BioIn the 1960s, after the Beatles and the Rolling Stones began to take the world by storm, there was a term in Denmark used to describe this new loud and ragged brand of rock and roll: pigtraad. Loosely translated, it means barbed wire, barbed wire music. Some four decades later, the term works as good as any to describe the avalanche of electrified R&B delivered by Danish quartet The Blue Van, who derive their name, appropriately, from the vehicle known in Denmark for collecting the mentally ill, the loonies.
Steeped in the rough riffing bested by The Kinks, and schooled on such blues luminaries as Howlin’ Wolf, the band harks back to a time when the guitars were best raw and the drums went Biff-Bang-Pow like firecrackers. Indeed, the sound of The Blue Van is one entirely unaffected by the past three decades of popular music, as if it was plucked out of a thrift store vinyl collection. And there’s a simple explanation for that: When they began making music together some eight years ago, the band’s four members—vocalist/guitarist Steffen Westmark, organist Soren V. Christensen, bassist Allan F. Villadsen and drummer Per M. Jorgenson—were simply not very interested in the popular music of the day. Growing up in Broenderslev, a rural area in northern Denmark some 500 kilometers from Copenhagen, the group was a rarity. "We didn’t have a lot of other local bands to look upon, so we were kind of making our own thing," says Christensen. "If you grow up in a big city and you know a lot of musicians, then you sort of get inspired by each other. But we only had each other to get inspired from, to build up our sound on. I guess that’s why we sound different." Notes frontman Westmark, "It makes the sound a little bit purer." Starting in the 6th grade, the band — the sons of carpenters, truck drivers and farmers — began jamming in one of their grandmother’s basements (Luckily, she was hard of hearing.) Each of them only about 12 years old, they began cranking out covers of vintage blues tunes. But it was not long before they were crafting their own material inspired by The Small Faces, Cream and The Pretty Things.