Not a lot of people are very aware of Denmark beyond a two hundred year old play written by some bald hack, popularised for the modern audience by an Australian actor. So it comes as some surprise that one of the biggest “new” things to captivate the American Music Press is a little group from Denmark called Junior Senior. “Nobody knows much about it… it’s very small. It’s very Danish,” says the Junior of the band, Jesper Mortensen, of his home country’s music scene. “There’s a few really big Danish bands that have never made it out of Denmark, because they were lagging behind, they weren’t really original enough, or didn’t have good song writing. And we’ve always been in the shadow of Sweden, especially in the indie scene.” He pauses slightly, then continues in his softly spoken English “It’s kind of weird for us to make it outside of Denmark, we’re the first to make it big outside, and it will be interesting to see how that impacts on the scene.”
Junior Senior developed the name for more than the obvious fact that one is older than the other. “I’m kind of petite compared to senior, he’s very tall, very big boned,” he laughs, talking about his partner in music, Jeppe Breum, “and in Denmark Jesper is a very common name, and in school there would be about 5 Jaspers, and I was always the smallest one.”
If you haven’t heard their infectious ‘Move Your Feet’, off their debut album D-D-Don’t Don’t Stop the Beat, it’s a poppy, up beat tune celebrating music and life in general, and has a happy little animated filmclip to accompany it. It’s been compared to everything from Echo and the Bunnymen to Wham! The rest of the album is just as infectious, and demonstrates a range of influences. “I wouldn’t be able to narrow it down to one influence, but black music from the 60’s – early Stevie Wonder, James Brown… the Rolling Stones, the Ramones, The Clash, Run DMC, the Beatles. I’m personally very into the old black music, and the good disco music, like Chic,” Mortensen says. “I tend to go for good song writing and original ideas, I always appreciate that in music no matter what the style, whether it’s Sly and the Family Stone, or if it’s Dolly Parton, or if it’s Graham Parsons – it can be anyone, as long as there’s something in there, good songs, nice singing, or clever arrangements, you know. But we never set out to be a retro band,” he remarks. “We always wanted to make it into a 2000 band… none of us really wants to live in the 60’s or 80’s or anything like that.”
This remarkable blend of influences has capture the American music press by storm, as well as American audiences, which is no surprise considering the substantial lack of originality in the US pop music scene at the moment. “I think it’s a combination of things why people like us, but I really hope that when push comes to shove its really the music,” Mortensen says. “Everything we do we try and do it slightly different, in our own way, and not be too stereotypical. I think some of our songs are good enough to come out of the indie scene, which goes beyond the selling 500 record thing.” He trails off slightly, as if thinking that was the correct way to get his point across. “We never thought we’d amount to anything”, he continues, laughing. “We’d never thought we’d get outside of Denmark. We always thought we had something, but we didn’t think anyone would actually care about us, so it’s been a pleasure.”
Another thing about the band that’s not stereotypical is the blend of gay and straight sensibilities. Their tune Chicks and Dicks clearly demonstrates the fact that Junior is straight and Senior is gay, and this has been lauded in the US press quite a bit as something rather unusual. “It doesn’t really annoy me,” Mortensen says of this undue focus. “I think to some people that it’s a bigger deal than it should be. We don’t really care about it that much, we didn’t feel like hiding it, because it’s such a big part of the chemistry between us and the music we make. We not really big about saying our political views and stuff, but when it comes down to it, I’m happy that it hopefully helps to broaden people’s horizons, and shows that gay and straight people get along well.”
Some of their unusual achievements to date include being played whenever the Mets hit a home run, and being included in the coming “Worms 3d” video game. “I don’t know very much about baseball, but it’s one of those weird things where you don’t get a feeling about it because you’ve never been to the stadium where they actually play,” Mortensen says of the baseball accolade. The Worms thing came about by the game developers approaching the band directly. “When you’re in a band and you get all these crazy offers all the time, and most of them you reject, because we don’t want our music in all these commercials. Although I lost interest in computer games when I was younger, Senior and some of the other guys who play with us are really big fans of The Worms games, and we chose to be in the game. Maybe get our music out to people who might not have heard it,” he adds.
It appears that the addition in the game won’t really be necessary to further their career, as they play 22 gigs across 8 weeks in America to packed out shows. Their energetic live performance, catchy radio-friendly tunes, and combination of uniqueness yet retro sounds in the Gay/Straight package is sure enough to get them more than enough attention. “All the people seem to like us,” Mortensen says about the current American tour. “A lot of people seem crazy about us, which is really nice,” he adds politely.