Ya know, it’s been 5 years since you started 偏執症者 (Paranoid), am I right? What’s the story of the band and what’s it all about?
J: Here we go again, the mandatory opening question. Haha. Well, that’s right, in July 2012 we built the foundation of what we are today. Five years passed, how time flies. Everything started with Åke (guitars) visiting me for a few days during his vacation. The main purpose of that visit was to record new stuff for “Desperat”. It didn’t turn out as we had planned and instead we did a few riffs which we jammed on for the morning coffee. Only a few month earlier I left the band “Brottskod 11” and I missed to play with some of them so it only felt natural that we asked if Emil (drums), Nils (vocals) and Johan (guitars) wanted to join this new project. We rigged the studio and got started. A few hours later we had a couple of songs recorded that later was released as the demo “Hardcore Addict”. After that, Emil, Nils and I continued rehearsing and writing songs occasionally. Åke left the band due the geographical distance. After a certain applicant, Åke was replaced with Henrik and at that time we became a band instead of just some sort of studio project. The rest is history as they say…
It’s all about the unexpected and to kill the regulation punks!
I’ve heard that one of the original members of 偏執症者 (Paranoid) passed away in an unfortunate accident shortly after your “Hardcore Addict” EP. How did you get the strength to continue the band after that and what is it like to lose a friend like that?
E: Of course it was very hard to first accept what had happened. He was a very close friend and it took hard on us all. I think it was like a year after the accident that we decided to give it a try again, but we didn’t want to get a new singer, so Henke took over the lead vocals. I know in my heart that Nils had wanted us to continue and I am very glad that we did.
J: Not a day goes by without me thinking about what it would be like, how we had evolved, what we would sound like and where we had been today if Nils had still been alive. Not just in band form but as individuals. It was really difficult to know how, or even if, we would continue. Eventually we did, and that’s nothing I regret or have a bad conscience for. He contributed with song ideas and lyrics that we used for both “Destroy Future Less System” and “Satyagraha” after his passing. I’m glad we had some fun years together and I have many great memories of Nils that I always carry with me.
What’s the difference between d-beat, käng, mangel, raw punk, etc.? What’s the difference between the old UKHC sound ala Discharge, Swedish, Japanese, or Finnish hardcore punk?
J: No idea, I’ve never really understood why it should be divided to begin with, or even bothered to research on the subject for that matter. Its punk, isn’t that enough? It’s obviously certain sounds and things that separates all bands, eras and, to some extent, even all countries apart. In the end I mainly and simply call it punk. Why make it more difficult than it is?
What is it about playing in the band that makes you most inspired? Why the Japanese influence? What about the lyrical themes, are they also influenced by the Japanese style of hardcore punk lyricism?
H: I wouldn’t say that the lyrics are particularly influenced by the Japanese bands, since most of them sing in their native language and I don’t speak Japanese, haha. But I do like the ones who have English lyrics that are kind of poor grammatically and don’t really give a fuck about it. That also goes for bands from other non-English speaking countries.
I see the lyrics and vocals more as another instrument rather than a way to spread messages and philosophies. So when I’m writing I just listen to the song and try to figure out the rhythm I want for the vocal lines and how many syllables there should be at each part of the song. And then try to find suitable words that sound good, the tone when they’re sung is most important. It’s a bit hard to explain the process, but I know what kind of lyrics I like, and when I think they complete the rest of the music in a good way.
E: That we don’t get stuck in one genre, but instead take influences from all kind of music and putting it all together to create this madness.
J: I have always been impressed and influenced by Japanese movies, culture and the last 20 years also their music scene. It all started with Akira Kurosawa, Ninja flicks and obscure horror movies on vhs in my early teenage years. Then we have their macabre and unique art. A few of my favorite artists are Gojin Ishihara, Suehiro Maruo and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Last but not least we have Nintendo, a big and very important part during my upbringing. I can go on forever, and then we haven’t even talked about their punk (music) scene. They have a rare greatness in everything they do and that really affects and influences me.
I saw a picture on Instagram with you giving praise to Kawakami at his grave in Japan together with his mom. Can you tell more about your Japanese tours and such memorable moments as this one?
J: Guilty. I joined “Mob 47” and “Skizophrenia” on their Japan tour in 2011. We did a few gigs with “Desperat” as well. So/Hardcore Survives organized the tour and also the visit of Kawakami’s mother and grave. It’s undoubtedly one of my most memorable tour memories. The whole tour is one of the best I’ve done. Many new impressions and experiences that are not standard when, for example, you are touring in Europe. I saw pretty much all the best active Japanese bands playing live night after night, ate delicious food and embraced their culture as much as I could. All tours I’ve made have its golden moments but my memory fails with time.
Recently you’ve been on tour with the 80’s hardcore legends Mob 47 and Crutches, probably the best contemporary d-beat band. Can you tell more about the tour and the state of d-beat and raw punk in 2017?
H: We had a very good time. It’s hard to pick any highlights, pretty much every show was fantastic, except for in Vienna where we had some technical problems. To get the chance to tour with such a legendary band as Mob 47 was of course a great experience, and it gave us the opportunity to play for more people than we usually do. It was very cool to be joined by Crutches halfway through too, that there were only Swedish bands in the lineup at several of the shows.
You’ve all been very active in the DIY punk scene for years, with Jocke being the most famous of all with bands like Totalt Jävla Mörker, D-Takt & Råpunk Records, and being an editor of some awesome zines. Can you tell more about these and other projects?
H: I also play in a thrash/speed metal band called Hypertension. That was pretty much my first band that got me into playing music in the beginning. We’ve released two albums and an EP. I’ve also been in some other short-lived projects, and I used to do a zine called Power Thrashing Death a couple of years ago too, did four issues of that.
J: Not sure what to tell or say. TJM is another band I sing in (we celebrate 20 years as a band this year) and D&R is a record label that I run when time permits. For those interested can always look it up or get in touch. I have stuff and several projects going on all the time. Too many to mention and at risk of something being forgotten. Haha. Me and Emil have this new project going on, as we speak, together with Chris and Joel (vocalist and guitarist of Absolut) that I’m really thrilled about.
D-Takt & Råpunk’s headquarters have been damaged by a flood back in 2014. Can you tell about the support that you’ve got from the punk community worldwide?
J: I received enormous support from all over the world. It’s difficult to describe in words the gratitude I felt and feel. The financial support was of course really appreciated, but what I valued most was all the stories that people shared. My private economy totally crashed and I still owe my bank a lot of money for a loan I took in connection with the flood. I had undoubtedly given up on everything if it was not for all support, so, thank you all!
The scene is Sweden has always been very political, there have been great festivals like Punk Illegal and recently we’ve interviewed the band Adrestia where they talk about their punk support for Rojava. Do you think that punk is getting even more socially aware and involved in political resistance? What do you see as meaningful resistance or activism?
J: It is inevitable not to be aware and involved in political actions today. My opinion is that in order to change and create change in your neighborhood and surroundings, you have to start with yourself. When you are strong enough and have the strength and conviction to meet strong resistance you might be able to make a difference at a local level. Globally, we’re completely powerless and fucked. I mean what can I, a middle-aged man from Sweden, do to influence the prestige and power struggle between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un?
I admit that I’m no longer as active in my political commitment as I used to be, but at least I do what I can. Sure, I can always do more, and so can you and everyone else who is reading this interview. I have always thought it’s a lot of talk and less action among my friends and in society as a whole. When it all comes down to it most of us are too busy with our own lives and choose to instead close our eyes for the injustices and misery that exists rather than face it. Because of laziness or some other stupid reason.
The question of whether the world is going under is no longer a question of if but when. We’ve been exploiting and raping the earth for too long. I’m ashamed of the situation and what it looks like in the world today and I find it embarrassing to leave the world in such bad condition to our children and future generations.
What future do you see for the world? Peace or annihilation?
H: Well, the later feels pretty much more likely at the moment unfortunately…
What’s next for 偏執症者 (Paranoid)? Anything else to add?
E: Right now we are focusing on writing new material for a future LP.
J: Just trying to go back to normal with weekly rehearsals and making plans for the future after this summer’s break. Hopefully we’ll have a new album released in the first half of next year. I hope that there will be some gigs too. Thanks for your interest and for keeping the flame alive.
Q: Mitko, DIY Conspiracy
A: Jocke D-takt, Emil Bergslid and Henrik Låsgårdh