For a band that formed out of a love of skateboarding, Millencolin have done pretty well for themselves (and they’d probably be doing better if it wasn’t for music piracy).
Guitarist and skate park owner (seriously) Erik Ohlsson answered the following questions while dealing with one of the worst connections I’ve ever encountered…
Interview w/ Erik Ohlsson (Guitar/Vocals)
of Millencolin (Sweden)
By Cameron Chambers
Hey man, how are you today?
Hey man, I’m doing good… just
here in Sweden.
Cool, so you guys are at home
at the moment.
Yeah, just hanging at my house,
ha ha, nothing exciting.
Your new record
“Machine 15” is about to be released on March 22nd,
have you played any shows in support of the album yet?
We actually have. Just the day
before yesterday… I just got home from Cologne coz we went down to
Germany for a secret show. That was kind of the premier for the new
live stuff… oh man, there’s a huge delay on the phone right now…
we’ll deal with it, ha ha. It’s a different part of the world man!
Thanks mate, I appreciate it.
Not that we’re not grateful, but why did you choose to start the world
tour in Australia?
First of all, it’s important
for us to be able to release the album a couple of weeks early in Australia.
Records are usually exported to other markets… it’s that quick now.
In the US and Europe they already have their network and their distribution,
so we didn’t want to have them destroy the release dates.
We really love Australia and you
know, it’s the perfect way of starting the tour! We’ve actually
done it twice before, on the Pennybridge Pioneers tour and the Home
From Home tour… and you know, both albums sold gold in Australia!
You hit the nail on the head
man. You must have an incredibly loyal fan base down here because Australia
consistently gets your records released before any other country.
I don’t know man, it’s so
hard to tell these days. We have a really good relationship with Australia…
we love Australia and we’ve always loved touring Australia. I’ve
always said that if I didn’t live in Sweden that I’d live in Australia.
I love everything about Australia!
Once you finish up in Australia
you head back to Europe where you’ll be touring with
“A Day To Remember”. Are you familiar with the band at all or was
it a label decision to pair you up?
No, no. We toured with them on
Warped and they are all old Millencolin fans! They’re good kids and
a good band so we’re excited.
Millencolin have been able
to progress without ever abandoning your original sound. Do you think
it’s important for bands like yourselves to tour with younger bands
so you can expose yourself to a fresh market and avoid becoming stagnant?
I think that’s really important…
it’s always been really important for us to keep our sound, which
we naturally do without having to think about it too much because when
the four of us are together we sound like Millencolin.
At the same time, it’s super
important for us to not write the same music over and over again. We
want to progress and we need to feel like we’re doing something fresh
and new. You can definitely hear that it’s Millencolin all the way
through our albums, but we think it’s gradually getting better…
that’s the goal!
Who are some newer bands that
you’re a fan of?
Tons of bands man! You know, it’s
so hard to pick one. There’s always new music and you hear it all
the time so it’s really hard to say.
At this point the line drops
out for a few minutes… fuck you Telstra!
Where were we man? This sucks,
Having been in the game for more than 15 years, how did you guys approach
the writing and recording for your new album?
Ah you now, this time round…
for the first time we did it a little bit differently. Nikola and myself
wrote pretty much everything. For almost half a year Mathias was programming
drums on his laptop and sending the files to Nikola, who’d put some
vocals to them and send them back. The demos were there before we’d
even rehearsed so the songs were finished just by sending files to other…
and we’d never done that before.
Then we did the normal rehearsals
and recording stuff, but we’d never done it that way before.
Was there a particular sound
you were looking to achieve or did you just get together and let it
all come out?
On this album we wanted the whole
production and dynamic to be bigger and just sound better. On Kingswood
we wanted to go back to a more dirty punk rock sound and just like…
have a more basic sound. That was all good then but now we listen to
that album and everything sounds really flat.
On this album we said let’s
try and get some more dynamics into the sound and for the first time
we used samples, some effects and keyboards in the background. We just
wanted to give it a bigger production and we’re really happy with
how it turned out… it’s exactly how we wanted.
Nikola has released 2 solo
records over the last few years, while Mathias has Franky Lee to occupy
him during Millencolin’s down time. Do you have any other musical
projects that keep you busy?
No, no musical projects, ha ha,
but I started my own design company when they did that. That’s another
sort of creative outlet and it’s super awesome to have that on the
side. These days, for me personally, I have my creativity more through
my graphics than my music, but it’s a perfect way to combine the two…
I’ve always done it that way.
Do you guys still hold the
“Millencolin Open (a skateboarding tournament in their hometown of
Orebro, Sweden) and do you still own your own skate
Yes! The sixth annual open happened
two weeks ago, so yeah, I’m still putting that contest on every year.
It’s actually Sweden’s biggest skateboarding contest now. There
was even a big MTV news feature yesterday which I happened to see, ha
ha. They did their whole thing about it!
Everyone’s saying it’s the
biggest and best in Sweden which is really awesome. It’s just me and
one of my best friends that own our own skate shop and arrange the whole
thing. It’s a contest with talented skaters and we have big parties
on the Friday and Saturday night… so it’s a really cool weekend,
Any plans to hit the US once
you’re finished with the pending European tour?
Yes, once we get back from Australia
we’ll be releasing our album in Europe and then we’ll hit Europe
and do festivals all summer. After that I think we’re going to the
US in September or October after the summer.
What are your thoughts on the
current punk scene? Do you think the accessibility of music via the
internet has had a positive or negative?
It’s just strange how everything
works now. It’s just something… the industry is changing a lot and
I don’t know… there’s a lot of negative things. Our label Burning
Heart went out of business. Well, they’re still around but it’s
just the owner but because of downloads they couldn’t go on with their
business. Those guys at Burning Heart are my best friends and they love
music and they can’t do what they love anymore and it sucks!
It’s really hard you know? The
technology… there’s nothing you can do but it’s changing, that’s
for sure. It’s good for some bands and not good for others. Hopefully
it won’t drain all the music, which is really scary. It can affect
everything. When something affects the company then that can affect
their distribution which can affect the live stuff too!
If Shock went out of business
we wouldn’t have distribution in Australia which would mean we couldn’t
tour there. The whole industry is shaking man.
Thanks for your time man, but
we’ve got to wrap it up I’m afraid.
Great, great, thanks man, we’ll
see you soon yeah?