Danish punk band Iceage emerged in 2008 as teenagers with a reputation for aggressive music and raucous live shows. Now, after four years away, the band has released Beyondless, its most expansive record yet: a poppy post-punk statement that channels a jazzier, tauter and brighter style without sacrificing the group’s trademark intensity. Speaking from his Copenhagen home, Iceage’s notoriously cagey frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt breaks down five facts about the record.
The album title, Beyondless, was inspired by Samuel Beckett.
“It’s from the poem ‘Worstward Ho.’ I was reading it when I was writing the album’s lyrics. Beyondless became a moniker for this situation where something [can’t hold together beyond a certain point]—it can’t go any further. Even though it’s an incorrect word and it doesn’t appear in the dictionary, it was the perfect one to apply to me.”
The more-traditional rock sound is new ground for Iceage.
“I don’t think our music is innovative. But it’s more soulful than the other garbage that manages to pull off [the same] influences. As long as you have a feeling that making music is taking you somewhere new, somewhere dangerous, you let whatever’s guiding you run free. I need to feel like I’m standing on untrodden territory.”
Making the album was stressful—and it sounds like it.
“It was a whirlwind. You’re pushing yourself into a space between desperation and creative blossom. You constantly have to shoot off the hip and make decisions fast. Creating a stress situation for yourself is the way to make the urgency manifest itself on the tape.”
It’s the first Iceage record with violin, saxophone, trumpet and trombone.
“That wasn’t what we set out to do initially, but as we were writing, we could hear those elements in the songs. They were asking for it.”
One song, “Showtime,” is about shooting yourself in the head.
“I started it with the song title, thinking, What in the world could this be about? The singer ends up shooting his brains out onstage. That was just something that rhymed. I couldn’t resist putting it in. I almost wish that I never gave it a conclusion—that nothing happened.”
Iceage plays Bowery Ballroom on May 16 at 9pm (boweryballroom.com) and Market Hotel on June 28 at 9pm (adhocpresents.com). $15–$17. Buy tickets.