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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The Fine Art of Assholery (and why you should never meet your heroes)

When I was very young I may have harbored some naïve illusions on the matter, but really, for most of my life I have been keenly aware that there is no automatic correlation between a great artistic talent and a great personality.

This is why I am generally very hesitant to meet the musicians who have been truly inspirational to me. It really shouldn’t matter, of course, but I know myself well enough to know that it would sully my love for their art if I met them and found them to be complete assholes.

Now, I know that many of them probably ARE assholes, but not having to witness it firsthand allows me to maintain my self-delusion and hypocrisy, which is convenient, since I would very much like to continue enjoying their music.

No person is just ONE thing, of course. Everyone understands that. Even the individuals that history and most of us who are not complete idiots would unanimously consider truly BAD PEOPLE (I don’t have to mention names here, do I?) probably had their agreeable moments and positive attributes. And those rare creatures who are considered ”good” by most people’s standards have their dark side and unflattering traits.
Profound and genuine assholery is not easily defined, and the line between just having a bad day and being a douche can be blurry sometimes.

But some people are just more consistently obnoxious, rude and mean than others, to the point where it is their standard approach in social situations, and this is where I feel we start to cross the aforementioned line. We all have some people like this in our lives. Toxic, caustic personalities, psychic and emotional vampires who drain us of joy, energy and passion. People who will always play the guilt trip card, giving unwarranted and/or unfair criticism about everything you do, or make you feel inadequate and/or inferior. Assholes.

In some cases we are dealing with clinical cases, where the individual in question actually is unable to be any other way, sociopathic personality disorder, malignant narcissism, etc. I won’t dwell on those individuals, as they are something other than the thing I wish to address here, I will just say that those people are the ones that you need to cut out of your life immediately and completely, because they will never be a good influence in your life, you can’t help them, and they sure as hell won’t help you, so stay the fuck away from them forever.

However, most assholes are just spoiled brats who need to have their asses kicked a little bit to get back in line. They’ve been getting too much rope, and got used to getting away with too much shit. Shorten the leash. What I mean by that is that you don’t need to put up with their behavior, and you have every right to let them know that you won’t.

Ladies know what I’m talking about. Chauvinist pigs who make inappropriate ”jokes” and use derogatory slurs about women are abundant and all over the place, and the world of music is no exception, unfortunately. We all know misogyny has been a widespread constant throughout the history of music. You’d think we should be way past that sort of caveman mentality by now, but unfortunately that is not the case.

And in every workplace, in every classroom and at every party, there is at least one bully who thrives on making other people miserable. Yes, THAT asshole.

The solution is not to return the favor in spades, further fueling the one-upmanship of assholery. Neither is acquiescence, because then you’re stuck with this sphincter’s behavior.
I think Jim Jefferies really nailed it on the head in the clip I’ve posted below. Check it out, it’s brilliant!

In my role as a working musician, I have come to the conclusion that life is way too short to deal and work with assholes. It takes up too much of my precious time, drains my energy and creative inspiration, and this is one of the many reasons why I’m so happy playing with the guys in Billy Momo. We are no saints, and we certainly have our moments of shitty attitudes and bad behavior, no doubt about that, but let me tell you, these guys I play with are good people. Friendly, approachable, and somewhat sane. This allows us to get on with the task at hand, which is making music, and having fun while doing so.
When doing the things you love, you shouldn’t have to put up with assholes, so don’t! And even more important, don’t be one!

Let’s be friendly, generous and kind, people! It’s the best gift we can give ourselves, and others.

I wish your perpetual bliss, all you crazy kids in love out there!

/Gramps

 

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:

Still drunktalkin’ after all these years…

When a band makes an album, a song and a video called ’Drunktalk’, you can probably figure out that they’re not exactly teetotallers.

 

Billy Momo’s songs are sometimes inspired by true bender stories, and some are results of drunken imagination. A night out with Billy Momo is typically a pretty simple affair, but a lot of fun for those involved.

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Gramps. Photo: Christopher Anderzon.

We usually find a nice spot not too far away from the bar, and engage in our favorite pastime, The Drunktalk. We have quite a few raconteurs in the band (myself being one of them), and we never want for entertaining stories. We take turns getting rounds and everyone has to deal with whatever is put in front of them. If Coffa’s buying, we somehow always end up with Fernet shots, although no one really likes them, not even him!Most of the guys in the band enjoy IPAs and fancy hipster beers, but my drink is the Jack Donald’s. For those of you who don’t know, a Jack Donald’s is one part Jack Daniel’s and two parts Diet Coke. Not regular Coke. Not Zero. Diet Coke. I discovered years ago that if I stick to that formula, I can drink all night and not be hungover the next day. I don’t know if it works the same for everyone, but for me it does. But as soon as I throw anything else into the mix, all bets are off. Anyway, I digress…

There’s a terrific movie clip that someone shot fairly late at night on my birthday, where Preach and myself are having a good time, but the drunk talk has escalated to the level where we are basically down to hand signals, grunts and guffaws. You can tell that we are communicating and enjoying ourselves, but I dare anyone to explain what the ”conversation” is all about. That clip would make for an excellent ”caption this” contest.

Now, you are probably wondering where I’m going with this. The answer is: nowhere. I’m just letting you know what our orders are the next time you spot us in the bar and want to buy us a drink and join in on the drunktalk. Let’s have some fun! You might not wake up the next day where you expected to, but you will have had a fun evening. Mine’s a Jack Donald’s, please.

Peace!

/Gramps

Recommended listening:
The piano has been drinking – Tom Waits
One scotch, one bourbon, one beer – Thurston Harris
I ain’t drunk – Jimmy Liggins
Up on cripple creek – The Band
Gin and juice – Snoop Dogg
Livet är en fest – Nationalteatern
Last call for alcohol – Julia Lee and her boyfriends
Armpit farts – Zilch Fletcher (Spotify link)
Just dropped in – Kenny Rogers & the First Edition

Circadian rhythm and the creative mind

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Tony The Drummer. Photo: Christopher Anderzon. 

Up until very recently, Orren would refuse to acknowledge jet lag as a real phenomenon. I’m just gonna leave that there.

Most people whom I would consider artistically creative, tend to thrive at night. I know, it sounds like a terribly clichéd stereotype, but I really think it is true for the most part. The outside world slows down, gets quiet, and that’s when the fun begins. The creative juices start to flow, as the drudgery of daytime existence grinds to a standstill.
I mean, I can be productive during the daytime, in an assembly line kind of way, I suppose, but my creative thoughts lie fairly dormant throughout the day. All that sweet, exciting stuff tends to come out when I get to turn on the colored lights and the smoke machine at Club Purjo, put on some amazing music and read a book that blows your hair back, to paraphrase Will Hunting.

All those great existential conversations with a close friend, or for that matter, a new acquaintance you’re just learning to know and find endlessly fascinating, where you take the plunge into the deep end and then just drift away on a stream of consciousness where concepts are shared, dreams are born and new galaxies of the mind are discovered, how many of those have you had during a lunch meeting in a crowded restaurant? I personally can’t think of one, but then, my memory does get more selective with each year, it seems, so maybe I’m mistaken. But I know with absolute certainty that I have had most of them late at night.

I sometimes go into a state that feels like a shark in a feeding frenzy, when I have an urge to learn about something, and I will look up every documentary or article on that topic I can find online, search my bookshelves, and sit at the kitchen table with my laptop and a pile of books all night, and just gorge myself on all the cool shit amazing individuals have said or done. But rarely do I have these urges while the sun is up and people move around me like sneaky predators trying to suck the marrow out of my life and eat my soul. Nope, that good shit only hits when nothing’s up but the rent, dammit.

When it comes to writing music, most of my inspiration comes out of moments like those described above. A sea of thoughts and emotions will ever so slowly boil down into a savory broth of an idea, which will eventually find its home in a piece of music. This is my creative process. So, while I’m no vampire, I am nocturnal in the sense that I need those late nights of exploration and meditation to feel alive.

Or, maybe it’s just the booze talking? I don’t know, and I don’t give a shit. I’m gonna stay up late tonight. Turn on that smoke machine, baby! Let’s rock! (Tony Lind, aka ‘Gramps’)