Millencolin have been recording and touring for well over a decade now, and their imminent new album “Kingwood” is sure to cement their reputation as Sweden’s most successful punk rock export. Alex Gosman spoke to guitarist Erik Ohlsson and drummer Fredrik Larzon at London’s Brixton Academy, halfway through a UK tour supporting Good Charlotte.
How’s the tour going so far?
Erik: It’s been going well, although it’s a little bit different for us, as this is not our usual crowd at all ” but that’s what makes it fun! We’ve never really done anything like this before, so it’s a good experience, and it’s a great way to get warmed up for our own tour ” which is gonna start almost as soon as we finish these shows.
Do the Good Charlotte fans seem to like you, then?
E: Yeah, the shows have been better than we expected, actually. I bet only about 5% of the people in there have heard us before, and the rest haven’t, but the crowds have been great ” it’s really surprising how good they’ve been!
How did the tour come about? Are you and GC old friends?
E: No, we’ve never met them before, but they wanted to have us on the tour, so they asked our agent ” and we thought it would be a good thing to do just before our new album is released. It’s also a good experience, to try out our stuff on people who haven’t heard us before.
Could you update us on what you’ve all been up to since you finished touring [previous album] “Home From Home”? I know Nikola [vocalist/bassist] did his solo record [“Lock-Sport-Krock”] ” how about the rest of you?
Fredrik: Well, we took a very short break ” but we’ve still been working on Millencolin stuff all along, because we have an office near the Burning Heart Records [their record label] office, so we were working on our website, hanging out, taking care of our families.and even when Nikola was doing his album, we were already trying out some new stuff.
E: I don’t think we really had a break, because even when he was doing his own record, we were still touring as Millencolin. These shows feel more like the last of the “Home From Home” shows to me, as when we get home, the “Kingwood” tour starts. The whole recording process for “Kingwood” took about one and a half years, but we were always out playing shows here and there.
F: Yeah, it was very spread-out.especially since Nikola lives in Gothenburg, and he only comes up to our town around once a month.so when he does, we get together and rehearse like crazy for about a week!
The new album “Kingwood” seems more varied than your previous efforts. Did you plan to broaden your sound, having ditched the ska element around the time of “Pennybridge Pioneers”?
E: Well, yeah, the songs come pretty naturally to us.but this time, it was really good that Nikola did his record, to show his softer, more emotional side ” because it meant that now he had more energy than ever, and it felt so good to play fast again!
F: It also meant that he gave a bit more room to [guitarist] Mathias, more room for Mathias” ideas, and I guess he’s listening to some harder stuff now.
E: Yeah, but it was Nikola who wrote ‘simple Twist Of Hate” ” a really hardcore song, he really wanted to scream it and stuff. It’s great ” there’s more energy in the band than ever before!
I quote your lyrics: “It’s in my nature to be changing ” (“Ray”); “I don’t think contrast is a sin ” (“No Cigar”). Would you say that people are accepting of your need to change, as a band?
E: The fans have been very accepting.it’s kinda crazy with fans, because you can’t really tell when they started listening to us; the fans who started listening to us around our ska era really miss the ska songs, but newer fans, who came around the time of “Pennybridge Pioneers” or “Home From Home” ” they don’t like the ska songs at all, because Millencolin just isn’t that way to them. Nikola is always dealing with those kinds of issues in his mind ” he wants to keep changing, doesn’t want to settle down, so like us, he needs people to respect that we’re changing.
Do you have good memories of playing in the UK? Have our crowds been nice to you?
F: Yeah.apart from one time, an early tour we did back in 1995 with Pennywise.we thought we’d never go back to England, because we hated it from that tour. But two years later, we went back and it was fantastic!
E: Yeah, we played the Reading festival, as part of the European Warped Tour, back in 1997, it was great, and it’s been great ever since! But when we did that first tour, this whole American style of punk rock was nothing in the UK ” and the crowd were all, like, Exploited fans, and they figured we were skaters; they weren’t into us at all.
F: It was the first time we”d experienced an audience standing there and spitting at us!
E: Yeah, exactly, it was the true old-school UK punk crowd, and that was weird.but ever since 1997 it’s been great, especially here in London.the shows we’ve played here and at the Astoria are some of the best shows we’ve ever done.
Over the years, you guys have shared stages with countless bands ” is there anyone out there who you”d really like to tour with, or any local bands from your area that you”d like to mention?
E: We always try and bring the local bands we like on tour with us in Sweden and Europe ” sometimes the States too ” but we’ve never toured with Rancid, and I”d love to tour with those guys. We’ve met them before, but we’ve never toured with them, and I”d love to do that.
What are your plans for the near future, after the Good Charlotte tour finishes?
E: There’s tons of stuff happening: the album is released just after we get home, and we have to sort everything out for our own tour. We’re booked up until around February next year!
F: We”ll be doing Europe in April, the US and Canada in May, and then tons of festivals over the summer, including the Warped Tour in the States. Then there’s another European tour in the fall.
E: Yeah, and then we’ve got Australia, another US thing, more Europe, and then
more Australia. And we’re also hoping to fit in Japan and South America somewhere! We’re aiming to do a couple of UK festivals ” not sure which ones yet – and then we”ll do our own week-long UK tour around September/October time.
“Kingwood” is released on Burning Heart Records on 4th April.