The Bergen trio Ungdomskulen play proggy post punk, mixing chops and hooks with a sense of humor. But they don’t sound like Primus. When I was in Norway a couple years ago, “Ungdomskulen” seemed to be on everybody’s lips (or at least the metal-esque guys I ran into). I was told time again about their technical abilities, but not so much about the fact that they wrote satisfyingly catchy songs like “Modern Drummer” (from their album Cry-Baby) or “Ordinary Son,” which you’ll find after my discussion with Øyvind Solheim, Frode Kvinge Flatland, and Kristian Stockhaus about their day jobs: Solheim builds guitar pedals (he also looks after a boy with special needs, but for the kid’s privacy, he understandably didn’t want to talk about that), Flatland teaches variously, Stockhaus DJs and teaches entire bands. Because actions supposedly speak louder than words, Kristian concocted a special mix to accompany this Quit Your Day Job. You’ll find that after our discussion, too.
STEREOGUM: Do you have a teaching background/degree?
Øyvind Solheim Yes, I have. Both a background and a degree.
STEREOGUM: What age or grade level are you currently instructing?
Øyvind Solheim I teach a lot of kids and I’ve been working with kids varying from 0 – 18 years old. It depends on the school, but mainly it’s about 20 kids in one class.
STEREOGUM: The important question: What do you teach?
Øyvind Solheim I give drum lessons and instruct rock bands. I also work at an agency that provides teachers to various schools in my home town, Bergen. The way it works is that if a school has a one teacher missing one day they call the agency, then they ask me if I’m available and if I am I put on my special teacher face and go out to save the future.
This job is very unpredictable since I most of the time never know what, where, when or who more than a couple of hours in advance. I like to think that it keeps me focused and fresh. It’s not so much different from being on tour actually cause each day you get to meet a lot of people that you will get to know that day and the day after those people are gone and you have a new crowd to please.
I teach whatever is necessary that day. Since it varies a lot what’s needed, I can’t be picky about what I want to teach. I think that it´s just as important to have a point of view where you focus on giving kids support and try to make them feel respected, and of course at the same time give them a lot of different input so that they grow to be wise.
I teach wisdom.
STEREOGUM: Do you make the pedals for another company or do you run your own?
FRODE KVINGE FLATLAND: I have my own very small company called BROKJI. Brokji is an old Norwegian word which means “trousers.” It sounds a bit like a russian word too, i guess. You can check out the first collection at MySpace.
STEREOGUM: How many different models are you currently putting assembling?
FRODE KVINGE FLATLAND: I’m currently bulding about eight different pedals: tremolo, phaser, booster and different types of distortion. What I like the best about pedal-building is the enclosure-design. I’m currently building one in LEGO, and it’s turning out pretty cool.
STEREOGUM: How did you learn the trade?
FRODE KVINGE FLATLAND: YouTube! Everything I learn, I learn by watching YouTube clips. I got myself a clarinet for my birthday, so now I´m practicing the clarinet with my Mac in my lap.
STEREOGUM: Have you ever invented any pedals that end up creating sounds/effects you dislike? Ever discontinue a pedal? Or have you ever created something by mistake?
FRODE KVINGE FLATLAND: I once tried to make an “analog Chaospad” using a tapehead, and a lot of cassette tape mounted on a metal-board. The plan was to mount the tapehead into a small toy-car and drive the car over the tape, and the effect was supposed to sound almost like scratching vinyl or something … it turned out pretty bad, but I still think it’s doable…
STEREOGUM: Any bands I might know who are using the pedals?
FRODE KVINGE FLATLAND: Kristian Stockhaus, the famous guitarist of Ungdomskulen is using a BROKJI pedal.
STEREOGUM: Where do you DJ? And how often? Weekly? Monthly?
KRISTIAN STOCKHAUS: How often I DJ varies a lot. I get really exhausted and drained from DJing, so I try to DJ as little as possible, hehe. When I do DJ it’s just different bars and such in Bergen where I live. Last time I DJ’d I played after this art-opening — I got drunk and played Kate Bush´s “Running Up That Hill” five times in a row.
STEREOGUM: Do you have a DJ name?
KS: My brother’s DJ name is dj.tanner — very clever that one. I used to have a DJ-team when i was really young like 11-12. We were called “DJ’s of Lord’s Future In Chronic.” I didn’t make up that pretentious god-awful name and I definitely didn’t know what the hell chronic meant either. We were mostly spinning Prodigy’s Out Of Space. Anyhow, I don’t really have a dj-name cause with a name comes expectation. People just write DJ Stockhaus or something on the poster. But when me and my friend Marianne DJ we’re called “dritttryne med h,” which translates “shitface with an h.” We play new wave and try to act casual.
STEREOGUM: Any historical DJ inspirations? Are you modeling your approach after anyone or are you more going up with a crate/ipod/laptop and just going to town with it?
KS: I’m not into dance music that much. I really like music that you can dance to, rather then music you have to dance to — you know? So I don’t know much about legendary DJs and stuff, but Bergen’s best DJ is a friend of mine … He’s called Balthazar and he can beatmix “a toilet flushing and a lawnmower dying.” He’s that good. So I guess he inspires me. Ungdomskulen and him has a project called Balthaskulen, where we play back to back, beatmixing into each other. He spins and we do covers of classic songs like “Pump Up The Jam” in total no-brain versions. The concept is amazing, and if we weren’t so busy we´d export it to America, ’cause you guys would go fucking bananas over it!
STEREOGUM: True that. Have you ever released any of your DJing stuff?
KS: No, but our label !k7 has this series of DJ-sets called DJ Kicks, and I have some songs that I’m thinking about putting on my mix the day I convince them to do a Stockhaus DJ kicks. I’m gonna use the computer to mix it, and on the record sleeve it’s gonna say, “This album was mixed live on a sweaty, sexy July night in exotic Bergen, Norway. People who use computers to make mix-comps are idiots — don’t be one!” And that’s what it’s gonna say.
STEREOGUM: Thoughts on Girl Talk?
KS: I haven’t heard that much of him, but I used to have the song where he samples X-Ray Specs going, “one, two, three, four” on my mp3 player — that song is really ace. He also does Nirvana on that one. So my thoughts on him are sweet.
STEREOGUM: Do you teach guitar out of your house?
KS: I actually teach a whole band at one go. It’s like they practice and whatnot and I come in and give them pointers and stuff. I had to teach this girl to play the staccato-drums on White Stripes “One Nation Army.” Those are tricky and nice. When all the bands that attended to that “program” had an “exams” concert, she pulled it off real nicely. I was proud like a duck’s mother.
STEREOGUM: How many students do you have? A variety of ages?
KS: I had a couple of bands and they were around 14-15 and there was also this older band attending with some of them reaching up to their late 40s. One of the women were really strong-minded and couldn’t really collaborate well with the others. They did that Bruce Springsteen song that goes “if you looking for love, honey I am the best” or something. She was a strong-minded and an awful singer. HAHAHA. And then there was this hippie-women who was like a forcefield of positivity and she even wrote a song about being drunk or something. She was amazing! Oh man, that was a sweet gig.
STEREOGUM: Did you take lessons yourself as a kid?
KS: Yes, I had this guitar teacher that tried to teach me notes. I wasn’t interested at all. While the other kids got to play soccer in between classes, I went to her every Wednesday and played children-songs on that stupid acoustic guitar. I told my daddy that I wanted to quit real bad, so he said, “Listen son, I know you hate to play notes and stuff, but ask her to teach you a few chords.” And she did, and I loved it. I started to learn Guns N’ Roses songs really quick, and I also wrote my own first songs just weeks after that. Thanks, Dad!
STEREOGUM: What’s the most difficult thing to get across as a guitar teacher? Anything in particular that the new students find hard to grasp?
KS: Well, I am more of the Kurt Cobain school then the Yngwie Malmsten one, so some of the students are probably considered a better guitarist then myself. My view on guitar playing is that if you copying someone else you will be second best, but if you come up with your own style, you will be best at that style at least. It’s not about being best, but it’s definitely not about being second best either.
STEREOGUM: You guys are known as a particularly technical band. Ever try to teach your students an Ungdomskulen song?
KS: No, but when we toured with Young Knives their guitar tech was trying to learn the riff of “Ordinary Son,” which felt pretty cool and weird. I had to teach him a little bit, but he is a good guitarist so he picked it up in an instant.
Here’s the song Young Knives’ guitar tech picked up in an instant.
Cry-Baby is out via Ever. You can hear more at the band’s MySpace. What you won’t hear anywhere else is the following “Kristian Stockhaus Vita Brallor Is A State Of Mind Mix,” which DJ Kristian made just for you:
“Kristian Stockhaus Vita Brallor Is A State Of Mind Mix” tracklist:
01 The Coconuts – Did You Have To Love Me Like You Did?”
02 Industrials – “In A Mind Garage”
03 Hillary – “Kinetic”
04 The Dance – “She Likes To Beat”
05 The Waitresses – “Bread And Butter” (dub mix)
06 Uusi Fantasia – “Lähtisitkö”
07 Fearless Four – “Rockin It” (instrumental)
08 Bonk – “Car Jam” (elektro jazz mix)
09 Chilly Gonzales – “So what the Fuck”
10 Mu – “Let’s Get Sick”
11 Bow Wow Wow – “Elimination Dancing”
12 Gentle Giant – “Wreck”
[left to right: Øyvind Solheim, Frode Kvinge Flatland, Kristian Stockhaus]