This is how we got here:
Kenneth Kapstad’s June 2016 departure from Motorpsycho left the remaining psychos Hans Magnus Ryan and Bent Sæther fending for themselves. An almost ten-year ride was over, and things were again changing in the Psychoverse.
After a fall busy at the Trøndelag teater, writing and performing the Begynnelser music live for 40 performances, the search for a replacement started, and by December 2016 Tomas Järmyr had become the new drummer in Motorpsycho. The fit was natural, and it didn’t take more than a couple of rehearsals for the old-timers Snah and Bent to figure this out: the chemistry was there from the get go, and by mid-January enough new material was ready for the band to start contemplating recording.
When the initial plan to work with Alain Johannes fell through due to conflicting schedules, the back-up plan – to self-produce with engineer Noah Shain and executive producer Dave Raphael at White Buffalo in Downtown L.A. – became reality, and in early March the band found themselves in Los Angeles, well-rehearsed and ready to record.
The band and their cohorts hoped to get most of the work done over a three-week period, and tracking began on March 6. After about ten days of recording basic tracks for the more brutal stuff at White Buffalo, the gang decamped to Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree to focus on a little more laid-back material. Three effective days with Hayden Scott and Dave Catching out there in the desert added a little light to the prevailing darkness in most of the material, and also added a little clear desert air to the proceedings. The remaining week was spent in L.A. tracking vocals and adding overdubs.
After a few weeks of further work back in Norway, Noah Shain mixed the songs in L.A. in May and Wim Bult mastered the album in Apeldoorn in late June. Dave Raphael oversaw these phases of the work, and he really is the man to blame for the sound of this record: the band used his guitars and his amps in the studio and the music was recorded by his mics, his pre-amps and his EQs. This is the sound of Awtac and Fucktone, and the band is understandably obviously really really happy with the results!
As ever stretching the boundaries of their musical understanding and looking for new ways to express themselves, this is a pretty adventurous album even by Motorpsycho standards. It is easy to hear that both the new environment and the new co-conspirators influenced the band: this sounds nothing like any previous Motorpsycho album! Musically this is in parts the hardest album Motorpsycho has perpetrated in a while, and the material runs the gamut from short and sweet to lengthy and mean – even touching on heavy or stoner rock in places. It certainly is of a rather more explosive nature than most of their last album Here Be Monsters: the sounds are gnarlier and the riffs bigger, and where the last album to some perhaps was a tad too introvert, this album reflects the period it was written and is more concerned with us than me – with changes in society rather than personal issues. These are strange days, and the lyrics reflect this.
Surviving yet another change in personnel, Motorpsycho bounces back and shows yet again that the band is bigger than the individual players and that it intends to survive whatever challenges fate throws at it. The Tower, then, is a statement of intent from a band that is very much alive and kicking: this is the start of a new era in the Psychoverse, and the album stands as proof that there’s bite in the old dog yet!