Sondre Lerche
Two Way Monologue

20th anniversary release of Sondre Lerche’s classic album featuring 4
never before heard bonus tracks on 2xLP limited edition white gatefold
vinyl. First re-pressing of this album in over a decade.

I just listened through the brand new remastered Two Way Monologue

album. It’s the first time I’ve heard the album in one sitting since we

finalized the recording sometime in 2003. From Love You to Maybe You're

Gone. And beyond.

And what a trip it's been, from then to now, from Monologue to Avatars,

basically. My immediate impression upon hearing it again actually

confirmed my notion that these two albums are some kind of kindred

spirits — only separated by nearly twenty years of life. Hearing Two Way

Monologue now I can feel myself aching and stretching towards another

sense of freedom and another level of expression in music. It was

something I couldn't quite grasp as the time — a need for more space,

more adventure and clarity of emotion, channeling a more esoteric state

of mind. If I don't quite feel that I achieve any or all of this, I say

so with the sense that I did achieve something else worth capturing. The

album strives for expressions way beyond my reach at the time,

especially in terms of words and singing. To me it sounds like I’m

wrestling both my limitations and my abilities. I'm not quite sure what

was most frustrating to me at the time: all that came easy, or

everything that was so hard-won.

There's a beauty and brutal honesty to these very visible growing pains,

and this continuous project of self-liberation, agency and identity

through music and performance. Hearing it again now, in hindsight, with

extra warm sonic clarity — remastered by Jørgen Træen, who mixed and

co-produced Two Way Monologue back in the day — felt quite overwhelming

and grand.

And as it turns out, I reunited with Jørgen on some of Avatars Of Love

just a few years ago, so us revisiting Two Way Monologue together is

maybe just another full circle moment.

I remember interviewers often asking me at the time: is this

thematically a concept album, what with the title and several songs

depicting various failures to communicate? I hadn't even given it a

single thought. I was not thematically conscious. I just wrote one song

after another. I had landed on the album title, cause it felt like such a

good song title, and everything else felt more or less contrived. I

remember threatening my label that I’d name the album «I wish I were

you, Scooby Doo». I don’t think I was joking. In the end I was wise

enough to realize Two Way Monologue would make the best album title. But

not wise enough to have made the connection that seemed so obvious and

intentional to everyone else; that Two Way Monologue was a collection of

songs about the struggle to express oneself and communicate with

clarity in real life.

Some of these songs were written right after I had finished recording my

debut, Faces Down, while anxiously awaiting the end of my high school

years Faces Down could come out and life could begin. Soon thereafter I

found myself touring the world and basking in the newfound attention of a

global audience. And just as I thought things might wind down so I

could start recording the next one, the US label Astralwerks decided to

release my debut in North America, a full year after it had been

released in Europe and Asia.

I was 19 and a pretty strange combination of calm, cool and extremely

ambitious and driven in terms of all that was going on career-wise at

the time. The interest from the US took me by delightful surprise. For

any Norwegian artist in 2002, the US seemed a dimension entirely out of

reach, a sphere as distant as any galaxy out there. And there I was, on a

plane to NYC for the first time, straight from the first few weeks of

trying to record Two Way Monologue at home in Bergen.

When I first courted US and Canadian audiences with songs from Faces

Down, the songs that were to become Two Way Monologue remained my little

secret. But as I continued touring the USA and Canada throughout 2003,

first opening for Nada Surf, the Jason Mraz, I started trying out some

of the new songs in concert. I remember doing It's Over, with Ed

Harcourt on piano. Days That Are Over had been with me a while, I wrote

that in my hotel room after shooting my first ever music video, for You

Know So Well, in Oslo, fall of 2000. Wet Ground was written around the

same time, while I still lived with my mom, and ended up on Two Way

Monologue in the shape of my solitaire home demo recording, captured as

soon as I had received my first ever songwriter’s royalty check and was

able to get a mortgage from the bank to buy my own apartment. I was

living, if not the dream, a dream.

Other songs on the album were last minute add-ons and bursts of

inspiration: towards the end of the sessions we felt like the album

could use a couple of songs that were more structurally and emotionally

direct. In response, I quickly wrote On The Tower, Track You Down and

It's Our Job, sometime in January of 2003. The latter two recordings

maintained a lot of elements from my ramshackle home demos paired with

my band of musicians. While it’s hard for me to imagine the album

without these three songs at this point, I still sometimes feel these

and other lyrics might have benefited from another round of

considerations and rewriting. But that’s the beauty of making a record:

it remains a document of both your abilities and limitations, neither of

which you were completely aware of at the time.

The addition of those three songs meant that other key tunes that had

been in the mix had to be excluded from the album. One of them was, in

my mind, supposed to be the centerpiece, no less. But the excitement and

self-confidence with which I had written the song gradually evaporated

with each attempt we made at recording the song. By the time we were

mixing the album, September Something was not even finalized, and

remained incomplete and alone on my hard drive. Until now!

Sifting through the archives and vaults for this reissue, I was reminded

of September Something’s existence. I remembered the burst of

inspiration I felt at first, and the humiliating disappointment I felt

as I realized it was nobody's favorite, not even my own, and certainly

not with those lyrics. Rediscovering it now I could sympathize with what

the original lyrics were trying but failing to express. And I felt

compelled to give my old self a hand. I tasked my former guitar player

Kato Ådland with rearranging and finalizing the original recording,

using as much as possible from the 2002 sessions, including my old

vocals where possible. Kato was essential to making Two Way Monologue

happen, far beyond his role as my guitar player at the time. He went

above and beyond to try and understand my knotty visions for these songs

and recorded all the band demos at his studio. We've worked together

ever since. In order for me to want to share September Something with

the world, the lyrics would need a lot of help and revisions. I gave it

another go, wanting to fulfill my intentions from back then, with the

added luxury of time, growth and perspective. The lyrics were originally

an attempt at a cheeky self-referential, self-deprecating,

self-commenting tale of my life thus far, but it was all over the place

and felt awkward even then. Returning to it now, I tried not to

overthink it, and leave some of the awkwardness in. I now feel happy to

have been able to free the song of its composer's original failure to

rise to the challenge. And to get to unite my 2002 voice with the sound

of my current self, as we trade lines and harmonize, 22 years apart.

And if you get to the end of it, you may recognize a piece of music that

in fact did survive this song, and went on to be heard by more people

than probably anything else that actually ended up on the Two Way

Monologue album.

Discovering the music of Prefab Sprout in 2001 was the single biggest

influence on my songwriting on Two Way Monologue. Their music changed my

whole outlook on what I was trying to do as a writer, and deeply spoke

to me as a musician, teenager, son, boyfriend, dreamer, ego…you get it.

Paddy McAloon captured it all and continues to inspire my work to this

day. I consider him one of the finest songwriters alive at this moment.

Among the many songs inspired by this initial rush of Prefab-inspiration

was a song called Rejection #5. A song that's neither the greatest song

ever written, nor anywhere near the greatest song I've ever written. I

guess it made sense at the time. I remember it feeling new and

meaningful, pointing more towards my fourth album, Phantom Punch, than

anything else. I was so in awe of the nervous energy exhibited on the

debut album by Prefab Sprout, Swoon, that I reached out to their bass

player, Martin McAloon, asking if he'd be able to replicate some of that

vibe on my recorded attempt at early Prefab-anxiety. He was gracious

and game, and recorded his part at home in Newcastle. As I received his

recording, I was, in fact, swooning beyond belief. And although the song

was not quite up to snuff — and I was not quite ready to embody this

nervous excitement and energy yet — I've always treasured having a demo

lying around with Martin McAloon playing beautiful fretless bass. It's

time you all hear it.

Another vault-discovery was the demo of a song I had completely

forgotten about, You Are Impossible. I believe this was another one that

I wrote and recorded in my new apartment, trying to come up with a few

more songs for the album, in January 2003. For some reason I never

played this one for my band or my producers, and it remained forgotten

by all, even myself. When I recently found it on a dusty CD-R, it was

the first time I got to experience hearing one of my own songs without

having any recollection of writing it. It was quite the strange

sensation. But more importantly: I quite liked it!

And so I decided to task my current keyboardist Alexander von Mehren and

bass player Chris Holm with recording, arranging and producing the

track. I asked them to be faithful to the spirit of my 2003 demo, and to

keep in mind everything they remember about the Two Way Monologue era

and sound. And they would know: they were regulars at my shows back

then, two years my juniors, attentively fan-boying when Two Way

Monologue came out. Since 2011 I've had the pleasure of playing with the

two of them, and Dave Heilman (who you'll also hear on drums on this

recording), on stage and on my albums since then. We are also joined by

old friends, singers Julian Berntzen and Nathalie Nordnes, who both sang

on the original TWM album and were important new people in my life

around the time all of this went down.

I chose to leave the You Are Impossible lyrics exactly as they were, and

sang the song at the best of my 2024 abilities. I don’t understand all

the words, or even all the melodic leaps and transitions 2003 me chose

to make, but I stand by that guy. My voice has changed, and hearing it

on the 2003 demo — and pretty much all of Two Way Monologue — I was

struck by how polite, gentle and bird-like I sounded back then. It was

another strange time in my life. I can never go back, but I am more than

happy and proud to revisit.

– Sondre Lerche


Formater: Vinyl
04. okt. 2024
Label Plz
Katalognr. PLZ044
EAN 7041889514335
PPD 265,-
File under:
Pop/rock  ›  Indie
1. Love You
2. Track You Down
3. On The Tower
4. Two Way Monologue
5. Days That Are Over
6. Wet Ground
7. Counter Spark
8. It's Over
9. Stupid Memory
10. It's Too Late
11. It's Our Job
12. Maybe You're Gone
13. You Are Impossible
14. September Something
15. Rejection #5
16. Weakest Spot