Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MASSHYSTERI

Here are a couple of videos from a great Swedish band called MASSHYSTERI.

Here's the video for MONOTON TID


and here's the video for TVIVEL


Both of these songs appear on their self-titled 7" as well as on their lp VAR DEL AV STAN both of which came out on NY VAG RECORDS.

Here's an interview I did with them that originally appeared in STANDARD ISSUE #7.

MASSHYSTERI....

THE BORDER. If there's one thing that makes me uncomfortable and gives me an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach it's crossing the border that divides Canada and the U.S.A. Probably rooted in the fact that crossing the border with a band is the scariest thing ever because if you get caught, fun's over. You won't be crossing anytime soon. I found myself having to cross the border to go see MASSHYSTERI from Umea, Sweden because, surprise surprise, they didn't want to have to deal with that gut ache either. Fair enough. Since they weren't coming to play anywhere near here, we borrowed a friend's van and filled it with a small group of people excited to go see one of the best punk bands going today. It's all fun and games until we reach the border and are asked to pull in. We are asked how we know each other, what we do for a living, why I don't have my own vehicle and how do I even get to work without one? They go through our passports thoroughly, checking our records one by one. Someone's name matches a convict or a missing person in Texas or something but it's dismissed quickly thankfully. After what seems like an interminable wait we are granted the privilege to enter their wonderful country. I'm intrigued by the fact that President Obama's picture was oddly not present just an old nail where the picture of the last president once proudly overlooked the waiting room. We drive to Syracuse, hoping that we haven't missed them. We get there as the second last band is finishing their last couple of songs. Perfect. MASSHYSTERI deliver an awesome set comprised of most of the songs from their lp and 4 songs from their previous band THE VICIOUS. The crowd reaction seems pretty mild. I like the fact that the 7 of us are the ones up front having a good time but it just reminds me that without that border the band could have maybe come to our city where the reaction would have been much better. After the set I asked ROBERT (guitar, vocals) and ERIK (drums) a couple of questions...

What was the transition between MASSHYSTERI and THE VICIOUS like?

Robert : It was natural. One led right into another.

Was there a clear break-up or was there always a plan to start a new band?

Robert : THE VICIOUS kind of led to an end. We grew into each other. At the time THE VICIOUS was ending, the other band was starting.

Was using a VICIOUS song title as a band name intentional to tie the two bands?

Robert: I just think it was a good name for a band in Swedish. During the U.S. tour I started thinking about singing in Swedish instead of English. I didn't spend much time writing lyrics for THE VICIOUS. I just wrote it then sang it for people who spoke English much better than I did. Then I was like" why am I doing this to myself and I started writing in Swedish and that's how it evolved.

It seems like a lot of bands from Sweden are starting to sing in Swedish. Did a lot of the bands in Umea talk amongst each other ? I know the LOST PATROL BAND (who Robert plays bass for - ed.) is now singing solely in Swedish.

Robert : We were the first band to change from English to Swedish. We did that for a while and it felt pretty good. People started to get the point of singing your own words. About the LOST PATROL BAND starting to sing in Swedish - I talked to Dennis a bunch and told him it's better to sing in Swedish because he has a lot to say and it's better to sing in Swedish to express those thoughts than come up with a bunch of clich├ęs.

Erik : Many people get influenced by each other. I think it's just one of those things. People in Sweden will see someone singing in Swedish and will say "Hey, I can relate to this." When bands sing in English I can't really relate to it.

Do you think bands sing in English to be accepted on a wider scale? Or is mostly because punk rock is generally sung in English so they just follow suit?

Robert : English is kind of a natural rock n' roll language and for a lot of people it's not natural to sing in Swedish.

Erik - Many people want to reach an international audience and they'd like to tour so it may be easier if they sing in English.

It seems like Swedish punk is getting a lot of recognition in North America and Swedish bands are getting popular there. Did the fact that you already had a focus on you help to change to Swedish knowing that people would follow along?

Robert : I didn't think anything about a career move or anything like that. I just felt like I had to do something true to myself. People can like it if they want to. If they don't, I'm fine with that too.

Did your lyrical subjects change at all?

I started singing a lot more about feelings and personal stuff. It's a lot easier to describe feelings in the words that you use when you're experiencing them.

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