The Swedish Magazines, Melbourne punk rock ‘n roll greats who took their name from Iggy, hit a mark sonically somewhere between AC/DC and the Sex Pistols, and who filled the breach between the Powder Monkeys and Amyl & The Sniffers, return from a decade long near-slumber to release their first Best Of, and their first ever LP vinyl release, I Wish Life Could Be…
Existing originally in the first half of the first decade of this century, the Melbourne band, formed by Taswegian singer/ songwriter/ guitarist Van Walker together with his brother and Cal, played – and are about to play again – a varied and richly toned high-energy sound that mixed classic Bon era-AC/DC with early 70’s Flamin’ Groovies and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band. With the occasional bit of the Sex Pistols and maybe the Stiff Little Fingers for good measure. Or something like that. They had – have – great songs, a superb vocalist, and a hefty sound. In terms of then-contemporary comparisons, think Sweden’s Hellacopters with a bit more punk and a lot more Oz Rock. Find out more in our Q&A with the band.
What was the catalyst for getting the band back together?
When Rubber Records contacted us about putting out a Best Of we’d actually got the original line-up back together and were rehearsing weekly upstairs in this Footscray Pub. The band we’re sounding good and we were banging out new material, then the pandemic hit and that was that. We were forced to wait it out. Then the first chance we got to get back into it, we thought, Fuck it, let’s record this while we have the chance.
As each year past did you find you missed being in and around the scene?
I’m a fairly prolific writer so I’ve never been out of the scene, I’ve just been in different bands doing different material. The Swedes always come back around for the faster, heavier material. It’s all about committing fully to it when we’re all pumped and keen to play together. It’s never been about anything other than our passion for the music and enjoying rock ‘n roll.
What did you miss most?
I certainly didn’t miss carting all the gear around, my Firebird is like a coffin!
What has the reaction been from fans playing shows again?
Since we’ve been playing again I think people are surprised we can still do it, but no one more surprised than us! Maybe we’re even better. It just hurts more now. But the older you get the more you get used to everything hurting more.
How was the process of pulling together a best of collection?
It was interesting hearing some old live recordings (including on the CD Best of) and thinking, “Wow, we actually weren’t too bad.” It’s the first time any of the Swedes music has been on vinyl so that first spin was pretty special.
Are there plans for the band to tour around the country when things settle down?
We’re half-way through recording a new album so once that’s out we’ll be touring far and wide, which will be great after the last two years of lockdown.
What’s something about the Swedish Magazines most fans wouldn’t know?
We’re not Swedish. In fact three quarters of the band are Tasmanian.
Interview By Rob Lyon
I Wish Life Could Be… is the first time the Swedes songs will be available on wax and is now available to purchase via the Rubber Records website, alongside the Deluxe CD featuring 5 exclusive tracks from PBS sessions in 2005.