Reptile Youth is an upcoming Danish rock group that will be sure to be kicking ass and taking names in the near future. Their sophomore album, ‘Rivers That Run For A Sea That Is Gone’ has made great impact to their career. We sat down with singer Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen to talk about stage diving and sandwiches.

Photos: Billy Leahy
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Can you explain a bit about development of Reptile Youth?

With our first album we got these two hotshot producers, then things kind of just happened. Even though we were nobodies. It kind of just happened. Now it is nice to have asked some of our favorite artists to do work for us whether on the cover or music videos. But the spirit of just going for it is something that we want to keep throughout the band.

 

Vanguard was a pretty impromptu performance. How much of a notice did you have before you went on?

I was in Østerbro an hour and a half before the concert started, and I had an interview actually at 4. My manager called and said you got one and half hours and to make it to this show, and I was like ok! I just took my bike and rode to Søndermarken. And half an hour before the show started, our gear came. Some of the other guys in the band had a performance the day before in another city so they got a flight at like six o’clock that morning. Normally you have more time to prepare, but we just threw our stuff on stage. But it was kind of nice to have it spare of the moment.

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Did you manage to even do a sound check?

When I was putting up the cowbell stand there was this big guy that was a fan of the performers who had cancelled, and he looked at me and shouted, ‘We don’t want to listen to your fucking crap!’ I’ve never had that response. And because of the cancellation, people were really upset, but it got me kind of sad. I mean I don’t want to do a show if that’s the attitude people have. So to get it out of my system, I jumped off stage and went up to him. I apologized and said it wasn’t my fault. The dude felt pretty guilty too, he was caught in the moment and devastated. Once I confronted him, he said that he was actually going to stay and listen.

 

How do you get the energy to get pumped, especially with performing many shows in a week?

I used to spend an entire day getting ready for a concert, but these days I can just go on stage and it just happens. I think it is just something inside of me. It’s always about finding the niche of that concert.

 

You rock out pretty hard though, what do you do to rebuild yourself?

Between the two shows, for example, I needed some time off. I felt really in the moment at Vanguard, and there was nothing to lose. I felt perfect. I just felt like having a good time and dancing. But afterward, I was completely messed up. I sat down and was a little out of it, so I biked over to the harbor and went for a swim alone. And then I went back to Trailerpark Festival.

 

First time doing two shows back to back?

For the Trailerpark show, I was at a totally different physical and mental state. We’ve never done anything like this before, playing two shows. They were very different shows. I was completely broken down. But there is a lot of energy in that. Being broken and being at your minimum. Having to fight in all of that. Fight for your energy, fight for your voice.

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What does it feel like to stage dive?

It feels nice. It is a good connection with people. And that is also one of the things I love about playing music and playing shows. It is just a different environment than my normal routine. You can do stuff on stage that you can’t do anywhere else. I can’t be standing on a corner and jump a guy [laughs].

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Sandwich question time. What sandwich best describes you?

This is going to take me a bit to think about since I am a sandwich kind of guy. I want to be something with avocado in it. Or maybe I am just raw. Like a piece of bread with salmon on it.

 

Do you have any rules or superstitions you live by?

I run a lot. I run 10k, every other day. It is kind of like my mediation. I let go of my emails, the music, lyrics. I am a bit of a Karma boy, but not like a Buddhist or anything, just to be good to everyone. Be nice to everyone. I am even at a stage where I don’t really kill insects that are bothering me, I just brush them off. Put good vibes in the world. In our living room we have a poster that says, ‘Work Hard, And Be Nice To People.’

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What are you looking forward to in the future?

I want to move to America. Maybe to California…Hey can I interview you?

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**Mads insisted that he have a go at the interviewing process and wanted to ask me a couple of questions***

You want to interview me?

With those two shows [Vanguard and Trailerpark] we played the exact same set. So it is just interesting to see your side of it.

Read on for Epilogue

Mads: Was Vanguard your first show you saw of us?

No. I fist saw you guys without expecting it somewhere in Copenhagen last year. But it was a much different band than the one I saw last weekend.

 

How did you feel when you heard that we were playing?

To be honest, I was so excited. I work a lot at these shows, so sometimes I miss a couple acts here and there. But when I heard the announcement that you guys were performing I got right up to the stage for a good place to watch. I was so happy. It gave me energy to get through the day.

 

Really?

Ya, and it gave me a good spin to put something out on our social media. An unexpected performance? People love to be in the know! As a fan, I was excited, and it was like a promoter at the same time.

 

Which concert did you like the most?

Personally, the energy and lighting at Trailerpark engaged me the most. I am not going to lie…at Vanguard when you started playing that cowbell, I got stoked. One is during the day, one is at night, so they are very different.

 

We ended with Speeddance for both sets, how did you like that?

It’s not my favorite but it is the hit single. I like at the end of a show to be sweating so it was nice to run around and feel like a punk again. I miss it. People are too calm at shows here.

 

That’s good to hear…huh what can I ask you?

It’s kind of hard isn’t it?

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Did you notice any changes in the band members on stage in the two performances?

At Vanguard the body language of the band in its entirety was more unified. Esben was closer to you, and he came out to the front a bit more. And Simon was rocking out too. Whereas at Trailerpark, you were more of the front man. I paid more attention to you and Rasmus. But in both shows you made a lot of eye contact and engaged the audience, and you really looked out to people.

 

How about the lighting and the mystique?

Well natural light v.s. stage lighting?

 

Ya, it builds a lot to the music and surrounds the show. Everything is visible in daylight. Is it more pure? Like some guys on the stage doing their thing?

I liked being able to actually see you guys play, but there was still a barrier. With the production of a show like that, there is still the barrier to the stage. With a show later in the evening, I can get close to the stage, but I might not be able to see as much. I was at a very comfortable distance at both shows. I hate when I feel like I want to get closer, and I can’t. Or if I can’t see.

 

Do you have a favorite song? 

Different ones speak to me at different times. ‘Structures’ is probably my favorite. I like ‘JJ’ and ‘Colours’ too.

 

What song stood out to you at each show?

You opened with ‘Rivers that Run…’ and I thought it was a great way to bring people to the stage [at Vanguard]. And you rocked out on the cowbell so it was fun as hell. I remember Speeddance at Trailerpark made me more alert of my surroundings, so that is why I remember it. But sometimes I get lost in the show, and my favorite song could be one that I was closing my eyes and jamming out to or singing along with.

 

How about the different audiences?

Well there are more girls dancing around at Trailerpark and ‘Girls are awesome‘ so…

 

Which concert do you think we musically played the best?

If someone were to ask me what Reptile Youth sounds like, I would say the Vanguard sound was more cohesive. Kind of a textbook performance. But if someone were to ask what does Reptile Youth feel like? Then I would pick Trailerpark. But I am excited to see what you guys have in store this Friday at New Note Festival in Hillerød.

 

FOLLOW UP INTERVIEW FOR ‘AWAY’ RELEASE