Thursday, November 11, 2010

Radio Days vol. 3

After a long absence, which I hope made everybody's hearts grow even fonder, it is time to revisit my past once again. I started working at Radio Ung when I was 13 and depended on buses or a very kind father taking me back home, my voice was breaking, my hair was at the beginning stages of a mullet, and I had started looking at my mother's guitar, really wanting to learn how to play it. I was there when they closed their doors in 1990 - at which point I had turned 18, my voice was deeper, I was driving, my hair was long, and I was playing in a band myself - albeit sporadically. Those five years shaped me immensely, and much of that started with the chance encounter that got me involved in Radio Ung.

But enough generalities... As I think I wrote last time, I started working with Jon Inge Lund - and our engineer was Steinar Stjerna for a while, then Geir Gautvik took over. Our information came mainly from magazines like Kerrang! and Metal Hammer, although I have to admit that I did collect quite a few issues of the Swedish music magazine Okej, which seemed to feature Kiss in at least every other issue. I will have to get back to Kiss in a later post, because Kiss happened to be the only band I ever listened to from 1980 to about 1984/85, and I still have a connection to them and their music. However, due to Okej being very Kiss-centered, information about other band started filtering in: WASP, Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister, Scorpions, and other bands from the more glam-filled scene that at that point was labeled heavy metal (I think the discussion of what was metal then based on todays standards becomes rather ridiculous, as it was hard to imagine too many of these bands getting any airplay on traditional radio stations until Twisted Sister released I Wanna Rock and We're Not Gonna Take It from Stay Hungry - because it was considered metal). Later on, the literature was enhance by me purchasing The International Encyclopedia of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, which was a goldmine for lineups and discographies. It is hard, in the age of Allmusic and Wikipedia, to imagine how hard it was to get information about bands and their music - so the metal radio shows really played an important role in discovering new music and getting information about the bands and artists.

As time went by, Flazz lost Jon Inge to the army (Norway has conscription, so he had one year of military service to do), and when he returned, his involvement was reduced to Balladehjørnet (the ballad corner), which was a segment dedicated to power ballads. In the meantime, Flazz changed name twice - first to Metal Rendez-Vous, named for an album by Swiss band Krokus, then to Madhouse, with the Anthrax classic played in the intro - and it was expanded from 30 minutes to a full hour. There was also an assortment of people coming and going during this period, including both Jan Are Hansen and Geir Saanum. However, Jon Inge finally found his way back, along with Ståle Gundersen, and the three of us were essentially the final lineup of Madhouse, a show that had started up as Flazz five years or so earlier (I have to admit I am sketchy on part of the history before I started - and even during my time there, my memory is like a Swiss cheese).

When the name changed to Madhouse, the character of the show also changed. At that point, our tastes had expanded, so we decided to have a broader approach to our show than just metal - so we became a rock show instead. I have to confess that the main reason for this was to be able to play songs by U2, whom all three of us really loved. This was in the days following The Joshua Tree and leading up to Rattle and Hum - and I still remember the anticipation felt when I went to the movie theater to watch Rattle and Hum. It was an oddity for the late 80s, as the music film for the silver screen was a dying breed at that point. I had seen Hal Ashby's Let's Spend The Night Together about The Rolling Stones, and I caught (This Is) Spinal Tap when it was released (although most of the humor went over my head at that time - but now it is among my favorites). Ståle, Jon Inge, and I had several memorable moments, but I think the one that stands out is when we had an all-night special at the end of 1989, celebrating the decade in rock. I still remember laying out records on the studio floor based on what year they were released, selecting songs from each of them, working our way chronologically from 1980 to 1989.

In addition to Flazz/Metal Rendez-Vous/Madhouse, I was also involved with Bjarne, which was a humor show with long, drawn-out skits about close to nothing. It was always reporters talking about some nonsensical local issues, such as making one of the steepest hills in Trondheim into a skateboarding ramp - or a skit about a reporter at a wine-tasting event, getting more and more drunk, with the names of the wines getting more and more creative - and harder and harder to pronounce.

But in 1990 it was all over. Radio Ung was over and done with. I did follow some of the people from Radio Ung over to NB Radio - NB being Norges Blindeforbund (Norwegian Association for the Blind), doing both Bjarne and a magazine format Sunday night show, mainly focusing on cultural events (and I was doing record reviews). But by the time I graduated high school in 1991, I thought all my radio days were gone for good. NB Radio wasn't as fulfilling as Radio Ung had been - the family feeling was all gone, as we now were the newcomers - and I wasn't doing Madhouse anymore, which had been my home for five years.

Of course... there is some music to be played as well... Here is Anthrax with Madhouse:

My favorite moment from Rattle and Hum has to be Exit - which I think is a criminally overlooked song from The Joshua Tree.

And since I mentioned Spinal Tap, here is one of the many highlights from that movie as well!