Backyard Babies - 23/03/2006

Recently singer Nicke Borg and guitarist Dregen from the Swedish band Backyard Babies were in Amsterdam to promote their latest release ‘People Like People Like People Like Us’’ which will be out on April 24th through Century Media Records. Since 1989 the band has been one of the leading Swedish punk rock bands and has put out several great albums. Their music sounds like bands such as the New York Dolls, The Clash, Kiss, Dead Boys and the early Guns ’N Roses. The new record was produced by Nicke Andersson, partner in crime of Dregen when they were part of The Hellacopters. On a Thursday afternoon we travel to Amsterdam, to listen what both gentleman have to say.

It took you three years to release this album, why did it take you so long?

Dregen: “Well, for Backyard Babies this was actually pretty fast! On paper it’s three years until we released this record but we are still a band that tours a lot. Normally when we tour for an album we spend at least a  year and a half on the road, so actually the last gig we did on ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ was in September last year. After that we went straight home and started to write and then we went into the studio in January.”


Nicke: “I got this question a couple of times and I’d like to say about this that we spent almost half a year in the US, and then Swedish media would write “are the BB splitting up?”, and we’re like: “no you idiots we are at the other side of the world!” We’re a touring band and that’s a lot of hard work. We weren’t done touring until September last year and it’s impossible to write an album while you’re on the road. Three years is not that long if you tour for two years. And you have to write the album and produce it and promote it and that takes time. Also the album is not released everywhere at the same time. I think it went really fast!”


Dregen: “It’s the fastest writing we’ve ever done. I wish it would be like in the seventies when a band would release a new album every year. But what we make a living out of is touring, not record sales.”


How did you launch into writing the album?

Dregen: “We have a problem with writing songs on the road, there’s a hundred other things that are more fun to do after the show than writing songs! But on the other hand, we collect a lot of ideas for songs, the whole inspiration for most of our songs comes from stuff that happens on the road. We went home in September and we didn’t have many songs but we had already booked the studio time from January 2nd onwards. Sometimes it’s good because if you have too much time to write an album you end up over-analyzing stuff, we just went with gut-feeling.”


So to which degree were the songs written when you went into the studio?

Nicke: “We wrote them from late September up until Christmas and then Nicke Andersson from the Hellacopters came along, he produced the album. He wasn’t really part of the songwriting, he did the arranging and stuff. We were doing the finishing touches during the holidays and then when the hangover had gone the second of January we went into the studio.”


Dregen: “We have our own rehearsal room in Stockholm, we’ve been in there for about ten years now and we kind of built our own studio. The problem in the past was that when we had a song we would put it down as a demo but we were working too much with the demos so when we went into the studio we had a hard time making the song sound better than the demo!”


Were there any special elements or ideas you wanted to have on the album?

Dregen: “I think that song writing-wise we wanted to make a more diverse album, you still hear that it’s a BB album but with songs like the one called “Roads” which is very different than what we have done before and also a song like “Cockblocker Blues” which is more like one foot in Led-zeppelin land meets old Aerosmith and like old hardrock music.”


Nicke: “It’s really comfortable to be in BB these days because we have a lot of experience and we’ve been doing this for so long that we’re kind of confident. We just wanted to write songs straight from the heart or from whatever body part and that’s what we did, and these are the songs that are on the album. I think we also wrote good songs as a band. Maybe we’re not really good musicians but our strength is that we always wrote good songs and sometimes that got lost a bit on some albums when we were perfectionists. This time we managed to capture the groovy kind of nerve that is rock ‘n roll music. I think BB are going to continue to make masterpieces in the future!!”


Dregen: “We tried to keep it a bit more organic and slightly more simple, we didn’t want to put nineteen layers of guitars on one song, we just wanted to put on the two guitars and make it a bit more airy. You shouldn’t play the album really low because then it’s not that fat and heavy sounding, the more you crank the album the better it sounds. The last two albums were mixed in LA and they have like an American filter over it and it sounds really powerful. The album is specially made for car stereos!”


Who is responsible for writing the music?

Nicke: “Mostly me and Dregen but Peter our drummer has been writing a lot too. This time we wrote more in the rehearsal room than we have ever done before.”


What is the difference between this album and Stockholm Syndrome?

Nicke: “We just wanted to stay in Stockholm this time, we didn’t want to find a big hotshot producer, we just wanted to make a rock ‘n roll album. Nicke Andersson is a good friend of the band and he likes BB a lot but he’s always saying “I would have done it this and this way”, so we just said to him, now’s your chance! So he was kind of scared at first because he wasn’t sure if he could pull it off but we told him that we trusted him completely so he did it. Looking back, the collaboration was perfect. We respect him a lot as a musician; he’s almost a genius when it comes down to some stuff.”


Dregen: “It was a give and take thing in the studio; he knows what we are capable of and what we do best and at the same time we know what his strong points are.


Nicke: “He became like a fifth member. He wasn’t really part of the writing process but he did stuff like arranging. I you would name your five favourite songs then there would probably be a special element in each song that sticks out, these are the things that Nicke is really good at finding and he brings it out in the music, that’s the stuff people remember.”


How much time did you spend in the studio?

Nicke: “Only three weeks! Yeah for us that’s real fast, we spent three weeks on finding the right drum sound on ‘Making Enemies is Good’! It’s good to work fast.”


Dregen: “It’s not a bad thing to try and find different ways to do the recording thing, maybe next time we’ll be in the studio for three months! I can be a mood-guitar player, when I really want to play it’s: ok let’s do it! But on other occasions it can take two hours to even find the right guitar sound and then you kind of lose the inspiration of playing. This time in the studio it was just a plug in and play kind of thing.”


Did you have a larger budget for this album and did it change the way you worked?

Nicke: “No, less! The good thing was that we used this old seventies studio. It had been shut down but friends of ours that play in a Swedish pop band called ‘Kent’ bought that studio and they record their stuff there. They gave us a really good deal. The Studio had been shut down ten or fifteen years ago and they kept all the old stuff so there’s a good atmosphere there. The more money and more time you have, it can be dangerous you know. I think we could have spent more money if we wanted to but we were just done after three weeks.”


Was Century Media content with the final result?

Nicke: “Yes, they were very happy and so are we! Especially because it’s so good to have found a new home outside of Scandinavia and Japan in Century Media now. They really love their music. Sometimes you wonder what these people that work at record companies are all about, you’ll mention Iggy Pop and they just don’t know what the hell you’re talking about! You must have some kind of relationship with your record company as an artist otherwise it won’t work. You have to trust each other. Century Media are a bunch of cool people and they have a long history of selling great numbers of heavy metal and hard rock music so I’m sure they can sell a few copies of BB albums too.”


Dregen: “It’s cool because we’re kind of the outsiders on Century Media too because BB is not the typical kind of music on CM, so I hope it’s as exciting for them as it is for us. We signed a world wide deal with BMG in 2000 which was good and bad in a way for BB. They owned the rights for the whole world and for some territories like Japan and Scandinavia it was working out really well but in countries like Holland we were at the bottom of their priority list, they didn’t even know the band here. And in the UK and the US ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ was not even released! So it was time for us to change. When we go on American tours we pull a thousand people in the big cities and we haven’t even had an album out there in six years. That’s one of the good things about internet and mail order; the hardcore fans can get the albums that way.“


Did you get any feedback on the album yet?

Nicke: “Yes, the past two days we have done about fifteen interviews and almost everyone has been very positive about the new album, there was this punk kid that said “Roads is my favourite song”, and that was just real cool.”



Is there anything you’d like to change in retrospective?

Dregen: “I think you’d have to do a new album to realise what you’d want to change.


Nicke: “You need to treat your last album as though it is the worst one you’ve done in order to progress.”


Can you explain the title ‘People Like People Like People Like Us’?

Dregen: “It was born during an interview we were doing in America in the back of a bus; the guy who was doing the interview was really surprised at the number of people that came to see us because the place was packed with punks, metal heads, fifteen year old skate kids and people in their fifties with Motörhead shirts, it was such a diverse crowd. I just said to him “well I guess that people like people like people like us.””


Who wrote the lyrics for the album?

Dregen: “Mostly me and Nicke.”


Can you tell us something about the lyrics?

Dregen: “The lyrics for each song just all have their own story behind them. The lyrics came easy this time, we live this as a band. When we write a song we don’t sit down and think up stories about ghosts and goblins, no offence but that’s not our cup of tea. Ninety percent we write about is stuff that happened to us.”


Do you have any favourites on the album?

Nicke: “To be really honest, the process of this album coming together went really fast, after it was recorded we all took a short break and headed for different parts of the world. when we came back we got straight into doing promotion like interviews and all kinds of stuff. We don’t have a good distance from the album yet. I must say I like every song. Some songs like the one called “Heroes and Heroines” just exploded in the studio! I guess that’s my favourite.


Dregen: “I think the first single will be “The Mess Age” which is a good song as well but I think the second single which will be “Dysfunctional Professional” is a real good song.”


Here’s a couple of questions to enable our readers to get to know you a bit better:

Nicke: “Trust me, you don’t want to get to know us better! Hahaha!”


How do you feel about illegal downloading of music?

Nicke: “The good thing about being in BB is that we live and breathe on our live shows. It’s impossible, whatever technology you come up with, to capture that live feeling.”


Dregen: “Like I said, it has taken some time to release the next album because we tour so much. Of course the artist is losing money over the downloading but on the other hand, for example, I listen to a lot of blues music and I started doing that for real for the last six or seven years and there are thousands of blues guitarists, so for me it was a jungle. I didn’t know where to start so I sat down and listened songs on the internet, and if I liked what I heard I would go out and buy the album. So the internet was kind of like a flyer for me. I love packaging, I love vinyl more than CD’s  because it’s big and it smells good and there’s big pictures on it! On your Ipod you don’t get the whole vision, the pictures and the attitude. I’m afraid that maybe the concept of an album will disappear even with legal downloading, people are just going to pick their songs on the internet instead of buying whole albums.”


Do you guys have jobs besides being in Backyard Babies?

Dregen: “No, we are Backyard Babies fulltime.”


How did you get involved in the music business?

Dregen: “Well my dad’s completely to blame for that! He was in a band himself and I was forced to listen to Elvis, the Beatles and the Stones and all that before I could even walk. It was a cool thing, but when you grow up a bit you realise that you can’t listen to the same music as your dad does, that’s embarrassing. So that’s when I totally became a metal head and I listened to Iron Maiden and stuff. Then after a while when you’re older you realise that maybe the Stones are better than Iron Maiden anyway. I loved Kiss too, it wasn’t even the music at first, I just saw a picture of them when I was really young and I thought, this is what I’m gonna do!”


What kind of music do you listen to nowadays?

Dregen: “I’m a diverse guy, when I work as a DJ at my friend’s club in Stockholm I play everything from Swedish folk to Discharge and everything from Johnny Lee Hooker to Slayer.  I have three CD’s in my walkman just now: ‘Best of Exploited’, Martha Wainright and Danko Jones.”


You’re one of the longest standing Swedish punkrock bands, right?

Nicke: “We’re a punkrock loving hardrock band or a hardrock loving punkrock band or maybe something in between, I don’t know!”


So how do you see the future of the band?

Nicke: “The way I see it is that we’re only this far in our career (about an inch between his thumb and index finger), it might sound stupid because we are getting older but we’ve never been as excited to go on tour, hell we were excited to go on this promo trip, getting drunk on the airplane haha!! “


Dregen: “At the same time the good thing about the band is that there is no expiring date on BB, I think that we can still be musically attractive and then maybe not so physically attractive after a while! Haha actually I think we’ll look great with a bit more of the blues and beer bellies and some gold chains!”



What’s your view on the Swedish rock scene nowadays?

Nicke: “I think it’s one of the healthiest scenes in the world right now. There are huge hypes around bands like the Hives and stuff. Sweden has a lot of different music styles going on, it’s great.”


Dregen: “There’s a good new hard rock band called Captain Murphy, they have an album coming out soon, watch out for that!”


Nicke: “And there’s an all girl band called Crucified Barbara; they might not be the best band in the world but they are determined to be that and that counts.”


Is there anything you want to say to the fans and readers?

Nicke: “Buy the record or buy a ticket! And come see us live.”

Dregen: “Steal the record or download it, as long as you pay for getting into the show! Haha! Download the show or steal the record!! Hahahaha! We’re looking forward to come back here soon and do a show in Haarlem May 16th, and we’ll come back later this year and do a larger European tour. We’ll do some festivals this summer and then we’re off to America and Japan and then we’ll be back.”


Thanks for talking to us!

“It was our pleasure, thank you very much!”


(Martina Schouten & Eugene Straver)

Current line up:
Nicke Borg – Vocals / Guitar
Dregen – Lead Guitar / Vocals
Johan Blomquist - Bass
Peder Carlsson – Drums

Backyard Babies Albums:
2006 - People Like People Like People Like Us
2005 - Tinnitus / Live Live In Paris
2003 - Stockholm Syndrome
2001 - Making Enemies is Good
1998 - Total 13
1994 - Diesel And Power
1991 - Something To Swallow EP