Just play. Just do what you think. Just feel the energy and be a part of the music. No rules, no boundaries.”
Le Pop is available now from Nettwerk Records
European music, Solveig is the classical one, and I’m more like the bluegrass and American folk [fan]. We have some common references, like folk music and old Disney music like Cinderella. We grew up with [the Disney films]. They’re fantastic, the arrangements and vocals. We love that.” And Katzenjammer spin stories as ably as Walt Disney himself. The album is so flush with memorable characters that it seems primed for a theatrical adaptation. But like those old animated fairy tales, darkness lurks under Le Pop’s colorful surface. The fanciful music is at odds with tales of doom and woe. “We like contrasts,” Bergheim says. “If it’s a happy song, musically, it needs the other side to weigh it down. Like ‘Tea With Cinnamon,’ for example. The music is happy, kind of circus-y. It sounds like [life is] perfect, but it’s not… It’s a crappy day and everything falls apart. We like the contrasts and the filthiness of it all.”
photo by Mathias Fossum
Remember “Wading in Deeper,” the song that swept Heilo off her feet and brought Katzenjammer together? “It’s a ballad about a girl who kills herself,” Bergheim says. The noir-ish “Virginia Clemm,” with its music-box backing, is sung from the viewpoint of the title character, Edgar Allan Poe’s wife—who also happened to be his first cousin. “Right now we’re writing about a female serial killer from back in the day,” Heilo says. “A saloon girl who is getting treated really bad, so she just kills all these guys and hides the bodies in the muddy waters of the Mississippi or something. I guess we’re not typical girly-girls. We’re not angry punk rockers. And we’re not very sweet and soft. We’re something in the middle.” The motley collection of tunes found in Katzenjammer’s cabinet of curiosities have yet to be embraced by American audiences, but that’s expected to change once the band starts touring more extensively. They’ve played festivals like South by Southwest and Bonnaroo, where they were part of a musical entourage invited onstage by David Byrne, to great acclaim. “We were blown away,” Heilo says of the band’s reception in America. “We had no idea that somebody would like our music over here. We thought maybe somebody would enjoy [our music], think it was funny and strange and exotic. But people seem to understand the music.” And Katzenjammer are overjoyed to expose audiences to their multifarious sound—no rules, no boundaries. “We want to take back the pop genre and tell the world that pop is so much more,” Bergheim says. “This is our pop.” 33
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