So, dear everyone! It’s the end of yet another year and I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very, very “Happy New Year” by singing a song saying just that. Just click “play” below and feel free to experiment with the “share” / “download” buttons!
For me 2011 has been a great and intense year since I’ve finished my album Soundshine ready for release in 2012, pre-released it in Japan, performed live at festivals in Sweden, London, and only yesterday in Madrid. I’m truly looking forward to the next year when I finally will be able to share my music to everyone who might be interested and I am hoping to be able to come out and play in many more places.
Like every year – looking at the big picture – 2011 has been filled with both good news and bad news. In the latter category are of course the terrible earthquake that hit Japan and the catastrophes that followed. If there’s one country – more than any other – that I wish a MUCH happier new year it’s Japan! Speaking of which, I will actually begin 2012 by flying to Japan on the first day of the year for in order to make a small promotional tour.
On my take of ABBA’s “Happy New Year” I decided for once to try a very stripped down recording – one voice – one guitar. Usually I find it very tempting whenever I record to double-track my vocal, add layers of harmony vocals, lots of guitar and keyboard overdubs. But for a change I decided to see what it sounds like with only one voice and one guitar. Scary experience of course, but it’s always good to remind yourself of that old cliché that “a good song should work even when accompanied only by an acoustic guitar”. And that certainly goes for many of the fantastic melodies of Sweden’s finest pop export ever – ABBA!
ABBA really don’t need any further introduction since they’re up there in the absolute top stratosphere of pop heaven having sold around 400 million copies(!) around the world, only beaten by the giants Elvis, and that favorite band of mine, the Beatles…. As a lover of melodies and timeless pop music – and being a Swede myself – of course I’ve been growing up with the music of ABBA since childhood. But in later years their music has also become part of my professional life. Every now and then in later years I put on a wig and some platform shoes and dive in to the role of playing the part of “Benny” in the ABBA tribute band Super Trouper. (That’s me to the right on the picture below!).
It’s been a true joy to closely study their brilliant arrangements in general, and piano and keyboard parts in particular, of their loved songs. I’ve also had the opportunity to hop in on various tours playing this role in other ABBA tribute groups in several countries. My proudest moment probably being playing at the legendary Hollywood Bowl in front of 16,000 people. Something that I will definitely be bragging about to my grandchildren…
Anyway, please feel free to enjoy my New Year’s greeting (and download a free mp3 if you so wish by clicking the “arrow pointing down”) on SoundCloud or later on YouTube and “may we all have a vision of a world where every neighbor is a friend”. From me to you – I wish you a Happy New Year!
¡Hola! ¡Feliz Navidad! So it’s time for Christmas holidays and this year me and my wife are spending them with her family in Madrid. A nice relaxing break after a very busy 2011. Here’s some pictures of me with some really delicious croquetas, in the sunshine of Plaza Mayor, and together with Gabriel at the record store of Fnac who recognized me, came up to me and told me he was a fan of the Merrymakers(!). He himself is a musician (drummer) in a cool Spanish band called Zombie Valentines.
However, instead of only digesting the nice lamb dinners and tapas in the sofa I will also take the opportunity to make a solo acoustic performance at Festival Alta Fidelidad (“High Fidelity Festival”) on Wednesday the 28th a 20 pm. Spain is – as I mentioned in this previous blog post – a second home country for me and I’m very excited about it since this first ever gig in Spain as a solo artist. (I did play in Spain before both with the Merrymakers in Valencia in 2007 and in an ABBA tribute show in Zaragoza at the 2008 World Expo).
Click the poster below for more info about the gig and the schedule of the festival.
The reason for this is performance is something that I’m also very excited to hereby announce: My album Soundshine will be released on the fantastic, tasteful, and cool indie label Rock Indiana Records in Spain at the same time as the rest of Europe sometime during the spring of 2011. So if you live in Spain – stay tuned for updates on that by “liking” my Facebook page or subscribe to the RSS Feed of this blog.
Here’s some really rare footage for all power-pop and Jellyfish fans in general but for fans of the Merrymakers in particular! Around Christmas each year I get a bit nostalgic and I tend to randomly pick something out from my old shoeboxes of archived VHS’s. This time I discovered something that looks like it was alsmot tailor made for putting out on the web although this was done some eight years before YouTube even existed. So there was not really much output for this clip except for the one single occasion it was made for. It was for 1997’s international EMI/Virgin world meeting which that year took place in Phoenix, Arizona. Virgin Records Sweden wanted to present their new signing – The Merrymakers – my former band. We had already achieved success in Japan and Virgin was now aiming for a broader international market after we had recorded our second album Bubblegun with Ronald Bood and Andy Sturmer (from the legendary band Jellyfish) as producers.
In the video we can see Anders Hellgren putting a cigarette through his head and stealing from a street musician, myself wearing a Spice Girls T-shirt and juggling with sugar cubes, and Peter Arffman keeping his constant cool until the very last moment when the “silly dance” begins…
When I travel and come to new cities what I enjoy most is to just ”feel the vibe”. The best way to that is often just to walk around a little bit, sit down at some café, grab a bite to eat at some restaurant, and maybe (probably) enjoy a beer or two at some nice bar. With that, my life as a traveller is almost complete. Especially if I’m in good company. I can even do it on my own for quite a while – as long as there’s wifi in the cafés and bars so I still can be in contact with my loved one, my friends and family, my fans, and try to get my career going (for the 20th year in a row!) with e-mails, social medias, and so on… It would take many, many hours to get me bored as long as I have my MacBook Pro, a power plug so I don’t run out of battery, and a high speed internet connection.
As for other activities when coming to a new city I must admit I don’t care much for museums. I often find myself thinking: ”I could look this up on the internet anyway instead of standing in front of a wall and reading a sign…” (is this strange?), my legs get tired, and I start longing for the computer and/or the café/bar/restaurant life that I enjoy so much.
“What about shopping then?” you might ask… Well that’s another area where I easily get stressed, nervous, sweaty, and tired (like every man does, or is that just a prejudice?). Again, I keep longing back to the same things mentioned above. This is even more true in modern times when every city has the same kind of shopping complexes with the same kind of chain stores (H&M, Zara, etc….) selling the same things. Quite frustrating actually!
I do get excited occasionally if there are stores that sell things that are unique and appeal to my interests, like Liam Gallagher’s clothes shop Pretty Green on Carnaby street in London. I mean; who can resist a store that have the good taste in marketing a new ”Lennon jacket” for every season. That’s an example where I don’t mind going shopping. However my wife gets worried and frustrated when I start waving around with my credit card since things there are about ten times more expensive than the kind of clothes she normally buys. So I try to not go there too often…
But the one single thing I miss the most from the last few years of travelling is the record stores that suddenly all just disappeared! Such a tragedy! That was like the ”oasis” in every shopping area where I could sneak in and spend long hours just browsing around, looking at record covers, listen to music, check out rock’n’roll biographies and just enter a room that in itself was a ”world of music”. Today everyone carry their own ”music world” around in their iPhones and that’s of course great (I am one of them) but the expereience is no longer shared the same way and there’s nowhere to spend your shopping hours anymore. The last time I remember doing at home here in Stockholm was at Pet Sounds which can be seen in the video for “Looking for a life”:
I completely agree with what my ”good friend” Paul McCartney said when supporting Record Store Day a couple of years ago: ”There’s nothing as glamorous to me as a record store…” ”…what fantastic memories such a collection of music brings back when you see it all in one place.”
Even in the world’s largest cities the record stores are few and far between. When I come to Tokyo the next time I will make sure to visit a few of the remaining ones. I will take my responsibility to try to keep them alive by buying at least ten CD’s this time maybe for instance Tim Christensen’s, or The Jayhawks‘ latest album. It’s true that I put my CD collection in the basement already in 2003 so the CD’s will ultimately end up in a shoebox. But I miss the feeling of the phsycial CD and the record store so much that I will pay the price. The fact that I’m supporting the suffering artists, producers, musicians, sound engineers, graphic designers, and record label people at the same time makes the decision even easier. After all music matters!
With only two days left to the world premiere release of my album Soundshine in Japan I am happy to share with you a glimpse from the recording of an exclusive Japan only bonus track called “Boom Boom Beat”. It was originally written for Puffy so this is my “cover version”. (First time ever I make a cover of my own song!)
The basic tracks were recorded at the drummer Andreas Dahlbäck’s Durango Recording in Stockholm together with Rikard Lidhamn on bass and Anders Pettersson on guitar, and vocal overdubs and mix were made at Marcus Black’s Jelly Road Studio also in Stockholm. On this track I am fortunate enough to have Puffy themselves contributing background vocals (thank you so much Puffy!!!). Their vocals were recorded in Tokyo and unfortunately I didn’t have the possibility to “stop by” and capture that moment with my iPhone (which is the case with the rest of the material). So the video will be somewhat male-dominated. Anyway – hope you like it!
The only place that you can get hold of “Boom Boom Beat” is on the Japanese version of Soundshine which will be released on Dec 7, 2011, on Thistime Records.
More about the Japanese release, the original version of Boom Boom Beat, and links to an interview about my songwriting for Puffy in this previous blog post: