December 2008 - SPACE PROBE TAURUS
Formed back in 1992 in Sweden, SPACE PROBE TAURUS belong to the very few bands who have learned their MC5 / Stooges lesson well. They carry the heritage of both bands with pride and added their own personality to that timeless sound. Over the years the band developed their heavy psych-tinged version of rock 'n' roll, and recorded a lot of high-quality demos plus a few 7"'s and more. Finally after a long time the band was signed by Buzzville Records, who released their first album in 2008. Not to forget the band's contribution for the 'I Am Vengeance' soundtrack among others. Obviously the members of SPACE PROBE TAURUS are huge fans of 60's and 70's movies, because guitarist / vocalist Ola talks also about his faves in this interview that was done by Mr. Gideon Smith, who's a fan of this band. Well, the guys of SPT love Gideon's band, too and so it was just a logical descision to let Gid talk to Ola.
Hail Ola, good to speak with you and thanks for your time. Tell us about the new album and the recording process, are you happy with how it came out?
Hey Gideon, good to speak to you as well, my friend. When it comes to the album I have to say that it has grown on me... How weird is that? I mean, my own band's album and it has to grow on me to like it the way I do right now. But, the recording process wasn't ideal for a band like us as we let us get caught up in the whole "we can do anything with a computer!" thing when we recorded the album. I feel that too often we said "we'll fix that later in the computer" when it was things we should have done right then and there. We did learn a lot from recording this album though and almost everything we have recorded since we have done live in the studio as that sounds more like us, if you know what I mean. But, back to the album... We used a studio that belongs to the place we rehearse at, so we got to record there very cheap (as we did this on our own without any label behind us) and often during the evenings when everyone else had gone home... That creates a very tight atmosphere within the band as we recorded for over a month and it was only the four of us in there most of the time.
We decided early to only re-record songs from earlier demos on the album so the recording of the songs went quite smooth as we knew the material very well, and the good thing doing that is that we knew what we would do different from those demos. I do have to say that the demo versions of most of the songs sound fresher to me and I wish we could have captured that better than we did on the album... I guess it's always the case, huh? You always feel you could have done it better than you did.
I probably come off a bit negative about the album pointing out what I feel we could have done better, but I really like it. For a time there I disliked the guitar sound on both mine and Eronen's guitars (as we didn't put that much effort in finding a good guitar sound... it was the usual "we'll fix that in the computer"), but now I think it fits well with the material on this album. I might have gone another route cover wise if I would have gotten to do it again, but I think that also fits with the songs on the album as all of them are from an old era where we used that kind of imagery more. If we get to do another album I suspect things might be different as we steadily head down a more dirty and darker path. I just would hate to be that band who makes their first album sounding dirty and loud to then make the second one sounding like a damn pop album...
I know you had some line up changes, the new line up of yourself with Eronen, Enberg and Sundler is now up and rolling, have you returned to live shows and how are they going man?
Yeah, we lost the original drummer (Sundler) back in January due to him now living in another town and he didn't feel he could travel to the rest of us as often as we needed so he quit the band. We were lucky though as Boman (the new drummer) worked at the local drum shop and knew our old drummer well as well as beinginto the band... well, most importantly also being a really great drummer, so we asked him if he was interested playing with us and he fit very well into the band from day one.
No, we haven't played live with this line-up yet due to us working hard on rehearsing old songs with the drummer so he know them like he was part of writing them. We felt we needed to rehearse on a new live set with Boman and we wouldn't start playing live until he felt 100% ok with all of the songs... we have also re-worked some of the drums to fit him better, so it's been a lot of that that has been prioritized during his first time in the band. As well as writing new songs with him being part of it all, which he has been to an extent even the old drummer wasn't. The band will be on a break for a couple of months due to me having gastric bypass surgery, so any plans to play live will have to wait, but when we start up again we will definitely look for gigs again as we need to spread the gospel according to Space Probe Taurus to as many as possible.
You're also well known for your personal artwork, where you like to blend horror and esoteric imagery, have you been working on new art ideas?
Oh, I wouldn't say that I'm well know for it... I pester friends with it and that's it. Working with graphics have been the only thing, outside the music, that I have been interested in for most of my adult life. So this is just me finding another way to use any small amount of creativity I might have in me. The thing that sucks is that I do this with certain programs in the computer (I wish I could do this for real by hand though) and after an upgrade to a new computer I haven't had those programs, so I haven't done a damn thing in quite a while... I need to start up again as we in the band have started talking about some ideas and I would love to start doing stuff for the band. Up until the old drummer left the band he was the graphics guy in the band and now it's open for all of us, so hopefully I'll work on more things that will be used by the band.
You are probably the first musician and artist to create the term "Peace, Love, and Satan" and refer to yourself as a satantic hippie. How did you spearhead this identity and how would you explain it to an outsider? I think one day, people will look back and see you as the first who came up with the images.
Well, the term "Peace, Love and Satan" comes from me being a damn hippie, but I'm very much in love with the whole darker side of the hippie movement. It's not so much the lovey dovey flower power thing, instead of the Charlie Manson thing... Not that I'm gonna go and become a cult leader and have people killed or anything ;-). One of my biggest inspirations for this comes from one of those fake scenes in the first "Faces of Death" movie, where a "reporter" is visiting a hippie cult that cuts up a dead person and eat body parts and smears blood all over themselves before having an orgy. I mean, it's so fake it's beyond stupid, but I loved that whole darker thing... "Peace, Love and Satan" is something I used to write instead of "take care" in mails and letters and that stayed with me.
The whole "Satanic Hippie" thing mainly comes from me having been a death metal dude for many years and when I got older turned into a damn hippie, still being a death metaller at heart... I've always been interested in satanism (not talking about silly devil worship now) and things like that just melted together for me. This is something the band has been heading more and more towards these last years when it comes to my lyrics (we even named a demo "Peace, Love and Satan", which had a song called "Mondo Satan" on it) and some ideas for imagery. We're not gonna turn into Venom though... hahaha!
I know you are a big lover of horror movies, books, comics and things like that, have you enjoyed any new ones lately you could recommend? How do you like the most recent Romero films, or films like 30 days of night? Do you like the more gore oriented films or mostly older films?
Yes, I am very much a horror fanatic... been a very big gorehound since my early teens and it seems to never want to go away (not that I would want it to). My taste is most types of horror films... for many years I have been a bit fanatic about the old Universal horror movies (and just anything with Bela Lugosi), but italian zombie movies from the 80s are also a HUGE favorite of mine. If it's horror I'm sure gonna watch it... Here in Sweden we don't celebrate Halloween so I do it my own way (of course inspired by many horror movies) and I watch a lot of great horror movies on that day, and the latest I watched were all 6 movies in the box "Hollywood's Legends of Horror" and I can recommend all of them...
I really enjoyed "Diary of the Dead", it was a step up from "Land of the Dead" (which I didn't like that much) and I just don't care if all the actors and actresses weren't the best in the world, the movie had great atmosphere and it was sweet to see Romero doing more lowbudget zombie stuff again... I really loved "30 Days Of Night" as well. I should probably also recommend a swedish movie here that seems to have gotten a lot of good reviews in the US these last months... "Let the Right One In", which isn't a straight horror film in any way, I would rather call it a drama, but with a much darker side than usual. And yeah, there's a vampire in it that just isn't like any vampires you usually see in vampire films... It's a great movie that you should check out."
What classics of horror film are your most favorites?
Well, as I said earlier I'm very much into the old Universal Horror films... Like "Dracula", "The Wolf Man", "Frankenstein" and all of those. My absolute favorite horror film is probably "Halloween" (the original one, not the crap fest that Rob Zombie made)... I grew up with that one and I can watch it every damn day of the year and still love it just as much. And yeah, then there's the italian movies by Argento, Fulci, Bava etc etc... hell, there's too many to mention here, but these are some at least.
What is in store for fans of SPT in the near future?
Hopefully a new release, don't know what that release would be (would love to do a 7"), but we really want something released with the new line-up. I mean, we want to show off how we have kept on evolving since we recorded the album and not having stayed in the same spot music-wise for the last 4 years. Other than that I hope we will start playing live for real again... and we should launch a real website in not too long again where anyone interested should be able to find just about anything anyone ever would want to know about our crappy little band.
How do you feel your art, music, life has come to you and made you the person and artist you are at this time in your life?
I think I am a much calmer person because of all this. The music releases feelings in me that I usually never do in private... We're not an aggressive band (although we can play fast at times), but I get mots of my aggressions out from playing my guitar and screaming into the microphone. I also am able to get rid of built up energy inside of me through this, so yep... without a doubt I'm a much calmer person because of this. We started the band back in late 1992 and it took us until now to get an album out and that is something I feel also have made me very laidback when it comes to the band and releasing stuff. Back in my death metal days my band almost didn't even record our first (and only) demo until we had a deal with a label and after that things just happened by themselves. So, I've seen both sides of the coin as with SPT it was the total opposite... We always got good reviews, but the labels have been hard to get any real feedback from. So, I take things a lot more laidback when it comes to doing stuff with the band nowadays... I mean, just because it doesn't happen immediately it doesn't mean that it'll never happen and I'm in no rush.
What's it like in your home country for the music you create and the people in general towards your music and art, and you as an individual in daily life?
People usually seem to dig what we do, even people you wouldn't think could ever be into our stuff... We've always had a great music scene here in Sweden, many people play in bands and I think that music is such a big part of many people's lives that you can't help but stumble upon someone now and then that dig our band. We've usually gotten a great response from people when they hear us. One thing though that seem to be different here in Sweden is that people just go on gushing about you just because you have to play in a band, the chance is that they play in bands themselves already :-). So no one would ever treat you different just because you might have done an album they like and that's a good thing... I think that Sweden is a hard country to get a swelled head in as people won't let you.
You have been compared to bands like MC5, Mudhoney and Blue Cheer, do you feel a kinship with these bands or do you have other ways of seeing the music you play?
Well, those three bands are probably our major influences and have been for many years... even though most people only hear a Monster Magnet influence in our music... hahaha! I rather look up to these bands as bands who found THE sound I also want to play. Coming from a death metal background there was a time after that band split up where I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to continue playing music, but the death metal thing had been done (and it was not as fun anymore as it became more and more mainstream... yes, I can be a snob when it comes to music) and me and the vocalist from that band had no idea what we should start playing... that was until we heard "Dead Love" by Mudhoney and "Snake Dance" by Monster Magnet... things fell in place right then and I'm still on that track, although more influences have been added since. We have a very simple thought behind our music... if we like it ourselves we will play it and if others like it as well... cool. That's it to be honest."
Thanks Ola! Hope youre doing well and take care. Any last words?
Thank YOU Gideon, things are ok and I hope it's the same with you (and the readers). Last words? Um... Never stop believing in rock'n'roll! ;-)."