Billy Momo sounds like… eeerrr? hmmm… what? (guest blog)

Billy Momo sounds like?

Ever since I started working with Billy Momo two years ago, we’ve constantly been battling with the issue of how to describe the sound? The (first and) second album, Drunktalk, was labeled “urban folk” by international media. By me, I think the term ‘folk’ tends to be a little, little misleading, but I kept using it throughout the album launch campaign.

The third and latest album, Seven Rivers Wild took another musical turnway. This time the ‘folky’ bits were tuned down a notch and Billy Momo got a more classic sound, somewhat guitar driven but still that nice and quirky tone to it. For SRW the ‘urban folk’ label did not fit, at least not for all the tracks so I used ‘alternative rock’.

And with new material coming up, starting from October – it sounds we’re heading a bit towards the sound on the first two albums again. We tried to think up a new genre, ‘beat root’ – I think it sums the sound really great, but you catch it really first you see it in print. I don’t want the audience to think about shopping vegetables when they think of Billy Momo. Or, on the other hand – maybe I would like that? Vegetables are good for you!

So, what should we call the sound of Billy Momo? Any suggestions?

/Birgitta, manager Billy Momo

Live vs recording

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Orren (aka Oskar Hovell). Photo of course by Christopher Anderzon.

There are very few things I love as much as performing live with Billy Momo.
Except for a few things I do with family and friends, the only thing I can think of is recording music with Billy Momo.

Billy Momo is a great live band.
We haven’t always been, though. We started as a duo. It was hard to find a way to reconstruct everything we did in recording, live. There were laptops and backtracks and different complicated solutions. We barely had time to see the audience out there for all the instruments we had to focus on simultaneously.

I am ever so greatful for my band and what they’ve done to the show. Not only as a solution of course. It’s hard to even imagine us now whitout the crude and decadent Preacherman, the cute but mischievous Hotlips, the ever-happy Gramps, the silent but violent The Coffa, the dandy rockstar The Head. We are not only sounding (and looking) good, we are fun to hang with up there, which I think means a lot.

So, sometimes people – especially people in the music business – tell us they were suprised to see how good we are, after having listened to our recordings. Some would even say they were not that impressed by the recorded material, but almost chocked by the live experience.

Well, here’s why that is: If you decide for yourself that you want to check out a band, if you believe you are going to like it, if you think you might be about to make a real rescovery, you’ll give the band your best. You’ll put the music on without sending emails, feeding your kids or talking on the phone simultaneously. You may even listen to a full album instead of the random “most popular”. You might be checking out album covers, pictures or even biographies. You are digging in!

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Barba, Hotlips and The Head. Photo: Birgitta Haller.

And that’s pretty much what you do every time you see a band live. You invest in the experience. You get yourself a drink, you probably brought a friend and you give it your evening. These are the proper ways to check out a band.

However, if you’re listening at home and have no specific expectations, no reason to feel like this should be right up your alley, or if it’s your job to listen to alot of new stuff that some manager or booking agent or whatever claims to be hot shit, you won’t give it that same time, focus and energy. It would be a better investment of your time even if you were dragged down to the venue against your will.

Yes, we are great live. It’s not only the joy of our lives, it’s our job. Doing the best that can be done with the live show is a responsibility. Just like it is to use the opportunity of a recording studio to do crazy creative stuff.
So, when people say we should sound more on recording as we do live, I say sure! But would you go home, put on any one of our records really loud, invite a few friends and make sure you got a beer in hand at all times while listening for an hour and then see what you think?
We very well may still try sounding more “live” on recording. It is a life of it’s own, the recording, and we will not try to recreate the live show. But you could try to recreate yourself as a live audience!

Thought we were silently doing nothing?

We can tell you we did not. We’ve been cruising, travelling, restoring houses, building a studio in restored house. And we’ve been doing a few shows, too.

After we’ve finished building the studio, some crazy shit is going to happen. We’re producing and recording new songs! And planning some fun stuff along the way…

Just keep a lookout, if you’re curious…

New grounds: Some updates from the road.

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Gramps (Tony Lind). Photo: Christopher Anderzon.

All quiet on the Billy front? Not quite. But we’ve been really busy lately, so the blog posts have been conspicuous by their absence, and for this we apologize.

The summer concerts are coming along nicely, and we are still adding shows, so the initial itinerary may be subject to change over the coming weeks, stay tuned on facebook for updates.

Summer weather in Sweden is, at best, fickle, but so far we have been lucky, and Helios has mostly been smiling on our outdoor shows, unlike some big stadium shows that were halted this past weekend by heavy rainfall.

We’ve been extending the setlist quite a bit lately, which is cool for fans who might have missed some of their old favorites from earlier tours when they saw the first Seven Rivers Wild shows. We have added several golden oldies for your pleasure, so make sure you catch at least one of our summer performances!

We are also playing mostly new venues (to us) on this tour, so we are breaking new ground, meeting new people and making new friends, and havin’ a blast doin’ it.

Midsummer is coming up, and for this holiday, which is a pretty big deal in Sweden, we will pull the breaks on the tour bus and engage in some hardcore Billy-style partying which should go down in band folklore gloriously. But once the hangovers have been endured it is back to work.

All the audiences so far have been great, and we can’t express enough how much we appreciate you guys comin’ out and enjoying the ride with us, our old, trusted fans who stay with us through thick and thin, as well as new friends who brighten our day with your presence.

Oh, yeah! For those who read my post a while ago about the post-gig blues, I’m currently trying out some supplements that seem to ease my PGB symptoms, a nice development that might save me many hours of insomnia in the future.

See you guys on the road!

/Gramps

Recommended listening:

Choosing the chosen ones

This is another track from the Seven Rivers Wild album, titled Choosing The Chosen Ones. Although this song has a message we feel strongly about, the actual video is mostly snippets detailing the past year of the band, life on the road in general, and a celebration of how much we love being musicians. Horns performed by Viktor Brobacke and Magnus Jonsson Szatek. Enjoy!

We also just released the full album on Soundcloud. Hope you’ll enjoy it! https://soundcloud.com/billymomo/sets/seven-rivers-wild-mixes

Seven Rivers Wild

Seven Rivers Wild_CD_frontcover

Seven Rivers Wild is our third album and the latest we’ve released so far. But there is more to come, don’t you worry.

I would say that this is the first album we’ve released as a seven piece group. We are not a duo with musicians anymore.
Me and Orren still write all the songs and do most of the arrangements. But the whole process of recording it was much more of a group effort on this one.
Everybody had an input on the material.

We wanted to do a proper studio album. Much more serious recording from start to finish. On the first two albums we used way more programming and loops. But for this album we wanted to play everything. We even took in live strings and horns.

A lot of the lyrics on this album are a bit darker than before, I think. A big part in that is probably me going through a divorce in the middle of recording it. I had some shit to deal with to say the least. But hey, that’s why we have music, right? Way better to write a song like Seven Rivers Wild than actually hitting somebody upside the head with a hammer.

When time came to deal with the cover artwork we happened to meet this wonderful artist/photographer named Robert Eldrim.

He wanted to do our album cover and had loads of ideas. We started talking about building a machine that somehow would represent us as a group. So he started doing interviews with us to get a good feeling of who everybody was and what the dynamics within the group was.
And then he came up with a machine that was a sailboat and a fish, but at the same time a zeppelin that was an instrument that played our music. And we were supposed to fly it over the seven rivers wild. There might have been some mushrooms involved or maybe he’s just some sort of genius. But when he showed us the end result we fell completely in love with it. And him. Billy Momo loves Robert Eldrim. Check him out!

 

And now we are in the middle of touring this album and we are having a blast!
The years of grinding it out on the road playing in half empty bars are slowly starting to pay off. People are starting to find us and we are starting to build a very nice and close relationship with people who enjoy our music all over the world. And we love every second of it. The second I get off stage I’m looking forward to the next show.
Life is very very exciting at the moment.

And while we are touring we are making plans for how we will record the next album. I can’t tell you much about it at the moment since we haven’t decided yet. I’ll have to get back to you on that. But I can tell you that it will be different from the last album. We always want to do something different when we start a new recording process. We are forever changing and forever inspired to try new stuff.
Let’s keep things interesting y’all!
See you soon!
/Barba

Drunktalk

Albumcover-Billy Momo

Drunktalk was our second album.

It was written and recorded during a time that on paper should have been a really bad time to get shit done. In the beginning of the process I was on parental leave with my daughter, and in the end of the process Orrens son was born. But we were really focused anyway somehow. I recorded a lot of stuff with my daughter on my lap. You can probably even hear her doing her best googoo gaah gaah in the backround on some tracks. Orre recorded his ideas at home and sent them to me and I arranged them so that we could record them with the band when we had time to meet up in the studio.

This is the first album that the band was more involved. Maybe not so much in the arrangements still, but we didn’t play all the instruments ourselves as we did on Ordinary Men. We had been playing live with the band for awhile and really wanted their playing and attitude on the album. So we were comfortable with letting go of the control a bit.

The Coffa (bass) was the only new guy on this album. His audition is what you hear on The Weekend.

We were in the studio fiddling around with that track when he stopped by. Tony had played with him before and thought that he would be perfect for Billy Momo. He literally was in the studio for 20 minutes. He came in, said hi. Heard the track once. Played it through once and then we pushed record and played it once more. And that is what you hear on the record. That is also the first track that I started pretending like I could play the piano. And that was fun so I just stayed behind the piano from then on. Up until then I had mostly been playing guitar and banjo in Billy Momo. I think everybody was happy I stopped doing that. I’m even worse at guitar.

With Drunktalk we experienced our first two hits (from our perspective they are anyway). First we had the title track Drunktalk. It got a lot of love in the press and blogs all over the world. For awhile it had a thousand spins a day on Spotify. We were super happy and thought we had peaked.

And then out of the blue we got an email from a friend. He attached a link to a trailer for HBO series Better Call Saul, and asked us if the track in the trailer wasn’t a Billy Momo song.

Sure was! They had used our track Wishing Ain’t No Sin as the main theme in the trailer. The trailer had over a million views already and we didn’t know anything about it. That changed a lot for us. Suddenly we were able to reach way beyond the Swedish borders and got some real attention by press and radio. Super exciting times in camp Billy Momo.

We spent the rest of that year on the road going all over Sweden and even reaching UK and the U.S. That banjo riff on Wishing Ain’t No Sin changed the world for us, and it just happened by chance. We had just finished recording Wishing and were just sitting in the studio talking before we went home. While we were talking we had the track on in the backround and Orren was just noodling about on the banjo while we were talking. And I just stopped him in the middle of conversation like, “Dude! What are you doing? We have to record that before you forget it.” Orren was like “You think we need to? I’ll probably remember it.” But I just fell in love with it straight away and wouldn’t take any chances. It made me think of hooks like Timbalands production on Missy Elliotts Get ur freak on. Sometimes stuff like that just happens if you create a creative space for yourself where everything is allowed. You don’t have to think things out. They will come to you if you let it. That whole album was like that. We were just in a super creative space in time and just went with it. We weren’t in control. Good times and good people makes great music. Simple as that! (Tomas Juto, aka Barba)