INTERVIEW WITH JUNKYARD DRIVE GUITARISTS BEN HØYER AND BIRK
Date: May 4, 2019
Interviewer: Metal Mike
JUNKYARD DRIVE ARE REPORTEDLY KNOWN AS THE SLEAZE ROCK BAND EMANATING FROM DENMARK. THE DANISH ROCKERS HAVE ALREADY RELEASED ONE EP ‘JUNKYARD LUXURY’ (2014) AND TWO FULL-LENGTH ALBUMS, ‘SIN & TONIC‘ (2017) AND ‘BLACK COFFEE‘ (2018) WITH THE LAST TWO VIA THE RECORD LABEL MIGHTY MUSIC. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH JUNKYARD DRIVE GUITARISTS, BEN HØYER AND BIRK, TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT JUNKYARD DRIVE AND WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS FOR THE GROUP TO GET TO THAT ATTAINABLE BUT ELUSIVE NEXT LEVEL.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s up guys? How’s it going and what’s new?
Ben Høyer: It is going really good in the small Junkyard Drive camp. Right now, we have a lot of things going on. We are preparing for a third album to come in 2020, but because we like all of you guys, we don’t wanna let you wait until 2020 to hear new music from us. So this year, we are going to release some independent singles, so you don’t forget us [laughs]. This year also marks the year, where Junkyard Drive became a serious business and unfortunately we lost a bass player because of that. We spend a lot of time on this band and aim to go all the way — we aim for the stars — but [bassist] Tim [Meldal] couldn’t invest more time in Junkyard Drive right now. It’s sad, but we are fighting on and right now, we are looking for a new member to fill in the gap.
Sleaze Roxx: So let’s start with who does the band listen to, and what bands or albums have influenced your sound?
Birk: The obvious answer here, are Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. These are the legends we grew up with, and the bands we wanted to be as young musicians. So of course, this is the rock we learned to play ourselves. I also think that this is clear on our first release. But as we have grown older, we have now reached the point where we are establishing our own sound. It os obvious on ‘Black Coffee’ and no doubt that it is inspired by others, but we all get inspired. Right now, our favorite new rock band is Rival Sons. Damn, those guys are the greatest! ‘Feral Roots’ is an awesome record!
Junkyard Drive‘s “Way Too Long” video (from Black Coffee album):
Sleaze Roxx: Tell me about the band’s first album ‘Sin & Tonic.’ It was wonderfully raw and genuine. How did those songs develop over time, and are there any key moments about writing, recording or touring that stuck in your memory?
Birk: I think ‘Sin & Tonic’ is a simple record. At that point, it was straight forward songwriting and plain solid rock n’ roll. When we look back at the process of creating ‘Sin & Tonic’, the thing that shines the brightest is the short time we used in the studio. It’s remarkable how “easy” it was for us to play rock n’ roll together. And don’t take it the wrong way, we are not being arrogant. I think ‘Black Coffee’’ has better songs, but as we look back on our debut, we really like the rawness. It’s just plain rock n’ roll so our next record could be something in between the albums. Let’s see.
Sleaze Roxx: Following up on that, there was a story about Canadian pop star Justin Beiber booting you out of the studio at one point during the recording of ‘Sin & Tonic.’ Is that correct, and did that have an effect on the tracks you laid down afterward?
Birk: That’s right. We had to wait for Bieber to finish a recording session. We waited for six hours or something, before we could start recording. The next day, we had to work for 14 hours, since it was the last day in the studio and we had to make the finish, but we managed! But just to be fair, Bieber didn’t kick us out, Medley Studio got the offer to have Justin Bieber over for a recording session, so we did them a favour, and pushed our slot.
Junkyard Drive‘s “Geordie” video (from Sin & Tonic album):
“Geordie” is taken from the Junkyard Drive album “Sin & Tonic” to be released world wide (ex. Bickee Music in Japan) through Mighty Music on the 17th of Febr…
Sleaze Roxx: The second album ‘Black Coffee’ was described by Sleaze Roxx as “a more sober issue than ‘Sin & Tonic’, no pun intended.” ‘Black Coffee’ sounds like a progression for Junkyard Drive. What, if anything, changed for you between the writing and recording of the two albums?
Birk: ‘Black Coffee’ will be that record when we look back 20 years from now and say, “That was when we changed our songwriting. ‘Black Coffee’ is heavier and softer at the same time, so a little experiment we could call it. So I think that “what’s changed” is that we started to be more our self, and creating the “real” Junkyard Drive sound. I believe some would say, we are growing up [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: How has the reception been since the fall of 2018 with the release of ‘Black Coffee’?
Ben Høyer: The reception of ‘Black Coffee’ has been really good. All the critics have had so many good things to say about the album and how we have matured as a band and our sound. A lot of our Danish fans are also beginning to sing along to some of the songs, so I think that is a big approval from their side.
Sleaze Roxx: What are the band members’ favourite tracks from ‘Black Coffee’?
Birk: “Sucker For Your Love”, “Make Up Your Mind” and “Sweet Little Dreamer” are songs we play every time live!
Ben Høyer: “Sweet Little Dreamer” because it is so God damn ’70s epic and “Through The Door” because it shows a whole other side of our creativity.
Sleaze Roxx: I have to ask about the instrumental “See You Next Time” on ‘Black Coffee.’ Was that essentially an off-the-floor jam, or was it crafted? It isn’t like most “filler tracks” in the sense that there was thought put into it and it really does seem to showcase each band member’s individual talents.
Ben Høyer: “See You Next Time” was very much crafted. It was actually an old idea. I had been working in my basement studio. I showed the idea to the other guys and we began crafting the idea into the song, as it sounds on the album. But at first, it was supposed to be a really cool song with lyrics. But something wasn’t right when we began adding lyrics to the song, so we looked at each other and said, “Hey, what about just adding a bunch of cool solos and make it [an] instrumental.” A funny little thing — it is actually our producer Søren Andersen, who plays the last solo in the bridge of the song.
Sleaze Roxx: Junkyard drive were scheduled to tour with legends Diamond Head earlier this year in Austria, Italy and Spain. How did that turn out?
Birk: Well, that tour got cancelled three days before the start, because the agency filed for bankruptcy, so all our shows got cancelled at the last minute. On top of that, we lost the money we had paid them for transportation and everything, so we lost a lot of money we couldn’t get back. But you know what, that’s life. Of course it’s sad news, but instead of crying over it, we wrote four to five songs for the next album!
Sleaze Roxx: Heading into the 2019 festival season, your website says you’re booked for Nordic Noise and a couple of others. I’d be interested to know if you prefer the festival stage or more intimate club dates?
Birk: I’ll say festivals. The stage is bigger, and we have to win the audience over. That’s a great challenge. Of course, the clubs are cool, no doubt, but you can play louder, and get a more complicated set up on festivals. On top of that, there is also a lot of “new” people at festivals, that don’t know our music.
Sleaze Roxx: It seems like the European sleaze style is expanding. At one point about ten years ago, it was all about Sweden. But your native Denmark has been impressive recently, with Volbeat leading the way, Black Oak County, Statement, Suckerpunch, and my current favourite guitarist/producer Søren Andersen. What’s in the water over there?
Birk: That’s a good question, but probably there is a lot of good “rock” minerals in the water [laughs]. I believe that when there is a lot of success and focus on a specific thing, it benefits the whole industry. So I think that we have a long and strong tradition for quality rock here in Denmark. And with the growing success, a higher number of the bands come out of the shadows, and the young musicians also get to believe that it is possible to make a living from music, if you are good enough, and then you see more bands on the international scene.
Sleaze Roxx: Feedback from Sleaze Roxx readers prove you have fans in North America. There are lots of people over on this side who are desperate for your European style of sleazy hard rock, but there are also bands like Canada’s Danko Jones that spend more time in Europe than at home. Why do you think that is? Any chance we could see Junkyard Drive on this side of the pond anytime soon?
Birk: I don’t know. Europe is great regarding the rock scene, and we have a very dedicated audience in Europe. That makes it fantastic to perform live. Hopefully, we will tour North America soon, but unfortunately, we don’t have anything planned. So if you, or any of the Sleaze Roxx readers have any good suggestions, or have a job for us, it would be very welcomed.
Sleaze Roxx: How about five random questions… Would you care to respond to the Gene Simmons statement “Rock is dead”?
Birk: So was Nikki Sixx, but he came back to life! Greta Van fleet, Rival Sons and Junkyard Drive are proof that rock n’ roll is not dead.
Sleaze Roxx: Van Halen — Sammy or Dave?
Sleaze Roxx: Have you had a chance to watch the Mötley Crüe bio ‘The Dirt’?
Birk: Yeah! Six times! I’ll read the book next week, if you see ‘The Dirt’ as a comedy movie, it’s awesome!
Sleaze Roxx: Is Greta Van Fleet a Led Zeppelin rip-off band, or do they have real talent?
Birk: [There’s] no shame in being compared to the greatest band ever is there? I love Greta. I love Zeppelin. Greta is a great band. Those guys are going to be the next big thing. They write great songs. Give them a couple of albums. We sounded like AC/DC on our EP, and like Guns N’ Roses on ‘Sin & Tonic.’ So no, I don’t think they are a rip-off. They are just inspired, which is nice, and no matter what, they’ve got talent!
Sleaze Roxx: Canadian band Kick Axe once said, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” Yes or no?
Sleaze Roxx: Finally, is there anything I’ve missed you’d like to share about Junkyard Drive?
Birk: We have started writing new music, and it’s awesome. I think at this point we are halfway done. And we are planning on releasing a single or two in the last half of 2019, and a new album in 2020.
Thank you to Junkyard Drive’s manager Martin Larsen for facilitating the interview.
Junkyard Drive‘s “Sweet Little Dreamer” video (from Black Coffee album):
Junkyard Drive – “Sweet Little Dreamer” is released on the 8th of June 2018 on all digital platforms worldwide through Mighty Music.”Sweet Little Dreamer” is…
Junkyard Drive‘s “Sucker For Your Love” video (from Black Coffee album):
“Sucker For Your Love” is taken from the Junkyard Drive album “Black Coffee” released worldwide by Mighty Music. Order at www.targetshop.dkwww.mightymusic.dk…
Junkyard Drive‘s “Pauline” (from EP Junkyard Luxury):
EP OUT NOW!!! http://open.spotify.com/album/2hBd93tlo66zUbnXDhGEnpThis is the official music video for the song ”Pauline” by Junkyard Drive. It is the debu…