Well here it is – the warts and all interview with Swedish hellraisers Backyard Babies and those boys just don’t hold back! Check out what Nicke and Dregen have to say on metal’s ‘boy bands’, staying together for two decades and, of course, the Toon…
Dregen: We’ve had one number one album in Sweden before but it wasn’t really expected. I guess if we hadn’t gone top 20 then we might have been disappointed.
Nicke: It wasn’t just the fact that it went number one but it proved that people are actually buying our music. It’s a good thing. We weren’t sure what it would be like releasing a CD in 2008. We wanted to put the new record out on CD and vinyl as well as a download. But it seems kids actually like buying the CD. The artwork’s great and the music’s great so why not? I’m very happy.
rushonrock: Is the new record really that good?
Nicke: It’s a lot better than the last album. We took our time to make a really good album. It has to do with timing and I just feel that all of a sudden everyone is ‘wow – let’s experience the BB again’. Those fans who might have come across us in the past are pushing our music to a new generation. People forget it was 1989 when we started out so we’re experienced guys.
rushonrock: What’s the secret of your longevity?
Nicke: When we released our first full album in 1994 it was when grunge went big. So you couldn’t really release a hard rock album at a worse time! That’s just normal for the BB. It’s made us stronger and we’ve always run uphill. I don’t think we’d have been touring today, 20 years later, if we’d have had a huge success with our first album. We were young and we had to learn everything from the bottom up. It made us stronger. Most bands should go that way. It takes longer and it’s harder but it pays off.
Dregen: Yeah, it’s made us what we are today. There’s only one Wildhearts. There’s only one Quireboys. There’s only one Backyard Babies. We stand out. It’s not like we’re Bullet For My Dying Bride’s Valentine or Romance For The Chemical Brothers or The Romance Of My Friend’s Funeral. I don’t know if it’s me getting old but when I look through magazines like Kerrang! it looks like a six-page spread on the same band when it’s actually four different bands and they all look the fucking same! It’s good to know that we’re the Backyard Babies and we like it even if you don’t.
rushonrock: Is this finally your time?
Nicke: We said that 10 years ago! And it wasn’t.
Dregen: If you were 15 around 10 years ago then anyone over 30 was an old fart. I think the kids today appreciate the older stuff. They like Bob Dylan. Age doesn’t matter that much anymore. That whole fucking boy band obsession is over I think and if you build up your whole image around that teen thing then it’s harder to age. If you’re just a rock and roll band like BB then it’s easier to develop and have your fans grow with you. We’ve never been interested in repeating ourselves and we always try to make every record unique.
rushonrock: So is that the secret of staying together for 20 years with no line-up changes?
Dregen: It’s part of it. I’m very happy to be in the Backyard Babies in the year 2008. We’re proud of our band. There was a list in a big US magazine that named rock bands which are still playing without any line-up changes – and which haven’t split and reformed – and are still releasing records regularly. We were in the top 10. Maybe U2 was number one. We’re just a little band from Sweden but we’re still there in the top 10. Why? I’m not sure. We’ve always progressed as a band and we enjoy touring together and playing together. We’ve never had any rules. We grew up with one foot in hard rock – listening to stuff like Kiss, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath through to Maiden and Judas Priest – and one foot in punkier stuff. We’ve always loved the New York Dolls, Sex Pistols and the Ramones. After 20 years we still don’t know if we’re a punk rock loving hard rock band or a hard rock loving punk rock band. Or something like that!
Nicke: We are better songwriters, better musicians and better as a band in general for every record we do. It would be a disaster if you were finished as a band after a few years in terms of creativity. You’d just repeat yourself and end up living off your back catalogue.
Dregen: Yeah we love our fans but if we listen to too many of them too much of the time we’d never get anything new done! In Germany, for instance, they think Total 13 is our best record but that was 10 years ago and we can’t go back into the studio and do that record again. We’re 10 years older.
Nicke: he’s right. Fans don’t like to let bands develop as a rule!
rushonrock: So there’ve never been any big rows?
Nicke: If you don’t have a healthy argument in the band about what direction you’re going in from time to time then you’re standing still. Of course we have arguments! It’s dangerous to have one band leader ruling everything and the rest of the band simply there as musicians. That would be very boring and that’s never been the case.
Dregen: At the beginning it was me and Nicke writing everything and Nicke singing everything and now I’ve started singing some songs and our drummer’s started contributing to the writing. It’s probably 33% each in terms of songwriting input between Nicke, Peder (drums) and me these days.
Nicke: Our bass player is growing as a bass player! But he is a brilliant bass player.
Dregen: When we argue it’s about music because everyone wants the songs to be as good as possible. But we can switch off after we’ve been in the studio, go home and move on. Even when we’ve been screaming at each other it’s nothing personal and out of the rehearsal room we remain great friends. We’re four best friends who’ve become like a family. It’s like an old relationship where you live together but you don’t fuck no more. Sex is overrated anyway.
rushonrock: Where do you stand on new music?
Nicke: We have a band with us on the road now called Crucified Barbara. They’re an all-girl band who are pretty cool. But we’ve been holed up in the studio and then touring and we don’t get to listen to a lot of new stuff.
Dregen: The last band which really blew me away was Danko Jones. We spotted them at a little festival, took them out on the road with us and now they’re playing bigger places than we are! But we’re proud of the part we played in breaking them in Europe. Nothing has really blown me away on the UK scene in the same way since I heard Earth Vs The Wildhearts and that was a few years ago. I like stuff like The Libertines and Pete Dorothy (sic) but you don’t really go fuck that’s brilliant.
rushonrock: And as for Newcastle. Love it or loathe it?
Nicke: We haven’t played in Newcastle for a lot of years until this week. But we all love Newcastle Brown Ale.
Dregen: And I’m not a huge sports fan but if there is a club I love it’s Newcastle United and that crazy Kevin Keegan!
Nicke: Newcastle’s always been a name on the map for me because of bands, football and beer. All you need. Oh and women as well.