29-year-old Erik Ohlsson hasn't had to work a day in his life. Well, except playing lead guitar for Swedish punk rock super-group Millencolin. Of course, that's about three full-time jobs in one --- and he's been doing it since he was a senior in high school.
Formed in 1992 in Orebro, Sweden, Millencolin has been crisscrossing the globe for 13 years --- and hundreds of shows, six full-length albums and a score of singles and compilation releases later, they're at the top of their game. Case in point: Millencolin's latest Burning Heart/Epitaph full-length, Kingwood, just debuted in the U.S. on April 12 and in Ohlsson's estimation, "it's more Millencolin than ever."
"It's pretty amazing actually," says Ohlsson of Millencolin's career. "I don't know any other Swedish bands which have managed to do this for such a long time. It's kind of crazy."
Millencolin's longevity is even more amazing when you consider their humble beginnings: four skateboarders wanting nothing more than to play California punk rock like they'd heard in skateboarding videos. And when these four kids went on to sell 500 copies of their self-released demo tape, in their minds, that was success.
"We never, ever had any plans," Ohlsson recollects. "When we formed this band it was really unrealistic for us even to get a record deal. And playing outside of Sweden --- that was so unrealistic it didn't ever cross our minds that we could."
Eventually Millencolin's demo tape wound up in the hands of the then fledgling Burning Heart Records and the band, still teenagers at the time, signed a five full-length album deal with the label in 1993.
Suddenly, The Offspring's Smash and Green Day's Dookie took the world by storm and Millencolin --- Europe's homegrown answer to California punk rock --- were skyrocketed into the European spotlight. Soon after, Millencolin's infectious "softcore" sound achieved popularity the world over --- and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now, despite Ohlsson's assurance that there's no end in sight, he readily admits that Millencolin have already achieved more success than he ever dreamed was possible.
"We've sold close to two million albums, so that's pretty successful isn't it?" Ohlsson concludes with a laugh.
Considering the Millencolin story could have ended with the 500 demo tapes, the answer clearly is: yes, absolutely.