Today, the trio 1982 celebrates its first ten years of existence. The trio met for the first time, and played their first concert in Bergen on February 14, 10 years ago – on Valentines day! The trio's new album Chromola can be ordered from the source already, and is due for international release in late March. 1982 has been an important band for HUBRO, and their discography with us now counts four stunning albums. In connection with the anniversary we sent some questions to Øyvind Skarbø, drummer in the trio, and the one who made it all happen in the first place:
HUBRO: First, tell me about the very first 1982 concert.
ØS: I dropped out of the Grieg Academy in Bergen after two years, and was walking around town thinking about the myriad of projects and ideas I wanted to try out. As I was passing a metal hardware store I came up with the idea of arranging a concert series named Øyvind Jazzforum. It was on Tuesdays, in a tiny club called Vamoose. The first 1982 concert was concert number 12 out of the initial 15 concerts. It was labeled as Økland/Apeland/Skarbø, and that not very catchy name stayed with us for the first year or so. I recorded the gig to mini disc. The funny thing with our band is that it has felt good from the very beginning. That first concert sounds pretty good! I feel very lucky to have a group like this, where things – more often than not, somehow just seems to work.
HUBRO: It was you who initiated the trio in the first place. Did you know Nils and Sigbjørn when the idea for the trio came up, or did you just know their work?
ØS: I had a lesson with Nils when I was at the Grieg Academy. I was a big fan of his solo albums, and even more so his work with the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble. So we played and talked for an hour. Six months later I asked him to play in duo with me, and it was he who suggested we ask Sigbjørn to tag along. The two of them had already at that point a 20 year long history together. I think I had done a duo concert with Sigbjørn prior to this, so I knew who he was.
HUBRO: Chromola is the first album recorded outside a studio-context. How was the recording session compared to others in the past?
ØS: It was quite relaxed. It’s cheaper booking a church than a recording studio. Seriously, the room itself brings a certain calmness. I felt we had a lot of time, although it only took two days. We set up in the afternoon and recorded a concert the same evening, then recorded by ourselves the whole next day till early evening. Our regular engineer Davide Bertolini is a very relaxed guy too, but efficient. It’s not extremely different from being in a studio in the way that you’re there to record music and need to stay focused. That feeling is the same to me regardless of the surroundings.
HUBRO: – Do you discuss your music in the trio? Do you plan or pre-compose anything?
ØS: Hardly ever do we discuss the music, and only in very vague terms. Maybe after concerts we’ll say if we liked it or not. 99% of the time, nothing is planned. We had a couple of rehearsals many years ago, looked into specific landscapes and concepts. On the new record there is one track (04:03) where we stumbled into a feel we liked. So we did three different versions around that same idea and used the best one, which was probably the first take anyway. And lately we have put a ban on starting concerts with a long, soft drone. We tend to always start like that, so we’re trying to break it up a little. That’s it as far as planning anything, although sometimes Nils and Sigbjørn seems to touch by some common hits from the choral catalogue, but I’ve never heard those songs, so to me it’s all still free improv.
HUBRO: You have done several concerts and two albums including guest artists. Do you think trio changes into something new, or that the guests has to try to fit into the 1982 universe?
ØS: That is a good question. I guess the guests have played more or less on our terms. But obviously they bring new energy and ideas into the band, otherwise there would be no point of inviting them. The first piece on A/B, where Stian Omenås scored an arrangement for wind quintet, changed the group sound quite drastically. That was fun, to give some one else so much control over our music.
We have truly enjoyed doing projects with other musicians, but right now we want to focus on the trio for a while.
HUBRO: During these years you have done close to 70 concerts in Europe, Lebanon and Japan. Do you have any favorite moments or concerts you can tell us about?
ØS: Actually, something funny happened on our very first show. Nils likes to tell this story. I had no budget for hotel for him, so he needed to catch the last bus home. So he put on an alarm clock and we made the audience understand that when it rang, Nils had to grap his fiddles and run. And that’s what he did. You hear it on the mini disc recording. Biip biip biip biip – some laughter – and then it’s just drums and harmonium duo for the last five minutes.
HUBRO: And of course: are there any nightmares-on-the-road stories you want to share?
ØS: We have been blessed with very few nightmares. Just a string of concerts, uneven at times, but almost never terrible.
HUBRO: I came to know the trio through your debut album on NorCD which really impressed me. From the first album on and on all the four albums I have released with the trio on HUBRO you have used photos by houses taken by Elisabeth Færøy Lund on the covers. How did you find these photograph and why do you think they fit the music so well?
ØS: Elisabeth is amazing, a very talented artist who works in many mediums. We grew up in the same village, but I did’t really know her till after we started working together on the album covers. I was visiting a mutual friend of ours when I saw that he had parts of the house collection on his wall. The complete work is 24 pictures, and they are all taken in the same street, Nansengatan, in Gothenburg, although the Chromola picture is from the neighboring street. I think I got the idea then and there. I can’t remember if I really thought consciously about the pictures fitting the music, I just thought the pictures were amazing.
I sometimes tend to plan very far ahead. I got the idea of doing several records with different houses at a very early point. When the NorCD LP came out, because of a misunderstanding with the graphic designer and a consequent design flaw, I knew right away that we were going to do at least four albums. If you place the four first vinyl records next to each other, you might find out what I mean. That is all I will say about that.
Interestingly, 1982 is now working a lot with the graphic designer on the first release, Fredrik Rysjedal. We’re performing his live comic book (!) called Sound of the Aurora. Also a brilliant and forward thinking artist.