Holograms have exploded onto the indie music scene within the past few months, thanks to being signed to one of indie’s most buzzy labels, Captured Tracks. But realizing their first ever US tour was another story, filled with countless obstacles. Luckily, things coalesced at last minute, and we were able to enjoy the Swedish quartet’s unique brand of vintage synthesized punk first hand.
I usually bring a gift to the band as a “reward” for enduring an interview with me. And usually, it’s in the form of alcohol, and usually it’s whiskey, and normally they get it after the interview. But considering the venue showered the tipplers with a short supply of PBRs, opening the bottle of locally produced WhipperSnapper seemed like a good idea. At a discreet corner of the outdoor patio of Mississippi Studios’ adjacent bar, Bar Bar, we talked, but mostly laughed, as the sun drowned into the night. Not sure if it was the whiskey, but the twenty-somethings were nothing like the dark matters that shroud Holograms’ debut self-titled LP.
Beats Per Minute (Autumn Andel): It seems the indie music scene in Sweden is known mainly known for its dream pop. How is the punk scene there and has America been more receptive than your native country?
Anton Strandberg: Yeah, no one knows about us in Sweden. When we play shows there, there is just about 20 people in the crowd. No one knows about us. No one wants to know.
Andreas Lagerström: Yeah, it’s not a big punk scene in Sweden. We have a lot of hardcore scene – like hardcore cross punk. That kind of stuff.
A. Strandberg: We got lot of metal bands.
AL: And a lot of bands. Yeah, but not really this kind of music. It’s not really in Sweden right now. I guess.
BPM: So what compelled you guys to make this kind of music?
AL: It’s what we like.
Anton Spetze: I don’t know. We just make.
AL: It’s natural thing.
BPM: Something innate. What projects were you involved previous to Holograms?
A. Spetze: We’ve been in a lot of bands before this. Mainly garage, punk bands.
A. Strandberg: Me and Anton played in the same band.
A. Spetze: Yeah, for a long time.
Filip Spetze: I had my own bands.
AL: Your own singer/songwriter career?
FS: Lead singer – No, I’m just kidding.
BPM: Do these projects have names?
A. Strandberg: I’d rather not say
FS: My band was called Koala Boys. You should check them out. [smiles]
BPM: So you are not aware of any bands in Stockholm or in Sweden that share…
AL: We know some bands but no bands that do the kind of music that we do.
A. Spetze: There aren’t really any bands in Stockholm.
AL: I like Ras.
A Spetze: Yeah, speaking of punk bands.
AL: Ras is good.
A. Strandberg: Of course we’ve got few good bands, but not that much in Stockholm.
AL: Gothenburg has some good bands.
A. Spetze: Yeah, all the good bands are in Gothenburg.
AL: No bands have ever come from Stockholm, I think.
A. Spetze: Ebba Grön.
AL: Yeah, and Robyn.
A. Strandberg: Ratata is from Stockholm.
BPM: One of your unique trait is the vintage synth. How important is the instrument’s role in your music, and was it a conscious decision?
AL: I got the synth from a friend. I really wanted to use it in a band, and I can’t play the keyboard. [laughs while looking at Filip] I’m really bad at it, but I really like the sound of the synth.
A. Spetze: That’s how it started. We talked about starting a punk band with synth.
AL: Yeah, that’s about it. And Filip could play.
A. Strandberg: Filip can play.
A. Spetze: And Filip learned. It was hard.
AL: Long road.
BPM: So you didn’t know how to play before?
FL: I did. Kind of, but I think I’ve become…
AL: Lot better than when we started.
FL: Yeah, than when we started.
AL: It’s a hard instrument. So many knobs. [laughs]
BPM: How old is it?
AL: It’s from the early eighties, I think.
BPM: Is it monophonic?
AL: Yeah, it’s a monophonic synthesizer. We just bought new one in Sweden: Juno-60, which is polyphonic synth. We’re going to use them both.
BPM: How did your relationship with Captured Tracks come about?
AL: We recorded a four-song EP at a friend’s studio in Stockholm.
A. Spetze: Where we recorded the album.
AL: Then we did the video for “ABC City.” Just walking around in our neighborhood. And I sent it to Mike Sniper – the head of the Captured Tracks label. I like the label. I like his old band, Blank Dogs. He responded really quickly. Like, couple of hours after I sent it him the video. He responded, and he was like: “Please don’t send it to anyone else.” Everything else went really fast after that.
We didn’t really set out to – you know – do this! Because we had no idea we could have.
BPM: You didn’t get response from anyone else?
AL: Never really got any answers from anyone else.
A. Spetze: Really happy that Captured tracks answered… they’re really good label.
“[Mike Sniper of Captured Tracks] responded really quickly. Like, couple of hours after I sent it him the video. He responded, and he was like: ‘Please don’t send it to anyone else.’ Everything else went really fast after that.”
BPM: I think you guys are the only bands signed to CT from Europe. All the other bands are from North America.
A. Strandberg: They have one band from the UK – Dignan Porch.
BPM: Oh yeah, that’s right. I really like them. During Musicfest NW couple of weeks ago, there was a CT showcase.
AL: They had? Here in Portland? Ah, that’s cool.
BPM: Yeah, and I’m a big fan of the CT catalogue. And then when they signed you guys, I thought it was kind of out of character, but there is still something that…
AL: Well, Mike is an old punk guy, and that’s kind of it. He’s been playing in punk bands since he was a teenager.
BPM: But there must be some kind of connection with the catalogue because I immediately fell in love with your album.
AL: Thank you so much. But I guess it’s good that we are not that similar with the other bands on the label.