Last May, at Nasty Cut Fest 2023, a band backed out. The band that ended up replacing the canceled band was a new band called USERS. They had only been playing together since January and hadn’t released anything. But we took a chance and gave them a slot at Nasty Cut Fest 2023.
That might have been one of the best things we did. Since I saw them play at Nasty Cut Fest 2023, I have had the pleasure of following them and getting to know each and every member of USERS. I’ll spare you the sappiness because I absolutely adore them and have the pleasure of interviewing for Dying Scene. It is my way of giving back to them for everything they do and continue to do for the Danish punk scene. So, friends, foes, and everything in between let us introduce you to USERS.
Introduce yourselves. Who are Users? Where are you from?
My name is Sean, but I feel that introducing myself and explaining who I am today will not necessarily reflect who I am tomorrow. It most likely will be similar, but not it’s not always the case. But a short introduction could be that I shout and write the lyrics in the band USERS. I grew up with an English dad and a Danish mum in a suburb outside Copenhagen. A working-class dad and a mum from academia itself. USERS are my heart and soul; it’s the creative outlet and the non-blood family I’ve always dreamed of. I grew up with a lot of English music in my household and take pride in growing up with punk music playing loudly in the living room. At the same time, my old man would do well basically anything.
My name is Sune, and I play bass. I’m 23 years old and originally from Esbjerg. I met Oskar and Esbjørn right before lockdown at a music folk high school. We didn’t play any music together there at the time or even become close friends, but we became acquainted. Then, last December, I was talking with Oskar at a party, and he told me he was starting a punk band with Esbjørn and a guy called Sean, and he asked if I wanted to join and play bass. I instantly said yes, even though the guitar is my main instrument.
My name is Esbjørn. I play guitar in the band. Until just a year ago, I thought I wanted to be a jazz musician. Then I went to see Idles at Roskilde Festival, only knowing one of their songs (Beachland Ballroom). I was completely blown away. From that day on, I had no question: I wanted to do what they did at Roskilde. A few weeks later, I met our lead singer, Sean; he came to see a concert I was playing with one of my friends’ singer/songwriter project. The first thing he ever said to me was, “We need to form a punk band. That energy and attitude need to be in a punk band, not a singer/songwriter”. I remember I was stoked and thinking I would never hear from him again, and I didn’t until we met randomly at a nightclub in Copenhagen half a year later. He said, “You still wanna do that punk band?”. We met for our first rehearsal just a week later, and the rest is history. For me, it was love at first sight. We just clicked musically and personally as well. I grew up in a small ecovillage in Jutland. I’ve been a victim of a lot of bullying throughout my life. Since the age of 17, I’ve dropped out of high school, been in and out of kontanthjælp, dealing with depression, and been struggling to find my place in this world filled with suffering. This band is almost the first time I really feel at home. For that, I’m thankful.
I’m Oskar, I’m a drummer, and I’m a USER. I come from the northern part of Germany, where I have been trying to start bands all my pre-Denmark life. It’s a little village, so if you want to play any kind of music and are lucky, you find a pianist who knows one or two chords …but that doesn’t do it in the long run. Eventually, I moved to Denmark at 20, where I was lucky to meet the now lead-screaming Sean, with whom I went to school for a semester. The following semester, I was fortunate to meet Esbjørn and Sune too. After moving to Copenhagen, I started working as a Carpenter; not the best decision of my life, but I somehow kept stuck to it for some years because it still gives a steady income, which is super important if you want to live in the capital of Denmark where everything is absurdly overpriced. Sorry for the long sentence…
I have been playing many instruments through the years. Still, I have always wanted to play drums in a more aggressive sound setting, and when Sean and Esbjørn met at a party and started talking about playing punk, I was all ears. My connection to the post-punk genre isn’t the biggest, but since starting the project, my eyes and ears have been opened to the sound of it, which I really love.
What inspired the band?
Well, I used to play in a just-for-laugh punk band with Oskar back at højskole. I ended up at one of his concerts with a pop artist where, funny enough, Esbjørn played guitar as well! We talked about starting a punk band for laughs and got hammered. And six months later, I ran into Esbjørn, that lovely bastard, at a nightclub at like 4 in the morning and said, let’s do it. A week later, we had our first rehearsal. We started talking about direction and sound, and it just clicked. We share a lot of the same views and struggle with similar things. And it’s a way to get heard, so I believe this keeps us inspired and pushing hard!
I’ve played music for most of my life and have always had varied influences. Still, since I was a teenager and started playing guitar, I’ve always dreamed of playing dark, high-energy, and abrasive rock music. My first love was Nirvana; through that, I started getting into all kinds of punk rock, subgenres, and many different obscure bands.
It’s an endless rabbit hole that you just can get lost in. Growing up in Esbjerg, I couldn’t find anyone with the same taste I wanted to start a post-punk band with. In many ways, it feels like the universe has arranged all the right circumstances to make this happen. Like we’re finally allowed to freely and fully express ourselves.
What inspired the band also lies in the story about what inspired the name “USERS”
“We are all users of capitalism, the toxic system, social media, etc. Almost everything we do daily contributes to someone else’s suffering. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the gas and oil we use, etc. This breaks my heart every day. With an urge almost throughout my life to scream at people, trying to make them realize this, I came upon punk music. I discovered it’s the perfect way to scream all my frustrations out.:
I think musically, all four band members have been drawn to the more complex sounds of the grunge, punk, and rock genres since early in life. So, there has always been a pretty good basis for us to start this project purely musically.
Every one of us needed a place to show emotion and get rid of excess feelings. For me, there is no better way to do this than playing hard drums and screaming into a microphone about what makes us feel the way we do. When we do a rehearsal or a concert, you can see us showing emotion in how we play. Hence, the band somehow enables us to channel these emotions into a product that is relatable and exciting to witness live. For me, the emotions in play are desperation, powerlessness, and stress.
I think in the beginning, the band was inspired by us just wanting to play the genre of post-punk since some of us had just seen IDLES at Roskilde festival and came back to Copenhagen with lots of inspiration. Esbjørn and I have always been playing in many different band settings together, and we have always wanted to start a harder-sounding project after moving to Copenhagen. So when Sean (with whom I had played punk during our time at DRH) and Esbjørn randomly met each other in Copenhagen’s nightlife, they began moving things and setting up what is now called USERS.
You are a new band, but you haven’t slowed down. You played Nasty Cut Festival in May, had another show that night, and played Nordlys at the beginning of August. How does it feel to be able to do what you enjoy?
Strangely, it doesn’t feel different l, but to be fair, this band has swallowed me. It’s all I think about during the day and all I dream about at night. I feel very privileged that people enjoy what we create. You say,” You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” But I’ve realized I’ve always missed this in my life! If I look at it, I’ve never worked harder for something, but I’ve never had it so easy with what I do because it doesn’t feel like work! It’s like a gift from the universe that keeps giving, and I’m ever grateful.
To be frank, it feels amazing. We all love playing live, and it’s been a pleasure to see this project snowballing from the get-go. It’s all very exciting for us. We are all very committed to the band and playing as much as possible. We are always making new plans for the future, and constantly having upcoming gigs in our calendar helps motivate and keep us focused. It can be hard work, but we can tell that it pays off. We definitely have no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
I feel incredibly thankful and privileged. I can’t imagine or think of a time or place where I feel more comfortable and happy than when I’m on stage with what has become some of my absolute best friends in just half a year. I’m completely overwhelmed with gratitude for how lucky we’ve been with the support we’ve gotten and that people keep coming to our shows.
Pretty sick! The main thing that makes me enjoy USERS as much as I do is the feeling that this project means something to us and the folks around us. I have played in many constellations through the years and never felt the same excitement towards a band like this one. The band is filled to the brim with high hopes, engagement, and determination to make this project our life’s work. I enjoy being part of that and seeing myself do as well. I have always wanted to perform music as we do in USERS, so I hope we get to show it to everybody.
You have yet to release an album but are ready to release a live session. How does it feel to put some music out, and where can the listeners find it?
For me, it’s not the first time I have released music. And I’m sure you can find if you’re on par with Nardwuar type of digging. But I’m so stoked about this, as this is something I can be proud of! The blood, sweat, and tears we’ve put into these live sessions have been worth it!
You can find them on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook! If you fancy checking them out, I’ll definitely appreciate it!
We’ve only played since January, but even at our first band practice, we talked about releasing an album. So that’s always been in our plans, but we didn’t want to rush anything. Then we came up with the idea of making a live session, and it seemed like a good way to burst the bubble of releasing music. And to be honest, it turned out much better than any of us expected. So we’re all very excited to finally be releasing. I can’t wait to return to the studio and start recording again. The live session can be seen and heard on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. And for those who want the music, you can also listen to it on Bandcamp.
I honestly feel stressed about it. With everything happening so fast, we had to put something out ASAP. In some way, I would have liked our first release to be a proper studio recording with lots of time to experiment… Things have just been going so fast that we haven’t had the time, and it was about time we put something out there. I’m just looking forward to our coming studio sessions this fall.
We’ve decided to release the Live sessions from Hotel Cecil on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Bandcamp.
From following you, I know you are a pretty politically active band. Are you politically active in your spare time?
I want to think I have my thoughts about what’s happening, but as a political activist, I would not call myself. I have my thoughts and feelings about human ethics and how we treat each other. Believe the best and easiest way to find respect and love between people of different views, backgrounds, and cultures is to sit down eye to eye with no defense or prejudice. I have my ethics and political views, but I don’t believe that I am right by default. There’s nothing more amazing than meeting someone who can make you expand your point of view on the world. I hope that in the future, I can be seen as politically active by giving that gift to people through my lyrics or at least opening up the discussion between friends and friends!
Yes, I’ve always been aware of how much inequality there is, and I always felt an urge to discuss this. A few years ago, I got active in the climate movement Extinction Rebellion in Copenhagen, and it just made so much sense to me. Besides the band, this is one place I’ve felt at home. I was then very active for a year, doing civil disobedience in Denmark and Germany with different movements. I’ve been less active the past year because I’ve had some very uncomfortable experiences with the police, which I’ve had to digest. The people/activists I’ve met doing this are some of the most loving and caring people I’ve ever met. Undoubtedly, the concerts I enjoy playing the most are at demonstrations. It makes so much sense to me.
Not as much as I want to be. I have always been a part of protests and marches against climate change back in my days in Germany. Since I have come to Copenhagen, I have realized the matter to be even more pressing than ever before. Moving to Copenhagen has put me in a difficult financial situation, which I am often stressed out about. I find myself too stressed out or too exhausted to join marches and other political events I support. The system I want to demonstrate against is simultaneously the reason for my inability to do so.
The band is the best way for me to be political in many ways. I feel like I can change something by being part of the strong political messages that are the backbone of every USERS-lyric.
Do you have any goals for the rest of the year? Or maybe even next year?
I think career-wise, we’ve got loads of goals. We dream of playing Scandinavia’s most prominent festival, Roskilde, and start touring internationally. That’s always been a dream of mine, and I believe in it! But for my personal artistic side, I hope to get to explore more of my traumas and troubles through our music. And hope that I can make people feel seen like the small and fantastic crowd we’ve gathered has made them feel seen!
We have plenty of new exciting things planned. It’s almost hard to keep track of sometimes. We’re having a release party at Basement on the 28th of September, when the final live session is released, which we are all very excited about. We’ll do more recording this Autumn and then a few other shows in Copenhagen and possibly in Jylland and Fyn. Next year, we’ll get back in the studio. Then we plan to play as many concerts and festivals as possible and maybe even some shows abroad.
Of course! I’m looking forward to recording and releasing a full-length album, and we’ll do this within a year. That’s a massive milestone for me. Another goal is to play international shows, hopefully soon. We’re working towards playing a lot of festivals next year, and Roskilde Festival is probably my biggest goal/dream as a musician. It feels very surreal that this may be within reach. Besides all this, my biggest goal is to contribute to opening people’s minds and have them reflect upon their privileges.
We have a lot of goals for the near and far future. We have many plans for recording in the upcoming months until 2024. The first part of the plan was recording live sessions, which we had just finished. We recorded 3 songs, which will be released in the time up to our release party we have organized to celebrate our live-session release. The next step is to go to the studio we are currently setting up with some of the best people we know. We have lots of material, so we are discussing whether to record an EP or go for the full album. We will probably finance the recording since we don’t have a deal with a label yet, so we will see what will happen. November is going to be the first time USERS go on tour. At least, that is what we plan right now, and things are looking very promising. At some point, the studio records will be released, and we will start preparing for a wild festival season in 2024. We are currently getting everything ready for a promising 2024.