Got this snapshot in the mail today, Johnnie Bolin posing with RETROFUTURE 7 in Sioux City.
Trace Keane arranged the session. Thank you, much appreciated.
Holiday fun with RETROFUTURE – 2.000 flyers to be distributed around Storsjön (The Great Lake) in the next few weeks (possibly beginning this Sunday, depending on the weather), and a box of RETROFUTURE 7 magazines that was posted earlier today to Trace Keane over in Sioux City (for the Tommy Bolin festivities over there on August 2).
Things are coming to an end so I might as well go out in style. This will be over a couple of years from now.
Remember the Deep Purple party I threw at Jane Doe here in Östersund (Jämtland county) on November 23? On May 17, they will kickstart the new season with a party of their own, and a very exclusive outfit called the Cheap Winos will be present. A release party of sorts, as they will release a vinyl single called “Sweet Jane” on the night (a video for this song, filmed at Jane Doe, has just been released on YouTube). Locals will recognise the winos, but for the night they will only respond to the names Mike Doe, Mo Doe, B Doe and Nash Doe. They will happily sign records and play the loudest music they can find right through the evening, starting at 18.00.
I will pop in myself and check this out, and I will be happy to bring along artist Richard Svensson (Montana Blue comic) who is in town over the weekend. His work can be seen in RETROFUTURE 7 that will be available for free on this night. This issue also sports a major feature about the Deep Purple party we had last year, so this is great timing. Feels good to be part of this night.
So, Jane Doe it is.
Today I am happy to say that RETROFUTURE 7 has gone to the printers, so the plan for a release in May looks rock solid. As usual, I will print 1000 copies of which about 900 will be handed out for free (mostly in my neck of the woods, but some to the States as well).
As stated before, this is the first issue of the final four, it will all end with RETROFUTURE 10 one day. The Montana Blue comic will be spread out over these final magazines, and this starts now. About 24 pages (of the 60) belongs to Montana Blue in this issue.
The Deep Purple party I threw last year is also featured, seven pages in all (mostly in English) with plenty of pictures. 100 copies will be sent over to Johnnie Bolin for the Tommy Bolin festivities in Sioux City this summer. Friends of this blog will know the story (if this is news to you, just locate the “Deep Purple party 2013” category on this blog). It was a twin city kind of thing. So that will be fun.
Pretty happy about this issue, it is exactly as eccentric as it should be. The interview with Michael “Mojo” Nilsson is a good one (his personal favourite as we speak, which is nice to hear), and I like the cover shot. The last session I ever had with the old Sony DSC-S750 (digital) camera.
Anyhow, the countdown is on.
This is a brand new interview with Swedish guitarist/singer/songwriter Michael “Mojo” Nilsson that will be in print in RETROFUTURE 7 in the Spring/early summer. I think a proper preview from this upcoming issue could be a good thing to have on the blog and I really like this artist. We are from the same town, Östersund (in Jämtland County, Sweden). The actual magazine will feature more Mojo stuff. Enjoy!
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Let us begin by looking back at 2013. How was this year for you?
– It´s been a great year. My son Luke Marlon Lennart was born and I finally released my record. I also made a face-lift that cost me a fortune. Just kiddin´…
The release of your second album “The Abduction of Big Papa Mojo” happened in the Spring and you had the big party at the Storsjöteatern venue in Östersund on April 5, was it nerve wrecking or how do you handle these things?
– Well the preparations before (the gig) took some serious time. Lots of stuff to think about when you throw a party like that. We didn´t know how many people would show up. But it turned out to be a success. Around 450 people showed up, which is something of a record for that kind of party in my town. I love performing, so that part was the most enjoyable.
I have heard people talk about the record with great enthusiasm and I think you proved a point with this album. But there was an earlier release that escaped my attention at the time. What is the lowdown on the first album and how is it different from the second?
– Thank you. Yeah, the first album I made was recorded entirely live, with a 6-piece band, including horns. That album is definitely more traditional than the second. More jazzy, traditional Chicago blues stuff. But it´s still tight and energized with many fire breathing passionate guitar solos. The band put absolutely everything they got into every song. The second album is more produced though, in a good way.
Can fans still buy a copy of the first and if not, could a second print come along some day?
– Locally, I think that Estrad Norr Jämtland still might have a few copies around for sale.
How do you feel about Spotify and this whole business about buying music online?
– It´s a complex matter. But as long as the deals are legal and they pay out royalties as they have been negotiated, I guess it´s fine. I´d rather buy my records though, at least those that I really want to have. But maybe I´m just being old-fashioned.
Did you consider an LP version of “The Abduction of Big Papa Mojo”, one of these limited edition things?
– I would very much love to see that happen. But it may not happen right now. Maybe a very limited edition then.
Is it true that your participation in The Voice delayed the album for months and that the record label that was involved in that show wanted to re-model you? What happened there?
– That is true. They weren´t that keen on releasing a bluesrock album and some suggestions were being formed about me doing some crazy stuff. Some people even expressed interest in having yours truly dancin´ around in tight spandex with a wig, singin´ schlager metal. Everyone who knows me and the way I´m built would have a good laugh at those ideas.
People can have opinions about shows like The Voice, but what is your take on it?
– To be honest, I had barely watched talent shows before and I wasn´t very impressed. But The Voice was different in many ways. The jury was not as self absorbed as in other shows, and their main focus was not to insult the participants. I had great fun and it was an honor that the Swedish people voted for me all the way to the second place in the competition.
Are you preparing stuff for a new album?
– Yes I am. I have a handful of riffs and a few vocal ideas now that I will elaborate into full songs when I get the time. It will be some heavier shit this time, for sure.
How important is social media, like Facebook, for marketing?
– It´s very important these days. That´s why I´m there. You reach a lot of people. Lots of strange things going on though, that irritates the hell out of me… YouTube is great though. I have over 1.500.000 views on my YouTube channel now…
You play with a pool of extremely talented musicians that live in these parts, how would you describe the local music scene these days?
– Yeah, my fellow musicians are all extraordinarily talented and they´re brimming with personality too. The local music scene is good I think. Great bands and great musicians has always emerged from this area. The only thing to wish for might be even more stages for live performances.
Is it harder to get gigs these days? I heard somebody say that it was recently.
– I haven´t noticed a dramatic change, but I´ve never been the kind of guy who hunt for gigs and promote myself constantly. I guess I´ve been lucky enough to get gigs anyway.
OK, let us go back in time. Were you born in Östersund?
– Yes I was, but I grew up on Frösön, the beautiful island of the lake Storsjön (The Great Lake).
Any early memories?
– I spent a lot of time playing with the neighborhood kids, making our own games. My grandfather made all sorts of weapons out of wood for me. All the kids wanted to borrow them. He also wrote “this belongs to Fartface” on my leather football when I was about seven. I recall that one older guy pissed himself when he read the inscription. I wasn´t that amused.
How old were you when music came into your life? Do you recall your first records and do you still have them in your collection?
– When I was about five, I listened a lot to my dad´s Elvis records on the Sun Label. But that was about it. It wasn´t until I was nine and visited a friend of mine and saw his older brother´s Kiss collection that I really got hooked on music. Seeing all the posters and hearing that music made a huge impression on me. A blood spitting bass player and a drummer raised by saber-toothed tigers. Can you ask for more? My first LP´s were Kiss “Destroyer” and Iron Maiden´s “Killers”. I bought the Maiden record the day it was released. Still have both.
How did you discover all this blues stuff, most of that happened before your day so to speak.
– Since I became a huge fan of Heavy Rock music I also discovered ZZ Top when they had their big break with the “Eliminator” album. I´ve always been keen on learning stuff, reading everything I could about the bands I dug. Then I read an interview with Billy Gibbons when he talked about his blues heroes. So I gave that a try. I was floored by the blues then, you might say.
You have told me that you visited me as a kid to check out my Deep Purple collection.
– I think the mother of a friend of mine knew your mother, so he knew that you were a huge Deep Purple fan. Being 10 years old and heavy rockers, we were curious and very nervous. So we made something up about returning some some borrowed sugar or something, and payed the great Deep Purple wizard a visit! There was a small sign on the door ” Deep purple fan club”. You gave me a magazine of yours, which featured an interview with Ritchie Blackmore. You also said “you seem to have a good taste of music, kid. Stick to that!” I remember it clearly.
Take me through your early days and the first bands that you were in. I assume you met friends in school that shared your interests and that it all started in the classic way?
– One of my friends had an older sister who dated one of the guitar players of 220 Volt for some time. So my friend picked up the guitar and wanted to start a band. He forced me into playing drums, “Hey, I can see you can keep good time the way you hammer your legs like a chimp while listening to music all the time”. So I started to play drums in a Metal band. The name was oozing with fire and brutality. The name was…. BRONCO BILL! Ain´t that cheesy? My second band was The Flapjacks. But by then I had switched to guitar and vocals.
Do you recall your first gig?
– That was Lucia evening 1986. Performance in front of most of the pupils of our school in the assembly hall. We nailed it! But the guitar player was so nervous that he turned his back to the audience for the whole show.
How important was 220 Volt to your generation?
– They were huge. A great inspiration and a very good band. As a matter of fact, the first song I ever played was a 220 Volt song: “Prisoner of War”. I think I still have a recording of that version somewhere…
Do you play any instruments besides the guitar?
– As I mentioned above, I played drums for a while. But believe me, I´m no Ian Paice on the drums. As a matter of fact, I´m not even the pimple on his right buttocks. I tried harmonica for a time as well. But there´s more to harmonica playing than inhale-exhale like a drunk Bob Dylan. It´s hard to play bluesharmonica. Lot´s o people think they can. But often it sounds like bird-poop falling from the sky.
Did you get tutored in any way or are you self taught?
– I´m entirely self taught. When I started playing, you could learn through other players, by listening to records and stuff. Today, every goddamn lick or song that ever was invented is up there on YouTube, with some guy who shows you how to play it. It´s a lot easier. That´s why we see so many whiz-kidz out there.
Name a few guitarists that really inspired you as a kid.
– Angus Young, Ace Frehley, Billy Gibbons, Johhny Winter, Ritchie Blackmore, Eric Clapton and Peter Green.
Did you always sing as well as play the guitar?
– No, drums only at first. I knew I could sing, but I was a little bit shy at the beginning. So we brought in some other guy who barely was in tune.
Name a few singers that stood out for you.
– I love Aretha Franklin. Probably the best vocalist of all time. She has it all. Power with a lot of soul. But David Coverdale in his early days with Whitesnake was unbeatable. He was Tarzan on vocals. A male singer should have “good size nuts-kind of a voice” in my book. Bon Scott. Sounds like he gargels sand and spits fire at the same time. What a great singer and master of tongue in cheek-lyrics. Rob Halford – The Metal God. Ronnie James Dio, Glenn Hughes, Paul Stanley, the master showman with an incredible voice. BB King, Little Milton, Edgar Winter. I could go on forever…
I have always maintained that as a singer you have the power of Tom Jones and I have heard other people mention his name as well, as a positive nod. Was he ever an inspiration?
– Thank you! Yes, he is a great inspiration. He can still bark some incredible stuff out for his age. That´s a smooth sounding voice, yet very powerful. Sounds black and soulful.
I could see Tom Jones do an amazing cover of your “Mojo Party” track, I really could.
– Me too! We should send it to him I think. It´s an amazing idea, he he… I can see him singin´ it in skin tight leather pants, with a big smile on his face.
You have met one or two heroes, can you share some of those memories?
– Oh yes. I met BB King backstage in Sweden in the early 90´s. Just me – “Sit down, son”! – mumbled some stupid things in awe about inspiration, but he took his time. He gave me a few guitar picks and a couple of signed pics. Conny Bloom from Electric Boys was waitin´ outdoors to met him as well. But the body guard chose this skinny, goofy looking guy with round glasses instead (me).
Are you a collector? Can we discuss your record collection a little?
– Yes indeed. Right now, I´m hooked on early Kiss records and Classic Rock. For a while I bought a huge amount of blues records, both CD´s and vinyl. My record collection is a mix of Blues, Rock, Classic Rock and some harder stuff as well…. Very guitar oriented I guess. Not too many Britney Spears records… yet.
How many LP´s and CD´s do you own, roughly?
– Oh, that´s a tricky question since most of it is packed in boxes right now since we just moved in. But a rough estimate would be around 1.500 cd´s and over a thousand LP´s.
Do you still buy LP´s?
– Yes I do, unfortunatly. It´s a rather expensive hobby. I watch e-bay and other forums constantly since there are no record stores left around here. I like the smell of an old LP. Delicious…
How important is the cover art for you?
– The cover art is very important to me. Some of my greatest musical memories are from the times when I laid flat-back, watching the record covers, with the music ripping through my ears. I hold Iron Maidens´s cover art in high regard. Many people bought those records on the strength of the cover alone. I´m constantly finding new things. Small details, like for instance, small people fornicating like baboons on the back cover of “Then Number of The Beast” album. I was constantly trying to draw Eddie in school as a child. The greatest cover of all time is Kiss “Destroyer” though. Followed by “Iron Maiden´s “Killers”.
What is the most precious record in your collection and why?
– I have this rare Japanese Edition of Ozzy´s “Bark At The Moon” with a complete sheet of Ozzy´s tatoos. Also some rare Kiss records with the original posters, books and merchandise sheets still intact. The most precious one is my first record ever, a well worn copy of “Destroyer”.
What is your opinion on the CD and do you think that physical product might go away completely some day or are people like us going to rebel against that in sufficient numbers?
– I never liked the CD as much as vinyl. The sound is not as good, and I like the the size better on the LP when it comes to the cover. They get scratched quite easily on the surface also. But it´s easy to carry and I prefer it before streaming and mp3s. But I love that it has liner notes and artwork you still can touch. I don’t think the CD format will ever completely disappear.
Your music is released by Nowamind Records, can you tell us a little bit about them?
– It´s a small record company based in Östersund. The owner, Joakim Nordborg is a great guy with good ideas, and he is also a skilled graphical designer.
Would you agree that an independent label is sometimes better for the integrity of an artist than a major label?
– Much better. A good label acts as a supporting, creative boost for the artist.
Björn Höglund has been involved in many ways, he is obviously a multi talented guy. Will you work together again for the next album?
– I don´t know yet, since he is a very busy guy. But I would be surprised if he was not involved in some way. He is amongst many other things, a very skilled song-writer and producer. We work very well together, and he knows exactly what to expect from me, and how to bring it out.
The “Mojo Party” video is great fun. Do you like making videos?
– Thank you. Again, it´s Björn Höglund producing. We had great fun shooting it. Making videos is great fun during such circumstances.
I know that you would like to move into Classic Rock a little bit more, do you think that your hard core audience can accept an album that presents a whole new side to you?
– Hopefully, they would like it. It´s still me. Blues and Classic Rock are not that far from each other I think. Like Muddy Waters said: ” The blues had a baby and they named it Rock and Roll”.
Are there any Classic Rock songs that you would love to cover? Any thoughts about that?
– Plenty of good songs out there. The great challenge with that is taking someone else´s song and making it your own, without losing the original feel completely. I like our version of “Oh well” on the album. It has the integrity of the original, mixed with a heavier, more bombastic approach. I´m thinking of doing “Lady Luck”, from Deep Purple´s “Come Taste the Band”. Great song, and more obscure than some other more obvious choices.
You have done quite a lot of concerts, do you have a few shows that you really thought stood out?
– Yeah, there are a few blues shows when you find yourself almost in a trance, with a great flow and interacting between the musicians. When the geetahhhh siiiings! We did a show in Kluk, Jämtland many years ago. It was recorded by Sveriges Radio, P4 and broadcasted a few times. Great show with the whole band loaded with energy. Also the shows we did with Deep Purple tribute act Mark III were great. You will find a Mark III show on YouTube.
What kind of show is the worst and why?
– When the audience is shit faced on booze and don´t give a damn about the music. When I was younger I played quite a few hillbilly joints. People would dance even when the songs were ended, kicking the microphone stand and fighting, vomiting and sometimes, even insulting the band.
Have you played on other people´s albums?
– Yes, every now and then I contribute with guitar or vocals. One of the more memorable things was when Björn Höglund and I recorded one AC/DC cover and one Tom Jones song for a live DVD featuring the Swedish artist Carl- Einar Häckner. The original tracks had to be removed with short notice since he didn´t own the rights for those. So we made our versions, close to the originals.
I have seen you a few times and I really want a Mojo live album or two in my collection. When are we going to get that?
– I would love to that. Whenever I get the chance.
Have you recorded shows, what do you have in the vaults? Did you record anything that we didn´t get to hear on the second album session?
– Most of the stuff recorded for the second album ended up on the actual record. There are some good stuff in the vaults though, a few concert recordings of my own, and some recorded by Sveriges Radio, P4.
As the title suggests, you were kind of kidnapped. Exactly what went down and how did this whole thing happen?
– Jens Ganman phoned me and said that he wanted me to record a guitar solo for his upcoming single. Just a quick session. I didn´t even want to bring my own guitar. When I came to the studio, the whole band was there waiting for me. What a shock! Very touching actually. A great gift. We started working immediately.
I raved about the album on my blog Trinkelbonker and included the post on a spread in RETROFUTURE 6 (Purple edition), did you get any feedback from that?
– Yes I did. The feedback was great. Many people who would not have discovered the album otherwise checked it out! Thanks!
Glad to support you. Let us talk a little about other interests. I understand that you are a bit of a history buff?
– I’m very interested in history. I also work as a history teacher when I’m not out playing music.
How much have you studied our local history and could more be done to introduce our kids to our past in your opinion?
– I have made very extensive studies of the local history. For instance, one of my essays from the university is published in the book “Jämtland mellan två statsystem”. It is about Jamtland’s armed forces during the 1600´s, when they fought in Germany and Poland. When I worked at the museum, we tried to reach young people through drama. It worked pretty good.
Do you collect books?
– Sure. Much history, art and music related stuff.
– I have collected comic books since I was little. Luckily we have a large basement now. In that sense, I never grow up.
Anything else? Cars?
– No, but I also collect guitars.
Do you go the the cinemas and if you do what sort of films are you into?
– I do not go as often as before. But I love the escapism of the big adventures like for instance “The Hobbit”. I’m a Marvel Comics fan, so I watch those whenever I get the chance. I´m also a fan of Woody Allen.
Do you have some favorite movies?
– Yes. Woody Allen´s “Sweet and Lowdown” with Sean Penn as a crazy guitar player in the 30´s. Also, “Gladiator”. Candy for anyone who is interested in ancient history, even if it´s fictive to a large extent.
Do you own a man cave, a proper full sized all purpose hobby room?
– Yes, I’ve just completed it in our new house. It will be amazing.
Do you agree that every man should?
– If you have the opportunity, of course!
You were asked to come up with a Mojo Christmas tree for City Hall here in Östersund last year, and it had skulls and flying V guitars on it. Tell us about that and the reaction.
– It was incredibly fun to design. The reactions from some people were silly. “Skulls in a Christmas tree is horribly inappropriate. I will certainly boycott the city this year” . But most people appreciated it very much. In particular younger people and children. It was actually featured in the newspaper DN as well.
It braved one hell of a storm on December 12, but the skulls and the guitars remained. A sign from the Gods?
– Of course! You can never defeat Rock and Roll! Not even with the unbridled wrath of the storm…
Looks like people wants you to do all sorts of things, which is the other side of the coin I guess. You were part of my Deep Purple party at Jane Doe on November 23 and this in spite of you also playing a gig that same night elsewhere. I can´t tell you how much I appreciated your presence.
– Thank you. It was very nice to be a part of that night.
What is your take on my hobby, creating magazines?
– I have always had a great respect for what you do. Good starting point: you create the magazine that you would like to read yourself, but can´t find anywhere else. Amazing articles of different kinds, always worth reading. Just love it! The contacts you made in the music industry over the years is truly amazing. The fact that you have received such acknowledgment from your own idols throughout the years really says it all I think.
I will end this interview with a request. Tell the world a little bit about Jämtland (County) and why this is such a wonderful place on this Earth of ours. Be a spokesperson for us all.
– Jämtland really has it all for me. That´s why I live here. Exceptional fishing waters and majestic mountains. Östersund: one of the few places in the world where you can catch a big trout just five minutes from the city. Astonishing views as well as nice people. Tasty locally produced food with a healthy touch. Lots of great music too. You will not be disappointed.
Michael Eriksson (2014)
(No part of this interview may be quoted without permission)
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Just a few words about RETROFUTURE 7. Progress is fine and most of my work is done. At this point I am basically ironing out the last bugs. Artist Richard Svensson is doing his comic book version of Montana Blue and those remaining pages will be the last to be added before this can go to print. However, there is no rush involved in this. RETROFUTURE 7 will be a Spring/early summer issue.
I will publish an interview with guitarist Michael “Mojo” Nilsson on this blog fairly soon, picked from this issue. I will be interviewed by local media on Monday – a good preview will be a good thing to share when that story goes to print.
The last few issues will be a bit different, since nearly half the space goes to the Montana Blue project. Still, this very project is the reason why these issues will exist to begin with. I was ready to end things with RETROFUTURE 7 but there will be 10 issues in all before the end as it stands. I will try my best to make them as entertaining as possible.
I have a week off from work right now and it is quite cold – perfect timing to spend some energy on this right now.
Work on RETROFUTURE 7 is going well and I thought that I might showcase how the cover is in progress. Guitarist Michael Mojo Nilsson has the cover and there will be an interview in this issue with the man. In fact, it will be in English so that I can put it up here on this blog as well, promoting him. Tommy Bolin can be seen down to the left – the Tommy Bolin and Deep Purple parties in Sioux City and Östersund this year will be covered (partly in English).
Montana Blue can also be spotted on the cover. The comic book version will kick off in this issue with the first 24 pages of the adventure.
More reports will follow.