Thursday, August 22, 2013
The Folks Behind the Music - Spotlight on Håkan Nyman - SludgeLord, The Ripple Effect and Swedebeast Promotions
Today's spotlight is on Ripple's own, Swedebeast, also the owner and progenitor of Swedebeast Promotions, tour booking, and fellow scribe at the awesome Sludgelord.
Start at the beginning, how did you get started with this crazy idea of writing about music?
Hmmm, not really that long actually which is kind of weird. Having read music magazines for 25+ years I have always thought I could do a better job than most reviewers, still I never considered the notion of writing though. Guess stage fright (right!!!) and pure laziness (most likely) stopped me from ever attempting to write. This is weird in a way because I have always scribbled and written stuff. However one day a year ago Todd posted a picture on Facebook of a huge stack of CD's that needed to be reviewed and that's when I made my decision. I shot him a message saying I can do this, send stuff over which he did. And at the moment I write for The Ripple Effect and The Sludgelord.
We're all the product of our musical past. What's your musical history?
There was always music in my home growing up and if the radio wasn't playing my parents would play records with Frank Valdor, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash as well Swedish Schlager music. In hindsight it's a miracle I got into the music I did, but thankfully my older brother started to listen to hard rock and heavy metal and saved me since I chose that path as well.
First album you ever bought?
The first album I ever bought was Thin Lizzy's Renegade which kick-started a life-long obsession with that band. Best band ever...nuff said y'all! You know I'm right about the Lizzies!
First musical epiphany moment?
Another of my all time favourite bands actually brought on my first musical epiphany. The moment I heard Natural Thing open up UFO's live album Strangers In The Night I finally knew what rock was all about. That double LP is one of my favourite releases ever including Thin Lizzy...then it is damned great!
Actually there has not been an album that has scared me as such and I have heard a lot of weird stuff through the years. However the first time I heard Venom on their compilation album From Hell To The Unknown, I was terrified beyond belief that anyone would care to release something so bad! Let alone play and record it. I know a lot of people will object saying they started a whole new genre in black metal which is true. But since I'm not much of a fan of that style those people can keep complaining.
What's the last album to grab you by the throat and insist you listen?
This is hard because I get to hear so much good stuff and how do I select just one? I have to cheat and name three releases that has grabbed me by the throat recently. Black Star Riders - All Hell Breaks Loose; The Fuzz Drivers - S/T and Volume IV - EP
What do you see happening in the music scene today, good and bad?
Nowadays bands can release music a lot easier than say 10-15 years ago. Many of the middle men are gone which gives the bands a lot more leverage as far as sales go and that they don't always need a label to get their records out. It is also a lot easier for bands to stay in touch with their fans because of the Internet making network so much easier.
The negatives these days are, for one, that local music scenes are getting more and more clique-y. Instead of helping each other out with shows and such, a lot of bands keeps to themselves meaning pretty soon only your closest friends shows up for shows and only those same people buys your record. Another big negative aspect is the venues. They are getting greedier by the minute and extremely arrogant. Unless your a cover band the venues don't want to know because with a cover band you hardly have promote but with original bands you have to. It doesn't take much of an effort for that but apparently that's still too much for most venues.
With so many music sites, how would you describe what you do? What's your unique take on the music and writing?
I try to be as honest as I can first and foremost. That's my main "thing", in lack of better words. I also try to make a story out of each review I write but that doesn't always happen. It doesn't mean those albums are bad, it's just that they won't come out that way. Since I'm not a musician and can't read or write music to save my life, I obviously can't write about anything technical. And it's out of that the idea of writing stories was born.
Illegal free downloads on your site. Yes or no, and why?
No not all, I don't like it. Even if a band only utilizes say Bandcamp or SoundCloud they still have made the music they offer and deserve something for it. So listen to songs all you like but then buy it in whatever format you prefer. Support the bands, don't steal from them.
What's been your all time greatest "Find"? That band you "discovered" before anyone else and started the word spreading?
Oh, this is a very difficult question. Hmmm I was pretty much there from the start when One Man Army And The Undead Quartet started. That was Johan Lindstrand's band after he left The Crown. Went to their first show and saw them as much as I could. After only one demo they were signed to Nuclear Blast and...hrrrm I got my name in the liner notes....fanboy warning you hear hahahahaha!
If you could write a 1,000 word essay on one song, which one would it be, and why? What makes that song so important?
That would be Thin Lizzy's Freedom Song. It is in my opinion the best song they ever recorded and it epitomizes everything they were about. You have great storytelling along with those beautiful twin-guitar harmonies. And of course Brian Downey's amazing drumming. It doesn't get better than this.
Give us three bands that we need to keep our eyes out for.
Beitthemeans, Fire Water Revival and The Gentlemen Bastards.
Tell us about your personal music collection. Vinyl? CD? What's your prized possession?
I used to have a pretty extensive record collection. Started out with vinyl obviously since that was basically what was around way back in pre-historic times when I started to buy albums, but then when CD's hit the market I bought that too. I actually have no qualms about either format as far as buyng it goes although it's more fun to listen to vinyl.
When I was preparing to move to the States I did sell about 3000 records in all formats to raise money for my trans-Atlantic journey and only saved the good stuff. It's all at my brother's house and do hope he takes good care of it.
Don't have many rarities although I have a test pressing of Philip Lynott's Together 12". And I also have the double LP version of The Crown's Possessed 13 that their singer Johan Lindstrand gave to me.
What makes it all worthwhile for you?
I hope I can help to push bands toward some recognition. If my review is the only write-up a band gets then I want it to be as good as possible. And writing for The Ripple Effect and The Sludgelord is great in that way since we can only write about the bands we like. No bad reviews are allowed.
How would you life be different if you weren't writing about music?
I'd be sitting on my ass reading books, listening to music and watching football (real football) on TV...all at the same time hahahahaha I still do that AND write reviews!
Ever been threatened by a band or a ravenous fan?
No that has never happened to me although I've been in near-riots at a High On Fire show and a D.R.I. show. What went down at the High On Fire show was that the owner of the venue Sticky Fingers in Gothenburg, Sweden decided to pull the plug on the band when they came back on for encores. The owner claimed the regular club goers wanted access to the place. Sticky Fingers is a three-story place and as it turned out only 50 clubbers were there compared to us 500 at the show. The owner stood on a balcony making this announcement thinking he was safe but the crowd started to climb up railings and such to get him but he of course escaped.
The D.R.I. show took place at Krug's in Frederick, MD and was fantastic until the circle pits knocked this severely intoxicated guy to the ground. He passed out and someone freaked out and called the cops. They show up and are getting the dude on his feet still uncouncious. He comes to all of a sudden and flips out at the cops and starts beating them up. They eventually get him cuffed though and are dragging him out when these young kids rush the cops, jumps them and start to fight. Soon there was a million cop cars, fire trucks and ambulances outside for nothing really.
In the end, what would you like to have accomplished, or be remembered for?
For promoting and pushing unsigned bands to get the recognition they deserve.
Many people may not realize the hours you devote to what you do for little or no pay. Is there a day job? If so, how do you find the balance?
I do have a full time job working the second shift at a warehouse. I usually sit in my truck at breaks and at lunch working on drafts for reviews while listening to new potential write-ups. Then during the weekends I write the actual reviews and submit them. Works good since my wife works every weekend although since I just started Swedebeast Promotions, a booking agency, I'm trying to wrap my head around everything to make it work....while trying not to go bat shit crazy in the process.
What's next? Any new projects?
Well, Swedebeast Promotions just got launched so I'm trying to get that on it's feet. I am also working on getting a website started for rock bands around the Nashville area. It's still only on the drawing board but the plan is, if I get it started, to try to unite the rock bands here in order to get more and better shows. There are many good bands here but they are so clique-y and won't play with certain bands or at certain venues because of this or that. With venues I can understand their reluctance to play certain places but if you really want your band to make it, you have to swallow your pride and deal with it. Especially in Nashville where country music rules. Any other style has to work so much harder to make an impact at all. So personally I think this clique mentality is extremely futile and childish and if I get this website up and running and get local networking going I hope a better rock scene will flourish. We'll see what happens though.
Finally, other than the music, what's your other burning passion?
Liverpool FC...nuff said! I'm a football nut, real football that is and not that wimpy NFL thing. The new season is about to start which means getting up between 6:45am-10:00am on Saturdays and Sundays whenever Liverpool are live on NBC's new sports set-up. Liverpool has been in the dump for a long, long time but I have high hopes for this season. Used to play the game for over 20 years and I do miss that, well I don't miss outdoor practice sessions on a gravel pitch in February at -20!
Also ice hockey is another passion of mine and I follow Calgary Flames in the NHL and Färjestad BK in the Swedish hockey league.
Single malt whiskeys, ales, stouts and good craft beer appeals to me as well.
Of course my wife and my granddaughter are extremely important to me.