are a Norwegian band composed of Ken Stringfellow (vocals),
Bjørn Bergene (guitar), Claus Heiberg Larsen (drums) and
Bård Helgeland (bass).
Characterized by a brilliant Rock sound the band represents the meeting
of talented musicians, the guys of the Norwegian Electro-Pop band
Briskeby, and the American singer Ken
Stringfellow whose career is very impressive.
Their first and new album "Smoking Kills" is out now! We can appreciate the singles "Best
Mistake" and "Oslo", well disciplined Rock like we love....
Interview with Ken
Stringfellow, singer of The Disciplines:
S: When and how was "The
Disciplines" born ?
Well, we're really just getting born now. The roots go back a couple of
years; we played our first live show at a party in the band's hometown
in Norway in 2006. We played a few times last year--parties and a few
club shows in London, Berlin, Helsinki, Paris and Norway. Snow Patrol
asked us to support them in London...but we're really just coming into
our own as a live band now, and this record that we're making I think
will cement that fact. In fact, we played the same party as our first
show--it happens every year after Christmas--last month, and the
difference was really amazing. you can actually see videos of both
shows online--the first show we are dressed differently, and we're a
bit shy. But the last show--look out. We are beating the shit out of
everything in sight--us, the audience, the instruments...with love of
As for the "how"--I knew the guys from their previous band, a shiny pop
band called Briskeby. They were very successful in Norway, and nowhere
else. They had a female singer, who is marvelous. But, they were unable
to break out of Norway--despite the fact they write great songs, look
cool, sing in English and have hit singles. So, the guys wanted to do
something with me, to try something new. The singer, Lise, has a record
deal of her own. Everybody's happy. With their old band, it should be
said, Lise and I sang a duet that was a huge hit--but again, only in
is the name of the band coming from ?
I think it suits us very well. The word "Discipline" has of course a
naughty edge to it, but it also has a nerdy, scientist kind of
connotation, in English especially. And of course, generally I more
like a science nerd than an S&M aficionado. And my music has
been nerdy, too. So this band is where I get to act a bit more nasty.
Again, with love!
and when did all begin with music ?
I guess you are referring to each of us? the others: I have no idea!
But they've come from the same town in Norway, and have played together
quite awhile. I started playing in bands in my home town in the USA;
the two towns we come from are incredibly similar...I had the feeling
to be back in time when I went to spend some time in Larvik (small
Norwegian town where they come from).
are the positive and negative sides of being a musician in Norway ?
Well, for me, it's all positive. I can say that Norway is a very
wealthy place...it's kind of an odd argument against the EU when you
see how successful and prosperous things are in one of the only non EU
countries in Western Europe (see also: Switzerland). I guess
being an oil producing nation is one of the keys to Norway’s
success. So, bands coming from outside are paid extremely well--the
high cost of living is balanced in Norway by high wages, sort of like
the UK--so, if you are American or French, you play there and suddenly
make heaps of money...then you get to leave and not pay Norwegian taxes.
you feel anxious before a show ?
No. I just feel like a spring coiling up. I have to work hard not to
explode in the first song--I have to save some energy, as the show is
extremely demanding physically.
S: What musicians or artists
had an influence in your life and in your work?
Many--many still will in the future. I am notorious for listening to
records only once, and then...search for the next thing! For this band,
I draw upon the living spirits of Iggy Pop, Joan Jett, Beth Ditto and
more for my work. And a bit of Feargal Sharkey!
S: Do you remember what was
the first CD you bought?
Yes, sure--it was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; but, I started
buying records long before CDs were around. The first record I bought
was by ELO!
you think the emotion is different between a song in English and in
No. I think human emotions are quite universal. The different cultures
have different ways to express (or repress) them. But fear, hope,
despair, joy, humor, anger--they are in all of our DNA.
S: How could you define the
music of The Disciplines?
Disciplined! Concise, precise, efficient. No fat, no wasted space.
Energy, movement and force. Like kung fu!
S: Do you agree with Victor
Hugo who said :"Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad"?
If you don't engage life, you have nothing to lose, right? So you never
know what you are missing. If you embrace life, you have to accept the
fact that you will lose things along the way--that things are fleeting,
and we all die. So, you have the opportunity to love life more, I
think, when you know that it is precious.
S: When you write a song you
follow your heart, your brain or your hand?
As Malcom X said: "by any means necessary". I try not to do the same
thing the same way twice.
S: What is your favourite song
of The Disciplines and why?
Hmmm. no idea, really--my favorite is which ever one is going well at a
given moment in a show, or whatever. Whatever I'm focusing on is the
S: As musicians, what are your
feelings about internet?
I've heard about it, it sounds incredibly useful! :) Kidding. I don't
have much feelings about it, but, I know at this point it would be
impossible to live without! It's like the telephone, the TV--it's kind
of a miracle, but we just use it like a beast of burden.
S: Can you describe what is a
typical The Disciplines' day?
Well, I don’t know about the other guys—I live in
and my typical day right now involves taking my daughter to school at
8.30…and then probably working on music at home all day, all
night. I spend an hour in the morning in a café. Our guitar
player, Bjorn, is studying to be a doctor, so you can guess what his
day is like. The others—Bård, our bass player, and
our drummer—they have to go to work. Actually, I
know what Bård does. He won’t tell us!
S: What are your hobbies aside
Hmmm. Learning, that’s certainly one. I play
course, playing with Legos and Playmobil with my daughter.
S: Are you venturesome persons?
Dominique, my wife, applauded me the other day. We went to the
marché pres de chez nous, and were going to buy some cochon
lait roti. But we were late, and they were basically sold out. There
was just the head left—and I bought it (only €2.50!)
it…even Dom, who is French and used to eating all kinds of
and things, couldn’t go there.
would you like to play in the future, is there a place in the world you
would love to visit?
Many!! I try and visit new countries and play there as much as
possible. Last year I played, solo, in Bosnia and Luxembourg. This
year…hard to say, but I’m working on Macedonia,
and Bulgaria. I welcome any invitations for the Disciplines or me solo!
S: Are there any things, which
you are afraid of? Do you have any fears?
As a parent, I always fear I’m not doing enough, or that I am
doing things the wrong way…I want my daughter’s
life to be
incredible and rich and full of love. I try my best.
S: What is "the best mistake"
you've ever done?
Mistakes: many. So many, it’s hard to chose a best one!
S: What is the best moment and
the best place to listen to your music?
Well, I will always say: at our shows. I think we have worked hard to
make the vibe of the show very special…very high energy,
kind of safe violence…but, never angry or machismo, very
inviting and full of love.
my website is dedicated to Manic Street Preachers maybe can you say
some words about them?
saw them at Benicassim in 2001...I'm pretty sure that I opened for them
with the band Big Star...they sounded great but we had to catch our
flight to London...so we were driving away in the bus watching them out
the back window...maybe if you guys know them you can get them to take
us on tour!
decided not to take part on REM's 2008 tour in support of "Accelerate",
is it to concentrate more on The Disciplines ?
Actually, they are not taking a keyboard player this time...they are
going for a big guitar rock sound...I was mostly playing organ, piano,
samples, etc...so, it opened the opportunity for me to take the
Disciplines all the way.
S: I know it's a difficult
question, but if you would have to keep just one album from your CD
collection what album would it be?
Haha! I’d probably take my own solo album, Soft
I have so many memories from the people who worked on it with me.
S: What was the last song you
listened to before the interview? And, if you know, which one will be
Before the interview I listened to the mastering of a song my wife
recorded for a compilation of covers of the Posies (my longtime band in
the states, from before the Disciplines etc). I made some comments to
the mastering engineer for a few small changes. Now I’m
to an album by a band from Memphis called ‘Antenna
They have some songs in French, in fact…
S: Can you tell me the name of
one French song, or singer, or band?
Sure, I mean, I live here, you know? I am a real fan of Syd
Matters—in fact, I spoke with Jonathan, the singer, about
collaborating with the Disciplines on something, recently. I have
worked with a few people here in France—I did the string
arrangements for the new album by Cali, which is coming out in
February; I produced a band from Paris called Cheap Star; a band in
Toulouse called Palace of Sin; a singer from Paris called Mateo. I have
played bass and keyboards for a singer named Olivia Baum…etc
etc. So, I’m starting to integrate into France a bit.
S: And say something in French?
J’aime bien a manger des pieds porcs.
S: What are your plans for the
Finish the Disciplines album next month (Fevrier). Start working on
getting the record out in the different territories around the world.
Oh, and work on the cover art.
S: And finally, what's the most
important thing in life for you?
I really think that having a stable family, with my wife and daughter,
is what gives me the strength to do all the other things in life. And
it keeps me grounded to where my real priorities are.
MANY thanks to Ken Stringfellow and to The Disciplines for
More informations about The Disciplines:
- on the official website: http://www.thedisciplines.com
- on their Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/disciplines