Glenn Hughes

Gearhead Records
An interview with the "Demons", by Todd K. Smith

Several issues back Rolling Stone picked Stockholm, Sweden as the next big city to yield “rock for the masses.” The rise of Swede guitar-fueled bands like Backyard Babies, The Hives and Hardcore Superstar merge with already established icons like the Hellacopters and The Flaming Sideburns. Not to be forgotten are the club-friendly, just under the radar groups that sneak in a sellout show here and again. Among those and likely the next big thing to break are the “Demons”, a quartet so driven that they pledge to carry the banner of true rock and roll till it’s pried from their cold dead figures.

On their fourth return to theses shores, the “Demons” have finally included the Pacific Northwest to their traveling itinerary. After playing packed shows throughout California the band stumbled into San Francisco to get some much needed shut eye only to discover, upon awaking, that all their gear including vintage Swedish guitars were stolen from their van. An APB went out to locate said stolen goods while they marched forward learning to play new equipment on loan. It was under these cloudy skies that the four Swedes rolled into Portland and set up on the relatively small stage at Dante’s.

After rehearsing the traumatic events of the theft, which obviously struck the band to the core, it was surprising to see them rally around a blazing soundcheck and mentally “get in the game” for the night’s show. Immediately the guitars clashed together with a tympanic crash that shook the walls while the drum and bass rattled the very rafters of the joint. Only a couple runs were needed to balance the sound before the band careful packed up their guitars and climbed off stage. “We’re all pretty tired,” confessed drummer Micke Jacobsson as he walked by me carrying his drum cymbals. “It’s been a long drive and this is the first night with the new gear.” I joined the band as they headed backstage inquiring about the state of Swedish rock.

“It’s used to be pretty competitive,” says guitarist/vocals Mathias Carlsson, his tall, lanky figure hovering over a piping hot pizza. “Now, it’s like we all get along and see each other at the clubs in Stockholm all the time.” Bassist “Muffins” (that’s right – “Muffins”) grabs a greasy slice and joins the conversation. “We’re all fans of each other, we like the Backyard Babies and the Hellacopters. We don’t know much about the current Australian bands like the Datsuns and Jet but we like the older Australian band’s like Radio Birdman, Lime Spiders, The Celibate Rifles, the Scientists, and the Saints.” And the “Demons” wear it proudly with Jacobsson donning a Radio Birdman “T” while Carlsson sported the Nomads blazed across his chest. “The music we like has to have emotion,” says Carlsson, “I have to feel something.”

Formed while still in high school (1995) the four have bonded through nearly ten years of constant touring and a single vision to remain true to their craft. Inspired by native bands like The Nomads and The Robots they developed a sound that is one part punk, another garage and, quoting Jacobsson, “just high energy rock ‘n roll”. They met Gearhead Records president, Mike LaVella playing Gearfest 1998 and were invited to join his label. Since, they have completed three US tours, released three powerhouse records and are currently scheduled to appear at the SXSW (South by Southwest) Gearhead showcase in Austin, TX. March 12-24th. It is their recent “
Demonology” CD that brings them across the pond.

“Demonology is a compilation”, says Jacobsson. “
Riot Salvation (2000) was our first full-length, 'Stockholm Slump' (2002) was our second. This new one has rare stuff and outtakes – a compilation of songs not on any of our other albums – stuff that’s hard to get. We have songs on various compilation records, b-sides, etc…that people have been asking for every time we play out. Now they can get it all in one package.” The record, out now on Gearhead Records, is an undiluted epilog of garage boogie rock & roll, somewhat reckless but punk smart. The irreverent “What's This Shit Called Love”, “Beat On Me” and “Run Me Over” keeps it gritty and, much like labelmates New Bomb Turks, creates a fashionable nod to the Stooges and MC5 while still maintaining their original basement aggression.

Some surprises in the pack include the Danzig penned “She”, “Luney Tune” by Alice Cooper, The Odds “I’ll Make You Sorry” and the Stooges “You Don’t Want My Name”. Yet, they all sit comfortably next to Carlsson’s “Assholee”, “Electrocute” and Misfits inspired “Riding On The Hearse”. Says Carlsson, “The first bands that really turned me on were the Stooges and the Velvet Underground – especially because they couldn’t play their instruments all that well but they kept going. Later I was into the Sex Pistols…then the Lazy Cowgirls”. The wide range of influences on the band adds to their diversity. “We listened to so many different bands,” says Jacobsson, “so it’s hard for us to say we are punk rock or garage rock. We melt everything together from Detroit to New York to England – it’s all there.”

“Swedish TV and Radio never play the good stuff,” chimes in guitarist Stefan Jonsson, “That’s why there are so many bands from there and maybe why our music sounds like it does. There are all these cool record stores in Old Town (Stockholm) and that’s where everyone goes to get into music. They’re small stores that don’t care about the big hits of the day.” Stockholm, being a premier metropolitan city, also brings in its share of live talent. Carlsson adds, “Everybody comes to Stockholm to play. Bands from all over the world, America, Europe, Australia. We grew up in the suburbs where we had a lot of trouble with gangs and segregation. Rap music started coming over in the early ‘90s so we got driven and started playing in a punk rock band. It made us separate from everyone else.”

That separation is worn proudly as the band puts on their jackets with the new “Demons” logo arching across the back. Says Jacobsson, “It’s like our own gang name. We got the idea from an old Wanderers album. For us it means we are together in this.” And they proved that once they hit the stage. New equipment aside, nothing was going to stop the Demons from giving Portland a full-tilt rock and roll show.

"Demons", Gearhead Records