It’s a story of friendship. It’s a story of evolution. It’s a story of rock’n’roll. For over a decade now, Audrey Horne have been defying the superficial nature of current musical trends and celebrating their own dedication to the world of overdriven speakers and life-affirming rushes of adrenalin. Formed in Bergen back in 2002, this vibrant quintet have been a force for musical good, continually reinventing the hard rock wheel and hurling every ounce of energy and passion into composing and performing some of the most thrilling and infectious rock anthems of recent times.
The original Audrey Horne line-up made an immediate and lasting impact with their first two albums, No Hay Banda (2005) and Le Fol (2007), skilfully redefining the hard rock formula to include a touch of melancholy, a hefty dose of dark grandeur and a vast amount of attitude and class. But it was the Norwegians’ third, self-titled album – released in 2010, after some significant line-up changes – that truly cemented their reputation as contemporary guardians of the spirit of classic rock, via a dazzling armoury of gleaming anthems that also transformed the band into an evermore powerful and irresistible live act. By the time Audrey Horne arrived at their fourth full-length, 2012’s Youngblood, they had finally nailed their definitive sound, gaining new momentum and energy along the way.
“Before we started recording Youngblood, we came to a point where there was so much to do and stuff that became like business rather than pleasure!” says frontman Toschie. “People start talking about our music and how it would be good for us to have a radio hit and all that. We just wanted to get back that good feeling of being in a band. When we started writing the material in our rehearsal space, instead of on laptops at home, all of a sudden we started writing slightly different music. Espen [Lien], our bass player, heard the riffs that Arve [Isdal, guitarist] and Thomas [Tofthagen, guitarist] were coming up with and he said ‘Fuck! That’s awesome!’ We’d worry that something sounded a bit too much like a certain band or whatever, but he’d say ‘Fuck that! It’s a great riff! Let’s use it!’ So we got back that ‘fuck it!’ attitude and rolled with it.”
If Youngblood was the dawning of a new era in the Audrey Horne story, then brand new album Pure Heavy is the blossoming of that newfound confidence and determination. An exhilarating powerhouse of timeless melodies, glorious riffs and fizzing inter-band chemistry, it is not only the strongest album Audrey Horne have created to date, but also a thrilling shot across the bows of all the other bands in today’s scene that are attempting to breathe new life into the classic rock blueprint. Audrey Horne have the songs, the style, the attitude and the fire to decimate any and all opposition. They also have diversity and bravery in huge quantities, resulting in everything from the thunderous bluster of album opener Wolf In My Heart and the scorching pulse of Volcano Girl through to the rumbling party vibes of Tales From The Crypt and the arena rock headrush of Waiting For The Night. This is rock’n’roll at its purest and most invigorating, but with a mesmerising production sheen that makes every last note, riff and melody thrum with grandiloquence and grit.
“We were all really proud of Youngblood, so we wanted to do the same thing and record everything live again, but this time we wanted to produce it a little more,” Toschie explains. “We wanted it to be not just the five of us playing in a room like it was last time. As much as I love albums that have a live vibe, there is a difference between a live show and an album. On an album you have the opportunity to do something a bit grander, something larger, so we kept it in the same spirit as the last album, but used the opportunities more. We’re all really proud of it!”
With typical panache, Audrey Horne have given the new album a title that sums up everything that they believe in, while also giving a knowing wink to their own musical upbringings. Pure Heavy is the title and it says it all.
“People said ‘You’re gonna call it Pure Heavy? That’s the cheesiest title ever!’” laughs Toschie. “And yeah, it sort of is… ha ha! We know that! But it came because when people would ask us as kids, ‘What kind of music are you into?’, we’d always say ‘heavy!’ Nowadays people say they’re into metal, but back then when we were kids we used to say we were into ‘heavy’! People in the Bergen metal community started using that term again, just for fun, and so that became the theme and a running joke in the studio. One day Espen said ‘Maybe that’s the title of the album? Heavy…or pure heavy!’ and we laughed about it, but in the end we thought ‘Maybe we should just call it that?’ We play straightforward hard rock and we’re pretty straightforward people. We’re not gonna pretend we’re something we’re not, so it’s Pure Heavy. Is it cheesy? Whatever! Ha ha!”
Primed and ready to launch their most powerful assault yet on the hearts, minds and ears of the world’s legions of heavy rock fans, Audrey Horne are reaping the rewards of their dogged devotion to the rock’n’roll cause. Pure Heavy looks certain to enable them to reach many more people than ever before, and with a grand collective enthusiasm for hitting the road and taking these amazing songs to the masses, it now seems highly probable that Audrey Horne will soon be propelled to the rock world’s upper echelons, which is exactly where they have always deserved to be. Best of all, as Toschie concludes, this band are enjoying their lives as musicians, friends and servants of rock’n’roll more than ever before. The future looks bright. The future looks pure heavy.
“We’ve been doing this for 11 or 12 years now and it’s been a slow ride at times,” he states. “But what we hope for is that it just keeps going in the right direction. We want to get a little bigger, do more stuff that we want to do and play more places that we haven’t played. I remember one of the first interviews we did, we were asked ‘What are your ambitions as a band?’ and Arve said ‘World domination!’ That’s what everyone says, right? But now we don’t have to aim for that. We just want to make sure that we’re enjoying it and having fun along the way. If you make yourselves available for stuff, things happen and you’ll have a bit of luck. Everyone wants a bigger audience, but you make music to be creative and make records that you’re proud of. We love doing this and we always have a great time. That’s what it’s all about, right?”
Dom Lawson, 2014