Interview with Lonely Kamel

For their fourth full-length album, Norwegian stoner/heavy rockers Lonely Kamel went into the studio with a very clear idea of creating their most crude and stripped-down album to date and they succeed it. “Shit City” doesn’t sound simple or cheap in any way, but it does exude a raw and sleazy sound that totally benefits their brand of groovy and infectious stoner/psychedelic/heavy rock.
Scratch the Surface caught up with the band to talk about this new effort and where exactly is the shit city.

“Shit City” is your fourth full-length album and the press release mentions that you wanted to make it as simple and cheap as possible. Well, I wouldn’t call it exactly simple or cheap, but the album does offer some catchy tunes dirtier than the bathroom of a sleazy bar in Singapore. What was the vibe when you went into the studio for this new album?

Stian: hehe...dirty bathrooms are always good, sounds like we captured the feeling we were looking for. The vibe was good, except the whole band had the flu during the ten days in studio.

Lukas: Yeah but we nailed track after track, and the result was amazing. Shit City is raw and honest, everything recorded live in studio, except vocals, lead guitar and some percussion.

Stian: We've never used much money on recordings but it's not like we want it to sound crappy either. The press release thing was kind of a joke. But we like it raw and simple, and try hard to transfer some of the nerve and energy from our live performance onto the albums.

Thomas: Fact is we never had much money for recordings. Studio time in Norway is not cheap, so we try to spend as little time there as possible, hehe. We always record live, playing together in the same room. I think that's a big part of why we sound like we do. We practice playing together, jamming all the time to get the right groove in each song. That's important to us. In that sense we come prepared in the studio, record all four of us, and then we spend 3-4 days after to put up some vocals and guitar licks, just having fun.

Can you kind of describe the writing process for Shit City? Do write the songs collectively in the rehearsal room or you’re one of those bands that trade files/ideas back and forth via email?

Stian: Mail sucks! Internet sucks! hehe. Yeah, but ok, sometimes even we use it as a preference, but it's on the rehearsals it happens. Thomas has most of the ideas and presents them when we meet, and Lukas brings a lot of riffs as well. Some songs come from jamming, so we all contribute. We spend a lot of time working on the arrangements. And we never play a song someone dislikes.
Last November Thomas made a collection of some demos of our songs on his home recorder, the tunes he felt were most suitable for an album as a whole. Then we agreed on that and didn't look back. We worked our asses off on the arrangements and sound until we puked and almost hated each other.

Lukas: We worked on some old and some new ideas, jamming, trying different grooves and so on. Process went on for a few months. Then we dived into a studio to make the deadline for a release in late August, just before we hit the road.

It sounds like you are having a lot of fun on this new album. What did you get personally out of making this record?

Stian: I think studio sessions are some of the most fun and interesting parts of being in a band. To nail all these things we've been working on for so long, and get it on tape. The result is not always what we expected or what we had in mind but we spend a lot of time preparing the songs before studio, the goal is always to be as close to the original idea as possible. But it's been 3 years since we were in a studio so for me it was about time! Next album will not delay as long.

So where exactly is Shit City? Not Oslo I trust, it is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Stian: Yeah of course it could be Oslo. Expensive does not necessarily mean good or not shitty. Money is shit. But it could also be another town, or a state of mind. We all have a lot of love for this hometown but it's also a lot of frustration. It's the famous ambivalent love/hate relationship people have for things, places and people in life.

What do you talk about lyrically on this album?

Thomas: When writing these songs, there was a lot going on in my life. A couple of years of ups and downs, and I think the songs reflect that from the sense of everything going to hell (is it over?) to rediscovering love (Falling down). Much like the meaning of the title. It's like a love/hate relationship to someone or something. Sometimes you hate something so bad, and the next day you love the same thing, realizing it's not the things that are changing, but you, your state of mind and how you feel inside.

Following the release of Shit City, you’ll embark on a European tour with label mates The Order Of Israfel. What can fans expect to see on this tour?

Stian: Expect what you always get! Lonely Kamel loves playing live, touring and hang out. We don't bring fireworks or lighting rigs, but we bring the blues, grooves and some bottles of booze!
And to be honest, I never heard The Order Of Israfel live, but their record kicks ass and there must be a reason they go on tour with Lonely Kamel

What type of venues and parts of the world do you like best for playing live?

Stian: Any type in any country. no rules, no peculiarities, no limitations - just music!

Find out more about Lonely Kamel and their awesome new album "Shit City" here: