And here we go again: barely six months after Trygve Mathiesen treated us to BANNED IN THE UK: SEX PISTOLS EXILED TO OSLO 1977 (Melhus Communications AB: www.begeistring.no/), comes the sequel, SID'S NORWEGIAN ROMANCE: SEX PISTOLS EXILED TO TRONDHEIM 1977.
Given the response that our first round generated -- hence, the re-posting of our 11/28/10 chat -- it seemed only logical and natural to follow up with him for round two, which we did on 4/8/11, via the magic of email. EXILED TO TRONDHEIM profiles the events leading up to, and during, the Sex Pistols' other Norweigan gig on their summer '77 Scandinavian tour -- which occurred on 7/21/77, at the Studentersamfundet.
As Mathiesen's equally meticulous research details, this gig had a totally different vibe from the previous night's outing at the Pingvin Club. One major reason is the presence of Teddie, a teenage witness who spent 40 hours with the band's troubled bassist, Sid Vicious -- revealing a different side than the cartoonish "See-Daffy-Duck-before-he-blows-up" caricature that's commonly associated with him.
Teddie has a few more things to say on the subject, as we'll see in due course. This book gives you a really good feel for a rock band's life on the road, which one thing I like about it -- what you'll read here is worlds apart from the romance often associated with the enterprise. Poignant and painstaking, I wish more books lived up to this standard set here...needless to say, if you've gotten this far, you're probably going to get it. Don't let the exchange rate stop you! Thanks to Tryg for his answers, as well as getting Teddie Dahlin [who's since written her own book, A VICIOUS LOVE STORY, about the affair] to shed light about her role (hence, her answers are in bold red test, to help them stand out)...now enjoy the ride. And note the new photos, while you're at it!
CHAIRMAN RALPH (CR): As your intro mentions, you weren't planning to do another Sex Pistols book. What changed your mind, beyond the mass of photos and anecdotes that popped up?
TRYGVE MATHIESEN (TM): We wanted to do an exhibition in Trondheim with their pictures and some from Oslo, to get publicity there because we realized that the press in Trondheim wasn't interested in the Pingvin book itself, because they had had their own show. I thought that the high number of audience members in Trondheim would indicate that there had to be at least as many unpublished pictures in Trondheim as in Oslo. So we started to map down the audience, and a lot of the kids who'd been there told us - totally unsolicited - stories from the night.
So we figured we could bring these stories (and pictures) into an extended e-book version of the Oslo book, like 'Exiled to Norway,' instead of Oslo. But it was when I got in touch with Teddie that I realized I had a great story of internal frictions and unformal behaviour, as she spent 40+ hours with the band, and got the best memory of them all! So I tried to convince my publisher to release it as a separate book, but he was very skeptical until we found a sponsor to help us financially.
CR: EXILED TO TRONDHEIM strikes a different tone from its predecessor, at least to me - less sociopolitical commentary/analysis, and more exposition of the basic details. Having traveled to play gigs myself, I could relate to that stuff, which humanizes the band. I love the photo of the boys eating pizza outside - just being "normal folks"! Was that a conscious decision on your part?
TM: Well, the book turned out that way, because of the stories Teddie told, and the fact that the band had a day off, as that covered up for the lack of press conference or whatever. My favourite picture is the one [of] Paul's holding Sid's record in a plastic bag so he can eat his ice cream. They walked in the city, and luckily we got hold of some of the pictures that were taken when they were 'off-duty'. But I guess there exist even more from that day off... Since I had done the analyses in the first book, I needn't do them once again, I could concentrate on getting the narratives in a chronological order.
CR: How you did find Teddie Dahlin, whose recollections play such a crucial role in the narrative? Where is she now, and do people know about her encounter with the band?
TM: Yeah, she's totally crucial, and as the biggest paper in Trondheim, "Adresseavisa" points out, Teddie IS the book. All the other individual experiences and stories are necessary to frame it all, but of course, she is the big diff! I'm not sure what it matters for the development in music or change in Western lifestyle in general, but it is a source for breaking down some myths about Sid and the rest of the bunch.
TEDDIE SAYS: You found Teddie via other people who told you they'd been at the concert. Angus and Trine said I'd been there. Teddie met them there briefly. But she certainly didn't go to the concert with them. A lot of people knew about Ted and Sid at the time. Tore, Marith and a few others...Wasn't a secret, but wasn't something people talked much about either. It happened ...he left.....end of....
CR: What do Teddie's recollections say about Sid's role in the band, and the trajectory that his life seemed to be taking? (In particular, the quote on p. 105 is chilling: "I only dabble, not serious, and it's not like I need it".)
TM: The obvious thing that strikes your mind, is that: 'Could she've saved him?' Of course, you see the potential in her as she as a 16-year-old, gets in charge that fast. As I've learned to know her, Teddie's a very strong and self-conscious woman, that could've made a diff for Sid, as he wasn't hooked on heroin yet.
TEDDIE: Fuck,.... the heroin stuff and Teddie. We were lifetimes apart on that issue..... Think the answer to the last question has to be: ...that could have made a difference for Sid. He wanted a normal life. Sid and Ted talked about it at length, and if you wait for the next book - which will go in depth on that issue - you will see why.
TM: Sid hadn't started taking heroin regularly when he was in Trondheim. He took something he injected which Teddie was afraid of, but as he got hyper and not tired it was most likely speed and not heroin. It says he looked at his drug use as normal and what everyone else was doing. Teddie was a lot younger and therefore, probably, in Sid's eyes, a novice when it came to drugs. She has told me that he never offered her any drugs and actually told her he wouldn't do them around her as she didn't like it..... Think Teddie firmly believes that it was the way Nancy had a hold of him later....She has stated several times that he wasn't happy in that relationship. Said it wasn't exclusive and he was sick of being treated "like crap"....
TEDDIE: Roadent has told us later that they did a lot of drugs together in squats around London before they came to Scandinavia...Was a way to pass the tedium.... If they want to know more about this they should keep an eager eye out for our next book, which will go deeper into the relationship of Sid and Ted and the band... Sid's life was so different from Teddie's. She was protected and wasn't allowed out. He was left on the street to fend for himself. He was streetwise but seemed to have a certain innocence and instinctively feel protective of Teddie.
Was like they just "connected" on a different level. No thoughts of whether he was in a band or famous, etc. ...Sid didn't think it a topic of any importance. He instinctively seemed to know it was OK to trust her...opened up from a very early stage and he was right on, as she has never talked of this to anyone before..
CR: As you know, the Trondheim gig itself came out on the KISS THIS set. I'm assuming that you've heard it - how does it hold up as a musical experience...since many collectors consider the Scandinavian tour to be a musical peak for the band, before getting overtaken (by the internal tension, the media sensationalist nonsense, and so on)?
TM: Harry's the one of us that's the big collector for Pistols, I'm not really. I've only got their four first singles, SPUNK and a few others, but Harry's got almost everything. I never consider myself a collector. The sound of the Trondheim recording is far better than Oslo, because the band recorded it via a video camera - but without recording the pictures. It's through the PA, so it also lacks the atmosphere from the audience, because all the sound go through the open mics on stage. The Oslo gig was in a much smaller place so the vibe there is more intense. Of the three people I've registered, who were at both gigs, one of them said the Oslo gig was the best...
CR: As in Oslo, we see plenty examples of cloth-eared (and eyed) press coverage...I mean, "swasitka tattoos on their foreheads"? (hilarious), notably from "Addressavisien" - this, despite the presence of someone reasonably hip (Casino Steel). What caused the mainstream press to miss the boat so badly?
TM: The Norwegian press was used to bands who behaved and could show their skills to an extent, and they followed the consensus of the British tabloid press. Punk, i.e. the Pistols, were shocking for them. People that spoke from the guts and wasn't well mannered, that was almost offensive at that time. to some extend, they challenged that aspect too.
CR: One of the more poignant aspects of the book is seeing quite a few "RIP" listings for some of the attendees. An outsider who doesn't know the culture might conclude that, on the surface, their worries about punk inciting self-destructive behavior had some foundation. How would you respond to such a person, if they were in the room talking with us about this issue?
TM: That's a big question, and I don't know if I got the resources and abilities to answer that question.
CR: What makes the Sex Pistols such a confounding phenomenon, then and now? I ask this, because many of your interviewees seem divided on that issue - some view the Pistols purely as a social/cultural phenomenon, with others focused on the music, and a few not quite buying into the whole business. What accounts for all these differing perceptions?
TM: I think all these things you mention are valid, and that takes Sex Pistols to a higher level. They are all in there, on all these levels, and that makes them fascinating. To be able to see them as pattern breakers, not only by their music but also to see them as a revelation of the post modern times and mentality, makes them a dear subject to anyone who ducks deeper than mainstream, but to see them as an object only makes you alienated, I guess.
CR: I know you didn't initially plan on doing this second volume, but there's certainly a wealth of Scandinavian gig data to mine, for fans and trainspotters alike. Any interest in doing that, or will we leave it to others (notably, the Summer of Hate website), and let it rest for now?
TM: People have asked me to do something about the third Pistols gig in Norway, but that's Tromsø 2008, so I haven't taken it seriously. But I just heard that they're gonna do a film about the Stockholm gigs in 1977. Footage's been out for years, so I'm excited to see how it turns out. The Swedes are usually good at doing music docus, but I'm not sure when it will be released.
CR: In the end, what effect did the Pistols' Oslo and Trondheim gigs did have on Norway's music scene (e.g., the Frostrock Festival poster on p. 121), both punk/non-punk? What kind of happenings and opportunities sprang up for musicians, as a result of these two gigs?
TM: These two gigs represent the restart of modern, contemporary rock in Norway. You could say the Pistols gigs are just the catalysts, but nevertheless, they're valid and solid. It could have been the Ramones or the Clash, but it turned out to be the Pistols. I believe we should be satisfied with that, as the Pistols are the most significantly nihilistic and dadaistic approach of the time. We needed it, and their distinct manners penetrated everything. Today I was discussing on my Facebook profile whether the Norwegian pop idols A-ha could have existed without punk and post-punk, and it gave the answer itself.