An interview with Lars Christian Bjørknes: ('exclusively' for the 'Major Parkinson by Pr
So I got home last night to find a mysterious envelope shoved under my doormat containing an old cassette recorder, a bundle of Philippine pesos and a hastily scribbled note on my door (literally on the door...) asking me to transcribe the contents of an old worn tape onto these pages for the benefit of some strange Facebook entity called 'Major Parkinson by Proxy'. Anyway it contained none other than an interview with tea cup holder and Keyboard player Lars Christian Bjørknes from the popular Norwegian band Major Parkinson., and this is what they were talking about...:
Anonymous Interviewer: Hello Lars, thanks for agreeing to do the interview, how are you today....???
LARS: ''No worries, pleasure to be of service! I'm good, but slightly apprehensive as to what you guys are going to ask me....''
....anyway.... enough of the pleasantries, what’s your favourite cheese?
LARS: ''I have a soft spot for quite a few 80's synth pop outfits.''
Aha. Well we have a wide range of questions that people are intrigued about, going back to the beginning, where does the name Major Parkinson come from? And did you have any other names before you settled on Major Parkinson?
LARS: ''This is a question better aimed at the people who actually started the band. I only joined in 2008. It's an odd name, for sure. But it seems to have stuck. Initially, I think it had something to do with rehearsing in an old theater building in the early days, with a bunch of strange costumes and mannequins laying about, which made the boys start creating a universe of fictional characters, of which Major Parkinson was one. This overly explicit universe of characters was scrapped a few years down the line, though.''
What really stands out for everyone is the sheer complexity of the music performed live. Is there any part of the set you find particularly difficult? Do you dread that or look forward to it? And are there any parts that are just really dull for you as keyboard player?
LARS: ''The more challenging it is to play, the more rewarding it is, usually. Eventually everything goes into muscle memory anyway, and I've been surprised more than once at what we're able to pull off. Shame nobody actually sees what I'm doing back there, I think people would be fascinated if they could see my hands and feet move about. But with the evolution of our set and our music into what it is now, I really have no dull parts anymore. It's non-stop action. You know, I kinda wish there were a few more dull parts.''
''Shame nobody actually sees what I'm doing back there, I think people would be fascinated if they could see my hands and feet move about''
And where did you learn to move your hands and feet about at such pace? What formal musical (or dance) training lies behind such extraordinary anisodirectional gesticulations?
LARS: None, really. Except I had piano lessons from age 7 to 13. Everything else is just genetics and quite a bit of effort. But I am terrible at dancing.
So what is your favourite song to perform live? And is there any particular song you enjoyed recording more than the others?
LARS: ''A recent favorite for me is Night Hitcher. It's a song we couldn't quite figure out how to do live until recently, but now it's coming more and more into life every time we do it. There's something entrancing about tapping that synth bass rhythm for 5 odd minutes - one lapse of concentration and it all falls apart. So it requires a different level of concentration. It was also a fascinating thing to record. The original demo was made by Jon and me within a day, and a lot of what we did during that first day ended up on the record. Later, after we recorded the real drums with Sondre and the song started to really come alive, the final layers and overdubs were done in an oversnowed mountain cabin in the middle of winter. Overall, it's just one of those tracks where I feel we tapped into the very essence of a bigger, unknown entity, and where we succeeded with most everything we tried to do. Usually there are things you look back at and think: "Well, we could have done that particular thing better". Not with Night Hitcher. It gives me goosebumps to think about it. Where did it all come from?''
'Usually there are things you look back at and think: ''Well, we could have done that particular thing better". Not with Night Hitcher. It gives me goosebumps to think about it. Where did it all come from?'
It is an incredible track that I appreciated so much more for seeing live, but I guess your answer leads to an obvious question.... what song would you most like to rework then given you always think you can do things slightly better?
LARS: ''One that's always been ripe for a re-do is Solitary Home. And that is actually happening! With a full American show choir, strings, horn sections and whatever else we feel like putting in there. This one will blow you away. Hopefully.''
Whilst we’re asking about recording... is there any exclusive snippets of info on Album Number 5, or the new single that was mentioned as being released?
LARS: ''I would say the album is around 90% written at this point, it's just too bad that writing itself is no more than 1/3 of the work for us. Now comes the excruciating part with endless testing, failing, playing, arranging, recording, mixing, crying, re-arranging, re-recording and re-mixing until you guys get the final result at the bitter end of the cycle. Our deadlines have not been chiseled into stone just yet, so any time estimation on the album would just be guesswork at this point. The first single is a lot closer, though, but we are still a few tweaks away from having the finished product. It will appear very suddenly, so be prepared.''
We will be! Also is there is any news on whether there will be a Twilight Cinema re-release on cd / vinyl?
LARS: ''I'm not sure about that. I've been made aware that people are trading that thing for hundreds of dollars online. And it's not that we particularly enjoy seeing people suffer, but I find that fascinating. I guess it makes sense in this capitalist paradigm where scarcity is such an effective driving force for the price of a commodity, but surely it's not worth that kind of money. We are humbled and pretty amazed that someone considers it to be, though. Supply and demand, I guess, the invisible wheels that hold the fabric of society together. Anyway, I'm rambling at this point. We've considered turning a reprint of TC into a crowdfunding campaign, it's just not happened quite yet. That could very well happen, though.''
''We've considered turning a reprint of 'Twilight Cinema' into a crowdfunding campaign, it's just not happened quite yet.''
Away from direct Major Parkinson related questions, if you could work with one movie director who would you work with, and why?
LARS: ''It would be hilarious to work on a supremely cheesy Hollywood blockbuster with someone like Michael Bay. If we envision a script in which the world is on the brink of destruction due to some colossal astronomical event and everything is completely over the top and no idea is too dumb and things are exploding, and the soundtrack has a bottomless budget and I could hire any musician I wanted. I would construct something ridiculously pompous, overblown and logistically demanding. 1000-piece orchestras, The Red Army Choir, a million Chinese peasants stomping their feet in unison, underwater whale recordings, marimbas made from the bones of famous historical figures. It would be nice to try all of that once. And then go back to being artsy and tasteful.''
Which ones? I mean, it’s obviously something you’ve given a lot of thought to, so which historical figures would you most like to make marimbas out of...?
LARS: ''Maybe Ötzi, the frozen guy they found in the Alps. His ribs look like they would have a warm and pleasant, slightly dull, wooden tone. But that poor man has suffered more than enough already, and he would likely just disintegrate. I guess that would be a problem with anyone from the distant past, their bones would be too brittle. Frankly though, only the naughtiest historical figures would even deserve posthumous excavation and being turned into an instrument. It's an appalling PR move, too, so the movie studio would probably oppose the idea anyway.''
Anyway.... which song by someone else do you really wish you’d written? And which band would you most like to play in other than MP?
LARS: ''I wish I played in any other band than Major Parkinson. Please send help.
Regarding which song, I wish I wrote "U e wo muite arukou" by Kyu Sakamoto, cause it's a brilliant and haunting tune, and if I wrote it, it would mean I already knew Japanese, and that would be really nice. It's super hard.''
Also have you ever actually played Baseball? As in the game, not the song...?
LARS: 'No, actually none of us have, although there is a variant in Finland called 'Pesäpallo' which I may have played at school.''
Finally.... are there any other albums / bands you’re listening to at the moment and want to recommend to the group?
LARS: ''You'd be surprised how little time I have to listen to other peoples' music. Being in this band means immersing yourself so much into the project that you pretty much have no appetite for listening to music afterwards anyway. But if I'm to throw out a name, I'd say the last album I got completely immersed into was The Dear Hunter's Act IV, which is depressing, considering it was released about 4 years ago. Oh, and I'm releasing an album with Moron Police in July, which is technically a different band than Major Parkinson, and I've listened to it a lot. I think I will recommend that.''
Excellent, and it appears that the brand new Moron Police single called ‘The Phantom Below’ has just been released, and it’s a toe tapping 4 mins 12 seconds of upbeat pop rock magic, with more melodies than in a Brahms symphony, and topped with a huge saxophone solo?
LARS: ''It is not a bad description, that. You know, very few songs actually combine blastbeats, jubilant Japanese anime melodies and saxophone solos, but we pulled it off somehow. I guess this is why people have a hard time marketing the bands I play in.''
Thanks for your time today Lars!!
LARS; ''Thanks for your interest, usually it's that tall guy who gets the questions. *shakes fist*''
We'll bring you further Major Parkinson news when we have it. And don't forget the extra special gig in London next week on Friday 3rd May , plus a Secret gig the night before... buy your tickets here: