With the release of Revolution on Repeat for Rise Above Records, Sweden's Troubled Horse are poised to join the other heavy hitters of the Scandinavian heavy rock scene on the road to world domination. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo caught up with vocalist Martin and guitarist Tom recently to talk about the history of the band, the new album, influences, and current touring plans.
SoT: Though Step Inside came out in 2012, Troubled Horse's story actually started many years before. Can you give a little history of the band, how you all met, and some key events leading up to your Rise Above Records debut?
Martin: Ola and I went to the same school when we grew up. In the same class from middle school through out high-school. So we've been friends since we where kids. And we also started our first band together "Great Mammoth" and starting exploring the 60s and 70s rock scene together with his older brother Jens. Mike (Guitar) and I met through mutual friends here in Örebro. He had been sitting at home playing guitar his whole life but never played in a band, so nobody had really heard him play before. And when John Hoyls (guitar on Step inside) quit "Troubled Horse" to move to Göteborg I asked Mike if he wanted to try out. He was a bit sceptical at first but he decided to try. Turns out it was a blessing in disguise - John leaving the band. After releasing the "Bring my Horse's home" 7" in 2010 we were invited to play this kind of big festival in the Netherlands - The Road Burn Festival. Don't ask me why, but I ended up playing the gig in a red dress. (We never been invited to play again since, haha) But Will Palmer who used to work for Rise Above Records was in the in the crowd and decided he wanted to release an LP with Troubled Horse and so we did.
SoT: Sweden has seen a huge increase in young bands playing hard rock & metal with classic influences. What are some of the legacy bands the members of Troubled Horse grew up listening to?
Martin: Name dropping...well...Sabbath, Sir Lord Baltimore, Leaf Hound, Captain Beyond, Pentagram, Ramones, The Hellacopters, The Kinks, November just to name a few. I also listened a lot to Swedish punk rock growing up. I know Jonas and Tom did as well. Jonas used to play drums in a punkband called "The Pricks" in the 90s. And Tom played in a garage punkband called "Bad Karma" before. And I listen a lot to Nirvana growing up who was the main reason that made me wanna start a band as a kid. I know people think it's kind of lame to drop a band like "Nirvana" as one of your influences, but I came from a family that didn't listened to records at home and had little or no interest in music. So music was something you got through radio or MTV. And when all music you ever heard before was what was channeled through those chanals you get pretty floored when a band like Nirvana comes along. I remember never seen anything like them before - smashing their instrument and fighting with the security guards on stage. For me they brought danger back into rock'n'roll and pissed all over the shity hair metal bands who was dominating the rock scene back then. I think many kids that didn't grew up in a record-collector-family of my generation can relate to the same thing.
SoT: The band have had some line-up changes since we last heard from you-can you talk a little bit about that?
Martin: As I mentioned earlier, I started Troubled Horse back in 2003 after playing in "Great Mammoth" for several years with brothers Ola and Jens Henriksson - who also played drums (Jens) and bas (Ola) on the "Bring my Horse's home" 7" (Crusher Records) and the first Troubled Horse album "Step Inside". We've been friends and band members since we where kids. But Jens quit the band after a few Europe tours. He claimed he was tired of eating white bread and sleeping on concrete floors. I can understand him. And John Hoyls (guitar) moved to another part of Sweden so he had to quit as well. Sadly Ola also quit the band after a few years since we did no longer shared the same musical goal. He wanted to go more metal and I wanted something else. So I needed a new drummer first of all. So I gave Jonas Arnesen (Drums in "Witchcraft" 2002-2006) a call. He wasn't doing anything in particular so he joined up with "Troubled Horse". And before Ola left the band he had asked Tom ("Witchcraft" 2010-2013) to join Troubled Horse for some live gigs to add to Mike's guitar playing. And while Ola left to play metal in Bombus Tom decided to stay and join "Troubled Horse" for real. It's a big mess really.
SoT: The new album Revolution on Repeat is an even stronger collection of songs than the debut, in my opinion. Many of the tracks are heavier, the grooves are tighter, and the songwriting flows a bit better. How long did it take to put the album together, and are you satisfied with the end results?
Martin: I guess you are never completely satisfied with anything you do. But we haven't left any part of the song writing without being as close to satisfied as you can get. So it took some time with some of the songs on the record. But with that been said - the song writing was all done 2 years ago. It took 7 month forming the songs being all written till we got to record in the studio we wanted, and to get the studio engineers we wanted. The wheels turns kind of slowly in this industry.
SoT: Martin, your vocals are spectacular throughout the album, and easily becoming one of the finest singers Sweden has to offer. What are some vocalists that influenced your style?
Martin: Well first of, thank you. But I don't really consider myself a singer. Not really. Not like Axel in "Horisont" or Jocke in "Graveyard". I'm more of a screaming lunatic venting out my frustrations if you ask me. I try to hit as many notes as I can in the fall so it won't be to unbearable for the listener. But a singer I am not. You would probably beat me if we where to play Sings Star on Playstation. But I really like Erik Burdon of "The Animals", he's one of the best singers ever lived in my opinion. And also the voice of Winston Churchill, it's pretty dark low key, but yet firm. "We will defend our island"...and so on.
SoT: Many of us here in North America are starving for bands like Troubled Horse, Witchcraft, Captain Crimson, Horisont (who are finally coming here), Mangrove, and Brutus to tour in this part of the world. Are there any plans for the band to make it over here any time in the not too distant future?
Martin: We'd like to come over and play as soon as possible in the United States. Hopefully we'll come over and do a couple of gigs soon. We'll keep you updated on our Facebook page.
SoT: Here's a two part question-if you could tour the US in support of a veteran band, who would it be? And two, if you could package a tour of 3 up and coming Swedish bands, who would be the other 2 you would go out on the road with?
Martin: I don't know...hmmm..maybe Metallica, they must have the best catering out there. We only wanna bring one band on tour - "Horisont". Not only cause they are a real kick-ass band, it's also cause we've been on a few tours with them before in Europe and in Sweden, and there is really no other band I have so much fun with on the road as as with those guys. We've share some really fun tour-memories together. All from Polish police, fights in hotel rooms, threats of - "a german fuck festivals in prison" to Spanish ambulances, people demand to empty their pockets and alcohol poisoning. So for me it's always "Horisont"!
SoT: Mike and Tom contribute some stellar guitar work to the album, and there are some tasty layerings that bring to mind the classic work of Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy. Was it a conscious effort to almost replicate twin guitar harmonies in spots on the album?
Tom: Well Mike, being the guitar master that he is, really plays some incredible guitar on this record. However, I just can't let him take all the credit since it is actually me who plays the other guitar.
So we are really doing the twin guitar stuff, and have been doing so ever since I joined the band a few years ago. For this record we split the guitar parts almost 50/50 between us really. Mike has got maybe a few solos more than me which he totally deserve, being able to play the way he can. Mike also played the bass on this record since we didn't have a bass player when it was time for us to enter the studio.
SoT: Piano and organ occasionally pop up in your music- does the band play live with a keyboard player?
Tom: I have played keys since I was a kid and was really happy to get to play organ and piano on the record. It really elevated some of the songs. I sometimes play it live, when I feel confident enough…
SoT: Do you have any summer festival dates in Europe or Scandinavia lined up for this year?
Tom: We are working on putting a tour together later this year. Playing live is what we have looked forward to ever since we started recording the album a year ago. At the moment we are doing a few shows in Sweden.
SoT: What does the next 1-3 years hold for the band?
Tom: Right now we just want to play live as much as we possible can. It's what we do best if I dare say so. We might start working on new ideas for the next album pretty soon though. Hopefully the next release one won't take as long as this one. And if we're lucky we get to go to the states and do a few shows there, it's something we've always wanted to do.
(Click here to read our review of Revolution on Repeat)