We’re a few days into 2014 already and I never really had time to do the usual look in the rearview mirror to summarize what 2013 was like for me.
Compared to the past 5 years, it was less eventful than usual, and a lot of it has to do with my father’s passing. I cancelled some gigs I had planned to go to and well, just wasn’t in the mood for anything really, but there were still a few highlights in 2013.
January started with Gothenburg Sound Festival where I met up with FIREWIND-drummer JO NUNEZ who was playing with NIGHTRAGE.
Shortly thereafter, I went to the US to see a few FIREWIND-shows and meet up with the new singer KELLY SUNDOWN CARPENTER for an interview at the Gramercy in NYC. Went to Atlanta and the Masquerade as well, pretty cool venue.
Got stuck in a blizzard the day I was supposed to fly home from JFK via Toronto, and made it home in the very last minute. Drama!
Swedish bands CRAZY LIXX & H.E.A.T played at KB, show got interrupted by the fire alarm and the club was evacuated.
Went to beautiful ICELAND with my friend Henny, that was a trip I won’t forget anytime soon – Iceland is a fairy tale country and I hope they never let the ways of the “outside world” change what they’ve accomplished. It’s amazing.
[This isn’t even Photoshopped – it actually looks like that!]
Gigs, there were a few. IRON MAIDEN played at Malmo Stadion, I spent all day in line to get a front row spot. Well worth it!
MEGADETH played at Vega in Copenhagen, they had just released Super Collider and played the title track from that album live for the first time. Dave Mustaine also brought a kid up on stage, not a usual sight at Megadeth shows. :)
STEVE HARRIS and his British Lion played at KB in Malmo, and although the attendance was low, to say the least, it was insanely cool to see a musician of his caliber that up close! I got dust from his sneakers in my face when he stomped on his monitor, he was THAT close. It wasn’t as bad as people say, the band had a good time and that’s what I remember the most.
Another memorable gig was PAUL GILBERT in Gothenburg, at Sticky Fingers. Been a fan since forever, Paul is amazing. There are some fantastic shredders in the world, but Paul is unique. I love his goofy style, his dry sense of humor, his playing, his way of interacting with the crowd… It was a great show.
After Apollo Papathanasio’s departure from Firewind, I decided to keep track of his other projects, so I went to Hamburg, Germany to visit my friend Su and see Apollo with SPIRITUAL BEGGARS. A few months later made a last minute decision to see the band in Thessaloniki, Greece as well.
Apollo also visited me in my home in Malmo for a video interview and a nice lunch. Awesome dude.
Of course, there were a bunch of FIREWIND shows this year as well. Rock in den Ruinen in Germany, SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL, and of course, the tour of AUSTRALIA. I opted out of all other shows because I needed the $$ for Australia.
SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL was a weird festival this year, it was only days after my father’s passing, but I had to go to fulfill my duties to Sweden Rock Magazine and also to my friend Su who was visiting from Germany, SRF was her bachelorette party.
Memorable interviews: DAVID COVERDALE (WHITESNAKE), love the man, he rocks!
[A short clip from that interview]
And finally meeting LITA FORD for the first time ever. She was great, I’m glad she didn’t turn out to be a bitch.
Also saw her shows in Gothenburg ad Sticky Fingers and Malmo, KB.
Went to the UK twice in May to see WHITESNAKE, Thunder and Journey. I could see Whitesnake a million times and it still never gets old. :)
GUS G came to Malmo for the SWEDISH METAL CONVENTION, had a great time with him and Andy R, thanks to Pontus for bringing him to the convention. Also met Tallee Savage and her sister Amanda, Jorn, Anders Johansson (YNGWIE, HAMMERFALL) and a bunch of other people.
(Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, Yngwie), Pekka and Gus in the VIP-room)
Gus G and Paul DiAnno:
Straight after that…business class with Emirates to Sydney via Dubai, went on a safari, met koalas, saw the first Firewind show of the Australian tour, continued to Brisbane, met up with Clint, flew to Adelaide and then finally Melbourne. Stayed there for a week after the band had left. Met a few more koalas and then some really nice people at his BBQ party.
The free BAR in business class at my Emirates-flight to Sydney. :) It didn’t suck. ;)
Came home, got another tattoo and saw BLACK SABBATH in Copenhagen.
An old friend, singer of the Swedish sleaze-band NASTY IDOLS, Andy Pierce, passed away at the age of 45, something that I still can’t quite grasp…
Finished my year in the US visiting friends and checking out two gigs that I wrote about in my previous blog, both Savatage-related.
That was it – in a nutshell. Less travel than usual 2013 but I’m already looking forward to the Steel Panther European tour in the spring and Gus G’s solo-debut! Welcome 2014!
My hometown Malmö (Sweden) was graced by no other than the mighty IRON MAIDEN last night. I can’t say anything but just sum it all up in one word: AMAZING!!
These guys are the best at what they do, and if you’re looking for a live show that’s gonna blow your socks off, a show that’s gonna leave you with your jaw on the ground and a show that you’re going to be talking about for years to come – go see Maiden!
This is really the “creme de la creme” of live metal shows. Kiss may have more props and pyro, but when you look at the actual ENERGY of the band and the show as a whole, nobody beats Iron Maiden. And I say that without even being their greatest fan, I’ve always been more of a Priest-follower. But I’ve gotta hand it to them – they totally RULE.
Bruce Dickinson flies all over the stage like he doesn’t know what gravity is, he’s got more energy than a guy half his age and he continues singing flawlessly like it’s nothing.
Jannick Gers is a one-man show, enough to keep you entertained for two hours, he’s flipping his guitar all over the place like a martial arts stick crossed with Yngwie Malmsteen poses and antics.
Steve Harris is incredible, but even if he didn’t do anything, it’s enough for him to just be THE Steve Harris, people worship him.
Dave, Adrian and Nicko are all great musicians, but they also have strong personalities, especially mr McBrain who always has a smile or ten to share – all in all, there is something for everybody and the energy that goes back and forth between Iron Maiden and their crowd is unique.
I drove down to the stadium eary in the morning because I know that when it’s Iron Maiden – people WILL be lining up early. If I wanted a front row spot, I had to get in line as early as possible.
When I got there, people told me to go speak to the guy who was first in line. He got there 9 am the day before and had already spoken to security to set up a system.
Whoever showed up before noon, the day of the show, would be on a list that security would let in 5 minutes before everyone else. I was no 64 out of the 79 people who were given that privilege.
It was tough standing there for so many hours, but worth it in the end – it’s the price you have to pay for that precious front row spot.
I’ve had laminate passes and access to the stage or in front of the stage where photographers and security normally stand, but it doesn’t give you the same kick. You wanna get into it, with a few other crazy fans and just feel it – the proper way.
[My laminate from the 99-tour]
I didn’t drink anything all day (no water, no soda, no nothing…) because there were no toilets anywhere, I barely even ate, but I’m used to that, I handle thirst by chewing chewing gum on occasions like this. ONE day is fine. But after the show, I was beat.
The whole city was “Maidenized” with thousands of fans everywhere. Didn’t go out, I was way too tired after the all-day-waiting.
[The press today was just as impressed as the rest of us – fantastic reviews everywhere!]
And just a short mention – there were also two opening acts yesterday. A band from the UK called Voodoo Six and the very popular Swedish band Sabaton.
When Voodoo Six walked out, I noticed something that has since made me change the name of the band to Wood-o Six….:
(noticed anything in particular about the guitarist…??) No?
Well, I’m sorry but that sort of had me lose concentration a little bit because I couldn’t believe he kept that throughout the whole show! THAT dude must REALLY love what he does! :)
As for Sabaton, they are awesome live. They definitely have some Maiden-elements in their live performance, such as a frontman who runs across the stage with such ease and just loves what he does. It’s contageous, the crowd loves these guys!
I had a great time, and my friend Bianca who came from Skovde to see the show was glad that she finally got to see Maiden for the first time ever. :)
They were amazing, absolutely amazing. Always worth the time, effort and money – and there are not that many bands nowadays that give you that kind of value for your trouble and hard earned buck!
Two thumbs up for Iron Maiden – they shone Brighter Than a Thousand Suns! :)
For PHOTOS from the show – go to my Facebook-page and check them out!
My filming wasn’t the best yesterday because of the energy in the crowd, but I picked up a little at least.
And some older Maiden memories from years ago! :)) My first Maiden show (Donington), some backstage memories and whatever else…
Steve Harris’ British Lion visited Malmö last night. I’m guessing they arrived the day before – I passed the club KB (Kulturbolaget) on my way home from work and saw the usual “Beat The Street” buses outside. So, their day off was possibly spent in ice-cold Sweden. What a drag. :)
Met up with my friends Mari and Henrik outside KB pretty early, basically cause I didn’t want to go home and get all drowsy – it’s better hang outside the club and yap a bit until the doors open. And you never know with these things – there could either be two people in line – or there would be one of those “around the block“-type of lines.
For the record – it was NOT the latter….
It was embarrassing to see the lack of people. It was cold as fuck and it was a freaking Tuesday, but if there is ANY rock’n’roll in people, they should have been there when they got this once in a lifetime opportunity to see the godfather of metal bassists, a living legend, STEVE HARRIS – IN A SMALL CLUB IN MALMOE. That’s never going to happen again. How anyone would want to miss that is beyond me. I’m guilty of almost bailing myself, until it dawned on me what I would be missing.
It’s a bit fashionable right now to dislike what Steve does outside of Maiden with British Lion. Nobody dares to say that they like anything about his new project, but honestly… it’s definitely not that bad.
I think that the problem is pretty much what Gary Moore experienced when he tried something very different from what he was known for. Critics loved “Still Got The Blues” – fans absolutely hated it. Metalheads don’t like change. It’s like you’re a traitor, like you’re leaving your group, the place where you belong.
And the problem is to “reprogram” yourself to think of Steve Harris as a brilliant musician who can and wants to do something different, something that doesn’t sound like Iron Maiden. But it’s hard. The man IS Iron Maiden, so I totally understand why he’s having a tough time winning people over.
I’ve always been more of a Priest-fan anyway, I’m not the typical Maidenhead. So, unlike many others (maybe) I went to the gig with an open mind, not expecting anything at all.
I was just curious what he would do with this new thing and on a small club stage. The scenario was just weird – I’ve only seen Steve on the greatest stages of the world, never anywhere remotely as small as this.
I didn’t know the songs, I didn’t know the band, I didn’t know anything – and sometimes I actually want it that way. You tend to experience stuff differently when you are just there as a curious spectator with no expectations whatsoever.
And I have to say – I don’t care how much shit Steve has had to take from reviewers and fans, British Lion put on a great show. I had a freaking great time and I loved seeing the band just playing because they enjoyed it, totally unpretentious, regardless what anyone thinks.
The songs? I think that if this had been performed by a new, unknown “rock band” and not Steve Harris & co, it would have been easier for people to take it for what it is, and appreciate it. Cause the songs were not THAT horrible. My god, I’ve read so much crap online since he released this album, and the only Swedish review I’ve read today pretty much pissed on it as well, but I truly believe it’s mostly a matter of psychology.
I was in the front row, because I wanted to experience Steve Harris doing his thing up close when I had this unique chance. I don’t regret it for one second, and the band gave it their best – I don’t know if you’re missing those small details if you’re way in the back (eye contact and seeing the slighest change in their facial expression) but the point is – they managed to entertain me eventhough I hadn’t heard the songs before. And as we all know, that’s not an easy thing to do.
I very well know I’m going totally against the stream here, but …sometimes somebody has to.
It wasn’t Iron Maiden, but I wasn’t there to see Iron Maiden (I’m seeing Maiden this summer, so I’ll get my fair share of Run to the hills in a few months anyway…) I was there to see something different and I did.
Happy belated birthday mr Harris and thank you guys for a good evening at KB!
Christmas is almost over and before you know it, we’ve rocketed ourselves into a brand new year, 2013. For many people it’s an absolute anti-climax to hit January. All the pre-Christmas activities and festivities, the decorations and the anticipation (or even just the stress) keeps people busy. Then in January – there’s not much to look forward to for many people, Everything kind of dies out for a few months.
I for one can’t wait for 2013 though, because there are already gigs planned, concert tickets bought, hotels booked, trips being planned…! And new tours being announced.
Yesterday Love/Hate announced a UK-tour in March/April. I certainly know what I’ll be doing in March/April then. It won’t be the same as in the 90’s, but the music is still great. I remember the first time I heard of Love/Hate, they were opening for Skid Row.
I liked their music, but honestly thought they were just another poser-band. There were tons of them back in those days. Nice to look at, sometimes they even had a decent song or two, but most of them were better at looking good than sounding good.
Then I did an interview with singer Jizzy Pearl in Copenhagen, and he totally blew me away. He was anything but some stupid rocker-idiot. His answers were well thought through, he was a very intelligent guy in many ways. I wish I knew where I had that interview, would have loved to listen to it again now.
That’s a whole other story, every interview I’ve ever done the past 20-something years, is on some old cassette here somewhere… But after I had used them for either an article or the radio, I just put them in a box somewhere, without as much as labelling the tape. Never thought I would need it again. You live and you learn. ;)
Then in May there’s the Whitesnake/Journey/Thunder tour that I’ll be attending (of COURSE!) and let’s not forget the summer festivals. Sweden Rock Festival – this year being visited by one of my absolute favorite live-acts Firewind among others. Or Graspop in Belgium, which unfortunately is a bit TOO good this year, as Iron Maiden and King Diamond will be playing right after eachother, on two different stages, so you have to choose which show you want to hang in the front row for… But then again, I’ll get to enjoy Iron Maiden – one of the best live bands in the world for sure – at the stadium in my home town Malmo.
And inbetween all those BIG BANDS, there will be all the smaller bands that I still love to see, that I admire for their passion. You really need to be passionate about what you’re doing when you’re in the music business nowadays, cause as we all know, people don’t get rich playing music anymore. Those who do, who sacrifice so much to play their music, definitely have that fire in them and I can relate to it as much as I respect and admire it.
The concert year of 2013 begins with a festival, mostly because a friend is part of the package and it’s nice to meet up with people you know. Might also go check out one of the dates of Visions of Atlantis in the spring. Their singer Maxi Nil guested Firewind at their anniversary shows in Greece recently, and she was also a cool chick to talk to, so I’m curious to hear more of their stuff.
Basically, I’m excited to meet the new year. There’s already so much to look forward to and that’s the most important thing. So many people get depressed in Sweden in January and February because of the gloomy weather, the dark, and summer being so far away. But I think it’s all about a change of attitude. Why wait until summer to do something?! Start off your year right away – then keep the ball rolling!
Been thinking about how the life and image of rockers – or at least my interpretation of it – has changed over the years.
There were so many expectations and unwritten rules when I first discovered metal. Granted, I was a teenager, I would have sniffed out the “proper” behavior in any type of community, because you were so eager to fit in. But there weren’t many female role-models, so you became one of the guys.
There were a few “rules” that I remember from back then.
1. Thou shalt not listen to any other type of music because that is extremely uncool (see list of approved bands below)
2. Thou shalt be dressed properly
A) Denim jacket or vest, alternatively leather jacket, decorated with badges, patches and large back-patch of your favorite band to gild your creation.
B) Jeans must be stone-washed, dirty and have holes at the knees. Should be as tight as possible.
C) T-shirt with any metal band, doesn’t have to be your favorite band, but no matter what you wear, you must show to the world that you are a true ROCKER (it was like a religion, metalheads were supposed to spread the gospel much like Jehova’s Witnesses…)
D) Footwear: sneakers or boots
E) Accessories: Anything with studs, any kind of studs but preferably these:
You could never ever compromise with the above if you wanted to be cool. I remember walking around in a leather jacket, covered by a denim jacket – OPEN all winter, freezing my ass off (I’m pretty sure my lips were blue and purple every winter) because it was extremely uncool to button your jacket. Probably because you couldn’t show your metal t-shirt properly if you did.
Bands that were considered cool had to be butt ugly and preferably British: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Ozzy, Sabbath or even Def Leppard (their pre-Hysteria era…) or some got dispensation because they looked and sounded like brits, such as Accept or Anvil or something like that.
It just had to be “manly”, as masculine as possible. Which is why I still don’t really get how the hell MANOWAR could ever be considered the “manliest” band in the world, when they are any gay dude’s wet dream? I mean, seriously – check this out and tell me if that’s not a poster that would look great on any YMCA wall:
[Why would a straight dude want to look at another dude wearing a thong?!]
You really had to be careful what you said and did, what you wore, how you acted – because the slightest thing would make the other “disciples” think you’re not cool enough and not “a TRUE headbanger”.
Actually, some of that still lingers now, at my age (I just don’t give a crap nowadays, I sure as hell don’t need to prove to anyone how “metal” I am anymore). Like the detail that I don’t like beer. Never have, never will. “What kind of rocker are you if you don’t like beer?” is a line I’ll hear in the company of rockers if I say no to a beer.
At some point I even pointed out that metal to me is about choosing your own path, making your own decisions. How cool is it to just follow everybody else’s footsteps? If I want wine instead of beer, and have the balls to say so, regardless the comments I KNOW I’m gonna get – then who’s more metal? Drink your beer and shut up, loser. ;)
The expectations on what was required to be a rocker changed a bit in the mid-/late 80’s, but then people were divided into two groups: “Real” rockers and posers.
The so called “real” rockers were the ones who still wore their denim jackets and sneakers – and then, there was the “posers” who got into the glam-side of the genre and started spraying their hair, wear colorful clothes with glitter (preferably a neon color, pink, yellow, purple…) bandanas and (god forbid) MAKE UP!
[Still “gay”, but in a different kind of way]
As I was on the Judas Priest-side, I remember quickly taking sides against the glam era. I thought they were so embarrassing and so….sissy. I could have puked on bands like Poison, Pretty Boy Floyd or Tygertailz.
But all of that somehow merged as the years went by, because even our own heroes started looking like girls. Even Judas Priest and Whitesnake joined the band-wagon and started to bleach their hair or got bad perms.
And with bands like Skid Row or Guns n’Roses who weren’t old-school metal OR glam/sleaze, the whole scene became accessible to old-school and newbie-rockers. It’s like they were the glue that was needed to unite rockers again.
You could be, or wear, a mix between the old denim-style and whatever glittery you wanted to spice it up with. And it was cool as fuck with guys who used eyeliner and got that “I haven’t slept for three days” kind of look. It wasn’t “gay” anymore.
And speaking of gay, you realized how latently gay the rocker world really was, when Rob Halford came out of the closet. Dudes dug his S&M style for years, and women were pretty much banned in the world of metal in the early days. So you had guys strutting for other guys – and somehow they managed to call it “manly”.
Motley Crue were considered wimps when they first started to appear in magazines with their glam style. But in fact I suppose they were more “manly” than the dudes who were afraid of women back in the day. All of course depending on how you choose to define the word “manly”.
The kiss of death came with the grunge era. Suddenly, all the leather and spandex was out. The sloppy “homeless”-look was in. Baggy, plaid flanel shirts, hair mugs, the roadie-style cargo pants – all of it looked like it was from a Salvation Army dumpster.
Over night, everybody else became uncool. Unless you looked like you belonged in the gutter and listened to Nirvana or Pearl Jam, you had no right to exist in the metal world. It was the dark ages of rock in a way. Many people I knew cut their hair and desperately started looking for something else to identify with. I remember people being very confused during thir period.
The whole religion as we knew it, had been shattered. There were barely any non-grunge bands touring, all the rock clubs that had blossomed in the 80’s closed down, Headbanger’s Ball on MTV didn’t show the kind of music we liked anymore. Everything was just so depressing. The rock scene had been taken over by bands who hated themselves and wanted to die (Nirvana quote).
Eventhough metal came back even after those “dark ages”, fashion or expectations weren’t as distinctive anymore. You could look any way you damned well pleased, pretty much.
But it’s like any other religion, you want to support your beliefs, show the world who you are. So, go to any metal festival in Europe during summer-time, and you’ll notice that people still look like time stood still.
I’m still wearing rock t-shirts, but maybe to a more limited extent. I’ve ditched the denim jackets, and leather is cool to look at but it doesn’t keep you warm when it’s cold out – and when it rains.. forget it. :) Sneakers are still a part of my “rocker identity” but not because I’m trying to prove anything, I just think they are great for everything and still look cool (nowadays you can even buy them in leather and studs).
Metalheads still have the need to show who they are. We still want to be a part of the underground movement it once was, kind of like the punk era. It separates us from “the common people”. Even if we just choose a simple rock t-shirt or our true rocker jeans.
What has changed though, is that after all these years, metal has now landed a different image.Iron Maiden is no longer a band for sweaty young guys – it’s a respected, well known band that even non-rockers know. Bruce Dickinson is invited to speak on BBC news and whatnot, it would never have happened in 1983.
Ozzy is no longer the crazy, dangerous bat-eating madman, he’s the guy on TV who yells:“Sharon!! The fucking TV is stuck on the fucking weather channel!” and is a guest on “Ellen”.
Alice Cooper is seen golfing and supporting the republican party. Quite ironic that the man who has been anything but conservative with his art and music, is now a part of the establishment that would have tried to ban him twenty-thirty years ago.
Things have changed radically. Metal isn’t so shocking anymore. After the shock-rock era ofMarilyn Manson, and after the kind of old and outdated attempts by extreme death-metal bands to create headlines, metal is now almost as accepted as Bruce Springsteen.
And people listening to it don’t have as many rules to follow anymore. Look anyway you want, listen to whatever you like (cause even Bon Jovi is considered hard rock – or you can choose the crossover-bands that mix death metal with techno/pop, such as Amaranthe).
The boundaries are not as tight anymore, there’s not as much to prove as there once was. Back in the day you were fighting for your music to get recognition – but in fact, you didn’t WANT it to be mainstream. You wanted to be a part of that “misunderstood” group of people who were into metal. Because it was like a family of outsiders, and there’s just something appealing about that.
Many rockers who didn’t fit anywhere else, found their home and their identity in metal. Gave them strength in numbers, for sure. That’s probably why it’s still such a rush to be in the crowd of 20 000 people, chanting to our heroes’ classic songs, going absolutely crazy. Metal survived, through everything.
Now, when metal is on national TV (at least here in Sweden it is) it’s as if it’s not “our” music anymore. It’s become mainstream, more or less.
We are rockers and we stuck through it all. I think we’ve finally got something to be proud of. :)