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Deutsche VersionInterview mit Hellsingland Underground (08.11.2010)

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After the second album Madness & Grace of the Swedish Rock Band Hellsingland Underground has turned several rounds in my player, I got lucky to see the band live on stage in the little village of Halfing. This evening the guys from Sweden won at least one new fan. After having a short talk to the likeable singer Charlie Granberg this evening, I got into contact with him once more when he was back in Sweden just in order to learn a little bit more about the band and its little tour through Germany.

HH: Hey Charlie, we met last week at your concert in Halfing. I hope the whole bunch has arrived safe and sound back in Sweden...

Charlie: Yes, we did thank you. Just trying to land here after all this craziness. I've been in an almost catatonic state since I came back home...

HH: Certainly we will talk about your little tour through Germany, but perhaps let's start with a few questions about the band because I think Hellsingland Underground is not as popular in Germany as it is in Sweden until now. It seems like a little miracle to me that there, in the sparsely populated north of Sweden six excellent musicians with the same - for this region not really obvious - musical taste found each other. When and how did Hellsingland Underground come into being?

Charlie: It started with me moving back to my hometown Ljusdal back in 2006. I had lived in Stockholm for many years until I just had enough of it. I hadn't been doing music for a couple of years, and thought I was through with it. But somehow I started hearing all these songs in my head again. After a while I thought it would be cool to record them in some way, so I contacted Mats and Patrik who I have gotten to know in Stockholm a few years back. And it sort of took off from there. Patrik brought in Mathias on keyboards. I met Martin, the bass player, at a party, and Mats brought in Peter, his childhood friend, and the band was full.

HH: Your music is really rich in influences. There is Country, there is Blues and often there is this special 70s feeling in your sound. So what musicians have shaped you in particular on your way to Hellsingland Underground?

Charlie: We have a very broad spectra of influences. We all grew up in the 80's as metal kids. You know, Iron Maiden, Accept, Judas Priest and of course AC/DC. But as I grew up I started to listen a lot to Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, and stuff like that as well. There has been a lot of comparisons to Southern Rock bands like Allman Brothers and stuff, but to be honest we are not that influenced by them. At least not songwritingwise. We like the sounds and the way they treat their instruments... long twin guitar solos and stuff. But when it comes to songwriting I try to write from my own heart and my own experiences and influences.

HH: I must admit that I really like your enjoyable lyrics. They seem to be very personal - all little stories of your childhood, youth, hometown and most of it is true or is there a lot of fiction, too?

Charlie: Thank you! Yeah, they are very personal. And I guess you could say that all of them are true. Because they are for me. Some things I may have exaggerated, some things I may have left out, sometimes I have melted two persons into one e.t.c. just to make the best song as possible. But all my lyrics are influenced by real life. For me, it's the only way to write great lyrics. Whenever I have tried to start to make things up, it just doesn't work. It may work well for other musicians, but not for me.

HH: When I first saw the printing on the cover of your first CD I was a little bit irritated because of the pentagram and the two capricorns that are used there. I couldn't find the connection between your lyrics and this symbols. Please clarify for me.

Charlie: Haha, yeah, a lot of people have reacted the similar way. But the story behind the cover is this: I live in a county called Hälsingland, but the old spelling used to be Hellsingland, the same way we spell it in our bandname. And around here, there are a lot of old folk tales, superstition and legends about Satan coming to Hälsingland to lure kids into doing bad things. And as a kid, I was really taken by all these stories, so the cover is influenced by all those stories, and the Capricorns are actually the official symbol for the Hälsingland county.

HH: How have been the reactions to your debut album in your fatherland?

Charlie: It's been really great actually. Great reviews and we have a really strong fanbase here that travels far for our gigs and so on...

HH: When you started with Hellsingland Underground did you imagine entering the Swedish charts one day?

Charlie: No, not at all. That was way far beyond our imagination. But it feels like we filled some kind of gap for people. I think people in Sweden are kind of fed up with half ass rock bands that are all about looks and attitude and not really the music. We are all about the music, we live and breathe it, and I think people can tell, when they hear and see us play.

HH: You managed this success with your second album Madness & Grace. How have been the reactions of the press in other countries?

Charlie: We have gotten great reactions from all over the world, and most of all from Germany. Some fantastic reviews and stuff.

HH: And therefore you decided to introduce the new album in Germany by doing a little tour with about 16 stations. I really was surprised to read that you're going to play in Halfing because Munich would not have been far away to this venue. So, in hindsight, are you satisfied with the venues the booking company selected?

Charlie: Yeah, Rock This Town did a great job in finding the right places for us to play I think. I had expected the venues to be much smaller, being that this was our first tour ever in Germany. And also, a funny thing was that many times, our gigs in smaller places, was better and more crowded than in the really big cities.

HH: Have you been to Germany the first time?

Charlie: This was the first time as a band, yes. But I have been to Germany as a kid with my mom and dad.

HH: Please tell a little bit about the positive and the negative aspects of the tour. Have your expectations been fulfilled?

Charlie: I can't really see anything negative. We knew we were going to lose sleep and drink a lot, and we knew we were going to have fights within the band from time to time, but nothing really serious. The venues were great, the food was great and the hotels were great. And the audience was fantastic. We hadn't really expected any of that to be honest.

HH: What was the most exciting occurrence during the tour and where have you been highest acclaimed by the audience? You know, what I want to hear now, haha. But honestly...

Charlie: Haha... It's hard to pinpoint any special place actually. Berlin at the White Trash Fast Food was great because it was a fantastic place, and our first gig on the tour, Reitwein was great because we had the biggest crowd, but ok, Halfing was fantastic because we had a small but incredibly enthusiastic crowd! And I mean that! Perhaps the most enthusiastic we have ever played for.

HH: OK, before I'm getting embarrassed, up to the next essential question: were did you get the best beer?

Charlie: The beer is fantastic all over Germany I think. But I actually bought a five litre pint of Vulcan beer from the gig at Thorndal Guitars in Frankonia. That had a really special taste that I liked. A little darker kinda beer.

HH: Haha, no need to tell me about frankonian beer in that corner. I know the roots. So... some bad luck, too?

Charlie: Before that show in Frankonia, the GPS showed us the wrong way, and we ended up on a mountain far above the town, and suddenly the road ended and we had to turn our seven meter long tour bus in a middle of a muddy acre with cow shit and stuff, and it was really close that the bus tipped over the edge. We had to all leave the bus and push it back up on the road. But it was kinda refreshing. Something new that happened. Other than that, yeah two cancelled gigs was kinda unlucky I guess...

HH: Very amusing story at the end. Where next to conquer? What are your plans for the coming future and where do you want to get to with Hellsingland Underground?

Charlie: We are taking a break in touring now until at least February, because Peter is becoming a father. Rock This Town are already working on getting us to some European festivals this summer. So we are really hoping to do a few of those.
And also we will start to work on a couple of new songs for the third Hellsingland Underground album.

HH: I thank you very much for this interview and hope to see you live on stage pretty soon again. Any last messages to our readership?

Charlie: We would like to thank the fantastic German audiences for making this tour such a memorable one, and hope to see you soon in Germany again. Feel free to request us at your favourite festivals! We would love to come back soon. Love/Charlie from Hellsingland Underground
Thanks a lot for the interview!


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