In a perfect world, there would be a tribute statue erected in Norway with the likeness of Yum Yums front man Morten Henrikson. For years he’s been strumming away writing and performing glowing pop songs, just the way the Norse God of pop songs intended. Songs that are so jam packed with guitar hooks and genuinely heartfelt lyrics that you instantly feel a connection with them. Sometimes I feel like maybe that's why bands like The Yum Yums aren't as popular as they should be; it's almost too emotionally “real” for most people to take. That's why all these disconnected theatrical rock star puppets rule the airwaves. So where is this Norse God of pop songs and why isn't he striking down all of these fraudulent poets of musical swill you ask? Why he's too busy writing songs for his band The Yum Yums!
Interview by Jay Castro
What is the origin story of your band Morten? I know you have had a lot of people come and go, but with the original line up: how did you all meet and decide to form a band?
The Yum Yums was my idea from the start. My former garage band The Cosmic Dropouts had just broken up and I wanted to start a light hearted pop-band with punk energy to stand up to all the grunge, black metal and "beats per minute" crap that was out there in 1993. I wanted a band like Paul Collins Beat, The Barracudas, The Real Kids and of course The Ramones, plus more "modern" bands like The Queers, Psychotic Youth (Swe), The Vacant Lot and Sonic Surf City (Swe). A band like The Devil Dogs was also a HUGE influence. Still is! I basically recruited guys I knew were into the same music I was, regardless if they were "good" musicians or not.
As a kid, do you remember what band or musician made you want to pick up an instrument and want to write your own music?
Yep: The Monkees were my favorite band when I was 4. My mom bought me Monkees singles after we watched The Monkees TV show. Later I got obsessed with the British glitter and glam pop wave of the early 70's. Slade, Sweet, Suzy Quatro, Gary Glitter, Mud… you name it! They were all gods! Then Kiss, The Ramones and punk rock. Later I started digging backwards for ‘60's garage rock, surf, girl groups and bubblegum, even 50's Rock N' Roll, R & B and rockabilly.
What is life like for a power pop band in Norway? Are there some other similar bands to play with out there right now?
We have actually been pretty much alone, doing the kind of Ramones-y power-pop that we do. Norway is such a small country, so the bands we like to play with and hang out with are bands of various genres. Lately some new punk / power pop bands have turned up, though like Sugar Louise, The Promdates, The Whipshades, The Hallingtons. Other bands to check out would be Peter Berry and The Shake Set (‘60's beat), Los Plantronics (spaghetti-instrumental), Gringo Bandido (Intense Greg Cartwright-style pop rock).
On the new album …Play Good Music, the subjects of the songs run a full emotional spectrum of relationships, everything from being happy in love to being happy without it. Are all of these songs about the same person or are you able to look back and tap into emotions from your past?
The angry bitter and hateful songs are mostly about my ex girlfriend Caroline (of Caroline & The Treats), who had dumped me right when I was writing the lyrics for the album. Not a happy time, but good for inspiration I guess. The happier songs are either written before the breakup, or are about what life and love could or should be like in a perfect world. The album is actually still kind of hard for me to listen to. Oh well… these days I am writing songs for the next Caroline & The Treats album, which I also will record and produce. She writes her own lyrics though.
Aside from the obvious power pop influences, the song on the new album “And a Whole Lot of You” has an almost Motown intro like “Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops. Are you a fan of Motown and groups like these?
There are a lot of different influences on the album. The main influence for “And A Whole Lotta You” is however bubblegum pop. No particular song. But I am of course a fan of the Motown stuff and bands / artists like that too. There were a lot of Motown influences in Bubblegum music too.
Although Yum Yum’s lyrics aren’t always happy and sunny the music that accompanies them usually is. Do you have any music that you put on when you’re down about something that can brighten up your mood?
Any Rock And Roll, baby! All kinds! As long as it rocks!
Where are the best places for people to hear or buy your music?
Anywhere we play, I guess. My favorite place to play is always at the Wurlitzer Ballroom in Madrid. We have a fantastic, faithful gang of fans there. Always a party! Where to buy our records? Any well-stocked records store, iTunes Store, or directly from me: firstname.lastname@example.org
What does the band have in store for us in the near or not so near future?I have written A LOT of new Yum Yums songs, and we are planning to record a new album this summer / fall for release later in the fall. I guess I need to find another girl who can break up with me, so I can get the lyrics going. Lyrics are always a hassle! I hope we can release a new single shortly. I wrote a summer-song last summer called "Summertime Pop". It's about guys who spend their days and nights indoors playing their "Perfect Summer 45's" instead of going to the beach.