220V - Fine, Fine Swedish Brew
March 23, 2004, 10 years ago
One of the greatest bands from the New Wave Of Swedish Heavy Metal was undoubtedly 220V (pronounced "two twenty volt"!). Along with Torch, Heavy Load, Axewitch, Overdrive, Oz, Trance and Silver Mountain, 220V helped carve a sound that was gothic, leaden yet melodic - all about guitars howling in the night. Indeed, Power Games is, in my opinion, one of the finest metal albums ever pressed to plastic. Now back touring and recording, the band has an album called Volume 1 plus a reissue of Eye To Eye out on Power Play Records (see www.powerplayrecords.net for more).
"We've just resumed the work on a live album," says guitarist Mats Karlsson. "This one will be a full album as opposed to the five songs that were released on our 20th anniversary limited edition album Volume 1 two years ago. We've also just completed a recording for Brunflo Hockey, which is a local hockey team. We've done their anthem song, sort of in the 'We Will Rock You' vein. Apart from that we're writing new stuff and we'll be recording this fall I guess."
What, indeed, would a new 220V album sound like?
"Since it's the original (early) line-up of the band that's now reformed, it may sound a little different than later albums. The band was a bit more on the experimental, progressive side in the early days. More tempo changes and slightly heavier material is my guess; at least of what's been on the table so far. We're still finding our way; we haven't been writing together for some time so we're trying stuff out. But it's moving along in the right direction. In terms of songs, I'll give you one that's decided: 'Hell Of A Lady'. A few other new ones that were released on the Volume 1 album are 'Don't Come My Way', 'On Top Of The World' and 'You'."
The Volume 1 album requires some explanation. "We had a 20th anniversary coming up, so we thought we'd do something about it," offers Mats. "We reunited the early line-up from 1981-1983 and re-recorded the songs from our first limited edition single (ed. which was released in Nov 1982; Volume 1 was released in Nov 2002). We also wrote a few new songs and added some soundboard recordings from Sweden Rock Festival 2002. It summed up to a full album, which we released in a 1000 copies limited edition for the diehard fans. All studio tracks were recorded in a rehearsal room for fun. I like the new songs a lot; 'Don't Come My Way' and 'On Top Of The World' show a new side of the band again, while 'You' resembles something that could have been on Eye To Eye or Lethal Illusion."
Mats offers the following, when asked for a career highlight to date. "I'd say the opportunity to celebrate the 20th anniversary in our hometown of Ostersund, Sweden was beyond expectation regarding the attention it received, since the band has been out of action for ten years. Also playing at Sweden Rock 2002. Other highlights are of course supporting AC/DC for seven shows in Scandinavia and supporting Nazareth for 12 shows in that same territory. Apart from that, headlining our own tours of course and recording in New York with Max Norman."
"I remember meeting Ritchie Blackmore once after a gig with Rainbow," recalls Mats, when asked whether he had met many of his musical heroes over the years. "I think it must've been in 1980. He seemed very gentle and shy, not exactly what you've heard. He signed my newly bought Rainbow scarf and said 'Thanks for coming to the show; I enjoy playing in Sweden' or words to that effect. The guys from Nazareth were really great to us, nice chaps. We never really had a meet and greet with AC/DC, but we heard that they had watched parts of the show we did and really liked it. We met with Brian one night though, when he burst into our dressing room and said 'Hi guys, great show.' Moments later the bass player from AC/DC looked in and said 'Hi guys, sorry to bother you' and dragged the pretty intoxicated Brian Johnson out of there. Most people I've met have been just regular guys and very nice. No bad experiences yet."