GUITAR UNIVERSE – Day 3 [Stockholm, Sweden]

Woke up at SAS Radisson in Helsinki.

I had pre-booked a cab early in the morning, to get to the airport on time. So I got up at 5 AM and went downstairs to get some breakfast before the cab came to pick me up. It was almost empty in the big breakfast room, but a decent buffet to choose from. I took a quick look at my phone and saw that I had about 15 minutes before the cab was supposed to arrive, so I went to get my little carry-on that was behind the front desk.

On my way out in the lobby, I see ONE person (at first). Marty Friedman. He smiles and waves a little and I kind of wave back, wondering if he still remembers me or if he just remembered from seeing me the day before (and the day before that).
Marty

The reason why I wondered was because the first time I met Marty was when he was new in Megadeth. I did two or three interviews with him during that time. This was, obviously, before there was internet and he mentioned at some point that he had lost touch with a friend of his, drummer Anders Johansson (Yngwie, Hammerfall).

Anders was a friend of mine, so I remember dialing Anders’ number at the hotel, handing Marty the phone before leaving the room. That was the “old” way of getting back in touch with friends. Nowadays I guess it’s Facebook…

About ten years later, Megadeth were opening for Iron Maiden in Stockholm and I was at the hotel where both bands were staying. I ended up right behind Marty at the front desk, because I needed a map to find the venue.

I figured there was no point even mentioning that we had met before cause of course he would have no idea. He turned around for some reason, stopped and went: “Hey… I’ve seen you somewhere before, haven’t I?” And then he went on to give me all the details. That it was an interview in Copenhagen and what it had looked like there and soforth…

I was incredibly impressed by his memory for faces. I don’t even remember people I met last week – and he remembered after all those years. I never forgot that, I thought it was amazing.
However, I honestly doubt that he still remembers nowanother 10 years later, we’re talking almost 25 years ago now. But – I still couldn’t help wondering.

As I got closer to the lobby I saw the whole bunch of tired musicians sitting out there, waiting for what I’m guessing was their ride.
I picked up my carry-on and thought that I would be able to stay and chat for maybe 10 minutes before my cab arrived, but the girl at the front desk told me that my driver was already there.

Suddenly I had to run off like a freaking Cinderella..!! The guys were trying to persuade me to hang out a for a few, but as I didn’t know how else to get to the airport later, and I didn’t have time to get the details about what they were planning to do I just barely even had time to say good morning – I just waved as I ran towards the door and said that I’d see them all in Stockholm.

Afterwards I felt mighty rude but I thought I had all the time in the world – and then the driver shows up too early and there you go. Suddenly you end up getting super stressed…!

I got to the airport, expecting a large place with lots of restaurants and shops, but the security was a tiny little station that I breezed right through and much to my surprise, my gate was just a few steps ahead.

Had nothing to do, so I picked up my new little Sony Vaio ultrabook (love it – if it hadn’t been for that annoying Windows 8…). Maybe 30 minutes later or so, I hear some familiar voices. I looked up, and there’s a whole collection of longhaired musicians and crew again, walking slowly like zombies towards the same gate. We were all on the same flight to Stockholm.

So, there we all were, trying to kill some time before departure, which was maybe 2 hours later. It was a computer-central. Mobile phones, laptops, iPads, mini-iPads everywhere. You’d think you just walked in on a DreamHack convention or something. :D

And some…. took a nap.

[This gentleman, who shall remain anonymous, was tired… After all, it was bloody early in the morning…! ;P]

Once we got to Stockholm, I actually didn’t have a plan, for a change. I thought I was going to just improvise, but luckily, there was room for one more on the bus. :)

So, the whole equipage headed towards the baggage carousels to pick up suitcases and gear. Then continued out to find the tour bus – their rolling home for the coming few weeks across Europe.

The nice British driver welcomed everyone onboard, and while the band went upstairs to find their bunks, I found a place downstairs at the table where I wouldn’t be in anyone’s face. I was joined by two of the guys from the crew and it was really nice to just chat for a bit on our way into town.

When we arrived outside the amusement park Gröna Lund (where the venue was and the festival Stockholm Rocks was taking place) I thanked for the ride and continued on my way to check in at my hotel which was just up the small hill nearby.

The band was getting a bit more well-deserved sleep and the crew had work to do so the best I could do was get out of the way. :)

I had very little time but I’m rarely in Stockholm and I wanted to meet at least one more of my friends there before I left. One of them being my “little brother” Chris Laney (known as a producer at the classic Polar studios (where ABBA recorded their albums), songwriter and band member of a bunch of bands). But frankly, I haven’t seen him in so long that it felt like an hour just wouldn’t be enough.

[Me and “little brother” Chris:]

 

So I asked another dear friend, drummer Martin who’s now in Stockholm studying to be a producer and learning management, the business part of the music industry and about a million other things. We’ve always had tons of fun, so it would be great to see him. He took the ferry over from Stockholm city to Gröna Lund and joined me while I grabbed a bite at one of the restaurants across the street from the venue Tyrol. Hadn’t eaten all day.

[This is what Martin was doing when I first got to know him and the awesome dudes of the band Chains. The band split up but the guys have been doing great on their own. The guitarist Gabriel for instance, is now in LA, playing guitar and kicking ass]

Time went very fast and I had to run so I wouldn’t miss the festival, and he had to run too as he really didn’t have much time at all but still took the time because we never get to see eachother normally. That’s what happens when you’ve got friends all over the country…!

I was going to review the festival for Sweden Rock Magazine so I picked up my pass at the door.

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There was some cool stuff to see and hear. The girls onstage when I walked in, Imber, were really good and I liked the singer’s badass attitude. Very confident but not arrogant and an edgy rock’n’roll voice. She had something unique.

Next band on stage was Finnish glam band Reckless Love – and to be perfectly honest, I expected it to suck. I’ve seen shitload of those bands putting tons of time and effort on their IMAGE, hair, clothes and various props, but when it comes to the music, they usually bore me to tears.

Well, I had another thing coming.

They were quite entertaining and they did their thing very well. Their singer was a total strutter and it just worked with that whole concept. If you didn’t take it dead serious, it was what it was – fun!

Photo: Reckless Love from Finland - one of the bands that played at Stockholm Rocks festival. I was expecting another really bad version of the 80's glam bands, but these dudes were actually quite impressive on stage. I had a blast. Definitely checking them out again if they come through Sweden. :)

What I liked the most was the great vocal harmonies. The guitarist and the bassist could both sing which made all the difference. Few bands can pull that off nowadays (or they don’t even attempt it), so kudos for that.

Honestly, they were a hard act to follow. How do you walk up on stage right after a band that just invited to a rock’n’roll party and got the whole crowd singing and jumping? Phew.

Luckily, the act that followed was no rookie. If anyone knows how to work a stage, it’s Gus G. For a second there, I thought that his fan would have worked great now, just to add a little extra spice and effect on stage. But then again… he doesn’t really need it. :)

I saw another familiar face in the photo-pit (I chose not to go down there, eventhough I had a photo pass, because the angle where I was standing was better than the pit…). It was Tallee Savage, a very cool lady and talented photographer. Was glad to see her, so we went to the bar before Gus got onstage, to get something to drink.

Her husband left after a short while to leave the most expensive cameras at home, as those weren’t needed anymore and it was too risky to walk around with them.

I still hope she will get a chance to get a proper photo shoot with Gus, because I love her photos and I think that her dramatic but very elegant style of photography would suit Gus well, as he already has a bit of “mystery” about him. Someday, maybe, who knows :D

When Gus G hit the stage it was really a pleasure to watch. The crowd was chanting his name inbetween songs: GUS….G! GUS… G!! Some guys in the front were going absolutely wild, headbanging like crazy, reaching for him, trying to get a pick… the whole deal. I just thought it was awesome.

[Pure adoration…]

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The rockers were totally into it, especially, of course, during the covers, which was probably the only songs they had even heard before as the solo-album is brand new. The Firewind-song World On Fire generated a bunch of banging heads as well.

In short – it was a successful show. The band couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. :)

During the changeover to Marty, we bumped into Anders Tengner, Swedish journalist and author (one of his latest books was “As Above, So Below – The Unauthorized Yngwie Biography”).

He was the presenter of this festival, so he had a few minutes to come and say hello. “Oh – Tallee – AND Daniela!” he smiled before he hugged us both simultaneously.

When I was a teenager, he was my main role-model and I loved his personal writing style. I’d say that he definitely influenced me a lot cause he was almost like a rock star himself when I was 15. All the stuff he experienced, I wanted to experience too – and then write about it, the same way. I’d say I’ve done okay doing just that. ;)

Marty went onstage to do his thing – and once again he mesmerized the Swedish crowd. You don’t even think so much about it being 100% instrumental. It’s so well carried out that you have a good time from beginning to end and he does have a stage presence that draws people to come check him out.

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After his show, Anders picked us up to escort us backstage. We hadn’t even gotten through the door when we bumped into the promoter Christer. He immediately went: “Daniela Pilic! I haven’t seen you in twenty years”.

I knew I recognized his name when I got an e-mail about my pass, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember where from. He said the same thing. I do remember him working with a record company back in the 90’s who handled the band Talisman and that might have been one of those times we first spoke. But it’s a small world – it really is. :)

He continued: “I hear you went to Australia with Gus and the band!”
How on earth did he hear that? I wondered. He laughed and said that the management had mentioned it. Once again, it’s a funny and small world. :D

Once we got right in the middle of the backstage area where all the different bands were hanging out,  I bumped into another old friend – Suzan from Playground Music. She’s done everything in this business and been around as long as I have, working with everything from band-PR to being a tour manager and whatnot. She’s a cool lady so it was great to catch up a little! We meet here and there, at least at Sweden Rock Festival every year. :D

The bassplayer from Reckless Love had been left behind, wearing only the thin, white tank-top that he had been wearing on stage. He had had a few beers and kept explaining that everything from their dressing room was gone – including his cellphone and his jacket.

So he couldn’t call his manager to ask where the hell everyone went or how to get back to his hotel. I had seen the manager budging out all the stuff from the dressing room maybe 30 minutes before. This dude was stranded.

Luckily, they were staying at the same hotel as I was, which was not far away so he could make it even dressed in…that. Suzan was about to show him the way when someone came for the poor guy. :)

H.E.A.T got back from their set, they are a very energetic live band and I can’t really find anything to complain about, except that they aren’t quite my cup of tea, that’s all.

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TNT rushed by, passing us on their way to the stage and everyone left to go check them out from the side of the stage. Tony Harnell still has an impressive voice, that’s what stuck with me the most.

[TNT from my angle]

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The backstage area was clearing out after TNT had finished their set and someone suggested that we should go to the classic Stockholm hangout for rockers: Pub Anchor.

This particular evening they had an Ozzy cover band which maybe could be fun for Gus to see. :D

So we all got a large cab/van and headed off to Anchor. I don’t know if I would call the cover band a good band, but at least they were kind of funny. :)

This clip is from the show at Anchor – “Ozzy” hanging from the ceiling singing No More Tears….:

We stayed there for a few hours until the place started to “thin out” just before closing time.

The guys ended up at another club I think, whereas I went back to the hotel to get 2 hours of sleep before crawling on the train back home to Malmo (as a sleepy zombie) a few hours later…

My next destination will be Munich, Germany…..!

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