Vishnu - defending Tromsø’s pride

Prepare to be blown away by a confident Tromsø quartet with their sights set on the big stage.

Vishnu live (photo:

Hard-working Tromsø quartet Vishnu is beginning to reap the benefits of never-ending sessions in their rehearsal studio. Two well received showcases at by:Larm in the band’s home town Tromsø and a victory at the Zoom talent have solidified the image of a band that is set to make a major impact in the near future.

Energetic and spirited live appearances at the Norwegian Zoom talent contest earned the band a victory with a subsequent national tour. Recently, the ‘psychedelic blues’ quartet finished recording sessions for their first release, an as-of-yet untitled EP that is scheduled for release on Tromsø independent label Feedback Underground later this year. The EP was recorded in one of the nation’s most renowned studios, Athletic Studios in Halden and produced by Kai Andersen who has scored major success with such acts as Madrugada and Ricochets.

Says Vishnu bassist Olav Solvang: ‘We have just completed the recording sessions for our first EP and that’s pretty much our main focus these days – we’re going to give it 100% attention in the upcoming months.’

Vishnu has also plans for a new album, but Solvang is reluctant to discuss details concerning the quartet’s debut full-length outing: ‘Obviously, the next step is to record a full-length album, but at this stage we’re not prepared to reveal any release date or title. It’ll probably happen within a year – that’s all I can tell.’

The band’s two gigs at music industry event/showcase festival by:Larm met the high expectations of media, music industry reps and loyal local audience alike.

Last year saw Vishnu winning the finals of the Zoom showcase contest earning them a slot at a national tour together with Purified in Blood and Rumble in Rhodos. What came out of the Zoom victory then we ask Solvang: ‘We have doubled the amount of live gigs after the Zoom finals. We’ve been able to tour the country and play lots of gigs. Just to be on the road, play for new audience and grow and develop as a band is extremely fulfilling. We’re a much more tight-knit unit now than we were prior to the Zoom tour – we’ve definitely grown as a band. We were met with fantastic response both in the north as well as in the south of Norway boosting our confidence quite a bit.’

A thriving live scene
Vishnu is one of many new and vital bands to emerge from the cultural capital of Northern Norway in later years. Previously best known for its electronica/club scene, Tromsø has now fostered a new generation of rock acts such as Washington, Thee Mono Sapiens, The Fernets and Hangface which have made quite an impact domestically as well as internationally. Solvang agrees that there’s been a healthy development in the last few years: ‘Seven or eight years ago there were hardly any bands in Tromsø. Things really started rolling with the 2001 by:Larm festival and now there’s a really strong local scene.

Solvang praises Tromsø’s live scene and cites it as a key factor for explaining the growth of the city’s music scene. The intimate and vibrant Kaos club holds a special place in the bassist’s heart: ‘Kaos has been important for us. It’s a small club with a loyal audience and the owners will often allow unknown and un-established acts play for the door fee. You don’t have to draw a huge crowd at Kaos – a handful of fans is enough to create a good vibe and boost your confidence – giving the band a kick-start at its live career.’

Any international aspirations we ask the Vishnu member: ‘Of course, seeing bands such as Washington touring Europe and being signed abroad (with Germany’s Glitterhouse) is inspiring and serves as proof that it is possible to reach a wider audience even if you’re based in Tromsø. Initially, our main priority will be the domestic market and then we’ll start to focus on building up an international audience’ concludes Solvang.

Vishnu facts:
Formed in 2003

Line-up: Tor Thomassen (vocals), Tom Hansen (guitar), Eigil Moe Johansen (drums) and Olav Solvang (bass)

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