continues exporting fine pop-rock albums with new artists who sing
in English in an effort to reach out to the international music market.
Case in point is the artist called Slowman, (his real name
is Svante Törngren) who is back in 2014 with the 12 track
CD, Happy Boy. An excellent guitarist / composer
and vocalist, Slowman rises to the occasion with Happy Boy. The
closest classic rock comparison would to Bruce Springsteen, but the
Happy Boy album also abounds with a kind of positive originality
that will keep you coming back for more. Released after returning
to the music business over the past decade, Happy Boy is a
fab look into Slowman's original rock style. Further explaining his
steady comeback over the past decade, Svante tells mwe3.com, 'My
return to the music business was "The Best Of Slowman" that
came out 2008, the second album was "I'm Back" in the Spring
of 2010. And then in September 2010 I released my tribute album "Hey
Jimi", which was my third full length album.' When
asked to compare the wide contrasts in his music, Svante tells mwe3.com,
'Youre right in your theory about the two sides of my personality.
And theyre linked to the two instruments I use for songwriting.
If I use the guitar, I often end up with bluesy riffs and driving
licks. If I sit down at the piano, the ballad side of Slowman is closer.
Happy Boy is definitely the album I wanted to do now. Where Ill
be next is a white paper" Slowmans band on Happy
Boy is first rate and the memorable music matches the highly professional
studio sound. The entire album flows start to finish, while track
five Every Heart Is Crying would bring a smile to any
number of Springsteen fans. With the release of Happy Boy, Slowman
is one of the hottest current pop-rock acts coming out of Sweden,
dont miss him. www.slowman.se
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Can you tell us how and when you started in the music world? How long
have you been recording and can you give a little background as to
how your new Happy Boy album came together? Is there a story
behind you being called Slowman?
Slowman: I fell in love with the guitar at a very early age
and Ive been playing in bands from the age of 10. Back then,
I was living in Linköping, 20 miles south of Stockholm. In 1981,
I moved to Stockholm to make my way in life, and played in an Afro-funk
band that had some success. I also worked as a theater musician in
a small company.
In 1982, I joined 2001, a pop band with a CBS record deal and we had
a minor hit that year and made an album. In spite of, or due to, the
success, the two main members the songwriter and the female
singer couldnt get along and the band broke up.
As a consequence, I formed my own band and wrote all the material
myself. My work back then was inspired by bands like Doobie Brothers;
the sound was smooth and neat. A couple of record companies were interested,
among them Polar, ABBAs label, and I practically had a deal
with Glendisc, not the coolest label at that time, sorry to say, but
I couldnt accept the conditions in the contract. I rushed out
in anger from an office in the fancier parts of Stockholm, and there
in my old Simca I made the decision to turn my back
on the business, reducing music into a hobby. That was back in 1984.
Over the years, I formed and joined a number of cover bands, helped
some friends make demos, and did some gigs while making a living in
the advertising business. In 2004, the music became more important
again. Together with two fellow musicians I started Crossroads. We
played covers, mainly blues and old r&b, and I decided to learn
some Hendrix tunes. I listened, practiced, looked for clips on YouTube
to figure out how he did his stuff...
played successfully in small clubs, at private parties and at some
business events. But my drummer went on and on about me taking up
making my own music again. I said no, no, no and no, that was a closed
chapter of my life.
But the nagging got into my mind, I suppose. One day, while I playing
the guitar, I realized I was about to write an original song for the
first time in 20 years. It turned out to be the riff in the opening
song Taking The Long Way Home on The Best Of Slowman
the solo debut album released later in 2008.
For my 50th birthday, I got studio sessions as a gift from friends
and musicians longing to see and hear me do my own music again. And
here I am. My alter ego Slowman originally comes from a song
I wrote way back, about a man who had to walk since the last train
had gone. And since it took me 24 years to come up with my first solo
album, the stage name Slowman seemed valid. Thats the
mwe3: I had heard your Jimi Hendrix tribute album but Happy
Boy is quite different. Is Happy Boy the other side of
your musical personality? Youve said youre quite happy
with Happy Boy. Is this finally the way you want your music
to be heard?
Slowman: Youre right in your theory about the two sides
of my personality. And theyre linked to the two instruments
I use for songwriting. If I use the guitar, I often end up with bluesy
riffs and driving licks. If I sit down at the piano, the ballad side
of Slowman is closer. Happy Boy is definitely the album I wanted
to do now. Where Ill be next is a white paper
Speaking of Hendrix, can you tell us about your Jimi Hendrix tribute
album and when it was recorded and when it came out? I know mwe3.com
has a review of your Hey Jimi album. Its great to keep
the Hendrix name out there. Will there be a Hey Jimi 2 in the
Slowman: I recorded Hey Jimi during the summer of 2010
in Real Music Studio in western Stockholm; a very analogue studio.
The idea came up since it was the 40 year memorial of Mr. Hendrixs
death on the 18th of September. I was in a flow musically and did
the record just because I wanted to, even though I prepared myself
for a frosty reception. But I survived, some of the reviews were even
mwe3: I guess Hendrix is still your favorite guitarist right?
Any other essential guitarists on your list? Were you influenced more
by American music than Swedish music? Your music sounds very Hendrix
/ Springsteen inspired.
Slowman: Hendrix is above everybody else in my opinion. The
level of skill, fantasy, innovation and beauty in capacity and timing
is still unsurpassed. I have a long list of favorites but on the shortlist
is early Clapton in The Bluesbreakers and Cream, Billy Gibbons in
ZZ Top, David Gilmour, Pink Floyd, Slash, Lowell George, Ry Cooder,
Freddie King and some more.
Swedish music has never swept me off my feet, even if I like many
Swedish musicians and singers. Some of Timbuktus work is amazing,
and many artists on the Swedish hip hop stage are interesting.
But lots of American music makes me happy and knocks me out. Theres
a power and soul that I dont hear anywhere else. And youre
absolutely right about the references to Hendrix/Springsteen.
I heard Born to run, I finally found the missing piece in my
life. I wasnt sure of what it was, but I wanted to stay within
that music. I loved every piano intro, every lyric line, every saxophone
riff, every passionate roar from the young Springsteen.
When I saw the video with the sax solo in Jungleland from
Hammer-smith Odeon in London 1975, and Bruce closed his eyes, I must
admit it touched me deeply. And still does, every time.
And Jimi Hendrix remains an unachievable role model for every guitarist
in the world. He played tough, he played sexy, he played beautifully,
and no-one can handle the feedback and tremolo on a Strat like he
mwe3: The new Slowman CD Happy Boy starts off with Time.
I guess you wanted to start the album with a driving rocker. Is the
song autobiographical? Seems like time is the number one topic on
everyones mind these days? Is it a flash of exuberance and upbeat?
Perfect song to kick off the CD.
Slowman: That is exactly how I thought. The song says: Here
I am. Listen to what Ive got. Its not autobiographical;
its about the feeling of time passing by faster every year.
My ambition was to depict a sense of urgency to capture life while
you can. A very natural consequence of getting older, I guess.
mwe3: Who is in your band on the Happy Boy album? Whats
the musical chemistry like with these players?
Slowman: Basically we are a four piece band. Drums, bass, keys
and guitar. The bass player and I have a common history from the band
2001 in the 80s. The drummer and I met in 2004, while
forming Crossroads. The keyboard player had a short musical career
in the early 90s and we played together in a covers band. The
chemistry is good when playing, but we have different views about
touring. Personally, I could travel a lot more.
mwe3: Nothing To Pretend is very personal. Is it
really about making a stand, especially true for anyone involved in
the music business these days? Also the song questions the concept
of God in some ways that are really funny. Great song. Is the country
music influence noted on Nothing To Pretend?
I have a soft spot for alt country, the more urban out take of the
genre, and Im really fond of artists like Steve Earl and Lucinda
Williams... but have big problems with too much haystack. I have a
romantic, melancholic side and from time to time I slip into the country
mwe3: Track 3 of Happy Boy is Into Gold
is a tribute to New York City in some ways where you talk about landing
at JFK, from Stockholm I presume. Whats your biggest fascination
about the US? Any other favorite cities? Anyway, the song has a great
driving beat. Why did you call it Into Gold?
Slowman: Into Gold is an homage to the Stockholm
Archipelago and a light memory of grace from our years in a summer
house by the sea. Sitting down by the water with a good cognac watching
the moonlight reflect like gold in the water... I try to capture moments
of clarity and meaningfulness to a collection for rainy days.
My biggest fascination about the US is the energy... a young nation
and super power that sometimes acts like a teenager on speed. Ive
done short visits, mostly work related, to cities like Baltimore,
Los Angeles and Washington, and the only city Ive revisited
and really enjoy is New York. But of course I have to go to cities
like Chicago, Houston, New Orleans and San Francisco some day.
mwe3: Is Little Berlin about your relationship
with that city in Germany? Its really got one of the best arrangements
on the Happy Boy album. Are those real strings? Whos
playing and singing with you on that track? Be great if you could
have some remix versions of that track with extended instrumental
sections as the melody is so strong.
Little Berlin is my pet name for my part of Stockholm,
Hornstull, in the western part of Södermalm. When I visited Berlin
in 2011, I met the same kind of coolness and laid-back lifestyle that
is common in my hoods. And, yes its real strings played by a
professional quartet. Youll find all the names in the CD booklet.
The string arrangement is written by a highly respected horn player
and conductor, Johan Ahlin. The singers come from a gospel choir in
Enskede Church, led by Camilla Stenman. A remix of "Little Berlin"?
I will certainly think about it!
mwe3: Every Heart Is Crying is track five on Happy
Boy and it sounds like the single from the CD. Is that a good
example of your Springsteen influence? Theres a few examples
of the feeling of the title as you sing in a third person way about
several different people. Is it about the rain of lost dreams in life?
Must be your Swedish depth of perception!
Slowman: I, myself, cant hear the Springsteen influence
in this specific song. To me, its a composition that Ive
struggled with, and made demos of, in a large number of versions.
The final theme is the impossibility of lasting happiness. For each
achievement, we move our ambitions forward and increase our demands.
So whats the meaning? Maybe the struggle itself? Listen to famous
bands: What do they talk about as their best years? Often the early
days, when they couldnt afford hotels and played for ten people
in a lousy joint in a god forsaken town
The key words in Every
Heart Is Crying is in the bridge:
The day when you have everything, just everything you want,
youve already forgotten, what really was the point
mwe3: What guitars are you playing on the Happy Boy
album? You also use acoustic guitars to great effect on the CD.
What are you favorite acoustic guitars? Interesting that you use the
acoustic guitar sound for rhythm in the rock setting, which is a sound
I always loved.
My equipment consists of an electric Gibson Les Paul Standard 78,
a Fender Stratocaster, a Danelectro DANO 63; an acoustic Simon
& Patrick, a Hagström 70 and an old 12-string Japanese
guitar named Nippon Best, according to the store, the predecessor
On several tracks we recorded the 12-string and two 6-stringed takes.
In the mix we placed the 12-string in the middle, and a 6-string on
each side. Yeah, Im also fond of that sound!
My main amplifier is a clone of the first Marshall model JTM 45 Combo
with two Celestion Greenback elements. Actually, the same model Clapton
used on his recordings with The Bluesbreakers.
mwe3: How abut Swedish music? Do you still sing and write with
Swedish lyrics? There seems to be a pop renaissance in Sweden these
days, especially after the incredible Swedish instrumental prog sounds
in the 1970s and early 1980s. Were you influenced by some of the great
Swedish bands of the past? Im thinking of the cult rock and
progressive bands, rock bands like Dag Vag and legends like Bo Hansson
and ABBA too for that matter. Seems like many great players from Sweden
are gone now.
Slowman: I did release a Swedish EP in March 2014... as a test.
Could I get more national airtime that way? It really didn't work
out the way I hoped, some good reviews but reluctant radio producers,
so Ive put the project on hold, but sent you a copy anyway.
Sweden is a super power in music nowadays, First Aid Kit is only one
example. ABBA was a no-no in my circles in the 70s. But Dag
Vag, Samla Mammas Manna with Lasse Hollmer, Kebnekajse with Kenny
Håkansson, Hansson & Karlsson, Nynningen, Nature, Pugh Rogefelt,
Georg Wadenius, and to some extent Ulf Lundell was alright.
mwe3: The title track to Happy Boy is actually the single
and you have a video for it. Compared to the other tracks, the song
Happy Boy seems very deep and almost mournful. The guitar
solo is classic and who is playing cello with you on the video? The
guitar solo sounds almost symphonic to me. Why pick this one for the
title of the album?
For me the song is essential to the album. Its about life and
how we manage our pound. The very simple and strong metaphor
is a man looking at a picture of himself as a vibrant kid, and then
at himself today in a mirror, measuring the difference. I know its
not the optimum commercial choice, but it captures the album's theme
and is my personal and artistic first choice.
mwe3: What Do We Do Now sounds very mid life crises
like. I guess if youre lucky you go through something like that.
Again another tear-jerker track with a beautiful string arrangement.
Just kind of fades in the mist!
Slowman: Its a very bittersweet mid life crises that
is told. Im glad you noted the final chord. Since it ends with
the third chord in the key, it sounds like an open question...
mwe3: Drowning Stones is very Dylan-esque. I guess
its mans plight. Societys woes. Life seems so much
easier these days but its never been so challenging and worrisome
too, sad to say.
Slowman: The title Drowning stones is inspired
by the novel Swimming home by Deborah Levy, and I think she
got the concept from Virginia Wolfs suicide. I use the stones
as a metaphor for the burdens we collect throughout our lives: guilt,
low self-esteem, jealousy, sorrow. And in vain, I beg my daughter
to leave them on the beach; you dont have to save them all.
If you do, life gets too heavy. And yes, its tough times in
Sweden, especially for young girls.
mwe3: Is Aint Gonna Worry the flip side,
the humorous side of Drowning Stones? Its just the
way things turned out! lol Cool guitar solo. Its almost gospel
like but the lyrics are hilarious. Are you singing about your kids?
Very well put, Robert. The flip side of Drowning stones!
It just came to me... took me approximately 15 minutes to write. And
its completely autobiographical, of course. The guitar solo
is played on the Danelectro since its very good for slide work.
mwe3: Track ten on Happy Boy, Babys Burnin
is X-rated. (lol) I can picture Bad Company or the Stones doing this
one! Is Babys Burnin the heaviest song on
the Happy Boy album?
Slowman: Babys Burning is without question
the heaviest track on the album. Raw sex with some Prince-influences.
We recorded six guitar tracks here, but only used four in the final
mwe3: Where The Roses Grow is kind of a modern
day protest song. Its really effective in getting your points
out there but the melody is haunting. The lyrics kind of reminds of
the Beach Boys song A Day In The Life Of A Tree. Natures
plight trying to survive man?
Slowman: Yes, I guess you can call it a protest song, but to
me the core is the same as in Into Gold: Dont
miss the good things in life, you miserable old fool. They exist,
but you have to keep your eyes open!
Arent the harmony vocals fantastic? And I think Mats really
does it on the keyboard!
mwe3: Nobody Else is a cool way to end the CD.
I guess its a real personal kind of song. Your wife is beautiful
so I guess you have a pretty good life over there in Sweden! Speaking
of tomorrow, whats next for Slowman musically? Will Happy
Boy earn a grammy this year? Where can I cast my vote?
I am a happy boy in many ways. I love my wife, have two beautiful
daughters and my own business seems to find its way. Ive
made four full length albums on small budgets without any support.
Im not sure what happens in the future. It all depends. Its
hard to keep a band together. Well see...
Törngren @ www.slowman.se
and to Peter Holmstedt @ www.hemifran.com