If you love punk music, chances are you love Millencolin. Ahead of the release of their ninth studio album SOS getting released on Friday (our review here) and their upcoming tour of Australia, we spoke with guitarist Mathias Färm about the recording process, touring, drag racing and where to visit in Sweden.
Hello. Thanks for talking to me today.
Thanks for talking to me too.
Congrats on the new album. I really enjoyed it. It’s quite political, with a lot of social commentary, especially compared to your previous releases. How did that come about?
Thanks. It reflects what we are thinking of, as a band. Most of the time the songs and the lyrics are a reflection of what is going on in our heads. It’s kinda political in a way, but we are not a band that preach to people about what to do and what to think. The important thing is when people listen to it they start to think and maybe reflect a little on the lyrics and stuff like that. It (the album) is more about us and what’s going on in the world and social media, but it is the most political one that we have done in a long time.
One of the songs that stood out to me was ‘Yanny and Laurel’, which sounds as if it is going to be really silly considering the title, can you tell us a little bit about that song?
It’s about that YouTube clip about ‘Yanny and Laurel’ and the sound, some people think it sounds like Yanny and other people hear Laurel and I guess it (the song) is a reflection on how some people are interpreting stuff in different ways. For you it could be one thing you think and your neighbour feels the opposite. It’s a reflection on that. It’s a really good title for the song. It’s an interesting phenomena. Sometimes you have your opinion, and you think it’s 100% right, but some other guy will think he is 100% right, it’s important to listen to what people are saying and to be open minded about stuff.
What was the process for Millencolin when you guys got together to write and record this album?
We have been recording in this style for the last three records, we have our own recording studio. Me and Nikola are writing all the music, so we get together and have all the song ideas and try and pick the songs for the album. When we have about 20 songs, we make demos of them and we start to rehearse them and we record them. But when you have your own recording studio and you record it yourself, sometimes you have too much time, you can sit with a guitar part for weeks. It should take you one hour, but it can take a couple of days because you have the time to do it. It’s both good and bad. It took us three to four months to record it (the album) because we had the time. It’s a great process, we produced it ourselves and it’s a good feeling knowing you can do it yourself.
Do you think that makes you guys perfectionists as you can record at your own pace?
Yeah. I am a perfectionist. I can sit with stuff that people will never hear, but I can hear. I can redo it 100 times, but you’ll probably never know the difference. But it’s a good thing. Millencolin, nowadays, are a totally DYI band, we do everything ourselves, we record and Erik, the guitarist, does all the artwork.
You’re touring with this album and visiting Australia next month. You guys have been here quite often. Since you have been here quite a bit what are your favourite things to do and see when you are in Australia?
First time we visited Australia was back in ‘96, it was actually the first time we went outside of Scandinavia, so Australia is very special for us. Last time we visited was actually three years ago, we always try to go to Australia when we have winter as it is freezing cold with a lot of snow, so we totally appreciate the weather. I know you guys probably think it’s too hot, and we will probably think it’s too hot too, but it’s great to get some sun. I try to go to the beach and just relax. But I also know Australia has a strong drag racing community, I myself am a drag racer and have a drag racing car. I would love to watch some Australian drag racing.
I was actually going to ask you about that, has drag racing always been a big part of your life and how did you get into it?
Well no. I got my driver’s license at 27 and I was never into cars at all before that, but then I bought a Ford Mustang and I got my license and everything got out of hand, in a way. I realised when I bought an old car that old cars break down, so I learnt how to rebuild cars and how to rebuild engines and all of that. I started to do illegal drag racing in the streets in the night time, but I realised that wasn’t such a good idea so I wanted to start to compete in a professional way. Now I have the world record in my drag racing class. It’s an adrenalin rush, it’s great fun. The bad part about it is, it’s very competitive and it costs a lot of money, but it’s worth it, it’s a lot of fun.
You have a competition coming up soon?
Yeah, I am driving the European Championships. There are four big events every summer. Drag racing is very big in Sweden so there are a lot of competitions. There are four big ones, I don’t have time to do them all, but I try to do it as much as I can. The first one is coming up in early June.
So, you don’t have time to drag race as much cause of touring. On this tour you have Goldfinger supporting, how did that come about?
They’re a cool band, and they have been around for a long time, like we have. Both of us have our songs on the old video game, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, so we have been crossing paths for a long, long time but we’ve never really done a show together, and this was a really good time. I’m really glad (it’s happening), it’ll be a good time.
Since you have been to Australia a lot, have you discovered any Aussie bands that you like?
Back in the day, The Living End supported us on a tour. They’re a big band now. They started supporting us and I guess we supported them, they’re a great band. Parkway Drive. 28 Days, we did shows with. Bodyjar, is another great band.
When we started touring Australia back in ’96, there was a really strong Australian punk rock scene. It was a little bit like Sweden. We met a lot of cool people and great bands. Australia has always been a really good place for us.
You said it was a bit like Sweden, so when you guys first started out what was your gigs like?
When we started out, we started with other bands first and we sang punk rock songs in Swedish. We were skateboarders and we heard a lot of great American punk rock in skate videos. Back then it was hard to find that music in record stores, so we started another band and made our own music in English. We were among one of the first bands in Sweden to do this, so we started to get quite a big following among skateboarders back in ’93. Our shows were kinda small, but they were kinda chaotic too, it was a really good vibe back then. We toured Sweden back in ’94 and did 100 shows, which is a lot. Apart from that the shows in Sweden and Europe and Brazil or the US or Australia are basically the same, it’s the same type of crowd, it’s always a good time.
I have more of a personal question now, so I have been to Stockholm a couple of times but have never gone anywhere else. Where is Sweden should I visit?
You should go to Örebro (their hometown), it’s a very nice city, it’s two hours west of Stockholm. You should also visit the west coast, it’s very nice, but you have to go during summer time, otherwise it’s kinda different. Up north is beautiful, with all the mountains and lakes, during summer time up north the sun never goes down. It’s daylight 24/7.
Thanks for that. And thanks so much for talking to me. Can’t wait to see you guys when you come to Australia.
Thanks for taking time to ask me these questions.
Interview by Carys Hurcom @CarysWoS
Millencolin‘s new album SOS is out Friday. Pre-Order here
The band will also be touring Australia in March
Millencolin – SOS Australian Tour
Saturday 2 March – Metropolis, Fremantle 18+
Monday 4 March – HQ Complex, Adelaide 18+
Tuesday 5 March – 170 Russell, Melbourne 18+ – NEW SHOW
Wednesday 6 March – 170 Russell, Melbourne 18+ – SOLD OUT
Friday 8 March – Roundhouse, Sydney Lic A/A
Saturday 9 March – The ValleyDrive In, Brisbane 18+ – SOLD OUT Sunday 10 March – Soundlounge, Gold Coast 18+ – SOLD OUT