Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Dark Knights

event Iceage-CREDIT GriffinShotDanish punks, Iceage, prove their valor one aggressive anthem at a time

Iceage isn’t Bruce Wayne multiplied by four, per se. The bandmates don’t lead double lives. They don’t wear protective suits with built-in abs. And they certainly don’t have capes blowing in the wind behind them (if they did wear capes, they’d be sweat-matted and sticking to their skinny jeans).

The Copenhagen-bred twenty-somethings do, however, thrive in the darkness of their hard-hitting rock, instilling hope and admiration in fans, which includes the “Godfather of Punk” himself, Iggy Pop, who once spoke of Iceage in an ABC Radio interview: “It’s not easy to be that dark. A lot of people that try to express negative energy sort of just flail; they kind of come off like hamsters or something, where the more they try, the sillier it is.”

But every enigmatic and powerful hero also has a few nonbelievers, and in Iceage’s case, these are people who take Iggy Pop’s “negative energy” compliment in the opposite direction, scrutinizing not the actual music, but the band’s other artistic choices—like when they briefly sold switchblade knives with an Iceage insignia or donned cloth face masks with pointed hoods in the "New Brigade" video.

Asked how it feels when people focus on aspects of the band that have nothing to do with their music, guitarist Johan Wieth says, “Well, it’s a poor thing.” He doesn’t sound vehement. His tone is matter-of-fact, and his cadence is fluid, carrying words both candid and carefully chosen.

“A lot of people always talk about negativity in reference to us and what we do, and I think it’s actually a common misinterpretation because it’s not about negative emotion, it’s just about emotion,” he explains. “And then because your way of expressing yourself seems aggressive, the emotion itself must be something vile—I think that’s not true.”

It’s important to remember that Iceage is a group of childhood friends. Since kindergarten, Wieth knew Dan Kjær Nielsen (drums), Jakob Tvilling Pless (bass), and of course Iceage’s phenomenal frontman, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, who bares his soul with such a lack of inhibition, both sonically and physically when performing, that he’s often compared to Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. No, these friends don’t cultivate evil, Wieth reiterates when discussing his favorite part about being in Iceage. “I get to create something beautiful with people that I love,” he says. “And something meaningful, at least for the four of us.”

When paired with Rønnenfelt’s blaring yet lyrical language—introspective and self-defeating to an impressive degree—Iceage’s wild and volatile music resonates hard and quick, making all 28 minutes of the band’s sophomore record, You’re Nothing, released last February, “something beautiful.”

You’re Nothing’s bizarre beauty grows with each listen. Guitars get louder, drums roll with a startling acidity, and Rønnenfelt’s vocals become richer as they get raspier, as if he’s mastered how to sing without breathing. The disconnect one feels from one’s body and the subsequent desire to break free from it is a harrowing and breathtaking theme winding throughout You’re Nothing, captured most brilliantly halfway through the LP on the piano-laden “Morals” (“If I could / leave my body then I would / bleed into a lake / dashing away / disappear”). But then it all comes back to the title track itself and the repetition of the line “you’re nothing,” which, ironically, makes you want to be something. Suddenly Wieth’s earlier characterization of Iceage’s music makes total sense: “it’s not about negative emotion, it’s just about emotion.”

“I hope they think it’s really good music,” Wieth says of listeners. “I don’t know what it can do for them and what they want it to do for them. If it makes them happy, that’s great. If it makes them sad, that’s fine too—just if they feel something.”

So what does Wieth do to put himself in a good mood? “I drink a cup of coffee, have a cigarette, and watch a movie. That’s probably what makes me happy again,” he says. As you might have guessed, he takes his coffee black. 

Iceage performs at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $10/adv, $14/door. For more information, call 423-1338.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location