AK has written down the story of how Dark Times started out for the Swedish blog Grrrl Collection - here’s the English translation:
Photo: Marius Eriksen
We started out with no experience, no plans and no ambitions. Only one goal – to have fun. It might sound like a cliché, but that’s basically the seed that started Dark Times.
We were three girls, Anne, Rikke and me, working together as volunteers at the student radio station in Oslo, Radio Nova. Anne was the cultural editor, while Rikke and I were in a music show called Bra Trommis (“good drummer”).
One day, Anne sent the rest of us a link to an article with information about instrument courses at this place called AKKS - a non-profit music organization that works to recruit, motivate and make women visible in all aspects of the music industry. Individually I think we all made up our minds rather quick that we wanted to join. Then one night we were all hanging out together after a concert at Revolver in Oslo, Anne blurted out: “I’m signing up for the bass class at AKKS!”, and Rikke was like: “Hey, I want to learn the drums”, and I: “And I want to learn how to play guitar”. Then in a synchronized, ecstatic cry: “We’re starting a band!” And that was the beginning of Dark Times. From there, it all went pretty easy.
We went to our separate instrument courses at AKKS for two months and then joined a band course together. The band course was basically rehearsals with occasional visits from a teacher that helped us with stuff like guitar picking technique, sound equipment and tips on how to play together. At the end of the course, all the bands performed at a concert at the venue Blå. We played The Stooges – “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, Sonic Youth – “My Friend Goo” and Black Flag – “Nervous Breakdown”. I remember not being able to hear my guitar for the first two songs. We probably sounded really bad, but it didn’t matter. We’d only been playing our instruments for a few months – still we went up to this (to us) huge stage in front of a lot of people and gave what we had. It was totally okay for us to suck.
Photo: Marius Eriksen
Well actually, this was our second concert. A few days earlier, we played at Radio Novas summer party, adding one more song to our set list – “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey (a hit among the radio volunteers). I specifically recall that Anne ruled the bass solo. It was really weird, but so much fun. After the gig we probably got some good feedback, but I only remember the guy who said we needed to practice more.
I don’t really know how it came to her, but when we tried to figure out what to call the band, Rikke came up with the first suggestion – which was Dark Times. It wasn’t really discussed back and forth whether to choose it. It all just made sense. We’ve always been Dark Times.
Another thing that was never discussed in the Dark Times sphere, was our sound. We only had this common agreement that we should play something “harder” than pop and that it should be a bit noisy. We didn’t know anything about amplifiers, so we just turned the gain and the volume up and hoped for the best. At one point, we were supposed to write down what kind of music we played for a gig. Neither of us had any idea what to write, so we concluded that we had to ask someone else. Our sound was never based on a genre choice. What came out, came out. We never decided on anything like that.
Photo: Lars Preus
After our first two gigs, we thought it was kind of lame to only play cover songs, so for our third gig we made three songs of our own. It was a relief to find out that we could actually do that. We had no idea if we had any skills in that department, and we just hoped that we were able write something that didn’t truly suck. We were pretty happy with the result, especially since we didn’t try that hard at first. We just used the first chord structures we could come up with (we didn’t have a lot of time before our gig).
Anne eventually moved to San Francisco to study, so our friend Sebastian joined the band – the best replacement we could ever get. After that, things just happened. Our friends in Ormeyngel released our cassette tape and Sheep Chase Records released our first 7-inch. And we continued getting show requests.
Photo: Malin Ringsby / Grrrl Collection
The most surprising thing about starting Dark Times, was how easy it was. Growing up, I never thought it was possible for someone like me to play in a band, or even learn the guitar (a guy at my high school told me there was no point in learning the guitar when you were as old as 16 – and I believed him). And I never would have joined a band if we hadn’t been three girls who were at the same level (no experience) and only did it for the fun of it. I’ve got one thing to say to girls, boys, women and men who still carry an unfulfilled dream of being in a band: just do it – you’re never too old, really. And we need to expose kids to great music and great role models, so that those who want to can start exploring their dreams, instead of being too scared of pursuing it because they think they don’t have the skills or attitude. Girls to the front.