Powderhog is a quartet from Esbjerg in the far west of Denmark. Reviewing their (first) album filled with dirty/garage rock'n'roll made me wanna see how they manage to perform live (see album- and live-review elsewhere on this page), and have a talk with front man, bassist and singer Johnny Houmark.
Hi, first off I just want to congratulate you on your album, I think it turned out really well. To new fans could your please fill us in on the history behind it all (the band history in short and so on)?
Johnny - Thanks! Glad you dig the album… Well it started out back in 2003, when I had just quit my old band. I had a lot of songs and ideas lying around, and I really wanted to continue playing. So I stumbled upon Jesper who was a promising guitarist on the local scene at the time. I remember I went to watch him and his old band, thinking that this boy was really talented and it quickly became clear to me that I needed a guy like him in the band. At that time he was also about to leave his band, so when I asked him to try out some songs with me, he went right for it. We played and worked on songs for half a year and were very much on the look-out for a good drummer to play with. We knew that Peter was a great drummer and I had been playing with him for a short period of time, so he was the obvious person to ask to play the drums. I think he first jammed with me and Jesper in early 2004. He had to work 24-7 at a local restaurant around summer time, so it wasn't until late that summer he really joined us. After jamming and playing the songs, we realised that we wanted a second guitarist to complete the sound. We didn't really know who to ask, but Peter knew Jeppe, and I remembered Jeppe from way back. So we thought we'd give him a go and as It turned out he was the right guy for the band… And that's pretty much it… we've been playing ever since...
How has your album been received by the media?
Johnny - well it's been received very, very well. But what is more important is what the people on the street thinks about it and fortunately it looks like they dig it too. So we are very happy.
I know artists don¹t like to put a label on their music - but how would you describe it to someone who doesn’t know it yet? Who do you think you sound like, and what separates you from other bands in the same style of music as you?
Johnny - it's not that I don't want to put a label on the music, but it's hard to describe what the fuck it is. It's obviously rock music with a twist of old school and a twist of freshness at the same time. I guess that's the best way to put it. And it's very unlike polka… ha ha.
Who we sound like is not up to us to say and why we sound different is because we play the things we think are cool. As long as it's real and pure rock music with honest feelings and emotions, I'm pretty much happy…
If your music was an emotion, which one would it be?
Johnny - Excitement or arousal… you pick one…
Who and what inspires you when you write a song? Can you walk us through the typical creation of a song or give an example of how a number from the new album was “conceived” or “born”?
Johnny - A lot of different things inspires me to write songs. The latest lyrics I did, was in a bar looking at two lovers who were arguing… Then a line popped into my brain and there you go. I asked the bartender for a piece of paper and a pen and I managed to write a verse, which seemed to come from out of nowhere. Riding a bus or taking a walk is also good for creative thinking. I think very abstract and a lot of music is going on inside my head at all times. Sometimes something sticks and then I go for it.
Which subjects do your lyrics refer to, and who writes them? And what inspires you when you write your lyrics?
Johnny - I write all the lyrics and they can be about a lot of different things. But I need to have some sort of emotional connection to the things going on in the lyrics. A lot of the songs on the debut album are very personal. And although it may be a worn out phrase, it's true that my lyrics are a kind of therapeutic…. for me at least. I get something off my chest and my mind when I write these songs and lyrics, no doubt about it!
Which song do you consider to be the best you have ever written?
Johnny - I like the lyrics for A Thousand Ways Out Of Here. I think that the lyrics for that song is some of my best work. We've also got a brand new song called 6 Feet Below, which I really connect with and think is both great lyrically and music-wise. It will definitely be on the next album!
Who has produced and mixed the album? Are you pleased with the result?
Johnny - Jacob Hansen produced and mixed the record and yeah we are pleased with the outcome.
Who has done the artwork? And how important do you feel it is to have a great cover, and should the cover tell something about the music and what the band stands for?
Johnny - Nikolaj Borg from the band Saturnus did the cover for the album. We knew what we wanted and he kinda gave it his touch as well. It's very important to have a great cover. I mean you wouldn't wrap a great album up in a brown paper bag. History also tells us that album covers are not only album covers, but something that extends the music and makes the end product what it is.
What are your touring plans at the moment?
Johnny - We are almost done with our spring tour for 2008 but will return after the summer holidays. We have recently signed with a Norwegian booking agency and a German booking agency so we'll probably play both Norway and Germany again later this year as well as play some gigs in Denmark and perhaps Sweden. Besides that we are going to write material for our next full length record.
Let’s speculate – you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice – who would be your ideal touring partners?
Johnny - I'd dig Lemmy and Motorhead anytime!
You’re on a quite small record label (Trechoma Records), how did you get in contact with them, and how do you feel about the co-operation with them?
Johnny: The collaboration with Trechoma Records has been real smooth. We feel fine working with them.
What’s the ambition for the band on a longer term?
Johnny - To continue to be a touring and recording band for many years to come…
The internet is a very important source for many metal fans – how do you use the internet and how important do you think it is for you (and other bands)?
Johnny - The internet is a great way to present your music. Sites like Myspace is a great site to expose your music to millions of people. So it's very important to musicians if you are ambitious and want to maybe make a career out of your music.
What do you do to spread your music to “the masses” (get radio air play, concert gigs and so on)?
Johnny - We use the internet and we send regular post to get in touch with radio stations, concert venues, bookers, papers and magazines. Trechoma Records have also done the same.
What do you think about the metal scene in general at the moment?
Johnny - Not for me to comment on… ask me about rock and roll… and I'll tell you
Name an album, person or event that has had a huge influence on your life … and why?
Johnny - Guys like John Entwistle of The Who has inspired me a lot. Jack Bruce, Geezer, John Paul Jones, Robert DeLeo and Pino Palladino are some of the bass players which I used to look up to and still do. An event that changed my way of listening to music, was when I accidentally bought a copy of Sgt. Pepper's by The Beatles when I was 13 or 14 years old. I loved that album.
Give me your shot at 5 albums you’d rip for your iPod if you were to be sent to the ISS space station tonight…
Johnny - I'd have to get an iPod first… ha ha. Can I borrow yours ? I'd probably bring my record player instead ha ha… Heard that vinyl is the next big thing ;)
Which album(s) have put a big smile on your face and has made you bang your head in the past year?
Johnny - If you mean what record I think is the greatest to be released this year, I'd go for “Into the exam room” by Hermano! John Garcia kicks ass on that record!
I thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any famous last words for our readers?
Johnny - Yeah, I wanna say hello to them! Check out our album and have a great summer!
Interviewed by Melsen