Photo Credit: Marcus Widmer and Marius Ringen
Often on the outside of everything perceived as the norm around me, I felt an instant connection to the dream pop ways of Kolbotn, Norway’s Marbles. That is because if you’re a metalhead, you know all too well what Kolbotn is all about. Despite being a world away from metal in their sound, Marbles is working on carving out their own path and springing forward with their 2023 release, ‘Humour,’ out now. We talked about the new music, the highs and lows of solitude, and more in this back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: So when I read you were from Kolbotn and not making metal music, I felt very much like y’all as I didn’t quite fit in where I grew up either. While it’s not the music you make, were there any local metal bands you grew up admiring – maybe not musically, but admiring their drive, creativity, or overall tenacity?
Adrian Sandberg: Of course being from Kolbotn, one of the first bands you sort of know is a big deal is Darkthrone. While it is not what we might listen to nowadays, it was definitely a period in our teens/youth that we (or I, Adrian, Synthesizer) were into that kind of extreme music and admired the International critical acclaim that a local band from Kolbotn could have. And then the band Obliteration came up while we were kids. I think even Ferdinand (vocals) took electric bass lessons from their bass player. I remember they were really good musicians as well, still is, and that is always really inspiring.
Kendra: In Kolbotn Marbles is definitely etching out their own path with this infectious, dream pop sound that fans enjoyed on the 2020 self-titled debut LP, and they’re getting even more with ‘Humour.’ This time around, were there any elements of your overall approach to writing and recording that you changed up this time for the sophomore release?
Adrian Sandberg: I think we tried to start working on this album where we left off the previous one kinda, but then we weren’t quite happy with all the songs so we spent some extra time just writing more songs. Some tracks were right there from the start, but we felt that some of the tracks were quite messy in structure and sounds. So I think the keyword here is simplicity. Ferdinand brought in some demos that we really liked and then we tweaked them and that became some of the songs on the album. And then the rest were sort of born in the studio. I think what differs most from the last album is that everything is made in the studio and not in the rehearsal space, we’re still on a path of finding new and different ways to work together.
Kendra: Music has always reflected the world whether personal or on a grander scale, and with that – we’ve gotten so much reactionary music to everything that happened post-2020. That includes “World Inside Me.” It has this very yin and yang approach to solitude, highlighting both the highs and lows of it all. We’ve come far from those earlier moments of the pandemic, but I think the effects of all that time alone are still very present. Do you think society will ever fully bounce back from the isolation of the initial lockdowns?
Adrian Sandberg: Thank you for noticing “World Inside Me,” we’re glad you like it!
Yes, it is definitely a depiction of solitude, looking at the world from an inward perspective if that makes sense. We started working on it very early in the stages of the isolation in Norway, maybe even before the lockdown, so it was definitely a part of how the song came together.
The pandemic has, of course, changed society, and life probably will never be the same. We had a lot of plans but they never came to fruition, and we are still affected by that in some ways. The timing of it all has made it hard to bounce back from it. But life and the world is always changing, and the pandemic is just a tragic extension of that in some way or another. It is hard to speculate what will happen because life is just a bit different now. We look at the world differently and one can only take those experiences and move on.
I’m not sure we are trying to tell something specific with “World Inside Me,” other than it being inspired by the solitude of your own mind and how it was affected by less social activities. We are all just people that are living our lives and have all these thoughts, but sometimes we don’t treat each other like that. It’s like we are seeing all of these people every day, but they are sort of B-characters in your own life. But that is so far from the actual truth.
Kendra: On that note, was there anything you did out of the ordinary to fill the void when alone that you found therapeutic?
Adrian Sandberg: All of us happened to live in share-houses/flats with different friends at that time, for better or worse. So playing card games and drinking whisky was something we did. Looking back we feel very lucky to have had that. Music, books, and films, of course, become very important in those moments. Gaming also.
Kendra: So I do want to talk about “One of a Kind” because the video tickled me. I loved that you weren’t shy about the green screen. It reminded me of those 80s/90s public access channels. Very DIY. Were you thinking of any favorite music videos from when you were a kid when it came time to shoot this one?
Adrian Sandberg: Yeah, we had fun with that one! We were actually doing press photos when the idea for shooting the video just came about once we were finished, so we just filmed some stuff the last hour of press shooting and that became the whole video. I think our inspiration was sort of a bad green screen from kid’s TV shows back from when we were little, nothing specific though. But for some reason, a lot of it is still bad even today.
I was inspired by Pond’s “Sweep Me Off My Feet” because of the stock-image aesthetic, and then you have Julia Jacklin’s “Baby Jesus is Nobody’s Baby Now” which has this blue sky backdrop but the camera just shows everything outside of it which is kinda funny. Very good music also, two favorite artists of mine.
Kendra: So time for a side note – with love in the air, I’d love to know what is the #1 song you’d put on a mixtape as part of a Valentine’s Day gift?
Adrian Sandberg: Ahh…there is so much good Valentine’s Day music. I think we all can attest to be putting on some slow Khruangbin when it is time for some date night haha. But if each of us were to pick a song each, we would say:
Khruangbin – White Gloves
Cigarettes after Sex – K.
Thomas Dybdahl – From Grace
Jeff Buckley – Lover, You Should’ve Come Over
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Humour’ out on February 10th, what else is in the works as we head towards the spring??
Adrian Sandberg: We are going to do some shows in Norway in support of ‘Humour’ and we are super excited about it! We are also working on booking some international shows in the summer and autumn, we are definitely gonna make sure everyone knows about that. Also, maybe we’re already working on some new releases…