Millencolin – No One Is Telling Us What To Do

Over the past 20 years, many alternative/punk bands have come and gone; however, fans of the genre have seen one constant that has remained, and to be frank, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. This reliable outfit is none other than Sweden’s Millencolin. 2012 marks the big two-zero for Millencolin and to celebrate the occasion, they will be releasing The Millencolin Connection, a CD/DVD pack that includes some never-before-heard B-Sides and a 90-minute doco set behind the scenes. I caught up with guitarist Mathias Färm to get his reaction to the milestone.

After spending 20 years in the same job with the same workmates, you’d think patience would be scarce and most would be at the end of their tether. However, Mathias explains that after all these years, the band has never felt stronger: “We’re a tighter group than ever. The last 10 years have been much easier than the first 10 years, we’re a much better band; we get along better because, you know, you learn how to deal with eachother. It’s a great feeling, we’re a much better live act now than what we used to be. We have 100% energy to do this and everything feels great. We’ve had our problems; we almost quit the band back in 1998…it’s like any relationship or family, you get into troubled times, but you learn how to deal with it. We’re in a very good mood now and excited about being in a band for 20 years; wow, I can’t believe it.”

Longevity in music is something bands either have, or don’t. There seems to be no recipe, though the fact that Millincolin has existed as a band almost my entire life while many of their peers fade into white noise got us talking. Mathias explains: “I guess it’s a lot about being able to cope with eachother – that and success. You need that to be able to do something for 20 years. This is what I’ve been doing since I quit school. So, we’ve had our success and been smart with our career. We make all the calls ourselves, no one is telling us what to do. This is probably the most important ingredient: to be your own boss. We got the opportunity to leave Sweden very early in our career. Our first tour was in Australia in early 96…that was only being a band for three years. We were lucky with that, but you need to be smart, that’s very important.”

The Millincolen Connection is a compilation of precious B-Sides that the band has gathered. While this isn’t a groundbreaking concept, I asked Mathias what went into the decision when choosing which B-sides would be most appropriate: “Well when we record an album, we tend to record 16 or so songs, then only 12 or 13 make it to the album. When you record them, you don’t really know what will be chosen for the album or what will be a B-side. These ones never made it to the albums; it’s pretty funny when I listen to it now – these are songs I haven’t heard for years, we never play them live, but sometimes you wonder “why didn’t this song make it?” I’m not sure why none of these ever did to be honest, ha ha.”

To compliment the B-sides, the release will also feature two brand new songs. Mathias continued to explain just how different the writing process is all these years later: “It’s changed quite a bit. Me and Nikola [Sarcevic, vocals/bass] write all the songs. We get together and sit down and write, then I usually program the drums, and we get a demo out of it, then after that we give it to the other guys and say OK, learn these songs. It’s much easier this way; 10 years ago, maybe 15 years ago, we’d all meet in the rehearsal studio and try to write songs together. This was hard and very time consuming because sometimes you’d come up with a good song, but someone would be in a bad mood and it would go nowhere. It’s much better to sit down and focus by yourself.”

The Millencolin Connection dropped June 1 through Epitaph and promises fascinating insight into a band we have all known for years, but not known much about. Though by the sounds of things, the lads have no desire to slow things down. They will soon start working on a new full length album, and have Australia firmly set in their sights when the tour ball starts rollin’.

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