Hemstad Interview (Part 1 of 2)
Hemstad is the little big group from Sweden taking us all by storm. Lucky for us, their amazing ability and creativity has not been realized to its fullest, so I was able to conduct an interview with the guys. I can only hope that they remain as humble, interesting, and down-to-Earth in the future as they currently are.
The band currently consists of six members, and can broadly be described stylistically as indie-pop, but boy are they so much more. Frantic, sprawling, and oh-so ambitious, this guys have quite a unique thing going for them.
So read on and find out more more more!
(1)You guys seem to have a very unique story as to how you got together as a band. Could you tell me more about that ... something about meeting at a Christmas party?
HEMSTAD: No thats not true. I just made that story up to get people's attention, and now when our debut CD is sold out I confess, and you are hooked.
This is the real story in short:
Me and Vic the Dick were in a band called "Gypsies on Holiday." After rehearsing, the other members had to get home to eat, so me and Vic stayed and started to jam with drums and harmonica. Later we called that project Hemstad and I found a cheap organ in a second-hand store that I bought. I had never played organ or keyboard before so I started to teach myself. I was into 70s instrumental proggrock from Sweden and bitpop [video game music] and I assumed I *tried* to write bitpop tunes.
Later we added more and more of our friends to the band and at one point we where nine members. Recently we cut some off the band and now we are a dynamic double-trio.
(2)You are signed to Catbird Records, a small indie label that is actually based in Columbus, Ohio -- a long way from home! How did that happen?
HEMSTAD: I think that Ryan at CBR found us over the net through other bands websites. He contacted us and asked us to release an album so we thought, "Yeah, why not?"
All songs on the album were already recorded at that time, but we decided to re-record all songs over, since we had all our songs for free download at our website. We wanted the buyers to get something a little *extra*.
(3)Okay, I'm also really intrigued by the design on your website. And I especially like the little characters that represent you. Who did all of that!?
HEMSTAD: I do all artwork for Hemstad. From posters to pins and record sleeves to websites. Feels good to have control over something that important that has to do with the band.
(4)Okay ... now about your music (finally!) ... I'm curious to hear how you would describe your music.
HEMSTAD: We sometimes call it "an instrumental dedication to the west coast of Sweden ... " but that may not tell much about our music for new listeners. It's basically fast instrumental music with lots of melodies and stupid accessories.
(5)One thing that I love about your music is the pure, raw energy that's in every note. You guys seem so happy and excited to be playing, and I think that's great. Where do you get inspiration to make such cheerful music?
HEMSTAD: I can´t say that we are inspired by something or someone in particular. We all like humor with finesse and music with humor and finesse as well.
(6)How do you write these songs? They seem pretty sprawling and like rather massive things to write to begin with. Is there any method, or is it all madness?
HEMSTAD: Mostly madness to begin with. I do most of the song ideas at home but often we develop the songs together. It basically takes 5 to 10 minutes to write the basics, and then I or we introduce the idea for the rest of the band and we jam and arrange, record and try until it becomes a song. The songs are in constant development and we gladly use other instruments on recordings.
(7)I can imagine you guys just sort of playing around on your instruments in the basement of your house (that you made by hand!?), but is that really the case? Are you guys focused workers, or do you just run with spontaneous inspiration?
HEMSTAD: We are probably the most unfocused band ever, at least we were before. We don´t really use math or any particular sense or science when we play or write music. I don´t think there is any Hemstad songs written on actual paper. We just do what we feel is the right thing. For example the length of the songs varies a lot from time to time. If we are drunk we play fast as hell, and thats fun. We actually perform better when we are wasted. We just got home from a mini tour in the UK and we discovered that the bands we met there didn't drink much before a show. We did the total opposite and people were kind of shocked. I think they didn't think we were gonna be able to pull it off. Five minutes before a show we just go to the toilet, vomit, splash our faces with some cold water, go to the bar and get a drink, light a cigarette and get on stage.