Nordic New Music: Norwegian Band The Slow Painters

We kick off the weekend chatting to Andreas from Norwegian band ‘The Slow Painters’ – a group of friends who have been playing music together for a long time and now finally have their debut album release coming in August. We found out more about the band, their work, and some amazing tips on where to eat and drink in Oslo! We enjoyed meeting The Slow Painters and hope you will too…

Tell us who you are and what’s your sound

We’re Simen (guitar, vocals), Øyvind (drums), Paal (bass) and Andreas (vocals, guitar), Four high school friends, still playing music together 16 years on. I guess you could place our sound somewhere between Brit Pop’s forerunners (The La’s, 80s jangle) and noisy-yet-melodic indie rock (Hüsker Dü).

What exciting projects have you got coming up?

Our debut LP! It drops on August 28th via our own little label, Keepsecretrecords. We recently released our third single, The Happy Murdered / About the Holidays, a week ago. Hopefully we’ll be playing some gigs again soon. We’re also working on a few new songs for our second album.

Most of the songs on our debut are from 2008-2010. We pretty much stumbled into Sjur Lyseid’s studio in the Autumn of 2017 looking to document them, but they turned out a whole lot better than we thought they would, so here we are! This obviously means that they’re old tunes revamped. Layers of new influences have seeped into our sound since they were written. I don’t think we could have done anything like the «mood» on some of the tracks, say, ten years ago.

You can pre-order the album from Tiger. If you’re ever in Oslo, you should definitely give them a visit. It’s a great record store. They’re helping us with distribution and advice, via their Diger imprint. 

Where did you grow up and what music influenced you?

We all grew up in Nordstrand, a suburb in Oslo. We got the band together when we were in high school. Simen and Andreas recruited Øyvind at football practice, then forced classmate Paal to learn bass…

We have basically just continued since then, with a short break when Andreas lived in Berlin, Paal in Minneapolis and Simen in Glasgow in 2010/2011.

When we first started we were influenced by folky britpop bands like Travis on the one hand, and the whole retro rock thing of the early 2000s – The Strokes, White Stripes, etc. That’s how we learnt to play. Then the wave of mid-2000s indie bands like Broken Social Scene and The Shins swept us away. As the years went by our horizons widened. For my part very much so, through working in a record store and at Oslo’s student radio, Radio Nova, which introduced me to the indie rock canon and a steady flow of new music. Radio Nova was also a good place to meet people who were – and still are – involved in Oslo’s music scene in some way or another.

Friends have also been an influence. I remember discovering Cap’n Jazz by hearing «Precious» streaming out of roommate Øystein’s room back in 2007/2008. We rented a house where both we and his band, Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson, rehearsed in the basement for a while. That’s how I got into old school emo / emo revival. Algernon Cadwallader and Pianos Become the Teeth in Berlin in 2010/2011 are two of the highlights in my concert going career. I’m not sure if this influence shows in our music, but there might be a bit of the melancholy end of the 90s in there somewhere. American Football or Carissa’s Wierd, for instance.

In recent years I’ve taken a renewed interest in more traditional jangly pop music – particularly from the 80s – like the Flying Nun Records acts The Bats, The Chills and The Clean. An interest that’s been funnelled by an acquaintance putting on living room concerts with people like Gary Olson from The Ladybug Transistor and Mark Monnone from Monnone Alone and The Lucksmiths.

I’ve always thought of us as kind of isolated from Oslo’s music scene, but having written all this I’m realising that that’s not completely true… We actually made a playlist on Spotify with 50 formative songs this spring. You should check it out! We recently did a list with some Norwegian favourites too.

What cool places do you recommend to visit in your city (bars, restaurants, etc)?

Depends what you want to do! 

My best restaurant experience of the last year was at J2, a pretty new Korean place. It’s a bit fine dining, but relaxed enough and not too expensive by Norwegian standards. But it all depends on what you’re looking for. Check out Punjab tandoori and Lille Saigon for great Indian or Vietnamese food at a reasonable price. Upstairs from Lille Saigon you’ll find Rendezvous, a nice place to play snooker.  If you’re into traditional Italian food (like I am), Arno is a sweet and quiet neighbourhood restaurant worth checking out.

For my generation, Revolver is the classic indie rock bar and venue. It’s still holding on 10-15 years on. Kafé Hæverk, which opened a couple of years ago, is a good tip if you’re looking for a totally uncompromising and eclectic selection of DJs and live music. 

If you like a jukebox and 50s interior, check out Teddy’s Softbar. If you’re into fancy wine, I’d recommend Merkur (I usually end up drinking beer there, it’s just a nice place). My band mate Paal has instructed me to include a tip for the craft beer people (I’m not fond of the stuff). He says you can’t go wrong with either Røør or Crow Bar. At the latter you can also get a fantastic pork knuckle kebab along with your DIPA, NEIPA, etc.

All this aside, Oslo is still one of those cities where it’s an advantage to know a native if you’re going out. But the range of restaurants, bars, etc has pretty much exploded since I was a youngster.

We love recommendations – what have you been listening to, watching, or reading recently?

I’ve been reading the history of the Norwegian christian democratic party. Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but someone writing on Norwegian politics, like me. Dry stuff.

Otherwise I’ve been pretty busy listening to my other band, The Uptights’, unreleased album, trying to figure out some last adjustments. I also just discovered the radio show The Indie Lounge and the podcast Eleven Pop Songs, which are both really lovely if you like your guitars jangly (who doesn’t?).

Last, but not least, you should check out our producer, Sjur Lyseid’s, new album as The Little Hands of Asphalt. It’s very, very good.

Finally, what was the last thing that made you swear out loud?

Something daft I said late in the evening at a summer party at work – remembering that the morning after, hehe. Fuck.

Get supporting and following The Slow Painters on their Instagram @theslowpaintersoslo and their Facebook page here The Slow Painters ! Also below we have linked up their tracks on Spotify!

Interview by: Alex Minnis

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