Truckfighters: at their own pace

Truckfighters are going at their own pace and doing exactly as they please! If it takes five years to make an album, five years they will take. If one of the musicians needs to have a break in order to feel happy touring and playing music again when he’s back, the band will take the necessary break. That’s how Truckfighters are working. Building on a common desire to play rock, Dango and Ozo, the band’s two leaders, have created a singular artistic bubble – which means being the third guy isn’t all rainbows and roses. And yet, Ozo was accompanied by the band’s new drummer, Poncho, when he explained us all this. Being the drummer in Truckfighters sure isn’t easy, but the gang’s number three man enjoys doing what he does.

The two oddballs, who love their little Swedish “desert” and wouldn’t say no to playing in a spaceship, talked to us about their new album, Universe, more progressive than its predecessors, but also about the “Fuzzomentary” documentary. It was a good opportunity to broach the subject of being full-time musicians and to get a status update on their mates from Witchcraft – a band which, according to them, no longer exists.

« Maybe we could have finished it one year ago but although the songs were almost done, it felt like, at that time we didn’t want to stress that. »

Radio Metal: At the beginning of your career, you used to release almost an album every two years. Now it took the double, four years, to see Universe being released. What is the main reason behind this?

Ozo (bass, vocals): Actually it took almost five years. [Laughs] Ah, I think it’s been a more complex album in terms of song writing and the way we recorded it. We’ve been recording it like 2-3 songs here and 2-3 songs there… Then we actually re-recorded some drums. Maybe we could have finished it one year ago but although the songs were almost done, it felt like at that time we didn’t want to stress that. We wanted to take our time. It didn’t matter if it takes three years, four years, five years, we want to do the best possible album and if that takes five years it has to take five years.

Take the time that it takes…

Yeah exactly. So, we didn’t care that much about time.

Were you busy touring too?

Yeah, we’ve been touring a lot, changing drummers and… yeah, there’s been a lot of things.

Then you had the time to welcome him!

Ozo and Poncho: [Laughs] Yeah!

Ever since your album Mania, a progressive spirit has emerged in your song writing. We can find a progressive side in this new album again. How would you explain this evolution?

Ozo: Maybe it’s because we are better musicians! [Laughs] We can do that kind of stuff without it sounding too strange. In the beginning when we started it was more like a fun project to play kind of really basic stoner fast rock songs. Then along the way, we kind of found our path: we want to explore more things in music than just playing two simple riffs. So it’s been a natural evolution I think.

Was it easy for you to join the band at this specific time when it got more kind of progressive?

Poncho (drums): Ah, well, yeah I guess. I guess. I haven’t really been playing this kind of music before, so it’s been very challenging for me. But I liked it; I liked learning all these new things and playing more drums very much.

On Universe, your last album, the songs length varies a lot: it goes from very short songs to long ones. For example the last one is 15 minutes longs. Was this fully intended or did it just happen?

Ozo: No, not at all. Well we actually tried to make Convention, the shortest song, longer by adding something in the middle. But in the end we removed it because it’s short but… Hey, it’s supposed to be short! So let’s keep it that way. It’s fun, because there are so many different songs on the album.

« We want to explore more things in music than just playing two simple riffs. »

Yes, and it’s surprising, because when you’re listening to the album you’re like “oh, it has stopped now!”

[Laughs] Yeah that’s good.

In this record, you switch from very trippy, progressive, hypnotic atmospheres to much more efficient songs, like “Prophet” or “Dream Sale”. Was this switch between different musical atmospheres fully intended?

No, maybe that has something to do with the long writing process. It took us such a long time to do this album, like a year in the end. Some of the songs were made 3-4 years ago meanwhile maybe one song was made one year ago so…

In an interview, Niklas said that the song “Mastodont” gathers all the elements of Truckfighters in one song. Do you know what he means by that?

Poncho: [Laughs]

Ozo: [Laughs] I will try to explain. But you know if you listen to that song I think you can hear a little bit of everything Truckfighters is: both the soft parts and the really heavy parts and progressive parts and the melodic singing. Yeah, I think it’s got everything. If you need to listen to only one Truckfighters song maybe you should listen to that song, because then you get all these different variations. We are not a band that only plays harder or only plays softer. We try to take a little bit of everything.

Regarding the drums, is it the same? What is your view on this song?

Poncho: First it was a pain in the ass to record. [Laughs] I had a really hard time, but yeah, I agree. I really like the hard parts in this song and also the soft parts of course.

People always talk about the big influence Queens of the Stone Age has on your albums, but to me there is also another strong influence, that of American band Tool.

Ozo: Yeah, yeah Tool is great, yeah absolutely.

It influences your progressive side. Would you agree citing them as an inspiration?

Yeah I would! Even though I don’t like saying that we are influenced by any music. But they’re an inspiration, absolutely. They are a band that does exactly what they want. They don’t force their records. They release records every five to six years or something. They are an amazing band because they have sort of followed their own path, unlike mainstream metal bands, even though they are one of the biggest.

« I think there are not so many bands that sound like Truckfighters. We have been separated from the rest, and a lot of bands today sound like something else. »

How would you explain the “drummer dilemma”, the fact that the band has changed drummers so often?

Oh… [Pauses] First, I think that drummers aren’t as common as guitarists; they are really hard to find. Then Dango and I have been playing for twelve years so for us it’s a lifestyle. We have been so focused on music for so many years that it’s been nothing else. We have worked ordinary jobs, but it has always been about the music. Normal people who play music may have a job then they go to a rehearsal room, rehearse two hours, and then go home. They may be slightly too lazy to push it. And since it’s so hard to find drummers and also find drummers who can fit within the little bubble we’ve been building up for twelve years, maybe it’s really hard for the drummers to have that same energy.

Do you think that the strong musical synergy and friendship between you and Niklas makes it sometimes difficult for someone who just joined the band to find their marks?

Poncho: Yeah, yeah. In the beginning it was of course. Everything was just all new for me; I had never done a European tour or touring at all, just a few shows in Sweden. But yeah, definitely, it was kind of hard – not really to get in the group – but music wise, I would rather say. Because as I told you before, I hadn’t really listened to or played that kind of music so it was challenging for me to both tour, play shows in front of a lot of people – since I wasn’t used to it – and performing every night, all that stuff.

Ozo: But for us it’s been a journey, we started out playing really simple songs, fast songs, and then every album has been an evolution so our music style today is really unique I think. I think there are not so many bands that sound like Truckfighters. We have been separated from the rest, and a lot of bands today sound like something else. I don’t want to talk shit about bands like Graveyard or Witchcraft. They are really good bands but they are taking the 70’s all over again and there are a lot of bands that do the same thing. It’s hard to come into a band that has created some kind of identity with the music.

Poncho: Yeah.

Ozo: And it’s probably impossible for that drummer to feel the same journey and to feel the same evolution in the blink of an eye. Maybe we’ll never find the one that will absorb it all.

You come from Örebro. Do you still live there?

Ozo: Yeah!

You too?

Poncho: Yeah, I grew up there so…

Have you ever thought about moving to a bigger city?

Ozo: Dango has actually moved to Stockholm, but not because of the music, he has his kid there, so since he’s away so much he needs to spend some time with his kid. It’s only two hours from Örebro, so it’s kind of easy to access in a way. But I’ll never follow him. I like it. I think Örebro is a perfect town.

Poncho: Yeah, we have everything we need so…

Ozo: I live 3km from the city centre and it’s still close to the nature. Behind our little houses we have almost nothing. You can go out in the forest or whatever. So it’s great nature out there.

And you like nature…

Ozo: Yeah I do, I do.

Poncho: Yeah me too.

« If I stop thinking it is fun I will stop playing. I don’t do this because of some kind of fantasy that I want to be famous or whatever. I do it purely because I like playing music. »

The Fuzzomentary was released a few years ago. Do you think that it has changed the way people see the band, the way they see you as musicians?

Ozo: Oh yes, of course! It was really fun to show fans or people, other musicians, that we are common guys and this is the reality. There is no fancy rock ‘n roll lifestyle, limousines or whatever. We are a hard working band.

In the Fuzzomentary, we see that you guys all have different occupations while you’re not touring. What are these occupations? I think you’re working at a ski shop?

For the past two years we have only been playing music.

So you stopped it?

We stopped. The ski is gone! [Laughs]

[Laughs] Ok, so Truckfighters has become a full time job.

Yeah, yeah, and that’s really awesome actually.

Again in the Fuzzomentary, you [Ozo] say that if you’re doing too much music, you’re losing the fun of doing it. Now you are doing it as a full time job, you are touring a lot and making a lot of music. Aren’t you afraid that you might lose the fun of doing music someday?

I am afraid of it. If I stop thinking it is fun I will stop playing. I don’t do this because of some kind of fantasy that I want to be famous or whatever. I do it purely because I like playing music. I actually had a period like 3-4 years ago when I didn’t think it was fun. So we took a break for 3-4 months and didn’t do anything. And Dango was really angry because he was like “Oh we need to play, we need to play” but I was like “No, I don’t need to play, I don’t think it is fun. I will not play.” So we cancelled a few shows and said we will not do anything. And I got time to think a little bit and then it grew back again, the fun part. But if that happens again, without any doubt I will just say “No, I want to take a break now.” But I think I try to see it more clearly now. If I feel a little bit tired, I actively go up in the mountains to ski or whatever, to do something completely different.

Poncho: Change your mind…

Ozo: Yeah. If you do too much music you can’t be creative. You need to have the opposite to get influenced and get that you’re in music. That was a long answer! [Laughs]

« If you do too much music you can’t be creative. You need to have the opposite to get influenced and get that you’re in music »

No that’s great. [Laughs] Last year you came to France for Hellfest Festival. I was at this concert and I remember the atmosphere was great and a lot of people were happy to see you live or to discover the band because there are many different people at Hellfest. What are your memories from this concert if you have some you’d like to share?

Poncho: That festival was great! We played so early – like 11:45 in the morning – that I didn’t really expect that much, but then when we were supposed to go on stage the tent was packed! The mood on the whole festival was just fantastic I think. Everything was good that day, honestly.

Would you like to play there again?

Ozo: Yes if we can! We will say yes instantly of course.

In the documentary we see you in Berlin at a show with Witchcraft and Graveyard. You are touring a lot and so is Graveyard but Witchcraft kind of has disappeared. Do you have any news from them?

They don’t exist anymore.

They don’t exist?

No. But I can’t say, maybe they’ll start playing in half a year or whatever, but as of today, they don’t do anything.

Ok, the next one is a bit of a funny question: in the Fuzzomentary you said that if it was technically possible, you would like to play on a shuttle in space. Would you really?

[Laughs] I am not sure if that is my saying or if it is Dango’s saying… eh [hesitates]

Poncho: I mean if you had that opportunity, you couldn’t say no, really…

Ozo: No, probably. Yes of course it would be fun to do that!

I want to know if you have an answer now: what’s this thing with the desert anyway?

Eh… [Hesitates] I don’t know! I’ve only been to the desert once so…

Because if we associate Truckfighters with one word, it would be with the desert.

Yeah, but I think that’s more from the people around us, the people who listen to us. Eh… we don’t really connect ourselves with the desert. Not nowadays at least. We used to when we started; it was kind of a fun thing to play: kind of stoner acid rock. I don’t know, I think of us more as a progressive hard rock/fast rock band nowadays. But as I said before today, in Sweden we have a lot of snow and not so many people living there so it’s almost the same thing; it’s our own kind of desert, only ice cold! [Laughs]

During this new tour, are there places that you have never played before which you will play or that you would like to play?

Not on this tour, I don’t think so. We’ll only play capital cities around Europe. But then we’ll be going to the states for three weeks, then back home and then back again for another three weeks so then I think we will be able to play a little bit more on the west coast. We’ve only been to California before so… USA is a big country; it’s really hard to cover.

And to go all the places, yeah I can imagine. Well it’s the beginning of the year, so what can we wish you for this New Year?

A successful year, and hopefully that our health is with us, that our shows are better and that more and more people show up there.

Poncho: A lot of touring. Yeah!

Interview conducted on January, 20th 2014 by Amphisbaena.
Transcription : Natacha.
Introduction : Alastor.

Truckfighters official website: www.truckfighters.com

Album Universe, out since January, 24th 2014 via Fuzzorama Records.

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