The Earth has successfully orbited the Sun twenty-four times since 3 Swedish teens decided to form punk rock band Millencolin. And although in parts of the year the Swedes don’t tend to see much of the unquestionably paramount provider of all life to our planet, the band’s pace, consistency and energy wouldn’t suggest so.

Communicating in noises, with particular rhythms and intonations that human beings may only describe as words, guitarist Erik Ohlsson talks of their 8th studio release True Brew, their forthcoming Australian tour and Millencolin’s Socialist politics.

Erik on the back of so many other killer albums how has True Brew been received so far?

Really, really good actually. It’s the first time ever that the fans seem to really like the new material. In our whole career when we release an album, a third of the albums fans have been like “Oh I wish it could sound like this or I wish they could do a new Pennybridge Pioneers, but this time around I barely heard anything negative about the new album and I also heard for the first time ever a lot of people saying after the show, “Yeah it was a great show but I wish you played more of the new stuff.” And that’s never happened before so that’s a really good sign.

You guys just got back from the 3rd leg of your European tour. How’s it been going?

Everybody’s got other stuff going on in their lives, I’ve got a daughter and 2 dogs and a house and I work with my graphic design company. Millencolin’s always priority number 1, but everybody needs to have other stuff in our lives to make us really feel super psyched about Millencolin. So that’s why we do 2 weeks or 3 weeks and then we’re home for the same amount of time and then go off again.

The title Track True Brew was released in both Swedish and English, something the band has only done once before with battery check in 200. What was the motivation behind that?

Battery Check became like a really big hit song in Sweden and ever since especially Swedish people have asked us for another song in Swedish, because when we sing in Swedish it doesn’t sound like any other band. A lot of people think that we write our music in Swedish and then translate it to English but it’s the opposite, the lyrics are written in English right away so translating them into Swedish becomes something different. It doesn’t sound like a regular Swedish punk band. It becomes its own sound so a lot of people asked us for it so we just tried it on this song and it came out pretty good I think.

Sense and Sensibility sees the band take on a political edge in response to the rise of Swedish Nationalists and anti-immigration groups in Sweden. Much like the trend which is happening in much of the Western world, it must be getting pretty bad if it penetrated its way into a Millencolin album.

Yeah, we’re in a position to say something, the immigration situation and the right wing and the racist parties are growing like crazy all over Europe and it’s really, really scary so we felt like this time we had to say something about it. Although we’ve always kind of kept our politics to ourselves but this time we just had to say something about it because it’s such a big issue here.

We have a similar situation of crazy nationalists in Australia too, I think it’s a kind of world-wide trend going on.

Yeah and in the US with Trump and everything it’s the exact same thing there, it’s like the whole Western world is getting really scared or something.

Maybe you can knock some sense into them when you get here. 

That’s right. It’s hard to knock sense into those people though but we’ll give it a go.

So almost 25 years of Millencolin now, how has your experience of being in a touring Punk band changed as you’ve gotten older?

It’s been different during our whole career, we started out driving in a regular car to our shows in Sweden and then we got to go all out to Europe and travel on a bus and then we went overseas. Actually to Australia, this is our 20th year anniversary of our first tour of Australia.

Was it Warped Tour? 

No this was 96,’ twenty years back. It was us and No Fun At All and we just toured Australia and slept on other bands floors and stuff. Great. Super great, like one of the best times of my life. We really fell in love with Australia back then and then we’ve been coming over a lot since but I mean over the years it’s just changed we’ve become a bigger band, a better band. And then around 2000 was the time when we said, “Hey we can’t tour all the time,” because during the 90s I was with a girl for 6 years and when we broke up I realised I’d actually been away for over 4 years. So over those 6 years I spent less than 2 years with her. We were on the road constantly and that kind of wears you out, so it was a good decision there that we do a maximum 3 weeks and then we’re home for 2 weeks, and that really saves the band I think. And it’s more comfortable touring these days too; we’ve got more crew and it’s better. Everything around the touring is much more professional than back in the day.

I’m sure it is. It’s pretty amazing you guys have stayed in the same band for so many years, there’s a nobility about it that’s so rare these days. What’s the secret? Are you just really good mates?

Yeah, we are and also we’re from a Socialist country, we share everything 25% to each band member because everybody’s putting in a lot the effort. It’s not just one guy doing everything in the band so we share everything, equally like brothers. And that’s a good thing, if someone would make say 50% of the royalties and then the other guys had to share the rest of the 50% I guess there would be some grumpiness right there. Based on that ground its good and we’ve been friends for a long, long time over the years we kind of hated each other and then we like each other again and hated each other but nowadays since we’ve been touring together for such a long time it’s actually like they are my real brothers, I mean you learn to turn the other cheek.

A lot of similar punk rock bands have gone off into different genres and styles over the years. How have you guys managed to resist doing that? Have you ever been tempted to do a Metal or Folk album?

Not that far down another road, but I think people thought that we changed our sound a lot from Pennybridge Pioneers to Home from Home which was a little bit more Rock and Roll-ish and then Kingwood, maybe that was a little bit more back to punk I guess. Then Machine 15, that’s the album where tried to make a really clean big production, we had strings and stuff. You know American producer, we went down to a really fancy studio in Berlin where U2 recorded one of their albums. We did a really big production and we were still playing the Millencolin punk rock sound but that was little bit of a slower album. Looking back at it we don’t like that album that much. I don’t think we play any of those songs live actually right now. So I think we definitely haven’t stuck to our sound over these years but we never really tried to do something completely different that’s for sure.

On this album True Brew we actually did the opposite we looked at our own sound and why do we like some songs in our set and some of the albums, and we tried to look we were influenced by the bands who influenced us when we started the band and ourselves actually. So that’s what we did on True Brew.

So you guys are still selling out shows when you come over here. Do you find it’s the same loyal fan base or are there always fresh faces in the crowds? Or a mix of both?

It’s a big mix but there are a lot of loyal fans from over the years. We’ve got a really big age difference in the crowd these days there are people who are way older than us and then kids who are really young so that’s really, really cool.

True Brew is out now on Epitaph Records. Millencolin play two Melbourne shows at 170 Russell, May 2nd and 3rd

Adam Branson

 

True Brew tour dates:

Tuesday, 26th April – Metropolis, Fremantle 18+
Tickets from tickets.destroyalllines.com, www.oztix.com.au or Oztix Outlets

Thursday, 28th April – HQ, Adelaide 18+
Tickets from tickets.destroyalllines.com, www.oztix.com.au or Oztix Outlets

Friday, 29th April – Roundhouse, Sydney Lic AA 
Tickets from tickets.destroyalllines.com, www.ticketek.com.au or Ticketek Outlets

Saturday, 30th April – Coolangatta Hotel, Coolangatta 18+
Tickets from tickets.destroyalllines.com, www.oztix.com.au or Oztix Outlets

Sunday, 1st May – The Tivoli, Brisbane 18+
Tickets from tickets.destroyalllines.com, www.ticketmaster.com.au or Ticketmaster Outlets

Monday, 2nd May – 170 Russell, Melbourne 18+ – NEW SHOW ADDED! 
Tickets from tickets.destroyalllines.com, 170russell.com or the Corner Hotel Box Office

Tuesday, 3rd May – 170 Russell, Melbourne 18+ – SOLD OUT!

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