Sløtface are excitedly discussing details of their forthcoming second album, packed into their tour van, driving home through picture-perfect Norwegian landscapes from one of their periodical days in prison. No, really.
In between stints in the studio of their label Propeller in Oslo, the quartet - who burst on the scene with their fantastic, full-of-life debut album ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ at the end of summer 2017 - have been taking part in a government programme that sees bands go into the high schools of Norwegian prisons and talk about their lives as musicians, as well as play a 40-minute set for the inmates. “We’re rock teachers!” guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad giggles from the front seat. “I feel like Jack Black in School of Rock!” “We played the new songs because we knew they wouldn’t leak anywhere afterwards,” vocalist Haley Shea adds, smirking.
Working with Odd Martin Skålnes, who’s previously worked alongside Sigrid and Aurora, the nine songs the band currently have in the bank are, bassist Lasse Lokøy tells us, “a bit clearer, and more simple and raw”. “We tried to not let anything restrain the writing,” Haley expands, not letting the eventual conversation of how to tour the album live affect its creation. “We’re trying to experiment a little more, and we’ve almost gone the other way, caring too little about the live set.”
“I feel like Jack Black in School of Rock!”
The prison tour and recording sessions have also seen the band settle into life with new drummer Nils Jørgen Nilsen, of Norwegian punks Honningbarna. “[His band] are known as the fastest rock band around, so we’ve had to dumb him down a little bit,” Tor laughs, though from the way the band talk about the material being readied for album two, it doesn’t look like the infectious energy and youthful vigour of ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ will go missing on the second effort. “We have one song specifically inspired by Robyn,” Lasse reveals. “There’s some sick drums and a sick vocal hook. Very excited about that.” “We’ve been testing it out on our school-slash-prison tour, and the people in prison seem to think it’s good!” Haley exclaims in response.
While it’s not the most traditional run-up to an album ever seen, album two looks to reaffirm everything that made Sløtface such an exciting prospect first time round - wide-eyed, passionate and champing at the bit. They’re also inspiring a few new unlikely fans along the way. “There were two inmates, and we started talking a bit about drums,” Nils remembers of one of the band’s recent performances. “They said to each other that they should steal a drumkit when they get out.” Getting five-star reviews from its new audience, and being polished off with more studio sessions in the new year, Sløtface’s return is imminent, and it’ll be a joy to have them back.