“Christ man they’re the most rock and roll band here, and they don’t even have guitars.” This impression, first spouted by my half caked colleague at last year’s Sonic Visions festival in Luxembourg, goes a long way to summing up the band formerly known as Reptile & Retard. With their police scuffles and vigorous, almost nihilistic live sets, this might be one new artist worthy of the old and overused ‘rawk’ cliché tag.
Now known as Reptile Youth, band core Mads Damsgaard (Vocals) and Esben Valløe (Bass) have spent the last two years playing concerts everywhere from Tokyo to Berlin, they’ve toured China twice, and ‘did’ everything from small punk clubs to festivals like Roskilde and Iceland Airwaves.
The pair first met in childhood, the moment when their ‘ambivalent search for truth began’. “We went to school together and that moment just came,” Mads tells me. “To decide to put ourselves into a certain path, but it didn’t necessarily come overnight. I remember listening The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Neil Young with my dad as a child. We always sang along while doing the dishes together. That is where my musical interest started, with a dirty knife in my hand.”
Fast-forward to 2012, both are still clutching that knife, metaphorically at least, and harder than ever by the sounds of things. Both Mads and Esben have seen big changes since they first met and through the development of the band – however the philosophical ‘goals’ and visions for their music remain intact.
“Life is a fucking dream,” Esben expands. “From the day you get born from a stranger to the day you die. And this band is too, you’re kidding yourself if you think anything else. It’s been a strive for perfection – a perfect reflection of the war we have inside. It’s been a perfect improvisation and an almost true connection with the source of creation.”
Mads takes over: “Obviously we have changed. But we would have regardless. That’s maybe the only certain thing in life. It’s one big exploration of yourself and we are getting closer to the core. But at the same time we are still the same, we still have the same friends and still spend our Sundays watching Twin Peaks and listening to records.”
I quiz both about the decision to alter their original name, which consequently I thought genius. Was it perhaps too offensive? “Offensive to whom? To some British fascist radio? Maybe?” offers Mads.