Puppets, Vikings and the Importance of the Music Video
Norway is a legendary place as far as heavy music is concerned. It’s a breeding place for bands of varying sounds and influences. Audrey Horne, a band named after a character from children’s TV show Twin Peaks, are a band in the very heart of the nation’s heavy community. As there name suggests however, there are an act with a sense of humour, a light hearted, fun loving side that dominates their collective persona. This is no way better summed up in the accompany music video for their song Out Of The City. A twin harmony laced slab of hard rock, one of many highlights from their latest, sophomore effort, Pure Heavy, it features the thrilling combination of puppets and Vikings.
"The entire idea of the stems from the fact we’ve been using The Muppets Show theme as our entrance music to our shows for years. We talked about how it would be cool to do something Muppet Show-ish because of that. So our manager told us that you can buy these Sesame Street puppets and we could just put rock shirts on them and stuff to make them look like a band. But while he was doing that he found a company in Germany somewhere that, if you sent them a picture, they can make puppets to look like you. So he sent them a picture of the band and they made us into puppets!”
Toschie, their easy going, friendly frontman, who welcomes your scribe with a warm handshake and a smile that screams camaraderie plainly because of our mutual affection for heavy music, is a pleasure to be around. In the rock and metal world, we are all brothers, there is no pre-judgement of someone’s character, if they like the same sort of music as you, then you know that they’re a good guy. Within seconds of our introduction to one another by Cat, the band’s lovely, pocket-sized tour manager, he talks with the kind of ease as if he’s known me for years.
"So we had these puppets and the thing that always worked with The Muppet Show was that they had these crazy guests to come and talk to them. It was that interaction between celebrities and weirdo puppets that made it really cool. We thought about asked Abbath from Immortal because he’s a good friend but we weren’t sure if he’d want to do it. We talked about a lot of different people then we decided to give Johan Hegg a call. We’ve known him for years. So we said ‘we don’t know if this is right for you and your music but we just wanted to ask’ and he loved the idea. He brought his wife down to the shoot. We weren’t there for it though. We came up with the basic idea and that was our only involvement. So I was kinda nervous having dragged Johan’s ass into this if it sucked. I got sent the first cutting via email and I was sweating because I was so nervous – ‘fuck, what if this is really bad?’ Then we’d have to call Johan and tell him it looks really bad and that would be embarrassing. But I watched it and fuck, it looks really good.”
We’re sat on the band’s tour bus, a swank behemoth of leather seats and tables with a large sleeping area upstairs. But as fancy as the bus is, we were locked out, the door wouldn’t open from the outside. You’re supposed to type in a four digit code into a keypad and the door would hiss and slide open automatically. In the end, one of the crew members on board came and opened the door manually. So, to fix the solution he would go and switch all the power off and on again – a classic solution. So, as Toschie couldn’t to talk, the bus dropped into temporary darkness, save for one tiny lamp.
”We had the same company make Jonah and his wife into puppets as a thank you for helping us out. I guess some hardcore Amon Amarth fans weren’t to keen on him doing that but he didn’t care, this wasn’t Amon Amarth. He’s a great guy and he has a great sense of humour so he loved it and he wanted to do it, it didn’t change him as a person. It just shows him as a diverse guy with a sense of humour.”
While their music may pay homage to the 70s and 80s, the supposed heydays or rock n’ roll glory and excess, contemporary realities are very much different. MTV is no longer a superpower in helping to break a band, unless your band has some sort of dodgy connection with teenage mums or super sweet sixteenth birthday parties. In it’s place however, is the internet, namely Youtube. It’s an engine that has been monumental in shining the limelight on bands - and idiots all the same but that’s another matter. Audrey Horne know the uses of Youtube. They know that MTV and music video channels aren’t quite the same animal they once were, but that doesn’t mean the art of the music video itself has joined its demise.
” Music videos are still useful,” Toschie nods. “But they’re useful in a different way now. They are a very good tool for promoting your music because if people like you’re video then they’ll post it on social media and it spreads like that. It’s easier to get a music video posted around rather than just a song. It’s easier because it’s visual and you can actually see it. It’s a very powerful tool.
”But the thing is there’s no money in it anymore. A record label isn’t going to throw a bunch of money at us and say ‘go and make crazy ass video,’” he says, pressing in closer to me a little more. There’s a glint in his eye at all times. As laid back he is, that glint proves just how much he cares about his band, their music and the industry they are embroiled within. “People can make a video on their cell phone now and make a hit. So with the Out Of The City video we needed to say to Napalm, we don’t need a shit load of cash but we do need some money to do this. We needed to buy the puppets, we needed a professional who could make move the puppets in a funny way and we needed to fly Jonah and his wife in to the shoot. It wasn’t an expensive video at all but it was more expensive than if we just did it ourselves. All you need basically is a good idea.”
With just under 100,000 hits on Youtbe alone, it’s glaringly obvious that fans and first time listeners to the band alike appreciate the effort put into the video. It’s comical nature has seen people, as Toschie had predicted, spread it across their Facebook and Twitter pages.
"Since we’ve already bought these puppets we’ve made a new video with them,” he then reveals. “It’s just the puppets with drums and guitars so it’s more like a live video but with the puppets instead of us. It’s a funny video. It doesn’t have the same edge as Out Of The City because that was the first time you saw the puppets and it had a storyline and other people acting in it, but this is just a band in a practice room but we’re still gonna use it. We like it.”
"Our grand plan for the future is for the puppets to play shows for us, maybe do a couple of interviews. So we can be at home drinking wine, spending all their money.”
And what anarchic mischief have the puppets been up to in between shooting the videos?
”I think they’ve been living with our manager in Berlin because I’ve never seen them in real life. But our grand plan for the future is to start touring and if we’re tired the puppets can play the show for us, maybe do a couple of interviews. So eventually they’ll be touring the world and we can be at home drinking wine, spending all their money.”
Toschie’s sense of humour shines through once more. I love the idea of telling a journalist to go and meet the vocalist on the bus for an interview and when they get there it’s just his puppet sat there instead.
"We’ve thought about picking up these puppets when we play Berlin and filming them doing silly things as a sort of tour diary as well.”
About an hour later I witnessed the Audrey Horne live experience for the first time. My meeting with Toschie had spoken volumes about who this band really are. They are deadly serious about what they do, they’re deeply passionate and completely committed, but they do so while cracking jokes and simply enjoying the ride rather than gripping the wheel and just trying to get through it.
Their sense of humour may define them in a large way, but they’re music is and will always be the main focus.
Words: Phil Weller