INTERVIEW WITH DUCKWALK CHUCK FRONTMAN ARVID “MOTHÖRSEN” THORSEN
Date: August 1, 2021
Photos: Knut E. Dahle (first photo), B.E. Sørensen (last photo)
IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE BUT NORWEGIAN ROCKERS DUCKWALK CHUCK ARE ABOUT TO RELEASE THEIR FIFTH ALBUM ‘FIRED UP’ ON SEPTEMBER 17, 2021. THIS HARD HITTING BAND HAS BEEN FLYING UNDER THE RADAR FOR FAR TOO LONG DESPITE ITS QUALITY PRIOR ALBUMS CONSISTING OF ‘COMIN’ OUT BLASTIN’‘ (2004), ‘TOMBSTONE STOMP’ (2008), ‘REBEL‘ EP (2009) AND ‘HIGH SPEED CITY‘ (2017). DUCKWALK CHUCK CONSIST OF LEAD VOCALIST / BASSIST ARVID “MOTHÖRSEN” THORSEN, GUITARISTS HÅKON RØNNEBERG AND ARILD RETTORE, AND DRUMMER TORD EIKEN. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH THORSEN TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HIS NORWEGIAN BAND.
Sleaze Roxx: First and foremost, how did the original band members come up with the group name Duckwalk Chuck? Is it related somehow to Chuck Berry?
Arvid Thorsen: Yes, there’s a connection. We started out covering AC/DC and also playing more straight rock ‘n’ roll tunes, and as Chuck Berry started doing the duckwalk, the name Duckwalk Chuck was a homage to the man. We’ve taken a few duckwalks away from the straight rock ‘n’ roll over the year, playing a little heavier music, but the name stuck with us. And I’ll betcha there’s not another band around with the same name [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: You’re probably right on that [laughs]! How and when did the band form?
Arvid Thorsen: In 2001, [guitarist] Håkon H. Rønneberg met up with [former guitarist] Kjetel [Idland] and [former lead vocalist] Reid [“Burner” Gramstad] to form a band to play support for Backstreet Girls. They met me drunk out of my mind at a local bar and I proclaimed “I know ”74 Jailbreak’ on bass and know a drummer.” The following day, we met up and jammed some AC/DC. We did two support gigs for Backstreet Girls as an AC/DC cover band, but decided quickly that the only way to go is to compose music ourselves. It’s much more fun and rewarding.
Sleaze Roxx: There have been a few line-up changes over the years including you taking over the lead vocal duties. Can you take me through your various line-ups over the years?
Arvid Thorsen: People come and go, and not all break ups are clean cut. There’s been some gnashing of teeth and a few curse words connected to the break ups, but I’ll tell you this. We are now a four-piece powerhouse with a solid friendship and connection, and I see no reason why this line-up should ever cease to be. Me taking over the vocal duties was also by chance. We had an upcoming gig, with no vocalist. I had always stepped up to the mic at rehersals if the vocalist was gone, so I took a chance. The audience responded well, and we thought “Fuck it. Let’s go for a four-piece instead of five.”
Sleaze Roxx: There was an eight year gap between the releases of the EP ‘Rebel’ in 2009 and the album ‘High Speed City’ in 2017. Why the long gap between albums?
Arvid Thorsen: We had one of our line-up changes, as Kjetil Oliversen decided to become a pilot and moved to another part of the country. Arild Rettore was hired, and we started the process of making new tunes and were eventually ready to record. Our engineer at the time had a mobile studio, and we tried several places to record, but we had quite a few fallings out with him and it got delayed, put on pause, one of the members quit but rejoined a year later, and the bullshit never seemed to have an end. But we are resiliant, and very hard to kill, so we went to another studio and ‘High Speed City’ was a fact. Economy also plays a part, as recording is a costly pleasure.
Sleaze Roxx: You always have cool covers for your albums and the cover for ‘Fired Up’ may be your best one yet. Who came up with the ‘Fired Up’ cover and what’s the story behind it?
Arvid Thorsen: Ole Andre Hauge is our cover artist. He is an amazing artist, and I like to call him “our Derek Riggs.” He has made all our covers. The process started with me having an idea of continuing the cover from ‘High Speed City.’ At first, I thought of a drag race between the Duck and the Grim Reaper, but changed it to a street in the city. The idea was to fill the street with signs, posters and bars with hints to the band, much like ‘Somewhere In Time’ by Iron Maiden. Oli took the challenge and crushed it. The cover is beyond cool and then some! We are extremely happy with it.
Sleaze Roxx: I was going to say that there were some similarities with Iron Maiden’s cover for ‘Somewhere In Time’. How was it like recording ‘Fired Up’ considering that the world has largely been in “lockdown” for more than a year?
Arvid Thorsen: I’d say it was a most welcome breath of fresh air. Beeing locked down, you start to climb the walls, as there is nothing going on except rehersals. But rehearsing for what? It’s been a while since ‘High Speed City’, and we had the money for it, so why not? Arrangements were made, and the society let up a tiny bit, making it possible to enter the studio. Once again, we went to Bjørn Erik Sørensen at Artbeat Studios, and laid the tracks down in a couple of days.
Sleaze Roxx: You released two singles in 2018 [“Cold Hard Love” and “Nothing Left”] but those do not appear to have made it onto the album ‘Fired Up.’ What was the thought process there?
Arvid Thorsen: When gaining a new drummer, Tord Eiken, we wanted to have some tracks recorded with him behind the kit. We laid down these tracks and released them so that people would know we were still around. They were cut from the album due to the sound had changed, and we had enough material for a whole album anyhow. These two tunes will have to stand on their own, but they are big boys and will manage just fine [laughs].
Duckwalk Chuck‘s “Cold Hard Love” video:
Duckwalk Chuck‘s “Nothing Left” track:
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] What are the differences between ‘Fired up’ and your previous albums?
Arvid Thorsen: I think there is a distinct line in the sand between the first albums and ‘High Speed City.’ ‘Fired Up’ is a natural progression from the last album, and [guitarist] Arild’s contribution to the songwriting has also moved us in the direction we are now. The guitars ar not as “angry” as on ‘High Speed City’, but they pack quite a punch. The bass has also a warmer sound, and you can set a clock to the timing of Mr. Eikens’ drumming. The lyrics have always been a bit tounge-in-cheek, humourus, balls out and dedictated to good times rock ‘n’ roll, perhaps with the exception of “World On Fire.” That one is a little dark, but what the hell, it suits the song.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s obviously tough to promote a new album when a band can hardly play any gigs. What are your plans to promote ‘Fired Up’?
Arvid Thorsen: We’ve got to make use of the internet for what it’s worth, spreading the word, and hopefully the remaining people with a CD player in their car will buy a copy. We have also limited the first batch of LP’s to 100 numbered copies. As the world is being more and more digitalized, physical copies are harder to sell, but we won’t back down from a challenge, and will push the album harder than ever before.
Sleaze Roxx: I noticed that Duckwalk Chuck had a website at one point but it appears no longer active. Why is that?
Arvid Thorsen: Once again, facebook takes the win. The website was hardly visited, but the facebook page had frequent action. ‘Tis the way of the world. I might not like it, but I have to live in it.
Sleaze Roxx: How would you rank Duckwalk Chuck’s five albums and why?
Arvid Thorsen: Hmmm. Asking to choose between my kids? They’re all my babies, but… (1) ‘Fired Up’ — It has all come together with this one. (2) ‘High Speed City’ — Some of my favourite songs are on this album. (3) ‘Tombstone Stomp’ — A pleasure to record. Not too hapy about the vocals though. (4) ‘Comin’ Out Blastin” — Our first shady production, but it contains some good rockers. (5) ‘Rebel’ EP — Fucked up two marriages, but “Rock’n’Roll Hangout” is still on the setlist and a crowdpleaser [laughs].
Duckwalk Chuck‘s “Rock’n’Roll Hangout’ track (from Rebel EP):
Sleaze Roxx: What has been your favorite Duckwalk Chuck gig and why?
Arvid Thorsen: Fully packed venue at Tribute, our local stage is always a treat. That feeling when you hit that last note to a loud cheer from the crowd is priceless. But we never let down the energy no matter what. We played a gig in front of three people on a Wednesday afternoon, and they were sober. Didn’t matter. They were there for the show, and we played over an hour, and gave the audience records after the gig.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s the rock n’ roll scene like in Norway?
Arvid Thorsen: It’s doing alright. There are classic acts like Backstreet Girls and The Carburetors still going strong, and new blood like The Gasölines are coming through the mist. One always have to consider the ongoing pandemic, and I can’t wait to play and attend gigs again.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything that we have not covered that you’d like to mention?
Arvid Thorsen: Can’t really think of anything, except pop on over to cdbaby.com and purchase some fine, fine rock ‘n’ roll from Norway, or head over to our facebook page and see if we’ve still got a t-shirt suitable for your smashing body. You could be the belle of the ball / man of the hour sporting this outfit. Oh yeah, and mark the 17th of September and stream the hell out of ‘Fired Up’!
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you, what are your top three albums of all-time and why?
Arvid Thorsen: This is my personal choice at the time being, as this list changes depending on my mood, except for my number one. This has been my all-time favourite as long as I can remember. (1) Deep Purple’s ‘In Rock.’ What an album! What a tracklist! That sound! The attitude! It’s pure hard rock from beginning to end. All killer, no filler. And that change from the three first albums to this monumental masterpiece. It’s dirty, gritty and never lets down. Even the ballad rocks. (2) ZZ Top’s ‘ZZ Top’s First Album.’ The best blues tune in the world is on this album — “Just Got Back From Baby’s.” That solo! And the sound of Frank Beard’s drums on the first three albums is beyond tight. (3) Motörhead’s ‘We Are Motörhead.’ Yes, “Ace of Spades”, “Bomber” and “Overkill” are classics, but this gem from 2000 is one of their finest moments. “See Me Burning”, “Stay Out of Jail” and “One More Fucking Time” are classics in my book.
Duckwalk Chuck‘s “Drive” video (from High Speed City album):