From the dance-pop of Ace of Base to the melodic death metal of The Haunted, Gothenburg, Sweden, has spawned more than its fair share of disparate and successful bands. Graveyard drummer Axel Sjöberg gives a brief history lesson that may help explain the area’s aural legacy. A neutral country during World War II, “Sweden was completely spared; we had a good infrastructure, so we had lots of bands touring early on. We had Hendrix and Beatles playing very small villages in the early days, and a lot of infusion from the US and UK.” He turns to his mother, and asks her a question in Swedish. “She saw the Who with Keith Moon. And in our hometown (Örebro), the first time Iggy and Stooges were over, there was a story about a guy who came to the show after going fishing, and Iggy got hit by a fish in the face. Hendrix toured with and even recorded a song (“Tax Free”) by late Swedish musician Bo Hansson.”
See also: Ten Metal Albums to Hear Before You Die
Graveyard, not as doomy as their name might suggest, is rounded out by guitarist/ vocalists Joakim Nilsson and Jonatan Larocca-Ramm and bassist Rikard Edlund. The band formed in 2006, and garnered a buzz Stateside thanks to their first US visit at the 2008 SXSW fest. For their debut NY-area show, Sjöberg recalls, “We slept at some collective in Brooklyn, with a rooftop looking at the skyline. It feels like you’re stepping into a movie. I guess everybody who comes from a small country feels that way in New York. When I was real small, the movie, Coming to America, I used to watch that over and over, Then on tour, we watched Panic in Needle Park, a real anxiety pill, a depressing one.”
The quartet’s most recent album, 2012’s Lights Out, runs the gamut from “Seven Seven,” Seeds-like psych-garage; to “The Suits, the Law and the Uniforms,” a Soundgardeny-grunge (a band they toured with) to the soundtracky and moody “An Industry of Murder.” But they’re at home on any stage, and the often-doomy blues-psych rockers have even opened for Motorhead several times. “A lot of people that listen to Motorhead have their roots in blues and classic rock; when you listen to Motorhead, the bass lines are like 12-bar blues sometimes,” he says in his accented but accurate English. “Even Lemmy says, ‘Hi, we’re Motorhead and we play rock and roll.'”
Following the US jaunt the European summer festivals, Graveyard plan to track album number four in the Fall. For many Americans who took a few years of a foreign language in school, it’s difficult to imagine carrying on a detailed conversation, let alone write lyrics that convey deep emotions in their “second” language. “Most rock and roll is in English, so it came naturally,” Sjöberg explains. “Some bands from Sweden sing in Swedish, but it’s an unnecessary obstacle to put up for yourself. Germany, Spain and France–they kinda suck on English. I think the main reason the whole of Scandinavia (speaks English well), is we don’t dub TV and movies,” he observes, before laughingly concluding, “‘Go ahead, make my day’ in German just isn’t the same.”
Graveyard play Webster Hall with Bombus on May 11 at 7:30 pm.