Thursday 19 December 2013

The Soundtrack of Our Lives "Rest In Piece 1994-2012"

The Soundtrack of Our Lives Stockholm December 2012 by Steve Worrall
It’s hard to believe that exactly one year ago today I saw my very last gig by The Soundtrack of Our Lives. As 2012 drew to a close so did the band with six consecutive sold-out nights at Stockholm’s beautiful Södra Teatern. Each night saw them playing one of their albums in chronological order, played in it’s entirety along with relevant B-Sides and encores comprising a selection of singles and obscure tracks. I went to the first three nights only, not just because the first three albums are my favourites, but mainly down to the fact that the cost of such a long stay in Sweden is prohibitive to say the least. It meant I had to accept that I wouldn’t be present at the very last show ever, but so be it, something I have to live with! So, first of all December 17th was the night of the classic debut album “Welcome To The Infant Freebase”, then on the 18th we were treated to the Psychedelic masterpiece “Extended Revelations…” and on the 19th it was the turn of their commercial break-through, the faultless “Behind The Music”. Rewinding to the beginning of 2012 it all started off quite promising for fans of TSOOL as the band released a new album “Throw It To The Universe” which followed on from the creative and critically acclaimed double album “Communion”. 

The Soundtrack of Our Lives Stockholm December 2012 by Steve Worrall
However this great news was somewhat marred by the accompanying press release stating it was to be the band’s very last album. The band then toured extensively to give the fans a last chance to catch them play live but as the dates were ticked off, the realisation started to set in. The “last ever” London show at the Scala was closely followed by the “last ever” Slussens Pensionat show. Then “the last ever” Gothenburg show at Pustervik was followed by the final stand in Stockholm, the “last ever” shows full stop. Then that was it, it was all over. But to me TSOOL were more than just a band, they were an inspiration. Indeed they rekindled my passion for music and I looked back to my old 80’s fanzine days and decided to start up Retro Man Blog. In fact the very name “Retro Man” comes from my favourite TSOOL song and not just because I am a miserable old git always looking back to the past…although some might agree with that last bit..! For someone such as me who had become jaded and cynical about the music industry and tired of the dull Indie scene, seeing TSOOL for the first time just blew me away. They were a riot of energy, colour and showmanship with songs that stuck in your head for weeks after. In my youth, despite being a musician and a huge music lover in general, I had never really been a real “fan” of any band as such, even as a teenager I’d never joined a fan-club, never bothered about collecting records and later, as the days of the internet dawned I certainly never entered the murky world of the internet fan-forum. But all that was about to change, after seeing that very first TSOOL show I wanted to find out all I could about this bunch of mysterious Swedes. 

The Soundtrack of Our Lives Stockholm December 2012 by Steve Worrall
I just had to track down each and every song they had ever recorded and had to make sure I would know when I could see them play again at the next earliest opportunity. So began an adventure full of wonderful experiences, travel and discovery. Sure there were the occasional frustrations and disappointments along the way but generally great fun was had, a lot of alcohol was consumed and great lasting friendships were formed. But of course, above all there was the music. Timeless music. I have never known a modern band with such an impressive back catalogue of high quality song-writing – drawing as they did from many aspects of Rock history. Love, The Damned, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, The Who, Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, sometimes sailing a bit close to the wind with their influences if truth be told, but usually managing to stamp their own unique footprint on well trodden paths. My investigations led me to two of the previous bands that formed the nucleus of TSOOL, and they were the stunning Union Carbide Productions and The Nymphet Noodlers. Then there were also the various spin-offs and the side-projects, not to mention the solo music too. 

The Soundtrack of Our Lives Stockholm December 2012 by Steve Worrall
The Soundtrack of Our Lives were a band made up of very distinct characters; a fact that was noted by the acclaimed Swedish artist and author, David Liljemark, who created the “Cartoon Animals” comic book based on the band. Each member certainly injected their own character, persona and sound into the TSOOL mix. In the beginning there was the enigmatic Björn Olsson and his coastal influenced soundscapes playing off against his ex-Union Carbide Productions colleague, guitarist Ian Person’s raw power riffing. The classically trained keyboard player Martin Hederos could spin out Sixties Psych Hammond organ nuggets or play beautifully minimalist Erik Satie style ballads. His ex-Nymphet Noodlers band-mate Mattias Bärjed, who replaced Björn Olsson, brought in a heavier classic rock influence and with his Pete Townsend Union Jack jacket and unashamed guitar-hero theatrics upped the visuals of the band’s full-on live assault. Drummer Fredrik Sandsten was a blur of energy of Keith Moon proportions, certainly the best drummer I have ever seen. Bassist Kalle was the quiet one, and his songs brought an eclectic and cinematic aspect to the band, somewhat reminiscent of John Barry meeting Serge Gainsbourg, in fact he even drafted in Jane Birkin to guest on the song “Midnight Children”. Then up front was man mountain Ebbot, a kaftan clad force of nature, bursting with unpredictability, a mischievous glint in his eye and a voice that could switch suddenly from a rich baritone to a howl of rage. A man who revelled in confrontation and reaction, in fact a passive audience to Ebbot was like a red rag to a bull. 

The Soundtrack of Our Lives Stockholm December 2012 by Steve Worrall
I have seen many gigs over the years but I have never seen a better live act – the perfectly plotted set-lists and the sense of dynamics all shot through with an underlying air of unpredictability. Following 2008’s decidedly uncommercial yet critically acclaimed double album, “Communion”, things were looking up, the band seemed happy, the fans certainly were so the news that the follow up, “Throw It To The Universe”, was to be the band’s last album came as a shock. It was a crying shame (quite literally for some people in the crowd at the Södra Teatern) that TSOOL were going to call it a day. But that was it, the band said they wanted to go out with a bang, to end at the right time in a positive light and they certainly did that. Those final shows at the Södra Teatern last December, although tinged with a certain sadness, were a joyous and emotional celebration of a truly remarkable band. So what happened next? Well throughout TSOOL’s career each band member was often away doing something or other, whether with side projects, soundtrack music for high profile TV and films or in demand as guest musicians or producers. So it’s no surprise that already 2013 has offered us the excellent debut album “Power & Volume” by Mattias Bärjed’s new band Free Fall, where he teams up with ex-Nymphet Noodlers bassist Jan Martens, singer Kim Fransson and ex-International Noise Conspiracy drummer Ludwig Dahlberg. The band played a quite brilliant debut London gig at Camden Dingwalls back in February, which you can read about here

Mattias also wrote the score for the critically acclaimed Mikael Marcimain movie “Call Girl” starring Ruth Vega Fernandez. Martin Hederos was busy with the latest Tonbruket album “Nubium Swimtrip” as well as appearing on albums by artists such as Ane Brun and Marie Modiano. Kalle continued his production and engineering duties at Svenska Grammofon Studion and Fredrik took up a post as a cultural ambassador for the city of Gothenburg. Ebbot featured on great records by La Fleur Fatale and Caviare Days as well as resurrecting The New Alchemy with Per Svensson for a new album “The Other Side of Light”. Ebbot is also becoming a bit of a celebrity on mainstream Swedish TV with his part in the music reality show “Så Mycket Bättre” which is being aired on TV4.

I heard from guitarist Ian Person recently and he too is busy. “My plans for next year, well, me and Kalle are writing music for a new TV drama series called “Viva Hate”, from the screenwriter Peter Birro, the same guy who wrote “Upp Till Kamp”. It's about a band in Gothenburg in the early 90's, young kids. No, not Union Carbide Productions - could have been - but Peter was more into The Smiths than anything else. So it’s an imaginary band from that time sounding like something in-between Broder Daniel and the sound of Gothenburg. So we are writing the music for the band and most of the score. So far I've done the most writing, and we are also going to work with the actors to make them look as real as possible. I’m, also working on my album as well. Trying to get a good team together and hopefully everything will fall into place in the spring and the album will be out after summer next year.”

The Soundtrack of Our Lives Stockholm December 2012 by Steve Worrall
Parlophone Records will release a 38 track double CD “best of” compilation entitled “Rest In Piece 1994-2012” on January 22nd 2014. It seems a bit of a cynical move from the label to cash in on Ebbot’s current high profile, after all it’s not long since the band released the compilation “Golden Greats No. 1”. But it would appear the track-list has been hand-picked by Ebbot himself and I guess if it generates more interest in the band and increases the clamour for the band to get back together, then job done!

Mattias of The Soundtrack of Our Lives Stockholm December 2012 by Steve Worrall
Of course we will keep you updated on any other Soundtrack of Our Lives related news – in the meantime you can search the Blog archive for various features, photos (including some fantastic exclusive Paul Slattery shots), Podcasts and videos. Please click the highlighted links to take you directly to reports on the last ever Slussens Pensionat show, the last London gig at The Scala and background to Mattias Bärjed’s soundtracks to “Upp Till Kamp” and “Call Girl”. There’s also Ian Person’s score to the IFK Göteborg movie “Fotbollens Sista Proletärer” and we even have a special Retrosonic Podcast with the movie’s directors and the ex-Liverpool and IFK footballing legend Glenn Hysén. There are special Podcasts with Mattias Bärjed and Ian Person and a fascinating episode with Nymphet Noodlers singer and long time TSOOL friend and collaborator Mattias Hellberg. There are pieces on TSOOL-linked bands  who all have new records out now, such as Caviare Days, La Fleur Fatale, The Movements, Mattias Hellberg and Side Effects too. So there is still plenty of great music to check out if you are missing your fix

Please do try and take the time to click on the highlighted links and discover lots more good stuff hidden away. I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Ebbot, Ian, Mattias, Kalle, Fredrik and Martin. Not forgetting Robert and Vibeke at Slussens Pensionat, Mattias Hellberg, Kim Fransson, Ludwig Dahlberg, David Liljemark, Daniel Eriksson, Wayne Lundqvist-Ford, Anders Magnusson, Hans and Liselott Selander and all the great TSOOL stalkers, fans and Slussenistas I have had the very great pleasure to meet along the way.

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