“You don’t hear about Norwegian pop-punk bands because there basically are none. This pop-punk ‘scene’ you speak of does not exist!” states Snorre Mukisa Kilvær, vocalist for Taking Names, and he makes a good point. Although Norway has several notable musical exports; Kvelertak, A-Ha and Röyksopp, as well as being known for black metal, it has yet to make waves in the pop-punk world. However, with their new ‘Trap City’ EP, Taking Names look to change that.
Formerlly known as Fasit, the band, consisting of Kilvær on vocals, guitarist Adrian Fernando Seim, bassist Sindre Dale Toft, synth keyboardist Christer Dyngeland and drummer Jarle Vik Trones, adopted a new moniker late last year. ‘Trap City’ marks the beginning of a new chapter for the quintet. Kilvær picks up the story, “the Fasit era represents a lot of trial and error for us, but it has also led us to where we are today. We felt it was time for a change.”
The band came together in 2013 after playing shows together through various metalcore and hardcore projects. “We all had a soft spot for pop punk, so we decided to give it a try,” states Kilvær. “We didn’t release any music until 2015, and it took us two more years to get it to sound and feel right. We’re confident that we’ve come a long way in getting it right now, as Taking Names.”
The aforementioned EP, harkens back to turn-of-the-millennium pop-punk and punk bands such as blink-182, NOFX, Alkaline Trio and Fugazi, with EP highlights ‘Near Life Experience’ and ‘Young Landmarks’ being harmonious and upbeat with a well-balanced delivery of nostalgic and modern day pop-punk. “It (‘Trap City’) represents all the good stuff from our teen years, so if we’re able to create some of the same magic for people who listens to our music today, then we’ve succeeded,” says Snorre. They’re also not ashamed to embrace pop sensibility, as the singer is keen to emphasise Katy Perry as an influence along with fellow Scandinavians ABBA.
Although the quintet hint at a somewhat “goofy” attitude; they can’t write about “cool stuff” (“skating in warm weather, having sunglasses on inside”), ‘Trap City’ does see the band show their sincere side. “We always strive to put out lyrics that are honest and reflective of who we are,” explains Kilvær. “When it comes to ‘Trap City’, we wanted the EP to be a bit darker than our previous releases, and the lyrics reflect that as well. ‘So The Legend Goes’ and ‘Young Landmarks’ tackle some pretty tough themes, and feed from our lives and experiences.”
Even though it is still early days for the five-piece, their brand of pop-punk is gradually getting noticed in Europe and Australia, yet back home opportunities are somewhat limited. Snorre tells us “it’s not the best of times for pop-punk in Norway right now. If we wanted instant national fame, we should probably have started a hip-hop group instead. That being said, there are a lot of great smaller venues around for us to play at this point, and the national radio is doing a great job plugging up and coming artists, the times they are a-changing!”
They maybe one of Norway’s only pop-punk bands; they mention fellow Norwegian bands ForgetAboutIt and Still Shaking during our interview, yet Taking Names are already showing signs of breaking out as ‘Trap City’ is one of the genre’s most reinvigorating releases in quite some time. As for the band themselves leaving their homeland, they state it will happen “when the time is right”.
’Trap City’ EP by Taking Names is out now on Loyal Blood Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)