The neighbourhood surrounding F5 offers up plenty of places for 'freelancers' to work, however, my watering hole / café office of choice is a spot called Skippergata. Located in a building with shared office space as well as home to the Oslo House of Innovation is the café / bar project where a number of creatives and entrepreneurs can be found. It was here in the backyard that we enjoyed an ‘utepils’ and chatted with Daniel, Daniel and Henrik from Hope Of The Neighborhood. We first met the boys after they performed for a Sofar Sounds gig we hosted in the store last year and were keen to meet up after the winter to hear what they have produced since then.
Located mostly in Oslo, aside from vocalist Henrik who is living north in Alesund, Hope Of The Neighborhood had played at Hvaskjer the night before giving a nod to the crowd and sound guy who ‘Was probably the best we have ever had’. Henrik says the Sofar gig was also a good experience for them and the first time they have played to a crowd where they knew nobody. ‘Something really funny happened’ he says, ‘When I went back to Alesund I went to a friend of a friends pre-party and a guy that was there said to me, after a while, “You are in a band right? Hope Of The Neighborhood” , he had happened to be at the Sofar gig in Oslo which was super random and I felt really famous’ he laughs.
Henrik and Daniel grew up together and have been playing music together since a young age. The boys laugh as Daniel tells us how they got their start in the music biz choreographing their own dances and miming to songs. ‘It was really weird actually, but we couldn't even play instruments then, we ad-libbed and pretended to play…Mostly 60’s music, twist and shout and The Beatles. We actually performed at the school show, if you can call it performing. It was pretty awkward thinking back but we thought we were awesome’.
Following on from their flamboyant beginnings Daniel and Henrik took the traditional cover band route which is when they really started to play. ‘Metallica was the shit’ says Daniel, ‘We can probably still play the old Metallica songs but back then it was strictly covers and we were just playing around’. Moving more towards the style of music they make today Henrik says they were both asking each other for advice and realised they were working on similar things. ‘It started separate, I have always been creative and have a lot of things on my computer but I was just fooling around and never considered doing anything with it. When he (Henrik) started showing me stuff, we started playing together and really sat down to try and write a song which is when it kind of all came together’. Both were really into Kings of Convenience at the time and in 2012 they backpacked for six months in Asia, buying nylon guitars and playing sun harmonies inspired by Simon & Garfunkel and Kings of Convenience.
Daniel and Henrik's first song experience
This experience and the becoming comfortable playing together led to the release of their first single ‘Wildfire’. It was a song which they managed to get Norwegian comedian and ‘Legit whistler’ Atle Antonsen to whistle on. For them this was an easy way to get some attention, at least from their friends, as Atle is very known in Norway. ‘We offered him a shrimp sandwich and a coffee on facebook’ they laugh, ‘We were very open as to where we could meet him and he is the go to guy for Norwegian bands who want someone to whistle on a track’. They laugh that it was amazing he said yes and they ended up meeting him backstage in his wardrobe. ‘He was performing some version of Monty Python and we had to tell the actors in the other wardrobes to shut up to get a good recording before going to McDonalds to listen back and see if what we had was good enough’.
‘That was our first song’ laughs. The boys then joined a competition which they made until the semi finals before Daniel moved for an exchange and priorities took over. ‘It sucked and that has been kind of our problem since. Daniel was in Trondheim and I was in Copenhagen for a while and we have always had this space between us, working in the summers and over drop box. It did work quite well but if you want people to listen to your music you have to play live and we haven't been playing enough gigs. The plan was to really try for that this year, but Henrik’s work took him north to Ålesund so they are still a band apart.
Forming of the band
The boys named Daniel, which we joke is one of the requirements of joining the band. Henrik explains he met the new Daniel while looking to expand the band, someone ‘Who could actually play good and was really keen on doing the studio thing’. The boys consider themselves kind of lucky as they had the space to build their own studio four years ago. ‘We used to record in my parents house’, laughs Henrik, ‘In a room where we had put up carpets and duvets which was awful because it was so hot’. It was a setup far from ideal, with computer sitting right next to the microphone and you can hear it whirring on one of the tracks. The place looked like an insane asylum they laugh. They new studio has a lot more room and being a carpenter by trade, Henrik was able to easily build out the garage studio and delegate tasks to the others. ‘We spent a summer sanding boards and building the studio before new Daniel joined the band. ‘I was just waiting until it was done before I committed’ he laughs.
It has helped a lot for them to have their own studio, both for creative and practical reasons. ‘It is really stressful when you are trying to get something perfect and you have to do it over and over again. We don't have this time restriction or have to book studio time. Daniel has been really good there as he is very patient even if we don't get it right the first 50 times’. Now as a four piece, with one of Daniels friends on the Bass, the boys do everything themselves except for the mixing which they get help from a friend in Copenhagen.
From Metallica & Lithuanian Rap to Folk
Before becoming Hope of the Neigbourhood, the boys performed under the name ‘Speakeasy’, ‘It was a terrible band name’ they laugh ‘And very confusing for our fans’. Being such a ‘Perfect little band name’, there were many others on Spotify with the same name including a popular Lithuanian rapper which admittedly they may have got a few extra plays from. In an attempt to become a bit more unique and a bit more easy to find the band changed their name. It is no easy task coming up with a band name and they struggled for 8 - 12 months ending up with a huge list before agreeing on Hope of the Neighborhood, a name Daniel had originally thought of for a concept album. ‘This was the best we could come up with’ they laugh, ‘If the music is okay people will get used to it and you just have to own it. It was easy to find on google, so we just went with it’.
I was curious to know how guys that were into metal ended up making harmonic folk music - ‘I have thought about that a lot actually’, says Daniel, ‘Why I don't really listen to metal anymore? I still think some of the songs are really good and I will knock out some Metallica every now and again’. Henrik adds ‘It is also when I write a song, I am not planning what kind of song I am going to write, something comes out and it doesn't sound like Metallica’. A lot of the inspiration they do have comes from trips abroad. New places brings new ideas which they jot down on the notes app. They like to be creative with the music and draw together elements from different genres, meshing them together, for example, ‘Taking a metal riff and doing it in a different way’.
The plan for now is to focus on playing shows, recording new music and focusing on the recently released new single, “Private Party”, as well as booking some new gigs for after the summer. ‘I think it is smart to focus on the gigs and last night was really fun, we really enjoy playing together when we get the chance. It is difficult for everyone to find the time, but we have to do it’ says Henrik. With a number of tracks on Spotify under the old name, they would like to re-record some of the older material in their new studio with their ‘New skills and new experience’. Also, like every band, releasing their own album is something they are working towards, but still a little way down the road. ‘Right now we are pumped and positive. It would be super cool to be booked to a festival, By: Larm or something like that’. Since they are doing everything themselves, it is challenging to promote and book gigs. ‘This is what is most time consuming and difficult, we have a studio and are capable of doing that side of things ourselves, but getting the name out there. We could do with a promoter for that’.
“Private Party” is out on Spotify and other streaming services.
All photography by Ronja Penzo