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Backyard Babies interview 

Backyard Babies
Submitted by Criss Sexx on 2018-04-01
That’s easy to talk about Backyard Babies. Since they’re a Swedish band and I am a Brazilian writer for Melodic Net, a Swedish website... I thought that would be something cool to go and have an interview with the band and check the guys out for the second time, and have it out on a website of their own country. Sweden is the birthplace of huge acts like Europe, Michael Monroe (let’s not forget the immortal Hanoi Rocks), Easy Action and then Shotgun Messiah, and even pop acts like ABBA and Roxette. Backyard Babies had never had the same commercial success, even though the band did receive two Grammy Awards in their home country. Why? Backyard Babies has always been around to break rules and conventions. “Diesel & Power”, their first album, released in 1994, was out at the time when grunge ruled the charts... After a well done change in style and looks, the band had their real break with the iconic “Total 13”, an album that sounds fresh till this day. Nicke Borg, lead singer and guitarist, gave me an exclusive interview while Backyard Babies was in Brazil for one show only – more than 15 years since they toured here for the “Making Enemies Is Good” album (such a huge one here in Brazil). I hope all of you enjoy reading it here as much as I did when I talked to the man himself, face to face.


Criss Sexx

1) Hi, Nicke, it’s a pleasure meeting you! Thanks for agreeing to giving me this interview for Melodic Net! I’ll start asking about how Backyard Babies changed after you joined the band... What did you bring to the band?


NICKE – Well, Backyard Babies had been around for a while before I came into the scene. I mean, they were called Tyrant if I am right... I joined as a bass player – fuck, man, I was bad! The singer back then decided to quit and, you know, I played the bass and sang, so then I became the band’s lead singer. I played the guitar, the acoustic guitar, you know, open chords, you know, as I play a lot of acoustic guitar... and then also the guitar riffs, the fucking heavy metal usual riffs, if you know what I mean... that was all, I guess. I think I brought lots of songwriting into the band, since I was a big fan of other bands that the rest of the guys didn’t care much about. I mean fucking AC/DC, New York Dolls, etc. that really made a big difference when added to the punk rock influences that the rest of the band had at that time. My father was in a band, so I grew up on all kinds of music... I wouldn’t really call it a change, but a further step that made the band become Backyard Babies.


2) And where did the name Backyard Babies come from?


NICKE – Haha, that’s a good question! We were very young when we started playing. We used to play rehearsals in a fucking Backyard. We also used to hang out with older people, and every now and then they would come and say “here they come those babies”... fuck, that made sense! As I said, my father was in a band and he thought it was a great name. Dregen and I came up with this name like “let’s make sense here... we rehearse in a backyard... Backyard... Backyard Babies!”... Bang! We had the name then! It was decided late at night on a subway station, when we were on our way back home, since we didn’t even live in Stockholm at the time. We couldn’t fucking afford anything. Those were hard times... It wasn’t fucking easy back then... it isn’t yet... but in so many different ways, you know.


3) What were your main influences then and what are they now? Have they changed that much?


NICKE – They’re just the same, they never changed, too boring! Haha, that’s not true. Jokes apart, I was very influenced by all of the 80’s stuff, the Glam Rock stuff as Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses and all that shit but, then, there was also the punk scene, and the bands from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal... Iron Maiden, Judas Priest... there were also the fucking Pistols and Motörhead... the fucking New York Dolls, man... I guess that’s where we all come from... as for me, now, I listen to all kinds of music. I listen to the old shit, I check the new shit out... I am a huge country music fan, you know? And I mean those mellow country, pop songs! I could sit down and listen to them for hours! I am very much into acoustic guitars and I guess that’s why I like it. I wrote songs for other artists too, different styles... I used the fucking acoustic guitar a lot, still do... But there was all that metal, punk stuff... I still listen to Social Distortion a lot. We all came to like a bit of this and that. I guess I can tell you that my influences now are just the same than before, but there’s so much more that I listen to these days.


4) What can you say about your first album, "Diesel & Power"?


NICKE – Oh, shit... that was our first album... Those songs had been lying around for years. It was great to see them being released, us getting signed. That’s a totally different album, you know... we don’t play those songs live. By the time "Diesel & Power" was out, grunge was all over and people said that “what these guys are doing and playing is fucking unacceptable...”... Glam Rock was dead and, God... it was great seeing those songs out but, at the same time, when they were out, it felt like a fucking waste of time... I love the album, well, it was our first one. But we had to do something about it, since the work of so many years didn’t really pay... that was very frustrating back then. You can’t say you like Backyard Babies if you’ve only listened to that album.


5) And then “Total 13” came out...

NICKE – That’s true, and it was a totally different album. We wanted to fucking show them we could do it! We were going through so much and then, when making the “Total 13” record, we thought that we didn’t need to be an American band to make it. He had seen other bands, just like the ones from England, Hanoi Rocks, you know... fuck, they had made it! Of course we had to chance it all, the way we fucking looked, sounded... we didn’t care. We were still playing some fucking rock and roll! But we came back to our punk rock roots, and the songwriting shows it. There are really great fucking songs on this album. It’s really flattering that people come to us saying that the “Total 13” album was somehow part of the soundtrack of their lives. It’s great to know it has influenced lots of bands that came after us. Even bands that have become bigger than us... we just go, “WOW!”... It was produced by Thomas Skogsberg, and he helped us get to another level. We started touring like crazy and, fuck, we proved we were a good band. That’s still amazing thinking of this album. We all fucking love it, it was the real start for what fucking Backyard Babies is today.


6) What about the “Making Enemies Is Good” album? Everyone knows it's a very important album... How do you guy compare it to "Total 13"?


NICKE – Again, it was a totally different album, haha... If you think of what we did with “Total 13”, we got the attention of some big people... and then we were signed to a major label. When I think of the millions that were spent on the making of the album... We were too confused at the time, and they got Thomas Skogsberg to produce it once again. That was something weird, since they were using Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” as the model to shape this new record. We were too high on drugs and alcohol, and so excited to be in a huge label that we thought it was fucking alright... as you said, “Making Enemies” was a really important album... we got to tour the world with it. The fans thought it was a softer record and, well, it fucking was. Let’s say it was a punk rock album that was meant to sound like Def Leppard, haha... Fucking weird, man! Can you picture a punk album that sounds like Def fucking Leppard? Neither can I, haha... I still remember all the money that was spent on it... the “Brand New Hate” video... It all seemed fucking crazy, too much fucking money... but yes, “Making Enemies” was a good album, and a damn, fucking important one.


7) What about the "Stockholm Syndrome" album? How does this one differ from “Making Enemies Is Good”?


NICKE – When we did the “Stockholm” album, we were still in a big label. Joe Barresi produced this one. Shit, we did this one trying to get back to our fucking roots, trying not to sound as polished as we did on “Making Enemies”... I mean, “Making Enemies” was great... but soundwise we just had to come back to where we were with “Total 13”... as I said, we were in a big label then, and it was our chance to put out this record that not only the fans but also the fucking critics would enjoy. The "Stockholm" album was a great great move for Backyard Babies... I don’t know why, but “Minus Celcius” ended up being the band’s biggest song so far. I think we got a fucking Grammy with this one... I guess we got two, actually, one also for “Making Enemies”... So there was more touring... fuck, you never know what will come out when a new album is out. We were more focused when we did “Stockholm”... maybe that was why it became a fucking great record. We had learned from the “mistakes” of “Making Enemies”... I mean, not mistakes, but experiences from when we did that one. That was Backyard Babies doing what we fucking do, not trying to sound like anyone else, but fucking us, you know what I mean?


8) Your next albums, “People Like People Like People Like Us” and the "self-titled" one came next. These albums didn’t really get the same exposure as the previous ones... Can you talk briefly about them?


NICKE – These were good albums... when it comes to the “People Like Us” album, we have really great songs on this one, songs like “Dysfunctional Professional” and “Roads”... we weren’t in a big label anymore and Nicke Andersson from The Hellacopters produced it... it was nice, but it wasn’t maybe the right person to do it, you know... He’s a great professional but, fuck, I think we didn’t pick the right person... whatever. That was also a period when we, at least me, were not enjoying ourselves that much as a band and playing live. I mean, it was great doing “People Like Us”, but then friends and fans woud come to me and ask “is there anything wrong? It feels like you’re not enjoying yourself onstage...” and I would go like “fuck, is it that apparent?”, and they would fucking go like “yeah...”... I am proud of this album, but things were really out of hand back then... as for the self-titled record, well, it was also done during rough times... we were really losing focus on what we were doing, and that was when I said to myself I really had to stop all the excess, I mean, fucking drugs and alcohol... I was really going too far. And that affected not only me, but also the band. So I guess that was when we all sat down and decided to take a fucking “break”, if you call it this way, and put ourselves back together. Fuck, I like the self-titled record, but it’s not fucking as good as some as our other albums, I think. There are also a few really good songs on it, like “Nomadic” and “Abandon”... I needed more time to do my own things then, I mean, I wasn’t that young anymore and I had lots of other things in my life other than Backyard Babies... and maybe the other members of the band too...


9) What about the last album, "Four By Four"? Some critics said the album is too short... Some called it a "pop punk" album... What’s your personal opinion about it? I personally love it...


NICKE – Well, people say a lot of fucking shit. When we made “the comeback” or whatever people want to call it, we decided to release an album in 2015. I basically wrote all the album by myself, and maybe that’s not the right thing to do when you’re in a band. Anyway, that was the only way to have a new record out at the time, otherwise it would take a long time to put a different album together... when it comes to critics, they mean shit to me, you know... and yes, maybe that’s a short album in length – but I don’t usually like long albums myself. As you said, there’s this punk pop thing, but it came naturally, it was never fucking planned... and why make a new album that’s so fucking long? The music industry has changed a lot in the past years. Not many people buy the records, other than the fans. So the albums are for them. Those who are not going to buy it just stream it or download it somewhere. These people go to fucking Spotify and listen whatever they want to, so they can spend hours listening to music. These changes in the industry have affected all artists, not only us. I mean, everybody loses nowadays, the fans, the band... Man, most of the bands of our generation, the ones we grew up listening to, aren’t around anymore... no more fucking Motörhead, no more fucking Mötley Crüe... no more fucking AC/DC (Haha, who knows, right?) and the new generation who is interested in music is doing the streaming thing... why care then? So, if there’s somebody who’s not a fan and says shit about the band or the album, I really don’t fucking care. We’ve been around for quite a while and that’s the fans that matter... I mean, the shows we play... everybody sings the songs... so why fucking care about what critics and so-called fans have to say? Nothing on this record was planned, we wanted to release an album in 2015 and we fucking did it.


10) Backyard Babies has always been known for their explosive live shows. What can you all say about touring? What can you say about this new tour?


NICKE – Yes... touring has always been important. But, come on, we’re in our forties, mid-forties... touring now is completely different from what it was when we were in our twenties, when we started the band.  I need more time to do my own things, that have nothing to do with the band, you know...So touring is OK with me, but I simply can’t tour for months and months anymore. I’ll tell you what, we’re also in the studio at the moment and we had to turn down some tours... there’s a lot of good shit going on... keep an eye open for our new single coming out shortly... there’s new music on the way. Touring is great when you fucking enjoy it. I don’t wanna go on tour forever and then stop enjoying myself, as I did some years ago. Touring is worth it if you’re enjoying what you’re doing. For me, I have to go out there, tour, stop, tour again and stop... Touring has been great... last night in Argentina, for example... it was a great show. Everybody was singing the songs, we can feel the fans are still there for us. That’s a great feeling, you know what I mean... but now, as we’re older, we have to see it all a different way. We’ll always be touring, but not spending that long on the road on each tour as when we were fucking younger. This new tour, you know, is going great so far. We are playing live and back in the studio, as I’ve just told you. I think that’s how it’s gonna be from now on. This way we’ll all enjoy ourselves on tour and also have the time to do our own shit when we need to and feel like.


11) What about coming back to Brazil? Backyard Babies played here a long, long time ago... Do you remember those shows? How does it feel to be back here in Brazil?


NICKE – Fuck, man...that’s been it, 15, 16 years ago... well, it feels great to be back! I look back and think that lots of bands didn’t have a career that lasted 15, 16 years! You know, Dregen and I never really knew when we were here exactly... I mean, I see pictures and the way I looked back then, wore my hair, shit like this... but the year we came down here is really unclear to me. I remember the people, the great, warm weather – if we were in Sweden right now we’d be wearing fucking coats. Then you look out the hotel window and see the beautiful sun shining... Brazil is a great, welcoming country. What I remember from those shows was that the crowd was really fucking wild, just like last night in Argentina. If you ask me why we didn’t come back here before, I won’t be able to answer that question. It’s a pity that’s so fucking difficult to come down and play here in South America. I mean, not only for Backyard Babies, but any band would say the same... fuck, that’s so fucking difficult to deal with promoters and shit down here... well, that’s not my thing, not my job. But what I can tell you is that coming down here wasn’t something easy, you know. There’s too much fucking bureaucracy in everything down here... well, I’m not complaining, you know... but we’d have loved to have come back here sooner... well, now we’re here and we can’t wait to play tonight!


12) Would you like to leave a message for the Melodic Net readers, as well as to your fans all over the world?


NICKE – A message? Well, I think that what I can say is that everything you do you have to fucking enjoy it. If you don’t, it’s just not your thing. I can say if you’re not enjoying yourself... well, it’s not worth playing. We want to continue playing everywhere, there’s new music on the way. I’d like to make sure that everyone knows that. I want to thank (whoever it is) to be back here and play these shows in South America... Argentina, Brazil... to the fans in Sweden, in Brazil, well, everywhere... Backyard Babies is here to stay, we intend to continue playing. I would like to thank everybody who’s coming to the show tonight...


13) Thanks for the interview, Nicke... You guys ROCK!!!


NICKE – I thank you for coming, man.