Hoven Droven, the E-Interview
For those who've never heard of this great Swedish rock band, you're not looking hard enough. Hell, their CDs are even in bestbuy.com. Blending traditional, worldly folk with the power and might of the guitar band sound, these guys give you everything. Fortunately, I caught up with the funny drummer, Bjorn Hoglund, and here's what he had to say.
[Ben] Since you're the guy that bangs away on the drums, I guess the obvious opening question is: don't you ever get tired? Hoven Droven seems to be guitar and drum heavy. Do you fall exhausted after a set? What do you do to unwind?
[Bjorn] Listen to country music! Seriously!! I take great pleasure in listening to all kinds of music and I want it around me constantly. It just makes me feel good. I don't need it to get my aggressions out (drumming takes care of that), so I use music listening to kick back.
[Ben] What does the name Hoven Droven mean? Can you tell us something about the band's origin?
[Bjorn] We formed about 10 years ago, with a slightly different line up than this one, when most of us met at a music school just outside Östersund, our hometown. The name was stolen from an album by the band Euskefeurat (don't even try to pronounce that!) and it's dialect for "whatever" or "any way you want it." Someone said that the direct english translation would be "helter skelter," but I don't know...
[Ben] Kjell-Erik Eriksson's fiddle and Jan Stromstedt's organ and accordion certainly lend a bit of romanticism to your rock group. Who are the composers of your group? The planners? The leaders? The softies? The enraged drinkers?
[Bjorn] Bo and Kjell does most of the composing, although Jens is doing his share too. Most of the songs, at least on the previous albums, are traditional swedish songs. Most of them are several hundred years old. We all jam and arrange the songs together. Sometimes it all falls into place at once, but some songs have taken months, sometimes years! I'll leave the drinking part untouched...ask Northside! [their label]
[Ben] Is your sound (a combination of original Swedish folk and modern rock) typical for your part of the world? Or are you looked upon as musical weirdoes as you open up your setlist?
[Bjorn] Definitely weirdos. But Swedish folkmusic has a pretty big scene. It was huge in the seventies when bands started to combine traditional songs with modern instruments and influences, as we do now. There was a new wave in the mid 90's when Hedningarna released their "Kaksi" album, which sold about 50,000 copies in Sweden alone. That's a HUGE number for a swedish folk album, in a country where gold status is 40,000 copies!! Anyway, that paved the way for a lot of new bands and kids taking interest in this kind of music. The scene is still very healthy and gets a fair amount of recognition in a lot of media. There should be more places to play, though. As a touring band you have to go abroad to find enough places to play.
[Ben] What was it like jamming with Rosenberg 7's singers on a few tracks for your CD? Since the CD is mostly instrumental, is that your preferred area of music?
[Bjorn] We've always been instrumental, so that was just something we wanted to try out for the album. It was fun.
[Ben] When all alone in a dark corner of the house, what do YOU listen to? Who are your influences - both musically and as a person?
[Bjorn] Everything man, everything. I have a playlist of mp3s in my computer, and as I've been writing I've gone through Alison Krauss, XTC and Motley Crue!!
[Ben] I've noticed that your new CD, "More Happy Moments," is enhanced with 5 extra songs as mp3s as well as a video of a recording session heaped in there. What do you think of the new technology - mp3s and the Internet - a nicety, or an evil? Do you surf around the web much?
[Bjorn] There are ups and downs. The business will change and a lot of artists will start their own companies that release music on the web only. One of the good sides is that hopefully people will discover how much MORE music there is out there apart from what the music business wants you to hear. You will be able to find music on the Net that you would never have a chance to hear in commercial radio - there by creating your own taste in music,and sharing that with your friends instead. That would definitely help bands like us to get more attention. But in the end, of course it damages CD sales, so it's a paradox situation.
[Ben] Do you tour America often? I notice that Northside, which carries your CDs, is based in Minneapolis, MN and that the descriptions of the songs in "More Happy Moments" CD booklet are in English. Do you find yourself catering to Americans too much? Or are you mainly going for the European fan?
[Bjorn] Northside definitely opened a new market for all us scandinavian folkies, and they are doing a great job promoting the genre. Their arrival was a kick in the but for a lot of the bands to continue doing this. At least it was for me. It was great to go to America the first time (I think we've been there 5 times now...), only to see that our wierd little band works over there too!
[Ben] Care to share one of your favorite backstage stories?
[Bjorn] Eeeeh...to many to mention.
[Ben] What are you current and future plans for tours, recordings, etc?
[Bjorn] We're rehearsing this fall and recording a new album in January which will be out in April of next year - at least in Sweden and Europe. I'm not sure if Northside is going to release it. I guess we'll just have to see if it's any good first!
[Ben] Anything else you'd like to add before the questions cease?
[Bjorn] Yeah. How come you guys didn't push for a re-election instead of this wierd lottery that is going on now?
[Ben] Thanks for the e-talk!
[Bjorn] My pleasure. Check out our new website at www.hovendroven.com!!!