Norway – back into the roots

by Henrik Tuxen

After a pretty rocking and rolling 2018 in Latin America, Europe, USA, and various festivals in Denmark it was great to turn off the devices and get back into the roots of what brought us here.

My father is danish, I've lived in Copenhagen, or close by suburbs, my entire life, but my mother is Norwegian ( and very much so). 56 years in Denmark has hardly changed her accent (my old classmates were always terrified when she picked up the phone) and she kept the Norwegian heart and spirit intact as well.  This means that I've spent a tremendous amount of time in Norway partly known for a stunning and wild nature, with mountains, see, snow and rocks, whereas Denmark is more like a fine, nice kept garden.


All summer in Norway – Every year

Every summer up on till I was 16 or so, I spent 6 weeks at the family summer resident outside Bergen, in Lysefjorden, with direct access to the sea (which, if you swim long enough, will take you to the British coast). Furthermore we spent Christmas at my grandparents classic bungalow in Bergen plus the annual skiing vacation around Easter at Ustaoset and Geilo. After a couple of rebellious juvenile years I've returned to Lysefjorden almost every year, and the passion has been passed on. Raising three kids without any kind of plan or philosophy for raising up kids whatsoever, the only hope I had, was that my first born, Tobias, would find a place for Norway in his heart. The rock'n'roll city life would be unavoidable I imagined (although he's pretty much has parked that thing aside these days) but would he get the sense and atmosphere for the  - sometimes rough and challenging – power of the sea, mountains, and the rich family history, and spectacular Norwegian historic culture? Close in language and culture to Denmark, but also in many ways entirely different. A balance and duality which has been with me all my life, and something I treasure and appreciated more and more as the years passes by.


The spirit has been passed on

What can I say, Tobias who has lived his entire life – so far 30 years – in  central Copenhagen, has been to Lysefjorden more than 20 times, and has tattooed the outlook from the shore of the family property, as well as one of the classic Norwegian fairy tales ('The 7th father in the House') on his arm. And as for the girls, Celine, 27 and Lulu, 21; both have strong childhood memories from Norway, and keeps on returning to Lysefjorden. All three are great skiers.


Family and traditions – growing up

I spoke Norwegian before I spoke danish, I've been told, and spent all the long summers with my mom, (sometimes my dad) siblings, grandparents and my uncle, aunt and cousins, so it's almost like brothers and sisters to this day. Plus local friends and other family and always many generations (remembering hearing stories from the War, meaning World War 1 , as a kid) . It's like you enter a different World the minute you enter the property and your routines automatically change. We eat, act, speak and interact differently. I've never taken a shower in Lysefjorden, strictly the Sea, which can be pretty chilly. You have the warmest sunniest days, and it can rain for weeks, you never know. The main diet is more or less entirely self-caught fish, on a lucky day with crabs and lobsters and you get groceries and gas by boat. This is also the place where I got heavily into music from older cousins and a Norwegian friend in the 70s, such as Lou Reed, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and the growing of punk. We listened to Radio Luxembourg top 40 on a lousy radio signal at night time, and had a small cassette deck, and 2-3 times a summer, me and friend Pål went to Bergen centre to buy records like 'Never mind the Bollocks, here's the Sex Pistols'. This is also were I formed my table tennis skills, which (as tennis) still is my main spare-time activity besides music.


A special kind of magic

For the last couple of years it hasn't worked out, but this year the huge Tuxen family gathering took place at Lysefjorden. Me, my girlfriend Hanne, my son Tobias and my 82-year old mom came first, then  Celine and my father, and Lulu – just returning from nine months in Australia – arrived two days later.

'I've always found it difficult to explain to friends, what kind of magic feeling there is about this place' Tobias told Hanne, who went there for her first time. Pretty early on she knew what he was talking about. She's been pretty much permanently out of her comfort zone since we met, slightly short of year, Lysefjorden was no exception. She pulled it of bravely, now a true nature's daughter, living of the land.


Norwegian Wood – strong women

So what happened; eight days of diving into the pretty cold sea, setting and fixing the fishing nets, fishing from boat and land and eating the catch. Playing lots of guitar, both with son and daughter, long deep conversations and spiritual talks (Tobias and cousin Ole are seriously lost hippies, we're talking 3 weeks of silent retreats in Brazil, maestroes, indian alias', tantra festivals and similar evil stuff) playing the same card games as every year (a particular one, kabalspil,  physically from the 19th Century, this is true), spending hours in boats and kayaks, going for spectacular walks at nearby hilly Islands and spending good times, and lots of catching up with cousins and my 87-year old aunt, who still drives the speedboat and gets into the sea water everyday, and lives and active life in every way. All of them pretty excited about my Pearl Jam fairy tale and following my whereabouts on SoMe by the way. My grandmother made it to 103 (when they cleaned up her room after she passed away, they found about 400$ hidden in my first Pearl Jam book on the shelf, which she had read) and nothing seems to be stopping either my mom or aunt Rita. Maybe that's what John Lennon meant by Norwegian Wood, don't know, but those women are made of some pretty solid stuff. Encouraging to see people live their lives to the full extent. Plan to do so  myself, if it all works out. Good family spirit anyway.


An exotic sight for tourist – me and Hanne

And then me and Hanne became the subject of exotic local behavior and life-style. There's about two kilometers by sea to the local grocery store (Buena), which also is occasionally serving as a small harbor for tourist trips in the local sound. The weather was so fine that we decided to make the trip in kayaks in stead of the motor boat this particular day. We ended up talking with a German tourist at the destination, who was absolutely enchanted about our means of transportation for groceries. Like, 'so this is how the local Norwegians live their everyday life'.

Last day my brother Fredrik, his wife Dorthe and my two nephews Jacob and Rasmus showed up, overlapping for a full day. The house was pretty packed that day, no shit Sherlock. Of course we had self-caught cod, saithe and some fish of which origin I have absolutely no idea, ready for them. Weather was cloudy and rainy, which for once, is precisely what you've been lacking and therefore been craving for in Scandinavia this summer. So ended up with another traditional card game 'kappekabal' – best described as a combination of total awareness, extreme stress and hand to hand combat, with a touch of physical violence – as well as crushing the fjord full speed in motorboat while others conquered the weather Gods and jumped into the Kayaks.


Bergen and Ballard – a perfect match

So, the perfect break after PJ Europe and slowly warming up for a fabulous trip to Seattle for home shows, Wishlist parties, book presentation at Nordic Museum, MoPop and the celebration of Sub Pops 30th anniversary. The Great Pacific Northwest. A region with strong ties and relations to Scandinavia, especially Norway. In many ways with strong similarities in Nature, culture and population. Seattle and Bergen are officially Sister Cities, with multiple exchange in culture, trade and university Scholarships. Bergen has a Seattle totem pole in Nordness Parken, and Ballard houses a mini-park dedicated by King Olav of Norway. The same part of Seattle, where my old band The Sharing Patrol recorded our swan song 'Take you There', at Hanzek Studio in 1996 (and which started my journey with Pearl Jam). Just about 400 meters from where I'm invited to present The More You Need – The Less You Get, at Nordic Museum August 9th. So maybe it's not such a surprise after all, that I've always felt at home in Seattle. Hope to see as many of you there as possible there.


Thanks, Henrik

Much love to: Hanne Lund Birkholm - Tobias Tuxen - Lulu Høi Tuxen - Celine Høi Haugelund - Ingsefi & Lars Tuxen - Ingrid Rasmussen - Rita Hermanrud - Jørgen Wiig - Fredrik Tuxen - Dorte Tuxen - Rasmus Tuxen - Jacob Tuxen - Ole Hermanrud.