I first hyped Trondheim, Norway's Onsloow in a roundup post earlier this summer, amidst which I mentioned that their previous single brought to mind Weezer meets Baby Gopal. Having sat with their first handful of singles for the past week or so, I'm getting more and more excited for their upcoming full-length debut. Thus far, each composition perfectly balances a certain rugged, jangly energy with undercurrents of sleek pop sensibility and infectious hooks galore, making for a distinctive brand of wide-spanning emo/indie-and-then-some that achieves a stirring sense of cohesive variety, both musically and lyrically.
That being said, I'm obviously psyched to present single #3, "Being With You," alongside an interview with the band for some additional insight:
Onsloow has actually been around for over two years now, and released an EP in the summer of 2019 under the original band name of Cora Sandel. The Cora Sandel material followed a softer/somber type of aesthetic, so it seems that the transition to Onsloow was much more than a name change. What led to the exploration of this more openly energetic and catchy songwriting approach?
After the Cora Sandel EP, we changed our lineup and guitarist Mathias [Nylenna] joined the band. He brought a new energy to the band and—combined with [vocalist] Johanne [Rimul]'s desire to craft immediate and catchy melodies—we shifted the focus from our more introverted past toward something new. The songs we've ended up writing from then on have a different sound and structure, and perhaps even purpose—we simply sound more pop! And, perhaps, more like we wanted to from the get-go.
Our upcoming album is more diverse and eclectic than you might get an impression of by just listening to the singles, just so you know. But, as a band, Onsloow is definitely more outgoing than Cora Sandel ever was—leading to our decision to change the band name as well.
Something less important that I'm still curious about is that when I was first told about your band earlier this year, the band name was "Onslow" with just one "o," but I was having trouble finding information about your music because at some point a second "o" had been added to the name. What's the story behind that!?
So, for reasons described in your last question, we wanted a new name and ended up calling ourselves "Onslow" (named after a character in the British '80s sitcom Keeping Up Appearances). But, literally a week prior to the release of our first single, "Overthinking," this Australian metal band popped up on Spotify with the exact same name! Damn Aussies [laughs]! So, we gave our name a tiny tweak—an extra "o"—just to differ from them and all the other stuff out there called "Onslow." Now we're Onsloow—it's unique and we love it!
We're premiering your third pre-album single today, "Being With You." To my ears, it's just as catchy as "Overthinking" and "A Good Day to Forget" before it, but feels even brisker and more straightforward. Discuss a bit of information about this track in particular.
"Being With You" was actually the last song we wrote and recorded for the album, and we probably worked with five different sketches for a song in that pace before we ended up with that riff. It's written in a D major tuning, made famous from one of our favorite Smiths songs, "The Headmaster Ritual." You can actually hear a couple of Johnny Marr chords in there as well, if you pay attention [laughs].
Anyway, we wanted to make this song as instant and energetic as possible. A lot of our songs have this dissonance to them, where uplifting melodies are accompanied by more troublesome stories of doubts and heartaches, but not this one. "Being With You" is simply a song about being head-to-toe in love!
The debut Onsloow full-length will be out later this year through How is Annie Records. What details can you share about the album as a whole?
This album has been quite the adventure to record in the midst of a pandemic, produced by Mathias' old band pal and all-around great guy, Marius Ergo. We recorded more songs, but have ended up keeping eight tracks that make the cut. As said earlier, we sing songs about love and loss, doubts, and fears—obstacles preventing ourselves from living the lives we want—or, like on "Being With You," about actual joy. Hopefully, the songs will be as fun to listen to as they are to play.
We've saved some of our personal favorites for the album that'll reveal our passion for shoegaze and post-rock. You must remember, drummer Morten [Samdal] used to play in the seven-man post-rock outfit Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson, and on the album closer he really gets to show that part of himself!
We're currently mixing, evaluating, and remixing the songs. Hopefully, it won't be that long 'til our baby is off to Will Killingsworth [at Dead Air Studios], who does the mastering. Several of Onsloow's members have a past from the screamo scene in the early-'00s, and having the album mastered by the guy from Orchid feels extra special!
Members of Onsloow have been plugged into the scene there in Norway for many years now, so I always like to ask: what are a few other Norwegian emo/indie/alternative-type bands that curious listeners should investigate—whether they be your active contemporaries, older groups that were significant to the scene's foundation, or even unsung greats that still deserve more attention?
Oh, boy, where to begin? Our producer, Marius, is in tons of cool bands; and our favorite for years is the music he makes with his pal, Magnus, in the project Magnus Moriarty™. Gorgeous music, so check it out. His band Insomniac Bears is finishing their new album as well, we're looking forward to that one!
This October, we're doing a gig with our friends in Flight Mode and Neighboring Sounds, that'll be cool. Both bands are great, and Flight Mode released an EP this summer that might be the best emo release ever in Norway. So, so good. The only Norwegian EP that might compete with that title is Arild [Eriksen] from Neighboring Sounds' old band, Crash. It's called Young Boy I Can Help You Through Your Exams, and meant a lot to us when it got out.
Other stuff worth mentioning: Posterboys, Sad Chloë, and Killer Kid Mozart are cool; check 'em out. And we've shared the stage with some of our favorite Norwegian bands: Spielbergs and Beezewax! Absolutely love their music. Kenneth Ishak from Beezewax is releasing a new solo album this fall; and Spielbergs are working on a new album, too. So, a lot of great music from Norway is about to drop!