Very little is known about War. Changing their name to VÅR (the Dutch word for “Spring,”) a few days ago, the collaborative project of Iceage’s Elias Bender Rønnenfeltand and Sexdrome frontman/Posh Isolation co-founder Loke Rahbek exists somewhere between lo-fi noise-punk and early Chicago acid house. “At War for Youth,” the duo’s debut 7”, dropped earlier this year on Sacred Bones Records. A full length is expected to drop next Spring.
War took a minute to chat–however archaically–with us via email from their native Copenhagen to discuss the close-knit DIY community in Denmark. Also of note: the guys were wasted at the time of interview.
How long have you two been writing, recording, and playing music together? When did “War” form?
We used to go to the same school a few years ago and we would have a two-hour break every Thursday at the same time. That gave us just enough time to go buy some soda and go and record one song and then get back to class. That’s how most of the war music was recorded. One track every Thursday.
Your previous releases (two tapes and a spilt with Lust for Youth) were on Loke’s label Posh Isolation. What made you decide to move to Sacred Bones? How did that relationship begin?
It’s like walking backwards… It’s possible yet not very comfortable.
The February 21st SB release of “At the War For Youth” 7” was War’s first US release, featuring the double a-side “Kains Mærke” and the title track, “At War For Youth.” The B-side, “Brodermordet,” translates to ‘fratricide’ in English, and recounts the biblical tale of Cain and Abel. How did the song come to be?
It’s really difficult to imagine things without this song and this subject. However, the song is about so much more. There is a part that you will never know.
How would you describe the punk scene in Copenhagen as opposed to other music communities in Europe and in the United States?
There seems to be a rich DIY culture in Copenhagen: you put on your own shows, run your own zines, have your own labels. How close knit is the community?
Like a reef knot.
In addition to War, Loke contributes to a couple of other projects—Skurv, Damien Dubrovnik, LR, and Elias is in Marching Church and Pagan Youth. Is there a lot of overlap in band members? When I think of the punk scene in Germany and here in New York, everyone seems to be in everyone else’s band— making the music more diverse.
Seeds can’t grow on concrete ground, so that’s what we do, we break the asphalt, and build new roads long and wide for anyone to see and hear. Copenhagen is not like other places.
In Copenhagen, you have labels like Posh Isolation, focused primarily on punk and Endurance Records, which boasts of more experimental, synth-stuff (Age Coin, Girlseeker) with noise-y exceptions like the band Snatcher.) What are some other labels and bands worth checking out?
There is no such thing as experimental music or punk or synth music. We have a ground in Copenhagen and what grows from that can come in many different forms however there is a core, it would not make any sense to try and explain it any more precise than that. That ground is the only genre we care to debate.
Loke, who runs Posh Isolation with you? I see that you’ve released your LR solo albums on PI. Are all of your artists Danish?
There have been people from outside however that happens rarely. We try to keep the work here. Posh Isolation is run together with Christian Stadsgaard.
Sexdrome did a spilt with Sump on All Dead Tapes; a UK based label… is there a relationship between Copenhagen’s immediate punk scene and that of the UK or other major European cities?
We have a close bond with the scene around the now defunct Utmarken in Göteborg. And we know and care for people many places, but Copenhagen is the heart of things.
In addition to War, Loke is in Sexdrome. Last year I spoke to Mark McCoy of Youth Attack (the band’s US label,) and he said he was hoping to get the band to tour stateside. Does that look like a possibility for the future?
No. That does not feel very likely.
Could we expect a War tour?
Is there any chance of a Sacred Bones full-length War release? I understand there is a limited edition 7” out on Record Store Day to benefit the label.
There is a compilation track coming out that will maybe explain a lot of these questions much better than we ever could.
VÅR is playing the Sacred Bones Showcase Sunday June 17 at Glasslands Gallery as part of North Side Festival, but a little bird told us there's a good reason to peek in to the happening spot called Wierd Wednesdays this week.