Interview with Sjöberg by Racer for The Ripple Effect (website)
October 12th 2008

Space Probe Taurus exploded out of nowhere to fill our humble Ripple office with the most glorious mess of scuzzed out, fuzzed out acid biker rock that we'd heard in ages. Naturally, we couldn't resist the opportunity to have Ola, the main madman behind the SPT mayhem, plop on down and join us on the Ripple couch for a little Sunday chat.

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkle, the first time I ever hear Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean.


What have been your musical epiphany moments?
I think that my first real epiphany moment was when my uncle played Motorheadfor me back when their Bomber album was just released. I was only 6 years old at the time and the thing I remember that blew my mind was the drums... oh, the drums. I had heard bands like Kiss, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and such from my Uncle before this, but Motorhead was the first band that I just felt "WOW!" about. A couple of years later it was time for Iron Maiden and I fell in love for real for the first time in a band. Even to this day I feel that Iron Maidenmight be one of the best bands ever. I later got into thrash metal (mostly the german wave of thrash bands) and then after hearing Bathory on a Swedish radio show (promoting the Under the Sign of the Black Mark album) I was sold on even more extreme music... At the same time I found death metal and that is my main love still to this day... Hearing Nihilist on a crappy Swedish hardcore/punk compilation LP changed everything. I had played in bands before hearing them, but that was the start for me and some friends to take this seriously.

After a bunch of years of playing in a death metal band we split up and the vocalist and I from that band discovered the first Monster Magnet Mini-CD and the first Mudhoney album at the same time (early 90's) and that was without a doubt the reason we started playing what I do still to this day.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?
It usually starts with me or the other string benders coming up with a main riff. If someone has a riff we usually start jamming a little trying things out... Let's say that I have come up with a riff we like we then try and see what we can add to it. If we need a bridge, pre-chorus or if we should head straight into the chorus... Then comes the jamming and we just try out ideas that we improvise together. If we're lucky someone manages to come up with something that sounds ok and that I feel I can add a vocal "melody".

The lyrics are the last thing that gets added to a song for us... I usually stay up all night before a studio recording and write the lyrics I'm gonna sing the next day/same day. I work best that way... Often the other guys in the band haven't heard all of my vocal ideas until I have recorded them.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
This will sound so stupid, but one of the main inspirations nowadays are our own band... Not like we sit and think "god damn we're good! we need to do another song like that one!" It's more like "does this sound SPT? or how can I make sound more SPT???" I think we've come to a point that whatever we have in us will fit for the band.

The motivation is always there though as this is something I have inside of me and I need to get it out... I love working on songs and playing them with the band, so that is really all the motivation I need.

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?
Yep, I do know that labels are misleading at times and can piss people off :-) It's happened to us... I would like to describe our music as dirty rock. I mean, it's a primitive dirty rock inspired by the old garage rock bands from the late 60s.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?
This is where I will probably come off as a shallow kinda guy, but the main thing I want people to feel is that we're doing cool music that they wouldn't mind hearing more than once. The reason I play in a band is to have a way for me to let out some of my creativity in a way I like and my main thought behind the music is to do something I would like to listen to myself.

So, what I'm trying to express is probably just "this is what I have inside me, hopefully you like it." If people don't like it it doesn't matter as I love playing it and that is all I really care about.

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living. What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?
We think kinda small with the band... Our plans to move the band forward is to hopefully be able to do another album, showing people that we are a lot better today than we were back in 2004 when we recorded the first album. Then we would try and start to play live more to spread the name a little... It's always fun when some people actually know you exist.

I think the motivation that keeps us going is that we have fun together, that is the most important thing of all with this. If we didn't have fun we would have split up a long time ago. I don't think we ever could make a living out of this, but I think we all feel that we have too much in us still to do to let that dampen our spirit. Who cares as long as we get to do what we think is the most fun thing you can do?

Describe to us the ideal (realistic) record label and how you'd work with them, and they with you. 
The ideal label for a band like us would be a smaller label that would have time for all of their bands. A label that also feel that if they have signed a band they signed them because of what they do and not what the label can make them do... Too many bands have to change things because of their labels and in the end they don't sound close to how they did when they were unsigned.

I'm very much the kind of person who wants the band and the label to let each other do what they know best.

The ideal label would of course also be one that doesn't rip the bands off... That is just too damn common no matter how big or small the label is.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments.
Oh, we are so damn boring we don't really have any moments like that... we are dull people who don't do anything naughty ;-).

Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?
Well, that would make me 45 years old and I hope I'm still playing with the band. You never know though, but I have a hard time seeing the end of the band and I really don't like to think of us stopping to play.

Hopefully we'll be around, playing live, releasing music and just having fun as always.

What makes a great song?
I'm not really sure about this... I mean, I can say that this or that song is the best song I've heard, but I can't say why it is so damn great. It just is... It's like it found my personal frequency and I can't do anything else than to love it.

But, I do feel that the music part is what makes the song what it is... well, together with the vocal melodies. I don't think the lyrics matters that much if a song is great or not... Many great songs have the worst ever lyrics, but it doesn't make the song bad for me. And the best lyrics in the world can't save a song where the music sucks.

Hm... back to your question there... It's hard to say why a song is good for me as either I like a song or I don't. I don't really think too much about why I don't like a song... or like one. If it's good it goes straight into my heart and I can't dislike it even if I wanted to (well, that would be kinda stupid, to want to dislike a song you like ;-)). There are a few that can write songs that I just can't get enough of and I have three "house gods" that just can't do anything wrong if you ask me. Those are Nick Cave, Frank Black and J. Mascis. Sure, there are many, many that write songs that I love, but these three are special to me and they never let me down.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote.
Oh, that was so long ago, man! It was a very cliché sounding punk song that I think was called "Suicide." I know I sang that in the chorus at least... probably sounds emo by today's standards, huh? ;-) Well, it was just a silly punk ditty that I don't think I really had any thought behind, just a crappy main riff and an awful chorus.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Well, I have to go with all three... Vinyl, because it's the format I grew up with and I still feel it sounds warmer when you listen to a vinyl record. I like the smell as well ;-) This is also the format I would love to release stuff with SPT on... CD, because it's easier to find CD players than vinyl players nowadays and you can store a shitload more CDs in a small apartment than vinyls... Digital, because I love listening to music when I'm out of the house as well.

What's the best record store in your town?
That's the shitty part... we don't have one that's remotely good in my town. It's all done online (mail order) nowadays, but that way you can also find the stuff you could never find in my town record store or not.

Thanks, Ola. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. We wish you and SPT all the best and huge masses of much deserved success.
Thanks for the interest in doing something like this with our crappy band and for all this help with promoting our name I think the first beer will be on me.

 

Interview with Sjöberg by Gideon Smith
for Cosmic Lava (website)
2008

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! ;-).

 

Interview with Sjöberg by Stef Maes
for Rock Tribune Magazine (BEL)
2008