Swedish band The Scrags sound like something you’d unearth digging through bins of mixed tapes – and I mean actual cassettes – in some old punker’s basement in the middle of the woods. And it’s fitting that internet info on the five-piece is sparse, almost as if they enjoy their obscurity as much as we do. But good things should never stay secret, and The Scrags, with their seemingly lo-fi barrage of full throttle punk rock, deserve to be played loud, way past 11. Fronted by vocalist Antonion Fryk, who sings in both English and Swedish, with Fredrik Berglund on drums, Joakim Forsgren on bass, Rasmus Fernström on guitar, and Rickard Folke on synths, The Scrags are releasing their latest album Anything in late January of next year via Canadian indie label The Grizzlar. Check out their new singles “Jag gräver min egna grav” and “Skräcken har 1000 ögon,” recorded live and mixed directly to tape at Studio Cobra in Stockholm. Although the tracks aren’t on the album, their raw power will transport you to a sweaty basement in 1978 and leave you begging for more. So listen up, and read our interview with the band below. Because Swedish punk rock has never sounded better. –Maya Eslami
Pre order the album “Anything” here
WHAT YOUTH: When did you guys form the Scrags? How did the band all meet?
THE SCRAGS: We are from Gävle, a pretty small town in the north of Sweden and that is were we all met and started the band in 2003.
I met Jani Lehtinen at a local pub, he was our former guitar player and the guy who plays on the single “Jag gräver min egna grav”. We became good friends and started talking about starting a raw rock`n`roll band. Then one night, in another pub not far away from were Jani and I met, I met Fredrik Berglund. I remember that he wore a fake snake skin jacket and I also remember noticing his terrible badly done Appetite for destruction tattoo on his arm… So it was love at first sight. He turned out to be a hell of a drummer too. We got a gig at the only heavy metal bar in town and so we needed a bass player. I knew that Joakim Forsgren, the elder brother of a friend of mine, could play bass and so he joined in and we did our first gig at the metal joint.
What other bands are you inspired by?
I think we all have different sources for inspiration. If you would sit in a touring van with us for an hour maybe you would here some stuff from bands like The Fall, Misfits, Neu! and T-Rex.
Tell me about the new album, where it was recorded and how the process went? What can we expect?
It was recorded at Studio Cobra in Stockholm by Martin Ehrencrona who also plays Syntersizer in a great band called Viagra Boys. The studio is in a nice little cellar. A bit dirty and packed with old synthesizers, tape recorders and stuff. He also has a big Vibraphone there which we used, inspired by the beautiful black metal song Dunkelheit by Burzum. During the recording of the album lots of things happened… With half of the record done, Jani Lehtinen left us. Then I took off for Berlin and stayed for almost 6 months. I knew a guy who liked The Scrags called Anton Fors and I called him up before I left and the others rehearsed with him as guitarist while I was away.
When I came back we did a show in Stockholm and this big and bearded Canadian guy comes up to me saying that he wants to bring us over for a Canadian tour. His name was Drew McIntosh. He writes his e-mail address on a small piece of paper and gives it to me. Of course, during the night I lost it somehow. At least I thought so. Around a month later I found it in my jeans pocket, the small one, the condom pocket as we call it here…
One thing led to another and we did a three weeks Canadian tour from Vancouver to Winnipeg. When we came home we spent some time in the studio to wrap things up and finished the album. Drew is the one who is releasing it on hes Canadian label The Grizzlar.
For me some songs have a Stooges feeling, maybe slightly more psychedelic and dark and in some songs you might hear our love for the band The Modern Lovers. I used to make dark landscapes and noise with cheap flea market keyboards connected to effect pedals wen we played live. That stuff is captured on the record. But I wasn’t serious enough for the synth thing to function really, I carried around the keyboards in a garbage bag on tour and every one just had enough of it. After all, I’m just a singer, and now we have a new guy in the band, Rickard Folke, who makes the dark drones and plays glittery melodies, he plays lots better than I did and is great fun to hang out with. Same counts for our new guitar player Rasmus Fernström.
And on new single “Jag gräver min egna grav” any decision why you guys did it in Swedish – which we love?
Well, I don’t think that I’ve ever had a plan with anything when I sit down with the guitar to play and write. At least I try not to. I write all songs at home on an acoustic guitar. If something good comes up while I am playing I try to develop it into a song. It can turn out to be a country-sniffing thing, a Swedish folky melody or a punk song. I have lots of songs in Swedish, but these two songs turned out to be real cool wen we started to play them with The Scrags.
“Jag gräver min egna grav” comes from a Swedish saying “Att gräva sin egna grav” (To dig your own grave) which basically means: to do something which leads to your own downfall. For me the song is about taking your life, and death “in your own hands”, as we say it in Sweden, meaning like; taking control over it all.
Lastly, when are you guys coming to California so we can see you play?!
As soon as someone books a tour for us!