Ex Norwegian
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Ex Norwegian

Miami Beach, Florida, United States | INDIE

Miami Beach, Florida, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Alternative


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"Band of the Hour: Ex Norwegian"

It's not often that a band comes around with a completely new sound. Ex Norwegian manage to combine powerpop, classic rock and indie music to set themselves apart from what's already out there.

Members Roger Houdaille guitar/vocals), Michelle Grand (vocals), Carolina Souto (bass) and Arturo Garcia (drums) agree that Ex Norwegian's unique sound stems from Roger's keen musical intuition. "Roger has something I can't really explain. I used to say he came from another time. His songs have a simple sound to them that are catchy and almost addictive," says Carolina. "[Even] our sad songs sound happy, so there is also a twist of irony in our music."

Don't let the name fool you, this is not a Scandinavian outfit. The band's original name, Father Bloopy, didn't sit well with early audiences. During a crucial turning point this summer, Roger made the difficult decision to think of a more worldly and palatable moniker. Inspired by the British comedy Monty Python's Flying Circus, Ex Norwegian was decidedly the perfect fit for the foursome.

As for musical influences, each member has a different favorite, from Mos Def to Pink Floyd to David Bowie to The Strokes. What's more, the band all shares a carefree Miami upbringing along with unexpected collegiate ties. Miami Beach Senior High boasted a Rock Ensemble program that bore some of the city's most dedicated rockers to date. Under the tutelage of the legendary Doug Burris in different timeframes, Roger, Carolina and Michelle all developed their passion for performance. Arturo came in a bit later thanks to a connection on Facebook and mutual friends at the University of Miami.

Recently a fan revealed that their hit single, "Something Unreal," an infectious song with edgy guitar riffs layered over strong orchestrations and relatable lyrics, was the first music purchase they've made since the 90s. So it's fair to say that Ex Norwegian has the power to make people care about music again - a good thing, since they're currently recording their first full length album, Same Sex Different Day, set for release on the Dying Van Gogh music label, a side project of Roger's. When asked what reactions they hope to get out of their fans as their popularity grows, Michelle exclaims, "Happiness! I want people to listen to Ex Norwegian and smile -- a big cheesy one."

Catch Ex Norwegian at 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 28th, during an exclusive showcase at The Bath House Club, 5937 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. To RSVP for the show, call 305-867-5935. For more info visit www.exnorwegian.com. - Miami Herald/Miami.com

"They Did It Norway"

There's nothing past tense (or Norwegian) about Ex Norwegian
By: Larry Boytano

And now for something completely different: the Ex Norwegian world.

No one in the Miami Beach band is even vaguely Scandinavian--they got the name from Monty Python. And while they only got together this summer, they’ve already played a coveted CMJ gig and snagged air time on radio stations across the nation. But as of press time, they haven’t even played Churchill’s.

“It’s very surprising,” front man Roger Houdaille says of the band’s swift rise. “It was as simple as posting ‘Something Unreal’ on MySpace. We’re not kidding when we say it happened out of the blue. I posted the song and the next week a station in Hawaii is asking for it.” A mid-tempo, straight ahead indie rocker, “Something Unreal” features Houdialle’s light alto vocals over his strumming guitar and a simple, poppy rhythm section tightly held down by bassist Nina Souto and drummer Arturo Garcia. It’s one of those infectious, uncomplicated tunes that gets your head bobbing and your mind thinking that you’ve heard it before, but you haven’t.

Building on the “Something Unreal” buzz, the band shot a video for the tune. It became an indie rock fave on YouTube and has logged over 13,500 plays.

As the buzz was spreading, Houdaille— who handles promotion – sent promo EPs across the land, including to the annual New York City music showcase CMJ, where they were invited to play.

“We just applied like any other band,” Houdaille says simply. “I think only about twenty percent of bands that apply get accepted, so that was a pretty cool.” Ditto with XM Satellite Radio. The band’s tune “My Name is Paul” was featured on XM’s Radar Report program a couple of months after Houdaille sent the station a promo pack.

“It’s really above my head,” Souto says of all the interest. “And we did it all ourselves, too,” adds Garcia.

Even though the band is on the youngish side--Houdaille is 23, Souto, 22 and Garcia, 24--they’re no strangers to the ups and downs of the rock world.

Houdaille and Souto both attended Beach High on Miami Beach. He was a member of the Rock Ensemble, and has been in a handful of bands since graduating. Souto, a classically trained guitarist, was in the school’s Guitar Ensemble.

“I look back at it and we were on a grueling schedule,” Houdaille. “We’d practice everyday till five or six and sometimes during the weekends. It was really like being in a professional rock band. We toured and did like 50 gigs a year.”

“It was pretty much everything for me,” Souto says. “We even played in Japan, which was a great experience.”

Garcia rocked out in cover bands in his native Venezuela before coming stateside to study music at U of M. “This is what I do,” he says. “I studied engineering for a year, but I’ve always been all about music.”

The trio has a good, tight vibe live. Houdaille takes the mic with a guitar (sometimes single neck, other times double). He shuffles and sways and contorts his face coolly to hit notes and harmonies. Souto contentedly bobs as she holds down the low end with Garcia, who taps away with precision, sometimes using mallets, other times hand-held cymbals. To help flush out the sound, the trio often invites guest guitarists and vocalists.

The band holds its Miami Beach roots closely. At the same time, they feel that with today’s digital stylings, location is almost a non-issue, so that Miami’s heavy dance music vibe hasn’t slowed them down.

“It’s different now with the Internet,” Houdaille explains. “It’s a global thing and we have fans wherever this music is popular--England and the rest of Europe.”

Since morphing into Ex Norwegian this summer, the band hasn’t played a ton of shows around South Florida.

“We’re still slowly being noticed in Miami,” Houdaille says slyly. “It’s almost harder to gig locally. Let’s just say we played CMJ before Churchill’s.”

The band hopes their DIY ethic can carry them beyond the fast track laid via MySpace. They’ve pressed a seven inch, Dance Trance Pants, and are recording a debut disc due in February, to be released on Dying Van Gogh, a label Houdaille created primarily for Ex Norwegian and Transcendence, his studio project.

“We need to create a plan,” Houdaille says. “We’ll create a six week plan around the release. We’re hoping to get more exposure, some reviews and go on the road.”

“I want it to keep going at this pace or faster,” Souto says. “It’s happened so quick. I’m so excited about what’s going on and all I can think about is going on tour.”

Garcia feels the same way: “As soon as we got back [from CMJ and an Atlanta gig] I was like, ‘Man, I don’t want to be home.’ I just want to keep going.”

MySpace.com/ExNorwegian - Closer Magazine

"Impatience pays off for Miami's Ex Norwegian"

By John Thomason

For the past nine years, Roger Houdaille has had his hands in more pies than Hostess, performing in some 15 projects. The singer-songwriter and guitarist has been a staple in the South Florida indie-rock community, but his prolificacy is matched only by his relative impatience: His projects never last very long, or else his collaborations are so sporadic they don't gain any momentum.

That was until Houdaille christened his latest project Ex Norwegian this past June. Within months of playing its first gig, Ex Norwegian was invited to play the CMJ Music Marathon in New York and has since performed live on the British television network Sky News.

The Miami band's slickly produced debut album, "Standby," will be released Tuesday on Dying Van Gogh Records, with a CD release show at The Standard tonight (March 11) and an East Coast tour to follow. During an era in which politics drives pop and fame is mostly achieved by knowing people in high places, it's refreshing to see such national and international recognition for a band that built itself up from the bottom, using little more than a strong Internet push and savvy marketing.

The band's presence on sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Reverb Nation and OurStage caused the band's first single, "Something Unreal," to top several indie charts at an alarmingly fast clip. It helps that the song is, like much of the material on "Standby," fresh but infectiously familiar. It's an almost-too-perfect alt-rock track filled with handclap percussion, a jangling acoustic guitar, shards of electric guitar, a breezy drumbeat and simple lyrics about the insecurities of love. You'll wonder what youth-oriented WB show might have used it years ago.

"When I heard 'Something Unreal,' I thought, where is this from?" recalls drummer Arturo Garcia, who joined the band after the song was recorded. "I couldn't pin it down to anything. It definitely had that vibe that you've heard it before."

With a handful of solid tunes written, the band had to find a name that would be more distinctive and memorable than some of Houdaille's previous ventures. It's no coincidence that Ex Norwegian's ascent started about the time it abandoned its original name, Father Bloopy, which released one album and was often mislabeled as children's music or a Christian rock band.

"Ex Norwegian was phase two of Father Bloopy," Houdaille says, explaining that the name derives from a Monty Python sketch. "It was a marketing idea. I hate to say it, but it was just a more accessible name."

Garcia then joined Houdaille, guitarist Billie G and bassist Carolina Souto to form the current lineup. The band members are in their early 20s, but "Standby" reflects a wide range of influences, from the dancehall throwback "Dance Trance Pants" (which the band released as a 7-inch) to the classic-rock pomp of "Sudeki Lover" to the jangly, '90s guitar pop of "Don't Bother," which sounds like a lost Superchunk B-side. "Fresh Pit" is a catchy slice of Big Star/Teenage Fanclub-like power-pop.

For its live shows, Houdaille sees the group as more of a grunge act, while on record he wanted the production to sound more like Big Star, with a crisper sheen and less indie-rock fuzz.

"The mixing was done by [local musician] Zack Ziskin, who mixed the Hilary McRae record," Houdaille says. "He asked me at first, 'How do you want it to sound? Lo-fi or like the radio?' We're like, 'Like the radio!' It could have been lo-fi to do the more indie-rock thing, but I wanted it to sound good. It gives us that edge in a way, being more pop-sounding than indie-sounding."

Given the accessibility of its music and the fact that the band enjoys performing at unusual venues—it recently played a show at Miami's intimate Wallflower Gallery and will perform April 2 at the University of Miami's daytime Patio Jams series—Ex Norwegian is reaching an audience beyond the kind that would attend CMJ and buy up the majority of the Merge Records catalog.

"I'd rather play somewhere else than Churchill's," Houdaille says of the venerable Little Haiti venue. "I love Churchill's, we've played there twice, but it's a punk-rock place. We'll sound punk there no matter what. I love playing shows in the daytime outside. We're working any sort of way to get these shows."

"We're always like, 'Let's do this,'" Garcia adds. " 'Let's invite some people. Let's send invitations and e-mails.'"

Clearly, the persistence has paid off. The story of Ex Norwegian is proof that sometimes, all you need is hard work and great songs.

Ex Norwegian will perform an acoustic set 7 tonight at The Standard, 40 Island Ave., in Miami Beach. Admission is free. Call 305-673-1717 or visit Standardhotels.com/miami. Contact John Thomason at jpthomason@tribune.com. - City Link Metromix

"Ex Norwegian gains international momentum"

Miami Beach indie band: not on Standby
by Andrea Warner

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Ex Norwegian

w/ The Vincents

Fri. July 17

10 p.m.


The Tin Roof

1117 Magnolia Road

(843) 571-0775


"Fresh Pit"
from the album Standby
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With both a name and an album title taken from Monty Python, it's an easy mistake to think that indie-pop band Ex Norwegian are a quartet of Anglophiles or expat comedy fiends just looking to fulfill the American rock 'n' roll dream. But that's only partly true.

In reality, the band is a group of 20-somethings from sun-drenched, coconut oil-soaked Miami Beach. The group's been performing together for a year, but the hype surrounding them is massive, thanks to a relentless touring schedule and the success of a new debut album, Standby, which is full of hooky experiments that navigate folk, pop, and rock, paying tribute to bands from The Shins to The Kinks.

Roger Houdaille, 27, lead singer/songwriter, put together the group after performing as a solo artist for a few years. He recruited high school friend Carolina Souto, 24, to play bass, Arturo Garcia to take the prime role behind the drum kit, and Billie G on the guitar.

Within months of forming, Ex Norwegian had already been invited to the biggest, and most influential party in an independent band's foundation: College Music Journal's (CMJ) New York-based new music festival for college music stations. The weekend-long music marathon — a breeding ground for hobnobbing, discovering new talent, and relentless self-promotion — proved to be just the kick-start the band needed, and set the pace for a grueling but exciting first year.

"We were gonna take it slow, like, start touring next year, but then suddenly we had to get to New York," Rogers says. "We arrived on one of the last days and went to the hub of everything, and there were actually people who knew us and our songs and were singing to us, and it was kind of like, 'Wow.' We were surprised at that, but it gave us a vote of confidence."

A further boost to the Ex Norwegians' self esteem was an invitation to play on the Sky News channel hugely popular European show Sky Live that broadcasts their live performance to millions of people.

"It was just this random opportunity," Houdaille says. "They queue you, and we just kinda sing and have no idea what's going on. And then afterwards you have people in Ireland saying, "We saw you live!," and my mom, who lives in Paris, was like 'Yeah, we saw you live, I'm so excited.' The best part is our guitarist at the time, he had no idea it was live and was totally calm, and he's wondering why we're so nervous, and we're like, 'Dude, we just played to millions of people, literally."

For all the international accolades, though, Houdaille admits that playing in Charleston is actually at the top of Ex Norwegian's wish list.

"We booked this show first," he says of the tour planning. "We played Columbia a while back, and that was one of our greatest shows. They told us, 'Columbia's great, but you gotta go to Charleston.'"

This might just be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. - Charleston City Paper

"Put Your Dance Pants On"

Ex Norwegian released their first full length album, Standby, in March after a mere year together. After only a few months as a band, the Norwegians debuted with two hit singles, "Something Unreal" and "Dance Trance Pants."

Maybe a rush to stardom, but their music is not in a hurry.

The Garden State soundtrack was the hot indie mix that Zach Braff picked out. I pick out Ex Norwegian for the next big indie thing. Comparable to such bands as The Shins, the Norwegians are power pop. Power; short for powerful.

"Something Unreal" has a catchy hook, on first listen its easy to get lost in the beat. Looking for that powerful; found in "My Name is Paul," with racey lyrics discussing lies, dreams and the world around us.

During their fast pace journey, Ex Norwegians are touring all summer. Although they are not hitting the Michigan soil, Chicago will be one of the stops. Only a short drive from Grand Rapids!

Check some of their indie tracks at myspace.com/exnorwegian. - Review West Michigan

"Python and Politics"

For its musical influences, Ex Norwegian draws from the Kinks, Lou Reed, and Talking Heads. For its name, the Miami foursome borrowed from a Monty Python episode. The group formed in 2008 and is touring in support of its debut full-length album, "Standby," a combination of power-pop, classic rock, and indie music. This name was originally an inside joke, but quickly found additional meaning in politics, along with a few tracks like "My Name Is Paul," dedicated to former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz. - Boston Globe

"Standby review"

What's in a name? Potentially plenty when a band dubs itself Ex-Norwegian and there's not a Scandinavian expatriate in the bunch. Admittedly though, it's a considerably better handle than the moniker given its predecessor, the absolutely incongruous Father Bloopy. Fortunately, there's reason enough to forgive the band's lynchpin, Roger Houdaille for his strange choice in nom de plumes; whatever his shortcomings in that regard, it doesn't diminish his melodic prowess or his ability to inspire a rousing performance from his collaborators. Consequently, this new trio - Houdaille (vocals, guitar, mellotron, synths), Carolina Souto (bass) and Arturo Garcia (drums, percussion, vocals) - make amends with a stirring debut that's chock full of exuberant, exhilarating performances and a unerring pop sensibility that's both brash and irresistible.

In truth, Standby isn't so much a variation from Houdaille's Father Bloopy guise as it is a further affirmation of his melodic abilities, newly bolstered by an assertive stance and a modern rock regimen. The staccato rhythms of "Fujeira In My Dreams," the unrelenting pace of "Pow3full" and the steady stomp and surge of "Dance Trance Pants" all testify to the band's revved up delivery, confidence and poise. What's equally impressive is Ex-Norwegian's ability to flirt with radio-ready possibilities, be it with the pop-perfect "Sad Wonder," the buoyant refrains of "Fresh Pit" or the percolating "Add Vice," which, coincidentally or not, retraces the sound of the soul classic "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted." So no matter what name they paste above the marquee, Standby is nothing less than a standout.

Standout Tracks: "Add Vice," "Sad Wonder" LEE ZIMMERMAN - Blurt Magazine

"Standby review"

Ex Norwegian frontman Roger Houdaille is a bit goofy when it comes to naming his musical projects. His current act gets its name from an obscure Monty Python reference, which is strange enough. But it’s actually an improvement on the group’s former moniker, “Father Bloopy.”

Some of the track names on Ex Norwegian’s debut album, “Standby,” are pretty silly, too (see “Dance Trance Pants”). The album doesn’t try to wow anyone with its musical ingenuity. Instead, Ex Norwegian stands out because of its ability to combine different influences and create catchy power-pop melodies.

Most of the guitar hooks, base lines, and percussion beats on the album have been done before. It shifts from Weezer-like power-pop guitar solos to infectious acoustic guitar and vocal melodies that mirror The Shins. Some of the lyrical content and phrasing on “Standby” even sounds similar to Athens’ Of Montreal. But, at the same time, most of “Standby” sounds very commercial and accessible, like it could get airtime on any modern rock or alternative station.

Ultimately, Standby won’t earn you any indie “trendy hipster” points like a Decemberists or a Wilco CD will. But it is a catchy, radio-friendly record that will probably stay stuck in your car’s CD player for a good part of the summer.
- Metro Spirit Augusta

"Talking Heads-inspired band Ex Norwegian comes to the Tin Roof"

The band Ex Norwegian will be visiting the Tin Roof in West Ashley on July 17th for their first show in Charleston. A three-piece ensemble from Miami Beach, FL, Ex Norwegian is made up of Roger Houdaille (vocals, guitar); Nina Souto (backup vocals, bass); and Arturo Garcia (backup vocals, drums). The band is quite new, yet they are already making a name among Indie Rock circles with their debut album, Standby, which was just released in the spring.

Ex Norwegian began their musical journey a year ago, with four original members. Unfortunately the band's fourth member left before the tour began, and no plans have been established for a new addition as of yet. "We are comfortable with three in the band—and we all sing," says Houdaille.

The members are all original Floridians, and in fact, Houdaille and Souto attended the same high school. "We all come from musical backgrounds," says Houdaille. "Nina and I were both part of a high school rock ensemble. And most of the musicians that we've toured with hav

e same high school. "We all come from musical backgrounds," says Houdaille. "Nina and I were both part of a high school rock ensemble. And most of the musicians that we've toured with have also been from this general area in Florida. It's a network."

"My dad also played in a jazz group my whole life," says Souto. "I've been playing instruments since I was small."

The style of Ex Norwegian is very difficult to label. The band generally goes under "Indie Rock," but Houdaille says "we think of that as a varied term. I don't listen to a lot of new music, but that's what fits us best." The band's actual sound is reminiscent of pop, yet the lyrics are thoughtful, with lines such as "dance, dance, dance on your motor car."

"We like quirky subject matter," says Houdaille. "We try to stay away from love songs as much as possible, and come up with lines that we've never heard of before."

Ex Norwegian's influences include classic artists like The Kinks and The Talking Heads. "We all have our own musical tastes," says Houdaille. "Our IPODS that we bring on the road have their common ground but definitely particulars too."

As for the band's interesting name, it is actually taken from a Monty Python sketch. "We were looking for a band name, and I had just spent like a week watching Monty Python," laughs Houdaille. "We like to have fun with words in our music, and we needed something different. The ironic thing, of course, is that none of us are Norwegian!"

The show at the Tin Roof is the band's first Charleston show, although not their first time in the Carolinas. "We played in Columbia back in March," says Houdaille. "Everyone suggested that we should come to Charleston, so here we are."

Bandmember Nina Souto is the only one of the three who has visited the Lowcountry. "I came here a couple of weeks ago," she says. "I even had the chance to check out the Tin Roof, and I love the venue. Plus, the town is awesome and I think a lot of people will enjoy our show." - The Post And Courier


Something Unreal [digital single, 2008]
Dance Trance Pants [7" single, Oct 2008]
Standby [full length, March 2009]
Sketch [full length, November 2011]
"Original Copy" [Digital Single, 2012]
"Something Unreal"
House Music [full length, October 2012]
8-Disc B-Sides Boxset [December 2012]



Ex Norwegian burst onto the indie rock world stage like a storm and has been on the brink of redefining what indie rock means ever since. Their sound is catchy, unpredictable and addictive; and entirely free of pretension or self aggrandizing pathos. Instead, the band delivers irresistible, hook-laden songs one after the other – both musically and lyrically – combined with an electrifying live show that is steadily drawing in audiences and critics alike.

The group launched into worldwide public acclaim in the summer of 2008 delivering a jaw-dropping standing room only performance at New York City's CMJ festival. Their debut album Standby (Dying Van Gogh Records 2009) gained the band instant national exposure, along with oodles of praise from music critics coast to coast; including cover stories, five star ratings and guest appearances on TV and radio shows. Their follow up, entitled Sketch, was released in the US on Nov. 15th, 2011 (UK Nov. 14th) and accomplishes the impossible: it improves something that sounded incapable of needing improvement. Instantly recognizable and yet full of sonic surprises, the band’s second album is pure and powerful indie pop-rock ear candy that leaves you breathless, scratching your head, and wondering what just happened, as if the band is just getting started and at any minute is bound to blow the roof off.

The band's latest LP, House Music (their 3rd in 3 years) picks up where Sketch left off and brings in new sonic and songwriting dimension -- features the singles "Original Copy" and "Ginger, Baby"