The National Bank is a peerless band in Norway, with members enrolled from different tracts of the musical landscape; from diverse bands and constellations, but with one thing in common, that they are all young, ambitious and outstanding in their field. The National Bank is thus no less than a supergroup, but one that came into existence not after the golden days of the member’s personal careers but, conversely, simultaneously or perhaps even before this fully has happened.
The band comprises brothers Lars and Martin Horntveth, the driving forces behind the hugely successful jazz ensemble Jaga Jazzist (and both with memorable solo records on their resume) Nikolai Eilertsen (ex. Bigbang) Morten Qvenild from In the Country and Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, and not least the beloved singer/songwriter Thomas Dybdahl, whose captivating vocals spearheads the National Bank’s songs.
But this supergroup was never designed or envisioned to become one such. Rather it is in fact the offspring of a one-time project that proved so successful that closing it down became impossible. The context was the 2003 regional cultural festival “Festspillene i Vestfold,” which had commissioned Lars and Martin Horntveth to compose a set of vocal music especially for the festival. They assembled a band of their favourite musicians, including the rising star of hushed singer/ songwriting Thomas Dybdahl on vocals, with the objective of creating music for “big stages.” Needless to say the commission was a sensation and it drew the attention of the entire Norwegian musical establishment.
The following year the band released their eponymous first album, which became a massive success. Celebrated for setting “a new standard of pop music in Norway” it went on to reach platinum sales and the single Tolerate became the hit song of the year.
This critic wrote of the music that it: “manages to unite sophisticated and innovative elements taken from jazz and electronica with timeless qualities of pop composition to create grandly sweeping melodic music.”
After quite extensive touring over the past couple of years, and a string of very prestigious concerts in Norway and some abroad - i.e. concerts on “big stages” and in settings where no expense is spared in terms of production and atmosphere - The National Bank have spent the summer and fall of this year writing and recording their follow-up album. The first single Let it go was released in august, and now they have just released the “Christmas single” Family, complete with a warm-luminous video.
The forthcoming album Come on over to the other side will hit the streets on February second. And expectations are high to say the least, for this band has so many admirers - in its own right, but also due to the high esteem in which the individual members and their music is held, also internationally – that the second outing is anticipated with a sense of impending luxury and delight. Expectations are high within the band too: Singer Thomas Dybdahl has told the Norwegian daily Dagbladet that he finds the upcoming release incredibly exciting: "I think this album is more catchy and up-tempo than the first" he said, "it will define us as a band".sd
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