If you heard The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, you know what I’m talking about. The experimental vibes, the trippy psychedelic atmosphere. This music makes you wonder what is real and what is not. With “The World Is Drugs”, singer and composer Aske Kristiansen creates his own universe of hypnotic grooves and retro space rock over the course of nine tracks. The whole album was recorded in two days — the old fashioned way, with the full band in one room.
My personal favourites “The Echo Trees” and “Flowers” are songs that could be played in a never-ending loop and never bore me. If you are into more trippy tracks, let me recommend “My Hawaian Space Monoculars” and “Lunatics”. But seriously, the whole album is worth a listen in its entirety.
I had the pleasure to interview Aske about “The World Is Drugs” and his decision to break free from the safe life.
You said in a Facebook post, “After spending most of my adult life not really doing what I deep down wanted to do, I finally said: Screw it! I’m gonna be free.” What made you come to that decision?
Well, I was constantly compromising without really being aware of it. Over time, that situation built up a lot of frustration within me. In the end, that feeling was so strong, I just had to stop what I was doing. It didn’t really feel like a choice, actually.
What were you doing before?
I spent my twenties playing in various metal bands. Mainly in a Danish band called Helhorse. Although I eventually realised I needed to leave, the band also brought a lot of fun experiences with some really good guys. And I learned a lot along the way.
What stopped you from living free and making the kind of music you make now?
Doing what I was doing was the safe choice. I knew what I was supposed to do in terms of delivering to the band, and there was a relative amount of feedback from an interested audience that made me feel like I was accomplishing something worthwhile. Screaming into a microphone, playing on frustration and rage gave me a safe distance between me and the receiving end. I’m a pretty private person, so the idea of turning down the volume, starting singing, and generally letting the music come from a more vulnerable place was terrifying.
As a band, you started off as childhood friends, who then went into different musical directions and only recently came together to form “The Cosmic Rabbit Holes”. How did that happen?
I had these songs and needed someone to help me make them come to life. And it was just a no-brainer to ask the guys to help me. They’re my friends and they’re very talented players. Everyone was pretty much ready to go. Anders and Rasmus, who handle the guitar duties, are basically jazz dudes, and this kind of music felt like a good place to reconnect with each other. Somewhere between metal and jazz.
How would you describe the sound of your debut album? Who is it for?
In terms of sound and overall vibe, I wanted this album to have an explicit dreamy and trippy feel. And lightness and buoyancy to the grooves and melodies. It’s made for those people who don’t feel like the social structures of their surroundings are healthy in nature. For whom it’s more important to be independent than to fit into a narrow social box, and who wish to create their own world on their own terms.
What music did you guys listen to when you first started playing together? Any big idols? Where did your inspirations come from? And how is that today?
Simon (drummer) and I met and became friends when we were around 8. At that time, my big hero was Bryan Adams. Simon was into Gorgy Park. But I don’t know, as kids we were kind of all over the place. In our initial efforts with music, we were very young, almost pre-teens. The influences were probably random and unfocused. We were just making noise and having fun. For me as teenager, it was more about grunge and new-metal, but also more introvert stuff like Bjork, Radiohead, Portishead, and Nick Cave.
For this album, we were inspired by stuff that has that kind of dream quality to it. I was listening to My Bloody Valentine a lot, The Doors, and Portishead. Some of the grooves are very afro-inspired: Tinariwen and Bombino and stuff like that. Being from the jazz world, Anders and Rasmus came at it from a whole different angle. They just did their thing. They definitely don’t sound like your usual psych rock guitar guys. It brings a nice quality to it.
What is your opinion on Jimi Hendrix’s quote “music is a safe kind of high”?
I think that’s true. I don’t really know what happens in your brain when you’re playing or listening to music. But it definitely feels like a mind expansion with some meditative quality to it. It makes you experience your feelings and surroundings rather than think about them. A bit like doing something that’s physically hard. Shuts off your internal dialogue.