Music Notes II: Millencolin
Tired of Swedish punk and possessing desire to play music, Swedish band Millencolin decided they "wanted to sing in English and play the kind of music we were listening to," said drummer Fredrik Larzon. After forming 13 years ago, the band just released their sixth album "Kingwood" on April 12. They have come back strong from their last release in 2001, "Home From Home," and are aiming more towards fast-paced punk rock.
"It all started in Orebro, Sweden, back around 1990. We were playing in different punk bands singing in Swedish, but since we listened to a lot of U.S./Cali punk, we wanted to play that kind of music, too. So we started Millencolin (1992) and released some demos, played a bunch of shows and got hooked up by Burning Heart Records (Swedish/European label)," said Larzon.
The band's roots trace back to the skate scene, which assisted them in the decision to form a band.
"I don't think Millencolin would be around without the skate scene. We all met at the local skate park and local punk shows and formed Millencolin, because pretty much every kid had their own band at the local skate park," said Larzon.
The choice to start a band that sang in English was influenced by the abundance of American culture present in Sweden. Swedes also start learning English as a secondary language at a young age.
Millencolin first took interest in American punk rock through skate videos, because "back then it was hard to find American punk rock records in Sweden," said Larzon.
Millencolin crossed over to an American crowd via California-based Epitaph records. Epitaph records captivated the interest of Millencolin from the beginning of their career.
"We bought every record [Epitaph] released back when we started the band. By the time we signed to Burning Heart, when we were about to put out the first full-length album, we were looking for distribution in the states," said Larzon.
After the release of Millencolin's second full-length album, "Life on a Plate," Epitaph records took interest in the band. In 1996, Millencolin was exposed to America when Epitaph records released "Life on a Plate" in the U.S.
However, Millencolin remains true to their Swedish roots.
"Some people say they hear some Swedish accents and influences (in the music). When we started Millencolin we tried really hard to sound like our influences, but since we had the Swedish punk background, I guess it mixed in pretty good. Now we have been around for a while and developed our own thing, which feels very good," said Larzon.
A majority of "Kingwood" is fast-paced. The album resembles one of their best works, "Pennybridge Pioneers," with an overall punk rock feel. Millencolin have a tendency to slow it down for ballads, but they can pull it off. The last album, "Home From Home," had an abundance of slower songs and although it was not a bad album, this album is definitely an improvement.
Lyrically, the band sings about everyday life dilemmas in a lighthearted way. Bassist and singer Nikola Sarcevic writes lyrics "mostly about personal stuff, relations, things he thinks about and goes through," according to Larzon. "Most lyrics are about everyday life, both good and bad. Humor is important, of course."
By Amy Meyer