2017: A year in the life of Billy Momo

It is with equal measures of amusement, trepidation and awe one looks back at a year that’s coming to an end. It always amazes me how we manage to cram such a shitload of events, emotions, logistics, memories and just… stuff into 365 days. 2017 was a fairly intense year for Billy Momo, and I will try to give a non-chronological overview of the highlights (and perhaps an occasional low point).

DSCF38002017 saw the launch of both this very blog you’re reading right now, as well as our visual diary of sorts, MomoTV. With both of these outlets coming hot on the heels of our band documentary ”The dirt road to Seven Rivers Wild” (released in late 2016) this year has been the so far most informative for those who’d like to learn more about the band and its various members. Behind-the-scenes footage, on-the-road shenanigans, navel-gazing rants, we provided the tabloids with ample fodder for slaughter, and yet somehow the big headlines eluded us, again. But do not lose heart children, all that stuff is still available for you, so during the holidays you can binge the entire first season of MomoTV (to be continued in 2018) and read all the blog posts as well as watch the documentary. You will be a BM black belt by the end.

DSCF4359.jpgAs always, we produced a few videos, including two projects in collaboration with Kola Productions for the songs ”Following me, following you” (Kola editing) and ”We need another shovel” (Kola production and editing), as well as a self-produced, and ultimately abandoned attempt at a video for ”Say you’re sorry” (we managed to find use for some of that footage elsewhere). We were very pleased with the two completed videos, and they are of course also available for you to watch at your leisure.

IMG_0693.PNGWe played some nice venues in 2017, and made a lot of new friends.
Franskans Crêperie in Rörum, Österlen was an instant love affair for the band, and we played there three times over the course of the year. The late-nite post-show parties we threw there were pretty legendary too.

IMG_3884.jpgIMG_3882.jpgThe Taube stage at Liseberg fun fair in Gothenburg was another nice gig for us, not only was the show a lot of fun and well received, but we also got to rock out with our cocks out (well, not really) on the various rides and had a great time.

IMG_0371.JPGWe played another of our favorite joints once more, Plan B in Tranås, and we will be back there yet again in the spring of 2018, it’s always a great place to play. The same can be said for Stationen Scen & Konst in Bålsta, possibly the smallest venue we’ve ever played, but also one of the coziest and most intimate (the audience is literally right in your face, surrounding the band on three sides). Another memorable show was when we played a huge party at the old stadium in Stockholm. Perhaps the gig itself wasn’t that exceptional, but it was interesting that we had some real saloon-style fights breaking out in the audience, sort of making you wish for the chicken wire fence from the Blues Brothers.

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We actually managed to win an award for ”Best street music act” at a festival in Askersund, having played our first real busking set. That was a real honor, considering some of the other competing acts.

We released a 3-song EP in the fall, ”Umbrellas, wings and magic things” for which we threw a little intimate release party at The Creak/Knarret, Barba’s new house doing double duty as our new recording facility, and is the place where we record the stuff you will see released during 2018. The construction of the studio is well documented in the MomoTV episodes, as well as some glimpses from our recording sessions there.

All this and more kept us pretty busy throughout the year. Add to that Barba moving house not just once, but twice (!) finally settling at The Creak, various love stories and debaucheries involving band members, plenty of drunken nights and parties where people’s personal belongings may or may not have been severely urinated upon, as well as the utter nightmare of seeing a clean-shaven Preacher Man, and you have plenty of drama going on as well.

DSCF9965-Redigera.jpgStay tuned for more music, videos and scandals coming up next year. Thanks for being with us during this one.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to all you crazy kids in love out there!

/Gramps

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A different drum, crayfish and the-day-after-volumes.

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Gramps. Photo: Christopher Anderzon. 

We have started recording a bunch of new songs lately, and you will no doubt see a lot of footage from this project on MomoTV in the weeks and months ahead. But here are some personal reflections after the first week of recording.

Each Billy Momo album has had its own approach and recording process. ’Ordinary Men’ was done very much as a duo with auxiliary musicians.

More of a band sound started to emerge with ’Drunktalk’, although it wasn’t quite there yet. And it was still largely put together one instrument at the time, the separated recording technique used by most smaller studios.

’Seven Rivers Wild’ was the first album recorded entirely as the seven-piece band that we had grown into, and we also started to record a little bit more as a live unit, with at least the rhythm section being recorded at the same time. It had happened on occasional tracks before, such as ”The Weekend”, but this time around that was the overall approach for most of the tracks. On SRW we also began experimenting with double drums on some songs, with me and Barba playing together on separate drum kits to get a lively, swampy feel to the grooves. With this approach we could also introduce more interesting sounds into the rhythm tracks, junkyard percussion, stacked cymbals and other sonic experiments. SRW was quite ambitious, a glossy, rich production, Billy goes Fleetwood Mac, almost. The final enhancement to this album was the amazing artwork, which made it ideal for the vinyl format.

But these days, we are living in a world where streaming services and downloading individual tracks constitute the norm, rather than oldskool album listening, where you with a sense of pride, joy and even duty listened all the way through the album you had just purchased (yes, there was a time when you paid money to the creators of the music in order to listen to it). Today… not so much. And so, why not try some different approaches to platforms and formats?

With this in mind, we are now experimenting with different approaches to recording, not necessarily working towards ”an album” as the desired end result. It might still end up being that, of course, but we try not to have that as a preconceived notion, but rather approach a handful of songs at the time, consider some creatively interesting method of recording them, and see what happens. They may be released as individual tracks, or as parts of a bigger, cohesive whole, but we’ll see what it is when we get there.

The first and most obvious difference this time around is that we have started to work in Barba’s new house, part of which has been converted into a recording facility (again, MomoTV will bring you up to speed on that) which gives the whole working environment a more homegrown feel, which suits the band perfectly.

During rehearsals in the past couple of years we often found that some really interesting things happened to the groove when we were playing at lower volume (the decision to turn it down was probably more due to hangovers than intentional improvements of musical nature, but hey!) and so we wanted to try recording some songs while playing softly and more delicately. So this has been a deliberate change for this particular batch of tunes. Oh, there are still some viscerally exciting, rambunctious, slamming beats going on (oh, man, you have noooo idea what you’re in for, people!), but there is a different sonic quality that comes out of drums and percussion when played slightly less forcefully, and the interplay between players gets more dynamic, so this we feel is a huge improvement.

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Gramps. Photo: Christopher Anderzon. 

We are also expanding the idea of the junkyard percussion setups, with both myself and Preach having some deranged setups to work with. Trashcan lids, wooden crates, fucked up cymbal combinations with applied chains, drums filled with quinoa, and the list goes on. The Billy Momo sound is getting deeper, grittier and sweatier than ever. We can’t wait for you to hear these fucking songs!

The first week of collective recording finished on Friday (some individual overdub sessions proceeded over the weekend), and we had a traditional Swedish crayfish party on Friday night, right there in the studio! It was the usual Billy Momo joint, with way too much booze, and so, the drunktalk began, as expected. One member of the band kept insisting that most fears that people refer to as “phobias” are actually just a part of ones personal image and public relations-package, or something along those lines. The verdict from the jury is still pending on that one. And at some point during the wee hours of the morning, we hazily drifted into listening to terrible 90s Eurodance music (although some of us insisted it was FUCKING AWESOME!!!) and eventually some of us got wild and crazy behind the drum kit for a bit at 4:00 a.m.-ish, presumably to the immense enjoyment of the neighbors, but, you know, what price art, eh?

Stay tuned here and at Momo TV for continuous updates on the recording process.

Have a beautiful fall, all you crazy kids in love out there!

/Gramps

Recommended listening:

Ordinary Men

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I don’t know how much you guys know about Billy Momo and our albums. But we are actually celebrating our 10 year anniversary this summer. I thought I’d tell you where it all began and about our first album, Ordinary Men.
The title comes from me and Orren having toured for what felt like forever with other artists and groups. An endless streak of airports, buses, hotels and backstage areas. Life on the road is fun, super fun! Don’t get me wrong here. But it is a strange world that can be quite disconnected from real life.
And there came a point when we just felt that we wanted something real and closer to what we really were. Be a part of real life with our real friends and family. So that is why we went home, started Billy Momo and named the first album Ordinary Men.

But we took our time finding what we wanted to do. We wouldn’t rush this. We started writing songs together in 2007. But we didn’t release our first album until 2011. It wasn’t 4 years of constant recording. We were going through everyday life at the same time. I opened a bar with Preacher Man and had a daughter. Orren met his future wife and was doing his thing. Like we sing on the track Billy Slomo. “We’re coming up slow, ’cause we’ve got time to grow”.

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Tomas Juto (aka Barba) and Oskar Hovell (aka Orren).

It all began with us packing a car with instruments and going to a house in the woods for a few days. We didn’t really have a plan. We just knew we would write something. Not sure what. The first song we came up with was Come my way. And that kind of set the course for where we wanted to go.
I think we wrote like 10-15 songs that weekend. We really wanted to do everything ourselves. Write everything, play all the instruments and record it and mix it. But our knowledge of studio recording back then was modest to say the least. So after a while we realized that we needed some help. My brother-in-law had a studio and we had worked with him before in other bands, so he was an obvious choice. You probably know him as The Head (Oscar Harryson), electric guitarist in Billy Momo by the way.
And as he began listening to what we had recorded it became obvious that not everything we had recorded was as good as it should be. So we added auxiliary players on a few of the tracks. Most of the guest musicians we found through the bar. Some of them played at the bar. Some of them just got drunk there. And most of them are now full members of Billy Momo.

The music publishing company Hype Music found our album 2 years after its first release and they wanted to help us out. So we re-released the album through Hype and MTV Networks in 2013 with a bonus track, They fuck you at the crossroads. And that is probably when we started realizing that this was something that maybe other people would want to hear and not just something we did for our own creative pleasure. So from there on we kind of stopped playing with other people and started really focusing on Billy Momo. It was a slow process getting that first album out of our system. But that process really laid the foundation for what we are today.
(Tomas Juto, aka Barba)