Single Premiere: Pleaser Builds an Impenetrable Immersion of Brutal Noise on "Join the Strings"
Copenhagen noise punks Pleaser have shared with us today their new single "Join the Strings," the raging first look into their forthcoming debut album that's set to be released next fall on Part Time Records. Along with the premiere, we caught up with members of Pleaser to discuss the band's beginnings, further experimenting with their sound, and landing on some of Denmark's biggest music festivals.
Following 2021's debut demo tape, Copenhagen noise punks Pleaser returned today with the artful noise sing-along "Join the Strings," the lead cut to their forthcoming self-titled debut album, out this fall on Part Time Records. Composed of dual vocalists and guitarists Sophie Lien Lake and Annie Marie Nyvold, bassist Olle Bergholz, and drummer Oliver Nehammer, Pleaser takes their sound a step further, reaching into noise and experimental territory, while also giving into their natural instinct for melodiousness. The new chaotic conjuring runs at full speed with its sugary noise of buzzsaw guitars, tightly wound rhythms, and shrilling vocals.
While diving deeper into the single, we also caught up with members of Pleaser to discuss the band's beginnings, further experimenting with their sound, and landing on some of Denmark's biggest music festivals.
Paperface Zine: How did you all meet and form Pleaser?
Annie Marie Nyvold: Sophie and I met through friends in a group of girls where we would meet up, have drinks, and go out dancing. One night we were the only two from the group who showed up, and we got to know each other better, talked about music and about starting a band. We started practicing at Ungdomshuset, our local DIY-spot in Copenhagen, and wrote the first riffs and vocals. Sophie and Olle lived together in a collective, and when Oliver moved in with them, we asked him to join. At the house they shared, there was a garage that we practiced in, and when Olle heard our songs he asked if he could add some bass to them. Originally we aimed for a lineup with two guitars and no bass, but when Olle joined the whole thing just came together and made sense.
PZ: What's something special that each member brings to the table?
AMN: We have very different backgrounds. Olle and Sophie are the metal heads with experience from playing in black, doom, and heavy metal bands (Olle has played in a hardcore band as well). Oliver is an educated jazz drummer, extremely nerdy about all genres. I myself have been rocking around for years in the punk and hardcore scene, but this is my first band.
Oliver Nehammer: Our band is a mix of people that have played literally hundreds of concerts and people that almost stood on a stage for the first time with this band — this energy keeps everyone on their toes. The band wouldn't work if we didn't keep an open mind and let people do their thing their way. That's really special to me. It sometimes generates completely out of control elements and having to roll with that is really life-giving. More importantly it also creates a healthy social culture in a band. There is no room for perfectionism, you have to go with your gut and kind of insist on keeping it fun. This is a space for stupid ideas and that’s a good thing. Because those stupid ideas can easily turn into something beautiful.
PZ: Lay down some of your musical influences or heroes? There's certainly a post-punk edge to your swarm of noisy hooks, nitro-fueled vocals, and dizzying guitar chords.
Sophie Lien Lake: It's funny because post-punk is something I've gotten into more and more after Pleaser was formed, and after I've been experimenting with writing music. We didn't plan for it to be like that. I have definitely been more connected to the metal-scene, where the first band I joined was a black/death metal project. It's hard for me to point out a specific musical influence. I would say that I've always been drawn to music that has a dark and atmospheric sense, whether that comes from extreme metal, pop, electronic music, punk or whatever, which is probably why you get the post-punky edge all together.
AMN: Some names that just come to mind: Wipers, Roky Erickson, Mercyful Fate, Bleeder, The Saints, Sleater-Kinney, Dark Times, Jay Reatard, Moss Icon, Lone Kellermann. We have heard very different descriptions to our sound though, like "emo cowpunk" and "black metal Gun Club," [laughing]. My all time favorite band is Hole, and Courtney Love and Kat Bjelland have always been among my biggest heroes.
ON: I've always been drawn to reckless and fearless music, often times, completely off-the-wall artsy stuff. I get turned off by music if I can hear "fear" in it. If I can hear the artist apologetically trying to get people to like them. There's not one element I can point to, but I notice that some of the people I keep returning to are The Locust, Gorguts, Lingua Ignota. Music that is confident in its own craziness and trusting of its own weirdness. I've been lucky enough to have some connections with producer Nis Bysted, who made me aware of the value of things being out of place, non-sensical, not fitting together, not shying away from the elements that are the most obscene about your music — that's usually what makes it you and what makes feel "lived-in," not stiff.
PZ: Back in 2021, you released your three-track debut demo tape. How has this project grown or developed since then?
SLL: I think we've become more defined in our sound, and how our music takes shape. I feel like the songwriting was a little random in the beginning in some sense because we were experimenting a lot. As mentioned, we all have inspiration from a variety of genres. Now we understand each other as individuals, and because we love what we each bring to the table musically, it makes us able to go even further into experimenting, but in a more "controlled" way. I don't know if it makes sense, but we all have a feeling of getting more and more enthusiastic when writing new songs, because now we know and appreciate all our strong contributing parts.
ON: I think the most significant thing that has changed is that we've now played a ton of live shows together. Playing in this band continues to be fun and dangerous. Sometimes it feels as if the music is about to completely fall apart, like riding a mechanical bull. I love that. I've noticed that even though we've only released a five minute demo, we're playing a handful of the biggest festivals in Denmark. Without sounding elitist, we don't have a viral hit or anything like that, we're just an IRL band. I didn't really think that was possible, but I'm down for it.
"I've noticed that even though we've only released a five minute demo, we're playing a handful of the biggest festivals in Denmark. Without sounding elitist, we don't have a viral hit or anything like that, we're just an IRL band. I didn't really think that was possible, but I'm down for it."
PZ: Today, we're premiering your new single "Join the Strings," the lead cut to your upcoming self-titled debut LP that's coming out next fall on Part Time Records. It mirrors lyrical themes of turning points in life, turning towards another path, and not knowing what comes next. How did this track come about and what did you envision when initially composing it?
SLL: "Join the Strings" is a very straightforward song that doesn't play with harmonies or dissonances in the way some of our other songs do. For me, this was actually one of our songs I didn't really like in the beginning, I think we had the riffs for quite a long time before we began rehearsing it all together, and went back and forth with it. But as soon as we started sewing it all together it made sense. I'm happy that we kept working on it, and of course I love how it turned out.
ON: I love trying to make everything sound like a run-away steam roller. Sometimes I catch myself deliberately trying to cause problems for the song, football-tackling the music. I play stuff I don't totally know how to play, faster than I really can, and sometimes I feel like I'm gonna pass out when we play it live. But I try not to compose locked drum patterns that I restrict myself to. It's weird when you're a "trained musician." You have to work more with your psyche and physique than your technique.
PZ: As a preview to the album, take us through the recording of the LP. Where did you record it and what was the process like? Also, what can fans expect?
SLL: The album was recorded at our dear friend's studio called No Master's Voice, and he's also the one who mixed and mastered the album. He knew exactly what we were going for sound and energy-wise. Most of the songs we recorded had existed for some years at that point, and I think the whole process of recording and overdubbing was very playful and intuitive. Even though the songs were "written," we were experimenting a lot with the details in a way we weren't able to, when playing them in the rehearsal-space, and a lot of the stuff we did wasn't planned beforehand. It was a very fun and unpredictable process, but I think that brings forth the essence from each of us in the album overall.
ON: I think listeners can also expect an album that feels like a debut. We're still trying shit out and there are still a lot of things we already know we want to do in the near future. I hope there's a spontaneous, devil-may-care energy in there and that what makes it thrilling to listen to is exactly that unknown, imperfect and fresh side to it.
PZ: Were there any tracks that turned out entirely different that you had initially planned? Any favorites of yours?
SLL: I think I felt the most surprised that a track like "Drive of Distress," which was written three years before it was recorded and turned out as it did. It's definitely always been one of our more weirder songs, but on the record I think it has a combination of being both a little sinistrous, sensual, and aggressive. I didn't see that coming but love how it turned out. My favorite would probably be "The Dream," which was originally released on the demo tape. It's more innocent sounding than most of our other songs that have a dark and melancholic note to them. I think this song really captures the core of Pleaser.
ON: I love the track "Plunge." I just love hearing Annie and Sophie singing at the same time, it makes me feel like sprinting and wrestling and moshing.
AMN: My favorite is "The Dream," a song I didn't really believe in when we started working on it, but now I think it is our best song.
PZ: Is there a punk scene currently happening in Copenhagen? If so, what is it like and what are some fellow local bands that should we check out?
SLL: I think there is a state of flux happening in the punk scene in Copenhagen, where people are opening up to and experimenting with blending genres together from straight-up punk to post-punk, black metal, hardcore, etc. I hope it keeps developing this way, so that we can move away from dividing the underground scene into small groups of genre-defined gatherings, where the same groups of musicians are praising each other over and over. I think there's been a much needed breath of fresh air to the scene lately. I would personally recommend listening to Big Mess, Hævner, Gabestok, Eyes, and Decorticate as current among others.
ON: I've always listened to the music from the punk scene in CPH, but I was never an active participant until I became a member of Pleaser. But it's probably been one of the most thrilling experiences in my life with music. I feel like people often come to shows at venues like Ungdomshuset and Mayhem to support punk as a community and keep the spirit of that art form alive, not just to hear my dumb ass hamming it up on the drums. I just feel it makes for a great environment to play in. We're here together with the audience. I like Whistler and Troop Transport as current bands. And then I love this by now really old band called HUL. Teenagers just fucking bleeding through the speakers. Check tracks like "Ingen Lektier" and "Ødelæg Dig Selv." Reckless, fearless…
AMN: My favorite bands in Copenhagen at the moment are Indre Krig, Gullo Gullo, Junta and Tyrant.
PZ: I see you will be playing at this year's Roskilde Festival and the K-Town Hardcore Fest. What are you looking forward to the most playing those shows?
AMN: K-Town is my favorite festival. I love the chaotic-but-caring energy there and I am really looking forward to that. Feels like home. Playing at Roskilde on a big stage is super scary and exciting at the same time.
ON: In regards to K-Town, exactly what I mentioned above — people are there for punk first. It seems to me that for a lot of crusty punk heads, it's like Christmas, and I'm psyched to be the weirdo indie-uncle. In regards to Roskilde, I think what we’re most excited about is the exact stage we're playing. It's the second to smallest stage at the festival, but we have seen so many of our favorite concerts there that it's going to be a trip to play it ourselves.
Pleaser is out next fall on Part Time Records.