It's been rather quiet around Sweden's top punkrock band. While half the world is patiently waiting to hear something new from the foursome, we forced our way into their tourbus (thank you, Chantal!), tied Nikola to his seat and started beating, pouring salt into his fresh wounds and squirting lemon juice in his eyes until he wanted to talk. Unfortunately, both travelling and our medieval torture practices wore him out.
PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell the readers about yourself?
Nikola: I'm Nikola, I'm 29, live in Sweden and play in a punkrock band called Millencolin. Of course there's lots more to say but that's fair enough I guess.
PRT: Do any of the other band members have annoying habits when on tour?
Nikola: I have lots of habits, but I don't think they are so annoying anymore. The thing is, you get used to them. In the beginning those habits are upsetting, but then you start learning to live with them, and you find out that you can't change them, so you just accept them.
PRT: You've been around for quite some years now, what is there left for you guys to achieve?
Nikola: I don't really think about how many albums we've sold or how many fans we have. Of course, we appreciate the support of the fans. Without them we couldn't be doing this. But we have to focus on what we do and that's music. For as long as we have something to say, and something to express, we'll continue. It's always the music that's important. It's nice to be successful, but it's not a motivation.
PRT: You just released a solo album. Is there a special reason for that?
Nikola: I just had a lot of ideas for songs too mellow for Millencolin. And I always wanted to try something else, just to see if I'm capable of singing and writing those kind of songs.
PRT: And, did it work out?
Nikola: I'm satisfied, and that's what counts.
PRT: You said that it's more mellow, but the people who worked on your album aren't so soft?
Nikola: No, we have somebody from Nasum who did the engineering, and Henrik Wind from the Peepshows who played all the guitars, piano, percussion, backing vocals and the drummer of Bombshell Rocks.
PRT: Do you plan on touring with that band?
Nikola: Kind of. We want to do shows. We just did one for the releaseparty of the album, and it went fine, it was a lot of fun. So we would like to do more shows, but it's hard to get the timing right. We're working on a new album now, with Millencolin, and I have a family. There isn't too much free time left for me. But we'll see.
PRT: How do the other band members feel about your side-project?
Nikola: They're totally supportive. And they think the album is pretty good.
PRT: Aren't they afraid that once you don't have anything to say anymore with Millencolin, that you might step out and focus on your new project?
Nikola: No idea. You should ask them I guess (laughs). No I don't look at this project as a rival for Millencolin. It's just something that had to be done. Now that I've done this, I can get on with the band. Hopefully it will just have a positive effect on the band. And I think the other band members know that too. I'm not planning on leaving Millencolin, no sir! But it's impossible to know what the future will bring.
PRT: You're working on a new album now. What is it going to sound like?
Nikola: I don't really know. It's hard to be analytical about it at this point. We're still in the middle of the writing process, so it's hard to see the songs in perspective. But it's gonna have a few faster songs than on the previous album. I think we're just going to stretch the frames of our songs, a wider spectrum.
PRT: Your sound really changed over the years. Is the sound you have now, the sound you always wanted to have?
Nikola: No. When we started, we sounded like we wanted to. When we started the band, we were aware of the sound we wanted to capture: Bad Religion, Pennywise and NOFX. When you start a band, you need a bit of a target like that, to focus on. But it's been a while since then, and you start listening to other music, get inspired by other music. We just made progression, hopefully (laughs). Back in 1994 we weren't able to write what we write now.
PRT: To us it seems that there are so many great rock, metal and punkrock bands coming from Sweden. Is there a reason for that?
Nikola: I think there are a lot of factors that you have to take into account. On a government level, people are discussing why we have such a big music export, but no one can really tell. It's a mix of music tradition, of Swedish folk music, which has melody and melancholy. Plus, the economic situation used to be very good, people got state support to start bands, buy instruments and stuff. And the climate in Sweden is cold, music is good to pass the time inside and hang out with other people. It's a good way to express yourself. Oh, and the fact that we get a lot of American media and culture -- in the cinema and on tv - might influence us. But it's hard to say which factor has the most influence. Too bad the European Union has dragged us down economically, so we don't get the same support anymore for music (laughs).
PRT: Or you can just smile and say that you're all really talented?
Nikola: Well, maybe we don't have so much talent, but we have a lot of energy and persistence to go for it. That energy does make a difference, that makes it work.
PRT: Which album in your collection are you most ashamed of?
Nikola: Eros Ramazotti. I'm not ashamed of that one, but it's probably the weirdest. It was one of my first CDs.
PRT: Which cartoon character would you be?
Nikola: Pipi Longstocking. I don't know why.... She has a lot of money, and she's strong. Or Superman, I always wanted to fly, to sneak into soccer games for free.
PRT: If they would make a movie about Millencolin, what would it be called and who would play you?
Nikola: A serious, big budget Hollywood production? David Lynch or Tarantino should direct it, Benicio Del Toro could play me. And the title... I don't know. Next question (laughs).
PRT: Can you make up a story for a punkrock musical?
Nikola: A punkrock kid who hates all the other, mainstream people, until one day he realises that he's not so different from all the other people around him. And then they unite and sing a song.
PRT: Was that how you felt when you were growing up?
Nikola: No. I only got into punk rock when I was 17. Before that I listened to a lot of rap music: Ice T, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy. Punk rock just felt good because you could express yourself in a new way, and writing the songs really worked for me.
PRT: Did you ever think of becoming a rapper?
Nikola: I guess I was rapping a bit, to my Ice T tapes. But I wasn't so good (laughs). Actually, I'm rapping on our next Millencolin homevideo. And the other guys are doing beat box. It's on the website, on the trailer for the video.
PRT: Time for the "Almost Famous" question. Imagine being in a plane that you think is crashing. What would you confess to your fellow bandmembers?
Nikola: Probably that I have been an asshole to them so many times (laughs). But it's like that with everybody. You can't always be nice to each other if you're spending 24 hours a day with each other for weeks. Especially in the beginning it was hard, like I already said. It's a lot easier and nicer now actually, to be out on the road with the guys.
PRT: When the new album comes out, will you be concentrating more on America?
Nikola: Not for as far as I know. We just did a short tour, and we've done the Warped Tour.
PRT: Were they supportive?
Nikola: Yes, but it's hard. You have to have a label backing you up. Probably a lot of European bands that have the talent and quality to tour there, will have a hard time without a label. They're not necessarily protecting their own scene, it's just easier. And a lot of bands tour a lot there. And we just can't be there all the time. We have bigger shows here anyway (laughs).
PRT: Any last words?
Nikola: I just want to take the chance to thank everybody who's been supporting us all these years, buying our albums and helping us as a band.
PRT: Rate the interview!
Nikola: 8. You guys were a 10, I was a 6. I'm sorry. I was a bit tired from the long drive.
PRT: You still did a great job. Thanks!
Christophe And Thomas