not sure why but I’ve always loved the British Isles. I’m a big fan of Nottingham Forest and listen to all their matches on BBC Radio Nottingham. Me and my childhood friends rent a tower in Scotland or Ireland every second year. I love medieval shit, English pubs, Tolkien, the language and all the dialects.
AN: Keeping with the live talk theme, what in your opinion is the biggest and/or best show you have played so far?
Lukas: The biggest show audience wise I guess must have been Stoned From The Underground.
But we played some really cool gigs, Desert Rock London and Berlin were nice and we had an awesome experience playing outside in Sardinia in Italy on Duma Jam.
AN: What are your thoughts on the retro-rock sound? A large number of bands seem to be adopting this style. Do you like the tag retro-rock? Do you like any of the bands who play this kind of music?
Lukas: I don’t like all the talk about retro music. Maybe some bands do it because it’s trendy, but I’m pretty conservative. I have enjoyed 70’s rock since I was 5. And I never jumped on any of the trends: grunge, nu metal, black metal, Brit pop, or whatever. I have listened to Free since I was 15 and I still listen to them almost every day in my car. Sometimes I think it looks funny when people dress exactly like the trend in the 70’s. Look at the German band Kadavar for example. They have become so much bigger just because of their looks and the image. Their music gives me nothing. It’s just a pale version of legends like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. It doesn’t sound like they’re inspired by the music, it sounds like they try to copy it. But that’s like my opinion. Go to a Lonely Kamel gig and you will see that we are in no way a trendy retro band. But you will hear lots of influences from the classic hard rock scene of the 70’s.
AN: Are there any releases this year (already released or upcoming releases) which have caught your ear, or looking forwards to?
Lukas: Hmm… The Order Of Israfel has released a good doom album. I like some of the stuff on Robert Plant’s new record.
AN: And finally… Any plans for album number 5 yet?
Lukas: We hope to release our fifth album as soon as possible. Already started working on some tunes, but first we have to do some touring.
(Interview by Fraggle)