- Fredrik knows the Brainbombs.

This country has always suffered a lack of good rock bands. I can only think of three ones with enough power in their music to hold their ground in an international comparison: The Leather Nun, Union Carbide Productions, and Brainbombs. But while the first two detoured relatively early from their original concept of brutality, only to call it quits after a few pathetic years, Brainbombs have only perpetuated their heavy, dirty "one riff per song" formula. Furthermore, they've successfully avoided any kind of popularity, in part thanks to the national shortage of investigating music journalists whose tastes reach beyond the domain of pop.

Thus, Brainbombs have never been the subject of any longer interview in any Swedish publication whatsoever. To remedy this, I met up with Lanchy and Jonas at their favourite cafe Uroxen in Uppsala January the 30th 1995. They are probably the least-easily interviewed members, but they are the only ones who happen to live in the same city as I. The interview tape was primarily used to get the quotes, whereas the rest of the text is stuff I've gotten to know hanging out with the band members in various settings.

The band was founded in Hudiksvall, with the expressed intention of recreating the monotony of industrial music on traditional instruments. Inspiration was primarily drawn from house gods Whitehouse, but also James Chance and Chrome served as models. The original members were Jonas, guitar; Peter Råberg, vocals; Drajan, drums; and some Andreas on bass. The latter, however, dropped out after the first rehearsal. At this point in time, all of them were 17, except for Peter, who was 23. The songs were penned by Jonas, who didn't waste any chords, but instead limited himself to one per song.

Jonas: The first gig was at Västra Fritidsgården. It was just me, Peter, and Drajan. A lot of one-chord songs. We were all sitting down. Then, it was really monotonous.

Lyrics were written by Peter and Jonas, who both harboured great interest in spectacular crime cases, and the lyrics were filled, right from the very start, with detailed accounts of butcheries and sexual killings. Peter's elder brother, by four years, Dan, hade a similar passion for the darker sides of existence, and already used to write poems on the theme at home, so consequently, after a year, he joined the band. Primarily as a lyricist, but also as a trumpeter.

Jonas: A lot of Danne's lyrics are influenced by Peter Sotos's Pure. We wrote him letters. A year ago we received a reply, that he felt honoured by having inspired us with his magazine. He wrote to thank us, saying it was genius. We wrote him again asking him to write liner notes...

But why have Dan playing the trumpet? Can he play at all?

Jonas: He's been sitting at home, imagining he can play the trumpet. He plays off sheet music, and such... He has is own ideas of how it's supposed to sound, so...

About the same time as Dan, another guitarist was recruited - Lars-Anders "Lanchy" Orre. At the time, around 1986, he was already a song-writing member of hardcore band Totalitär. By then, Brainbombs still hadn't managed more than one gig and a handful of songs. His main task in the band was to come up with new riffs upon which to build new songs. The reason for using twin guitars instead of a guitar and a bass was simply that neither Lanchy nor Jonas finds playing the bass any fun. Whenever the songs call for more bass, Lanchy instead tunes his guitar down.

Gig #2 was on New Year's '87-'88, at a party in the Forsa studio, a site home of the recording of many a Hudiksvall punk classic. They performed "Second Coming", the unreleased "Hjärnbomb" [Brainbomb] - with lyrics in Swedish! - and another unreleased song, which was improvised on stage.

Brainbombs have never had any ambitions to speak of when it comes to just about anything, and when Drajan, somewhat of a driving force, moved to Stockholm, the band's profile, if possible, was kept even lower. Still, they mustered enough initiative to be featured on a couple of compilations, with stuff that had happened to get recorded during their notably sparse rehearsals.

1989 saw their record debut, with the single "Jack the Ripper Lover". The release was financed by Drajan and Jonas, and the record was distributed to a motlew crew of suspicious individuals around the globe. Abroad, a lot of people experienced spontaneous orgasms by the recording, but the response in Sweden was less than overwhelming, and basically limited to being played on the radio once, on "Bommen" on P3.

The release was highlighted with yet another concert in Hudiksvall. The gig, however, saw most of the band on the bench. Only Peter and Jonas were performing, backed by a tape loop of the two songs of the single. Dan was supposed to be plying, but shortly before the band hit the stage he was going for a smoke on the fire escape, and drunkenly managed to fall off the stairs. Since he fell from the third floor, he broke his leg, and his evening ended in the E.R. He brought his trumpet down with him, and it surfaced a couple of days later in a shop window, dented and abused. Dan tried to get it back, but the shop refused.

A couple of months later, they played Forsa again, and this was to be the last gig for a while. Since Drajan had moved, Jesper of Totalitär, and later The Kristet Utseende, acted substitute drummer.

Jonas: -It was a bit of a scandal. We were shitfaced enough not to be able to tell whether we were playing or not. Peter was crawling around underneath the drum set.

The next release was "Anne Frank", which features controversial lyrics, to say the least. Dan wrote it affectedly after reading that Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl was fake. Besides, he's a die-hard anti-semite, so the lyrics came straight from the heart. The recording took place, just like the debut, in the Forsa studio.

Jonas: -We had 16 channels. 16 for the mix, but the tape recorder was just eight.

Lanchy: -Can't say we used them all, though.

How come you're doing the vocals on that?

Jonas: -Since Peter was so badly hung-over he couldn't make it.

Couldn't the recording have waited a day?

Jonas: -No, we couldn't be bothered. We thought we'd get it all over with. However, Dan showed up the next day and did some trumpet takes. That's usually how we do things. We record, whatever the location, then Danne shows up and plays it all through. We give him a bottle of scotch, and he gets going. Then we mix it to our own preferences...

(laughter) That's why you can't hear him a lot on the records, then?

Jonas: -Well, we increase the volume, whenever we see it fit...(more laughter)... so he's on free reins, so to speak.

When Jonas had to sing, he couldn't play the guitar simultaneously. Naturally, Brainbombs can't be bothered we too much messing around with guitar overdubs, so recording engineer Birger Thorburn had to step in as a backup guitarist.

Drajan's neighbour at the time was a guy called Staffan, who was operating the record label Big Brothel Communications, and that's the reason for them releasing the single. It's the record with which Jonas and Lanchy are the most pleased, and both songs have been featured at all three gigs I've attended.

Somewhere around the time for that release, Jonas and Lanchy moved to Uppsala. Lanchy, since he heard unemployment there was more fun than in Hudiksvall, and Jonas to study Polish, Czech, and Sanskrit.

In 1991, two labels, having heard and being huge fans of the two previous releases, got in touch and wanted to sign the band. David of Big Ball in Oslo claimed "Anne Frank" was the best record he ever heard, and wanted to release anything. California's Black Jack wanted to release an album.

Lanchy: -Drajan keeps in touch with people all around the world. It's strange that people want to release stuff... I feel like we're deceiving them. I can't put my head around people actually caring. It's fun for me, playing on the albums, to keep them on my shelf, but... When we played Oslo the first time around, they told us we didn't realise our own greatness.

Jonas: -Peter finds it enough to release the records in ten copies, in order for us in the band to be able to listen to them at home.

On Boxing Day 1991, since the band was gathered in Hudiksvall over the holidays, they recorded what would later be released by these foreign record companies.

Jonas: -We recorded in a cottage outside Hudiksvall. We had borrowed stuff from Studio Norrbo.

Were you well-prepared?

Jonas: -We had a couple of songs.

Lanchy: -Three, I believe.

Jonas: -We hardly ever rehearse, since we live in different locations.

Lanchy: -The record releases are our rehearsals. I think I had the "Burning Hell" riff worked out. And "Danny..."

Jonas: -We usually stock up on a few riffs, as well as a bunch of lyrics, and then you put it all together. "This goes with that...", sort of.

Lanchy: -It never fails to surprise me. (laughs)

Jonas: -Vocals are added after the songs are recorded, and by that time Peter makes the lyrics fit the tune.

How long did it take to record everything?

Jonas: -Ten hours. One night, and then we mixed it the next day.

And during that time you also wrote eight songs?

Jonas: -Yes, the lyrics were already finished, most of them, anyway. We usually have the lyrics all set. We took the prize with the new one, which isn't out yet. Everything was done in roughly one hour.

Lanchy: -We could make a single a day, if we just had the inclination. It's all first takes. We might do another take if someone wasn't happy with the first take, but that very rare.

You're a bunch of layabouts?

Lanchy: -Yes.

Jonas: -Yes. What else?

Lanchy: -There's no point in putting in any more (laughs) things... It's supposed to sound trashy.

Jonas: -It would sound boring if it were to be too well-polished.

The thought of recording in a proper studio, with a proper engineer hasn't struck you?

Jonas: -No. We want free reins.

Lanchy: -It feels unnecessary, in a way.

The summer of 1992 saw Brainbombs receiving more attention than ever, but not in relation to their music. Dan had married an English girl, and was about to move in with her, but when he landed on English soil, immigration wouldn't let him into the country.

Jonas: -I suppose he was drunk, he probably was. They saw his lyrics, and the Pure magazines, since he brought all of his belongings, and they didn't want him to move there. He spent some time in the drunk tank, then they sent him back. Then he spent the next six months with juridical matters before he got a visa and was granted entry. Then he stayed there for another six months before they broke up, and he moved back to Hudiksvall.

During Dan's stint in Cambridge, the other members played outside Hudiksvall for the first time. The Norwegians had persistently been asking the band for an appearance, but the other members were reluctant, thinking the Råberg brothers to be too much to handle abroad. With one of them at a safe distance, however, they gave two well-attended concerts at Rockall in Oslo. These happened to coincide with Peter's visiting his brother, leaving Jonas with vocal duties and Birger, again, as substitute guitarists. The first of these gigs was later released on vinyl.

Jonas: -The guys in the bar recorded it, and played it back to us later. Then David wanted to release it, thinking it sounded funny. Distorted.

Why didn't he release the entire concert?

Jonas: -Well, he thought some of the songs were too muffled. The ones on the record sounded ok though.

You're playing very fast on that one.

Jonas: -Well, we did play rather fast at the time. Almost a bit punk:ish.

Lanchy: -Drajan was nervous and speeded away.

Jonas: -The entire thing was over pretty fast, everything in around 20-25 minutes.

The week after saw them performing at Smålands Nation in Lund. The second gig with the entire band, and the first time I caught them live. I thought their stage presence, shoe-gazing and deep concentration from guitarists and drummer alike, coupled with the furious monotony of the songs was monumental. Dan had an entire bottle of scotch on the tour bus on their way down, and has no recollection of anything after the first song. He had his hands full trying to stand upright and finding the mic with his trumpet. Peter was standing at attention throughout the concert, and was the only band member to even look at the audience. Song selections were immaculate, from the opening, suggestive, "Jack the Ripper Lover", to the closing, remorseless, "No Place". They're not too pleased with the performance themselves, though.

Jonas: -No, it was basically drunkenness. It sounded crap as well. The sound technician was too much of a professional, Henrik Venant. He did all the mixing.

Lanchy: -He was hung-over, went to Metallica in Copenhagen the day before.

Jonas: -He mixed it as if it were pop music...

Someone tore down your posters as well...

Jonas: -Yes, the women's organisations thought they were degrading. Drajan found the picture in Veckans Brott [Crime Weekly] magazine.

After returning to Uppsala, they might as well record album #2, since the band found themselves in the same city with access to recording equipment. Genius and Brutality, Taste and Power was recorded in the rehearsal room in the run-down suburb of Gottsunda, that the band rarely uses. In retrospect, they're not too happy with that album, as they find its production inconsistent.

Jonas: -I find "Fuckmurder", "The Whore", and a couple of more songs really good. You ought to lose three or four ones, though. "Graveyard Kitchen" is the worst.

Lanchy: -Drajan's mixing is crap. You can't make out the lyrics at all.

After their Oslo success, they received an invitation to return at a festival taking place at the same time as the Hultsfred festival. But bad luck would have the customs finding two acid blotters in the glove compartment of one of their cars.

Jonas: -Well, it was in my possession, and I forgot to remove it from the car before we went. They wouldn't let us in, so we went to Karlstad to get drunk instead.

Lanchy: -Everyone wearing aviators' sunglasses, we must have looked like a bunch of complete assholes.

Jonas: -Two junk Fords in a row.

Did they stop all cars, or did they find you extra suspicious-looking?

Lanchy: -They stopped a few cars up front as well.

Jonas: -Apparently there was some satanist killing at the time. "The Count"... They asked us about the lyrics as well. And whether we were satanists. They turned the entire car upside-down. It was pretty fun, actually.

Lanchy: -There was a strip show as well.

Jonas: -We had a great time in Karlstad. We sat around drinking and cruised town. Peter fell into the river.

Lanchy: -He walked around in drag afterwards.

What did the Norwegians say? Did they get pissed-off?

Jonas: -We didn't get the opportunity to call them until the evening, at about the time we were supposed to be on stage. They said "Great!"

And they told the audience what had happened?

Jonas: -I guess so.

That certainly adds to the myth. But there were no legal repercussions?

Jonas: -A lawyer friend of mine wrote them a letter, and they dropped it.

The band set everything straight with their return to Oslo in May 1994. The gigs were partially meant to coincide with their first CD, but, typically, the sloths at Black Jack needed an extra two or three weeks to get the album out. I was given the privilege of accompanying the band in the tour bus. The first gig was at Cosmopolite, with two Norwegian support acts. Rockall is the venue that really counts in Oslo, but they happened to have booked an American punk band, with whom I was unfamiliar, that very evening. They probably attracted a lot of the potential Brainbombs audience, and the gig saw just 54 people in attendance. Those attending, however, were die-hards. Some of them kneeled to show their complete submission and worship during old numbers such as "Burning Hell" and "Danny was a Street-Whore". I wasn't convinced, though. The sound was clearer than in Lund, and the atmosphere is better with an enthusiastic audience, but I find it inappropriate for Brainbombs to look happy when playing. Lyrics such as "Gonna masturbate you with my knife / to the end of your misery life" and "I went into her tits with a screwdriver" lose quite a lot of impact when delivered with a smile, and brings it all alarmingly close to horsing-around. Furthermore, I missed a lot of old favourites, dropped in favour of newer material.

Dan's memory ended as soon as he left the staged, and he appropriately passed out by the time we arrived at the after-party, held in a former brothel.

When I arrived at Cosmopolite the next day, ready for the trip home, the band had just been offered to play an extra show at Rockall the same evening. I spent the day babysitting the Råberg brothers, who were being extremely obnoxious. Peter hadn't slept all night, and kept on saying "I'm so tired, I need a cigarette" over and over. Dan was still drunk, nursing his intoxication with Ringnes beer, and harassing passers-by with insults, his mantra being "Fuck tight bitch ass!", a piece of lyrics he apparently was very pleased with having penned. I slowly realised why Brainbombs are reluctant to tour. Eventually he disappeared with a Norwegian guy, only to show up again shortly before the gig. Peter had some sleep in a park near Rockall. The pre- and after-parties were held in the tour bus, parked outside the venue. Beer and poppers were consumed. The gig attracted all of 75 people, which was pretty good, considering the lack of advertising. Everything was like the night before, except for Drajan having shaved his moustache off.

The Brainbombs' next step towards world domination, after a surprisingly positive review of Genius and Brutality... in [newspaper] Dagens Nyheter, was the recording of the third full-length album.

Jonas: -Yes, that's finished by now. It's titled Obey. Everything is on tape, waiting. Black Jack are probably in dire straits. Then, it usually takes them a year. We're thinking about recording and sending them another album, only to stress them out and have them release the record some time. It's our best work to date, the mix is finished, and the lyrics are clearer than ever.

I spoke briefly to Peter last autumn, while he still lived here, and he told me he felt a bit embarrassed singing the lyrics on the new album.

Lanchy: -Yes, they're pretty rough...(laughs)

And they weren't before?

Lanchy: -Well, yes, but this is close to the line. You're getting second thoughts, almost.

Jonas: -We're dealing with kids, and stuff...

Who wrote it?

Jonas: -Danne. I wrote a few really gross as well.

When was it recorded?

Lanchy: -October, I think. The day after Solvalla, the second of October. Brainbombs played the horses at Solvalla the day before. Everyone except Drajan, who doesn't bet on horse racing.

Wasn't there supposed to be older stuff on the album as well?

Jonas: -No. That guy in Stockholm, Staffan, might release it on CDS, the singles. We thought we'd fill out the CD with old stuff, but as it turned out, it's 40 minutes long as it is, which we thought enough. There's an upcoming split-7" as well, but that's nothing to write home about.

Lanchy: -KC and the Sunshine Band.

Jonas: -We're doing "That's the Way I Like it". It's an outtake from the recording of the first album. David persists in releasing it. He thought it delightful. Each to his own.

The same recording the editors of cover-single series King Kong refused in favour of a slightly hipper tune: "Turned Around" by Chrome. The split also features the title track of Obey as well as two songs of David's band Anal Babes.

New Year's Eve '94-'95 saw the band performing at a private party in Hudiksvall. The Råberg brothers were dressed as indians, everyone but Drajan were drunk out of their minds, and as they grinded away with "Burning Hell" the audience started throwing bottles. The Råberg brothers wasted no time in retaliating with beer crates, bottles and stuff, and soon the chaos was in full swing. Luckily enough, a fuse blew out during the second song, before anyone got seriously injured. The flag of G G Allin flies high in Hudiksvall.

Lanchy: -You missed a good show.

As made apparent by this article, the Brainbombs very seldom play live. This is partly due to their being scattered around the country, but also to their not bothering to get any gigs. The few concerts that have actually come to happen owe it to the arrangers being persistent in their pleas. Also, they like to make a few bucks from any gigs, so if and when they finally accept an offer, it's with the utmost reluctance.

Lanchy: -The times of not caring about money are over.

All projected gigs of 1995 were cancelled because of this. There were talks of a tour that would have taken them to Gothenburg, Copenhagen and Aalborg, as well as opening for Unsane in Gävle. Playing live isn't something Lanchy and Jonas long for though:

Jonas: -Three gigs would be more than enough. We'd run out of strings.

Lanchy: -You get homesick pretty quick.

Jonas: -You long for peace and quiet.

Why not play Stockholm or Uppsala?

Jonas: -Well, that would be convenient, just step onto the train, go to the pub, play, and go home.

Lanchy: -Or play the local place, Rackis, which is within walking distance. But there is really no venue in town where we want, or are allowed to, play.

Do you have to prepare a lot before gigs, since you never rehearse?

Lanchy: -Before the Oslo concerts we ran our set through the night before.

Jonas: -The setlist. It's not too complicated.

Lanchy: -No, no big deal if you mess things up.

What's striking about this band is the the width of the musicality of its members. Lanchy is still a member of Toatlitär, used to be half of experimental/industrial duo Engürdetz, and also played with Jonas in a Neil Young tribute band for a short while. Drajan plays with garage rockers Browneye, even if they seem to have all but called it quits. He, Lanchy, and Birger also dished out stolen Stooges-riffs in the shortlived project The Teenage Graves, around 1990. The soundtrack of the tour constisted of hardcore punk, hardcore techno, and Kjell Alinge's talk radio shows. Jonas's record collection is mostly old psych rock, quite a lot of classical, as well as a huge Zappa collection. Lanchy's hero is still Elvis, but he mostly buys pop albums. They pass their time watching TV, drinking beer, and playing, believe it or not, croquet.

Do you think you've progressed since you started out?

Lanchy: -Yes. There are more chords these days. The monotony is still there, though, it being the core of the band. The concept.

So, can you take it any further? Doesn't it feel pointless doing the same album over and over?

Lanchy: -Well, just look at the Ramones, they've been doing their thing for 25 years, sounding the same...

But do you think that's a good thing, keeping on doing the same thing?

Lanchy: -Well, it tends to get a bit tedious... But for as long as people are willing to release our albums, then...

Jonas: -As long as it stays fun, and we come up with new riffs, then...