It’s been a tough few months for Stockholm 20-somethings Holograms. During a support tour for the Soft Moon, their car got broken into, they lost all their money and were stranded in France for more than a week. Currently, they’re unemployed, broke and nervous that they won’t be able to obtain work visas to tour the United States this fall. They also need new gear.
But it’s not all bad. Their self-titled debut album on Captured Tracks, for starters, is a triumph. Every song seems to pinpoint a harsh reality, invoking things like industrialization, urbanization and racism with propulsive hooks and Anton Spetze’s throaty post-punk cadence. The band’s first single “ABCCity” is a synth-driven battering ram of a track that has the boys screaming words like “DESOLATION” and “ISOLATION.” But for a band whose introduction via their label came with anonymity and whose lyrics pack a socially conscious punch, they’re a kind, funny bunch.
eMusic’s Evan Minsker spoke with Andreas LagerstrÃ¶m and Anton Spetze about their current economic situation, what they’re excited about for their American tour, and what they’ve been doing in their spare time.
On getting in contact with Captured Tracks:
Andreas LagerstrÃ¶m: We recorded an EP and the video for “ABC City” ourselves for fun. And then I sent it to Captured Tracks. I really like Blank Dogs, and I remembered that [Mike from the band] had a record label. So I just sent it to their regular e-mail, and they responded really, really quickly. Like, a couple hours after I sent it. And they were like, “Please, don’t send this to anyone else, this is really good.” I was really, really surprised, ’cause record labels don’t really respond when you send them demos.
On the oft-published origin story about them working in a factory together:
LagerstrÃ¶m: It’s like a myth, kind of. It’s based on truth, but not really.
Anton Spetze: Everyone except Andreas worked at this warehouse outside ofStockholm. It’s really shitty. We worked there sometimes. It was really shitty employment.
LagerstrÃ¶m: I think I mentioned that some of us worked at a warehouse, and that translated to factory, I guess. I don’t know.
Spetze: It’s like packing books. Two people and two companies. It’s this distribution thing for Sweden’s biggest book company. Really boring.
On “You Are Ancient (Sweden’s Pride)” sounding patriotic despite it being the opposite case, a la “Born in the USA”:
LagerstrÃ¶m: Exactly! [Laughs.] That’s a nice way of putting it. I really want it to have that kind of feeling. For people in the know, they can maybe see a different song. It’s a divider, you know? If a person thinks it’s a patriotic song, you know that person’s stupid.
On the aspects of Sweden’s history they read about before writing that song:
LagerstrÃ¶m: I was really interested in Vikings for a while. The first verse is kind of about how some people are really nationalistic, like racist people are really proud of their Viking heritage, but they were a warmongering people. And that’s not something to be proud of — being from a people who made their living from raping people. And then I talk about the Lutheran history ofSweden and how that’s a really big part of our heritage. You know, stick your head down, don’t bother anyone, work, stuff like that, which is also nothing to be proud of. Swedes generally are not really proud of their country. If you go to the States or you go toFrance orItaly, they’re really nationalistic or proud of their country. But Swedes are a bit afraid.
Spetze: We’ve not been raised like you have to like our nation. It’s not a big thing in Sweden.
LagerstrÃ¶m: But one of the sides is super nationalistic, hardcore, weird, racist people who make a thing about being proud of their country. And then most of the people are afraid of being proud of their country. It’s weird — there’s really nothing in between.
Say three nice things about Sweden:
LagerstrÃ¶m: OK, I’ll try. [Pauses.] Fuck.
Spetze: There’s a lot of good music. That’s definitely one thing. [pause] No natural disasters. [pause] And no scary animals.
LagerstrÃ¶m: Yeah, no dangerous bugs.
On their vintage synthesizer:
LagerstrÃ¶m: It’s a KORG-MS10. It’s a pretty sad story, actually. I had a friend who had the synthesizer, and it was his dad’s. And it didn’t work. I really like that synthesizer. I was like, “Wow, you have that synthesizer, that’s really cool.” So I offered to fix it and it worked. Pretty amazing. So I borrowed it for a while, and then he took an overdose, my friend. I asked his dad if he wanted it back, and he was like, “No, you should have it.” For me, it’s super sentimental.
On their current financial state:
LagerstrÃ¶m: We don’t have any money. I’m not [working].
Spetze: I tried to get some work this week, but we’ll see if I get it.
LagerstrÃ¶m: I need to get something, too.
On whether or not they’ll make money on the upcoming tours:
LagerstrÃ¶m: Definitely. [The upcoming tour is] better organized, and when you do a support tour, like the first few dates, you don’t really get any money at all. Also, we had to buy a car. And the last bit of tour was really chaotic because we booked it ourselves. When the car broke down, it just exploded in our faces. We couldn’t go where we were supposed to go, we had to take the train, which was super expensive, the bus was really expensive, and we didn’t make that much money on each gig, anyway.
Spetze: It was kind of hard. But fun, too.
LagerstrÃ¶m: Yeah, it was really fun. Like a crazy vacation.
Spetze: The craziest ever.
On their no-budget diet:
Spetze: Today, I made some kind of frozen chicken thing.
LagerstrÃ¶m: I’ve eaten two peanut butter sandwiches. I try to eat with my girlfriend. She likes cooking.
On what they’ll spend money on when they start making money:
Spetze: We need a lot of stuff. A bass amp. And a guitar, maybe.
LagerstrÃ¶m: Another synthesizer. Maybe some drum stuff, I guess. But we really need a bass amp. We borrowed a really shitty combo amp. It’s Anton [Strandberg's] mom’s.
On what they’re looking forward to about America:
LagerstrÃ¶m: The food. I want to eat lots of hamburgers — they’re really good in America. I wanna eat barbecue, I wanna eat fried chicken, I want to eat more deep-fried stuff. An American hamburger is hard to come by [in Sweden]. We have McDonalds, we have Burger King, but I mean like a great diner burger.
Spetze: I’m looking forward to being on the road listening to “Born in the U.S.A.” And “Born to Run.”
On Andreas’s love of Street Fighter:
LagerstrÃ¶m: When I was a kid, I played Street Fighter II and Street Fighter Alpha II. Now I play Super Street Fighter IV. When I go to the States, I’m going to try and visit some arcades and try to play with some guys. I play as Fei Long [The character inspired by Bruce Lee â€”Ed.]. I’m pretty good, actually. I was actually in the national tournament. It was pretty funny. I won some games and I lost most. They were like the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of Swedish Street Fighter players. There’s this club in Stockholm where they play Street Fighter. I met those guys at the tournament and they were really weird, smelly guys. Their social skills weren’t really up to par. I don’t want to go there, but that’s what’s holding me back from greatness. My hygiene is too good.
On what else they do in their spare time:
LagerstrÃ¶m: We drink beers.
Spetze: We get fucked up.