Not too long ago, Ex Norwegian was one of those Miami bands that everyone had to see play.
The group's debut album, Standby, was amazingly well received. Reviewers would offer glowing praises like explodingsound.com's "Standby is a stellar pop album that should be widely embraced." Likewise, the follow up, Sketch, was considered one of the best local albums of 2010.
Unfortunately, not long after the release of that sophomore record, Ex Norwegian called it quits. And singer, guitarist, and songwriter, Roger Houdaille, moved to New York, continuing a long held tradition wherein Miami ships all its best artistic talents to NYC.
But faster than a New York minute, Ex Norwegian has reappeared in the local music scene, out to promote the re-release of Sketch. The group will be playing an insane 30-song set at Birreria 27 on Miami Beach this Thursday, kicking off a mini-tour, that will also includes shows in Boston and New York City.
Crossfade sent Roger five questions about the band, its future, and lots and lots of political stuff.
After Ex Norwegian's temporary break-up, you went to live in New York City for a bit. Has Miami's sunshine wonderfulness drawn you back home?
I like to think of Miami as a Caribbean New York. There's some hustling and bustling that goes on down here, but still nothing compared to New York City. They run on completely different paces. Right before moving up, I was working at American Apparel and this guy came in from NYC and worked twice as fast and was twice as productive as our South Florida crew. I knew then and there that I was in for a big change. Of course, I love that aspect of the city. I dig the fast pace. But then you have the concrete jungle aspect, which is a bit cold, even on the hottest of summer days. So now I'm back and forth. It's hard to leave the beaches and warm sunshine for dirty streets and rats, and not just the ones in the subway but those pesky Wall Street ponzi schemers too!
Has the new lineup changed the feel of the music? Are they more talented? Less involved?
I'm a huge music fan and I know how much bands can change with just one person switching out. Ex Norwegian right now has been thrown upside down. For example, I'm playing bass now and we have a new drummer Alex Ibanez, who I played briefly with in my old band Monkeypox. Drummers always change the feel. Alex is a lot more rock'n'roll. Lucas Queiroz is on guitar and Michelle Grand is back, who has been on and off in the group since the first show, so there is some old blood in that sense. I think the old lineup was extremely talented but also limited. It was that weird chemistry that I think made us stand out but ultimately kept us down. Hard to explain. I think you kinda felt this in the review you gave Sketch. As far as the way the band operates now, let's put it this way, if you don't like it then I will be the one to throw your complaints to.
Why in the world would you do a 30-song set?
I know it's excessive. But in our defense, it's because we're playing all night long! So it's technically three sets. What's fun is I brought in a bunch of songs I've been dying to cover, so it's gonna be a mixture of our material and our record collections. We got everything from Big Star and The Turtles to Dr. Dog and Abba in there!
We need more music. You can do 30 song sets, so does it mean you'll have more plastic and downloads?
Yes, more plastic and downloads! We just finished tracking another six songs for the next album, which will hopefully be released in early 2012. The material has been there. The problem is just funding it. And for a while, with the previous group, the desire to record my songs. Most of the tracks on the next album will be previously rejected Ex Norwegian songs! Of course, Sketch is coming out again, this time with proper promotion, on November 15.
Use the following space to riff on Ron Paul, Obama, and the Occupy Movements.
Oh man, this could go in so many directions! I think Ron Paul is the only human in a sea of psychopath clowns running for presidency. Or as I call it, the chief puppet of the United States. Unfortunately, a lot of people are brainwashed by the mainstream media regarding Ron Paul. But my challenge to you is this: Even if you don't agree with him at all or don't feel like researching him on your own, I challenge you to vote for him, not the least because he actually stands for what he believes in and doesn't fool you to get votes, but mainly because the establishment will never let him win. They will cancel elections before letting Ron Paul have victory. Imagine how bad that will make them look! Their game will be up.
Now, if you are even remotely thinking of helping a Nobel Peace Prize-winning war criminal named Obama, who is arguably doing more damage than Bush, to get re-elected, then shame on you! He may just be a small-time, heavily blackmailed puppet. But the agenda they are making him push through is going to be on all of our karmic records.
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Pre-orders for the re-release of Sketch can be found at shop.exnorwegian.com.
Ex Norwegian's homecoming show. Thursday, November 3.Birreria 27, 2701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 10 p.m. and there's no cover. Call 305-673-5241.