Interview with Nikola (bass/vocals)
By: Alex Steininger
Alex: What are some of your musical influences?
Nikola: Everything we listen to, basically. Yeah, we're into a lot of different stuff. As far as our band, bands like NOFX, Bad Religion, Operation Ivy, all the bands that influence us to play punk rock and sign in English. But, now, I don't listen to punk rock that much at all.
Alex: Who do you listen to now?
Nikola: I'm into Beatles period stuff, but otherwise, anything. Mostly pop music. Soul music, and we all love folk music. Anything. On tour it's kinda...it gets boring to just listen to punk rock. You hear it every night, and you play it every night, so you just want to get away from it all and put on a good soul CD.
Alex: Do you think your new taste for Beatles and pop music will affect future material?
Nikola: Well, we've always been into different stuff, especially pop music. But I don't think I've ever been this tired of punk rock, real fast punk rock, before. So, yeah, if we record a new album, which I think will, then it might be more pop. I hope.
Alex: So what are you band goals for 1998?
Nikola: Our goals? Well, we have this tour, and then a European tour in April and May, and then in the summer we might come back here, possibly for the Warped Tour, or do our own tour here.
Alex: What do you guys do on the road for fun?
Nikola: The first couple of days, when we still have energy, we go skating, but the rest of the days we're too tired. You lose so much energy on the road, you want to skate, but you don't have any energy. Most of the time we watch TV in the hotels, or play pinball in bars. We once went to see a hockey game in Denver, and if we have the time, we can do stuff like that. Otherwise we just hang out.
Alex: How does touring the U.S. differ from touring Europe?
Nikola: I think its a bit more laid back here. Its not...sound checks here aren't that important, and time schedules...if we come two hours late, nobody will complain. I like it. Not as much stress! In Sweden you have to be at the venue at three o'clock, do sound check then, and I don't like that.
Alex: Musically, which country do you think is putting out better music? Sweden or the U.S.?
Nikola: If you look at how many people in Sweden, 8 1/2 million, compared to the tons of people in the U.S., I think the quality of music in Sweden is better. There are tons of bands here, but in Sweden the quality is just better. There's a lot of good bands in Sweden.
Alex: What goes into good music making for you?
Nikola: Well, the more energy I have, the more creative I am. Sometimes when I have a hang over, I can be very creative and write songs, but mostly I need to write songs when I'm high on life. When I'm down, I can't create music. Maybe lyrics, but not the music.
Alex: So what do you enjoy and hate about the music industry?
Nikola: I like...I love music. But, for us, its nice we can travel and meet a lot of different people. We get to see the world, but there isn't that much about the industry that...I don't like the fact that its all money...of course, I'm not saying punk rock makes that much money. Sometimes you feel you want to go one way, and then you might get more money if you go the other way. It's small things like if you do this you'll sell more albums, and I don't feel like doing it.
Alex: So over the course of the band's history, is there anything you would like to go back and change?
Nikola: Well, in the beginning we didn't have the same integrity as we have now. Like the first couple of years when we started to sell records in Sweden, it was all new to us, and we did some moves that I wouldn't do now. Like too many videos, and we were on television too much. And then we were in some stupid magazines. I wouldn't have done that stuff now.
Alex: So in Sweden you draw pretty big crowds?
Nikola: Um...I don't know. We haven't played Sweden that much. We did two shows before Christmas, and those shows were weird. There was a lot of people though. But here, we mostly play here. We haven't played Sweden a lot in the past couple of years. Mostly broader Europe, and here.
Alex: So what are the highest and lowest points the band has experienced so far?
Nikola: I don't know...the biggest thing...everything has happened for us step by step. It wasn't like one day we signed onto a big label. We signed onto Epitaph, and that was kinda big. That's always been a dream for us. And being on Epitaph...cause Epitaph was something big for us. Especially since we're from Sweden, and no Swedish punk bands had even been to the U.S. to play. So we never thought we could come here and play our music. And since being on Epitaph, they've helped us to play here. You know, if you don't have a label you can't play. And that's why a lot of Swedish bands don't play here. They cant' afford it.
Alex: So how did your deal with Epitaph come about?
Nikola: Burning Heart Records sent "Life on a Plate," our second album to Mr. Brett at Epitaph, and I guess they liked it, and they called us back.
Alex: So are you still doing stuff for Burning Heart?
Nikola: Yeah, we're on Burning Heart in Sweden, Europe. In Europe.
Alex: So if you guys could tour with anyone, who would you tour with?
Nikola: I don't know. Madonna?
Alex: So is there any road experience that stands out in your mind. One that you just like to share a lot?
Nikola: There are a lot of them. Lots of memories from the road. Our drummer broke his collarbone during our last tour, in Australia. So we couldn't play. And one time our van burned down to the ground.
Alex: So what made you want to be in a band?
Nikola: My friends were all in bands, so I guess...cause they were into bands, and because it seemed cool to be in a band, write your own songs, and play your own music. Yeah, it seemed real cool.
Alex: So what inspires you to write songs? Life? Love? Lost love? Comedy?
Nikola: In the beginning I think it was just other bands making their songs, and you just want to...I don't think we really had our own ideas of deliverance. Other bands sang about this and that, so we sang about the same thing. But then...now it's life and just music itself. I don't know.
Alex: So you handle all the lyrics?
Nikola: Maybe seventy-five or eighty percent.
Alex: What do you want the listener to get out of your music?
Nikola: No special messages...that's never been the point of playing music. To have other people say stuff to others, no that's not us. For me it's the making of the music, being creative, and making the songs. And eventually playing the songs. That's why I keep doing this. And touring, that's just to travel. There is no message.
Alex: In your music I've noticed a lot of humor, so do you just want to give the listener a good time and let them have fun?
Nikola: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. I mean, they shouldn't just sit back and listen to the lyrics. Let them go off and do their own thing.
Alex: Between "Life on a Plate" and "For Monkeys", how would you say the sound is similar and how does it differ?
Nikola: The difference is that we're one year older on the new album, and during that time we've played a lot of shows and done a lot of touring. The band is basically one year older, and that much better. Otherwise, we didn't go in and try for a certain sound. The new songs are our best songs. Some songs though, I don't like that much. On the other albums, though, I thought all the songs were good. But on the new one, the last couple of songs were actually meant to be b-sides for some singles, but we didn't have time to write more songs, so we had to put them on the album. And I don't like that that much. That's the way it turned out.
Alex: Do you have a favorite song you've written?
Nikola: No. I like a lot of songs on the new album, but there isn't just one special song that I like.
Alex: On that same note, is there one album you prefer over another?
Nikola: It's easiest to like the newest stuff, because the old stuff we don't sound the same as we do now. We're a better band now, and the new stuff sounds better. I sound better, and play better.
Alex: Is there anything I left out that you would like to cover?
Nikola: No, nothing at all.