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Iceage Provoke Nostalgia By Digging Up The Past 

The Danish band documents their evolution on a surprisingly cohesive compilation of outtakes and rarities.

by Sarah Morrison

Photo by Kim Thue

In the last seven years of writing music together as a band, Iceage has built up a pile of discarded songs that exist in a multitude of forms. During the recording process of Seek Shelter — the band’s 2021 offering produced by Spacemen 3’s Peter Kember, complete with a gospel choir and all — it dawned on the Danish punk band that it might be time to take a second look at some of the material lying around to see if there are any tracks worth salvaging.

“It turned out we had some things from before that were interesting, some things that needed a bit of brushing up, but when we threw it together it kind of seemed like a nice little thing,” says frontman Elias Rønnenfelt. 

Once realizing what they had, Iceage came up with the idea to create an album that would give them an opportunity to give singles a chance to be released in album format and give life to songs that hadn’t yet found their groove on a record. “I think the only question we had was ‘do we wait to do something like this till we have enough songs for a fucking boxset?’ It seemed like it was the time.”

With a vault so rich and full, one would assume deciding which songs to include on a first compilation album might be a tough process, but Shake The Feeling: Outtakes & Rarities 2015-2021 fell together naturally. “Even though they are coming from different sessions, different years, and they don’t really make sense together, it seemed like they were able to co-exist or communicate with each other,” says Rønnenfelt. 

Allowing the songs to play off on one another meant ensuring the record was not embodied around the idea of chronological order. While this album may be a compilation, it’s also very much its own identity. “I didn’t want it to be too important, which track was from which session. I just wanted it to be an entity of its own.”

The title track of the record, “Shake The Feeling,” was a song Rønnenfelt initially had no interest in pursuing. He and the band had deemed it too “happy-go-lucky” and ultimately ended up abandoning it after its final take. But after a second listen, Rønnenfelt could hear its potential to be shaped into something bigger. “At the time I was trying to corrupt the song. Back then I was opinionated and hated it, but in hindsight there’s a tension in the song that’s really interesting because we didn’t see eye to eye on it. I do really love it, but sometimes you’re just too wrapped up in your own immediate self.”

There seems to be a pattern with most of the tracks on this compilation in the need for them to ripen and age before they could truly come to life. Rønnenfelt admitted the headspace of writing a record also plays a part in the band’s fixed ideas on what makes a song good in its initial state. “That maybe has to do with how things age on you and when you manifest it. Making an album and having a fixed idea that you’re so deeply entangled in the creative process of, it’s hard to gather a bird’s eye view perspective.” 

Looking back at any old memory or item from a past chapter in life can provoke forgotten feelings or memories that our minds have chosen to temporarily block out. For an artist, a lot of energy goes into the pieces of work being created in the present, constantly documenting art and life in realtime. It can either be bittersweet or sometimes even devastating to look back at those moments. 

For Rønnenfelt, provoking nostalgia isn’t something he tends to do often. “I’m not really very sentimentally wired. I don’t try to provoke nostalgia anymore than necessary. I hadn’t listened to a lot of this stuff until we brought up the idea of seeing what was lying there in the fault. There was a slightly painstaking bit of sweetness that lies in those songs that brought feelings out, especially because it was something that was captured and discarded so quickly. That real emotion went into making it and then we threw it away and never thought about it again. It was funny in the same way as finding a picture of an old loved one you haven’t looked at in a few years.”