Notörious Interview

Date: April 19, 2023
Interviewer: Jerzy Nykiel
Photos: Courtesy of Notörious
Band Websites: Official Website, Facebook, Bandcamp

Although Notörious can still be considered newcomers on the glam metal scene, the working schedule of these four rockers based in the city of Bergen, Norway, is getting busier and busier. Switching between rehearsals before their gigs and work on the second album, they’re carefully considering the next steps and planning their first international show at Wildfest in Belgium in May 2023. One Saturday afternoon, all the band members, that is vocalist Chris Houdini, guitarist Nikki DiCato, bassist Andy Sweet, and drummer Freddy Kixx, took a long break from their rehearsal, at which they were forging what they call ‘true Norwegian glam metal’, to give the Sleaze Roxx readers the lowdown on all things Notörious.

Sleaze Roxx: How did you guys meet? How and when did Notörious start? 

Andy Sweet: Nikki and I met in another band, if you can call it a band at all. It was just real chaos, nothing serious really. The guys wanted to play everything from The Beatles to Judas Priest so we realized pretty soon that this was not working. In the end, we bailed out and started what was to become Notörious. Not long after that, we met Chris. I think this was in 2015 or 2016. Then we had a period when we were trying a lot of different drummers and at the same time we were looking for a bass player. We found Fredddy in 2018.

Freddy Kixx: It was Easter.

Andy Sweet: Right, Easter 2018. At that moment I was playing rhythm guitar and Freddy was going to be our bass player. It happened however that we had to get rid of another drummer and Freddy was like, ‘I want to play the drums since that’s my instrument, not the bass.’ As a result, we ended up with no bass player, but since we really wanted to play live, I picked up the bass and it worked out just fine.

Sleaze Roxx: So my understanding is that Notörious is the first real band for all of you, is that correct?

Andy Sweet: Yeah, I think so. Anything before Notörious, at least for me, was only jamming and nothing serious really.

Freddy Kixx: I played in what you can call a country band in the village I come from for some time. Then I moved here [to Bergen] and things started getting serious up to a point when playing in Notörious became the most important thing.

Nikki DiCato: I’ve been in bands since I was a teenager but it was nothing serious, just kids wanting to play in a rock band. Still we got to play some small festivals around here and do some gigs, but we were like 15-16 years old. But then came a reality check and the guys chose to do other stuff. Fortunately, Notörious turned out to be the real deal, where everything started to get really serious, where everyone in the band wants the same thing.

Sleaze Roxx: Where does the name of the band come from?

Nikki DiCato:  It was me who came up with the name and I suggested it to Andy. I’d been thinking about it for a long time, and it was inspired by Mötley Crüe.

Sleaze Roxx: Is the umlaut a nod to Mötley Crüe?

Nikki DiCato:  It is. When you read about Mötley Crüe, they often call themselves the most notorious rock band in the world. And I thought, notorious. That sounds pretty cool. There you have it.

Sleaze Roxx: How is the songwriting distributed in the band?

Nikki DiCato:  Usually I start with a riff, something I’ve been working on, and then I show it to Andy, and we try to work on it a little with the bass thrown in. If we find it decent, we show it to the rest of the guys. Then the collective work begins – we try to figure out the melodies and arrangement. Andy and I start to write some lyrics and then incorporate Chris to try to actually sing it because there’s a difference between writing the lyrics and actually singing them. Chis has to sing it and see if it works and make necessary adjustments. Yeah, that’s the songwriting process.

Sleaze Roxx: You released your debut album ‘Glamorized’ a few years ago and you’ve been playing those songs live for a while now. If you could travel back in time, would you change anything on your debut album?

Andy Sweet: Obviously, there are some things that we see now that could have been done differently, things we would have liked to add. But I still think it’s a good album. I like the songs and it’s the best we were able to do at that time. It was the first time we had been in the studio recording so we were not too familiar with the whole process. I think ‘Glamorized’ is representative of where we were at that time. Of course, a different thing is that the next album will be better and richer production wise. I think it’s a natural development for Notörious.

Notörious‘ “Friday Night” lyric video (from Glamorized album):

Sleaze Roxx: What was the concept behind the cover of ‘Glamorized’?

Andy Sweet: It was the Overhaus people who designed the cover. If truth be told, there wasn’t much of a reasoning process behind the cover. We wanted something that would capture the style of the music, something flashy. It was to have energy and it was to grab people’s attention.

Nikki DiCato: But at the same time, something simple enough to look good on t-shirts [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: It does look good.

Andy Sweet: There’s no deeper meaning behind it but we had a general idea of the design and I think we were quite lucky with it.

Sleaze Roxx: You have played all the tracks from the debut album multiple times live. Are there any songs that you think work better than others in the live setting?

Freddy Kixx: My favourite track, both on the album and when we play live, is “Run For Your Life”. We did it in one way in the studio, but when we play it in rehearsal or live, we do a lot more to it. It’s a great song, I think, and very cool to play live. It’s heavy and fast and there’s a lot going on there.

Nikki DiCato: If you look at the reactions of the people who come to our shows, they always love “Have A Good Time” and “Summer Nights”. It’s always fun to play those live because you get that response from the audience. When the fans join Chris and sing along, as they did at the Wig Wam show in March when we had 500 people in the audience sing those songs, it is incredible. Those tracks work great live because they’re catchy and they’re always fun to play live, especially in front of a great crowd. But if we look at our side of things, “Run For Your Life” is a great track to play live.

Chris Houdini: Yeah, it’s the most fun track for us to play live.

Sleaze Roxx: You haven’t made any videos yet. Are there any plans to make videos for the new album?

Nikki DiCato: We were actually in the process of making a video for one of the songs on ‘Glamorized’ but the process got stalled. In the end, we chose to wait and now that album is three years old. We’re going to do something for the next album. We have ideas for a video and we know who we’d like to work on a video with but we haven’t started anything yet.

Andy Sweet: Actually, one of the reasons why we haven’t made any videos despite all the plans and ideas is that we want our videos to look really good and then it means of course, it’s a lot more expensive and it takes a lot more time. We don’t want to do a cheap cell phone video. We didn’t feel that we had the resources to make the video that we think the songs deserve. We are a young band who have limited resources at this point so we have to prioritize the ways in which we use them.

Notörious‘ “Have A Good Time” video:

Sleaze Roxx: You’ve said many times that your next album is going to be heavier. Can you say something about the direction of the new songs on the second album?

Nikki DiCato: That album is going to be a little schizophrenic because it’s 50% our old style with easier songs like “Summer Nights” and “Have A Good Time” and then you have the other side, which is darker with some really heavy songs. It’s still heavy metal, it sounds like us, but it’s darker with darker lyrics and darker riffs. We have actually incorporated some growling vocals onto the album and we’re planning on trying to get some guests to sing on it. I feel this album is the first one where we’ve actually come into our own sound. The debut reflected the old glam style to a larger extent. Of course, it was us writing the songs and playing them but the new songs are more recognizable, it’s almost like a new genre [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: I’ve noticed that early on in your shows, you played some Mötley Crüe covers and then you switched to Deep Purple and ZZ Top covers, which you include nowadays. Does it mean that your ’80s influences are giving way to your ’70s influences?

Nikki DiCato: [Laughs] No, I don’t think so. We love all kinds of music, and that includes the early influences from the ’70s bands and all the glam bands from the ’80s. Still, we’re not a cover band. We play very few covers live so it’s always a hard decision which cover to choose. The bottom line is that we don’t really want to play cover songs, we want to play our own material.

Chris Houdini: With covers, you just have to try out a few different options and see what works. It turns out somehow that when we play Mötley Crüe, it sounds just like Mötley Crüe. But when we play “Smoke On The Water” [by Deep Purple] or “Tush” [by ZZ Top], we can put our own spin on it. We add something more to those songs than to Mötley Crüe tracks.

Sleaze Roxx: You played one show during the pandemic which was only streamed online. How did it feel to play to an empty room?

Freddy Kixx: Like a rehearsal [laughs]?

Chris Houdini: Yeah, it felt like like a rehearsal. Actually, when we’re rehearsing, we often dim the lights and switch on the stage lights right at the start. The difference was that there was a camera on during this pandemic show.

Nikki DiCato: We imagine we are in a full room during a rehearsal, complete with the audience. You know, we try to do everything that we do live. We run around the stage and go crazy. It’s important to get that feeling. If you get that feeling during a rehearsal, you’re going to get it live and the audience is going to notice it.

Notörious‘ “Flying High” video:

Sleaze Roxx: You’ve made quite a name for yourselves in Bergen and Norway thanks to frequent touring. Now you’ve got the first international show ahead of you at Wildfest in Belgium. Do you plan anything special for your gig?

Andy Sweet: It depends on how you interpret ‘special’. We’ll be playing for people we have never played for before. They are probably not so familiar with our material either. I think it will not be anything special for us as far as the music and the show go. That part will be pretty much the same. Of course, it will be special for us to play there for a new crowd. But the goal will be to do what we do here and do it hard. We are going to put on a great show. We improve our live performance every time we play so hopefully we will surprise the audience there a little. They don’t know what they’re in for [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: Recently, you won the competition for the support slot before the Wig Wam show. Was it the biggest show you’ve played?

Chris Houdini: Yes and it felt really good. We played for around 500 people who sang along with us. You could probably see the big smiles on our faces. That was amazing.

Nikki DiCato: We were really excited about it. We were about to meet the guys in Wig Wam and we didn’t know what to expect from the crowd. They were there to see Wig Wam too and we had no way of knowing whether they knew us and what kind of response we were going to get. Right before the curtain call, Chris and I looked out and saw 500 people getting ready to sing. Then it was showtime and adrenaline started rushing. I get goosebumps just talking about it now. Nothing beats that feeling so that was probably the coolest show yet. It was short and it felt even shorter but it was fun, really fun. We also think that our live shows are best on a bigger stage because we get to move around a lot. If you play a small stage in a bar, you don’t have any maneuvering space. You just have to stand in your place. It’s still fun, but it’s not the same. To have that freedom to run around the stage and connect with the audience is a different feeling. I think we’re supposed to be on a big stage [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: I think you are, as far as I know, the first glam metal band in Bergen, perhaps ever. Obviously there’s a local scene here with quite a few rock and metal bands. Have you had any support from other rock and metal bands on the local scene?

Nikki DiCato: We know a lot of people on the rock and metal scene in Bergen. And all those guys like what we do because they grew up with that style of music. The people who play in black metal bands have come to our shows and they love them. It’s cool for us as well because we like what they do too. We have received a lot of support from other acts.

Andy Sweet: I have a feeling that many people around here haven’t seen a band like us live yet. There’s some shock value in our shows for quite a few people. Sometimes people come up to us after the show and they’re like ‘I didn’t know this was what heavy metal sounds like, this is good, I liked it. I didn’t even know that I liked heavy metal, I thought it was just, you know, black metal. This is good music, we enjoyed the show.’

Sleaze Roxx: That’s a great point! It’s an important role for you to play perhaps because kids and teenagers nowadays don’t know much about metal or glam metal beyond the popular acts. It flies under their radar so your shows may really be an eye opener for them.

Andy Sweet: Yeah, they do get surprised. They often come thinking that it’s just some old-fashioned music but they often leave the show amazed. I think we are educating them a little bit [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans and readers of Sleaze Roxx?

Andy Sweet: We are very grateful for all our fans. We can see that we are getting more and more fans coming to our shows and supporting us and we are very grateful for this. It’s amazing and we love all of you guys because if it wasn’t for the fans, we would be just playing here alone for ourselves. We really need the fans and the other way round the fans need us. We are both dependent on each other.

Nikki DiCato: We have a new album coming up and we’re very proud of it. It’s going to be great. We promise [laughs]. We also want to tour the whole world. That’s the goal — to get our music out to all the fans around the world. We know there are a lot of fans in Europe and elsewhere so when the time comes, we’re ready.

Andy Sweet: Most importantly, we make music which we want to hear and which we are proud of. It’s an awesome feeling to see that the fans like our music too.

Sleaze Roxx: That was my last question to you. Thanks for taking the time and good luck with your shows and the new album.

Notörious‘ “Gunnerside” video: