FOR SOME mysterious reason, when it comes to music, the Swedes have got it all figured out. The list of killer rock bands that have emerged from that chilly Scandinavian country in recent years—not to mention classic pop practitioners like ABBA and Robyn—is lengthy, and seems to grow daily. Is there something in the aquavit, or do Swedish parents have the greatest record collections in the world?
"We have a good cultural network in Sweden," says Axel Sjöberg, drummer and primary lyricist for Graveyard, one of Sweden's many recent hard-rock exports. "There's a lot of space subsidized and organizations that can provide practice spaces for young people and help them get started with bands. Sometimes there are practice spaces that are fully equipped with instruments."
A country that supports the arts, even down to the longhaired rockers and blood-spitting metal freaks? No wonder Graveyard have been producing quality tunes since their 2007 self-titled debut—they were handed the opportunity and tools to inspire themselves for free, by their government. God bless constitutional monarchies.
"Good examples breed new good examples," Sjöberg adds. "When I was younger I looked at the Hellacopters and said, 'I want to do that too.' I hope I can be that example for someone else today."
For their last two full-lengths, the example that Graveyard displayed was out with the new and in with the old. Championing a rearview-looking '70s vibe in both the music and production, Graveyard sounded like they took no inspiration from anything produced past 1976. But with their most recent effort, Lights Out, the band has massaged their sound and style a bit, slightly pulling away from the time-machine complex some acts trap themselves in. The album still has plenty of bluesy grooves and subtle psychedelia, and of course, was recorded to analog for the "warmth and organic feel of tape compression," but there are also a couple tracks with some gentle, emotional melodies. Songs "Slow Motion Countdown" and "Hard Times Lovin'" sound like they could've come off a Black Heart Procession record.
Sjöberg says the change wasn't a forced one. "It's like... What do you say in English? The process of maturing musically? Without doing a techno album, you try to go new places with your music to keep it interesting for yourself. You don't want to do the same album twice."
Whichever way Graveyard is evolving, they're shaping up real nice in the eyes of the higher-ups in the prestigious Swedish music scene. Last year they humbly snagged themselves a Swedish Grammy for best hard rock/metal album for their second endeavor Hisingen Blues. Sjöberg says they've received the nod again this year for Lights Out.
"I think it's weird to compete in music. Monday evening I [have] one favorite album, and Tuesday it's another one. So to say one album is the best of one year is quite ridiculous. It felt really weird being at a ceremony like that with a lot of hot shots. It was uncomfortable, so we got really drunk," he laughs.
In the end, Sjöberg says that the awards and accolades won't inflate their egos or change their style at all. "It's good for the people that work in marketing for a band, but other than that it really doesn't matter. I'm happy anyways. I have a good life with or without the Grammy."