You can call me ignorant, but Sweden’s best musical export is probably Abba. And last time I checked they weren’t really that punk were they? But times are a-changing. A new wave of bands are coming out of Sweden, with the aim of taking on the planet. You’ve heard of The Hives, you’ve seen Millencolin, now check out Gothenburg’s Belltown

They’ve just released their new EP, and are set to tour the UK, fingers crossed, later in 2002. Punktastic’s Paul Savage decided to “take a chance” and get to know the bands bassist, Christian Lundqvist.

PAUL: “Us Brits are a bit lame with foreign bands, so any chance of giving us the lowdown on who you all are please?

CHRISTIAN: “The band was formed in late 1997, and consists of me, Christian Lundqvist – bass/back vocals, Damir Bandic – drums and percussions and Daniel Palm – guitar/vocals. We did a couple of local shows in Gothenburg, Sweden before recording our first demo ‘Take One’. After this we did some more shows together with Swedish Rockers B-Thong, and their bass player Lars Haglund liked us so much he signed us to his new label ‘Slugger Productions’. We released our debut EP ‘Desillusion Day’ on that label, but due to the fact that Slugger had got no money at all for promotions and tours we felt it was time to move on and right now we’re currently in negotiations with a couple of US and UK labels. The sound is pretty intense rock/hardcore, but with major focus on the melodies and the hooks.”

PAUL: “Which bands have been big influences on Belltown?”

CHRISTIAN: “Wow, that question is huge. We have very different influences, which I think is what has created our sound. But to name a few you could say, Quicksand, Stavesacre, Kerbdog, Mary Beats Jane, Dave Matthews Band, Helmet, Sugartooth, Kyuss… and a lot of funk and some nice jazz music.”

PAUL: “Why the name Belltown?”

CHRISTIAN: “Actually I stole it from a song by the thrash metal band Deliverance. Their opening song of one of their albums is called just Belltown and I thought it fit perfect for the band and the sound. We got a lot of questions about the name as if it has something to do with the Seattle community, but it wasn’t until we released ‘Desillusion Day’ that a US fan mailed me and told me about this city in Seattle called Belltown. So no connection there.

PAUL: “Why did you decide to start a band?”

CHRISTIAN: “Well, since day one I have always been interested in music and my father is a musician so it came pretty natural for me. My first band started out back in late 1991 when me and my classmate Jonas Olander found out we had the same music taste. He played the guitar and asked me if I wanted to sing in his band and since that day I have never stopped playing. Don’t do much singing these days, but everything has it’s reasons, ha ha.”

PAUL: “Most people in the UK have only heard about Millencolin. What is the Swedish punk/hardcore scene like at the moment?”

CHRISTIAN: “People keep asking me this question over and over again, and I couldn’t be more ashamed than to say that it pretty much stinks. It’s not just the punk/hardcore scene, It’s the whole live scene that is under all criticism in Sweden right now. If we go back to 94-95 there was a great scene in Sweden, but right now it dosen’t happen that much. I think this periods comes every now and then, but hey it could only get better, so I’m quite optimistic for the future… But if we just talk about the punk/hardcore scene I think it’s the best scene right now as we pretty much feeds ourselves with arranging own concerts and stuff like that.”

PAUL: “What other Scandanavian bands should we really listen to here in the UK?”

CHRISTIAN: “Most of my Scandanavian fave bands have now sadly split up, but their albums are still the best so check up, Mary Beats Jane, B-thong, Psycore, Eleven Pictures. Among the band that still are pretty much alive and doing real well I think you should check out the likes of Transport League, The Hives, Seethings, Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Krim – formerly known as Custom and At-The-Moment – the brand new band featuring members of Belltown and Eyeflower. Check out″

PAUL: “What do Belltown have planned for 2002?”

CHRISTIAN: “We have just been in the studio doing all the pre-productions for the full length album, so you could watch out for that album being released sometime in 2002. We don’t have a date yet as we still in negotiations with some new labels. Our US management ‘Pop Music Management’ is working their arses off right now to solve this new deal, but you know this business isn’t like any other and everyting is taking so long. Anyway, hopefully this will be solved in the coming weeks so we could start the real work on the album.”

PAUL: “Are we likely to see you in the UK any time soon?”

CHRISTIAN: “We actually already had two UK tours cancelled, so the chance of seeing us there any time soon don’t look too bright. No but, honestly we have been offered a mini tour in the UK with a couple of other bands in March/April 2002, but as you might understand it all depends how things turns out with the new album and the new deal. We been having more than one problem with cancellations of tours this last year, so we finally came to the decision that we got to have the full length album out first, before we do some more serious touring. But if it all goes to plan, you could be sure to see us over there soon.”

PAUL: “Anything funny happened to you whilst you’ve been out on tour that you want to share with us?”

CHRISTIAN: “Actually, not really. But there was this one time when we we’re headlining this show at the Swedish National Competition in Road Racing. First off Damir had forgtten his drum chair, so he had to sit on a huge beer can. Then the audience had been having a little to much to drink, so our original set was 10 songs, but after song number 6 we said goodbye and left the stage. Nobody really seemed to know what was going on or even care, but one hour later this drunken kid came up to us asking “when are you going to play”? The whole evening was kind of bizarre.”

PAUL: “I hear that you love the Foo Fighters, good choice. What’s your favourite song of theirs and why?”

CHRISTIAN: “The whole ‘The Colour And The Shape’ is phenomenal, but I really love ‘Hey, Jonny Park‘. It’s got such a good guitar lick in the beginning and you don’t think the verse will be so soft as it is. Another fave track is of course ‘Everlong’ – it’s just such a great track and as usual with Foo Fighters it has a really cool video.”

PAUL: “Who are the best band you have either supported or they have supported you and why?”

CHRISTIAN: “Well, we we’re supposed to open up for King’s X back in 1999, but Daniel got sick and couldn’t even talk so it was cancelled. However I saw this show and man, it would have been so cool doing that show. But when we supported B-Thong, (also back in 1999) that was great. They always sold out and treated us very well and to watch their singer Ralph is a blessing – a major talent.”

PAUL: “If you weren’t in a band what would you be doing right now instead?”

CHRISTIAN: “I know I always will be involved with music in some way or another. I think I would be helping younger bands out, managing them and help them out in the studio with arrangement and stuff. Another thing I probably be doing would be working with computers as I love that too. But nothing of this will take my full time, cause I can’t imagine not being in a band.

PAUL: “What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened on stage?”

CHRISTIAN: “Well, there haven’t been any throw ups, no peeing or shiting on stage so I think we managed good. The fact that my stage apperance makes my bass strings crack all too often feels kind of frustrating, but not embarrassing, no.”

PAUL: “What is the best punk rock song that you have heard this year?”

CHRISTIAN: “You tell me. I really can’t say that I heard any stand out punk song this last year. Oh wait, I just came up with one, there’s another great new Swedish band called ‘Plastic Pride’. Their opening song ‘Cross’ from their new album ‘Ammunition Spent’ is awesome – check them out. Also the whole new Rival Schools album got some amazing tunes.”

PAUL: “Major labels. Lars from Rancid doesn’t like them, what do you think?”

CHRISTIAN: “Well, I think Lars had some very good points there. I could go on and on about this issue for hours, but it’s just a waste of your time. We’ve actually been dealing very seriously with 2 US major labels and the first crappy part is that everything they do take such a long time, but after that there is quite many things the I like to change in their way of thinking, but most of them just see the money and has no passion for the music. For them it’s just a multi-company that needs to get more money, one more step in the capitalistic world of 2001. The reason for us dealing with these majors is just that we’re pretty much haven’t got a choice if we want to stay here and make our music. When we started looking for a new label after leaving Slugger we talked with about 10 indie labels in the US and 8 of them loved us and wanted to work with us until they got the news that we we’re from Sweden. It simply was too expensive to bring us over for a tour and then to ship us home again, and we have no intentions to move to the US. So for us the majors are just a way to reach more people and maybe we get tricked, but we have a huge trust for our manager.”

PAUL: “What advice would you give to anybody that is in a band who hasn’t got a record deal?”

CHRISTIAN: “I guess this is easy to say. But don’t be so desperate to get that record deal right away. Not just because the record label might trick you, but for your own sake as a developing band. For young new bands; I don’t know if this goes for everyone and it depends about your goals, but my advice is to lock yourself and the band up in your rehearsal place and just play as much and hard as you can before going out playing live. This will help you a lot. For bands that made it local; USE THE INTERNET!!!! This is the best promotion key today, after the live shows of course. If you have already recorded demos or even a self financial record, the internet is super. Get your song up on every single mp3 site, it will help you get many fans from other countries long before you even think of having your album released in their countries. Also get a hold of the A&R’s e-mail addresses on the labels you planing to send your material to. Hazard them as much as you can, but be nice and don’t try to act cool. If you haven’t got lots and lots of money and I know you don’t, DON’T EVER SEND OUT YOUR MATERIAL TO A RECORD LABEL IF THEY HAVEN’T RESPOND TO YOUR E-MAILS!”

So there you go. Sweden’s brightest hardcore hopes and you heard them here first. Belltown‘s new EP ‘Desillusion Day’ is out now, so check it out from their website

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]