Uffe Lorenzen: Galmandsværk

Uffe Lorenzen aka Lorenzo Woodrose, the man behind the man, the artist that released under On Trial, Baby Woodrose, Pandemonica, Dragontears, Spids Nøgenhat and now is releasing his brand new and first solo album under his real name entitled ‘Galmandsværk’, look it up on google translator or continue reading to figure out the meaning of the word. We are about to embark on a timeline ride down memory lane and learn more about…the man behind the man.

Uffe, a lot has been written and said about you in the past many years, what is the less credible thing that you have ever read or heard said about yourself?

Some people seem to confuse my interest in psychedelic drugs with a narcotics habit, so they think I am high all the time, but as every one who actually uses psychedelics know, it takes more and more effort and courage  to convince yourself to do them, so for me its like a once or twice a year thing.

When did you start playing music for the very first time?

At 11 or 12 I think. Banging homemade drumsticks on pillows and pots.

Who inspired you to start playing music?

No one in particular really. Music just became an obsession very early.

Did you receive any musical inspiration from your parents?

My older sister and brother both had record collections with very diverse styles so thats where my interest really started.

Please tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?

I grew up in a suburb of Copenhagen called Albertslund. The whole city was built between 1967 and 1973, so pretty much everyone who moved out there was families with kids. Very safe environment to grow up in, with bicycle lanes everywhere, a lot of new schools, nature nearby and a lot of kids my age. I biked to kindergarten at 4 all on my own.

How was school?

Fun at first, but I grew tired of that very quickly. The last 3 years in particular were pure hell. I guess I always had some issues respecting authorities. I was clever, but lazy as fuck. Eventually I dropped out of high school and spent a few years smoking weed and learning to play the guitar.

Are you a family man?

Not particularly no. Too restless.

You began your career in an early age, you joined On Trial at the age of 15. I assume at that point that the band was in a kind of development of its own and trying to find an identity. Please tell us in short how the band developed and when the true identity of the band was found?

Yeah, we went through many different styles, starting as kids in 1986 with fast punkrock and political lyrics in danish, then more new wave stuff in english and even a bit of rockabilly punk, then for a while we played a lot of covers, mostly Stooges and Rolling Stones, but slowly turning more garage rock, inspired by Nuggets and Pebbles compilations, then a bit more hardrock inspired by Guns N Roses and The Cult Electric era around the first LP, then even a bit grungy before finally settling in around 1995 with a more original take on a kind of stoner/garage/psych.

Which On Trial album would you say, if possible, captured the true spirit and soul of the band?

Head Entrance from 1996 and Blinded By The Sun from 2002.

During the evolvement of On Trial you started various side-projects, in primis Baby Woodrose which somehow ended up with you leaving On Trial to focus on the new band. Was it a natural development for you to seek you own ways and new stimulations at that point?

The thing is, I always wrote songs and eventually I had so many that didn’t fit in with On Trial, I had to do something with them. Also, it was getting weird not singing them myself at a point.

About the same time Spids Nøgenhat and Pandemonica came to life, did you have a lot on your heart and mind during that particular period of your life?

Actually both those projects were way before Woodrose. Pandemonica was my 4 track home recordings made between 1993 and 1996 roughly, but released much later. Spids Nøgenhat started as early as 1998 I think, culminating in an album in 2001.

At some point Dragontears came to life too, a project that sounds like it was born out of a spontaneous heavy dope smokin’ jam?

Yeah. That was basically my own project, but it involved a lot of my friends that were in all the other bands as well. I wanted to have some fun and try some new things. I like those 3 records a lot personally, but they didn’t sell as easy as the Woodrose albums which were more commercially digestable I guess.

Lets talk about your brand new and upcoming album “Galmandsværk” (“act of madness”), a solo project where you, for the first time, are using your real name Uffe Lorenzen. Why the album title and why use your real name at this point in your career?

Actually, the proper translation would be “the work of a madman” but it has double meanings as “gal” can mean both mad as in crazy or mad as in angry in Danish. Also, its a very old expression and unique for Danish language that it is one word. No other language has a word like that as far as I know. I felt like the songs are so honest and personal that it would seem superficial to use any other name.

How did the record come to life and what are you expecting or hoping to transmit to the people that are going to listen to it?

Last winter I had the opportunity and need to pull the plug on my daily routines and travelled a bit for 3 whole months, I ended up spending 6 weeks in a tiny apartment on a small volcanic island called La Gomera, staring at the ocean and playing the guitar, trying to reinvent myself. I don’t care much what people think of it, but if you want to know who I am and understand Danish, this is probably the best place to start.

You have attracted a lot of attention in the Danish media related to your song “Dansker” (Dane). Were you expecting a reaction like that and did you hit a soft spot in the Danish self-awareness?

Yeah, it’s a bit of a shame really, because the song is really good, but some people seem to misunderstand it. I guess I did expect to piss some people off, but my point with the song was actually rather to wake them up. It seems like their national(ist) pride gets in the way of them getting the point. I am merely suggesting a bit more action, protest and involvement instead of apathy..

Are you more inspired composing music on a grey, rainy, windy autumn day looking out of your window and straight into grey concrete buildings or sitting on a terrace overlooking the sea with a straw-hat covering your eyes from a bright and shiny sun or perhaps sitting on a field that reaches into endlessness?

I can write a song anywhere which is really the secret to my creative output. I don’t even need a guitar or a pen and paper. I just need a bit of silence.

Do you find that there is a difference in the way you express yourself between English and Danish when writing lyrics?

Of course. But I have gotten so used to singing in English over the years that it will take some effort to turn my thinking process around and find my own way of saying stuff.

You have played several times at the Duna Jam festival in Sardegna. What impact has this festival had on you and how has it been to play at such an open-air venue in various stunning nature settings?

I have played Duna Jam 3 times. Very nice experiences all of them. I view it as more of a holiday, than a gig though. All the people there are really nice. I remember someone giving me a plastic cup of mushroom tea and listening to Motorpsycho in front of a magic melting sundown backdrop the best though, amazing show.

Ralph has been a long-time companion in your musical career and as a friend, who unfortunately is no longer with us. Please spend a few words in his memory?

He made me believe in myself, pushed me to do more than I thought I could, encouraged me and helped me get my music out there. I miss him. I keep thinking what he would have said about any problem that I encounter.

Have your prospects in life changed throughout the years or have they remained the same?

Pretty much the same.

When the tough gets going and the shit hits the artist. What keeps you going?

I have stubborn bones, so when I meet obstacles I get angry and work harder.

Have you ever had motivational crisis that blocked you and that kept a firm grip on you, preventing you from writing and composing?

Not really, no – theres too much self therapy involved. I dont do this for anyone else but me really. I only get tired of touring and doing interviews. But then when I have a bunch of good songs I make an album and the whole thing starts over again.

Is there any connection between ‘Hobittens Drøm’ and ‘Hobittens Flyvetur’ ?

They are both written with the same person in mind. Not the Tolkien character though.

The million dollar questions: of all the albums you have been involved in, which one are you most proud of?

The latest one.

Which of the many many songs you have composed has meant most to you emtionally and why?

Probably the ones that I wrote for people I know and love. Theres a bunch for Ralph like Light Up Your Mind, Jorden Kalder and Lever Vi Nu?

Best period of your life, when and why?

The last 5 years have been pretty good. Financially, emotionally, atistically. I feel grounded.

Worst period of your life, when and why?

Probably 2006-08. Was too worried and confused about myself. Felt like I was walking on glass.

What matters most to you in life and what matters less?

Love, friendships. Money is not that interesting, I spend it when I have it.

Have you ever imagined how your life would be without music?

No.

Where would you have been today, if you dropped the idea of playing music?

I wouldn’t have and I couldn’t have!

Best and worst show you ever did, where and why?

Best? This years Roskilde Festival solo show. Worst, Gruta77 in Madrid 2007. I was too drunk, sorry.

Which artists/albums are you listening to in this period?

Currently moving apartment, so all my vinyl is packed away.

Recommend a few good upcoming bands from Denmark?

I like Love Coffin, TJ and The Reasons To Live, Fribytterdrømme, Sonic Dawn, many others that I cant remember right now.

Are you a believer?

I have come to believe in love, its not just about sex or reproduction. I think its the energy that makes the universe spin.

When is life beautiful?

A quiet Monday morning, coffee, vinyl and cigarettes.

Biggest mistake you ever made?

Signed a publishing contract.

Kindest gesture you have done?

I always carry pocket change for homeless people. Gets a bit too expensive in some major European cities though.

Until this day, how satisfied are you with your life?

Very satisfied, but it seems to become shorter and shorter which is depressing.

Are you moody?

Very. Most days are low.

Are you emotional?

Very. I surf emotions for a living.

Are you religious?

Not at all, convinced atheist.

Are you spiritual?

Not at all.

Do you have a temper, if yes, do you have an automatic safe switch or do you allow it to break out in full flare?

I control it pretty well. I am not violent in any way, but my words can get really sharp and merciless.  I am still working on that.

Add 3 sensations to each of the following words:

Drugs: Tingling

Sex: Tingling

Love: Tingling

Food! In Italy they would say that you are ‘un buongustaio’, one that loves good food and wine. I have seen that with my own eyes too ;-). What is your fave dish?

Haha, its true. I just love food, all kinds pretty much. But not much beats fresh seafood in my opinion.

I tend to give most artist the kitchen question and I am not going to make an exception here. How good are you in a kitchen, what is your strongest dish and who can testify?

I am an adequate but average cook in my own opinion. I have friends that are much better. Some traditional Danish dishes I can do as good as anyone on a good day, but mostly I am too lazy. My girlfriend loves my Pasta Carbonara though.

To avoid ending this interview with a kitchen related question, please write a short story/poem/song about your life up until today, in Danish:

Mit køkken er fyldt med kasser af pap

Jeg kan ikke finde hverken kniv eller saks

Men jeg har dog min kedel og min insta nes-kaf

En hvid dråbe mælk og resten kan skafs.

For information:

Uffe Lorenzen (Lorenzo Woodrose)

Baby Woodrose

Spids Nøgenhat

Dragontears

Bad Afro Records

Them Bird Things

An odd, Finnish and non-Finnish, country/blues/psych/rock’n’roll combo born in the heart of a singer who never knew how to sing, yet turned into the beautiful swan voice-wise so to speak. A 10+ year process of a band that just released their brand new 5th release called “Stephen Crow must die”….and yes it really is as dramatic as the title suggests.

Dark tones and downbeats, lighten up with raw psychedelic rock’n’roll and an astonishing velvet voice that just seems to be riding on the smokey waves of cigarettes and cigars that obscures the entire room inside that gloomy lookin’ whiskey bar in downtown Helsinki…

Little remains to be said coz Them Bird Things just delivered their best album till date and sseennsseess is adding this album to the list of contenders for best album 2017! Do yourself the favour and pick up a copy of this beautiful release. Foot-stompin’ is guaranteed!

Salla, congratulations on your newly released album! What was your first immediate reaction when you heard the final product?

A relief! I’d been listening to rough mixes for a long time (maybe a year) and then critiquing final mixes and mastering for three or four months after that. It was nice to hear the songs take the shape and form I’d heard in my inner ear for so long.

Your latest album called ‘Stephen Crow Must Die’ is the 5th release you guys have made and it very much sounds like the culmination of a long process within Them Bird Things, what are your thoughts on that?

This line-up is a much more organic entity than the previous incarnations. We are all interested in the same type of music and pull in the same direction. Working with these guys is very comfortable and I trust their judgement and taste.

Which song is your personal favourite on the new album and why?

Hard to say but those first three songs are such an explosive start to the record. ‘I Think She Likes Me’ is a song I wanted to do for a long time. It’s by a Boston band called Treat Her Right (their guitarist devised the riff that kickstarts ‘I Know Who Killed Robert Johnson’).

And the song is spooky and seductive. I sang it well. The production is droney, with a violin bowed guitar in one channel and a guitar tuned Ostrich style panned opposite. And that 12-string lead guitar is just wonky.

Then it goes into House of Stone, which is relentless. Two basses on that. A regular bass and a six string that Tapani pummels. I love my backing vocal. It’s deranged.

Then ‘I, Julius’ shows what players the three boys are. Just a tremendous performance. A magic take.

Did you face any particular challenges during the making of the new record?

No. This was the most relaxed, stress free record I have ever been involved in. The band was united in its goal. We wanted to make a loud and dirty rock’n’roll record. And for the first time in my career, it was a shared vision. I loved working with these guys. You don’t have to talk and plan. It’s almost telepathic.

Many and plenty surely but the most joyful or ‘magic’ moment of making the record?

‘Last of the Silent Screen Stars’ was magic from writing it, to arranging it, to recording it. Came together so seamlessly you just knew it was meant to be.

You guys have been existing for 10+ years but I still don’t know the answer to this one, so why the name ‘Them Bird Things’?

It’s a composition of three famous English R&B bands from the British blues boom. Them (Van Morrison’s first band), the YardBIRDs and the Pretty THINGS.

I will give you five Them Bird Things words and you will tell us what they mean to you:

White Lipstick: a true story about Steve Blodgett’s first love, who died under tragic circumstances. The companion piece to this is a song on the first album called Black Petals.

Lucy Bogan: Some interesting wordplay and a blast to sing.

Hornswoggled: a very odd bass line and more tongue-twisters disguised as lyrics. Was a sensational live piece, which the studio version doesn’t really capture the power of.

Caril Ann: Charlie Starkweather’s companion in crime gets a chance to tell her side of the story 50 years after the facts.

Choke Chain: Another one that is a blast to sing. To my mind, has a subtle S&M undercurrent. Definitely a song about control and power struggles.

Oh and who is the bride that came to yellow sky?

The lyrics were inspired by the Pogues’ “Thousands Are Sailing,” which has a real melodramatic feel to it. Probably Shane’s vision of immigration to North America filtered through his Irish genes mixed with alcohol. As a Finn, I wanted something that was more gritty, down to earth and tragic. It was also at the time that refugees were fleeing North Africa for Europe and often drowning en-route so I had that in the back of my mind as well.

When you are dreaming the dream, what dream are you dreaming?

Steve wrote this many years ago and I’m not sure I can answer that.

Who had the inspiration to compose the song “Pocket of Rain”?

Ditto.

‘I know who killed Robert Johnson’ and ‘Stephen Crow must die’ …is there something we should know about you?

No! These ideas spring from Will. He is a dark muthafucka.

Back to reality, you guys made the new album entirely analogue. What importance does a more ‘organic’ sound have to your music and why so ever more today as opposed to the first albums?

Basically, a matter of time, circumstances and convenience. We didn’t have our own studio at first so we went to a studio called Kick Out the Jams here in Helsinki. It was a Pro Tools studio that had a lot of analogue equipment. The tracks were recorded to digital but were mixed to tape. Over time, we were able to get our own equipment and started recording ourselves. Our producer, Will Shade, prefers analogue so that’s how we do it from recording to mixing etc.

How has the band developed during these many years and how have you developed personally?

There has been many line-ups so of course it has changed over time. As people come and go, they bring different influences and abilities with them. That has an impact on both the sound and songwriting. We all have our likes and dislikes and it has often been a struggle to find a middle ground. This most recent line-up doesn’t have that problem. We’re all on the same page.

Personally, I hope that I have developed over the past ten years both as a singer and songwriter. I don’t take this so seriously anymore. I used to get uptight about it. Now, I’m more relaxed about it. More confident in my own abilities but also aware that it’s not the end of the world if I don’t nail a take. I either come back to it later or abandon it altogether. Then again, I might leave it. Mistakes can be a flavour as well.

Main influences music wise for you personally and for the band itself?

My biggest influence is probably folk music. That has really had an impact on me. Both as a singer and as a songwriter. I’m also, according to Will, a natural country singer so I really explored a lot of the classic Country and Western stuff and much to my surprise fell in love with it. The last few years has seen me investigating mid-20th Century blues too.

The band has a real wide background. It is a bit hard to sum them all up. Tapani has been playing Finnish folk music for over 30 years but he was also a big punk fan as a teen back in the early ‘80s. Julius is capable of almost anything such as rock’n’roll, blues, country etc but I think when push comes to shove that he has a love for 60’s rock & pop. Affe, is one of Finland’s most legendary drummers and has been playing for over 50 years. He’s the hardest to sum up as he has played with Eddie Boyd after all, as well as Pen Lee with David Lindholm and Sielun Veljet. Google him!

 

What has music given you and what have you given music?

A real hard time! My life would be much easier if I wasn’t addicted to it. I have no idea what I’ve given music. That’s not for me to say.

You started out as a keyboard player in Branded Women without knowing how to play a keyboard, then you started singing in Them Bird Things without having sung before. Is Salla:

A) Wonder Woman

B) A supersonic natural talent

C) The next-door neighbour who just happened to have a craving and went for it

C of course.

Tell us about the transition from keyboard player to front singer and going from Branded Women into a new long-lasting project with Them Bird Things?

In Branded Women I was able to hide behind my Farfisa. As the frontman in Them Bird Things, there is no place to hide. You are the instrument. Of course, at first it was scary but once you get over the fright, being onstage becomes pretty addictive. The adrenaline gives you a rush, the high is bigger than being a sideman and there is more responsibility too. Everybody is relying on you.

You became a mother too! How did that change you as a person and as a musician?

I’ve never been an “all about me” type of person so it wasn’t a huge transition in that regard but it was a bit daunting to realize you were totally responsible for someone else every moment of the day. As far as being a musician, I think that’s apparent on the Bride album. A lot of the songs addresses being a parent or are about a child.

Tell us about Salla Day’s childhood?

Very much of a garden town. A fairly sheltered childhood. It was the 70’s and 80’s after all.

Together with my sister

What were your dreams as a child and did any of those come true today?

I used to stand in front of a mirror with a hairbrush and dream of singing so yes, that part came true. But I also wanted to make a difference, to matter, as does everybody. So, the jury’s still out to rule on that.

Tell us about your time in England?

As a teen I loved horses. I rode competitions in Finland until I realized I was not competitive. I ended up in England working on a polo pony farm when I was 16. Stayed there for a few months during the summer in between school.

Did your parents have any influence on you music wise?

No, they had no influence on me musically. They were surprised when I joined Branded Women.

They had no indication prior to it that I was interested in music. I listened to T. Rex and Hanoi Rocks as a teen but who didn’t? Besides my mother was taking me to a Siljun Veljet show when I was 10, I don’t think they were aware of my interest.

Photo taken during the Branded Women days

Are you a hopeful person?

Absolutely.

Were you a role model in school?

Absolutely not.

What does America mean to you?

Music, pop culture & violence.

Are you interested in history, if yes what intrigues you the most?

Yes. If I’m pinned down, I’d say Second World War.

What kind of character is Salla?

I have a strong sense of justice. Even as a child, I would defend other kids at the playground if I felt they were being picked on.

You seem like a very calm kinda gal but do you have a temper?

Once in a blue moon but I don’t hold a grudge.

What is ultimate happiness in your opinion and have you found it?

It’s human nature to always want more but comparatively my life is pretty good.

What do you do in life besides playing music?

Spending time with my 4-year old and my husband when I don’t have to be at my day job.

Fave color?

Really?

Fave drink?

Good cup of coffee.

Fave meal?

Palak Paneer. Unfortunately, I was just diagnosed with a milk allergy so life has become a little bit more dull.

Top 5 fave Finnish bands?

Sielun Veljet, 22-Pistepirkko, Jolly Jumpers, Carola, Tuomari Nurmio. This is by no means a list set in stone, though.

Top 5 fave foreign bands?

A: Judy Henske, XTC, Love, Emmylou Harris, Carolina Chocolate Drops. Ask me again in ten minutes, and it’ll be totally different.

Who’s your fave movie director and why?

Clint Eastwood. I had a huge poster of him as a kid. I have loved him ever since.

What does Aki Kaurismaki and his movies mean to you?

Everybody who is thinking of moving to Finland should watch his movies.

What does Finland mean to you?

Bad weather, architecture and salmiakki.

What does Helsinki mean to you?

A bubble. Wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in this country.

Kitchen Q time, what is your average rating in a kitchen and what is your strongest dish?

Adequate. Chicken curry is my best.

What is your dark side?

I am nauseatingly stable.

Would you consider yourself spiritual?

Yes, when it suits me.

If you were given the privilege to change the world in 5 strokes, what would they be?

Much too overwhelming of a concept to really sum it up in an interview but like anybody else I’d want to make the world a better place for everybody.

Lets pretend you took the famous ferry from Helsinki to Estonia and you found yourself alone on the Captain’s deck, grabbin’ the ship microphone. What would you shout out into the mist of the Seven Seas?

“Now hear this, now hear this. The bar is open. Drinks on the house.”

Any last words?

I hope people do find this latest album an enjoyable experience. Thousands of hours went into it and I think it holds its own.

Have one last task, please write a short poem, story or song on your life up until today?

Roses are red/violets are blue/you thought this was gonna rhyme/but it ain’t

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