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

Keep shoveling…

We filmed this video mid October, on one of the last mild Swedish Autumn days. After shoveling, hacking, axing and smoking cigars and a pipe for two full days, our bodies were pushed to the limit. Preacher Man even chopped himself in the leg with the axe. And Barba and Gramps couldn’t really lift their arms the days following the video shoot. But, all for art, right?! In collaboration with the lovely people at the production company Kola Productions – this is the video for We Need Another Shovel. Hope you like it!

Billy Momo’s been busy…

Really long time, and no hear from your favorite bearded band Billy Momo. There’s a reason. The band has been busy writing, recording, releasing new material. And some gigging as well. And shooting what will be a really cool video. For a brief catch-up of the latest months, begin with checking out MomoTV. You will find it all in there. And then some… Start from the beginning or skip through to your latest seen episode. Birgitta/management

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:

MomoTV – episode 1

A little insight into what’s Billy Momo. We’re planning to produce these and publish every Sunday, to be found through our socials, and here through the blog. We’d love feedback, and if there’s anything you would like us to feature in one of the shows – just let us know!

All the leaves are brown…

It has been written…

DSCF4225-RedigeraThere’s this famous quote that’s been attributed to various people over the years (Laurie Anderson, Steve Martin, Frank Zappa, Elvis Costello, Thelonius Monk, Clara Schumann, Miles Davis, George Carlin, to name a few), but was probably coined by Martin Mull; ”Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

While I can see the point the quote is making, I’m inclined to disagree somewhat. It is true that the experience of music does not really transfer into writing, but there is still a lot one can learn about music through reading. I am a passionate reader of biographies and musical literature, and it’s been a constant source of insight and knowledge to me.

thedirtUsually, my favorites are the ones that take you inside the creative process of an artist, let you inside the recording studios, the rehearsal rooms, the philosophy and the inspiration. The more gossipy ones that focus mainly on the private lives, addictions, divorces and scandals of the artists are generally less interesting to me, but of course there are exceptions. I mean, ’The Dirt’ is obviously a highly entertaining read.

In the Billy Momo mini-documentary ’The dirt road to Seven Rivers Wild’ Orren jokingly refers to me as a ”human encyclopedia”, which is quite an exaggeration of course, but I do enjoy collecting little nuggets of musical trivia, connecting dots, and discovering context. So it was with great pleasure I came home the other day to find a new book in my mailbox, Andrew Greenaway’s ’Frank talk: The inside stories of Zappa’s other people’. Basically it’s a collection of interviews with various FZ alumni, and I’m devouring it like a dog attacks a sausage.

I usually share a list of ”recommended listening” in my posts, but today I thought I’d share some of my favorite books about music, so that you may also have the pleasure of reading them.

Daniel_LanoisSOUL MINING: A MUSICAL LIFE – DANIEL LANOIS A beautiful memoir by the legendary producer/musician/artist Daniel Lanois. It has atmosphere dripping from every page, much like the man’s music.

A CHANGE IS GONNA COME: MUSIC, RACE & THE SOUL OF AMERICA – CRAIG WERNER
A thorough analysis of how music has been part of the civil rights movement in the U.S. Deeply fascinating, should be required reading in school.

ONE TRAIN LATER: A MEMOIR – ANDY SUMMERS
The Police guitarist writes poetically and beautifully, he could easily have pursued a career as an author instead of playing with one of the biggest acts in the history of popular music.

ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE: THE BAND AND AMERICA – BARNEY HOSKYNS The story of one of the most influential music groups of all time, written by one of the best music writers around. Very insightful and revealing.

BODY AND SOUL – FRANK CONROY This is a novel, unlike the others, but it is by far the most beautifully written book about the experience of being a musician I’ve ever come across. This one actually manages to dance about architecture! Warning: You will cry. A lot.

keith moonDEAR BOY: THE LIFE OF KEITH MOON – TONY FLETCHER Speaks for itself, really. A crazy ride through a life lived in the fast lane. Entertaining, legendary, and also surprisingly moving.

TRAVELING MUSIC: THE SOUNDTRACK TO MY LIFE AND TIMES – NEIL PEART The drummer/lyricist of Rush literally takes a road trip as well as a trip down memory lane as he listens to various albums along the way. A combined travel book and memoir.

IN COLD SWEAT: INTERVIEWS WITH REALLY SCARY MUSICIANS -THOMAS WICTOR
Exactly what it says on the tin. Gene Simmons, Peter Hook, Jerry Casale and especially the truly one of a kind Scott Thunes in personal portraits of a lifetime in music.

LORDS OF CHAOS: THE BLOODY RISE OF THE SATANIC METAL UNDERGROUND – MICHAEL MOYNIHAN AND DIDRIK SODERLIND A modern classic, investigating one of the most truly bizarre subcultures to ever emerge in music. Remember the early 90s, people?

rednecksREDNECKS AND BLUENECKS: THE POLITICS OF COUNTRY MUSIC – CHRIS WILLMAN
The political landscape of the U.S. viewed through the Country music industry. An often surprising read, tremendously insightful and educational.

THE REAL FRANK ZAPPA BOOK – FRANK ZAPPA AND PETER OCCHIOGROSSO
Not exactly a memoir, but rather part behind the scenes revelations, part political manifesto and part pure entertainment. Funny as shit.

BILL BRUFORD: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY – BILL BRUFORD
Typically British dry wit and a generous dose of sarcasm make Bruford’s recollections bitingly funny, while at the same time displaying a never-ending quest for musical discovery and progress. Inspiring!

CHRONICLES – BOB DYLAN Beautifully written, as one would expect, a real treasure chest of musical history, and language that flows like wine. Supremely good.

FARGO ROCK CITY – CHUCK KLOSTERMAN Hysterically funny and strangely clever writing about being a metalhead back in the 80s. You will laugh your ass off while being nostalgic for an era you thought you despised. Possibly the funniest book you’ll ever read.

There should be something here for everyone. Enjoy!

/Gramps