How to Take a Roman Candle to the Face: Our Conversation With Iceage


Hurling beers and spitting on bands while they perform is, generally speaking, frowned upon. Shows have been stopped for less.

Pfft. Kid’s stuff. Doug Smith Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, singer and guitarist of Copenhagen’s Iceage, didn’t even flinch when a fan decided to let off a Roman Candle in his face at the band’s January show at 285 Kent in Brooklyn. “We get fireworks and beer cans thrown at us every night. If it’s there, it’s there and we’re still going to continue,” dismisses Rønnenfelt, almost bored.

See also:
Photos: Iceage at “Other Music” Record Store (6/23/11)
Live: Iceage and Dirty Beaches Wage Sonic War On (Le) Poisson Rouge, 7/23/12

We’re sitting around a coffee table covered in half-eaten burgers at Matador Records’ Hudson Square headquarters. Iceage recently inked a deal with the indie heavyweight after their New Brigade debut lit the globe on fire. Their name well represents the group’s music –cold, dark and brooding with emotive bursts that only the very young are too unafraid or unembarrassed to try. It’s cool blend of hardcore and gothic overtones with a stiffened post-punk spine makes it stand out.

The group has spent the better part of the last couple years on the road, honing their craft and stunning spectators. “We’ve played an insane amount of shows last year, maybe 150,” says Rønnenfelt. It shows. At the pyrotechnics clinic they played at 285 Kent the band was a well-oiled wail machine, a fine-tuned group that came alive on stage and wasted no time going straight for your jugular. “I think we feel more in sync now after playing so much together over the last few years and touring together,” says guitarist Johan Wieth, almost bored. “It’s only natural.”

The group brought the synchronicity and understanding that one can only garner from living out of a tour van to the studio for their latest sophomore effort, the upliftingly titled You’re Nothing. “We went to a studio that was built at an old farm on the Danish island of Møn. There was nothing else around. We were really isolated staying out there. There was pretty much nothing else to do than record,” says Rønnenfelt, almost bored.

Seeking the solitude of a remote island recording studio certainly wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has listened to the band or the album. While the group blasts around stage with the bravado and fearlessness of the possessed, their songs feel private and solemn.

“We kind of knew what it was like record this time,” says Wieth, while his bandmates pick at french fries in a white cardboard takeout container laying across the table. The quartet were literally fresh-faced kids straight out of school when they laid down the tracks for New Brigade. They still are. But there’s an old soulness about them now. A world-weariness. On the new album, “We just kept writing. There are shitloads of people that like other shit way more than us. So we can really only worry about what we think about ourselves. We like it,” says Rønnenfelt with a coy grin.

Putting in hard work without regard to who is paying attention is certainly paying off. They may not care, but You’re Nothing caught the attention of Iggy Pop, who recently professed his love for group, saying they’re “the only current punk I band I can think of that sounds really dangerous” on Australian radio. If that doesn’t warm the group’s dark and ominous spirits, nothing will.

Well, maybe a Roman Candle.

Iceage perform tomorrow, April 20th, at Bowery Ballroom. White Lung, Parquet Courts, and Burial open. You’re Nothing is out now on Matador Records.

See also:
Photos: Iceage at “Other Music” Record Store (6/23/11)
Live: Iceage and Dirty Beaches Wage Sonic War On (Le) Poisson Rouge, 7/23/12