Catching Up With Hellsingland Underground
By Walter Price
It is no secret that the Rock N’ Roll landscape is cluttered with style over substance. Hipsters shooting for fame; selling their Rock N’ Roll souls, if they even had them in the first place, to the highest bidder. Striving for riches above any hope of earnest creativity and a majority of it sucks the life out of us.
There is hope on the way. It was a surprise when I got the news that the other side of this fallacy, a band with heart and soul emoting from their pours mentioned that they will be heading into the studio early 2015 to start work on their fourth album and follow up to 2012’s stellar Evil Will Prevail.
Sweden’s country boys Hellsingland Underground (Mats Olsson, Peter Henriksson, Patrik Jansson, Henning Winnberg, Charlie Granberg, Martin Karlsson) may be the world of rock’s truth bearers, true purveyors of roots and blues based Rock N’ Roll peppered with the history of righteous heroes; the kind of heroes and sounds that rocked millions of garages around the globe and made us all believers in the religion of that renegade guitar music.
So the news of a new album in the pipeline comes as blessed goodness. HU’s Charlie Granberg took some time to catch us up on the band.
It’s been a longer than usual break between records for HU, what have you been up to?
I just became a dad again, so that’s one thing. The idea originally, was to have a new record out by now though. But I think the biggest reason it got a bit delayed is because I wanted to try out a new way of working, which turned out to be a not-so-good-idea in the end. On all previous albums I have written and rewritten most of the songs all by myself before presenting it to the rest of the guys. This time I wanted to try to get them into the process earlier. So I presented a bunch of half finished, sketchy ideas and thought we could work them out together in the rehearsal place.
Turned out it was hard to make it work for some reason. Maybe because we all live in different places nowadays and we don’t really see each other, except on tours. I don’t know. So we skipped that idea and I went back to the drawing board, so to speak. Now I have about 25 more or less finished songs that we will start rehearse soon.
How’s life treating you this past year?
Well you know, Heaven and Hellsingland. As usual. I bought a house. Became a dad. Had a fantastic Spanish tour and a bunch of other great shows. Played France for the first time. Got a dog. And two of my best friends fell back into drug addiction again. One is now in a mental hospital. So, you know…
In your interview with our Alle Royale last year you spoke about being a prolific writer. With the world in constant if not increasing crazy mode are you finding subject matters easy to come by?
Yes and no. On one hand: There are so many fucked up things to write about these days. But on the other hand: Do I really want to? Is that really my role as a singer in a rock band? Or should I just offer some kind of relief from all the bullshit going on? For both myself and for the fans? I don’t know really. I guess I’m finding out as I go along. I think music at its best offer both a mirror to the world we live in and some well-earned escapism from it. I’m trying to find the balance. On the lyrics of these new songs I’m trying to incorporate both those things at the same time. I’m not into preaching. But I’m not into pretending everything is jolly good either.
You mentioned to me earlier that the band is looking to hit the studio sometime next year, do you know when?
Don’t know exactly, but hopefully early next year.
Do you have anything recorded yet?
Nope. We are talking about either going back to the way we recorded the first album: 5-6 songs at one occasion, finish them, and then do it again with 5-6 songs. Either that, or we will just rent a house somewhere in the woods, bring the studio and our gear and just record the whole thing straight. We’ll see. Maybe a combination of both. No one wants to record in Stockholm again since no one lives there anymore. And we kinda hate the place… We’ll see.
The woods are always cool but what’s wrong with Stockholm?
Haha. Ok, let me correct that a bit. Now, there are A LOT of things that ARE wrong with Stockholm, which I maybe should write a concept album about someday. But there are a lot of things that are good about it too. Good and bad. Just like any other place. But we’re small town country guys, all of us. Everyone in the band but Peter has lived in Stockholm but moved back to the countryside, for a reason, so we have no longing for recording another album there. Too many distractions.
Do you have an idea on the sounds, texture of the new album or is it too soon to say?
All I can say is that it will sound very different from the first three albums. Not to the point of unrecognizable, but still. We’re constantly trying to push our own boundaries.
We’re social media friends and you seem to speak your mind freely without arrogance, do you find that there is too much egotism in rock?
To be honest with you, I really don’t care about today’s big rock bands at all. I think the word “Rock” has become more and more like a bad joke these days. No one dares to say their honest opinion about things, in fear of offending some of their fans, losing an endorsement deal or whatever. And everybody’s trying to re-invent the wheel again. It used to be music ruled the world, but now it’s ruled by tech. People are queuing for days to get the latest iPhone. Just like they used to do back in the day for a new album by their fave artist. And it’s the artists own fault. The brought it on themselves. Because most of them hasn’t got the guts to speak the truth anymore. And that’s what people want. People want truth. With that said, I still believe in the power of music. And the power of Rock N’ Roll. Otherwise I wouldn’t still be doing this like it was the most important thing in the world. Because for me it still is.
Along that same line, what would you consider a waste of time in the current music culture?
Oh. Where do I start? There’s just so many things… But it only gives me the energy to try a little harder. Crappy music has always been a great source of inspiration for me.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about HU?
That we are a Southern Rock band perhaps? For starters, we are not from Texas. And we have never pretended to be either. I can understand it to some degree, having the twin guitars and stuff. But it’s just a tiny part of who we are. That’s one thing. The other big misconception is that we are good looking…
Thanks for catching us up and we look forward to the new music!