Breaking Out: Iceage

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Iceage, shot for SPIN's September 2011 issue by Mads Teglers
WRITTEN BY
Caryn Ganz

Earlier this year, the young punks in Iceage were profiled in a Danish newspaper under the headline "Teenage Bullies Full of Anger and Anxiety." So here's a public service announcement: Those bullies have explosives. Lots of them.

According to surly singer-guitarist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, 19, the Copenhagen quartet stocked up on fireworks and torches before shooting the grainy video for "New Brigade," which shows the band literally playing with fire. (Not to mention taking bong hits and popping switchblades.) The song is also the title track of Iceage's pulverizing 12-song, 24-minute debut, which ?finally arrived in the U.S. via the What's Your Rupture? label five months after its release in Denmark. It has been a bloody, busy year, and it's left Rønnenfelt's parents with mixed feelings.

"They were pretty proud that I was written about in the paper," he says in heavily accented English after dismissing a dozen or so other lines of inquiry, adding, "My mom was really worried that I would get hurt."

Mrs. Rønnenfelt has reason for ?concern. The band's blog is filled with ?photos of fans displaying wounds they've suffered at Iceage's wild live performances, where frenzied moshers pound each other to the sound of a dark, yet invigorating post-punk squall.

People like the pain -- the boys were recognized on the street in New York City during their first American tour this past June. "That hasn't happened in Denmark," admits Rønnenfelt, whose default repartee tends toward "yes," "no," and stony silence.

The band hope to tour again in the fall, but the singer has to determine whether he can improve his grades enough ?to graduate from high school. "I took some of my exams," he says curtly, "but I hadn't been there, so I wasn't ready."

He was working on other things. Iceage was born in Copenhagen's thriving punk scene in 2008 when childhood friends Rønnenfelt, bassist Jakob Tvilling Pless, 18, drummer Dan Kjær Nielsen, 19, and guitarist Johan Wieth, 19, joined forces. The familiarity helps. The band rarely rehearse and they recorded New Brigade in a handful of takes with no overdubs.

"We don't really need to practice the songs we already know," says ?Rønnenfelt. Then he falls silent again.

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