communions, from the hippy commune to the world of mayhem
Danish four-piece Communions may have emerged from a nihilistic incubator of black metal and power electronics, but their own music has much more in common with the Smiths and the Cure…
(Left to right) Fredrik wears polo Stone Island. Jeans Gant. Jacob wears polo Paul Smith. Jeans Levi's. Socks model's own. Trainers Reebok. Mads wears polo Margaret Howell. Jeans Levi's. Martin wears vest Prada. T-shirt Stone Island. Jeans Levi's.
"Time just stands still in the summer and the days just melt together," opines Martin Rehof, frontman for Copenhagen's Communions, when reflecting upon the days before the long and bitter Danish winter set in. Their single, So Long Sun, is a fitting tribute to planet earth's star bidding a temporary farewell over the winter months. Transcendent. Yearning. Heartfelt. Rehof's summer was spent touring with the band throughout Europe with their friends in the carnal synth pop band First Hate. It was the moment Communions (which had only begun playing together 18 months previous) tightened up their act technically and began to realise their vision for music, which would capture the innocence of reaching for carefree and unrestrainedly blissful moments radiating under a tangerine sun.
Communions represent the second wave to emerge from a prolific scene in Copenhagen. At the heart of this movement is the once abandoned warehouse known as Mayhem; founded by a group of artists, its shabby practice spaces have become a crucial incubator to a community of local musicians. A troika of influential bands - Iceage, Lower and Lust for Youth - emerged from these four walls to become a dominant force. As they have matured, their once nihilistic and chaotic DNA of punk, noise, power electronics and black metal has subsided, leaving them to emerge with considerable authority as mesmerising and intense art rock acts. Martin discovered the Mayhem space while still in high school after returning from a period in the States. "It was really empowering to see the way that anyone could start a band and play in front of their friends and be accepted.
Aged between 18 and 22 and all still studying, Communions comprises of brothers Martin and Mads Rehof together with Jacob van Deurs Formann and Frederik Lind Köppen. The Rehof brothers had moved to a Seattle suburb when Martin was just five, with his formative teenage years spent there until he was 16. He discovered punk rock through his best friend's dad, a former SoCal gangbanger. "Our group of friends all listened to punk. I've always been more into melodic stuff, I could never really immerse myself in that world, and my dad has always played a lot of music like Roy Orbison, David Bowie, Scott Walker and Bob Dylan, which left a deeper imprint on me."Returning to Copenhagen, he started high school in the middle of Freetown Christiania (the city's controversial self-governing free community). Martin exhales: "Basically all of my high school years were a very confusing time. I was in this totally different world and I was very angry and depressed. But I met friends who introduced me to Frederik and Jacob and the Mayhem scene. The very first thing I saw was a power electronics concert before it was an established place, and still more of an abandoned warehouse. It was in the winter and it was very cold, I was never really into power electronics, but I remember being overwhelmed by the whole feeling of being there which was very chaotic and raw." In a close-knit scene, Communions have quickly been adopted as younger brothers with the Mayhem community. Jacob is actually the younger brother of Lower's Simon Formann, and the band is currently working on their next record with Malthe Fischer from Lust for Youth. This is where the line is drawn though, since they bear little resemblance to the more gothic, louche and haunted Mayhem veterans. With their delicate and emotive pop, they continue the lineage of British indie and C86, Postcard, Factory and Sarah Records. "We're trying to create our own world within that world of Mayhem. I think something quite interesting happens when both worlds mix together and people react to that. There's a certain naivety, innocence and purity about what we're doing. I think our latest song (Love Stands Still) is a great expression of a carefree phase in our lives that we're going through."
During a summer of touring they grew very close as a band, playing together every day for weeks. Martin explains they've become more accomplished musicians, which has elevated their song writing: "That's what's keeping it together; this special bond which is four friends playing together. We've become a better live band; before we were really shit playing live, maybe we still are. The hardest thing has been keeping everything together live, especially if someone's had too much to drink. Instead of just us feeling the songs live, we feel like we want to have some sort of connection with the audience. The influences are now more concentrated, the band is like its own organism and separate from us, and has started to evolve into its own form." Between two single releases over six months, their development has further aligned itself to the evolution of DIY and indie in the UK. Martin concurs. "It's such an attractive period because there's such a do-it-yourself approach to music, which we have and a lot of the other Mayhem bands do also; you're playing in a band with your friends and there's a very intimate feeling about it. And that's what I always admired those early 80s indie bands. It's just a very honest approach to making music with your friends."
A celebration of a youthful and naïve state of mind their rousing torch songs are propelled by a controlled and tender urgency that bears comparisons with The Stone Roses, The Cure and The Smiths. At their core is a sentimental pop sensibility. "We're trying to make really good pop songs, and we've become better at knowing what we want to do. It's definitely meant to be heard by a lot of people, it's what we want."
Text Jeremy Abbott
Photography Letty Schmiterlow
Styling Danny Reed
Photography assistance Mona Butt
Styling assistance Isabel Bush