Karstein Volle is a lifer as regards playing in bands for little or any financial return. But when has fame and fortune been the main reason for doing something you love?
Whenever I tell people I play in bands, they give me a knowing look. They’ve heard about people in bands. They’ve heard SONGS about people in bands. People in bands are VERY good at exaggerating their own role as rebels.
I’ve toured Finland and Norway. I’ve released multiple records by different small time combos. I’ve been in bands for 30 years. Time to hear about rock n roll excess! Surely some lines of coke must have been snorted off some tits at some point? Some hot tub action, that weird mud wrestling incident?
Time to hear about rock n roll excess! Surely some lines of coke must have been snorted off some tits at some point? Some hot tub action, that weird mud wrestling incident?
They get disappointed when I tell them that being in bands means transporting a lot of heavy gear from A to B, soundcheck, wait around, get on stage for an hour, then wait some more, before getting the same gear back to location A again. Then getting to bed around 4-5, then repeat the same procedure a couple of weeks later.
Music is an affliction.The talent show idea that you will get discovered by some magic impresario and the good business people will take care of the rest. It’s not really how it works.
I’m 44 years old. At my age I’m not gonna get discovered. One of my records was reviewed in Voima with “Who the hell is Nazca” (my main project for about 13 years).
But I can’t stop. At this point I know I’ll play the same clubs for the same 14 people. But this is an affliction. This is what I do. I write tunes, we rehearse a set, then play the set until we’re bored with it. I’ve released about 12 LP’s, EP’S, cassettes, DVD’s…Music is an affliction. It’s not about getting famous. It’s not a sport. It’s not about winning. It’s about doing what you like.
Music is an affliction. It’s not about getting famous. It’s not a sport. It’s not about winning. It’s about doing what you like
I won’t quit either. I didn’t start doing this to go on a diet, get Botox and do some karaoke in front of people I don’t respect. I don’t believe in getting discovered. I don’t believe that people should be that passive about what gives their lives some semblance of meaning.
This is an affliction. Getting the amps into the van are just part of the ritual now. Still makes me excited. So, I can’t really tell you the real rock n roll stories. Usually I’m the most sober person in the room when we play. And about getting it on, there’s hardly time to speak to girls.
Still, there’s one story.
We were around Kongsvinger when the drugs kicked in.
The year is 1996, I’m a touring musician with Norwegian grunge pop rockers The C——-. We’re headed to play Sunndalsøra, high up in the Norwegian mountains. It’s 16th of May and the band is booked to play the local student pub. It’s hyped to be the rock n roll party of the year.
It’s a 5 hour drive. The band we’re sharing a bill with, K—- V——, were a northern Norwegian version of Rage Against the Machine. Rap metal was still a thing in the mid-nineties, before it gave way to nu metal, bros’ stunk up the place with Axe body spray and we all headed for the hills. We met at the van at 6 in the morning. The C—- pile in, we pick up K—- V—- and circle the town for another half an hour, due to K—— V—-trying to find a dealer at 6 in the morning. Stash stashed. Hash lit. We drive up the mountains in a fog of cheap Moroccan. The C—— guitarist protest when K—- offers the driver a hit. Something about yawning chasms and serpentine mountain roads. Eight miles high indeed. We arrive at Sunndalsøra a bit after noon.
The local DJ goes WOOHOO DUUUDES! WE’RE GONNA PACK THIS JOINT MAAAN!
ROCK N ROOOOLL!
Alright, cool. We get to our hotel room and set up the PlayStation. We get soundcheck, food and rest up after the drive. This is the day before the national day. This is high up in the mountains, populated by super fresh mountain people with rosy cheeks and clear blue eyes that has never seen pollution.
This is high up in the mountains, populated by super fresh mountain people with rosy cheeks and clear blue eyes that has never seen pollution
The Norwegian national day is a big deal. Huge flags, national costumes and uh, marching bands. We were playing the night before all that. A lot of people out. This might be fun.
-Wanna go check out the crowd?
We peek behind the curtain and gaze out at an …empty bar. There’s three people there.
Some loud accusations are thrown back and forth. Our bassist says he will go out in the streets and get random people in on his guest list. Fuck it. It’s not the three people who paid to get in’s fault that they’re few. We play our set. We joke about there being more people on stage than in the audience. We’ve driven 5 hours in a hash fog to get here. Let’s have some fun. The three guys clap. One of them is even from the local paper. So, two paying customers.
We play our set. We joke about there being more people on stage than in the audience. We’ve driven 5 hours in a hash fog to get here. Let’s have some fun
K—- V—— come on and they’re PISSED. No jokes, no winking at the audience. They’re huge rock stars and everyone else are idiots for not filling up the place properly. Oh well, we get some beers off the rider and that’s it.
But not K—- V—-. They’re not done. They decide to trash their hotel room.
One quibble, Norwegian mountain resort hotel rooms are constructed out of solid Norwegian wood. The only thing they manage to break is the alarm clock. They try pushing the telly out the window. This is the nineties, so tellies are huge and mountain resort hotel windows are small.
One quibble, Norwegian mountain resort hotel rooms are constructed out of solid Norwegian wood. The only thing they manage to break is the alarm clock
Then resign themselves to emptying the room’s minibar. Six dudes share one small bottle of vodka, baileys, Fernet and so on. Then they run around the hotel, find empty rooms and repeat the process.
The next morning we wake to the sound of marching bands. It’s the national day. In the lobby, we find K—- V——. They’ve drank 13 hotel mini bars. We get in the van. We drive three meters before the drummer pipes up: “I gotta puke.”
This is an image I’ll carry to my dying day: High up in the misty mountains. To stern marching band music. Fresh faced mountain people with rosy cheeks and clear blue eyes that have never seen pollution. In itchy national costumes parading with huge flags, marching with the future in their eyes. 1,5 kids and a Kia awaits them.
In front of all that a van and a green haired punker rolling in his own vomit.
I love music.
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