There is a hell of a lot of instrumental rock bands right now but in these masses there are still some that stand out by being just a few but important inches better. One of these exceptional bands is Alarma Man from Göteborg/Sweden. The four piece wins over with there worked out compositions and a whole bunch of tightness. So why not doing an interview with them? All the more as they just got an interesting album out and will tour Germany and the Netherlands in May. So we had a little digital correspondence about their music, their hometown and well read for yourselves!
You have just been in studio to record three new songs for a split 12Ē with Knife and Ape from Stockholm. Are you satisfied with how the recordings turned out? Will there be differences to your latest release, the self titled album?
Viktor: This time we took it upon us to do the entire recording ourselves in our rehearsal room. We thought it would be fun, interesting and cheap or rather free. It turned out to be very much work. But in the end it turned out great and weíre satisfied. The main difference from the album is that there is going to be vocals on all three songs.
Andreas: We felt like it wouldnít be interesting making new songs, that would sound almost the same as our previous album. But thereís no doubt that Alarma Man are playing.
How did Niklasí twin sister Maria her job as a guest singer?
Niklas: We got the idea that we really wanted a female voice in the refrain on the song ďbirdĒ. My sister is a cool angry woman so it was an easy choice.
There are currently quite a lot of instrumental or mainly instrumental bands going strong like for example Pelican from Chicago or Scraps of Tape who are like you, too, from Göteborg. Do you have an idea why there such an accumulation? Or the other way round: Why you start an instrumental band in the first place?
Viktor: Alarma Man never intended to be an instrumental band, it just happened. But as we wrote more music we figured out that we were good at it, also hearing bands as Oxes or Don Cabballero made us realise that you could do whatever the fuck you want.
Calle: Because of the lack of vocals we had to take the music to the next level. We made very strong efforts to develop a completely unique sound with far more complex and sophisticated compositions than punk rock bands generally have, to make the whole thing interesting and attractive to other people.
Andreas: I really donít have any idea why bands are instrumental, at the end of the day what really matters is to write good interesting music, with vocals or not...
How are the reactions on your latest release, the self titled album? Do the critics like it unisono or did you get some really bad reviews as well?
Calle: No we havenít really got any bad reviews. The people who gave our record the time it takes to get the right idea about the whole thing seemed to like it a lot. It's a good idea to listen to it carefully to be able to catch up with the whole experience of us performing the songs live.
Do you still remember what you did on Friday June, 15th 2001, the day that the cops fired shots into an anti G8 summit demonstration in your hometown Göteborg? Were you there or did you take part in the big demonstration the day after?
Viktor: I actually worked in a music store maybe 50 meters away from the shooting. Me and the guys in the store just tried to get home and were hoping that the store would not be destroyed.
Niklas: Calle and Andreas and I were at a big music festival in Sweden called Hultsfredsfestivalen. When we got the news I kinda wanted to go home. Hultsfred seemed like the wrong place to be at the time. But I did stay in Hultsfred and missed it all. Something I really regret.
On one of the photos in the internet I saw one of you wearing a Black Flag shirt. Do you guys have a hardcore/punk background and do you regard Alarma Man as a part of hardcore/punk or the d.i.y. scene in general?
Calle: I guess I have a hardcore/punk background, since I played in a sort of metal-hardcore band some years ago. Right now, I don't find that kind of music very interesting. When it comes to the D.I.Y thing, Alarma Man has no choice but to be a "do it yourself" band. We have really learned that taking help from other people complicates and slows down the whole process a lot.
Viktor: Of course there are some exceptions, booking a tour in Germany and the Netherlands is something that none of us could have pulled of by ourselves. Still, if you need to get something done, you better ask yourself first if this is something that you can do on your own before you ask somebody else.
Andreas: In Göteborg weíre not associated with either the punk scene or the HC scene of some reasons. I think it might be because we donít sound like other bands enough.
Niklas: People tend to have problems when they try to describe our genre and maybe thatís why we donít fit in anywhere in those scenes. We donít really care.
Apart from the riots and the beautiful song Jens Lekman sang about it Göteborg is mainly known for one thing: melodic death metal. Is this picture a little one-sided or are there really longhaired guys with studded belts and flying V guitars on every corner?
Viktor: Yes! Metal is really big in Gothenburg, but Iím not into that melodic stuff. I like more of the Relapse/Hydra Head stuff, or just straight up old school black metal as Dark Throne or something. I actually worked with Björn from In-flames in a music store. He was very metal.
Last question: Why the hell are all Swedish people always so extremely well dressed? Do you have fashion as a class in primary school or are you just victims of the omnipresence on Hennes, Mauritz and the whole of their crew?
Viktor: No, all Swedes are not well dressed, but almost everyone I know and hang out with have an interest in looking good. H&M is definitely a part of why Swedes look good, Nice clothes that don#t cost a fortune.
Andreas: I havenít thought of that before and I really donít care.
Niklas: Well I think quite a lot of Swedish people are really ugly but not as ugly as Englishmen. I guess itís a question of relativity.
Calle: I guess it's true that people from Sweden, specially and ironically people who regard themselves as independent, pays a lot of attention to how their visual appearance makes impact on how other people see them as a person and what to expect of them. Sweden is a really trend-sensitive country both when it comes to fashion and the taste of music. You probably may not find any other place in the world filled up with so many people, scared to death to be wearing the "wrong" clothes and listen to the "wrong" music. How come? I don't know, maybe it lies deep in the Swedish culture to easily fall for group-pressure...
Okay, thank you for the interview and see you on your little tour through Germany and the Netherlands in May!