A few days after the new year kicked off, a reader of No Echo named Klas Sivertson wrote me about two projects he was looking to promote on the site. When I saw the words "90s Swedish hardcore" somewhere within the email, I paid close attention. I'm a huge fan of that era of music and have always been interested in the Scandinavian side of it all, especially since I was never as well-versed as I was about the American bands that came out of the hardcore scene back then.
The two projects Klas launched are Swedish Hardcore: A Documentation of Photos from the Scene Between 1992-2002 and Linda Lurve - Umeå Hardcore 1993 - 1994, two photo books including shots of such bands as Refused, Doughnuts, Abhinanda, and Shield. I spoke with Klas via email about the books, his experiences in the Swedish hardcore scene, and which bands from the region/era he feels deserveded more attention.
When and how were you introduced to the scene?
My older brother listened to heavy metal and thrash metal and through him I got in contact with hardcore music when I was around 13, that was in 1993. And after that, I dug deeper and started to order records and zines from mailorders both in Sweden and abroad. I started my first own fanzine in 1994 and continued releasing different publications til 2005. I also played in some bands, and so on.
In early 2015, me and two friends—who are just like me collectors of swedish hardcore stuff—started an instagram account together called Svensk Hardcore Kultur (in English: Swedish Hardcore Culture) where we post stuff from our collections. Records, tapes, merch, photos and so on. And soon people also started to post stuff to us to publish, which is really fun.
I also release physical stuff under the name Svensk Hardcore Kultur. So far its a couple of cassettes, one vinyl LP with Give Today, and the two photobooks we're talking about today.
Later this year, I will release a vinyl LP from Wayside.
How did the idea for the Swedish Hardcore photo book concept come together? Were you friends with the photographers already, or did you have to track them down for permission/access?
Me and my collegues at Svensk Hardcore Kultur had talked about doing some form of book for a while, but never really got started. So, when I started my parental leave, I wanted to have some projects to work with when my son was sleeping during the day, and one of this projects ended up being this photo book. The main idea behind it was to gather a bunch of great hardcore photos and to let them get a little longer life. I mean, so much photos are disapearing as people are moving and forgetting and so on.
I started to read through old zines to find photos to find material to include. And after that I started to contact people, some I knew before and some I just knew by their name. Most of them was aboard right away, but some had already threw all their photos away and to some I had to do a lot of nagging and they didnt even deliver at the end.
Of all the bands featured in the book, who would you say was the most important to you and why?
I would lie if I didnt say Refused. I discovered so much through that band and the members in it. Both music and politics.
Everyone knows Refused and Doughnuts because of their alignment with bigger American record labels, but who were some of the bands in the book you think should have been bigger?
Well, there are a lot great stuff if you are willing to dig a little, but here is just four examples:
Tell me a bit about the Linda Lurve - Umeå Hardcore 1993 - 1994 photo book. I think it serves as a great snapshot of that era in Swedish hardcore. How did that project come together and was Linda on board right away?
Linda was one of the people I was contacting to see if she had any photos left, she was a part of the Umeå hardcore scene during the early '90s. She was really friendly and sent me a thick letter full with photo negatives in it. It was like christmas eve sitting and scanning all those negatives and I felt I wanted to publish as many of them as possible. So instead of including a few in the Swedish Hardcore book, I did a thinner extra book/zine with just her pictures in it. And all of them are just from 1993-1994.
Of all the shots in both books, which one would be your favorite and why?
Wow, its really hard to choose just one. But I choose one with Outlast, from Linköping 1998. It's far from a perfect photo but the classic hardcore feeling in it wins. Finger pointing! People screaming along! The positivity! And people I recoqnize and that I unfortunately never sees at shows nowadays. And Outlast will always have a special place in my heart.
Order your copy of both Swedish Hardcore and Linda Lurve - Umeå hardcore 1993 - 1994 at this link.