The Cornuzine Interviews: Biff Malibu
Haven’t thrown one of these up in a while. In case you forgot, Cornuzine was a website I used to do. These interviews were the only redeeming part.
His parents gave him the name Fritjof Jacobsen, but in 1994 this jaunty Norwegian chap rechristened himself Biff Malibu (after the porn actor) and formed the flashy hard rock combo Gluecifer with a few of his pals. Biff’s light, saucy vocal delivery pleasantly punctuated the slew of excellent albums Gluecifer released during their eleven year run. In 2003, I got the chance to chat with the bescarfed front man, which was an experience beyond thrilling for this drooling fan boy. Continue reading to discover what the self-described “scheming dildo” has to say about Norwegian history, the Foo Fighters, and that lady from Sleepless In Seattle.
BIFF MALIBU SPEAKS OF ROCK, MEG RYAN
JAMES GREENE, JR: For a Norwegian singer, you have a pretty good handle on the English language. Explain this phenomenon, please.
BIFF MALIBU: Musicality I guess, or maybe more likely the fact that we Scandihoooligans are taught english in school from we are nine ’til we are 18.
JG2: Nine ’til you’re eighteen? What’s the reasoning behind that?
BM: Probably to prime us for an international career in rock and roll, or maybe the fact that Norway is such a small country that we need to know English because no one is willing to learn Norwegian.
JG2: No one wants to learn their native language?
BM: Oay, to be serious…Norway has a population of four million people. We speak Norwegian, a language very similar to Swedish and Danish. Norway has for hundreds of years had a strong bond with [the] U.K.—not strange, since we used to be a big shipping nation. Since our country is so small, I guess someone figured out many years ago that it was important to learn foreign language in order to do trade, etc. In the late 1800s, thousands of Norwegians emigrated to [the] U.S.A. I guess the bond with English and American people were strengthened during World War II.
JG2: I see.
BM: Since the war, all kids have been taught English in school. Today, I would say that almost everyone you’ll meet here has English as their second language, but don’t get me wrong—in our daily life we speak and write Norwegian. It’s just that here, and in the other Scandi countries for that matter, the proficiency in English language is very high, especially compared to the bigger euro countries like France or Germany.
JG2: Interesting. We don’t really have a second language here, generally speaking.
BM: For our part in Gluecifer, we have spent so much time abroad…that I guess our English has been maintained very well. I myself am also married to a girl who has an American dad, so I speak English a lot, and also read most books in that language.
JG2: Cool. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t your latest effort Basement Apes debut at #4 on the Billboard charts in Scandanavia? Has this success changed the mighty rock machine that is Gluecifer?
BM: We debuted at #2, actually, and stayed in the top forty for several weeks. It was very cool, as it enabled us to play more cities and to more people here in Norway. It hasn’t really changed the machine though, maybe just given it a little more financial lubrication. That was welcome, of course.
JG2: Didn’t you guys just open for the Foo Fighters? How was that?
BM: Foo Fighters were really nice guys. Thay gave us tons of booze and beer and real red carpet treatment. The show itself was okay—felt a little weird playing a sports arena—but I guess we can get used to that if we have to.
JG2: That’s cool. I touched Dave Grohl’s knee once. So, the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was last week. Is there any band you think the Hall needs to induct next year? Anyone you think they shouldn’t have inducted this year?
BM: I don’t care too much about this Hall of Fame thing. I’ve been to the museum in Cleveland, and although some of it was pretty cool, I think looking at Kurt Cobain’s sweater or Pete Townshend’s old socks is far away from rock. If you are talking in terms of underrated bands or artists, Roky Erickson is the first name that comes to my mind.
JG2: Good ol’ Roky. You once famously sang that you were sick of watching TV ’cause “they’re always showing Prong.” Do they really show a lot of Prong on TV where you live, or do you just not like Prong? Explain your lyric, please!
BM: When we wrote that song, someone had just dragged me to a Prong show. I disliked it strongly. But, to be honest, I think the main reason for using the word Prong was that I had to rhyme something with “schlong.”
JG2: Got it. When exactly was the year of Manly Living? 1978?
BM: Every year since we started Gluecifer in ’94 has been a year of manly living.
JG2: How did “Leather Chair” end up in Kate & Leopold?
BM: Beats me. We just got noticed in an e-mail and received a check. Haven’t seen the movie. Is it any good?
JG2: Oh, I have no idea.
BM: Meg Ryan spell a little too much like Xanax for my taste.
JG2: Did you just say Meg Ryan spell a little too much like Xanax? I don’t…
BM: Haven’t you seen that perpetual blissful look on her face?
BM: It has to be pharmaceuticals!
– Cornuzine.com, 3/19/03