Interview with Sjöberg by Theron Moore for
Wormwood Chronicles (website)
June 27th 2015

SPACE PROBE TAURUS : "The Freak Out Has Begun!" 

By Theron Moore
 
Ola Sjoberg and I go back a ways.  I believe I met him via the infamous and now defunct stoner rock mailing list back in ’97 / ’98.  I was inquiring about Blue Cheer and Ola replied back to me with “…you gotta check out my band Space Probe Taurus if you dig Blue Cheer…” and I did and holy shit the band was great.  SPT is the genuine article when it comes to stoner rock.  Their sound isn’t forced and the vibe of their music is pretty righteous.  Two words to describe the band are “Heavy, Fuzz.” 

It’s the test of time that truly determines whether music is great or it’s just simply great for the moment at hand.  I can honestly tell you that Space Probe Taurus has stood and passed that test of time.  They sound better than ever these days…



WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: I first interviewed you guys in 1997.  Shit it’s been a long time ago, catch me up, what’s been happening with the band since then? 
OLA SJOBERG: Wow… that’s a lot of time that has passed us by! Other than doing a ton of demos (11 of them between 1997 and 2007) we released our first EP (Insect City) back in 2000, followed by a bunch of compilation appearances up until 2008 when we released our first album (self-titled on Buzzville Records).Between that release and now we’ve been on some more comps and also dealt with some line-up changes that have taken a lot of time out of the band. But in the end of 2012 we started to record what now will be released as our second album (Mondo Satan). We’ve played live a bunch of times in between the other stuff as well.  Yeah, that’s it. Released an EP, our first album, lots of comps and now our second album is on its way.”
 
WC: Starting out many moons ago, did you think the stoner rock genre would’ve sustained till now, 2015?  Did you think it was just a passing trend in music? 
OS: To be honest, I never really think of things like that. If it will survive or if it’s gonna be something that people will forget within a couple of years. If I like something I like it for what it is and don’t really care if it’s a passing trend or here to stay, so I never gave it that much thought. I think I might rather think if it’s gonna stay with me or not. Will I keep liking this in the future or is it back to my sweet love of death metal soon again? ;-)
As for the band, we’ve never really thought of ourselves as stoner rock, even though we’ve sometimes had to use that name for our music as people REALLY wanna label everything. These days I just say garage rock or fuzz rock.  It IS cool that the scene is still alive and well and there’s a ton of bands that are really good.”
 
 
WC: I’ve always associated you with Blue Cheer creatively, what bands or how do you see SPT influenced musically?
OS: The two bands that really are the reason for SPT existing are Monster Magnet and Mudhoney. Back in the days after the old death metal band me and Per used to play in had split up, we had tried to play some alternative rock for a while, but it never really felt right. So one day Per had bought the first Monster Magnet Mini-CD as well as, I think it was, a compilation CD where Mudhoney were featured on we felt home for the first time in a while. I know it was the song “Dead Love” by Mudhoney on that comp and “Snake Dance” on the Monster Magnet MCD that really set the tone for what the band tried to do in the early years. But, after a while you start to look at the influences those bands had and that’s when we discovered Blue Cheer (thanks to Mudhoney). They had that raw tone, the kinda riffs we wanted to play. Then there were also The Stooges that came in and took over a lot of the influence for us as well as MC5 and their magnificent riffs. "Kick Out the Jams" might be in my top 5 of best songs ever written.  And there are lots of other 60s garage rock bands that inspire us, as well as a lot of the old proto punk.”
 
WC: You ever see Blue Cheer?   What did Blue Cheer mean to you musically? 
OS: No, I never saw them sadly. Like I said in the last reply, it was their rawness, their ability to play loud and SOUND loud. We were known for being really loud when we played live there for a while, and of course that was inspired by Blue Cheer.”
 
WC: In fact, what bands do you cite as an influence on you? 
OS: Definitely the early days of Monster Magnet and Mudhoney, The Stooges, MC5, Blue Cheer, Hawkwind is still a little bit of an influence (we did have our space rock moment for a short while in the band’s history). But I get inspired from a lot of different music genres. Not so much the music anymore, but the way you can arrange songs in different ways. It’s so easy to get stuck in a formula and everything is done the same way all of the time.This will also sound so extremely ego tripping, but my main influence on my song writing these days is our own music. I can come up with different kinds of riffs, but I always go back and see how I can mold them into being SPT riffs.”
 
WC: When you write songs do you find yourselves being influenced by pop culture?  What weighs in more – movies, TV, music, books, etc.? 
OS: I think it’s almost an even mix of them all. Old hippie/biker movies have always been a HUGE inspiration and that is still the case, throw in some weird horror and mondo in the mix and that’s pretty much it when it comes to movies (we have a song on the album very inspired by the fake cannibal cult in the first Faces of Death).Music is always an inspiration. Maybe not always for the riffs, but for the feel and the arrangements. Books have been quite a big inspiration as I am a massive book worm. I do borrow titles at times from books for our songs (a song called “The Skin Gods” is an example), and also comic books are an inspiration. Sci-fi stuff, old Marvel/DC (that “The Skin Gods” song was first called “The New Gods”…). So, I’d say it’s an even mix.”

 WC: Tell me how your sound originated 
OS: We were pretty lost there for a while after our old death metal band split up. It’s hard trying to find something new that you burn for as much as the old band. But we knew we wanted to do something different. And then Mudhoney and Monster Magnet arrived in our lives… add a touch of old Hawkwind and that’s how our sound first started. That was the first sound we felt at home with again. Must have been a nice home as I’m still in it 22 years later.
 
 
WC: I’m listening to the band now and I hear some Monster Magnet influence.  Am I off base here, can you elaborate on this? 
OS: Well, this has probably been talked about endlessly before in my other replies, but Monster Magnet, together with Mudhoney, were really the starting points for the band. THAT was how we wanted to sound from the very beginning, and even though we’ve taken a more garage rock approach to things these days, I still look at Monster Magnet for inspiration now and then.

WC: Tell me about the current record you’re plugging.  How did it come about, which label are you signed to and how can fans find it? 
OS: After we released our first album back in 2008 we had some serious line-up changed (it’s only me and the bass player left from that record), so things took a long time to settle and finding new members. After that we started working on new songs, playing live a little, all to make the band tighter, to let the new members understand how the sound really is. We worked on a bunch of songs and we also did a quick demo recording back in 2011 of 8 of them. We then just decided to do like we did with the first album: record it on our own and then send it around to labels in the hopes of finding one that is interested in it enough to releasing it.

The album was finished in mid-2012, and after that we did some serious shopping around. Sadly it’s quite hard to get your foot in the “business” these days and we ended up a little in a downward spiral where a label would sign us if we played live often, and gig organizers would have us play if we had a new album to promote. So, it was quite hard to get anywhere… But, Ripple Music have been our friends for quite some time and I think they just felt the album was too good to just be thrown away (something we weren’t far from doing after a year and a half of trying to find a home for it). The deal was to make it a digital release so it would at least be available to people.

But, when they went official with this they got so many questions about a physical release it was decided to be a CD as well. And the interest have been much bigger than anyone anticipated, I think the album was sold out at the label over 1 ½ months before release date. So, there might be a vinyl version of it as well coming up. So, the label is Ripple Music from the US and the album should be available all over the place. I’ve seen it being up for pre-order in a lot of Europe, Japan and USA. And that’s just what I’ve found myself, so it will be available in many places all over the world.
 
 
 WC: What country is the band based out of and what’s on the tour schedule till the end of 2015?
OS: We are a Swedish band, so Sweden. The tour schedule is totally blank at the moment. We’re, again, in the middle of line-up changes and as I write this it’s me and the bass player left again… So, we’re hunting for both a drummer and a solo guitarist. When we have a full line-up again we’ll make sure to try and play live as much as we can.

 
WC: What bands in your home country are you recommending right now? 
OS: This is the hard thing… I play in this scene (even though I wouldn’t call ourselves stoner rock, we’re usually part of that scene anyway), but I rarely know of any bands. I’m a death metal dude, and the recent wave of Swedish death metal is something I am very much into. But, we played with the band Skraeckoedlan and they were a good band, we have the local bands Haddock and Timothy Griffith’s Psychedelic Sunrise that are also worth checking out.
 
WC: Where can fans find you?  Please give facebook, bandcamp URLs…. 
OS: We are right now working on our website, which should be up and running in time for the release of the album, and that one will be found at: www.spaceprobetaurus.se. Then we’re also on Facebook at the following address: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Space-Probe-Taurus/267503979145 .