Super-charismatic quartet Katzenjammer hailing from Oslo, Norway, juggles thirty-odd different instruments between them and have performed at everything from balalaika-infested venues in Murmansk nightclubs and hickory-smoked backyard barbeques in Texas to opening for Keane at the O2 in London. Featuring the quartet in MIC Norway’s Live At The Office series was a no-brainer – these madcap performers fit in perfectly with the informal and intimate concept of the popular Tiny Desque series.
Katzenjammer’s compact ‘Live At The Office’ setlist features mainstays of the band’s repertoire including Rock Paper Scissors, Mother Superior, Lady Marlene, Ain’t No Thang as well as a well-executed cover of Genesis’ Land of Confusion.
Katzenjammer’s ascent into the spotlight started at the beginning of 2008, when they appeared at the Scandinavian music convention by:Larm in Oslo. Their unique blend folk/country/Balkan/ gypsy/ rickety-rock pop along with the impressive array of 29 (and counting) instruments on which the ladies are self-taught blew away an audience of industry people and journalists.
Katzenjammer—Solveig Heilo, Anne Marit Bergheim, Turid Jørgensen and Marianne Sveen—released their debut album Le Pop in Norway in late 2008 to critical praise. One writer described the album as ”a mix between Eastern European folk music, B-52s, the sisters Kate & Anna McGarrigle, seasick bluegrass, country blues and a carnival orchestra on the run.” Le Pop was produced by Kåre Westrheim and Mike Hartung, also known for their work with notable Norwegian artists Marit Larsen and Superfamily.
On stage, Katzenjammer display their own version of musical chairs, the various instruments—including the tuba, the balalaika bass, drums, harmonica, piano, banjo, accordion, mandolin, guitar, melodica and, very efficiently, the aforementioned trumpet—continuously circulating among the four musicians, adding a circus element to the show. The band’s appearance at SXSW last March caught the attention of concert goers and led to confirmed appearances at other US festivals like Summerfest, where they opened for Elvis Costello, and Bonnaroo, where David Byrne invited the ladies to play his stage (the first ever artist-curated stage at Bonnaroo) alongside Santigold, the Dirty Projectos and Dave Byrne and Brian Eno.
Katzenjammer’s latest outing is ‘A Kiss Before You Go’ – an album featuring such strong tracks as Cocktails and Ruby Slippers which can be seen as jerky junkyard funk, I Will Dance is pure folk-pop gorgeousness, Cherry Pie is very perky, 1950’s Andrews Sisters and Shepherd’s Song is back of a tractor hayride country-soul. Lady Marlene is a waltz-time ballad that began life as a version of Metallica’s Master Of Puppets. As if that wasn’t strange enough for you, Land Of Confusion is, rather wonderfully, the Genesis hit reimagined on tack piano, marimba and sousaphone. Did they plan it like this, you wonder? “We never plan anything!” laughs Marianne. “That’s why we change instruments, it reminds you that you’re doing something alive and new. We wouldn’t want to play the same sort of songs all the time just like we wouldn’t want to play the same instrument all night every night.” “We are interested in new things and new emotions all the time,” offers Solveig. “We like the sweet and harsh. If you like anything in between that you’ll like Katzenjammer.”
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Concerts, Concert series