We owe you one Steven Frisco
This is it! Black Snakes are dead. Rat Miller is the band, in case there was any doubt. Although the band has changed its name; this is considered for a new start. The debut album is Electric Heartache, but the history goes way back. Let’s take a walk on the memory lane.
Black Snakes was founded in 2007 by Roger Henriksen and Aleksander Kronstad. The first months they met at home in their appartments and wrote songs. Late 2007 Thomas W. Riis and Ronny Skumsvoll joined as drummer and bass player. They had earlier been playing with Henriksen in Gaypiraya and Senior Citizens in Drammen from 2002 to 2005. Kronstad wanted to bring along a new guitarist, his old Konnerud-buddy and room-mate Asbjørn Bjørge, who had been with Kronstad in Hutchinson, another Drammen 2004 act. When Bjørge joined Black Snakes he played lead guitar.
The first rehearsal room was located above Hauk Sport in Tollbugata in Drammen. The neighbors wasn’t too happy about it and the band got kicked out in December 2007. Three months went without having any place to stay. In March or April 2008 however, the new rehearsal hotel G60 at Union started to fill up their new rooms with local bands and Black Snakes got in.
2008 was a year of preparing, wanting to give a good first impression. Their first gig was in November, a sold out local evening at Union Scene. Minor touring in 2009 led to a glamorous meeting when Black Snakes was support for New York Dolls. This was in April 2010, a month before releasing their debut album If You Can’t Do The Mamba, Don’t Dance. The release gig was Riis’ last show and Dani Aspedokken stepped in halfway in the set. The album was recorded in their own rehearsal room and their lack of experience in studio and sound engineering was noticeable. However, they got a lot of attention for this release which led to two China tours in both 2011 and 2012. Before the 2011 tour Skumsvoll quit the band and Morten Pedersen, another Hutchinson guitarist, joined playing bass.
In 2012 Kjetil Voldhaug started playing keys for Black Snakes, and he joined the 2012 China tour. Voldhaug was bass player in Hutchinson, but plays various instruments. Now nearly all Hutchinson members were reunited. The road after 2012 was rather bumpy. After Aspedokken quit the band late 2012, they arranged an audition to get a new drummer. Several good candidates tried. David Smith was one of them. In 2013 he joined the band and the work for the second album could officially start.
In February 2014 Black Snakes contacted Roar Nilsen in the Oslo based Parachute Studios. They had earlier been working with him for the China 2012 Apocalypse Tour EP. This was a good experience, and the band was eager to continue this good relationship. They engaged Nilsen to be their producer for the upcoming album. As we all know things went well, but in this process Black Snakes died and was reborn as a Rat. Mr. Rat Miller.
First of all, you would’t have been reading this if the album sessions hadn’t been successful. But Electric Heartache has been a challenging process. Unofficially they started the work back in 2012. Due to many replacements of band members the process of writing and making progress was a struggle. Four members had been replaced and all newcomers needed some time to settle and be comfortable. In this period the band toured a lot and this gave little time for songwriting, and they didn’t have enough time for propulsion. In 2013 they decided to take a calm year, and get their new drummer David Smith warmed up. New songs found their way to the rehearsal room and about 20 songs were arranged. Pre-prod was recorded at G60 and in their own rehearsal room.
Many songs have had different versions and titles. When Roar Nilsen from Parachute Studios met the band at their rehearsal room, he started to give feedback – suggestions to improvements and adjustments, but emphasizing that it was all the band’s choice. The feedback was an important breakthrough for deciding the arrangement for each song.
In May 2014 things were ready enough to start recording. The album was recorded over a large period of time, but Nilsen held the strings and found the sound you hear on the album.
By the time the album was finished recording, the band decides that they want to change their name. A few hundred suggestions was proposed and many discussions followed. In January 2015 they decided on Rat Miller. Rat Miller is based on their photographer friend Morten Espeland’s social character. Espeland have had this name for some years on social media and in public attendances.
Rat Miller is a character you can both love and hate at the same time – somehow your best and worst friend.
When the recording finished in November Nilsen had several suggestions for mixing and mastering the album. He had earlier been working with Nick Terry who happens to be located in the same building in Mølleparken in Oslo. Terry have several famous band in his discography like The Libertines, Ian Brown, Turbonegro and Rumble In Rhodos. His touch was important to bring the details forward. Nilsen wanted to try a new mastering connection and hocked up with Brian Lucey in Los Angeles. Lucey at Magic Garden Mastering is famous for his work for The Black Keys, The Arctic Monkeys, Marilyn Manson etc. His touch made the details shine and his versions was immediately approved. This was it!
The future? Well, there’s no doubt that producer Nilsen and Rat Miller has created an awesome album that should be able to stand out in the crowd. They will definitely get new listeners and everything can happen. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t listen to Electric Heartache right now.
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