Version 5 are a duo, made up of brothers Spencer and Andy Olson. Hailing from Minneapolis, the duo have coined their own unique brand of elo-rock music, which oozes high energy and intensity.
February sees the release of their new single ‘Absolute Zero’, which is an epic combination of heavy guitar and addictive dance beats. With its raw lyrics, we guarantee you’ll be hooked after just one listen.
We recently caught up with Version 5 to chat about their new single ‘Absolute Zero’, working with family, inspirations and much more. Check it out below!
Congratulations on your new single, ‘Absolute Zero’, out on Feb. 17. What was the inspiration behind the song?
Thanks! We’re really excited to share this track with people. ‘Absolute Zero’ was inspired by the whole barrage of feelings experienced after losing a loved one or significant other either by death, or just by going separate ways (which seem to be surprisingly similar emotions) and moving on. We likened these feelings- isolation, loneliness, etc., to the freezing barrenness of space. In part, we can thank a synth line we stumbled upon early in production that we nicknamed the “sonar synth,” which you can hear in the intro and throughout the track. It really set the mood and established the “vibe” early on. The song just feels cold, like you need to put on a sweater when you’re listening to it- which I think is awesome.
You’re due to release a music video for ‘Absolute Zero’ in April. What can we expect from it?
Hopefully fingers crossed. We’re wrapping up production on another music video that we’ll be releasing soon (shout out to the Kickstarter backers!!), as well as other live video content. For ‘Absolute Zero’, we want something that has style and is visually compelling regardless of the song or even Version 5. We want people who see this video that have no idea who we are or what the song is about and be like “oh, that was pretty sick,” or “that’s not something you see every day.” That being said, it’s really easy to see where the music video “formula” comes from, because that seems to be where your mind wants to go when organizing visuals with a tune. Like, okay, here’s 4 or 5 scenes of some cool shit, but are somewhat unrelated – now just cut ‘em all together and that’s a wrap.
You’ve coined the term ‘elo-rock’ to define your music. What makes you stand out from any other electronic-rock group?
For us, electronic rock can be a bit misleading for people. Electronic rock typically falls more towards industrial metal, or “video game rock.” As much as we would be at home on the latest Call of Duty home screen, that doesn’t necessarily define our sound (not hatin’ on that music though, a lot of that stuff is really rad). We try to blend more of a familiar formula and sound to our music- hoping to have more memorability and implement catchy hooks. For Absolute Zero, you can hear the more EDM/breakbeat inspired foundation in the verses and repetitious vocal lines, but then we transition to the chorus that has some stadium rock sprinkled all over it.
Can you describe your music making process?
Does locking yourself in your studio for days straight while living nocturnally and chugging coffee count? That’s not too far off. Whenever we leave the studio we look like we we’re hit by 3 trains and drowned. It really comes in waves for us. Some days you find yourself counting ceiling tiles, other days you sit down and hammer through the majority of a track because you just can’t stop it. Those are the fun days.
You started playing music because of your grandfather. How did he influence you musically?
Our grandfather was one of our biggest influences musically, and just with everything. He truly was like a second father to us. Several years back he was inducted into the Midwest Rock & Country Hall of Fame for his musical accomplishments in the 60’s & 70’s – that’s pretty damn awesome.So, I think we were like 5 and 7 years old and for Christmas he bought both of us Squier Strats. We were too young at that point to really get it, we just wanted more Nerf guns and Tonka trunks (disclaimer: I literally just bought another Nerf gun last week, not lying). But, eventually we picked them up on our own accord and never quit playing, singing, and so on.
Version 5 has seen a few line up changes, but you’ve been a two-piece since 2013. As two brothers, is it easier or more difficult for you to make band decisions?
Definitely easier! When we disagree we can call each other a list of expletives and then move on with it. I don’t know many band mates that would be totally cool with that. And that’s not even the main point, we just work well together. Version 5 exists because we met halfway on our genre. If it was just Spencer, it’d be electronic. If it was just Andy, it’d be rock. That’s what makes bands, duos, trios, whatever, interesting – collaboration.
In the past, you’ve named artists such as The Prodigy, Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails as musical inspirations. What is it about them that inspire you?
They all have attitude and energy. Manson just straight up rips it – his cover of “Tainted Love” has been on rotation around here lately. Reznor is an undeniable craftsman. When you listen to his work, it’s just like wow- this guy is so deliberate and in your face without actually being in your face. I don’t know how else to describe it. The Prodigy are just raw. Even if you’re half dead and hungover with your miserable face buried in the couch cushions eating chicken noodle soup, if a Prodigy track comes on, you will still jump up, stick your tongue out and head-bang like you’re at Ultra music fest; suddenly, you find yourself running down the freeway wearing nothing but last night’s eyeliner screaming at the top of your lungs. That’s Prodigy. That’s inspiring.
What do you hope people will take from your music?
Energy – we want people to feel that energy and drive. We call our fans “addicts” and we always joke that we want people to be addicted to our music like, you wake up, smoke your morning cig with a cup of coffee and spin some Version 5; in reality we also want people to see our passion and recognize their own passion – fuel their own tastes, hobbies, whatever. If you like painting, cooking, biking, interpretive visual mod tap dancing, whatever – throw on some [v5] and fuel it.
Any plans for live shows this year?
Yeah for sure. We’re already reaching out and booking for summer 2017. We have a few shows lined up right now for spring, local and North Dakota. We’re hoping to make our way back out to Ohio, it’s been like 2 years since we were there last. They seem to like us.
What else can we expect from Version 5 during 2017?
Superbowl Halftime? Lady Gaga asked us to share the stage, but we had other obligations (we wish).
We have some more tunes lined up for sure, several videos on the way, and just a lot more cool stuff planned- can’t wait.