By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Unlike America’s leaders, who tend to be repressed, moralizing crazies, Norway’s leaders are remarkably human and humane characters with a madcap yet philosophical outlook. Did you know, for example, that Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik took a three-week holiday for depression? Or that after leaving office in 2005, he published a memoir called A Life of Excitement/Uneasiness? (Whoever said Wikipedia isn’t a vital source of information has never tried to research this man’s ?life.) In any case, Bondevik was clearly not the kind of guy the George Bushes would drink beers with — nor was Per’s granddad.
When Per Sr. was prime minister, his greatest moment in the international spotlight occurred on the eve of Queen Elizabeth II’s state visit, in 1969. Proving that not all Norwegian prime ministers are depressives who go on to write vague, philosophical memoirs, Per Sr. conducted his own interview with Dagbladet on the front lawn of his family farm. At the time, he was wearing only a hat, a pair of shoes and underwear. Suggestive British headlines read: “Now the Norwegian Prime Minister Is Ready to Receive the Queen.”
This rare sense of grace was transferred through the generations, a fact that becomes clear the following night, when ?Per Jr. hits the stage in ridiculously tight pants.
The final night of the festival begins with a New Violators gig in a large red building (the “Studentersamfundet”) serving as a labyrinthine but very well-run student union. I’m surrounded by budding young blonds of both genders — ready to dance yet entirely more wholesome than our porn-fed, Britnified/Justified American adolescents.
Within minutes, Per bounds onstage in the aforementioned pants that’d do his grandpa proud, and a flamboyant white shirt featuring an abbreviated cape (or webbing, or vestigial wings, depending on your imagination). Here, tonight, he reveals himself as Morrissey’s fair-haired stepchild, a genuine cultural find — even if said culture originated in Britain. The music is glam rock by way of the Smiths and Duran Duran: glitter, disco and pop; sex, ennui and pride. Per overcomes that tough Norwegian accent — most folks pronounce the band’s name as New Wiolators — with lyrics sharp enough to slice, documenting a casual love: “Lost all my moral standards/Lost all my credit to God/I know my Commandments/Still I fall, I still crawl/She’s my favorite sinner/Calls me from time to time . . .”
Still suffering from vicious jet lag, a recent breakup and a series of depressing rebounds, I recognize all my hopes and dreams crystallized in this, a love-and-lust song made of cascading synthesizers, suggestive guitars, pointillist bleeps and rousing anthemic percussion. “She calls to open up those bloodshot eyes,” Per sings. The flash and synths and smoke machines swagger their way into my heart the way I thought only Norway’s female population could.
Later that evening, the scene moves to a biker bar on the other side of town, where Per plays his second set of the night — this time as guitarist of the Moving Ooos, his boogie-rock side project. Fronted by a tattooed truck driver, flanked by two robust ladies, and featuring songs like “Romancer” and “Minister of Love” and lots of cowbell, they claim Humble Pie as their central influence. They remind me of the Black Crowes led by Meatloaf.
It’s a confusing scene. By all appearances, the audience is filled with hipsters. Yet weathered Hell’s Angels types in black leather serve the drinks, and manhandle their weathered biker ladies. Yet on either side of me, I see same-sex couples of both genders making out on the dance floor. More proof that Norway is a bastion of tolerance? Certainly, proof that Turbonegro did not spring from a vacuum.
I walk outside as dawn breaks, a thousand icicles glimmering dangerously in the light. I am stone sober, and shivering again, this time from fatigue. Less than two hours to get to my hotel, pack, and catch a shuttle to the airport.
Life is good. Or, to put it another way: Fuck the Nazis. Chalk up another victory for the Norwegians.
The New Violators will perform at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on Wed., March 14, at the Fader Fort and Thurs., March 15, at Emo’s Jr.