Fourty years ago, in 1982, I started a rock band with buddies Finn Guttormsen (bass) and Tore Straum (drums). The band would later become known as Meanstreet.

When we started, we were around 13/14 years old and had just started Kippermoen Junior High School. My dad was one of the music teachers at the school, and he kindly let us borrow the keys to the music room after regular school hours were over. The room was modestly equipped, but it had a drum kit and a couple of amps. Enough for us to get started.

We tried to recruit a lead singer at school, but couldn't find anyone brave enough to step in front of a microphone at that age. Moving on without a singer, we ended up playing mostly intro and solo parts of the songs we knew, which probably helped us become better players much faster. The early repertoire consisted mostly of songs from AC/DC, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath. After a year, Tore decided to call it quits, and was replaced by Rune Andersen, another classmate of Finn.

Meanstreet lineup 1985/1986

By now (1983) I had discovered Eddie Van Halen, so naturally, we added a few Van Halen songs to our repertoire. We still didn't have a band name, but the name we eventually landed on, Meanstreet, was borrowed from a Van Halen song on their Fair Warning (1981) album, and from the movie Mean Streets (1973) by Martin Scorsese. It was common practice to name your band from either a song title or a movie title, and by naming it after both we thought we were golden.

During our time in Junior High, we never played live, but all three of us were part of the school band that would perform regularly at different school events. After a while, our band rehearsals attracted a small (but dedicated) audience – in the form of kids hanging around the school premises at night – and by opening the windows out to the schoolyard, we sort of performed live for these kids. Very innocent, but fun!

Signar Baustad

In 1984, Finn and I started studying music at Mosjøen Videregående Skole (Mosjøen Senior High School). There we met another guitarist, Signar Baustad, who turned out to be a really good singer too. After a few different new band projects at school, Signar decided to join us as lead vocalist. Local drummer Jørn Govasli completed the band when he joined us in 1985, and by that we became a four-piece rock band.

Jørn Govasli
Øystein Wika

The band first performed live under the name Nautilus at a local Rock Festival in June '85. However, getting booked for more live gigs proved to be really difficult. The frustration over not getting anywhere finally led us to ditch the band name, and start over fresh.

In September 1986, we resurfaced at another local festival under the name Meanstreet. Two more drummers, Erik Hopen and Tom Lennart Karlsen were briefly in the band during this period, before Yngve Dalen joined in late December. With Yngve completing the lineup, we also laid out a plan to start booking our own gigs for the upcoming year.

Meanstreet lineup 1986/1987

With over 50 cover songs rehearsed, enough to get us through four to five one-hour sets, we booked our first gig at a local music venue in Mosjøen, called Cafe Tipperary (aka Tippen). April 3rd, 1987 – Meanstreet played its first headliner show for a sold out venue. The first of many gigs we did that year.

Over the following summer months, we played a couple of festivals before ending with our last headliner show in August. The venue was packed, with over 700 tickets sold. But despite this, the band had come to an end. After five years of hopes, dreams, and struggles, we all suffered from total burnout.

Øystein Wika
Backstage after our final show in 1987.

All those years of rehearsing, carrying heavy equipment, internal politics, getting rejected by booking agents and venue owners, not having money to record a decent demo, and on and on and on... All this while trying to get through school with some decent grades. Our band had come to its end – and we knew it!

Although the Meanstreet years went by far too quickly, starting the band and playing with all these cool guys during the better part of the 1980s, was simply incredible. The best time of my life, and an experience I will never forget.

Ø. – Mosjøen, June 4th, 2022