by Walter Price
There is something beyond knowing what you want in an album. That feeling you get when you expect one thing and remarkably fall into a whole new level of discovery.
Swedish indie rock outfit Billy Momo’s second album Drunktalk exemplifies such feelings. I went into the album expecting another Mumford and Sons hipster redux but ended up with an album made by real musicians telling personal stories, sharing memories with a soundtrack put together using a vast array of instruments some would associate with one sort of music genre but these players have massaged and worked out new ways to express sounds. Drunktalk moves easily from folk, indie rock, pop, country and a splash of soul that fascinates in, this, one of the least arrogant and well-crafted albums of the past few years.
The band gladly provided The GTC with an in-depth track-by-track for he must have Drunktalk.
I‘ve Got You
Tomas’ tribute to the most important and most beautiful person in life, his daughter. Oskar chose to interpret the song as if it was dedicated to him, even though we had talked about it several times. Not to make Oskar too disappointed, we made the video a tale of friendship rather than paternity. The principle is the same.
Wishing Ain´t No Sin
Usually, we are two quite classic songwriters. We tend to think a song should be really good already on guitar and vocals, even if you do a lot more in the arrangements later on. But sometimes it becomes clear that a song really needs the right context. Making this album, we decided to use our live band on the recordings instead of playing all the instruments ourselves as we had done on earlier recordings. This song is a good example of how the band breathed life into our songs.
The banjo riff came up quite late in the process, one of those late nights in the studio. The lyrics addresses the issue of how to convince yourself that you’re so damn money, and keep on keepin´ on, despite the many logical and fully reasonable objections from the superego. The song later found its way to the trailer for “Better Call Saul,” the spinoff series to “Breaking Bad” and ran on the US TV channel AMC before each new episode. This is a big deal for us, being huge Breaking Bad fans.
We used to hang out a lot at the bar that Tomas’ and Andreas’ ran, Stockholm Speakeasy, until it went bankrupt in 2009. At that time, we talked a bunch of crap. We wanted to convince ourselves that we were going places. Perhaps you could say that we were, too. We wrote many great songs around that time. Maybe it’s just that forever judgemental self critic inside us, that made us think the great plans smelled a bit too much of alcohol. The song has been around for a long time, but became a smash hit when the chains, and slide guitar got added to the arrangement.
The video was recorded under a bridge in central Stockholm. We do not recommend that place, not for anything. Our clothes and stuff smells like piss! But the end result is really nice…
We have always listened a lot to Vladimir Vytsotskij, to different translations of his songs. It was inevitable that one of our songs would turn out a little Russian. One summer Oskar went to Moscow and we were unable to hold back the urge. Peter Nalitch “Gitar”, which was a hit in
Russia that summer, is a big source of inspiration.
Tomas had a period when he was so damn tired of slackers, particularly those in the music / art industry, who thought they wouldn’t have to work, because they sometimes produce great art. We all have full-time jobs and we are working full-time with music at the same time. Nobody said it would be free to live and we all have to contribute. That’s what the song is about.
Keep It Unreal
You could say that Keep It Unreal is the precursor to I’ve Got You. It was written when Tomas learned that he was going to be a father and began to worry about having to change his life, not being able to sit in the studio and at the pub all night long. Some time has passed since, and it’s quite fun to read the lyrics now and realise how much you can discover about yourself and life in general over a short period of time.
Shine Like The Devil
This is more or less an old classic theme. But it’s really quite unpleasant how it fits. We many of us have a devil inside us. We try to curb it, but it often feels like masquerade. Even though we try hard to behave, the devil inside still shines through.
We brought Mårten (harmonica) and Oscar (guitar) down to Tomas’ basement, asked them make as much beautiful noise as they could. Let the devil transpire.
The feeling is difficult to describe when we first listened to the monster that came out of the cellar session.
This song really concerns the same situation as the following track, Oh Lord. It happens when you write a lot during a concentrated period of time, that the songs sometimes resemble each other in the content. Oskar was in a position where he was trampling water. He was stuck in a vacuum, in anticipation of the knots to dissolve. This song is one of our own favorites. When we let others decide for us which songs would be picked as singles which we think was a good decision we were a bit surprised that this one was not nominated. After all, it’s both heavy and catchy!
The two of us recorded the greater part of the song in Tomas’ basement, like in the old days when we were a duo and played everything ourselves. We wanted to get that really really heavy, stupid ‘hillbilly feeling’. Then we arranged a vocal session in the big studio with all the guys. The song is about a situation where Oskar wondered if he might have to get a little more religious. There are situations in life when one needs help believing that good things can happen.
La La Land
The track had the working title ‘Beatles Momo’. There’s something fishy about The Beatles. They have some kind of patent on something that you can’t put your finger on. Suddenly, when you sit down and write a song, it just sounds like The Beatles. This song is very much our song, but the harmony is touching that strange Beatles sphere in some parts. In a good way. In broad terms, it is about the, in our opinion, a bit strange wish to belong to an ism. What ism it may be. We can´t really relate to that thing. Do good and good things will happen to you. It shouldn’t be harder than that.
We borrowed the voice of Tomas exwife, Beata Harryson on this song. With her came our favorite pianist, Daniel Kurba.
It’s a nice song in itself, but between Beata, Daniel and our harmonica man Mårten Forssman it becomes quite magical.
I think the lyric speaks for itself here. If not, there is an educational pictorial video on youtube. (https://www.youtube.com/user/MrBillymomo) It was the first song we recorded together, the entire sevenpiece band that now represent Billy Momo. We are very much a doityourself band, on our first album “Ordinary Men” the two of us played almost all the instruments ourselves… But for this album we decided to expand. It is hard to imagine how it would have sounded without our band. This was also the first time we met our eminent bassist, The Coffa. We were a little starstruck actually.
Tomas wrote this one in a kind of sleepy state when he for the hundredth night in a row got up at 3:30, because his daughter thought it was a perfect time to start the day. While he was sitting on the sofa in front of her daughter’s favorite show, “In the Night Garden” in rattles SMS and messages on Facebook from friends who are out at the pub and wonders if he would like to come down to the after party. A beautiful and surreal moment.
Waiting For Walls
Orres girl had dumped him and he lived in a tiny and narrow apartment in Bandhagen, suburb to Stockholm. Alone, frustrated as hell and at the same time completely paralyzed. He often stared at the walls and thought that he would tear them down if he only was able to get out of bed. Tomas divorced around that same time. (which undoubtedly led to a very productive time for us. Billy Momo was born during that period) The song fits uncomfortably well for both of us, it’s ideal as it is structured, with one verse each. There’s a nifty video to this one in the pipeline. Hard to say when it will be ready, with everything that’s happening right now.
Andreas Prybil is singing this. He is the man with the bass voice in the band. This one, you can only relate to if you’ve ever been confronted with a really good scolding. The kind that makes you feel like a little kid who got caught stealing candy, dressed off all your dignity and even though you surrender completely, it does not end. Hopefully it leads to something good, something new. If you, between the verbal slaps, have succeeded in hearing the message and know how to take it in.
Let’s Make The Last Night Long
A fantasy about what it would be like to be old and knowing that you are going to spend the last day before you die along with the love of your life. What would you do? Billy Momo would definitely take his sweetheart and best ability to go out on one hell of a ride and enjoy every second.
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