D//E Interviews: Halshug // Track Premiere: Tænk På Dig Selv

Danish punks, Halshug, will be releasing their anticipated third album, Drøm, through the great, Southern Lord on July 19th, 2019. From the first listen it emerges as their most accomplished and best constructed work to date, a great record based on the wider concept of dreams, and following a broader direction which finds the band combining more diverse styles than ever.

After Fantasi and Kæmper Imod, a third track off the coming LP streams for the first time ever right below. Tænk På Dig Selv is a ferocious fusion of post punk darkness, d-beat brutality and even no wave contemporaneity, characteristic of the more artful approach the band takes on the entirety of Drøm.

The song is followed by an interview with the band's own, Mathias Schønberg, who answers our questions about the forthcoming album and more.

What made you use the very interesting concept of dreams as a basis for the new album?

Nice that you find that interesting, thanks. I’m not sure we really know what made us do that. We ended up naming the album Drøm when it was all done and recorded because it just matched the contents of the lyrics and the sound. After the we heard the raw tapes, and later the first versions of the mix done by Will Killingsworth it all just had this strange yet familiar sound that seemed like something from a past, but like as it maybe was from a dream. Like a déjà vu or something it seemed haunted by itself, by analog methods of recording and by vintage sounds. It sort of blended in to different sounds punk and seemed like an anachronism, like we had created something new that was old in a way. Something half forgotten, half imagined.

Are there any particularly vivid dreams of yours which you can describe, and which have been implemented into your new work in any way?

There are quite a lot of songs that have lyrics based on dreams or strange memories from strange nights. Which also was determining for the album title. In one song (Et andet sted / Another Place) the lyric is: You held me tight, and I was free, as in a dream on ecstacy, of flesh and blood, a fantasy.
The song is about letting go of control. About surrendering to the moment and to another person. It’s about intimacy and trust, and in a way what punk and music are about. Detachment from the material world and surrendering to the forces of desire and urge. Throwing yourself into the ancient whirl of life and not caring where it takes you. Submitting to chance.

Your sound appears rather expanded on the new record. Where you inspired by any different kind of influences in comparison to Sort sind and Blodets bånd? How different is Drøm from your perspective?

With this record we took back a lot of control over the recording process and we made a record much more like we always wanted to do it. On Sort sind and Blodets bånd we worked with a producer who is a friend and a punk rock icon in Copenhagen, but as we worked together, he gradually became more oriented towards metal. And I think he always understood us as a dis-band. The outcome of that combination was the reason why the two earlier records sound the way they do. We always wanted to do a record like this one. We just couldn’t pace ourselves before, played way too fast and cranked the distortions much more. We were restless and insecure, I guess.

On this record we worked with another friend who is now just learning how to record, so the recording process was much more collaborative with the band, and we had a lot more experience in the studio. The mix was done by Will at Deadair Studios who seemed to understand our idea intuitively. All in short: the reason Drøm is quite different from the past albums is that we finally hit the nail on the head this time.

A lot of great music comes from Denmark these days. What do you think of the local underground scene?

It’s pretty good. A lot of the good music that comes out of the Copenhagen underground scenes at the moment comes from other things than punk / hardcore though. That scene has really been bleeding the last five odd years. There is a few new good bands that I can think of from the last long while, but from other genres of music and other social scenes – there is a lot of great stuff happening. I’m thinking mostly in the experimental / avant-garde scene around the venues Alice and Mayhem, and also in the by now famous CPH fast techno scene. And there are some very talented and interesting metal bands too. Ex. the guy who recorded Drøm, Simon Sonne Andersen’s band Orm is great.

You have expressed before how much you enjoy touring and playing live. What would an audience expect from your live presence?

A mix of new songs from Drøm and oldies mainly from Sort Sind. And as always, tight delivery. Angry boys doing their angry thing.

Are there any particularly memorable moments from your live shows?

Well, yes. Many. We’ve played hundreds of shows by now, so they kind of blur together. But just last month we played Pitfest in Holland and that was fucking cool. People went crazy in front of the stage and kept kicking the cables out of the pedal board as they stage-dived. Even though I had tried to secure them to the monitor. At one point somebody fully stomped like every single pedal in the board as he leapt off stage and this huge security guard was suddenly on stage shaking some guy around. Our friend Joe quickly let him know that it was cool and that we don’t mind that kind of stuff and the security guy was like “oh, cool”, and just backed away. He didn’t even do anything about some person who scaled all the way to top of the center beam holding the entire circus tent the show was in. That looked way sketchy.

Drøm sounds incredibly sharp from end to end. Any comments on its production and engineering?

While, thank you. Everything was recorded live by Simon Sonne Andersen from Orm in a basement in Copenhagen. Microphone placements were essential to make the room on the record. We had a mic taped to the glass window next to the drumkit and stuff like that. It was really fun.

Will Killingsworth from DeadAir in Massachusetts mixed it, and Peter Peter from The Sods, Sort Sol and Bleeder Group mastered it.

What are you currently listening to mostly?

Mathias: Nikki Istrefi, Blush Response, Liturgy, Wiliam Basinski, Scott Walker.
Jakob: Drab Majesty, Swans, Metz, Fatamorgana, Angels Of Light
Mads: Tomb Mold, Sumac, Idles, Taphos

What comes for the band after the album's release?

We’re doing a run of Scandinavian shows in September in support of the album and then we’re in the process of booking a USA tour in November. So 2019 will be pretty packed.

We just signed with Doomstar Bookings, so by 2020 they should be taking over our European affairs and hopefully landing us a shitload of great shows.

Band photo by Michael José

Live dates:

7 Sep - Oslo, NO - Vaterland 
12 Sep - Aalborg, DK - 1000Fryd
13 Sep - Aarhus, DK - Radar
14 Sep - KBH, DK Stengade
20 Sep - Gøteborg, SWE - Kulturhuset
27 Sep - Malmø, SWE - Plan B
28 Sep - Stockholm, SWE - Hus 7

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