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File:KaizersOrchestra 6225.jpg

From left to right: Janove Ottesen, Terje Winterstø Røthing, Helge Risa (and The Mask), Geir Zahl, Rune Solheim, and Øyvind Storesund


 Norwegian storm-trooping tarantellas with savage rhythms and innovative textures. Thinking man's circus music. Way out.

Tom Waits


A Norwegian alternative rock band who have also attained significant international popularity despite (or, maybe because of) singing in their native Norwegian dialect. They are well known for their raucous live shows, during which they utilize oil barrels and other unusual items for the purposes of percussion.

Their catalog of quirky Genre Roulette songs prevalently features cryptic, surrealistic "storytelling" lyrics in the vein of Tom Waits, that are often part of an interconnected, cross-album Myth Arc. Their lyrical subject matter includes World War II, The Mafia, Russian Roulette and insanity.

All in all, they can be considered the epitome of Crazy Awesome and Hot-Blooded.

Band members:

  • Janove Ottesen: Vocals, percussion
  • Geir Zahl: Lead guitar, vocals, percussion
  • Terje Winterstø Røthing: Rhythm guitar, percussion
  • Helge Risa: Organ, percussion
  • Øyvind Storesund: Bass
  • Rune Solheim: Drums, percussion

Albums Kaizers Orchestra has released:

  • Ompa til du dør (2001)
  • Evig pint (2003)
  • Maestro (2005)
  • Maskineri (2008)
  • Våre demoner (B-Sides, 2009)
  • Violeta Violeta Volume I (2011)
  • Violeta Violeta Volume II (2011)

Tropes Associated With Kaizers Orchestra:

  • Aerith and Bob: Dominique, Violeta, Marcello and... Kenneth. (Bear in mind that "Kenneth" is still a relatively unusual given name in Norway.)
  • Album Title Drop: Sometimes it even gets dropped as a song title!
    • The title of Ompa til du dør is featured both in the lyrics for the title song and the last chorus of "Resistansen".
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Quite literally: Rune's Stage Name is "Mink".
  • Alternative Rock: Subverted. Often referred to as this, but the band themselves counter this with the argument "alternative to what?"
  • Animated Music Video: "Mann mot mann" (NSFW).
  • Arc Words: If you don't know about the mafia-based backstory (and sometimes, even if you do), just about any proper noun can become one.
  • Audience Participation: At one special event for a hundred fans, they invited one fan to play drums on "Knekker deg til sist".
  • Audience Participation Song: Go to most Kaizers concerts (at least domestically) and you figure out pretty quickly that the band could probably do without their vocalist half of the time. The band tends to leave most refrains and call-and-response parts to the audience, at least on songs that are relatively well-known: Some songs will have the audience singing along on the entire song, prompted or no.
    • The all-time greatest occurrence of this was at their special anniversary concert in Oslo Spektrum in 2011. The crowd kept singing the chorus of "Die Polizei", the very last song of the set, for damn near ten minutes after the band walked off the stage.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears: "En for orgelet, en for meg", of which there are no less than four variations, each with the bridge performed by a different internationally known rap artist (though "rap artist" may not be the best descriptor for the little girl performing on the album version).
  • Badass: The whole band pretty much qualifies as a Badass Crew, but pick a picture of Terje. Any picture of Terje, just about.
  • Bedlam House: The story of Maestro is centered around one of these.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The relatives of one Violeta Violeta. And in another sense of the word, the mafia family of Ompa til du dør.
  • Black Sheep Hit: They refrained from including "Prosessen", an up-tempo, relatively straight pop song, from their first album specifically to avoid this. Ironically, it was eventually released on Våre demoner; while released as a single, it was not much of a hit, even by the band's standards.
  • Careful with That Axe: "Damplokomotiv", from the Ompa til du dør demo. "Dieter Meyers Inst." also gradually becomes this, as Janove's voice becomes more and more unhinged as the song goes on.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Helge's character is a somewhat Omen-ous example of this, as described in this page's Funny tab. Øyvind too shows signs of this in both live DVD documentaries (especially Veien til Spektrum, in which he imitates the sound of a newly opened bottle of wine being poured, which he does to convince himself it is actually a fresh bottle), but the extent to which he plays it up for entertainment is indecisive at best.
  • Concept Album: Their entire studio discography, but crowning honors go to the Violeta Violeta trilogy.
  • Concept Video: Many of their music videos qualify, however, "Hjerteknuser" might be the one most true to the trope definition, as it depicts characters and events detailed in the lyrical universe of Violeta Violeta, rather than abstract renditions of characters played by the band themselves.
  • Continuity Nod: "D-Dagen" makes a lyrical reference to the character of Dominique, four years after the release of Ompa til du dør.
  • Control Freak: Janove's tendencies towards this are well documented in the Kontroll på kontinentet autobiography and a slew of interviews, but appears to have been assuaged to some degree in recent years.
  • Chronological Album Title: The Violeta Violeta trilogy is comprised of volumes 1, 2, and 3.
  • Cover Version: A cover of Norwegian rocker Joachim "Jokke" Nielsen's song "Action" was released on a bonus disc bundled with the special edition version of Maestro. Furthermore, they have spontaneously covered parts of songs in-concert, such as integrating the bassline of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" into "Mann mot mann" (which features a relatively similar bassline to begin with), and (even more atypically) using the chorus of Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" during performances of "Naade", among several other examples.
    • Notably, they performed "Goin' Out West" at a birthday celebration all-star show in celebration of their idol (and reciprocal fan) Tom Waits.
  • Creator Breakdown: Sort of. Practically all the band members were undergoing personal trials during the recording of Evig pint; in fact, the master take of the title track was recorded while Janove was particularly distraught, which can be heard in his pained vocal performance. Made even more poignant when you consider the song's title (see Darker and Edgier below).
  • Creator Couple: Ottesen/Zahl, to a minor extent considered the Lennon/McCartney of Norwegian music.
  • Darker and Edgier: Evig pint (Norwegian for Eternally Tormented) was a deliberate attempt to avoid the accusations that they were purely a gimmicky-party band. So with Evig pint the guitar was pushed into the foreground, less attention was put to the weird percussion and the lyrics got way darker. The funny thing though, is that Ompa was a pretty dark album too. Most of the critics seems to forget that.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Invoked constantly when representatives of the group reply to fan mail. Since said feature was removed from their website some time ago, this has naturally worked its way into their Facebook messages.
  • Dr. Feelgood: "Dr. Mowinckel".
  • Driven to Suicide: "Min kvite russer". Also "Den romantiske tragedien".
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: The first few minutes of "Medisin & Psykiatri", from Våre demoner, qualifies as this.
    • Done again in "Svarte katter & flosshatter" from Violeta Violeta Volume I.
  • Epic Rocking: "Kontroll på kontinentet" and a slight handful of other songs become this when performed live.
    • Very early on in their career, they would often turn some live songs into near-ten minute jam sessions, but these tendencies disappeared rather quickly. They do not consider themselves a good "jam" band.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Fallback in case their musical career failed.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Oil barrels and crowbars, and for a time, trash can lids. Oh, and there's the inclusion of a distinctive red trash can in Rune's drum kit. Which is not to to mention the wide variety of quirky implements used for studio cuts.
  • Fading Into the Next Song: "Container" → "Naade", "Apokalyps meg" → "Den andre er meg", and "Auksjon (i Dieter Meyers hall" → "På ditt skift".
  • Faking the Dead: The mafia boss protagonist of "Kontroll på kontinentet" stages an elaborate fake funeral for himself to ascertain the identity of a family member who has betrayed him.
  • Fan Nickname: "Kaizers". Even picked up on by the media, what with the headline-friendliness of the shorter title.
  • Fan Service: Janove seems to lose his shirt at a lot of live shows...
  • Gratuitous English: Pops up from time to time in their lyrics.
    • Arguably Lampshaded in "Die Polizei", which features English lyrics, albeit spoken in a distinct German accent; this is an explicit reference to dialogue from The Big Lebowski.
  • Flip-Flop of God: Regarding whether the subject of the song "170" won or lost the war in which he fought.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Implied with the character Dominique after he fails to keep Tony Fuciante from shooting himself in the head playing Russian Roulette.
  • Iconic Item: The gas mask. How it came to be in the band's possession (or is it the the other way around?), as explained by Helge:

 "The mask... it came to me... and I just took it. And... we were friends."

  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Read a Norwegian newspaper. Any Norwegian newspaper. You will get a kipper if an article on the band has anything but something along the lines of "the Kaizer's new clothes", or "control over the [arbitrary performance venue]."
  • La Résistance: "Resistansen" of Ompa til du dør.
  • Large Ham: Janove is known to slip into this, especially live.
    • "The devil made that guitar for him. ...But the LAAAAAWD made him that suit!"
  • Let's Duet: Maskineri has two of them: "Den andre er meg" with Terje's wife Ragnhild, and "Du og meg Lou, og din fru" with Swedish artist Stefan Sundström.
  • Limited Special Collectors Ultimate Edition: ...Well, at least they tried. This is what the special embossed-cover version of Violeta Violeta Volume I was intended to be. Originally, the point was for everyone who attended a show during their 2010 Studio Tour to get one in exchange for sending a special mail-in card to a certain address. Turns out they had some to spare after sending them, and sold these at the merch stand at concerts.
    • To a lesser extent, the Våre demoner album. It was printed in a one-run edition, and was to be retracted from stores after the passing of one week. Similar to the above example, it wasn't, and is still sold at merch stands in 2012 (though they have claimed this will truly be the last time they will be available for sale).
  • List Song: A bridge in "Din kjole lukter bensin, mor" lists, in bullet points, the process of Violeta and Beatrice's hypothetical reconciliation. What's more, the final stanza incorporates both last points by way of a pun.
  • Lost Love Montage: "Hjerteknuser" from Violeta Violeta Volume I and "Fanden hakk i hel" from Våre demoner both have elements of this.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: And how. "Tokyo Ice til Clementine" is perhaps their most shining example of this trope, as the song is overly cheerful and bouncy...but the matter surely ain't. (Scroll to the bottom of the page.)
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Ompa til du dør is widely considered their Magnum Opus, although Maestro (to a lesser degree) is often given the same consideration; in fact, the band themselves appear to consider Maestro to be their masterwork. This doesn't stop them from claiming their newest effort is their best whenever they have a new album coming out. These convictions seldom last.
  • Medley: During the 250 Prosent tour, concerts began with abridged versions of "Medisin & psykiatri", "Fra sjåfør til passasjer" and "På ditt skift" performed as if it were one whole song.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The Kaizers Orchestra EP (better known as the Gul EP) has a plain yellow cover, adorned only by a barcode.
  • Motor Mouth: "Bak et halleluja" might as well be marketed as a professional elocution lesson at times. Also, when performing the band introductions during live performances of "Kontroll på kontinentet", Janove is prone to segue into this.
  • Music At Sporting Events: Surprisingly invoked when the group became the sponsors for the Norwegian soccer team Bryne.
  • The Musical: Sonny has shades of this, featuring Kaizers Orchestra songs re-recorded for the occasion. The play itself is based on the interconnected lyrical universe of the band's first three albums.
  • Myth Arc: The lyrics form an interconnected story arc that follows a Mafia familiy throughout and after WWI and II.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Pretty much describes their entire musical output.
  • Never Learned to Read Sheet Music: They've admitted as much.
  • New Sound Album: Every album they make is presented as this, most notably Maskineri.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Ompa + gas masks + a pump organ + oil barrels + Large Ham = these guys.
    • Add a dash of Tom Waits in for good measure...
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Rullett", "Katastrofen", "Hevnervals", "Moment", "Kaizers 115. drøm", "Romantisk salme i F-dur", and "Christiania". The latter was given an outro refrain of "Bevar Christiania" ("Preserve Christiania") during live performances, however; fittingly, one such performance was recorded for the Viva La Vega DVD recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark.[1]
    • And aside from these, there are a bunch of songs whose titles aren't sung in Exact Words.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: A conspicuous amount of songs on the Violeta Violeta albums (perhaps more to come) have these: "Sju bøtter tårer er nok, Beatrice", "Femtakt filosofi", "En for orgelet, en for meg", and "Tusen dråper regn".
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Kaizers 115. drøm" maybe
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Min kvite russer", in which the Real Life drink White Russian (a favorite of Janove's) plays a significant role.
    • The chorus of the B-side "Markveien" becomes a Tear Jerker example of this.
  • Penal Colony: "Gruvene på 16", a common subject in early material, is a colony to which Marcello Conradas, an unwitting sailor, is sent to mine precious stones for the slavedriver Henry.
  • Performance Video: "Blitzregn baby", "9 mm", and "Prosessen"; the latter two actually consist of concert footage recorded by fans.
  • The Pete Best: Jon Sjøen, who left the group in 2004. Øyvind has since displaced him to the point where few fans remember Sjøen, and Sjøen is frequently mistaken for Øyvind in older photos and videos (which can be excused to a certain extent, as they do share certain physical similarities.)
  • Power Ballad: "Med en gong eg når bånn", "Min kvite russer", and "Jævel av en tango" have all been referred to, in-concert, as power ballads.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Sometimes during performances, Helge will incorporate melodies from psalms and hymns.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The climax of "Dieter Meyers Inst." builds up to this.
  • The Quiet One / The Stoic: Helge, wearer of the iconic Gas Mask, has one hell of a poker face even without the mask on. And when he speaks, you listen.
  • Rearrange the Song: Often invoked with songs that are performed live long before they are ever released; most radically, "Di grind" was originally presented as a slower number, with a prominent guitar riff rather than a piano part acting as the primary "hook".
  • Record Producer: Janove has co-produced all of their studio albums. His most common collaborator has been Jørgen "Duperman" Træen.
  • Revenge: An all-too-common theme throughout their work; the most famous example is the song "Ompa til du dør", which tells of a man who takes revenge on his wife's murderer by forcing him to "dance ompa" until he dies from exhaustion. A Less subtle example is "Hevnervals", whose title literally means "avenger's waltz".
  • Rockumentary: The "Tour Tull" (Tour Nonsense) documentary featured on the Viva La Vega DVD, infamous for its less-than-serious subtitles, is an example of this.
  • Rockstar Song: "Prosessen" is definitely this, being a thinly veiled depiction of Kaizers Orchestra's rise to fame. And it was written before they had even achieved much of any kind of success...
  • Rooftop Concert: Kaizers Orchestra played an unnanounced concert the rooftop of Universal Germany headquarters in Berlin in 2005.
  • Russian Roulette: A recurring theme in their work.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: There are quite a few. Actually, Maestro is pretty much a Sanity Slippage Album.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: "Mr. Kaizer, hans Constanze og meg".
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Janove often performs his own backup vocals along with those of the other bandmates.
  • Sequel Song: Inevitable what with their lyrical approach and all, but averted with "Drøm hardt (Requiem part I)". There is still no "Requiem part II".
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The character in the song "Bris".
  • Shirtless Scene: More like Shirtless Concert.
  • Single-Stanza Song: "Faen i båten".
  • So My Kids Can Watch: Janove has written music for a family friendly musical.
  • Spoken Word in Music: The outro of "Auksjon (i Dieter Meyers hall)" has Janove repeatedly uttering the words "Come to daddy, daddy is cool."
  • Stage Names: All the members have stage names: Janove is "The Jackal", Geir is "Hellraizer", Terje is "Killmaster", Rune is "Mink", Øyvind is "Thunder", and Helge is "Omen". Past member Jon Sjøen was interchangeably referred to as "Lion King" and "Rasmus", among others. Additionally, Janove was initially called "Rat". The origin of these names are uncertain, however, the band have remarked that Rune is so named due to his excessive amount of body hair.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Terje was given a half a verse of "D-Dagen", which he performs in the raucous vocal style he uses when acting as lead singer for Skambankt, his other band.
    • In a hilarious instance, all the band members switched instruments for a performance of "Bøn fra helvete"; Helge performed lead vocals. In recent times, he has also performed the spoken word verses of "Svarte katter & flosshatter" (by yelling into a megaphone, no less) during live performances.
    • A borderline case is Geir. He used to perform lead vocals on a number of songs early on in their career, but this has since been phased out somewhat. Geir performing lead vocals, both live and on record, has become a rare occurrence over time; when he does so, however, at least the trope is executed in the most literal manner possible. He has returned to lead vocal duties on two songs on Violeta Violeta Volume II, however.
  • Surreal Music Video: "Knekker deg til sist". Let's see here, we have inexplicable clones of the band members whose facial expressions range from "happy on crack" to a complete lack of emotion, Janove (or is it a clone?) pretending to be a dead body in order to check out a woman's cleavage, and Helge channeling Samara Morgan. Yep.
  • Studio Chatter: Snippets of dialogue in studio recordings have been heard occasionally, the most famous example being "Bris", which ends with a fit of laughter from the band due to Helge ending his organ part in the completely wrong key. Another is "Under månen", a bonus track from the Våre demoner album: at the end of the song, Janove says to the others that they need to "work on the solo", as his improvisational instrumental break eventually ended up out of key and out of sync with the others.
  • The Beatles: One consistently name-dropped source of inspiration. They may even be more of an influence than previously thought, as the distinctive oil barrel section in "Bastard" was directly inspired by Ringo Starr's drumming on "Drive My Car".
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Apokalyps meg".
  • Train Song: "Damplokomotiv", an obscure demo song.
  • Uncommon Time: "Femtakt filosofi" — Its title literally means "Philosophy in 5/4".
  • Unplugged Version: Happens every once in a blue moon whenever only a few of the members embark on a promotional tour. Most notably, to promote Violeta Violeta Volume I, Janove performed songs, both new and old, on the piano, with only Øyvind on bass as his accompaniment; this duo came to be known as "The Jackal & Thunder Combo".
  • Vocal Tag Team: Janove/Geir on "Kalifornia", Janove/Terje on "D-Dagen".
  • War Is Hell: "170"
  • What Could Have Been: Came this close to performing as a support act for Depeche Mode in 2005 (Dave Gahan had seen them perform before, and was eager to meet them), but plans fell through.
  1. For those not in the know, "Freetown Christiania" is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of Copenhagen.