About Us

Everything you need to know about Kaizers Orchestra – plus some additional and unnecessary information to top it all off!


Like most success stories, this one, too, is long and winding before things really start to happen. Take comfort in the fact that there’s a book out as well, Kontroll på kontinentet, and that the story in there is even longer!



Bryne, a small community on the west coast of Norway, 1990. Blod, Snått & Juling [Blood, Snot & Bashing] is formed.



Growing up in a small town in Norway back in the 80s was quite boring. Missing things that don’t yet exist shouldn’t really be possible, but still … We had neither Nintendo, chatting, cell phones, Internet nor cable TV, only homework and parents that were constantly hanging over our shoulders. So what were we to do?



For Janove and Geir, the solution was to hang out in Geir’s basement and play; some times with two guitars and three or four clumsy chords, some times with Janove on guitar and Geir pounding away at a notebook with two pens. And thus Blod, Snått & Juling was formed. The tape recorder was always close by, with the ‘rec’ and ‘play’ buttons pressed down. That meant that it was recording. The quality of the recordings, however, wasn’t very good.



Cassettes



As Blod, Snått & Juling, Janove and Geir made many tape recordings. Their first encounter with a real studio occurred in ’94. “Ein glad tunnel” [“A Happy Tunnel”] was recorded at the house of a guy called Daffy, who had a studio in his basement. One day he drank methylated spirit just to show that it could be done. Nine tracks were laid down in two days. Janove and Geir played all the instruments themselves. The final product sounded kind of warped, mostly because the guys didn’t know that it’s possible to re-record stuff in a studio. But still, the entire edition was

sold out – all 50 cassettes!



The following year, the guys paid a visit to a real studio at Sandnes and recorded six tracks, of which three were with a full line-up (Frode


Efteland on the drums and Terje Vinterstø on electric guitar). Once again the final product – entitled Sympatiske fisk [Sympathetic Fish] – was released on cassettes, though this time in an edition of 100 copies. The release contained hits like “Kadavers” [“Cadavers”], “Månemann” [“Moon Man”] and “Ut av kroppen opplevelse” [“Out of Body Experience”] and was given honorable mention in the local newspaper. Janove and Geir played live every now and again during this period.

Their performances were mostly remembered as “charming”.



Bergen



In the fall of ’95 Janove and Geir moved to Bergen to start their studies. Konsul Børs gt. 19 at Møhlenpris became their new base of operations. Many new songs were written, still with lyrics in Norwegian, but the music had more of a pop sound, with lots of backing vocals. In the summer of ’96 another recording was made, aimed at the cassette market. Six new songs with a full line-up (Frode and Terje, as well as Gaute Tengsareid on bass). This recording was a disappointment. Blod, Snått & Juling wasn’t happy about it, and the recording was never released. In the fall of ’96 Janove went off to serve his time in the military. Geir stayed behind in Bergen. Both were a little confused now. There was trouble in the air, and it didn’t look like it would clear up any time soon.



gnom



The military service was a downer for Janove (- Downer? It well and truly sucked! J.). He quickly came to regret the effort he had put in at the preliminary physical tests a couple of years earlier, where the need to impress had by far eclipsed his ability to think strategically. A top score

on the treadmill brought him straight to Evenes air base outside Harstad, a rather useless military installation that was just waiting to be closed down. Janove did his guard duty, played guitar, made songs and went to bed at nine in the evening.



After a dreary year he moved back to Bergen in the fall of ’97 and began his music teacher training at Landås Teacher Training College. Life improved, and things started to happen on the musical front as well.


After having picked up a couple of tips on transitional chords at the college, he suddenly became very creative. This resulted in a handful of nice songs – which in turn became the material of gnom.



Band



As things progressed, it became necessary to settle on a sound. Was cozy duo material with acoustic guitars and nice harmonies the way to go, or would it be better to put together a full line-up and crank up the volume? The choice fell on the latter. The name that was chosen was gnom, with a lower-case g. Stinky band names have worked before, so why not?

A full line-up was needed, though. Janove had already played a bit together with a guy from his college class called Helge Risa, who soon joined up. After having tried out a few bass players and drummers – all

of whom concluded that this band was going absolutely nowhere – Rune Solheim, another guy from Janove and Helge’s class, turned up. In addition, a somewhat older contrabass player named Rolf Prestø was recruited. The band now began to rehearse every Monday at the teacher training college, and slowly but steadily they got tighter and better. At the college, though, the act was terribly unpopular, mostly because they were always banging away on oil drums, and constantly received complaints from volume-sensitive teachers. Keeping this fragile constellation together was tough, but it helped having an album recording to rehearse for.



Mys



The band got in touch with Eirik Grønner, and in September ’98 the album Mys was recorded in Shimmer Recordings. It was a rather quiet and pleasant album, fairly restricted in comparison to what had been

and what was to come. Easy to like, but difficult to sell. Not even a 5/6 in

the local newspaper helped sales and live bookings much. Without distribution, a record company or marketing of any kind, it’s really quite hard to get anywhere. You may as well make a mental note of that right away, kids. Record companies exist for a reason.




Bastard



gnom didn’t turn out quite as one had hoped. The band sold about 500 copies of Mys in ’98. Not that expectations had been especially high, but it was still disappointing. Yet again a decision had to be made regarding the band’s musical direction. Mys contained everything from straight

pop tunes (“Hysj”, “Lauritzens kafé”) and tender ballads (“Takk som byr”, “Trøst”) to more up-tempo, “ompa”-sounding material like “Hemmelig beskjed”. The latter was a clear favorite among the band members, and live-wise this song struck a more immediate chord with the audience

than the quieter songs. Change was coming, and the definitive turning point was the song “Bastard”.



Both Janove and Geir had always written songs on guitar – acoustic as such – and always the melody first and the lyrics later. “Bastard” was the first song that Janove made on a pump organ. Even though the pump organ was used a lot on Mys as well, “Bastard” turned out different. A sticky, slow rhythm section – consisting only of pump organ, bass and bass drum – took away a lot of the hi-fi feeling from the acoustic guitars and the Mys recording. The sound became darker, more open and more mysterious, which the band was a lot more comfortable with.



The thing that made ”Bastard” special was the oil drum solo in the middle. That represented something new. The solo was inspired by some clever Ringo breaks on “Drive my Car”. Janove thought they were really funny, and when oil drums and sledgehammers were used instead of drums, it got a more powerful and original edge to it. Live, the

audience’s reaction to “Bastard” was quite different from that to the other songs. This concept was both fun, catchy and different. Now, all that was needed was more songs like this one, and from this point, Janove wrote almost all new material on an organ or a piano. During this period songs like “Bøn fra helvete”, “Katastrofen” and “Dekk bord” were made. A new mood was setting in.



Kaizers Orchestra

With the line “Eg blei tatt hånd om av en viss Mr. Kaizer/han er den stolte eiger av verdens tyngste siameser” from ”Bastard”, the name Kaizer – and thus Kaizers Orchestra – popped up and was taken into consideration as a possible band name. Incidentally, there is only one man who knows who Mr. Kaizer is, and he is not around.


Jon Sjøen had now taken over the position as contrabass player and become a more integral part of the band than Rolf ever was. The band felt more like a band now, and not just a duo with a backing band. There was a will and a drive to start over – and on 1/1/2000 the weak gnome was forced to bend knee to the mighty Kaizers Orchestra. Big changes were coming.

With the line “Eg blei tatt hånd om av en viss Mr. Kaizer/han er den stolte eiger av verdens tyngste siameser” from ”Bastard”, the name Kaizer – and thus Kaizers Orchestra – popped up and was taken into consideration as a possible band name. Incidentally, there is only one man who knows who Mr. Kaizer is, and he is not around.



Jon Sjøen had now taken over the position as contrabass player and become a more integral part of the band than Rolf ever was. The band felt more like a band now, and not just a duo with a backing band. There was a will and a drive to start over – and on 1/1/2000 the weak gnome was forced to bend knee to the mighty Kaizers Orchestra. Big changes were coming.



New man



Thus far, Kaizers had consisted of five members, who played in a kind of

3-2 formation on stage: Rune, Helge and Jon at the back, and Janove and Geir up front. Janove wanted to be able to concentrate more on his singing and be allowed to move around more freely on stage, which was kind of hard when he had to play guitar all the time. There was also a growing number of songs that needed an additional oil drum-basher, so

it was proposed that a sixth man should be brought onto the team. Terje Vinterstø was an old buddy of Janove and Geir, and he had contributed on all the recordings Blod, Snått & Juling and gnom had made. Terje had played a mean funk/rock guitar in Zombie Porkchop and later a wicked indie guitar in Watershed, which would even later become rock act Skambankt. A talented and pleasant guy who complemented Geir’s guitar-playing nicely. From now on, Kaizers Orchestra would count six members.



2001: Ompa time



After a few gigs in the eastern, southern and western parts of Norway during the spring of 2001, it was decided that the next step should be to record an entire album. Remo Rheder, who had signed the band to his own one-man-label, had acquaintances at the NRK [Norwegian state TV network] studios in Stavanger. However, the Kaizers members, of whom most lived in Bergen, would rather record in Duper Studio with Jørgen


Træen after having listened to some of the material that he had produced earlier. The recording session in June 2001 was quite intense and brutal. Fourteen tracks had to be recorded in only six days, and they probably wouldn’t have turned out very well if skilled expertise had not been brought on board. Stian Carstensen from Farmer’s Market was hired to maintain and safeguard the Eastern European influences, play banjo and generally just make clever observations. Two weeks later another five days were spent on mixing and minor repairs. Thirteen tracks went into the mixing process. Twelve of them are on the album Ompa til du dør.



The release of Ompa til du dør, September 2001



Remo Broilerfarm printed 3000 copies of Ompa; a cheeky number which one believed would remain in stock for at least a year, but what the hey. The album hit the stores on September 3. Two days later the boys woke up to a half a page article and a 6/6 in VG, Norway’s biggest newspaper. Kaizers Orchestra was a sensation!



Other newspapers followed up. An obscure and unknown band the week before, Kaizers Orchestra was now an act you simply had to check out. The first edition of the album sold out in eight days. The release tour in September 2001 had been booked by Janove himself. Having nagged at various concert organizers throughout the land to have them book the world’s greatest, though yet unknown act, he managed to schedule

close to fifteen gigs in September 2001. Kaizers bought the band bus Constanze, which was a Ford Transit ’86 model with a wicked stereo, 5 ½ seats and a dodgy muffler, and went on the road.



Morten Abel Tour 2002



Kaizers were asked if they would like to go on tour as support for Morten Abel on his I’ll Come Back and Love You Forever Norwegian tour in February and March 2002. This was a great opportunity to play for a larger audience, be part of a wicked production and work with an experienced crew and an artist they appreciated, so Kaizers gladly accepted. The tour was a giant success and sold tons of tickets. Oslo


Spektrum, for example, which is one of the biggest venues in the

Norwegian capital, was sold out two nights in a row.



For Kaizers, the effect of playing to a new audience was extreme. It all peaked when they finally reached #1 on the VG chart just after the Abel tour in the end of March 2002, seven months after the release of Ompa til du dør. The album held the #1 spot for a week only, but altogether it spent 48 weeks on the chart and sold about 80 000 during the year following its release. 2001 also brought Kaizers a Norwegian Grammy for Best Rock Album, as well as two Alarm Awards, in the categories Live Band of the Year and Rock Album of the Year. Apparently they were a breath of fresh air, these lads from Western Norway.



The rest of the year was spent touring, touring and then touring some more. Kaizers Orchestra’s Ompa til du Tour consisted of 144 gigs, all between September 2001 and September 2002, and gradually advanced from a poorly visited release gig at Garage in Bergen to headliner status at the Øya Festival one year later. It was indeed a true oil drum adventure.



Evig Pint



In Stavanger in October 2002, after a month off (Janove, Geir and Terje went on vacation together!), Kaizers began to rehearse newly composed material. Various demos had been recorded on beforehand, and now it was time select the songs that were to be included on the next album. Once again Kaizers went to Bergen to record in Jørgen Træen’s Duper Studio. It was now November 2002, and during the course of only one short year, Kaizers had gone from being a small cred band to becoming a large commercial act. There were many skeptics who doubted that Kaizers had anything left to give and who thought that they wouldn’t be able to wring more from their formula. The Kaizers, however, were

ready to disclose a somewhat different side to themselves and continue

to explore the musical landscape that they had opened.

The second album, Evig pint, had basically been written on the road and had a slightly darker mood than its predecessor. The recording and mixing of the twelve tracks that Kaizers brought with them into the studio took a little less than a month, and the album was ready to be released on February 3, 2003.


Evig Pint went straight to #1 on the VG chart and remained there for three weeks, and it sold close to 50 000 copies during the following year. The Evig Pint Tour manifested Kaizers Orchestra as one of Norway’s

most powerful live acts and that they were here to stay.



Going abroad



Kaizers Orchestra was invited to play at the Roskilde Festival in 2002; a dream and a milestone for most Norwegian bands, but as often as not without any ripple effects beyond the gig itself. Kaizers, however, had their cake and ate it too. After having played one helluva gig in the yellow tent in front of about 12 000 people, the press pointed to their gig as one of the highlights of the festival, especially the Danish press, but also German and Dutch newspapers. A unique band with a unique sound, an extremely charismatic front man, original and catchy songs … The foreign press had never seen the likes!



As a result of the buzz and the furore, manager Brydøy managed to secure a spot at the music biz event Eurosonic in Groningen, Holland, in January 2003. After having made skeptical biz representatives sing along to their songs, Kaizers “won” quite a few festival gigs in Europe that summer.



Playing festivals throughout the summer allowed Kaizers to plant a few seeds, and in the fall it was time for Kaizers’ first real European tour, in September/October 2003. For five weeks the band traveled up and down the continent, performing in front of as few as 20 people at small venues to as many as 5000 people at various festivals.



It was halfway into this tour, in Hamburg, that Jon Sjøen called a band meeting and announced that he was quitting. Kaizers now had to find a new bass player.



New bass player



Øyvind Storesund had already stepped in at a few gigs during the summer of 2003 and was the obvious choice to take over for Jon. With a background in bands like Wunderkammer and Cloroform he was already


firmly anchored in similar and equally askew musical enterprises. Øyvind needed a month to think about it, but in the end he decided to join the crew of the Kaizer ship. Great relief followed in the wake of his decision. The band felt whole again.



Maestro



Kaizers Orchestra once again chose to call Jørgen Træen when it came time to record their third album, and when the recording started, everyone was a lot better prepared than during previous sessions. The band had rehearsed quite a bit, Jørgen had listened to demos and knew the material, and together, everyone had a quite clear notion of the sound and the direction on the upcoming album. Sixteen tracks were recorded in three weeks’ time during what must be called the most harmonious album recording in the history of Kaizers. Everyone really felt, perhaps for the first time, that 300 gigs and two albums finally were beginning to pay off in terms of creativity and tightness. The band felt that they finally were able to exploit their full potential in the studio.



Kaizers had signed – as the first band ever with lyrics in Norwegian – a historical license agreement with Universal Germany, and Maestro was released all over Europe on August 15. In Norway it went straight to #1 on the charts, while in Denmark it went straight to #4. Reviews were overwhelming, and for the first time ever, the band had a real radio hit

in their home country with the title track “Maestro”, and then later with “Knekker deg til sist”. September was spent touring all over Europe, while October and November were set aside to visit every nook and cranny of Norway.



2006. Summing up: a live DVD and a Kaizer book



The next release from Kaizers Orchestra was a much longed-for live DVD, recorded at the Kaizer fave venue Store Vega in Copenhagen on September 9, 2005 in front of 1 300 crazy fans. Viva La Vega captures, as vividly as humanly possible through the video format, the feverish mood and enthusiasm that surround Kaizers Orchestra as a live act, and it also includes documentaries and music videos.


Later in 2006 the book Kontroll på kontinentet also came out. Jan Zahl, Geirs brother, had come along as an observer on the Maestro tour and in addition done some research on the band’s extraordinary history and appeal. Together with Kaizers’ very own court photographer Paal Audestad, he was behind yet another highly appraised Kaizer release, only this time in the book format.



2008. Maskineri



2007 was a more or less live-free year for Kaizers. Janove made music for a play, Geir Zahl released a solo album, Terje released a Skambankt album, Øyvind and Rune released Cloroform and Kloster albums, while Helge worked a mechanical digger and kept his feet firmly on the ground. Still, the band came together every once in a while to try out new songs and ideas for the next album. A lot of material was measured

and weighed before a final selection was arrived at. Eighteen songs were considered good enough to bring into the studio.

In November 2007 Kaizers set off to Berlin to start recording their fourth studio album. Through their MySpace page they had been contacted by the L.A. based, Canadian producer/sound engineer Mark Howard, who had earlier worked with artists like Bob Dylan, U2, Tom Waits and REM, to mention a few. After a month in the fascinating Planet Roc studio on the outskirts of Berlin, followed by two weeks in L.A. together with Mark to mix the tracks, Maskineri was finished. Kaizers recorded eighteen tracks during their time in Planet Roc, and twelve of them are on Maskineri, an album which, in all its eclecticity, brings Kaizers to new heights, expands their musical barriers and blows minds in all musical genres. All we can say is: check it out!



In October 2008 Kaizers Orchestra released yet another live album. 250

Prosent is a compilation of live recordings made in Germany, Austria and Switzerland during the Maskineri tour in April 2008. The album is only available on vinyl and as download.