The National Shut Up

author PP date 10/11/10

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with The National Shut Up, an emerging pop punk band from the Copenhagen punk rock scene that isn't afraid to show its influences from the other side of the pond. I've seen them countless times live by now, and witness them grow as a band, so I figured it's time to know some more and sit down with them in a proper interview. We talked about the band's upcoming EP, their history, and the story behind the name, what they think of pop punk and even about some specific songs they like to make a point about announcing live ("Ann", for instance). For just under 30 minutes I grilled them, and here's the result. Enjoy. Thanks for doing this interview. Lets start off by introducing everybody.
Chris: Sure. I'm Chris, I play guitar and sing back up vocals.

Kasper: And I'm Kasper, I play guitar and sing back up vocals.

Peter: I'm Peter, the lead singer and bassist.

Dan: And I'm Dan, the drummer. Okay, so what's new in The National Shut Up?
Peter: We're recording an EP right now. Or we're trying to record an EP, just in our practice room. A few new songs and a few old songs, just so we can get them out of the way. Record them and get them out of the way. Is there a producer or are you self-producing?

Peter: We'll self-producing right now, and then we're going to go to the studio and put drums on. That's the last thing we're gonna do.

Kasper: We've never done an EP and said this is four songs, and then it's done, and then we go out and play them live. We've never done that before. So it's nice to have three new songs and two old or something like that, and then we put it down and we get it recorded, and then it's over. Then that's it. Then we can move forward. We've always been like "oh then we do this old song, we love this song, so why don't we record it" and then the recording maybe wasn't great, so then all the time we're saying "lets do it again, this time it's going to sound great!"

Peter: We've got like five or six different recordings per song so it's nice to get it out of the way.

Kasper: Out of the system and that'll be it! So do you know what songs are gonna be on it?

Peter: Some new songs, "Satellites" and "Stop Whining", and then there's gonna be "Smearing Lipsticks".

Kasper: The old "Smearing Lipsticks", and "Dreadful Letter" in a whole new way. The reason why we decided to record "Dreadful Letter" was that the old version has only been done once, was six years ago, and only with an acoustic guitar, and the whole band in the end of the song. We realized that it wasn't going to work that way when we're going to play the song live, so this time we're going to record it in a more live manner. The way we play it live. When is the record coming out? Any estimates?
Kasper: The guitar and the bass we are doing ourselves. Chris has a lot of recording gear and we've bought a lot of amplifiers, the right mics and a lot of guitars to pick. We're using a lot of time to get the right guitar sound. We know we're not that original in our sound, the way we write songs and the way the melodies go, but we're trying to make it a bit different on the sound of the instruments.

Peter: But we haven't set a date in stone. We're taking our time so we get it right this time.

Kasper: [laughs] and do it again in half a year. So is it gonna be one of those records you only sell at shows, or are you going to put it on, say, iTunes as well, and maybe some record stores? Or is it going to be all for free?

Kasper: Yeah, it's going to be for free, because the best way to get people to listen to your band if you're not a big name is to give away your record for free.

Peter: We'll of course get some printed as well just to sell a small amount at the shows, because at the shows it's always going to be good to have something to sell, then people can take it home with them and they can remember the name.

Kasper: Yeah, yeah, wake up with a hangover and you've got this CD in my pocket, "ohhh yeah that was the name of the band" [laughs]

Peter: "Oh yeah, I saw a band last night!" So how did the band get started?
Peter: Long story.

Kasper: It's a pretty long story. Peter and I went to ground school together, and we started to listen to some Limp Bizkit and Blink 182 and all kinds of rock, the whole American rock scene. And we decided that we wanted to have a band just to pick up chicks, but didn't play instruments.

Peter: So I bought an old drum kit [laughs], so I played the drums, and Kasper bought a was terrible. But we didn't see any chicks anyway. It just took up too much time, we didn't have time to pick up chicks, we had to learn these instruments. And then I found out that I don't wanna play the drums. I wanna be in front stage, where everybody can see me. Cause the chicks couldn't see me at the drumkit [all laugh hysterically] And then we got some other people who couldn't play instruments, and they played with us.

Kasper: Peter and I come from a very small town. It was very hard to find people who want to play the same kind of music as we did, so we had a replacement in the beginning, and then we got in contact with Dan, and he became our drummer. And then we lost our old guitarist. He disappeared.

Peter: We still haven't heard from him. He vanished. And we've got all of his equipment.

Kasper: Then we started to ask "what are we going to do now?" and where do we find the right man for the job? Then we decided to move to Copenhagen.

Peter: Because we thought there are more guitarists in Copenhagen who would play our style of music.

Kasper: And then we met Christian for about two years ago. I think we played a month or something, and then we played at Pumpehuset.

Chris: And then we played three shows in two weeks, I think. Great start.

Peter: They're easy songs to learn, four chords! What about the name of the band? How did you decide on that, and what does it imply exactly?
Peter: Well, we had many names in eight years. Our first band name was Rusty Salad, and then we were called Sex For Første Gang, which means sex for the first time. I don't know why, we don't know why. Our old guitarist was called Steven, and then we were called Steven & The Fireboys, and then he left the band, and then we were just called Fireboys [laughs], and that sounded a little bit gay so...

Kasper: In fact if you opened internet and wrote, then you got into a male bondage home page. So we thought maybe it's not that good of a name.

Peter: So we got rid of that name because we couldn't get the domain. And then for a long time, we didn't have a name. And then just like, I wrote it on the wall once, with some black and red tape without really thinking about it. It was there wall for ages so then we decided just to called The National Shut Up. That's the deep political story about...

Kasper: It has nothing political in it, in fact. I think we all had a problem with the name, because it was really hard to find one, because if you hear a name, then you think something about the name, and you got some relation to the band name, and we didn't want to do that. We really like when the name is just the band, and you don't think about anything else than the music.

Peter: We could make up a political statement [laughs], but we let other people make up their own political statements about our name, it's easier. So are you guys happy with the pop punk tag that you guys get usually pigeonholed in, or do you consider yourselves to be something else?
Kasper: Post-punk pop punk.

Peter: I don't mind at all, because that's what it is. In Denmark we have an expression to call "shovel a shovel", which means call things what they are. Of course it has roots in punk rock, but it is very poppy.

Chris: And it's like where we came from.

Kasper: We're still there. Maybe the new songs will be a bit more mellow because we got inspirations from other stuff, we listen to a lot of different stuff. Christian listens to a lot of 'punk rock' punk, the real punk rock. Yeah, I can see he's wearing a t-shirt by The Black Pacific, which is the new Jim Lindberg band.

Kasper: Yeah. And I think Peter and I are more poppy.

Peter: And I love Billy Joel.

Dan: I like nintendo-core. Like HORSE The Band and stuff? Awesome.

Dan: Yeah, and also Dillinger Escape Plan. So how does such a metallic background fit together with the poppy sound?

Dan: It doesn't.

Peter: He doesn't have anything to say in this band [laughs]

Kasper: But I think it's fine for us to be put into that category, pop punk scene. That's fine with us. I think it's stupid that there were a lot of bands that were playing pop punk about five years ago, and then everybody started doing something else. Maybe they got bored, I don't know, but it seems like it's almost forbidden to play pop punk now. It's not a well seen at all, it's outdated. It's cool to have a band like New Found Glory, who just came out with an album like four months ago or something like that, what they are all about and how I think they should sound. I'm gonna sneak in a fan question here, I was going to ask this in the end, but someone wanted to know whether or not you think it's still relevant to play pop punk in 2010? And then I'll just expand that question a little bit myself, and add in the following: what do you think will make people listen to The National Shut Up in the future?
Peter: With relevance, is that about the lyrics, or? If it's for the sound.

Kasper: I think you can put a good melody into every song, every style. If you play metal, if you play pop, if you play pop punk, or hip-hop. If you put a good melody into the song, people really don't care about how it sounds. If you have the melody in your head after you've heard it once or twice, and it feels honest, so you can feel that the musicians are honest about their music, then it doesn't matter how it sounds stylistically. So in that way I think it's relevant.

Chris: I think that the sound is still there, like Green Day, they're still huge in Denmark and around the world. The sound is still there.

Kasper: And people still love to hear the old songs. I know that a band like Green Day can play all the old songs from the start of the 90s.

Peter: I just like seeing when Blink 182 played their revival tour, I mean they packed stadiums. People still love the music.

Kasper: But they also have memories to the music, like the first kiss of a girlfriend or something like that. But I think it's still relevant. You mentioned some of the new songs you have recorded. I guess you have also written some other new songs that you haven't really recorded yet, or if you even plan to record them, but what sort of sound do they have compared to the, err, classic National Shut Up sound?
Peter: [laughs] I would say that compared to the classic National Shut Up sound...I've never written songs in a new way, I think it's the music, basically. It's difficult to answer.

Kasper: We wrote the new songs the same way as we've always done.

Chris: To pick a sound that's a little bit different. We tried to do that this time, just because sometimes you get bored of doing the same thing over and over again.

Peter: Especially the sound of the instruments...maybe also the arrangements are different.

Kasper: I remember when we played our new song for the first time at Lades, "Stop Whining", a friend of mine who plays music too came up to me and said "that sounds really really great".

Peter: That's the first time ever!

Kasper: That's the first time we've ever experienced getting a compliment! But the thing he said was that it sounded different. He could hear it so maybe sometimes you'll do something, make music you think is the most fantastic thing ever, and you may be the only one who hears that it's fantastic, different and new, but he came and told me that, and that was pretty nice to know, because he didn't have to do it. So I don't know if you guys remember, but Motion City Soundtrack released an album this year which had that one song...
Kasper: Great album, great album! I love the riff on.... I mean what do you guys think of that riff on "Pulp Fiction"? It sounds really a lot similar to one of your songs!

Peter: It's a brilliant riff! It's just nice to know that somebody so good as Motion City Soundtrack can make something as good as we do [laughs]

Kasper: And got Mark Hoppus to produce it, that's pretty cool. Maybe they said [humms a high pitch melody similar to the riff] and then Mark Hoppus said, well, I think you guys need to go [sings the National Shut Up riff].

Peter: It was a huge boost of confidence. It was really nice.

Chris: Actually, we've tried that once before. We were playing "Clara", and at the end of the movie Dodgeball, the credit song has the exact same main riff.

Peter: And I was like "what the fuck", it has a different tail but it's otherwise exactly the same. It has the same key and everything. So I was like "yeaaah, we got something!" You guys have been playing some shows around Denmark, outside of Copenhagen in the past few months and in the summer and stuff. I'm curious to hear, how are the non-Copenhagen audiences responding to you guys?
Peter: We've played three shows out of Copenhagen.

Kasper: One in Jylland, and two at Odense. They were all festivals.

Peter: It was really fun. It was a different scene no doubt.

Kasper: I think in Copenhagen go to shows to get a few beers and to see their friends, and to see their friends play music. When you go to Jylland or Fyn, then people come there to drink beers. Only to drink beers. You have to play at the right time of the evening. If people are too drunk, they really don't care shit about you.

Peter: If they're too sober, they're just so cool they don't care. But it was really fun, the drive up there was fun [laughs] and the drive home was very hard..

Chris: We've been thinking about doing a European tour as well when the EP comes out. We've talked to the guy who books Stars Burn Stripes as well, but we want the EP to come out before we do the tour. Do you know which countries?

Chris: No but they guy just told us to let him know which countries and cities we want to play in, then he'll try to work it out. What's your favorite Danish concert venue and why?
Peter: I like to play Lades. It's really sweaty and down to earth. I'm not that tall, so when I'm on stage I'm as tall as everyone else there. It's just a fun place to play, because people are always keen to party, it's just like a sweaty place.

Kasper: The cool thing about Lades is that people like to go where they can have a beer, and they can sit and talk, and then they've got live music too. A place like Kraftwerket, or something like that, you don't have the opportunity to sit on a table and talk with your friends while the band switches.

Peter: And we've played there like five or six times. It's just so relaxing and so down-to-earth.

Chris: Last time we played at Templet at Lyngby, we did a support gig for Rock Hard Power Spray. We talked about it being a really nice place and a really good venue for bands. You have a great sound, a right size of the stage compared to the whole room, but it's so sad that it's in Lyngby.

Peter: We're trying now to maybe put up a punk festival, maybe, in Templet, Lyngby, because we want to bring Copenhagen to Lyngby. We try to make it as the new capital, because we live right around the corner. You have a song called "Ann" that you quite often announce it to be about a "slut" live, maybe we can get the full story of the whole thing? Because we only get a couple of lines of story live.
Peter: We went to public school with this girl. Kasper knew her first.

Kasper: She was my first love, you know, and she broke my heart. I really tried to get her back and it didn't work out. In fact, I started to listen to punk rock at that moment, and I start switching my style of clothes and stuff.

Peter: I think you even painted your fingernails [laughs]

Kasper: I even painted my finger nails black on my left hand because Tom DeLonge did it. It wasn't because of her though. Then she didn't want me.

Peter: And then I got her. A lot of boys... she cheated on everyone. I was with her when she was with this bloke Rasmus. Then she cheated on me with this bloke Jakob. She just went on and on and on. It was very comic, and yeah, she's a slut. I'm sure she's been with half of Vordingborg, where we're from. But she's a really nice girl.

Kasper: We love that kind of girls. It's our only chance, our only shot that we've got. [laughs] Okay let me sneak in the other fan question here, it kind of fits in well. There's one person who wanted to know if you've had any experience with groupies?
Peter: We played support for The Dreams in Lyngby as well, and that's just like packing with 15-17 year old girls.

Kasper: You were shaved that time!

Peter: I didn't even have my manlihood that time, but after that experience...

Kasper: I got a little note once when we played at a arrangement, which said "you're awesome, call me", and then I tried to call her, and then it was like "The police". I didn't get much out of that.

Peter: But right now, I'm the only one who's single in the band.

Kasper: You've gotta get rid of that beard again. Then you have another song called "Clara". Who's that about then?
Peter: It's a play on words.

Kasper: In fact it's about an ex-girlfriend that I have called Sarah.

Peter: It's like, "she doesn't know now because it's Clara, how would she ever guess".

Kasper: At first it was called "Sarah", but then we broke up and I thought she was a...fucking whore [laughs] and then we changed the name to "Clara", and then we kept it at that.

Peter: Have I ever said the word Sarah?

Kasper: We should do that tonight. What's your view on riverdance music?
Kasper: I think that must be a question from Leo.

Peter: Well, I think it's awesome.

Kasper: Does he mean Stream City?

Peter: I have riverdanced to Stream City. I like riverdance. I like all kinds of music if you can move to it. And that you to riverdance. What are your future plans, and what sort of goal/ambition do you have as to where you want to take The National Shut Up?
Kasper: Right now it's like do the EP and then do the tour.

Peter: It's not like long-distance. We'd rather just have fun with it.

Kasper: We never really had a plan. We're four guys who just love to play music together, and we're good friends. We do a lot of things outside the practice rooms.

Peter: We do everything together. But we don't have any...of course it would be cool to conquer the world.

Kasper: But when I think about a band like The Dreams, and they can get that far...

Peter: With so little

Kasper: With so little in Denmark [laughs], then maybe we have a chance too. They're from Faroe Islands.

Peter: Big bands are using our riffs so it could work.

Kasper: But it's alright, because no matter how our new EP is going to sound, it's still going to sound like us, and it's still going to sound like pop punk or college punk or whatever you wanna call it. That kind of music has never been that big in a country like Denmark. But I still think that if you write a good melody, you can put it in any kind of genre and people will listen to it, if it's honest. So I don't know. That was my last question, so thanks for the interview. Do you want to add anything in shout outs or anything like that?
Dan: Shout out to my mom.

Peter: A shoutout to Dan's mom, Line. Oh I miss her!

Kasper: I think it's cool to have a site like The first review you guys ever did with us was at The Rock with Stars Burn Stripes and Callgirls. I had never heard about the site, but I was like "shit he's going to think it's the worst shit gig he's ever heard", and I remember when we got a really really good review about the show.

Peter: We were ecstatic! I've used the site ever day since. If it was shit, I would never have gone there! [laughs] So shoutout to!

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