For many bands, splitting up after a follow-up release that didn’t quite stick would have been the end. But for a band like Miami Beach’s Ex Norwegian, the old lineup’s split in March 2010 was most definitely not going to be the end of the story—not if Dying Van Gogh had anything to say about it. Picking up the band’s sophomore effort to 2009’s Standby (Dying Van Gogh), the label pumped life back into 2010’s Sketch with its re-release and also into the band itself.
Frontman and bassist Roger Houdaille—also the bassist of Dying Van Gogh act Ed Hale And The Transcendence—took some convincing. “I had no interest in doing anything more with Sketch or anything with the band after we originally split,” he says. “It was a difficult album personally at the time, but thankfully that kinda stuff goes away, and now I can really appreciate the album,” Houdaille explains. “That it’s finally being played on college radio and getting the attention it didn’t get the first time around is simply wonderful. And now I’ve put together a new Ex Norwegian and am slowly getting back on the road.”
That first time around, the group had a whirlwind rise in popularity after posting “Something Unreal” on Myspace in 2008. The song also secured the band an invite to play CMJ 2008, a stage where the group quickly gained attention from audience members and media alike with its cheeky pop flourishes. Three years later, the group has reformed and is now stronger than ever with classic Ex Norwegian vocalist Michelle Grand and guitarist Lucas Queiroz, as well as newcomer Alex Ibanez on drums.
Sketch fleshes out the ideas of Standby; with Houdaille’s vocals juxtaposed against distortion, sweet vocals that play off of Houdaille’s from ex-Ex Norwegian Nina Souto and guitars riffing on the band’s late ’60s, early ’70s influences, the album is brought into the modern era with twists to classic pop formulas.
“We made some great music with the old lineup, but it was very limited at the same time. Different agendas. Now we are all on the same page, right down to our goals and tastes in music,” Houdaille says. “It makes things much easier.”
According to Houdaille, Sketch was more of a group effort than Standby, and now with a more harmonious lineup, the band’s return to the road promises more of the excellence of 2008’s CMJ performance. Houdaille’s future goals for the band include expanding to at least a six-piece “to really do justice to the material,” as well as possibly adding a Mellotron to the stage once the shows start getting bigger. And that’s not all Ex Norwegian has in store in the near future. What was announced as an upcoming 2012 EP with the working title of House Music—in honor of the collection’s house music influences—is now going to be another full-length release.
“I’m very excited about it,” Houdaille says. “It will be a little more adventurous I think. A hybrid of our previous albums with some new elements thrown in. The new band will be on some of it, and we’re already throwing in a lot of new songs in our live sets.” Watch out for these guys in the months ahead, and check out Sketch, streaming below.