Lorenzo Woodrose illustration by J.Scott Stratton

Getting the skinny with Lorenzo Woodrose

Talking about the rollercoaster ride of music and rock n’ roll which led the helmsman of Baby Woodrose and Spids Nøgenhat to go back to basics for his latest music project.

Published: August 10, 2017Words: Lorenzo Woodrose & J.Scott Stratton

I think it’s safe to say that no one is going to make a film about your life without first shedding a few drops of blood and harboring a fair amount of struggle. And while the rock and roll life is hard on anyone that dares to pursue it, Uffe Lorenzen–the man mostly known as Lorenzo Woodrose–has seen more than his share of the empty dive bars, empty wallets and empty promises that only a life as a musician can offer.

This would explain–as I patiently wait in a bodega behind a pint of Czech beer, staring at a giant illustrated poster of Lorenzo that simply says “Born to Lose”–why you can often find this gentle giant of man happily pouring pints for the locals of Frederiksberg rather than cashing in mountains of royalty checks. The rock and roll life is more a pursuit for the love of music than it is a pursuit of a decent paycheck.

Over the last 20 years, Lorenzo has been weaving his way in and out of the Danish music scene–with his various projects On Trial, Dragontears, Baby Woodrose, and Spids Nøgenhat–in an ever increasing attempt to tame the fickle rock and roll beast. And while he has seen some success over the years with both Baby Woodrose and Spids Nøgenhat, it hasn’t been without its share of falls that left some scars to show for his dedication to music.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lorenzo and his work, Google will gladly feed you pages and pages of articles, images, and videos that showcase the madness that has been his life–from smoking copious amounts of weed to singing duets with Elmo from Sesame Street.

But, I am not calmly waiting for this man to finish pulling a few pints to talk to him about his struggles as a musician. Hell, I’m staring at a poster for a film that does that better than I could ever do.

I’m here to speak with him about his newest endeavours–a more acoustic styled project, he is calling Galmandsværk, which he recently finalized the last touches in the studio and is slated to be out sometime this year on Bad Afro records.

"I feel at this point in my life it’s important to write songs about subjects that make sense to me, and which I feel are important."

Just as Lorenzo signals that he is ready, and I break out the recorder and dawn to push the play button, we are interrupted by a small boy around the age of 10. He approaches Lorenzo and asks why there is a giant poster of him on the wall, and whether or not he is famous? Being the humble giant that he is, Lorenzo tells the boy he’s not famous and that he just plays music and that it’s a film about his love for rock and roll.

The boy walks aways satisfied that he has just met someone important, as I overhear him mention it to the adults he’s here with.

You must get that a lot now, what with the film and all. What is it like, going from a man just playing rock n’ roll to owning this title of “psychedelic rock Godfather”–as I have often seen you referred to?

“I know that being in a band and being influential means that you might inspire a lot of younger people to get into band with dreams about about making it, but really it’s quite unrealistic. It has to be something that you do for the love of music and you shouldn’t expect to have an easy life if you choose that path. It’s really getting harder and harder to sustain any kind of reasonable income playing rock and roll.

But to be honest, I don’t think about the this kind of stuff that much. I just like to write songs and make records while trying to make a living and survive.”

Fair enough. So tell me a little bit about why you’ve decided to push pause on Spids Nøgenhat and Baby Woodrose?

“I was just a bit tired of doing rock n’ roll style albums, so I really wanted to do something slightly different this time.

I also really needed a break from my daily schedule and luckily got the opportunity to travel for a few months earlier this year. I decided to settle on a small volcanic island near the coast of Morocco where I lived in a small room and did nothing but play the guitar for several weeks. The result is the new album, which is an eclectic mix of folk, world music, and psychedelia which will be released soon under the name Galmandsværk. This is an ancient Danish word with a nice appealing double meaning of the word gal, which is both mad and angry in Danish. The sound of the album is mostly acoustic with many exotic instruments such as sitar, tablas, bansuri, hurdy gurdy, violin, finger cymbals, vibes and only slight doses of fuzz.”

Lorenzo Woodrose illustration by J.Scott Stratton

As you’re the primary songwriter in all of the musical projects you’re in, do you work in “concepts” for the albums? Is that what you are planning for this new project?

Well of course, when you’ve made a whole bunch of records you often get to these places where you have to ask yourself, “well ok, what should I write about now?” In the last four or five records, I’ve been trying to connect the songs with a theme. Maybe the last Baby Woodrose album Freedom, was the one that had the most classic “concept” style.

I feel at this point in my life it’s important to write songs about subjects that make sense to me, and which I feel are important. I mean, if you know your words are just cliche babble, it’s going to be really hard to put any feeling into it.

It’s not like I consider my songs as some great works of art…haha…I just try to write something that I actually want to sing.

For Galmandsværk, I had different ideas and concepts and ended up writing about 20 songs, of which 10 ended up on the album. One angle was trying to revive the idea of the protest song. I think there is plenty to protest against in the world today and I am quite amazed so relatively few bands use their voice to address them. This did not end up being a general thing for the songs though, but some songs are clearly the worldview of an angry man. Another idea was to describe life on a small island where not much is going on except sunsets, didgeridoo playing, and hash smoking, so some songs reflect this as well. I also really wanted to explore writing in the Danish language more than I have done in the past and this was very inspiring to me.

So when can we expect Galmandsværk to be available?

Well, we’re almost done. Our deadline for finishing the recording was August 1st, and we’re almost there. So I guess the record will be out later this year.

And it’ll be out on Bad Afro?

Ya. It feels nice to have friends as, you know, an accomplice in these kinds of things, and it’s worked out well for both of us in the past.

At this point, the interview started to be a stop-and-start situation, and we needed to put a pause in it. I realize now in hindsight, that interviewing a bartender while he’s working on a Friday was not my smartest achievement. But as the past has shown, in interviews, photographs, concerts and now feature film documentaries, Lorenzo Woodrose is not a man we will hear the last of, and I will be following up with Lorenzo in the coming months.

His forthcoming project Galmandsværk is sure to be a testament to his dedication to music, and proof again that he is an artist that writes songs—not because he’s looking for the next paycheck—but because it was something that he was born to do.