Duo Me All Night Long: An Interview with Fossils

Denmark’s Fossils are another impressive addition to the growing collection of killer two-man bands currently forming in the shadow of the continued absence of Lightning Bolt and the acceptance of the reality that the price of gas is never going to drop below $3 per gallon anywhere other than Indian reservations and south Texas. The duo of Tornby (bass) and Silkjaer (drums) has a new album called Flesh Hammer (the follow up to Meat Rush and the live EP The Veal Thing) out and available, plus a new video for “Carnivore Arrest” online for your viewing pleasure. They recently took some time out to introduce themselves to the Deciblog.
Tell us a bit about the history of Fossils. What are your musical backgrounds and how did you come to join forces now?
We come from the same city, Aalborg in Denmark, and back in the day we were both playing in different groups, mostly based around a local punk club called 1000FRYD. We met again by chance in ‘99, and started a rock & roll/Hardcore/Noiserock trio called Studson. In 2006, we called it quits and formed FOSSILS shortly after.

When and why did you decide to do the band a duo and keep things instrumental? Was there ever the idea to expand to a full band or find a singer?
We didn’t have any masterplan, but we just wanted to try something different and we needed a new musical direction. We had both been talking about instrumental music for a while and we thought it would be interesting to explore the possibilities of a minimal setup. Technically speaking, we also wanted to play on a more technical and condensed level. We quickly found out that it was fun to push ourselves further into stuff we found difficult to play. It was kind of like starting from scratch. For us, the main challenge was to sound like more than two people without using any other instruments than drums, cymbals, a bass and a distortion pedal.

Do you have previous experience with this sort of line-up configuration? What have some of the challenges been with Fossils?
We both played in a couple of different duos, but none of these have had considerably long life spans. The main challenge for us is trying to reinvent the way we are making music. We generally think that instrumental music, with a limited instrumentation has to be condensed and packed with a lot of variation and ideas to be interesting. That poses a challenge in itself. Also, we generally see the process of playing in a band as a way of creating a universe, or a framework with its own set of rules. As an example, our songs rarely exceed the two minute mark. This is not something that we plan, but it is more like a law of nature in our universe.

What can you tell us about the new album? What were you trying to do accomplish or differently than Meat Rush?
We were looking for a sound that was simple but still big and heavy. We wanted to capture the live energy of our songs, so we recorded the album live without any overdubs. We recorded with our regular producer Klaus Q Hedegaard Nielsen. The crisp production of this record is his achievement. He also recorded our first album Meat Rush as well as the EP The Veal Thing, and this time he once again managed to capture what we wanted. He is basically the third member of the band. The finishing touch, the mastering, was made by Emil at E.T. Mastering, who did an awesome job lifting the sound to another level. We recorded Flesh Hammer after having just returned from a US tour with our friends Cola Freaks. After playing more than 15 shows in ten states during 20 days, we went directly into recording mode. We recorded in our old rehearsal space in an old school. We spent five days recording ten songs, of which two were written during the session. We recorded during a summer heat wave and our rehearsal room must have been about 90F degrees during the whole session. The result is a much faster record than the previous. We weren’t really going for a “different” album, the songs are just documenting a natural progression for us, both technically and in terms of song writing, if you can call it that.

deciblog - fossils cover

What does the title Flesh Hammer refer to? What does The Veal Thing and Meat Rush refer to, in that case? Does being an instrumental band mean that your titles aren’t given much thought and consideration or do your songs/titles have some sort of personal significance?
We always found that meat was an inexhaustible source of ideas for titles to our songs, and we like hammerhead sharks. Hammerhead sharks are in many ways living fossils and science knows very little about them. They haven’t changed for millions of years. It’s a primitive life form, but it brings home the bacon, so to speak. The title Flesh Hammer refers our idea of the album being a hammer that pounds your flesh. But for us it also just a word that creates some images. It could mean other things too, but it’s up to the listener. The Veal Thing is a live EP, and the title refers to the Faith No More live album (The Real Thing), but it is also meant to create a mental image of some sort of a two-headed meat-monster chasing you down a dead-end street. Anyway, that is what we see.

What is recording usually like for Fossils? How much is live off the floor and how much overdubbing do you do?
We have four basic rules about recording:
• We always record live in the studio!
• We record whole takes without editing!
• We record without any use of overdubbing! What you hear is what you get!
• We always record with Klaus Q Hedegaard Nielsen
On our YouTube channel we have posted videos from the recording of Flesh Hammer, where you can see the actual takes from the album being recorded. All songs are there, with the exception of “Lard Obstacle,” which we made into a video consisting of live footage from the last five years.


How does Fossils in the studio compare to Fossils’ live show/sound?
The latest record is very close to what we sound like live. In a live situation we have a third member as well. Our regular sound engineer Neil R. Young understands how to deliver an awesome sound at our gigs. Besides that, it’s difficult to compare a live situation with a studio situation. We are much more concentrated and introverted in the studio and much more loose and relaxed live. In both situations we tap into some sort of mother lode of aggression though.

There seems to be a growing movement of two-man bands in a lot of places, especially throughout Europe. Why do you think this is and who are some of your favourite bands of this ilk?
Maybe people are starting to discover that ‘two is a crowd’. Meaning, you don’t need the basic line up to bring the noise. Maybe it’s easier to make musical decisions and create songs when you are only two people in the band. We have had the pleasure of playing with other duos such as Danish group Drön, Beehover from Germany and the amazing Italians ZEUS!, just to mention a few. We have never seen a duo that sucked yet, but we have seen a lot of traditional line ups that did. It’s different with duos when they play. There’s something at stake. Maybe that’s the appeal of it all, just being a duo. You put yourself on the line in another way. Maybe that’s appealing to an audience too.

What are the immediate and future plans for Fossils?
We have a bunch of shows in September and October in Denmark and a European Tour is in the works. We are also planning a secret project with our record label Indisciplinarian and finally, we are writing songs for a new record.

Here are a few more specific details about those immediate plans:
Tour Dates
September 6th – Tobakken, Esbjerg (DK)
September 12th-13th – Postfest 2014, Aarhus (DK) w/ The Ocean, This Will Destroy You a.o.
September 18th – Ideal Bar, København ((DK) w/ The Malpractice
September 19th – Atlas, Aarhus (DK) w/ The Malpractice
September 20th – Posten, Odense (DK) w/ The Malpractice
October 18th – Kansas City, Odense (DK) w. Plök

And here’s the “Carnivore Arrest” video:

deciblog - fossils dates

Fossils website
Photo: Peter Svendsen