Norwegian country-rockers the Hellbillies, comprised of Aslag Haugen, Arne Sandum, Lars Havard Haugen, Björn Gunnar Sando, and Arne Moslatten, began their journey toward folk hero status in 1990. Early releases such as Sylvspente Boots (1992) and Pela Stein (1993) featured the group's unique approach toward cover music. Drawing most of their repertoire from popular American country acts, the Hellbillies would rewrite existing hits like John Prine's "Grandpa Was a Carpenter," translating the lyrics into the band's native dialect of Hallingdal, recording the tune under the name "Goffa Min va Handelskar." After their debut record, which was entirely comprised of translated classics like "Ho Birgjit Lien" ("Sweet Rosie Jones") and "Ikkje Grav Med Ned" ("Please Don't Bury Me"), the Hellbillies tapered off the cover material and focused instead on music that incorporated elements of traditional Norwegian folk music and themes. Released in 1993, Pela Stein won the group the prestigious Spellemannsprisen Award, and represented an even mix of traditional and original repertoire. By their fourth record, Drag (1996), the Hellbillies were recording solely original compositions. Though popular, the Hellbillies had not broken through to genuine stardom before Urban Twang, which was released in 2001 and sold over 30,000 units in its first month, earning the band a gold record. Subsequent releases such as CoolTur (2002) and Niende (2004) have turned this onetime musical novelty into one of Norway's most popular groups.
Share this page