It's Slutface's first gig outside of Norway - arriving in London to a fair amount of buzz. We first fell in love with them when we caught them at Oya Festival back in the summer. Now they're starting to fulfill their promise. They're in town to play a showcase DIY Presents gig and perform a Gigwise Office Session.
Love them as we do, they're not quite met with Beatlemania - instead they tell us of a sweet lady whose flat they're staying in over in Angel through AirBnB. "We didn't tell her we were a band called Slutface, though," chuckles singer Haley Shea. "We were like 'oh, we're just four students!' She was pretty cool though."
Indeed, it is a name that raises a few eyebrows on these shores. Upon first meeting the Nordic punk teens, they rewarded our enthusiasm with official Slutface jumpers and t-shirts. Chuffed as we were, we questioned if we'd ever be able to wear them in the name of decency. Of course now after spending the weekend singing their praises and taking them drinking around the many dark corners of Shoreditch, we're totally on board. We take them to DrownedInSound's vinyl-spinning birthday party at 'in the woods' and the frequency of the word 'Slutface' is almost overwhelming' - but not everyone is always on the same page.
"In Norway people don't care about the music," the awesomely-named guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad tells us. "Our grandparents come to Slutface shows."
Haley chuckles: "We got a message from a priest a couple of weeks ago, saying 'I love you guys, I'm really happy you're a band, you really inspire me'.
"We're excited to see who comes to see the show of a band called Slutface in London, because in Norway our name is not a big deal, people really haven't thought about our name that much. Then we come here and it's suddenly the reason that people come to see our show."
Of course, when we get to the show, The Old Blue Last is rammed with people of all ages and all nationalities. With the riot-grrrl attitude of Sleater-Kinney met with the pure rush of Blood Red Shoes and abandon of early Green Day, it's impossible to not surrender your instincts to these infectious pop punk riffs and irresistible choruses that demand every moment of your attention.
The word on all of our lips is 'Slutface' - and for tonight at least, all it stands for is one hell of a good time. So much so, that you can't deny their potential universal appeal - something that a name like 'Slutface' could damage when it comes to mainstream radio play. Have they ever been asked to change it?
"Yes, every time someone new comes into the Slutface family, they're like 'you need to change your name'," replies Tor-Arne. "We just keep telling ourselves that we'll always be called Slutface - and we are."
Hayley smiles: "And then we win them over with our charm and personality! Then they realise that we can't change our name.
"We're really nice and respectful, and our band name is just to get you thinking."
Photo: Liz Hainsworth
As Franz Ferdinand so aptly put in 'No You Girls', new bands are always destined to fall victim to the uninspired dickhead question of 'where'd you get your name from?', from journalists...
"Do you want the answer to that then?" laughs bassist Lasse Lokøy. 'What are you insinuating?', is our slightly offended response.
"That was the classiest segue that any journalist has ever had with that question!" smirks Haley. Why thank you. "Hey, at least you didn't ask what it's like to be the only girl in a band of all boys. But the band name is supposed to be provocative, it's supposed to put you on edge and it's supposed to be punk and riot-grrrl inspired.
"We want you to think about female sexuality and what it means to be a 'slut', the way we portray women in music and in popular culture. We're really not dicks - we just want you to think about women more than you do."
Amen, I'm glad we got that covered. Anything to add? "Oh," Haley nods back, "and being in a band with all boys - it's pretty fucking great."
As we drink with the band in our local The Reliance by Old Street, we learn a lot about these guys (most intriguingly about the Nordic tradition of 'russefeiring' - whereby high school students in their final semester put on red hats and pants and partake in all kinds of drunk shenanigans and baffling challenges involving booze, sausages, condoms and pine cones. Google it, when you're not at work or school).
But yeah, we're refreshed to get to know a band who are genuinely making music for all the right reasons. Not for fame or to fit in - quite the opposite. While they tell us they'd like to be friends with the emerging likes of Aurora, Bendik, Farao and more from their native land, they don't have an awful lot in common with the predominantly electro-noir sounds that are coming over the airwaves.
All still deep in their studies at university, Slutface are a band with boundless energy and ideas - making music for the sheer joy of it.
As the rounds go by they reveal more and more about their varied love of music - from Weezer and Green Day to Jason Derulo and LCD Soundsystem. We can't wait much longer for their debut album, and are relieved to learn that recording will start in the coming weeks and be finished in the summer. They tell us it will sound 'more intense, quicker, harder and darker' than what we've heard and 'less indie, more college rock'.
"There are also a few tracks that are a lot darker - let's call it 'mature',"admits Haley. "I think we've finally come to terms with the fact that we really are very poppy. 'Shave My Head' was our breakthrough for that scene. I would not have been OK with singing 'maybe baby' a year ago, but we've admitted that we like Fall Out Boy now. It's out there. We can't do anything about it."
Lasse adds: "And My Chemical Romance."
Well, if there's any justice in the world, they'll be following in their footsteps in the not too distant future. We've said it before, and we'll say it again - we've seen the future, and its name is Slutface. You need this band in your life.
- Check back at Gigwise soon for Slutface's Gigwise Office Session
- Shave My Head by Slutface is out now. Buy it from iTunes here.