We had a very interesting conversation with the multi-talented musician from Sweden, Jay. His story in the HardcorePunk/Metal scene of Sweden starts in the early 80's, but better read the beautiful and very interesting stories he has told us. Enjoy!
Welcome to the FILTHY DOGS OF METAL Webzine.
Jay, please tell us a few things about yourself & when did you start playing music? Were you involved in any music band before D.T.A.L.?
Hi Stavros! Well, I grew up in a small village outside Landskrona. It was a typical industrial workers suburb with a tiny world perspective...not a good starting point for a kid like me with interests in music and comic books! In fact, there were almost no alternatives to becoming a welder at the shipyard or ending up at the fertilizer factory...and that was NOT on my map at all! It was almost impossible to find out what was in the music world. There were two TV channels and they showed almost nothing music related at all! Radio played mostly classic and Swedish mainstream. Records were expensive and you couldn't get a tiniest foretaste. You had to trust the cover and buy them without knowing what you were getting. On the other hand, I didn't have a record player anyway!
My parents had bought a tiny cassette player around 1976 with a small 2" speaker so I could record my organ lessons. Not because I wanted to play organ...I wanted to play guitar but was not allowed because my parents had tried it but thought it was pointless. So I bought cheap cassette tapes and asked kids from wealthier families who had record players and vinyls to record them for me...and sometimes they did! That way I found music that I would never have heard otherwise. I used to put the cassette player under my pillow at night and fall asleep to "Detroit Rock City" and "Shout It Out Loud" by KISS. That was my escapism. I saved all the money I made by selling newspaper for a whole year so I finally could afford an electric guitar...a Hondo II SG with a single pick-up! It cost me €30...and that was a lot of money back then. I had no amp but I found an old radio in a trash bin that I repaired and rebuild (I was handy with the soldering iron already then), and with that equipment I started my first band in 1977.
Before beginning 7th grade at a new school, I worked a whole summer at a metal workshop drilling milions of holes! I still can't stand the smell of warm steel since then, but the paycheck made me able to upgrade my equipment: A used Sigma M Les Paul and a Peavey Pacer 45W made me interesting as a musician at the new school. There I met other musicians, discovered a lot of music and was asked to join a band. I also played with an older bass player who showed me how to build up the structure in a song with intro, verse, chorus a s o, and combining this with the basic of classic harmonics from my organ lessons gave me an advantage. I left school with top grades in music and art!
Which were your memories from the Swedish Punk and Metal movement back in the days (1979-1985) & did you support the scene with buying records, tapes, fanzines and going to live gigs?
I can't say I was aware of a specific movement. I grew up with "DIY" so it was nothing strange. Buying things was out of the question...it took money that didn't exist, so I had to fix things myself. Instead it was the energy in the music and the ability to express myself that appealed to me. The phrase "If you have something to say then fucking say it" was a mind opener. My first real contact with punk music was on a school trip where I met some french kids and heard "Anarchy In The UK". But it took a few years more before I had a band ready for gigs and air play, and it was not until I was asked to join D.T.A.L I came in contact with fanzines and the Αmerican hardcore bands (VOID, MDC, Gang Green, Bad Brains, Black Flag et cetera).
With D.T.A.L (Dr Tjock Och Atomligan) you recorded 2 singles ''Time To Die'' in 1984 & ''A Beautiful Day'' in 1985 (very rare and expensive singles nowadays). Jay, which are your memories from these days and which were your main influences back then?
First of all: D.T.A.L were a really chaotic band! I have heard the story about their first gig...but how much is true or not I can't say. But it gives a pretty good picture of how chaotic it was: D.T.A.L should not even play! They were not on the band list at all! Instead they nagged down the arranger, saying they had only two and a half song "bla bla bullshit bla bla and even more bullshit...", so he eventually gave up and allowed them to play. Big mistake!!! It took them 45 minutes to do those two and a half songs, ruin the whole stage, get a blow job and burn the PA! All by accident...it just happened! After the gig, everyone said they were the best band that night! I knew what to expect when I joined D.T.A.L...
Nelle, the founder of D.T.A.L, asked me to "bring some order in the chaos". They had no gear and nowhere to practice so they used to borrow "The Bristles" rehearsal place and their equipment (bass, drums, amps et cetera). So Nelle fired the drummer and replaced him by himself, and I took over Nelles role as a bassplayer and started learning their repetoar. I don't remember how many gigs we did with this line up but I think I have photos from at least two. One evening when we came down to the rehearsal place, we saw that the bass gear had been taken away for service and repair. "Shit", Nelle said but I replied "Relax, nada problemas! I go get my Les Paul and Peavey amp"! When my gear was in place, I turned all the amplifier's knobs to bottom right except treble and mid which I turned to bottom left. I switched to the neck pick up on my Les Paul and put the tone control to "zero". "Done! Now we take off", I said! And what a sound!!! We were all amazed at how brutal it was! So we used this set up when we recorded what became the "Time To Die" EP!
We recorded and mixed 13 songs in one and a half day. The studio's equipment consisted of a Tascam Portastudio 244 (4-channel cassette tape recorder), a stereo cassette tape deck and a 8 channels mixing console. That was all! We had to mix and "ping-pong" the recorded tracks back and forth to the tape deck to make new channels available. There was no mix engineer in the studio, only a technician, and he didn't know a shit about what we were doing and even less about what he was doing...so at the end I had to do all the mixing. Hard bids for the new dude in the band! I had no previous experience so it was mostly basic volume adjustment...all in mono! Keep it simple, stupid!
Before we had released the "Time To Die" EP our line up had changed again...typical for D.T.A.L! Here the speed, energy and rawness disappeared, and I know it was a mistake. But it wasn't my band, so my opinion didn't count. We had different musical influences in D.T.A.L and it was the mix of these that made the first recording as brutal as it got and the second much weaker. One of my influences back then was Jon "Bubba" Dupree! His guitar on the split album "VOID/FAITH" from 1981 was amazing! He was way ahead of everyone else! But I wasn't tied to specific styles of music or genre...I had much inspiration from all kind of music.
After 2 years, in 1987 you started your new band "HYSTE'RIAH". You on bass/vocals, together with Klas Ideberg on guitars and T.C. Hagen on drums. The result from this line-up was your first demo tape ''Attempt the Life''. Furious thrash metal songs with few hardcore/metalpunk elements. Did you sell it or did you have it only for promotional purposes (Radio Stations, Magazines/Fanzines, Record Labels etc.)?
That demo tape was intended for both promo and sale...and it went away fast as a fart in a hurricane! There were actually big elements of both hardcore and metalpunk in those songs but everything merged into something of its own. Klas was very metal, T.C was very NWOBHM and I was...well, a mix of just about everything but in a hardcore style!
With which bands did you play live concerts between 1987/88? How was the situation between the bands in the Thrash Metal scene in Sweden back then?
We attended a summer festival with other bands that I don't remember, and a gig where we opened up for D.T.A.L. After that, T.C was out due to lack of commitment! But we were good friends with D.T.A.L and had their support as an opening act.
In 1988 you released your second demo tape ''Jeremiad of the Living''. Did you have any feedback outside of Sweden? Did you receive any letters (back then when we did not have the internet) from around the world?
I have my studio wallpapered with interviews and reviews from zines all over the world! I have several kilos of zines, mags and compilation cassette tapes lying in my bookshelf! They called me from the post office and said they wouldn't hand out my mail anymore because it was too much. If I wanted it, I had to come and get it myself! It was a huge response and I still feel very proud for what I was involved in and had created!
One year later (1989), the name HYSTE'RIAH changed to HYSTE'RIAH G.B.C. That change happened after the arrival of Tom Hallbäck (GOD B.C.) on drums. How did this participation occur?
After T.C had to leave the band, I handled the drums on the recording of the "Jeremiad of the living". It was not a perfect solution but necessary as we otherwise would have wasted our studio time. But the word was out that the drum seat was vacant, so one day Tom called me and said he was interested! What he didn't told me was that his band had left him as the only remaining member of GOD.B.C.
In the same year a limited edition (100 copies) advanced tape was released (''Rough Mix Advance Tape 1989''). Did this promo tape help you to arrange a record deal? Did you send this tape to a record company? Because in that time a lot of indie record labels existed and also GOD B.C. had already released their album via the well-known WILD RAGS Records of Richard C. (Ricardo Campos).
We have to go back in time a little bit. When HYSTE'RIAH had released "Jeremiad Of The Living" we were already planning for our next release: A 12"EP with four songs! We had almost three songs ready plus the cover art! That cover art can be seen on the front of the booklet that comes with the reissue of the demo cassettes on the "HYSTE'RIAH LP" from 2016 released by "To The Death". And somewhere in my studio I had early rehearsαl tape recordings of those songs.
WILD RAGS sold many of our tapes so when Richard asked me what our next step was I informed him about our plans. I had already made invoice requests so I knew the costs. But Richard said he could get it done cheaper, so if we took care of the recording, he took care of pressing and printing. It was a very generous offer from Richard.
Now Tom came along and we started rehearsing him on HYSTE'RIAH's songs and everything seemed fine. He was a very good drummer and we tried some of the GOD.B.C's songs according to his wishes. They were very easy to play but did not meet HYSTE'RIAH's standard so I rejected them! But it soon became apparent that HYSTE'RIAH were seen as a GOD.B.C MK II.
At this time I became very sick and ended up in hospital for a longer period. I was in and out for more than two years with constant fever and joint pain. It took the doctors almost two years to establish that I had a rare rheumatological disease.
So while I was hospitalized, the bands bizniz "had been taken care of"! At one point when I was home from the hospital, we had a meeting at our rehearsal place when I was informed that HELLHOUND was interested in releasing an LP with HYSTE'RIAH G.B.C(?)! I pointed out that we didn't have material for an LP and "where the fuck the G.B.C came from" and that we had almost everything ready for the upcoming 4 song 12"EP that WILD RAGS had shown interest in! Then I was told that "Richard is out"!
Shit happened behind my back! But I didn't have the energy to deal with it because of that illness. I don't even remember being in the studio and recording what became "Rough Mix Advance Tape", which says a lot about my medical condition. I have few memories of the recording of "Snakeworld", but remember there were no available isolation booth to my bass amplifier, so I had to line in directly to the mix console. And the whole album was mixed with my bass channel on "mute"! When it was discovered, it was "uhhh...oops" and "unmute". No compressor, no EQ, no effects...nothing!
In 1991 you released your 1st Full-length Album ''Snakeworld''. How did your cooperation with Hellhound Records occur? Were you satisfied with the promotional work? Do you know how many copies of the album have been sold?
I know nothing about Hellhound Records or "Snakeworld" and I don't like that album! I was not involved in any desicions. It all happened over my head or behind my back. But the three songs that were intended for the planned 12" EP can be found on "Snakeworld". They also differs clearly from the other songs. I wrote most of the main guitar riffs for "Confess a lie", "How does it feel", and the first parts of what became "Rope for Rape" that I showed to Klas. My staccato guitar playing style is easily recognizable. I also did most of the drum beats which I later showed to Tom.
The original lyric to "Rope for rape" disappeared when I was too ill to attend, and was replaced with another and the song thus got a new title. None of the songs were really finished before they were recorded, and they weren't as brutal as they were from the beginning either. The writing of new material were rushed and quality was not a priority. "Snakeworld" ended with only seven songs. Haste make waste...
In the same year a compilation under the title ''What The Hell!'' was released via Hellhound Records. What was the feedback from your audience as well as from the press?
Honestly, I don't want anything to do with HYSTE'RIAH G.B.C (or GOD.B.C MK II). I'm ashamed of it, partly because I wasn't capable of standing up for my own band (HYSTE'RIAH)...which is hard when you've been seriously ill for a long time. Here is another good story: I don't know who's doing the lead vocals on "Love the Ice"! Surprised?
What happened to the band after that release? Did you have any connection with the former members all those years?
The mood was pretty bad in the band! I had even dropped out for a while and been replaced by one of Klas's friends. I couldn't stand it! But since I had invested so much time and money, at least I wanted to try to get something out of it. I had paid for T.C's drumkit, bought an amp and speaker cabinett to Klas (he was just a school kid), built a PA and monitor system and effects units, paid for all demo tapes, done all promotion et cetera...no one else would take advantage of my efforts!
But it all ended during a gig when some completely unnecessary words were said out loud on stage. I visited Klas a few months later but realized that he had other things going on... and I understood him! He has had success on his own, which is well deserved! A few years later I did some jamming with Tom a couple of times but it didn't work. But Klas and I write a few lines to each other from time to time, and we worked together on line as we cleaned up the old mastertapes for "HYSTE'RIAH's LP released by "To The Death" in 2016.
Do you see any differences in today's Metal/Punk music business in comparison with the music business back in the 80s & 90s?
I've never been stuck in a specific genre like metal or punk so I really don't know.
Which attributes, do you think, that a new MetalPunk Band should have in order to gain identity and be unique?
Be yourself! Regardless of genre! Do it yourself and stick to your plan!
Do you know anything about the Hellenic Metal/Punk Scene?
Absolutely nothing. I don't even know anything about the scene in my own city!
What are your future plans?
I am an old fart, you know, and my odometer has flipped over several times! I may not be around next week so I take it as it comes. Whoever lives on will see...or hear...or know...
Thank you very much for your time & Keep up the good work! The closure is yours.
Thank you Stavros for giving me the opportunity to share some of the stories about D.T.A.L and HYSTE'RIAH! There is of course more to tell about, such as violent gigs that ended in brutal fights containing bottles, chains and axes, smashed tour buses, hospital stays and other funny things that could happen on the road. Maybe next time...
By Steve the Filthy Dog.