Victories at the Zoom and Urørt awards have put hard-hitting and challenging power trio Heroes & Zeros at the centre of the spotlight.
The members of successful trio Heroes & Zeros all hail from the small southern Norwegian town of Lillesand, but relocated to Oslo some two years ago. As winners of national talent contest Zoom finals, Heroes & Zeros are set to tour Norway in March along with Tromsø outfit The Fernets. A late January victory at the Urørt talent contest further solidified the image of a band that is destined to make its mark on 2005.
Heroes & Zeros’ distinct sound sets them apart from most of their domestic peers with a broad sonic palette that sounds distinctly un-Norwegian featuring liberal use of distorted bass, atmospheric guitar work and instantly identifiable vocal lines. Heroes & Zeros cites bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, Sonic Youth and Jesus & The Mary Chain as main inspirational sources.
Tracks such as Cellophane and Come Home confirm the image of a hard-hitting outfit with well developed sense of pop aesthetics. Says Heroes & Zeros Hans Jørgen Undelstvedt: ‘Some refer to our music as stoner rock. However, we feel that it’s a bit limiting being compared to bands such as QOTSA which we don’t necessary have a lot in common with. We draw inspiration from virtually all kinds of good stuff from the 50s to the present, mainly alternative rock in all of its various forms but also a variety of other genres – I feel that this gives us a pretty unique sound that’s not very common here in Norway.’
The upcoming domestic tour with The Fernets looks set to be one of the year’s highlights for the vital power trio: ’We’re really looking forward to touring Norway this spring with The Fernets. On this tour alone we’ll play more shows than we’ve ever played before’ says Hans Jørgen. In addition to the Zoom tour, Heroes & Zeros are scheduled to play Oslo’s important Øya Festival in August as well as Kristiansand’s Quart festival in early July.
Heroes & Zeroes powerful tracks will soon be available in a recorded format explains Hans Jørgen: ‘We’ll hit the studio later this year to record our first EP. We’re still unsigned but we hope that will change in the wake of by:Larm. Hopefully, some doors will open and maybe lead to a record deal and more gigs later this year. If we could also get hold of a reliable and good booking agent as well then we’ll be really satisfied with by:Larm.’
Late January saw Heroes & Zeros winning the first place of the prestigious Urørt awards which is staged by the national NRK Petre radio station. The trio’s standout track Cellophane earned them a healthy sum of Norwegian Kroner as well as a slot in the upcoming motion picture ‘Uro’.
Like so many current Norwegian bands, Heroes & Zeroes have a clear international ambition: ‘Norway is a small country and for a band such as ours it’s necessary to cross borders to reach out to a wider audience. We really want to make a transition to the international stage to test our material on an audience that doesn’t know us. I also feel that Norwegian bands have a bigger chance of succeeding abroad now than a few years ago. It seems as if Norwegian bands are a lot more ambitious and confident now.’
Rave reviews for by:Larm gig
How does the band recreate live the complex soundscape created by multi-layered guitars, samples and keys found on their records: ‘It’s a bit like walking a tightrope’ says Undelstvedt. ’We need to balance use of samples and live playing on real instruments. Of course, we need to sacrifice some elements but I still feel that we’re able to maintain a really big and powerful sound when we play live.’
Heroes & Zeros gig at by:Larm in Tromsø confirmed what has been written over and over again: they sound huge! Despite being just a trio, the Heroes managed to build up cascades of sound, drowning a full venue with powerful riffing, distinctive vocals and a short but compact set. Wrote Norwegian daily in its review: ‘How is it possible for a small trio to produce so much sound? With their finely sculpted riffs, tight as hell drummer and sensitive (but still hard) vocals, Heroes & Zeros blew the Driv audience away!’ (5/5).
One of the bands strongest assets is the ability to combine contrasting elements. To great effect, the trio riffs through conventional tonal passages and create tension by mating tonality with atonal elements and odd meters. Says Undelstvedt: ‘I feel that we manage to combine a bit weird and less accessible elements with hard hitting bass and drums and a sense for catchy vocal lines. There aren’t many bands that do what we do on the Norwegian scene - we draw inspiration from so many sources that the end result turns out pretty unique.’
Bare Heroes & Zeros facts:
Formed in 2004
Winners of both Zoom and Urørt awards.
Line-up Lars Tofte (bass), Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen (drums) and Hans Jørgen Undelstvedt (vocals, guitar)