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WaspGirl wrote: Here's the English version of the interview:
ALTER EGON released his first album this Spring, called "Alteraktiva Romanser". He's taken a huge leap with this one, after having previously played more or less full-on, if talented, "könsrock" (read my previous review on this site for an explanation!). Awesome stuff, methinks, so naturally, Critical Mass had to interview ALTER EGON, and here you go, folks!
Interview and translation: Claes Wiberg for http://www.criticalmass
How would Sir describe himself?
Pretty much every song I've made is dealing with that very subject, but all right, then: I'm impulsive but implosive, and thus I usually have something to write about - this disposition makes me an asocial fool to whom hardly anything but creativity and artistry matters in life. When I die I want my success as a human being to be measured in the amount of songs that I made, the number of records I released and the number of tours I completed. I'm fixated by musical instruments, but I prefer to collect them rather than master them, except for the bass, which happened to become som sort of fave instrument. I still don't consider myself a very good singer, but I've learned to stand my voice, and most of the time I can appreciate the fact that at least it sounds kind of personal - my own voice, so to speak.
Humanity's ill-treatment of those who are different upsets me, and that in itself immediately makes me more different. According to the human need of development I too desperately seek answers to everything, but I love to ask the questions themselves and perhaps that should suffice, at least during the night time when toddlers should be in bed.
I constantly have too many things going on at once, which usually means nothing gets done, and anything and everything gets delayed. I live in a communal collective and I love it - still, I'm fully intent on becoming a recluse when I grow up.
How'd it all start... tell me about the recording of the old stuff that preceded "Alteraktiva Romanser" - when and under what circumstances were those recordings made?
Well, it all started during the summer of the year 2000 - that's when I formed ALTER EGON - and at that time the intention was mainly to fuck about and try to find genital-related rhymes that ONKEL KÅNKEL had somehow overlooked. Me and "Könet" [literally, "The Genital Organ"! -CW] (Kung Carl Kön; google it!) used to sit naked and throw ideas back and forth. The three first songs I completed were, in chronological order, "Då jag blev bög" ["When I turned gay"], "Jag är könsrockare" [Uggh... I hate to translate it into "I'm a genital-rocker", but that's pretty much the term you have to use. Again, see my review of the album on-site for an explanation! -CW] and "Tanto 2000". Then later that year I put together "En dator måste man ha" ["You have to have a computer"], "Tip-Top" and "Jag är bög" ["I'm gay"]. I guess most of these songs were leaked onto the Pirate Bay a while ago. Not exactly songs that I consider musically accomplished, but then again, I was but a little turd back then. Anyways, that's when my interest in "Genital Rock" was spawned, and became my lifestyle and calling.
Any pats on the back for the older stuff? I know plenty of CRASHDÏET fans that dig "Alteraktiva Responser", but did you get any encouraging responses before you became a "celeb"?
Er, that's "Romanser", but then again, "Responser" sounds cool as well...
Oh yeah, that's right. Do go on.
Ummmm, well, the old stuff is pretty shabby, like I said, and requires a highly developed interest in Genital Rock to be appreciated fully, and most lack that qualification.
Definitely. Even the milder stuff - like "Tip-Top" and "En olik individ" upset both my Mom and Dad. Odd creatures, them adults.
But I knew of people here and there who dug it - I suppose many of them consider my MySpace page a sell-out and don't like the polished production of the music today. A lot of people tend to stop being into their fave bands when they evolve and they have to share them with others all of a sudden... Still, I hope that isn't the case when it comes to the ALTER EGON fans.
There's talk of an official release of old Dave Lepard recordings sometime in the future. You contributed to Dave's Laura Mefesser project, using the monicker Karin Merkurio. Tell us about this unholy alliance! If I'm not mistaken, it started before CRASHDÏET did? Wild times? And oh, by the way, what was it like being a therapist at Dave's old high school, I mean, since you were Karin?
Me and David started to hang out way more often during the fall of 2005, and thus we started working on some songs together - lots of it we never got around to actually record, which bothers me a lot - "Puttes Penis" is pretty much the only song we completed that I was on. We had a blast in those days, and it was good to get away from CRASHDÏET once in a while and just fuck about. The Karin Merkurio coincidence was an odd one - I had no idea there was a Karin Merkurio working as a therapist at an Uppsala high school when I took on that name, I just dug how the name rolled off the tongue. [Better explain this one. Alter Egon used the name Karin Merkurio - a name he shared with, among others, an actress and, in fact, the therapist working at Dave's old high school. This, kiddos, is research gone... well, anal -CW]
"Alteraktiva Romanser" was without a doubt of a higher quality than your previous recordings. Actually, I was a bit surprised; how did you find the time to write and record all that - weren't you busier than, er, a very busy person at the time?
Let's see... I had a very creative time in my life when CRASHDÏET returned from the European HARDCORE SUPERSTAR tour. I guess that was due to the fact that I'd been away from my studio for almost a month, and I was dying to record something. And if I'm not mistaken, I'd promised you in a previous interview to make a record or put up a MySpace page before the year was over, so I had to move fast!
Yup; correct. I figured it'd take you longer, though!
The initial plan was to re-record old songs, so people would get to hear them before I played my gig at the Rest In Sleaze 2008 festival, but then a few new things made their way onto tape as well.
Speaking of creative people - Thore Skogman [Swedish oldtimer, longtimer and entertainer]. How come you got to jam with him and interview him for a Swedish newspaper?
Our CRASHDÏET PR people saw my Thore tattoo and got on the case - SvD [the newspaper] had some kind of installment where artists got to interview one another... They called me out of the blue, and boom - I got on the train! I was very, very nervous and came up with the final questions [of the interview] in the cab on the way there. Once I was there, it was totally cool - he was a great guy. He showed us the famous octagon house in Karlstad, and it just so happened that there was a guitar there, so obviously we jammed on a song.
Speaking of artists that have influenced you - who, and have they changed over time?
When I started ALTER EGON, I had no idea whom I was inspired by or what I wanted to do with this project; though lately it's become a bit clearer. Lyrically, I think I want to be a mixture of Lars Demian, Hasse Carlsson / Peo Thyrén, and Thore Skogman, with a few specks of ONKEL KÅNKEL and BINNIKE BENGT & ROY RÖVMUNS ORKESTER thrown in for good measure. Musically it's a bit harder to define; I've recently re-discovered Mart Hällgren [from DE LYCKLIG KOMPISARNA and TOTAL EGON], who I think is an amazing songwriter, and I think it's a pity that D.L.K. was considered a pretty dorky melodic punk band during their heyday - taking into consideration that Swedish melodic punk was considered dorky from the get-go. But I tend to like that kind of stuff, since I dig quirky melodies and not too complicated musical escapades accompanying them - stuff like D.L.K., RÄSERBAJS and ASTA KASK. [All Swedish melodic punk bands - CW]
Eddie Meduza is another one of my heroes - partly because he was incredibly productive, but also because he played such a wide musical field - he had a real talent for putting songs together, and also for just making fun of people and conning them into buying all of his - shitty - tapes. [This Swedish recording artist released a lot of albums, but also a lot of cassette tapes, that, half of the time, was just him drunk in the studio! -CW]
The actual composing method... Well, I guess I have to credit Martin Sweet (CRASHDÏET) there; he's good at that stuff, and it's hard to not pick up a trick or two when you've lived pretty much simultaneous lives the last few years...
All right. Let's talk about R.I.S. I suppose you were a bit shocked by the reaction you got at Rest In Sleaze 2008 - you certainly seemed to be!
Oh yes; the audience certainly bowled me over... I had no idea so many of them had heard the songs and wanted to sing along merrily! It was a bit weird singing lead vocals, though - I'm really too out of shape for that, especially since I stubbornly want to play bass as well, but it turned out pretty fun in the end.
Yep. And now you're about to play Germany - huh?
Huh indeed. These German promotors, "Chainz & Guns Promotion"...
...wanted me to come over and play. I told them: "airline tickets, transportation, food and board, and Jagdfürst [German Jagermeister variant - CW] backstage, and we're there!". Should be interesting...
Indeed. Okay, I want to talk a bit about the evolution of ALTER EGON lately. You've moved away from the "cunt, penis, fag, paedo" lyrics of yesteryear to way more philosophical ponderings, and good ones at that. Loads of people, at least three I think, have commented on that! =) Tell me!
Well, I guess my brain has evolved from a life of containing naughty words only to a lifestyle where it stores naughty words and... a few other things! The "Genital Rock" think can get a bit one-dimensional - I think the only ones that get away with it all the way is ONKEL KÅNKEL. Bizarre and provoking lyrics, but still deep poetic songs with awesome messages. I guess I wanted more width and dynamics, and lo and behold - I came up with a couple of songs entirely devoid of naughty words - which certainly wouldn't have happened just one year earlier. I'm content using explicit language when it's called for - not just for the fuck of it.
It's apparent that you want to promote sexual freedom with ALTER EGON. Your two cents?
Aw, well, I guess I just like fucking with the status quo of sexual orientation and gender roles. I try to present a world view less static and square than that of the average Joe. If I can persuade just one person to open their eyes and stop worrying about what's "normal" and "okay" - maybe even get them to try something "forbidden" or "nasty" and then be open and proud about that - well, then I feel I've come a long way and made an impact with my music. In the words of Thore Skogman: "Lite galenskap piggar opp" ["A bit of craziness cheers you up"].
Absolutely. Okay, what about the future then, mr. Egon? The new stuff is fucking awesome, and when I first heard "En olik individ", I flipped and thought, hell, he HAS to release a commercially available album sooner or later! Any such plans?
Not right now - sure, it'd be a blast, not to mention artistically satisfying, but intend to keep ALTER EGON away from this greedy music industry machine as long as possible - I've said no to all "offers" I've gotten so far. I suspect they haven't even heard my songs - that they've just seen how many times they've been played on my MySpace page - so no love lost, I suppose.
Or they wanna make a quick buck off the fact that you're in CRASHDÏET...
ALTER EGON doesn't make me a nickle right now, and probably wouldn't do so no matter how many albums I released. Plus, it's valuable to have total control and not have to take anyone else into consideration.
OK! How do you wanna wrap up this interview?
First and foremost, I want to thank all the happy people checking out my songs on MySpace - about 30 000 plays since late December! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and means a lot, believe me! Thanks and see ya!!
Thank you! Check out the songs, people - you'll love them! -CW