Who Are…Iceage

Christopher R. Weingarten

By Christopher R. Weingarten

on 06.24.11 in Who Is...?s

File under: Itchy, shadow-lurking post-punk for endless midnights

For fans of: Gang Of Four, Mission of Burma, and Joy Division

From: Copenhagen and Denmark

Personae: Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (vocals/guitar), Jakob Tvilling Pless (bass), Johan Surrballe Wieth (guitar), Dan Kjær Nielsen (drums)

The nervous sound of Iceage is what happens when teenage brooding rubs against teenage restlessness: a blown-out blurt of vintage post-punk noisemaking, dead-eyed goth cobweb-gazing and taut ’80s hardcore aggression. It makes perfect sense that the four members are all 18 or 19 years old…hell, they even missed our first interview because they were studying for their exams. But debut New Brigade shows maturity beyond its years within 24 bleary minutes. Complimenting a notoriously violent live show, New Brigade is brawny, suffocating, ill-in-the-head aggro-gloom that an older generation would have had to spend a lifetime record collecting to properly understand.

eMusic’s Christopher R. Weingarten attempted to interview singer/guitarist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt and Jakob Tvilling Pless over a hectic speakerphone call full of teenage in-joke giggles and occasional interjections from their pal Lukas. Our sincerest apologies if (and when) we attribute a quote to the wrong band member. We were mostly caught in their wake.

Before Iceage, you guys have been playing together for a while in different incarnations. What were your earliest experiences together?

Elias Bender Rønnenfelt: Me and Jakob, the first time we played together was in Jakob’s school, in his music room. We played…
Jakob Tvilling Pless: “I Wanna Be Your Dog”
Rønnenfelt: Iggy Pop. We just made a cover band.

What did you guys sound like back then?

Rønnenfelt: Shit.
Pless: I really fucked up trying to sound like the old punk bands. But when you can’t play and you’re 12 years old or something, it may sound horrible.
Rønnenfelt: It did!
Pless: But if you had recorded it back then, I would guess we would enjoy it now.

The drinking age is 16 in Denmark, right?

Pless: Yeah, that’s right.
Rønnenfelt: But nobody cares.
Pless: If you’re 12 you can buy alcohol everywhere.
Rønnenfelt: The police doesn’t care about it either.

Do you think that affects the tone of punk rock shows?

Pless: No, I don’t think it has anything to do with the drinking age. I just think that people are getting involved in the scene very young. There’s really a lot of young people — 15 or 14 years old — and they’re all really dedicated to the scene at such a young age.

A lot is written about your violent, physical live shows. When was the last time you injured yourself on stage?

Pless: I think it was in Roskilde. Elias just fell off the stage when he was walking backward. And he just fell down behind the speakers. Maybe he hurt himself there.
Rønnenfelt: It’s more enjoyable to hurt others while you’re playing.
Pless: It’s more like the audience that gets beaten up than it’s the band.

What’s some of the wildest stuff you’ve seen in the crowd?

Rønnenfelt: I don’t want to talk about the wildest things that happened at shows. It feels lame to talk about it.

Well, you just did your first big tour in England…

Pless: There was this really cool driver. He was a really great guy, driving around and drinking beers at the same time. Once when he had to park the park he just drove straight into a wall. But it was OK, it was really funny. We drank a lot of booze and smoked a lot of weed.
Rønnenfelt: We did a lot of breaking bottles. Normally we just drink the bottles.

Where were you breaking them?

Pless: In the street and in the car. Everywhere!

What was the best show you played on that tour?

Rønnenfelt: In London, the second evening we should have been in Plymouth. There was too much traffic. So we drove back to London and played another gig in London. That was the best show.

What’s the importance of a logo in your band?

Rønnenfelt: What logo?

The little I with the A through it.

Rønnenfelt: Oh yeah. It’s just an I with an A through it.