Once I was a subscriber to National Geographic just because I love to travel around the world, and in a special issue NG covers Gothenburg, labelling it as “the city built on rock ‘n’ roll”. Although Gothenburg has a far more nuanced music scene than just being an outlet for rock and roll bands, the city takes great pride in being the birthplace for bands like – as mentioned in the article – In Flames, At the Gates, Dark Tranquility, HammerFall and many similar bands carrying the rock and roll and metal legacy into the future.
But there’s also a much wider rock and roll and punk rock scene in Gothenburg that wasn’t mentioned, bands extracting the best elements of the 70’s rock scene and fusing it with rock and roll for the 2020s and bands reshaping the sound of the punk rock scene. We’ve bumped into several of those bands when they have visited Hamburg the last few years – Scumbag Millionaire, The Drippers, Deadheads and Honeymoon Disease to mention a few.
When the latter went on a break in 2018, the guitarist and vocalist Anna Skogö started side project Acid’s Trip to have an outlet for her own ideas and to play more “challenging” guitar riffs. However, when Honeymoon Disease’s break turned into an indefinite hiatus, Anna shifted her focus and Acid’s Trip became her main rock and roll outlet.
A super hot day in Gothenburg we met up with Anna and chat about writing music to the upcoming debut album, the supportive and inclusive rock and roll scene in Gothenburg, and how the band have adapted to the new realities in a world where decisions are governed by a virus. But we started off in what’s most rock and roll of it all: welding.
The rock ’n’ roll of welding
Let’s start beyond music. I found out that you work as a welder and have online lectures at YouTube. What I find interesting is that people not working in the music industry seem to believe that many musicians work with music full time and don’t do anything else. It’s some sort of myth that is still kept alive for some reason.
I hear that at times as well.
I’m not going to talk too much about my job, but as life works out for me and many other bands you have to prioritize work before music. I used to work as a project welder, and travelled to wherever anyone needed my services and work for a few weeks and then go to the next project somewhere else, but you can’t work like that if you want to tour with your band as well, you need to have some sort of work routines and know when you have holidays. That’s why I started to teach welding instead because I got holiday breaks which is perfect for touring.
Being a rock and roll artist doesn’t mean you can’t have different lives. I need my welding job to afford a practice space, or we wouldn’t have a place to practice with the band. But I also happen to like welding as a job quite much.
When I was around twenty the only goal I had was to earn enough money to pay for festival tickets and buy gear because I really wanted to play music. I also knew I wanted to have a job where I could spend my days listening to hard rock and metal in headphones (laughs), and thought “What type of job will allow me to listen to music while I’m working?”. Obviously I couldn’t work with something that would require customer contact or in an office where you need to work with other people, but welding gave me the opportunity.
It’s a perfect job because I can plan my own work hours, travel and work if I want to, earn loads of money if I wouldn’t mind working on an oil rig (laughs); all these options make it a great job.
But you had that mindset already from the beginning when you started Honeymoon Disease, to work with something that would allow you to tour?
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. It may sound super boring but I really had this plan to become a specialist in my craft because that would mean I would be in a position where I can’t get fired (laughs) and I can allow myself to have demands on holidays and days off work. There’s really no problem to negotiate days off work for touring or take on one-off gigs which often turns up suddenly. That’s something you can’t do if you’re just a regular employee.
Let’s get back to Acid’s Trip; you continue the rock and roll legacy of Gothenburg but the band is spread out over the country and no one really comes from Gothenburg from the beginning, right?
You’re right, and it’s also the reason why I’m alone here today. Covid-19 stops people from joining me, they stay where they live, except for Rikard who had to work today.
When I started Acid’s Trip, Honeymoon Disease hadn’t split-up yet, and Acid’s was just supposed to be my own side project, an experiment for playing faster rock and roll that would allow me to have another type of musical expression. But Honeymoon reached the end of the road, both suddenly and surprisingly, and I just thought “Ok, I’ll just shift focus to Acid’s Trip then”. When I decided to do that I was very picky with the rest of the band; I wanted people with the right attitude who would bring loads of energy to the band, not necessarily people living in Gothenburg – and it’s just me and Rikard living here today.
It has been quite a rough time for the band during covid-19 because we haven’t been allowed to travel, at least we’ve been recommended to stay at home, and how in hell can you get people together for band practice then, I really don’t know (laughs). Mike, our guitarist, lives in Malmö [about 250 km south of Gothenburg] and can’t join us at the moment.
How much of your plans have changed? I know you were about to embark on a German tour in March that was cancelled for instance.
We had to cancel the tour obviously, and I’m a bit sad about it because we’ve worked super hard to prepare for touring, but we started doing live streams, interviews and record an album instead.
This break has been both positive and negative, and in the end it’s your mindset which decides whether you make it or break it, not what’s happening now. All bands put loads of time and effort in rehearsing and do gigs, and it’s not hard to understand that some just give up on it all when everything you worked so hard to reach is cancelled or your plans are postponed, but you have to find another way. It’s not the world adapting to what you want. That’s what we’re doing.
Thundermother was the first band doing live streams just after it all went into a lockdown and if you ask me that’s the reason they’re doing quite well today. They were quick to adapt and to understand what they could do instead of touring.
But about streaming; we’ve had this discussion with many bands by now, that it’s how you reach out to fans gig-wise today. But is it really possible to do several live streams and compensate for a cancelled tour? Would people be interested in different live streams?
It depends on the context. Our first live stream was a high-end product because we did it in a studio and had a professional team doing video and audio for us. Max Ljungberg in Scumbag Millionaire made it happen, he knows some awesome people.
But I don’t know about doing lots of live streams. Maybe you can do live-streamed shows in different settings but it won’t work out doing it in a studio with no fan interaction or audience again. That’s just a 2D experience. A show is about connecting to the audience, feed on their energy and give something back on stage, that’s quite difficult to do in a sterile studio setting with a camera in your face. The audience makes the show, that’s how it works out.
Let’s see what happens, but there are no more live streams coming up at the moment. We got an offer from Carl Martinsson at 333 Company to play a drive-in show at Bananpiren [open air venue in Gothenburg], but it’s not set in stone yet. That would be something different than a live stream.
But I don’t think it ever will be possible to make live streams financially viable. We didn’t ask people for donations in our studio live stream because I don’t want people to feel that they need to give something back. I just find it weird to say “Hey! We’ll do a show if you pay for it” when you don’t get the full 3D experience. Support us by buying stuff from our merch instead, or support the scene in general.
It may be different if you’re a full-time musician and really need money to survive, you may have other priorities then, but we’re not in that position.
Picking up on that the band is a bit spread out; in an interview in Rockpodden recently you said that the Gothenburg scene is better because bands do stuff together to help each other out. How is it different from the rest of Sweden?
To start with, we wouldn’t have reached as far we did with Honeymoon Disease wouldn’t it have been for Horisont and other bands that invited us to play support slots on their tours. We got a new audience and they got new fans from our fanbase. Later, Honeymoon brought Scumbag Millionaire on tour, and Scumbag, in turn, picked Acid’s Trip as their support.
It’s quite simple; if we do it together all of us will get more attention, and when you work together you can do tour packages and offer several bands. Never consider other bands as competitors, just stick together and it will be a win-win situation.
Maybe it’s a bit different from the Honeymoon era now because Acid’s Trip are new in the scene and other bands don’t know who we are yet, you need to work up a following first. But I can’t see that bands compete with each other in Gothenburg, and that’s different from the Stockholm scene where it can be like “Don’t buy their records, buy ours” and “Lose them and bring us on tour instead”. I really don’t like that type of behaviour.
For me it’s similar to my job. As a welder I’m nothing without my team. If I don’t have a backup or someone to work with in my projects it won’t work out, and I’ve brought that mindset with me from the craft to the music industry. The more bands working together, the better result you’ll get in the end. There are few bands breaking through on their own.
Let’s say that Acid’s Trip run a great campaign for a while and get loads of attention but after a while, when we don’t put out new music and don’t have any tour going on because we have our ordinary jobs or are stuck in recording new music, popularity will decrease. But if you have friends in other bands doing something and want support bands, you can keep people’s interest in Acid’s if you join other bands’ tours, or do a few one-offs.
It’s a lot better to have ten bands sticking together than working hard on your own to reach out, and Gothenburg has a lot of that attitude. Work together, get attention together.
The winding road to the debut album
In March last year Acid’s Trip released debut EP “(Get Ready For The) Rock ‘N’ Roll Speedball”, a furiously powered rock and roll debut oozing Hellacopters and MC5 with die-hard guitar riffs. On the back of the EP, banger live shows and some smart social media boosting, Acid’s quickly gained a reputation. But with the debut album on the way and the band being ready to conquer the European scene a band member suddenly left the band when the breakthrough was around the corner, and the walk down the road of fame and glory slowed down. And then covid-19 happened just when they were about to tour Europe in early 2020.
However, Anna and her crew quickly adapted to new realities and started working on the debut album again, and hopefully rock and roll fans have a banger record to look forward to after the summer – with loads of Kiss and Thin Lizzy influences on it.
It’s a year and a bit since you released your debut EP “(Get Ready For The) Rock ‘N’ Roll Speedball” and maybe there’s a debut album in the works, especially now when there are not many gigs to do?
The thing is that we brought in Olle Hedenström from Dead Lord on guitar, made two singles and that debut EP, and got lots of gigs, and were on a roll. Our plan was to release the debut album just a few months later because we had started to write new songs, but then Olle left the band because he didn’t want to start all over again with a new band and have it as his main project.
I don’t want to cast a shadow over Olle at all, he just felt that Acid’s were about to explode and become too big for him, and he had just ended an eight-year-long full-time career involving Dead Lord and work as a touring musician and was done with that kind of life. It wouldn’t work out for him to restart again, and he left when it all set off.
We lost a bit speed with that, no doubt about it, but brought in a new band member, picked up where we left and continued writing music for the album and planned for the March tour, which didn’t happen because of covid-19. But now we’re on it again!
Hopefully, there will be an album out after the summer.
But what are your thoughts about releasing an album during covid-19? Many bands wait until it gets a bit better because they need to support the album with gigs and it’s not possible at the moment.
Friends know that I’m not really the strategic kind of person (laughs), and that doesn’t need to be negative at all, I just like to catch the moment and be spontaneous. Sure, I agree with you on the fact that it’s better to release a record when we can do gigs again, but you can’t sit and wait for it. What if there’s a second outbreak of covid-19 and our tour plans have to be cancelled again? I can’t see the point with playing it safe at the moment.
If we release the record in September or October and there’s a second wave of covid-19 we just keep it on home turf and organize some sort of home party instead.
Will the album sonically follow in the footsteps of the “Speedball” EP or have you gone through some sort of a first-year metamorphosis and taken your sound somewhere else?
The sound has developed a bit, not changed, and the reason is that when Acid’s started I continued on the legacy I carried with me from Honeymoon. I still had the same mindset as in Honeymoon Disease. Honeymoon split-up at the top which was super sad but at the same time an awesome thing to do instead of putting an end to it when we’re in a downward spiral, but the start of Acid’s Trip was like a pizza with extra everything (laughs) because I wasn’t done with Honeymoon.
In hindsight, I should have been a bit more careful and not have it all on there, especially the riffs on the EP and the overall band aesthetic. The album will be far better produced, better guitar riffs but still with lots of influences of Kiss.
About the influences; you mentioned Kiss but have also referred to Thin Lizzy and MC5, or as you said in another interview “a mature version of Hellacopters”.
It’s just such a cliché to say “a mature version of Hellacopters” (laughs). What the fuck does it really mean?
Just to keep up with the clichés; I’m sure you’ll find more Thin Lizzy in the music in the future and a lot more drop guitars, some awesome Kiss riffs and more complex guitar riffs.
The problem is when you have too much time to work on a record like now that you start to analyze what you do and risk to lose the feeling for the music, and when you work too much on something it ends up in nothing left to release because you make it too minimal and stripped-down in the end.
But the reason you started Acid’s Trip was to get away from simple rock music and play more sophisticated guitar riffs beyond the straightforward rock in Honeymoon?
That’s the reason, but it’s not because I didn’t like what we did in Honeymoon, I love that kind of stuff. In my head Honeymoon haven’t split-up, it never ended for me. The second Honeymoon record was very much me because I wrote most of the songs but I wanted to challenge myself a bit more, especially on the vocal-side and to play more advanced guitar riffs.
Honeymoon is melodic rock and roll but I wanted more metal influences in my music. That’s why Acid’s Trip started. My background is in the death metal and heavy metal scene in Uppsala where all of us were hanging out together in parks, drinking beer and listening to metal. I used to hang out with the dudes of Watain before they even had a band. My best friends played in In Solitude, a great metal band, and I didn’t get into rock and roll until much later in life.
Honeymoon Disease toured across Europe a lot and built a brand through live shows. Is it difficult to free yourself from being an ex-Honeymoon member and build up a new career with Acid’s Trip?
If you read our bio you will see references like “ex-Honeymoon Disease members” but if we would use such references too much it would be a lie because Acid’s Trip don’t sound much like Honeymoon at all. Maybe people will find some similarities to the second Honeymoon album because I do the vocals on some songs, like ”Fly Bird, Fly High”. But in general there are not many similarities.
It would obviously be easier to ride on the back of Honeymoon Disease but that would be false marketing and I’m quite sure that Honeymoon’s fans would be disappointed if they turn up at our shows and expect us to sound like that. That’s not what Acid’s Trip is about at all.
In the latest episode of Rockpodden they had a full show about mastering, and the host Magnus talks to Henrik Palm who’s a great example of someone who built his brand on his name, not on the bands he has worked with, like Ghost or In Solitude. He doesn’t need to talk about those bands because everyone knows him as an awesome person for the work he does. That’s something I look up to and try to follow.
What’s the next step for Acid’s Trip? What’s the first thing you will do when we’re back to something similar to normal again?
I have too many plans, big plans and ambitious goal, but I’m not that type of person who strategically reflects on who I need to work with to reach my goals (laughs). What is set though is that there will be a tour later and that there will be an album and a few singles.
Hopefully we can release the album on a major label. At the moment we’re at a Polish independent label called Interstellar Smoke Records which has been awesome for us because labels frighten me a bit. Honeymoon Disease started at a major label, Napalm Records, but we changed to The Sign Records which didn’t work out that well at all. But there is ongoing communication with Napalm about Acid’s because I would love to reach out to a larger audience, and to do that we need to be backed by a major label. It’s not necessary to tour as much as possible, just do smart tours.
But the long term plans are big! If you listened to my Rockpodden episode I’m bantering about Psycho Vegas, and that’s where I want to end up. When we release the album – and it’s going to be an awesome record – we will get gig offers. But I don’t want to book us everywhere and tour as much as we did in Honeymoon because that burned us out, I want to Acid’s Trip to stay in the scene for a long time.
Photographer: ©Richard Bloom
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