During one of the final, cold weekends of 2012, NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION caught up with three of the eight musicians that comprise Danish band WALDO & MARSHA in their hometown of Århus, a port side university town and second largest city on the eastern coast of Denmark. In 2011 they released their Smiling at the Ground EP to critical acclaim, and made it into several Danish “Best of” lists. Comprising of four guitarists (Victor Groth, Mathias Klysner, Morten Danielsen, and Mikel Kruse), one bassist (Victor Egebo) two guys on drums and percussion (Jakob Vinther and Mads Muurholm) and Niklas Grool on keyboards and sampler, WALDO & MARSHA crafts sweeping, lush songs with wall-of-sound style production and textured vocal harmonies, backed up by lyrics that can only be described as pensive and heartbroken – they released a single with two tracks called Love and Melancholia, draw your own conclusions. Think of MY BLOODY VALENTINE if they cared more about melody, or what SLOWDIVE would listen to as they flew a spaceship over the windswept Arctic wasteland. Single-tracking them simply as shoegaze or post shoegaze is too limiting, their sound is more refined and expansive, as if Brian Wilson mixed in some noise and turned the volume way up.
So, next year sees your band releasing the debut album. Tell me about the challenges of going from an EP to a full length.
For us, it is the attention to detail. Our EP was recorded in four days, without separate tracks. This album has taken us two months, with a break in the middle to write more songs. We are much more ambitious with it. It had to be perfect, and in the middle of the session we realized we needed to take time and write more songs. Luckily we have a producer, Dennis Ahlgren, we are kind of his hobby, and he’s provided us with space and support mixing. It was important with the full length that we do everything ourselves, and that it be perfect.
Sounds like the goal is complete creative control.
What are some of the things you are hoping for in 2013 for WALDO & MARSHA? Is a tour realistic?
Lots of girls, lots of alcohol and a private jet. (laughs) Don’t write that! We hoped to get noticed outside of Denmark, and of course tour where we can. We would like to be better known in other countries.
Describe the pressure of eight people meeting up or getting collaborate on anything, let alone a song. What does your songwriting process look like?
Mads and Victor Groth make demos and bring it to the group to get more detailed. We tried with eight members but it is too complicated. As far as decision making we have a private group page that everyone can comment on, but it is better when we meet and discuss. And of course get drunk together and that helps.
How did you all meet?
Some of us have been friends since elementary school, we went to this hippie elementary school where we learned music and played guitar often. We actually learned to play funk together. I think learning that style of music helped because we can play off each and other and know how to improvise. We are able to listen to each others sound and responding to that.
You know this expression in design, “Less is more?” Hearing you guys talk about your music, it sounds like “More is more.”
Yes, when we travel, we have seven guitars and two drum kits. Niklas has a small keyboard but this retro Stringer case that takes up so much room. At one show we ended up with two bass amplifiers, and another time one guitarist didn’t have an amp. It is a logistic challenge getting everyone together and keeping track of it all.
When meeting musicians that work in their second or third language, one wonders, do you write lyrics in Danish and translate or is the whole thing formed in your mind in English?
Well, as far as lyrics, those are secondary to the melody and actual structure of the song. Victor is our lyricist. We have agreed that as far as singing, we can’t say what we are trying to say in Danish, it doesn’t sound right. Denmark is too small of a country to make it in, if we want to be heard it has to be in English. Everyone we listen to sings and all our influences are singing in English, so it’s more natural to sing in English.
Tell me about actual lyrics of your songs. The focus seems to be on the melodies and the tones.
I the lyrics are important, but the melodies are louder, especially on the two singles, they [the lyrics] are very quiet. The EP was a sixties rock thing, the two singles were a shoegaze thing, and the album is more dreampop.
Can you clarify the origins of the band name?
We started playing more 60s style rock. There’s is John Cale narrative that THE VELVET UNDERGROUND set to music, a track on White Light, White Heat, called The Gift and it is about a couple named WALDO & MARSHA. We liked the sound of it, and also thought references BELLE AND SEBASTIAN.
Was it hard to agree on a name?
Before that, before every live show we had a new name. We’ve been The Fakes and the Lorraines, a Back to the Future reference.
What would you tell someone who has never seen your band live to expect from a live show?
A lot of guitars, a lot of sound, and great songs. Hopefully, it’s going to be loud, if we take our sound guy with us.
Okay, so influences. All you have is on your page is THE BEATLES, which is pretty ballsy and not to mention broad.
We like SLOWDIVE, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, THE COCTEAU TWINS. This band from the sixties, THE MILLENIUM. A lot of sixties groups actually, especially THE BEACH BOYS.
“Pet Sounds”? You guys were going for “Pet Sounds”?
There’s an album, from before Pet Sounds, called Today! and also Summer Days (And Summer Nights!) those are big influences.
Is it safe to say, that the Danes represent a certain sense of melancholy?
(laughs) In the winter, it rains a lot. It’s funny, the recordings we started in the summer were more dream poppy and like THE BEACH BOYS, and when we returned to recording in November we were into more noise, our sound became introspective. So yes, maybe the climate has something to do with it.
It’s all about hope and passion for us. What do these two things mean to you?
We are very passionate about the music. We were made to play music. Music is the thing we want to do the most and it’s the thing we think is important for ourselves, so that’s our big passion. We are passionate for finding our voice. And remember of course we are such good friends, it’s such a good time when we are together. As eight people, we are never bored. We always entertain ourselves, and end up doing stupid and weird things and bonding together. For our type of music, we want to make the best for the genre. We are really ambitious about it. Our hope is to craft the best dreampop album ever. As far as hope, we hope to breakthrough.
WALDO & MARSHA on NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION