Swedish Dreams by John Chipman

Swedish Dreams by John Chipman

Swedish Dreams by John Chipman 150 150 The Band of Heathens

Driving the autobahn from Goteborg to Malmo in Sweden is to sample an inexplicable olfactory smorgasbord. One minute an inhale from an open car window reveals a multi-layered delight of fresh salty sea air, mixed with spring-time pine scent that both pleases and cleanses. Five minutes later the entire interior is bathed in a noxious molasses, causing whirling dervish head spins complimented by piercing looks- ready to convict any opponent that dares in kind to accept the challenge of the accusatory gaze. A novice in nasal parsing, would all too quickly roll down the window even further while cursing his fate, only to be gripped in the the stark horror that he just exacerbated the problem ten-fold, when then and only then, the true guilty source is discovered to be that of a pig farm.
The expletives rise and fall in a short lived barrage that violate every rule of decorum and civility, only to be replaced by the resuming drone of the European van’s undersized tires on the velvety perfection of the Swedish highways.
Every tour has it’s recurring themes, some being universal while others take on a life oft their own unique to that particular trip. While the first part of this particular tour started in Germany and the Netherlands, we had been to these places many times and were intimately more familiar with our expectations. The last 3 days we have been in Sweden. None of us in the band had ever been to Scandinavia before. For me, I couldn’t escape the imagery my demented juvenile brain had conjured up — Volvos and Saabs filling up every parking spot at the Ikea store and inside throngs of beautiful men and women, all six-feet tall or more. Everyone sports platinum blonde hair and nordic ski clothes, while kicking back an obscene amount of vodka and celebrating the day’s biathalon results, where Jorg Pettersen defeated Olaf-Gunter Olafsenn in a hotly contested event. The victor receiving forty kilograms of caribou meat and the rack from the beast proudly sported atop his head until he passed out in a SKol vodka induced slumber.
Boy was I wrong.
(This is where I must put in the disclaimer that this is MY blog and even though it is going up on the band’s website, the views expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Heathen Inc., BOH Records or any of its wholly owned subsidiaries)
We arrived in Stockholm by plane in the mid afternoon. None of us had any sleep whatsoever as the previous night’s show in the Netherlands had us starting at 2am (so you wanna be a rock star?), we get back to the hotel by 5am and leave for a three-hour drive to Cologne, Germany. We then board a plane for the 2-plus hour flight. Needless to say, we were out of our gourds, sleep deprived. Once Bjorn the promoter arrived we headed straight for the show.
Stockholm is unbelievable, an ancient city perched upon an island on the eastern seaboard of the country where rivers flow to the sea. Buildings as old as the 13th century, co-exist alongside modern metro railways. They have the strongest currency in the world. Their economy is thriving. It is the home of the Nobel prize. They have state of the art medical care for EVERYONE. Yes you read that correctly. They have stayed out of every military campaign since WW II. They have abundant natural resources and thousands of miles of coastline. You have to look very hard to find graffiti, or signs that there is any poverty anywhere. I mean place totally sucks.
To me- it is a real eye-opening view that should be appreciated first-hand. I was also surprised by a few conversations I had with different individuals. I want to put this delicately, and again this probably doesn’t represent the entirety of the nation of Sweden, but here it is.
I talked with four different people about politics in depth (a really obnoxious character flaw of mine). The reassuring thing was that out of those 4 people I talked with, only 4 of them had a strong distrust of the U.S. I mean we have nowhere to go but up. We have them right where we want them. However there is one thing that we should keep in mind…
There is still language in the Swedish constitution (according to the door guy at Akkurat) that says the male head of every household should have one spear, one ax and one shield to defend his house against foreign invaders. Can you imagine the power of that lobby group? Well they are called the National Spear, Ax and Shield Association and I suspect that they wield great power in the inner workings of the political system. We should be prepared for an invasion. They have just been lying peacefully dormant for hundreds of years waiting to attack us.
Anyway we will do our best to survive this hostile country and survey what these crafty folks are up to in our ever evolving quest to bring Heathen music to the masses.
Crazy ’bout the lutfisk,
John