TVIVLER is such a omnipresent force that blows away whatever comes in its way. A natural disaster of sonic sounds that’s hard to figure out, as well as being incredible accessible. With nods to Dischord Records,free-jazz, noise rock and hardcore, how could we not fall in love with the band? This, combined with the fact that TVIVLER share members with other Tiger-bands such as Lack, made it a no-brainer for us to reach out. We talked to lead singer Thomas Burø about the band, the process and the DIY scene in Scandinavia in the early to mid 2000s.
You’re all veterans of the DIY music scene in Scandinavia. Would you mind giving a short introduction to the band and it’s members?
Sure. Morten plays drums. He has played for some quite intense bands and he is quite an competent drummer. He was part of Obstacles and Children of Fall – before that he was in All I See. The other Morten plays bass. He plays in Town Portal also and other projects. He has done a whole bunch of cultural organising in Copenhagen. Thomas plays the guitar, like Morten he also played in Obstacles, Children of Fall and All I See. I am Thomas and do the singing for tvivler. I used to sing and do guitar with Lack (and a few other bands). So I guess we all have kind of a track record for being in bands that worked hard at getting stuff done. Lots of touring and we all released a fair deal of records.
Tvivler started in 2014. Driven by a desire to play fast, dirty and aggressive music. I was invited to sing, which I am really thankful for. I insisted that I wanted to sing in Danish because I wanted to pursue what I could do with that (except alienate the rest of the non-danish speaking world that has no clue what’s going on in the lyrics). We got to work. We released three 7” [Negativ psykologi #1-3] before we felt confident with the kind of musical expression we wanted to present on a full length. The 7” were music experiments and a really nice way to go about figuring out what we like to do as musicians, as song writers and as a collective.
The new album, EGO, is an intense rollercoaster to say the least. With nods to hardcore, freejazz, indie rock and everything in between, this could easily be alienating to loads of people. How did you work on this album?
I am happy that you use the term ‘alienate’ because it does resonate quite well with us. Alienation is such an interesting concept. It has a tremendously complicated conceptual history and in Marx’s thinking it has at least four different dimensions. But it is also a sentiment, a feeling. EGO is a record about finding courage and even hope in the ruins of a system that already has or is in the process of collapsing. The dying system was alienating people from the product of their labour (as we know from Marx) and from themselves (as we know from Debord, Marcuse and a host of other critical thinkers), but there is also the existential alienation that is to be found in the relation to being in the world (as we know from Heidegger, Blanchot, Camus, etc.). Personally, I don’t think there is any way to ever overcome or get past either of these kinds of alienation. I think they are conditions you have to find ways to live with. Even if we can agree that the neoliberal capitalist system as we know it is both full of error, capable of inducing great harm (and good) and could do with a substantial and careful makeover (for instance in the line of Raworth’s Doughnut Economy), then we still, as individuals and as communities, have to cope with living in this (collapsing) system. EGO is very much a record about living in this system, this culture, this economy. But what we wanted to do was look at our relations to self within this system. There are so many people who launch criticism and critique far better than we do, so we thought it was more interesting to look at ourselves, our life worlds and how alienation strikes at our hearts. That we express this in the form of a music that draws from all kinds of musical inspirations is both a way of recognising the diversity of our musical heritage and a way of connecting with people who had at their respective time and place in history to come to terms with and deal with life in the system. Personally, I think most of the music that I find exciting had a certain element of spite to it. An attitude of protest, even revolt. But not necessarily in an angry fashion. Often it is actually the case that it is joyous, emancipated, creative, hugely imaginative music. I think EGO tries to connect with such attitudes. We are not really so attentive to the shit we are against or angry with, but much more engaged with the stuff that is important, interesting, remarkable, exciting. We just wanted to write a record based on that energy and just see where that would inevitably take us.
Is it different working with TVIVLER than it was with Lack?
Yes. Our ways of writing music with Tvivler, our creative processes, are different. Maybe we are just older and more seasoned. We have a quite open-ended and collective way of writing with tvivler. There is very little ego at work, more a vibe of pursuing ideas collectively. Often we say stuff like: “what if…”, “I’d really like to hear…” and “I dunno, lets try…). I don’t really want to position myself in a position to ‘speak the truth’ about Lack. We had some wonderful and complicated writing processes, but it is really not for me to pass any judgment on them. I am more comfortable sharing my thoughts on how we work with Tvivler. I think it is striking that we don’t really need to negotiate how things are to be played. We just know, collectively – which is of course the product of having acquired the tastes that we have. This also means that we often get very easily tired with generic stuff, with repeating things we know work (and also love).
Would you mind sharing your opinion on the Scandinavian DIY community in the early 2000s?
Sure. By all means, I am not an expert nor one of the most knowledgeable people to ask. So, I am treading carefully here. I think there was quite an exciting ecology of DIY culture in Norway, Finland and Sweden. It forged connections all over the place and enabled a lot of great stuff to happen. Not just in terms of bands, which are only the most easily recognisable forms of expression in a music driven ecology of culture. But also in terms of organisers, writers, photographers, other creative outlets. I think the DIY ecology was thoroughly politicized which I experienced as very ambivalent. It was both inspiring and a great way to develop a critical sense, and it was also conservative. I remember that when I started touring with Lack we experienced that in most towns there was a punk doing something. It wasn’t just in the major cities, which I speculate is more of the case now. All kinds of bands played in weird little towns and stuff was happening. I really enjoyed that kind of cultural intensity and self-determination. People just did stuff. I am not willing to become nostalgic. It was definitely not everything that worked, but what I still appreciate tremendously is that folks tried. They were active. They connected. They acted.