Two girls from Norway's Artic Circle, two guys from sunny California - GUARDS OF METROPOLIS - have combined influences from the laid-back northern reaches of Scandinavia with America's frantic west coast for their stunning debut album, "Alligator," out August 14 (Slackertone).
Produced by guitarist Charles Normal late last year primarily in the band's adopted hometown of Portland, OR, "Alligator" is a fistful of driven rock and roll riffs tempered by the layered harmonies that Scandinavian groups are famous for. Vocalist Kristin Blix's lyrics filter the American experience through a foreigner's eyes, from the vacuous hangers-on the band encountered while recording their demos in Hollywood, to such U.S. cultural "icons" as Jerry Springer and Molly Hatchet. Musically, think Garbage, Elastica, ABBA meets AC/DC.
The 13 songs on "Alligator" tackle diverse topics - "Perfect World" begs the question, "Have humans evolved FROM or INTO animals?" "Don't Wanna Be Like You" was inspired by a certain million-selling rock star who constantly complains that he doesn't like the spotlight and whines about having to do promotion and interviews, while burlesque, mental illness, Ken Kesey and The Andrews Sisters pretty much sum up the inspiration behind "Postcards from Heaven." The tongue-in-cheek song "Exhole" benefits from lyrical suggestions by actor Keifer Sutherland and songwriter/producer Jude Cole, as well as the rhythmic scratching sounds of the band's dog Cloee.
The four members of Guards of Metropolis -Blix/lead vocals, Normal/guitar and vocals, Silver Serenson/bass and vocals, and drummer Jason Carter - first got together in an abandoned chocolate factory on the outskirts of Oslo, Norway while a furious blizzard raged outside. Within three months of their first string of European concerts, the band left the Old World behind them for a 50-date U.S. tour. Their melodic pop/rock sound, confrontational lyrics and intense live performances quickly amassed industry attention, an ardent public response, and terrific critical reviews - L.A. Weekly cited the band's "accomplished songwriting and stylized sonic flamboyance, rare among today's club fodder."
All four band members have interests outside of Guards of Metropolis; Jason Carter build schools for underprivileged children in Viet Nam, some 300 of Kristin Blix' oil and acrylic paints have been on exhibit at Portland's largest and oldest gallery, Silver Sorensen is a part-time music teacher and Norwegian music folklorist, while Charles Normal is an avid collector of audio recordings from the 1930s. Both Carter and Normal also play in Frank Black's band and will be touring Europe with him this Summer. Guards of Metropolis will hit the road in August in support of "Alligator." Tour dates will be announced shortly.