Dizzy Mizz Lizzy
|Dizzy Mizz Lizzy|
Dizzy Mizz Lizzy after concert at Vig Festival.
|Also known as||Dizzy (abbreviation)|
|Associated acts||Tim Christensen|
Dizzy Mizz Lizzy was an alternative rock band from Denmark that started in 1988. Between 1994 and 1997, they were highly successful in Denmark and Japan, heading the early 1990s rock revival in Denmark. The trio consisted of Tim Christensen (vocals, guitar, songwriter), Martin Nielsen (bass guitar) and Søren Friis (drums). Christensen would later describe the band's success as: "The Dizzy records were a mild version of what took place in Seattle with a delay of two years, and therefore perfect for Denmark," referring to the grunge movement. Together with bands such as Kashmir they revived rock in Denmark, but lacked an entrance to the UK and US like the modern Danish rock bands do. The group had disbanded in 1998, but went on a reunion tour from 18 March through to 29 September 2010 in Denmark and Japan. After the last show of this tour, they definitely quit. Since 2000, Christensen is also an accomplished solo artist.
Formation and early years (1988–1994)
Dizzy Mizz Lizzy was founded after Christensen's family moved from Espergærde to Valby, a suburb of Copenhagen, and Christensen became classmates with Nielsen at the Hanssted Skole, where they already cared more about music than about their school work. Nielsen picked up the bass because Christensen already played the guitar, and a friend recommended Friis to them. Christensen received his first Fender Stratocaster as a gift. For a while they did search for another band member, as they would later explain: "We previously did try to expand to a quartet with an extra guitarist. But that didn't work at all, so we stayed a trio." As critics explain: "From the outset it was clear that Tim Christensen was the group's undisputed center, but the band benefited significantly from the collective dynamics." They practiced in a cheap youth club in Hvidovre in search of their own style, making "porn rock with nauseating choruses," inspired by poodle rock bands such as Europe, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. They won the competition "Rock Træf" in 1990, using the 5,000 kr (about € 700, or US$ 1,000) prize money to record a demo. The band entered Denmark's largest music championship DM i Rock in 1991 and came in fourth.
Inspired by Nirvana's 1991 album Nevermind, and especially their breakthrough hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit", their style swayed to grunge-inspired music. As the band would explain, "Suddenly there was something about playing rock music the old-fashined way," and they would throw themselves onto "Hey Joe" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles' cover of the Larry Williams song "Dizzy Miss Lizzy", from which the band's name was derived. They started writing some potential songs and decided to dedicate themselves to a career in music. Christensen received a Marshall 4x12 G1275 amplifier from his parents for his 18th birthday, which helped him writing heavier music and would shortly thereafter result in the riff to the hit song "Waterline". Their style would frequently be linked to Led Zeppelin and Pearl Jam, even though critics admitted that "the trio wants, and inexplicably even manages it, to create their own musical identity;" a style that would become known as power rock, which the band would later also use to describe themselves and were more comfortable with than the term grunge: "We are not so wild about the descriptor grunge, as it has become a predicate for a variety of dimensions. We focus on the music, not the descriptions. What we play is genuine, vivid, and with the energy in high gear." As a reviewer would put it: "[It is] 'Grunge light' perhaps - but well-composed, well-acted, engaging and above all different and personal. Dizzy Mizz Lizzy had the pedal to the metal, and it did something." Christensen explains: "It's like The Police who came out of the punk-wave without being punk, and still did well. It's the same with us. We came out of the grunge-wave, without being grunge."
Their new-found sound took them to the "DM i Rock" semifinals in 1992, where they were beaten by Passion Orange. With their third attempt on 30 April 1993, the trio won because of "their obvious talent and charisma," beating such bands as Kashmir, who came in second, Inside the Whale, and Impotators, who all have had a significant place in the 1990s revival and further development of rock in Denmark, but of which Dizzy Mizz Lizzy has been the most successful. They have all become friends, which is also evident from Christensen's later contributions to Kashmir albums, his songwriting with Inside the Whale frontman Marcus Winther-John which continues until today, and having Inside the Whale guitarist Lars Skjærbæk as his lead guitarist ever since he went solo in 2000. Part of the grand prize was a recording session for a 4-track demo at Sweet Silence Studios, which spawned the songs "Waterline" and "Silverflame" that became huge hits on DR P3 and DR P4. The grand prize also contained a spot in the travelling Rock Show '93 and performances at the L'Europe d'Art d'Art festival in Niort, France, the Nordic Rock '93 competition that they also won, and all the major Danish summer festivals. A reviewer from that time remarked, "They are not quite as extroverted as one might have expected, but in return they play much better than one might dare hope for. Dense and energetic, making one wonder why there are only three men on stage. One is tempted to look into the back room to see where the rest of the band is hiding." They would also entertain with ironic covers of among others "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees.
Dizzy Mizz Lizzy (1994–1996)
The high expectations set by the demo put enormous pressure on the band, especially as the demo was in limited circulation and demand grew as the band took a long time to release their debut album. Dizzy Mizz Lizzy had declined various offers from foreign labels, waiting for a Danish label to come forward. They "quite literally felt on home soil" when they were contacted by Nick Foss, head of A&R at EMI-Medley, and known by the band as the producer of several albums by D-A-D and The Sandmen. He signed them to the label and went into the studio with them for three months. At long last, the eponymous debut album Dizzy Mizz Lizzy was released on 4 March 1994. It was a huge success in Denmark, selling 220,000 copies, making it the best selling rock album ever in Denmark. This record still stands, while it has by now has sold over 250,000 copies. One notable fan is Crown Prince Frederik, who is an outspoken lover of rock music, and who has attended many of their concerts. By accident the CD ended up with someone at EMI's Japanese division, who was excited about the album and had it released in Japan where it sold about 100,000 copies. Five singles were released from the album and all got much radio play: "Silverflame", "Barbedwired Baby's Dream", "Love Is a Loser's Game", "Glory" and "Waterline".
Interviews paint a picture of rather well-behaved musicians; they kept living with their parents until their debut album and ensuing tour had earned them enough money to each buy their own homes in Copenhagen. The closest they ever came to typical rock star misbehavior was a backstage food fight in Aalborg with Inside the Whale, and thrashing a disappointing hotel room in Germany at a time they felt depressed and homesick. The band members rehearsed 3–4 times a week but also received choreography lessons since at that time they considered themselves "an incredibly boring band to watch," in terms of performance. They were the support act of the Spin Doctors on their October/November 1994 tour through Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland. before playing three sold-out shows in the Japanese cities Sapporo, Osaka and Tokyo. The performance in Osaka on 16 July 1995 was recorded and released as Japan-only CD as One guitar, one bass and a drummer, that's really all it takes — Live in Japan. Dizzy Mizz Lizzy performed for four consecutive years at the Roskilde Festival, from 1993 through to 1996. The 1994 performance was on frontman Christensen's 20th birthday, when sales of their debut album had just crossed the 50,000 mark. In 2003, Christensen considered that particular performance a special highlight in his career. Dizzy Mizz Lizzy won the 1995 Danish Grammys for "Danish group of the year", "Danish newcomer of the year", "Danish rock album of the year", and the "People's choice award" which included a fee of 25,000 kr (about € 3,350) to help cover travel expenses. In the time leading up to the release of the band's sophomore album, it was speculated the band would be changing their name to "Dizzy". Although this abbreviation is in widespread use among both band members and fans, it was never considered by the band to use it as an official name.
Nick Foss had made an agreement with Christensen that if their debut album won gold (equal to 40,000 copies at that time), the next would be recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London, which was Christensen's boyhood dream as he is an immense fan of The Beatles. As a result of the album having sold over four times that amount by 1996, the follow-up album Rotator was recorded at this place that breathes history. However, the other band members did not share Christensen's enthusiasm, and did not appreciate the unique symbolism recording in these legendary studios, which meant Christensen had no one to share his palette of emotions with and as a result the recording sessions did not really fulfill all of his expectations. In retrospect, this period showed the first signs of the band members heading in different musical directions, and Christensen explained in 2000: "I needed change while the others wanted to continue in the same style, and that was actually the most important reason we split up." This can especially be heard in the song "Rise and Fall"; although songs were always a collaborative effort by the band, Christensen requested Nielsen and Friis to allow him to be in full control over this song, and as a result it is distinctly different from all other songs on the album.
The record was less carefree than its predecessor, with a hint of bitterness especially in regard to the state of the music industry. The album reached gold status the very day it went on sale on 24 May 1996, and appeared to live up to the notorious expectations of creating a worthy sequel to their debut album. Reviews were generally positive and it sold 100,000 copies in Denmark, "which is exceptionally high for a guitar rock album in Denmark," but was not nearly as much as the debut album had sold. Another 100,000 copies were sold in Japan. The singles "11:07 PM" and "Rotator" became a hit, the album won the 1997 Danish Grammy for "Rock album of the year" and Nick Foss received the prize for "Best producer". They played on festivals in Denmark, Norway and Germany, and went to Japan in September 1996 for shows in Tokyo (2×), Sapporo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. In Denmark, they played dozens of shows which fatigued both the band and the fans.
After five years of non stop recording and touring and having lost touch with reality, the band decided to take a one-year break in 1997, but ultimately split up on 10 March 1998 amidst a wave of prominent Danish bands disbanding. Critics would later explain their decision as the band having the courage to stop in time despite enormous success, although it was largely due to fatigue that the trio could not bring themselves to continuing to play. Their tastes in music had also become less compatible, with Christensen wanting a more vintage Beatles-like sound and Nielsen and Friis preferring to make heavy metal music. In January 1998 they had worked on a few demos together, some of which would end up on Christensen's debut solo album Secrets on Parade (2000), released after a difficult time of coping with the breakup and finding his musical style, but it was a success and allowed him to further pursue a career in music. Nielsen and Friis initially also intended to continue in music. To walk off the extra weight he had gained from being at home for a long time, Nielsen took a job as a postman. Friis became a truck driver delivering gas containers. Christensen explained in a 2000 interview: "We meet occasionally and have great fun together. Of course we talk about the old days and amuse ourselves with it, because we experienced a lot of great things together and I simply can not remember anything bad from back then. (...) But we just developed ourselves in three different directions, and we kept growing further apart, so it was simply the time to stop."
Eighteen days after the breakup, the Japan-only release The Greatest was released. The song "Waterline" was included on the 1999 charity record Grænseløs Greatest in support of refugees of the Kosovo War. In 2000, the Danish dance-pop duo Infernal used samples of the 1994 song "Silverflame" for the song "Sunrise". It was released as the second single from their second studio album, Waiting for Daylight.
On 29 April 2002, the band released a greatest hits collection including a live performance recorded in Aarhus on 11 May 1996. The band's only performance during their 1998–2009 break was a tribute concert called Brandalarm (Fire Alarm), held on 16 August 2006 in the Copenhagen venue VEGA for musicians whose studio had burned to the ground. Here, they played 5 songs in about 20 minutes ("Thorn in my Pride", "When the River Runs Dry", "Waterline", "Silverflame", and "Glory"). Christensen commented in 2008 that this was a one-off event, but that the band would be open to do a reunion tour at some point in the future for nostalgia's sake, but without the aim to go back into the studio to record a new album.
On September 15, 2009, the band announced a Danish reunion tour taking place in Spring 2010 with concerts in Odense, Aarhus (2 shows), Aalborg, Esbjerg (2 shows) and Copenhagen (4 shows). The idea was spawned while Christensen, Nielsen and Friis went bowling, which they often did when meeting up. EMI suggested the reunion to be paired with the release of a box set containing their collected works. Although the band were sceptical about it at first, Dizzcography was released on March 29, 2010 as a 4-CD or 8-vinyl record box set, containing remasters of all previously released material (the band's two studio albums Dizzy Mizz Lizzy and Rotator and the live album Live in Aarhus '96), and the compilation album The Rest of Dizzy Mizz Lizzy which comprises the original 1993 demo, two B-sides and the live album Live in Japan. The renewed interest for Dizzy Mizz Lizzy inspired the Danish producer and DJ Morten Breum to release a remix of "Waterline" on 5 April 2010.
Dizzy Mizz Lizzy were overwhelmed when the tour's first show on 9 April at the K.B. Hallen had sold out in less than 15 seconds on 20 September 2009, and less than 45 seconds for the other shows. They realized the demand for their shows was far greater than expected. The band subsequently expanded the tour to a total of 52 dates, including a Japanese leg to the tour in May and another in September, making this one of the most successful comebacks in the history of Danish music. Their performance at the Roskilde Festival coincided with Christensen's 36th birthday. The band definitively quit after the tour's final show in Tokyo on 29 September 2010.
After the reunion (2010–current)
The documentary Lost Inside a Dream: The Story of Dizzy Mizz Lizzy about the band's rise, break-up and return premiered at the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival on 4 November 2010. The band's last public appearance to date was at the film's second screening on 8 November 2010, where they answered questions from the audience. For this documentary, Danish film maker Theis Molin received the Politiken Publikumspris (People's choice award). On the same day, the 2CD/DVD and 2CD/Blu-ray set Live in Concert 2010 was released, which includes the documentary and features a live recording of two concerts in the K.B. Hallen on 16–17 April 2010, making it the first Danish performance to be released in Full HD.
On 12 November 2010, EMI released the compilation album Big-5: Dizzy Mizz Lizzy as part of their Big-5 series, containing their artists' five best tracks. In the case of Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, these were all taken from their eponymous debut album.
On 25 November 2011, Christensen released his fourth solo album, Tim Christensen and The Damn Crystals. Many interviews also asked him questions about Dizzy Mizz Lizzy. Christensen admits that one week after the last show, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy was already out of his system again. And on the question whether the people have stopped asking about a Dizzy-reunion, Christensen answered: "No, they haven't. Except that now, it's no longer: 'Will Dizzy ever reunite?' but instead: 'Will you do it again?' And I won't exclude the possibility, but it won't be any time soon. But I have stopped asking that question to myself."
For the 2010 reunion tour, Christensen and Rasmus Meyer of the Danish guitar pedal manufacturer Carl Martin designed his signature Dizzy Drive with knobs for level, tone, drive and edge. Its production was limited to 250 pedals, and went on sale on 16 May 2010. Christensen's effect pedal board during the reunion tour was quite small and only contained the following stomp boxes:
- Boss DD-20 Giga Delay
- Boss RC-2 Loop Station
- Carl Martin Dizzy Drive
- Vox Joe Satriani Big Bad Wah
- Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions||Sales||Certifications|
|1994||Dizzy Mizz Lizzy
|1995||One guitar, one bass and a drummer, that's really all it takes — Live in Japan
|2002||The Best of Dizzy Mizz Lizzy
|Live in Concert 2010
|Big-5: Dizzy Mizz Lizzy
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1994||"Waterline"||24||—||Dizzy Mizz Lizzy|
|"Barbedwired Baby's Dream"||—||—|
|"Love Is a Loser's Game"||13[A]||—|
|"Find My Way" (Japanese Promo)||—||—|
|"When the River Runs Dry"||—||—|
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