At a time when the term “stoner rock” is overused when it comes to labeling any band who basically uses Orange amps or Big Muff pedals, getting back to basics is vital. After the desert rock movement was initiated by a couple of punks from Palm Desert in the late 80’s, it took Europe less than a decade to get its own riff oasis. And believe it or not, this oasis was located in Sweden. LOWRIDER paved the way for a whole generation of European fuzz rockers: with their 2000’s masterpiece “Ode To Io” (plus a preceding split record with Nebula which is a total must-have), they delivered ten rock songs as intense and blazing as the sun of Coachella. After a bit of a touring, the band retreated in the coldness of Scandinavia… Until this unforgettable weekend of April 2013 at Desertfest, when LOWRIDER returned (along with their bros DOZER, also reforming for the occasion) in front of hundreds of nostalgic stoneheads, who were left in awe in front of such an unbroken energy. The show was so incredible that, yeah, afterwards we almost felt like all this was only a dream. Almost a year later, both bands are called back to London by Desertscene for a one-off show at The Garage. Exultant as they can be, our four Swedish men are now assured of one thing: the fans haven’t forgotten them, far from it. Being part of the 500 happy few who attended this gig, I had to meet the band in order to know if rumors about a new record were founded or not. It’s in the warmth and flurry of their backstage room that I met Lowrider’s founder, bassist and vocalist Peder Bergstrand who, despite a bad cold and many comings and goings in the room, went very loquacious about his beloved project. Outcome of this top meeting: giggles, a lot of beer spilled on the floor, but most of all, some news that will make any desert rock fan in this world exult… (PHOTOS: Falk-Hagen Bernshausen)
Hey Peder! So, almost a year has passed since you reformed for Desertfest, and here you are in London, for this one-off gig. How does it feel playing here again?
Peder Bergstrand (bass & vocals): In a lot of ways, just going with Dozer and Steak really feels like coming home. They’re so welcoming. Back in the days when we were a new band, people liked us, but maybe 150-250 came to our shows. To be able to play for 2,000 people without even putting out any work, thanks to word of mouth and stuff… How could you say no? If someone asks you politely to do something you love under really nice circumstances, it’s a no-brainer. I love that we actually played before Dozer most of the time, because we can just relax and have a good time afterwards.
Well, to be honest, I was a bit disappointed because I thought you would be headlining this show…
PB: Oh! Thing is, you wouldn’t get a lot more from us, because we have like an hour each, and then there’s the British curfew. Are you bummed out? Do you want to talk about it? (laughs)
Man, when the last song ended, I was like « noooo, can’t it just last forever? ». This was one very intense and emotional show.
PB: That’s how we feel too. You go on stage after endless preparations, you take a breath, and then it’s the last song. It’s in slow motion and fast forward at the same time. The first track is like « wooooh dude, let this land on its feet », you blink and it’s done, which is sad. But this is what you got Youtube for, I guess, to check it out later.
You played a couple of new songs tonight, right?
PB: Yeah, two new tracks and one we’ve never played before, which is actually a family favorite of ours. It’s kind of all over the place, but we didn’t want to mess it up, so we asked Tommi (Hollappa, Dozer’s lead guitarist) to join us on stage and he just delivered. Oh, we love that guy. We actually didn’t rehearse, he just listened to the track and played the bit.
And he fucking nailed it.
PB: Tommi is pretty much the biggest pro we know, he constantly amazes us. He’s got, what, ten albums with Greenleaf and Dozer? He’s just the most humble person I know. So I had this big grin on my face, I was totally happy.
“Hopefully this year, we’re going to record a release (…) it’ll probably end up as an eight or nine tracks records.”
Lowrider and Dozer are like inseparable now. You both played Desertfest in 2013, tonight in London, then Hellfest in June…
PB: We’ve done maybe 50 gigs, and 45 of them were with Dozer. We’re like the siamese twins, we feel awkward when we’re not playing with each other (laughs). Actually, I think we should sell ourselves as one band, it’s like you can’t book us without these guys!
Dowrider and Lozer.
PB: Yeah, we’re alike but also very different in some way. They’re more like the Ramones or AC/DC of stoner rock, and we’re more like the falling-asleep-sludge version of that. And I’ve been told we smell better. And we’re a little bit more gay too (laughs). There’s potential for man love in Lowrider…
Aaahh, that good old bromance…
PB: I think if the glue in the band is not conceived by bromance, they’re not going to have a good time. I’ve loved these guys since I was 15!
Now tell me more about these new songs you played tonight.
PB: Yeah, there was this track from our first EP that we never played before, and then two new songs me and Andreas tried out when the band wasn’t rehearsing anymore. We actually tried four or five more songs, that now we know we want to record. Hopefully this year, we’re going to record a release, the number of tracks will depend on how we feel for them when we’ll record them. But when we tried these with Andreas, we were just trying stuff out and it ended up like something fun, but we never recorded them, because… life happened.
Indeed, it’s been a pretty long hiatus and a pretty unexpected yet rejoicing return!
PB: I’ve had my other band I Are Droid that I’ve been focusing on, some of us started to get kids, and then more of us started to get kids (laughs). We live in four different cities and no one really begged us to go anywhere or do another album. I think we recorded eight or nine songs, but half of them were shitty… (the rest of the band comes in)
Okay, so now that you started teasing about Lowrider’s forthcoming record, I won’t leave this room until I have more infos about it.
PB: We have four songs that we love, which we’re going to record. And then there are two new songs that I think we should try out, so it’ll probably end up as an eight or nine tracks record… And in this world, that’s a full-length. You know, we’ve always overdone stuff, but we are a different band now, we’re more relaxed. I want us to play a lot more before recording, more like a jam feel. We jammed a lot on the old records, but it was more controlled, doing things in blocks. It’s actually more fun playing now than it ever was.
“It’s actually more fun playing now than it ever was.”
What about the sound?
PB: We tried to sound like Earth, Wind & Fire but we just fucked it up (laughs). It’s a tragedy, but people seem to be happy. We tried to sell it as « slick as funk », but we ended up sounding like this. I guess we’ll just have to deal with it. And hopefully, people will like it. I think they will, we’ve had ten years to figure out these songs, they’ve just been there like old cheese or vintage wine.
Are you foreseeing some kind of career path, now that you guys are kind of back in the business?
PB: As long as it’s fun, we’ll keep doing it. We reformed to make two great gigs and just give our best, our all. Then we did another gig, and another one… We’re going to try to add more songs and gigs, but keep it fun. And what seems fun now is « let’s see what happens if we go in the studio ». For us right now, it’s more fun to focus only on a few great gigs, instead of doing a two months tour… We want to keep it fresh and exclusive.
This summer, you’ll be hitting the Valley stage at Hellfest, among many many other great stoner rock bands…
PB: Yeaaah, it seems to be some kind of resurgence now, which is fun! The scene may have been a little bit flooded by too many bands, there are a lot of riffs, but not that many songs. I came out for a strong love of Soundgarden and Kyuss, the Melvins, so for me it was all about the song. That’s why I started I Are Droid. However, it feels like coming home, the scene is really flourishing and everyone seems so happy about it. I’m so psyched that everyone wants to listen to Lowrider almost 15 years after. That doesn’t really happen to anyone, so we’re just really humbled that people care.
If I had to tell the Lowrider legend to my grandkids, I’d say that Lowrider was the first band to ever bring the desert vibe in Europe. There was Kyuss in the U.S., and there was Lowrider here. And the most surprising factor in all this story, is that you guys come from Scandinavia.
PB: We felt a little bit weird about that desert rock thing, we’d rather be a forest rock band because we don’t have any deserts.
Not even ice deserts?
PB: Nah, not where we’re from. It’s just a lot of forest. It looks like trolls are living there… But yeah, the main reason we started this band was because of our love for Kyuss. I’m humbled that people mention such a great band when they talk about us, they’re one of my top 3 bands of all time. There was pretty much my favorite vocalist, guitarist, bass player and drummer in one band.
By the way, have you listened to the Vista Chino record?
PB: A little bit. For me, that’s not the Kyuss I used to remember, but I wasn’t expecting a Kyuss record anyway. If you take it as a new band, the record is good. There’s not going to be another Kyuss record, and I don’t know if I want that. I’m happier for them now than when they were doing the Kyuss Lives! stuff.
To end this interview, what are the bands or records you’re into at the moment?
PB: I listen to the new Fuzz record a lot, Tame Impala, The National, Bombay Bicycle Club, Thom Yorke’s project Atoms For Peace, but I don’t listen to the music I want to play because it’d get boring. It’s not a wise decision if you want to try not to sound like everyone else…
Andreas Eriksson (drums): I listen to Opeth a lot.
Niclas Stålfors (guitar): I can’t hear anything (laughs).
Ola Hellquist (lead guitar/vocals): Robben Ford, a great blues guitarist, he plays with a spoon.
PB: There’s something you should know about Ola, why he’s the perfect guitarist. When we met, he had just a couple of records from 69 to 74, and nothing before or after. He was some kind of Amish for blues rock (laughs), and it’s beautiful because you can see how it affects the way he plays guitar. And now it’s too late to pick anything new. It’s like he’s been on a island, he doesn’t know anything else but the taste of coconut.
Ola is like the Tom Hanks of guitar!
PB: Yeah, we should put that on the CD! “You don’t have to understand, just listen, wait for the coconut solo” (laughs). We all come from very different music backgrounds and just try to fit in, in some way. It was more of a struggle when we started out, but now we’re so used to each other that we don’t care. But hopefully, we sound good.
Last modified: 11 February 2015