Norway's brand new progressive rock upstarts Wobbler recently released their debut album Hinterland and travelled to the USA to play on the grandest prog stage of them all, NEARfest. Sea of Tranquility's Jack Toledano caught up with the band a few hours after their opening set, and had a chance to talk about the show and the debut album.
Read on for the full interview!
SoT: We have a few members of the band Wobbler here with us, 4 members of the band to be exact. Could you give me your names before we even start?
Wobbler: Martin Nordrum Kneppen (drums), Ketil Einarsen (flute & recorders), Lars Fredrik Frøislie (keyboards), and MortenAndreas Eriksen (guitars).
SoT: I understand you're all from Norway?
Wobbler: That's right.
SoT: Could you tell me how you got started, and who some of your influences are?
Wobbler (Martin): It all started in high school, when a couple of those guys met, and there were some concerts, where we had two different bands, and we heard each other and we liked the same kind of music. And then we formed a band. The music evolved when we started to hear more and more CD's of legendary progressive rock bands.
SoT: Like for example?
Wobbler (Martin): First, it started off with Crimson stuff, and Yes stuff, but then we evolved more into the Italian scene, strong influences there. And then I heard Anglagard. That was maybe a turning point for me. I heard you could actually make this type of music today.
SoT: So have you guys ever played in the US before?
Wobbler: No, this is the first time.
SoT: So how do you like it?
Wobbler (Martin): Oh, it's great, so much bigger than Europe. We played in Germany once, but this is much bigger. You know, twice, triple as many people and great production crew.
SoT: Was this everything you expected, coming to America, playing for the first time?
Wobbler (Martin): Actually, I think it's more professional than I expected. No bullshit (all laugh).
SoT: How do you like playing at a festival such as NEARfest, where you have great access to the fans?
Wobbler (Ketil): I really like it. I think this festival has a very good atmosphere unlike any other festival I've been to. I've been here one time before with White Willow and I was really looking forward to coming here for the 2nd time. I have very good memories from that festival. This interaction between band and audience is unique. People are very open minded here. I like this festival.
SoT: Can you talk a little bit about the debut CD?
Wobbler (Ketil): It's called Hinterland. It's a big ball with all the great prog influences. You can hear almost anything, like mostly 70's influences, lots of Italian stuff, Crimson, Yes. What's important for us is that it sounds Euro 70's sound. So we worked very hard to get that sound. Especially on the keyboards. Lars uses exclusively stuff from the 70's, the instruments, no samples.
SoT: (Talking to Lars) I'll have a couple of questions for you on that after. (Talks to Ketil) I believe you're the flute player, right?
Wobbler (Ketil): Yeah.
SoT: That's very good. I noticed that your style, it sounded a bit like Ian Anderson, was there some influence there?
Wobbler (Ketil): Of course, he's like the most important flute player in the prog genre, but I also like other flute players, especially Thjis Van Leer from Focus. I studied classical music at the Conservatory of Oslo. And the same with Thjis, he also has a classical background. But Ian Anderson is of course my biggest hero. I remember I heard him for the 1st time when I was 14, and it literally changed my life. So I spent the next month rehearsing "Bouree".
SoT: He's one of my favorites, too. I've seen him 3 times live.
Wobbler (Ketil): I've seen him 3 times as well. He's always good on the flute.
SoT: (Talking to Lars) I'm with a big entourage of Sea of Tranquility, and there was a big buzz over the fact that you had 2 mellotrons and a Hammond organ. Would you like to talk about that a little bit? And what was the 4th instrument you were playing?
Wobbler (Lars): A Rhodes, and a clavinet on top of that. And a Moog on top of the mellotron.
SoT: How long have you been playing?
Wobbler (Lars): I got my first keyboard when I was 10. So it's 13 years old now.
SoT: Everybody enjoyed that segment. (Turns to Morten) You're the guitarist right? Who are some of your guitar influences?
Wobbler (Morten): Generally rock and also a lot of heavy metal. I listened to it before I started listening to prog. But I'm not sure, one of my favorites is Steve Howe. But I'm not sure you can hear that in my playing. I just enjoy listening to him. I've got many influences, but of course, you try to make your own kind of style.
SoT: One last question, and I'll let you guys get back to enjoying the fest, do you feel that a festival like this is good for the future of progressive rock?
Wobbler (Ketil): Yes, and I remember it from playing with White Willow, we could actually sort of see what impact it had on our career. So this is a place where many people meet, and a lot of connections are made, and it keeps the scene and the genre alive. So I think this is a very important event.
SoT: Super, all right, I thank you very much guys, it was a great set, and enjoy the rest of the festival.
Wobbler: Yeah, you too.