Mighty Midgets

author PP date 18/01/11

A couple of months ago I had the chance to sit down with all of Mighty Midgets, the premiere politically oriented melodic hardcore band in Denmark, as they were on a rare visit to Copenhagen to play in the release party of the Punk Rock Generation compilation, featuring a ton of awesome bands both local and foreign. Late November is bad timing to conduct a 40 minute interview due to crunch time for project work at university, followed by Christmas and New Years, and exams in January, hence the massive delay in getting this posted. But good things come to those that wait, they say, and that is indeed the case here. We delve in deep into the state of the music industry, their political views, their own record label 5 Feet Under Records and a wide variety of other topics in one of the more interesting interviews you'll find here on Rockfreaks.net. A quick side note before I let you read on: some of Peter/Lasse's lines might be interchangeable because on record, it was difficult if not impossible to separate their voices for some odd reason. Minor problem, however. Enjoy.

RF.net: First of all, thanks for the interview! So if you can just go around the table and introduce yourselves and what you do?
Lasse: I'm Lasse, and I play bass, and yell a bit.

Troels: My name is Troels, and I sign and scream.

Niels: I'm Niels, and I play guitar, and sign and scream a bit.

Peter: I'm Peter, and I play the guitar.

RF.net: What's new in Mighty Midgets?
Niels: Not much, we're in Copenhagen. Actually, we've been recording some songs for a split CD we're gonna do with four other bands. So that's gonna turn out pretty good probably.

RF.net: Which bands?

Niels: I can't remember [all laugh]. We've only been talking through mail. There's one called Broken Aris, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, and Fist Of The North Star.

RF.net: Is it for 5 Feet Under as well?

Niels: Yeah it is. Every band brings their own label.

RF.net: So it's like European bands, I suppose?

Troels: There's one from America. Fist Of The North Stars. We don't know the bands, actually. Normally it would make sense to make a split with bands that you're familiar with and friends with. We're going big this time, so we need other bands [laughs]

Niels: Actually it's not our project. It's the guys from Psychotronic Man who mailed us after being on the Punk Rock Generation compilation, and they heard our band, they thought we were cool, so they asked us. They've pretty much been doing everything. I'm helping out with the cover, but otherwise they're pretty much doing anything that needs to be done.

RF.net: So lets move onto Mighty Midgets and how it all got started? So if you just give me a shortened version of your biography from when you guys got together and how it happened until today.
Lasse: Well it was about eight years ago or so when we started to play a bit, Troels and I, and a guy called Mikkel, in a basement at my parents' house. Then we played for like a year or so, and then Peter came along, and we played for another year, and then we kicked out the bass player.

Niels: He left. He kicked himself out

Lasse: I was playing the drums at the time, and Troels was playing guitar, and we figured we weren't that good at playing, so we had to bring in some talent, and then we got a new drummer and a guitarist. And now we've been playing for five years in total.

RF.net: So when the rest of the guys joined, would you say that's when Mighty Midgets became sort of a more serious project?

Troels: Yeah, you could say that. When we were just us four, Lasse, Peter, me and Mikkel, we didn't play a lot of shows, but when they joined, we went on a European tour, and started playing more shows, and then we're not playing a lot of shows nowadays. We can't play a lot of shows anymore. We're just playing cool shows like this one.

RF.net: How come?

Troels: Children. Family business.

RF.net: You guys called the band Mighty Midgets. How did you come up with the name?
Troels: Actually, I think we did a written interview a while ago, and I think I wrote that we played in this band, and I think we thought about these names that had the same starting letter in each word were pretty cool, and then we decided that Mighty Midgets was cool, because both words started with M, so that's pretty lame.

Niels: I hate the band name.

Troels: We shouldn't be called that. We should be called something cool, like Thought Police Brutality. That's a cool band name.

Lasse: Or The Rasmus? Lordi?

Troels: We're just name dropping. I don't know where these band names come from... [all laugh]

RF.net: Do you think it's a disadvantage for bands like yours to be living in Jylland instead of here, in the capital city? Or an advantage maybe?
Niels: It's cool that we live close together, but if we all lived here, it'd be the same I think.

Troels: I think that people in Copenhagen, when they play in bands, are a bit more snobbish.

RF.net: You mean like everybody in that room behind us?

Niels: especially those guys [laughs]

Troels: The Norwegian guys (The Supervisors), they don't count. I think in Aalborg people seem to be connecting across genres, whereas in Copenhagen, even if you're playing in a punk band and you like punk, then it's "oh you're not playing the right kind of punk music", whereas in Aalborg, we have a lot of...

Peter: We have two punk bands!

RF.net: Would you say that there's a scene in Jylland, or in Aalborg for that matter. I kind of refer to Jylland as Aalborg and the whole place as one.

Niels: Aalborg is pretty much all of Northern Jylland, but there is a scene. There's 1000Fryd, the venue, one great punk venue. They play other stuff as well, but that's the scene more or less, around that venue. Other than that. People are pretty good like Troels said to connect, to go watch all the hard rock genres like metal and stuff. They're all one scene together, though everyone is kinda lame anyway [laughs]

RF.net: Would you say that because it's so connected up there, that's one of the reasons why Mighty Midgets sounds, well, like one of the heaviest punk bands that I know inside Denmark. Of course, Thought Police Brutality is something else, but that's hardcore.

Niels: I don't think that has anything to do with that. We started out being something else, much more poppy, and now we're more... I think it's just the music that we listen to. Our style kinda reflects the things that we find cool. There's a lot of metalcore in Aalborg, but I don't think any of those bands are something that I can draw inspiration from anyway, because it's not my style of metal, and all the music that I listened to at home is not Aalborg related anyway. What I'm trying to say is that we play what we think is cool, not necessarily what the scene is about or anything like that.

Troels: Just to add to that, I think in Aalborg it seems like, for example at our release party, there were 150 of something who attended the show, and I think three of them were listening to punk in their free time. Everyone else were just friends and people who listen to other music. But they seem to be attracted to our music anyways, whereas in Copenhagen it seems like if you're attending a punk show, everyone there is listening to punk in their spare time. So people seem to be bonding a lot more across the borders and befriending each other more than in Copenhagen, where it seems like... if you listen to metal, you only go to metal shows. If you listen to punk, you're only going to punk shows.

RF.net: Definitely very true. It's always the same people at the shows here, I've noticed that.

RF.net: Earlier this year you guys put out the album, the debut album, "Raising Ruins For The Future". If you can just tell me something about the album, like a spoken word session, you can say whatever you want.
Lasse: It rules!

Niels: I was just going to say the same thing.

RF.net: Tell me a little bit about how you wrote it, what do you think about it now when you've had it out for like six months.

Niels: I think it's the only thing I've ever released that I wasn't embarrassed about, so that's good basically [all laugh]. Sometimes even before it was released and definitely after a couple of months I usually kinda hate the things I'm involved in. But this one still sounds good when I listen to it now. Half the album we already played in a live set, and the other half was written as we went along. We jammed up the songs, and some of them were just tracks we kinda jammed up and then we put on the layers in the studio and did whatever. We had our own studio, our own equipment. Or I wouldn't call it a studio. Pretty cool - 5 Feet Under studios? We had some microphones that we put up and especially Rasmus used some time to engineer stuff, so we could put it up in a good way. The other half was just songs we already had.

RF.net: The album is really politically oriented, based on the lyrics. Maybe you guys can tell me a little bit about your political views?
Troels: We can sing a little song for you that kinda sums it up called "Sådan er kapitalisme" (That's how capitalism is).

RF.net: What I'm really going for here is that...in the States you have the punk bands that are very politically oriented because they have a lot of things to complain about over there because things are fucked. But here in Denmark, we have a welfare state, everything is fairly good here compared to elsewhere. So I'm just kind of curious, isn't it kind of strange to be very political in a country like Denmark?

Niels: I don't think so. I think it's good to...I don't know if you have to oppose all the time. Opposing stuff, or being dissatisfied with stuff is a better way to fuel songwriting, but I think it's good to be at least politically aware and know what's going on, follow the news and stuff like that. Otherwise things will go as they are in the states. I have a feeling that a lot of people are not paying any attention at all. In a democracy you get the people who you vote for, and the politicians who you vote for, and if you're completely unenlightened, you just go for the easy solution every time, or buy all their rhetoric. Right now, I don't really see who I should vote for that matter, because I think they're all kinda shit. And everything is watered down to punch lines. Democracy is kinda failing in a way in Denmark. Not yet, but it will, pretty soon, it's good to be politically aware.

At least from the lyrics I write, when I see something like...for example the first song, "Thoughts On Article 19" is about the whole Muhammad crisis and stuff like that. I heard a lot of politicians talking about freedom of speech, and it seems to be a really big topic. It's so obvious with Danske Folkeparti because they're always so self-contradicting. They kinda said a lot of stuff about freedom of speech is really important and bla bla bla, and that's why we have to insult everyone because we can, so we have to of course. That's their approach and that's fine, but as soon as someone goes the other way and insults them...

For example, there was this Anders Fogh Rasmussen movie, a fictional documentary about the prime minister being gay, and there were some statements that Pia Kjærsgård, the leader of Danske Folkeparti said that was kind of putting her in a bad light. And she said "you can't use the things I said in a fictional way because I never said that" and that's like...on one hand when it comes to insulting Muslims and people she doesn't like, it's freedom of speech, the way to go, but as soon as it's turned against her, it's the complete opposite and she wants to put restrictions on it. And now she wants to forbid some TV stations being broadcasted in Denmark. Stuff like that is completely against freedom of speech, so I just started thinking about a lot of these things I've seen in the news and heard from politicians...now I'm just ranting, but that's the kind of thing that teaches me anyway how to write songs, and fuels the creative juices, so to speak.

RF.net: What about the rest of you guys? Do you share the same kind of...I mean I get the impression that Niels has some very strong opinions about his political views, do you guys all share the same thing, or is it mostly Niels?
Peter: We all share it. Everything in the lyrics has been topics that we all agree on. Sometimes we actually change the lyrics a bit because we can't all relate to them.

Troels: In contemporary society in Denmark it is important to be politically aware, because like you said we have a welfare state, but the whole welfare state is being undermined these years. The government has its ninth birthday today, and the last nine years has been a downfall for the welfare state we got in Denmark. It's important that if you wanna continue the tradition of the welfare state, you need to be aware of what's going on, and I think a lot of people aren't aware of what's going on. It's fucked up - our society is going down basically, because we got the wrong leaders.

Lasse: We have a liberal party undermining the welfare state by saying we're helping people, we're shortening the waiting lists for the hospitals and stuff, while actually undermining the entire base of the welfare state. And getting away with it.

Niels: They want to make up with the old values of Denmark, they want to make something new, something more productive, something more American.

Lasse: And it's working for them because they think we're actually making it better for you.

Troels: In all social services, like for example the SU, and if you can't get a kid, they now have to pay to get an examination. All things that our society in Denmark in general was based upon, at least for the last forty years or something like that, are being taken away, and people aren't aware of it. People can't really see that. If you go ask people in the street, people will say "oh we have a welfare state". Of course we have a welfare state. But it's not as strong as it used to be.

Niels: It's also much about rhetoric as well, because they keep continuing the same lines as the parties before them have kept on saying like "we have the best society in the world" and everyone is so fucking happy, and all this stuff might be true, but still they go like "it's okay we cut a little here because everyone is so happy and we got the best thing going on, so beat it, don't complain". It's always about don't complain. I think there's a structure to everything, also through the parties, where you have three or four people standing on the top saying what to think for everyone below them. That's also undermining democracy a lot, because there's no room for discussion. There's no room to oppose anything. If someone, a member of a party, says something like "we gotta do this in another way, can we discuss and find another solution", they're just silenced by the top of the party, and that's pretty much every party, all the parties in Denmark, except maybe Enhedslisten and De Radikale.

They kind of have a discussion going on in their party, and their yearly meetings are kind of discussion still. For the other parties, the leaders stand up and say "this is how we do it, lets do it". Lets rock, you know? We go for this strategy and we're gonna win the voters so nobody's ever going to be in doubt of what we....that's the reasoning behind it, I think. No one can ever be in doubt of what this party stands for, so when they go to the voting booth, they'll put their cross next to our name because they know they have some steady values going on here. Everything is just so anti-democracy, because democracy is all about discussion, you know? And lighting up the different views of different people. And every party is kind of going in the complete opposite direction, except the two that I mentioned, which are completely unpopular by the way, no one is voting for them.

RF.net: So I'm guessing none of you guys are Danske Folkeparti voters, then? [laughs]

Troels: Well, if you are a supporter of Danske Folkeparti, of course you're able to be a decent human being. It's not like that we're saying. We know other people that are DF supporters, for example, and they're cool guys. It's just if you make up your mind and decide for yourself, then you're alright. No matter what you vote for. I'd rather vote for DF actually than Venstre or Conservatives, because V and K are all about the money first, and then the man, whereas DF is..

Niels: It's all about getting rid of the foreigners first [laughs]

Troels: Yeah, well, if you ignore that, they focus on man instead of money.

Lasse: They don't focus on anything because they don't give a fuck about anything else.

Troels: They have no politics in real life.

Niels: They have like five points that they keep on repeating. They're the ones doing the politics like I talked about before, best of all out of all the parties, because they have five things, and they have nothing more. And if people sympathize with any of this, for example "we don't like foreigners, they go steal our cake in the hospitals", so they vote for DF because they know their motivation.

(unclear): And it's all about double standards, because of all the politics, if they got into power and went into the government, everything that they stand for would still be a problem, because you can't really get rid of all the foreigners, so they whole thing would continue. It's double standards, because even if they had all the power in the world, they wouldn't change a thing, because all the issues that they deal with are issues that you can't really change. It would take hundreds of years to change these things that they stand for.

RF.net: Getting back to Mighty Midgets!
Troels: After the political rant!

Niels: We're not really that political, actually, it's not like something we talk about every time we practice or anything.

Lasse: Not that we agree on anything. But we agree to disagree.

Niels: I don't think we do that though. It's seldom that someone comes up with a lyric that someone else says "I don't believe in what you're saying here, so lets rewrite it". It's always minor stuff.

RF.net: What do you think about the feedback that the album has received?
All in turns: It's insane / great / really really awesome

Niels: I think we got more than fifty reviews and only two have been mediocre.

RF.net: The mediocre ones were saying that Mighty Midgets has only two speeds: fast and faster. I think Punknews.org said that. Have you guys ever thought about taking the foot off the pedal?

Lasse: We have a new song.

Troels: Acoustic guitars! No we don't do that. Actually tonight we have a slow one. The outro is slow.

Niels: It has a slow part in it!

Troels: The outro is hardcore inspired outro. We're listening to a lot of other things than punk, actually. I still listen to a lot of punk music, but hardcore and metal, jazz and stuff like that, so we get inspired by a lot of different things, so it would make sense to include that in our music. Not that we're going slow. Niels: Actually, we have the drums and the bass recorded for the split, and there are a few parts where it's a little slow, so I think we've added a little more to the sound. Not that it's a good thing necessarily, I like it better when it's just fast.

Lasse: Fast, faster and not that fast.

Niels: And slightly less fast

Lasse: We got a few slow passages on the old records, though.

Troels: The last song on the album is pretty slow in parts.

Niels: But I think that the reviewers who said that was just because their brain activity was so slow that they couldn't comprehend it so it all went into a one big fast mess instead of getting the nuances in it [laughs]

RF.net: Aside from being in Mighty Midgets, you operate the label Five Feet Under Records, right?
Troels: No, we all do actually.

RF.net: So tell me a little bit about how the label works.

Troels: We're signing a lot of bands. Losing a lot of money. Actually the same as being in the band, except in the band we're not signing people, but we're still losing a lot of money.

RF.net: So you would say it's more of a hobby label, or is it actually a business?

All: Hobby label.

RF.net: Out of the pure passion or something like that?

Troels: If you cut the minus in front of all the figures, then it would be a business. [laughs]

Niels: A pretty good one!

RF.net: Is it difficult to run the label at the same time as you're in the band, does it take a lot of time or?

Troels: I think it takes a lot of time. But I think it's cool, for example, The Supervisors from Norway, they are here today. They haven't released anything on our label yet, but they are releasing a record through us in the coming months. I think it's pretty cool to attract people from all over the world, like Antillectual that you also reviewed, I think it's really cool that you can see all these bands that you are actually releasing, and you're a part of a record. I think this Antillectual record has potential of becoming, maybe not a classic, but a great album. We have a lot of faith in these records and these bands. For example Stars Burn Stripes guys, we've known them for years, and they've released a record on our label as well, it hasn't really been selling at all, but it's cool to be a part of this, and see how the records evolve. We try to do our best to promote the records and have them play shows in Denmark.

Lasse: At the same time it's about helping other bands out, and maybe getting something in return. We help a band come here and play, and maybe we can play in their home city or something.

Niels: If we ever went on tour again.

RF.net: So what kind of deals do you generally have with the bands? Do you guys pay for the studio time or is it just studio time?
Troels: We pay for the records. We buy a certain amount of records from the bands, and we promise to make shows with them, promote them, get them reviews. It makes so much sense in these days where the whole record industry is on a downfall, because unless you're Madonna or anything that will sell a lot of records, bands aren't getting deals anymore. You can see a lot of bigger bands without a deal because no record label has faith in bands anymore. I work in a record store right now, and in the last month, the best selling record was Tina Dickow's newest record. It sold - I don't know if I'm allowed to say these figures - but she only sold [ridiculously low number, sensored] copies or something like that. In all departments of TP, including Copenhagen as well. I can't really recall the exact number, but it was a little less than [another ridiculously low number]. And she was the best selling records. It doesn't make any sense. Of course, there are a lot of other different stores that sell records, but I would've thought she would sell hundred thousand records or something like that. Maybe not in that week, but in total. These days are no sailing in the industry. All the bands, it would make sense for them to have different labels around the world in different countries that can promote the bands and book them shows, and sell their records. For example Antillectual. They have ten or fifteen different labels around the world promoting their record in different countries. It makes so much sense in my book. And that's what we did with our record as well. We have a few record labels around the world to promote it because we are not able to do the promotion that each label is able to do in their territory.

RF.net: Well, you running a label so this is clearly a very relevant question. Obviously people are not buying the records, so they're downloading them from the internet for free, that's a given especially here in Denmark. What do you think about that, given that you're really involved in the business.

Niels: The first thing we did when we got our record was to put it up on The Pirate Bay, and it actually gave us some good promotion. It's cool that people on the other side of the world can download our music and write comments saying "wow, this is cool punk rock".

Lasse: And we have a song on an anti-copyright compilation.

Troels: Yeah, here in Copenhagen. We're playing here next month, on the 18th, in the new Ungdomshuset. We have this release party for this compilation, "Ingen fucking copyright", I don't know if you're familiar with it, but they have a series called "Ingen fucking...", and this one is about copyright.

Niels: But I wouldn't say that I'm personally against people making money from music or anything like that, and the industry must do whatever it has to do and squirm until it dies in pain, but when you're a band like us, it makes no sense to try to even make it or do anything like that. The sole purpose of being in this band is to have fun and to express ourselves creatively, if you could say that. All this money business is just so much out of the question actually so it makes no sense to even talk about it. It's cool that you can release records and people can listen to it, I think that's the most rewarding thing about it. We're all gonna have to work full-time anyway, besides the band, and just hearing people who like our music is totally awesome.

Troels: Piracy would work if people weren't selfish in my opinion. I download a lot of records where I've actually bought a lot of the records afterwards. If you make something that's good, of course people will buy it. It's the same with movies. If people have the decency to be decent people, they would buy it. There's something cool about getting a record where the artwork and the songs and the lyrics are cool. Why wouldn't you wanna own that?

Niels: I also believe that's the way to go, and that's also why I like vinyl records a lot. You feel like you get a lot when you buy it. You're not only getting the music, you're getting the artwork like Troels said, and maybe some extras like DVD with videos and all this shit, so you feel like you're getting the full package instead. I don't like downloading that much, it's cool to just check out bands, and see if that's something you want to buy. There's a lot of streaming service that we can use to listen to internet radio and stuff like that. That's awesome, if it's something I really like, I want it in my hands, and I want to take out of my collection and put it on my player and listen to it that way. That's the best way for me. But I understand a lot of kids who just want the MP3, that's also cool for me.

Troels: I think the whole flaw is the next generation. My girlfriend's little brother is 19 or something. He got two CDs and one or two movies in his collection. Everything else he has in his computer. I think that's a shame, they don't have the mentality for owning records or owning movies.

Niels: I think that if the record labels were able to find out what these people want, they could release it, they could release something cool that this guy could also buy. I think it's their own fault.

Troels: I don't think so, he has two CDs and the Mighty Midgets cd in his collection. That's all.

Niels: And then he stopped. "This is not going anywhere" [laughs]

Troels: I think that's the new generation and I think they're a problem.

Niels: I think the record labels would still be able to make money if they found a way to please these people.

Troels: They have to re-organize.

Niels: Re-invent itself somehow.

Troels: Record labels are still earning as much money as they used to, but there are in different areas now.

Niels: Labels that only release vinyl records do pretty well because they sell something that you feel is special when you get it. You don't just go to the internet and download it.

RF.net: Okay, so wrapping up, what are the future plans for Mighty Midgets then? You guys said you don't really tour anymore...so?
Niels: The split.

Troels: Hopefully another album. We can't do an European tour anymore.

RF.net: Danish tour?

Troels: We're playing in Copenhagen in December. But I think the cool thing is that we can book shows ourselves in Aalborg, and we're able to attract a lot of cool bands to Aalborg and then we can support them. That's a cool thing in itself.

Peter: Hopefully we'll get time to tour more later.

Troels: I booked the Stars Burn Stripes European tour. I wish we could play it ourselves, but right now I don't think we're able to.

RF.net: Alright! Thanks for the interview. Any last comments or anything?

Troels: Thanks for the interview. I think it's only our second live interview. It's really cool, because it's a whole different approach and you can't have all the time to think of answers, because we don't know what you're asking. Our answers are pretty lame. [laughs]

Niels: Very rant-ish! I felt like I was ranting for like five minutes, and I looked at Peter, and he was just looking...kind of sad [all laugh]

Troels: We hope you'll check out all the bands, most of them are on 5 Feet Under Records.

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