"Apart from punk and emo stuff, I'm very inspired by artists like Sleater-Kinney and The Smiths, who both, in spite of dealing with heavy subjects and being really emotion-driven bands, also come off as fun and uplifting," Tobias Bendixen tells me. Bendixen is the guitarist/vocalist of Big Mess, a Danish punk band that I was recently introduced to by their publicist, David Brenner.
Upon listening to the group's new album, Try to Enjoy It, I let Bendixen know that despite his band's obvious punk leanings, I still hear a certain jubilance to their performances. "I think the vibe on the record is the result of an intense week in the studio, which was both the culmination of a period of really working on the songs in rehearsal, but also where we tried out a lot of things new to us—for example instrumentation-wise. Honestly, if you think there's a jubilance to our music, I think that's one of the highest compliments you can pay us!"
That brings me to "Still S.A.D.," a track from the forthcoming album that is a perfect example of the "joyous punk jam" thing I'm talking about with Bendixen. "The title is a reference to the Dr. Dre song, 'Still D.R.E.' The first line is also taken from that very same song! I'm not sure how that reference popped up, except that Dr. Dre was a childhood favorite of mine. I guess, it's also a way of injecting some humor into a song that deals with trying to make it out of a bad place, but also having trouble with your friendships, relying on sleeping pills, and things like that." Wow... Straight Outta Copenhagen!
Try to Enjoy It is the follow-up to Big Mess' 2016 debut LP, You Know I Care, and since I'm speaking with Bendixen, I ask him about the punk scene in Denmark. I recently read somewhere that for some Danes, particularly younger ones, the Danish language is seen as provincial and old-fashioned. "In the '70s and '80s, most major pop/rock acts from Denmark sang in Danish. I've heard that as a result, singing in Danish was considered kind of whimsical and commercial, and the punks chose to sing in English. The most well-known punk from Denmark—the K-Town wave of the late '90s and '00s—was generally in Danish. Some of us have in the past played in hardcore bands, and for that style, I still think the directness of singing in your own language is good. For some reason, I just find it natural to write English lyrics for this band. Maybe it's because most of the bands we listen to sing in English, and maybe it's because Danish can be a bit of a harsh language to sing in. There are examples of people singing beautifully in Danish, but it's not easy. Also, I feel like the lyrics are quite integral to our music, and it's nice to have them understood, by people who don't speak Danish."
Not to sound selfish, but I'm A-OK with Big Mess rocking out in English, because I'd probably sound like an idiot singing along in Danish.
Tagged: big mess denmark