I met with the always energetic guys from Truckfighters, singer and bassist Ozo, and axeman Dango to discuss the power of their shows, V, their latest record, and the new paths that are being trod by their music
Metal Blast: A common claim that I have heard about Truckfighters is that you have a terrific live show, that it is extremely energetic and fun to see. What do you think sets your show apart from other artists?
Ozo: I’m not sure; we put a lot of energy in the show, but we also have a lot of dynamic in it. You can watch a band that puts a lot of energy into their shows, but then it’s just like a massive punch in the stomach from start to end. We try to mix a little bit, so that people get some air to breathe.
Dango: Our music is dynamic, and live it’s more about energy and feeling. It’s not 100% all the time, but 200% at the right time. We tried to build this exchange of energy between the audience and us, so we create a very special atmosphere in the room.
Ozo: The best feeling is when the audience is reacting to what we do on stage, so we can react to what they are doing at the same time.
MB: Was it from the very beginning that you wanted to be more energetic than the rest?
Dango: I’ve always thought that it’s really boring to watch bands that just stand still and look like they’re not having fun. It actually got more fun to play when we embraced the energy of the music and the audience.
Ozo: I think that for both of us it just comes off naturally. It has been like that forever. It’s just something you do, it’s like something happens inside of us.
Dango: It’s not that we feel that we have to do “moves.” We don’t practice any more at home, if that’s what you’re thinking [laughs]
MB: Oh, there aren’t any planned choreographs? [laughs]
Dango: I think that it’s more like it was with the grunge bands. If you look at old video clips of the early grunge era, they were fucking crazy when they were young.
Ozo: I think that music and stage presence is about emotions. You feel something and you react. A lot of bands just try to stand in a cool pose instead of going with the flow and doing whatever the music takes you to do. That’s what we do; he jumps around all the time [laughs] and I move my way… I don’t try to do anything special.
Dango: But you are trying to restrain yourself sometimes to keep your voice in shape.
Ozo: [laughs] Yes; sometimes I would just like to go nuts and lose it, but the times when I’ve done that, when I totally freak out, by the time I have to start singing I’m just completely out of breath! [laughs] It takes a lot of energy to sing and to move around on stage.
MB: I can imagine! Whenever I see Iron Maiden, and I see Bruce Dickinson, who is pushing 60, and just running from side to side, I’m still surprised when he grabs to mic and manages to sing without going out of breath.
Ozo: You have to have a really good cardio to do that.
Dango: Yeah, he is crazy! I saw them at Roskilde like 15 years ago, and he was climbing up the stage rig. Like 10 meters up, all the way up, and just hanging there! It’s insane!
MB: I completely understand why you want to have this explosion of energy. There are bands whose music I really enjoy, and yet I’ve been at their shows thinking that the whole thing is shit, that I could have had the same experience just listening to the music at home. It’s great to see that you actually do something that pushes the envelope on that regard and give the listener an experience that goes beyond just listening to your record player.
Dango: We also jam a lot; we play stuff that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so that’s another reason to come and see our shows!
MB: When it comes to V, your latest album, Ozo mentioned that Century Media had allowed you to maintain your “do it yourself” approach. What exactly do you mean by that?
Dango: We do everything, except the marketing and the physical production of the albums. We do everything ourselves, we record the songs the way we want to make them, the artwork is the way we want.
Ozo: We deliver a finished product.
Dango: And they try to sell it!
MB: Do you feel that, based on your experiences, there is an actual pressure on the part of labels (before Century Media you were working with Sony Sweden) in regards to how the music should be, so that it goes beyond mere marketing, but into the content?
Dango: I think that sometimes it can be like that. The A&R (“artists and repertoire”) at a record label is a respected person, so that if he says that a certain song is catchy and has a nice chorus, it might affect you somehow.
Ozo: I think that it’s more about listening to someone that you respect, listening to his thoughts and comments. It’s not so much about who he is or what title he has.
Dango: It also depends on what music you play. With rock bands, at least when it comes to our kind of alternative music, it’s not like they give you a producer who can “make” your sound. It doesn’t work like that.
Ozo: Also, in our new record we kind of locked ourselves and did it. No one heard it!
Dango: We had no outside opinions at all [laughs]
MB: I have been listening to V recently and, especially compared to Universe, your previous album, I get a more progressive, perhaps ambiental vibe. Do you feel that’s accurate and, if so, what do you think lead you to this? Is it just that your interests are shifting, or are you just getting old? [laughs] Dango: Yes, and we’re getting old [laughs] It can also be a coincidence that we were in this kind of mood this time; who knows what will happen next time. We do whatever we feel like at the moment. We don’t sit down and think that we will make an progressive album.
MB: Right, but it can happen that you are simply getting more into a given genre… like it happened to Opeth with 70’s prog rock. So, I don’t know if it was a matter of the influences that were playing within you that lead to this shift.
Ozo: Maybe a tiny bit. At the same time, we have been listening to Tool for 15 years, and our first record doesn’t sound like Tool at all. But nowadays you might hear more of it in our music. It’s also that as we get older we listen less and less to other music, so it’s more about finding your own path.
MB: Whenever I speak to musicians who have been doing this for a long time, it always comes out that the more they work in music, the less music they listen to.
Dango: I almost never listen to music nowadays, especially when I am recording or touring. If we have a period where we are not doing much, then I go back to listening to stuff, but if we are in an intense period then my mind is way too occupied with sounds already.
Ozo: When you record an album it’s almost impossible. It’s better to just rest. You are so focused on doing the melodies and everything with the album, that it’s hard to do anything else.
MB: Dango, you’ve mentioned that V sounds a bit “more commercial”. Why do you feel that is the case?
Dango: I said that, but also in combination with the fact that it also sounds more non-commercial, more progressive and alternative. It’s a mix. Some parts of the songs are more melodic, and maybe more easily accessible, and which are in contrast with the other parts of the songs that are more difficult. In some songs the arrangements are really weird; for example, we don’t have two verses that are the same or anything like that. So, it’s just that some parts feel more easily accessible.
MB: To be honest when I listened to it I didn’t feel like these 8 minute-long songs were going to be on the radio either
MB: That’s why I was curious as to why you might have felt it was “more commercial”
Dango: I think it’s because it’s more melodic in some parts, but it’s still in contrast with the rest, which is weirder, more progressive and “un-commercial.”
MB: I know that you have to have dinner soon, so thank you very much for your time, and I’ll see you next time!
Both: Thank you!