Sunday 20 October 2019

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children at Slussens Pensionat and a Reflection on the Importance of the Stunning Venue

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children at Slussens Pensionat
When Sweden's Psych-Rock legends The Soundtrack of Our Lives sadly called it a day in December 2012 there were many things I was dreading losing out on. It goes without saying that I would miss the music and their incendiary live shows but there was also the travel, the social life with the great friends and acquaintances that I had made along the way since I first saw the band. It’s not overstating things to say that TSOOL pretty much changed my life, or at the very least, set it on a different course. After all, they re-energised my passion for music and inspired me to recreate my old-school 1980’s cut and paste fanzine "Out of Step" which I renamed "Retro Man" after my favourite TSOOL song. However, it was the thought that there would no longer be any more gigs at the beautiful Slussens Pensionat that most filled me with regret. TSOOL first started playing at the stunning waterside location run by the lovely couple Vibs and Robert Sohlberg on the island of Orust in 2001 and word quickly spread that these were gigs and a music venue like no other. 

Slussens Pensionat by Paul Slattery
Ebbot at Slussens Pensionat with The Soundtrack of Our Lives by Paul Slattery
The band used these shows at Slussens Pensionat as a kind of summer break for themselves; you could sense they were a release from what was possibly a very stressful time. Their profile was getting higher internationally due to the breakthrough album “Behind The Music” and they had to deal with all the pressures that success can bring - major record labels, PR, management and such like. The Slussens Pensionat shows stripped away all the corporate bullshit and just allowed the band to relax and enjoy themselves. I was to get my first taste back in August 2003 and was immediately hooked, travelling over as many times as I could after that initial mind-blowing experience. It was a fan's dream. The band played sprawling sets that could last over three hours stretching into the early hours of the morning. They would play obscure album tracks, B-sides, cover versions and try out brand new, often unfinished songs alongside their more familiar numbers. Sometimes, they played whole LPs in their entirety, such as the Winter Lucia show in December 2008 promoting the release of “Communion” where we were treated to each song in sequence. 

Ebbot at Slussens Pensionat with The Soundtrack of Our Lives by Paul Slattery
Slussens Pensionat by Paul Slattery
The Slussens shows usually started rather sedately, with the audience enjoying dinner while the band sat on stools playing acoustic guitars. However, the nights would inevitably end in drunken chaos with tables moved out of the way and the crowd getting up to dance. Vocalist Ebbot Lundberg would climb over tables, sending drinks, bottles, glasses (and sometimes people!) flying all over the place. Microphone leads would often get wrapped around people’s legs and necks and mic stands went crashing all over the place. It was always great fun. One year I was there, they were filming the fantasy/documentary “Ebbot the Movie” and I make a fleeting appearance in it. It’s a great film that really captures the true essence of the Slussens Pensionat experience, as well as highlighting some rather suspect acting from the band members themselves. Another year, Ebbot invited my Retro Man Blog colleague photographer Paul Slattery along and he documented the proceedings with some superb photos, which you can see in the archive here. I met other TSOOL fans from all over the world, not just from Sweden or England but also from Norway, America, Scotland and as far away as Peru. I even met the actor Lars Melin, who appeared in one of my favourite Swedish TV shows, “Wallander” and he seemed a bit surprised that his fame had spread over to the U.K. There are many other great memories, for example, I saw Ebbot duetting with the fantastic singer songwriter Martin McFaul and on separate occasions interviewed both Ebbot and Ian Person for Retrosonic Podcast on the terrace overlooking the beautiful Orust scenery. 

TSOOL with Robert from Slussens Pensionat by Paul Slattery
The last photo of TSOOL together at Slussens Pensionat by Paul Slattery
Yes, indeed, when TSOOL split up you can probably now understand why I was so sad at the thought that I might never get the opportunity to return. However, the good news is that Ebbot has continued the tradition and has since returned to play at Slussens Pensionat for his own TV show “Ebbot’s Ark” as well as with his current band The Indigo Children. Therefore, in August I found myself once again returning to what had almost become my spiritual home and the weather was thankfully perfect, it was so great to be back. Since TSOOL split up, Ebbot has become a bit of a TV celebrity in Sweden, appearing in the popular music show “Så Mycket Bättre” and his own show “Ebbot’s Ark”, as well as various daytime programmes and cooking/travel shows and the audience demographic on the night probably reflected this somewhat. Ebbot appears and is in a cheerful and suitably summery mood, wearing a brightly striped nightshirt, shorts, crocs and a Hawaiian flower garland around his neck. 

Albert, Billy & Ebbot of The Indigo Children by Retro Man Blog
Anton of The Indigo Children by Retro Man Blog
There has been a slight change in The Indigo Children line-up again, following last year’s shift from the members of Side Effects to members of fellow Stockholm based band, EKEN. There are some familiar faces from my Retro Man Blog night for Ebbot & The Indigo Children in London last October - Oskar Nylén and Billy Cervin on guitars, Alfred Holmgren on bass and the powerhouse drummer Anton Fernandez. Then, there is the latest recruit, newcomer Albert Lorenz on keyboards. We have already featured the incredible story of Billy Cervin, who was barely in his teens when he started taking guitar lessons off a neighbour who just happened to be TSOOL’s Mattias Bärjed. Under Mattias’ tutelage, Billy quickly graduated to forming his own band, Side Effects (named like this Blog, after a TSOOL song) and this led to him standing in for Mattias at some TSOOL live shows to eventually teaming up with Ebbot in the Indigo Children. Billy was also recruited into the Union Carbide Productions line-up for their amazing reunion gigs last year and has proven himself to be the perfect foil and ally to Ebbot and his musical adventures. 

Ebbot, Billy Cervin (guitar) & Albert Lorenz (keyboards) by Retro Man Blog
Albert Lorenz of The Indigo Children by Retro Man Blog
But back to the new keyboard player Albert, who has a similar fairy-tale story to Billy. A few years ago, I met up for a beer with him at Pustervik in Gothenburg; he was a big TSOOL fan from Spain who had just landed a dream job at ex-TSOOL bassist Kalle’s Svenska Grammofonstudion, now Sweden’s most sought after recording studio. We also went along to see Ebbot at Slussens Pensionat and one of my lasting impressions was of Albert, a few beers down, enthusiastically joining in on backing vocals after an impromptu ‘stage’ invasion! This could have been an early audition and I think Albert was as surprised as me to find out he would end up as an official member of The Indigo Children. Albert admitted to me that he was a bit concerned about following in the footsteps of previous keyboard player Elias, but he did just fine. He brought an energetic stage presence, encouraging people to join in and clap their hands, wading into the audience with his tambourine. 

Alfred & Oskar of The Indigo Children by Retro Man Blog
EKEN by Retro Man Blog
Although I was nervous when I found out that the Indigo Children line-up had changed literally days before my show with the band in London last year – the new recruits did a superb job at such short notice. Thanks in main to Billy’s organisation, they did not let me, Ebbot or the London crowd down and I was really looking forward to seeing them again. However, let’s get back to the Ebbot’s Slussens Pensionat gig, and what followed was a mammoth set crammed full of The Soundtrack of Our Lives songs, yes, this was definitely a night for all TSOOL fans. Ebbot always throws in a few TSOOL numbers into in his solo sets but I don’t think he has ever played so many of their songs at one gig and I am transported back to all those great TSOOL Slussens shows over the years. For example, there’s the classic “Galaxy Gramophone” from the “Homo Habilis Blues” EP along with “Rest In Piece” and “Century Child” and songs cherry picked from every TSOOL LP.

Billy & Ebbot of The Indigo Children by Retro Man Blog
Anton & Alfred of The Indigo Children by Retro Man Blog
Tonight though, there is just the one new unreleased song “Comfort Zone” from the forthcoming Indigo Children LP, it’s pretty much the good old familiar favourites all the way. There is a break half way through and Eken come on and play two excellent songs, I love this band and played a track in an early Retrosonic Podcast episode about my favourite Swedish music at the time. After this nice unexpected bonus, Ebbot then appears on his own with an acoustic guitar and runs through a long story, humorous apparently to those that can understand Swedish! He plays his first solo single “Wishing Well” and we all join in on the Burt Bacharach style-backing vocals. There’s Union Carbide Productions “Can’t Slow Down” and great versions of The Beatles’ “Day In The Life” and Bowie’s “Five Years”. The band come back and run through another set packed full of great songs from all aspects of Ebbot’s career that include the cover versions “Don’t Blow Your Mind” and “Calling From Heaven” which the band have made their own. Of course, there’s the stunning singles “To Be Continued” and “Backdrop People” that all feature on the excellent debut Indigo Children LP “For The Ages To Come”. The set draws to a close with raucous attacks on “Bigtime” and “Mantra Slider” and despite the clock approaching 2am, they still come back for more. The encores are a blur, Ebbot climbs over me to stand on the table, I do remember “Sister Surround”, “Firmament Vacation” and what must surely be Sweden’s unofficial national anthem, “Instant Repeater ‘99”. The show finally draws to a close with an emotional and moving singalong of “The Passover” and it proved to be a truly memorable night that lived up to all those old classic Soundtrack of Our Lives shows at Slussens Pensionat. If you ever get chance to visit this magical venue then please don’t hesitate, you might end up like me, hooked for life.
Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children by Retro Man Blog
Ebbot has been busy provided vocals once again for the ‘super-group’ 5 Billion In Diamonds who will be releasing their second alum early next year. The band is masterminded by Garbage drummer and Nirvana producer Butch Vig, James Grillo and Andy Jenks and features Damian O’Neill from The Undertones, David Schelzel, Damon Reece and Helen White among other special guests. Ebbot also spearheaded the Union Carbide Productions reunion last year with Billy joining original band members Patrick Caganis, Per Helm, Adam Wladis and Henrik Rylander and we were lucky enough to see a stunning show in Gothenburg which you can read about in the Blog archive here. There’s also good news that a documentary on the band is currently in production. The other members of TSOOL have been equally as busy. Following one superb album of classic Rock with the band Free Fall, Mattias Bärjed has become a critically acclaimed movie and TV soundtrack composer and has combined this with touring with Refused. Along with Martin Hederos, he got Nymphet Noodlers back with original members Mattias Hellberg, Jesper Karlsson and Jan Martens, who has also recently released his own debut solo LP “Voices”. Martin Hederos has also just simultaneously released two brand new albums, one of piano music “Era Spår” under his own name and another “Master of Fog” with Tonbruket. Ian Person is currently in the excellent Punk Rock band Pablo Matisse with Per from Division of Laura Lee and has also been working on a TV soundtrack with Kalle. Ian also produced and played on the “Ghostrider” album by Swedish Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Jerry Williams along with TSOOL’s drummer Fredrik Sandsten.

The Soundtrack of Our Lives at Slussens Pensionat by Paul Slattery
So, there is plenty of great new music from all the ex-TSOOL members to fill that void left since the band finished. With sincere thanks to Hasse & Liselott, Vibs & Robert and best regards to Ebbot, Albert, Billy, Anton, Alfred and Oskar. You can check out the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for more photos of the show and there are also videos up on our YouTube channel here. Check the Blog archive for loads of Soundtrack of Our Lives related features including the band’s last ever London and Slussens shows. There’s features on the Nymphet Noodlers and Union Carbide Productions reunions and don’t forget our Retrosonic Podcast special editions featuring interviews with Ebbot, Ian Person, Fredrik Sandsten, Mattias Barjed and Mattias Hellberg and much more. Thank you to Paul Slattery for his photos, copyright Paul Slattery or Retro Man Blog where stated.