When I started high school for a very long time ago I didn’t really know that much about music. What I knew was pretty much Iron Maiden and the Swedish band Imperiet. So when I heard Sator for the first time, it was just a big punch in my chest! It was music that I never had experienced before.
Imagine my surprise, finding myself 17 (!) years later, in the basement, in front of my computer, and working on an interview with the band! It’s so damn huge!
The fact that I was quite hammered when I stumbled in from the pub one night, and got the bright idea to ask for an interview, well that doesn’t matter! And another fact that Chips is such an amazing dude and put up with me, and all of my emails back and forth, and we’ve created an interview that is totally amazing and totally looooong, well – that’s just a bonus!
Well, enough talking! Here’s part one of a long and interesting interview with one of my absolute favorite bands ever, and a band that re-drew the music-map of Sweden! Enjoy, and please, feel free to comment if you have some experience of the band!
Hi! This is Chips I’m talking too, or am I wrong? Could you tell me a little about the band?
“Exactly, it’s Chips here. Well, a quick presentation maybe. Satar was formed 1987 in the ashes of Sator Codex that was formed already in 1981. Sator Codex started out as a punk-band, but slide more and more into post-punk/goth-rock. We released a couple of singles and an album.
Sator has always had the same members, exept our bass-playerHeikki Kiviaho who join in 2001, The rest is me, Chips Kiesbye on guitarr and song, Kent Norberg on guitarr and song, Hans Gäfvert on keyboards and Mikael Solén on drums.”
I discovered you when you released your first album “Slammer” (around 1988-ish), and that was some time ago…. How does the band feel today?
“We’re better than ever! Of course, we’re not as big as we were in the 90s, but there’s still a lot of people coming to our shows. And of course, we’re better musicians now since we’ve been playing live for so long.
Actually I think we like it better today when we’re a bit more of underdogs than popstars! “
Is that what you become? From a post-punk band to popstars? But, isn’t that the thing of starting a band, to be “big”? Or do you mean that you became more “pop”?
“A lot of musicians might have started to get girls and to be rich and famous. We started because we loved music and wanted to do our own music.
Of course you want others to like what you do, but the result from that isn’t always that funny.
I’m a rather private person and wasn’t really satisfied when everybody knew me. If you went to the supermarket and were shopping for milk, you had to write autographs to people that didn’t even liked or knew the music, it was just because I’ve been on TV. It just got a bit much sometimes.
Now a days it’s much quieter, so I think it’s OK for people to step up and talk to me. But on the other hand, sometimes it’s rather nice to “be someone”.”
Today, I guess that you’re an influence to others, you’re kind of an institution in Sweden today. But how would you describe your music? What are your competition today?
“I think that the greatest influence we’ve made isn’t the music, but rather the thing that we came from a small town and still made it big. I know that we inspired a lot of other bands.
We don’t see other bands as competition, rather which that we, and similar bands are carrying the torch to the true rock-music. It’s not a competition. There’s room for more bands.
The competition might be the “schlager“-world, that seems to have been brainwashed a whole generation.
Our music is, I guess, a mix of our old record-collections. A great piece of punk, some part hard-rock (old school, not metal!), some power-pop and glam-rock from the -70s and so. And if you mix it all, you will get “Sator-music!” !”
What were your influences when you started?
“Well, it was the punk-music that got us started. Bands like Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Buzzcocks, The Boys, The Damned, The Clash, Drones, Slaughter and The Dogs, Dead Boys…
Then there was other influences. A lot of the music from the 50s and 60s. Chuck Berry, Kinks, Beatles, Stones, The Who, Iggy and the Stooges, and a lot from the 70s like Sweet, Slade, Alice Cooper, Bachman Turner Ovderdrive, Kiss, ZZ Top, Aerosmith. The list is endless really.
I believe, that the more influences, the better it is. If you have to few, well then you’re just a copy!”
I’ve always got the feeling that you, in your songs, have a cool mix of humour and social criticism. Or am I wrong? Who’s writing the lyrics in your songs?
“You’re spot on! We want our lyrics to have some kind of purpose. I guess it’s our punk-roots kicking in. And you got to have to have some humour to cope with this world we’re living in.
But not of all the lyrics are criticism to our society. There are other sides to it. Sometimes it’s about our self’s or someone you know. It depends on the song as well. The lyric has to fit the song.
There is no rules. The main thing is that it has a good feeling singing it. After all, we’re songwriters, not poets or politicians….
Me and Kent writes most of the lyrics. Sometimes Hasse have helped.”
Is it possible to be a rebel today? Now that neither you nor me are that young?!
“Kind of depends how you think about the word rebel. It’s not like we’re standing on the barricades these days. Playing in a band is really an egotistic thing, and it’s really a thing to satisfy their own needs.
I would say that the most rebellion-thing was to, NOT choose the regular suburban-life but to quit our jobs and go all in the music, despite everybody saying it was stupid, and would never work! We’ve always gone our way, never mind what people, record-companies or press would think! Sometimes we’ve done some bad decisions, careers-wise, but at least it has been our decisions!
We’ve constantly stayed away from game shows on TV, and from tabloids. Which means that we don’t show that often. We didn’t start to play in a band to be celebrities, to eat free food on movie-premiers or to headlines in the evening press.
We’re doing this because we love the music! I think that is our “rebel-thing”.
Do you still perform out in the bush where people drink their own “home-brew”?
“Hell yeah! A big part of our country is just the outback! We only have like three big cities in Sweden. We gladly take the bus for like 9 or 10 hours, out in the woods somewhere and then play in a long forgotten people’s park.
It’s often the best shows. And some home-brew never killed anyone… (or maybe someone… :-) )“
In the beginning of the 90s, you were big as hell, and then all of a sudden you jut disappeared from my map. I know that I really loved the “Stock Rocker Nuts”-album, and after that, then came the Headquake-album, which made a big entry in the Swedish press and so. And after that you released the “Barbie-Q-Killers vol.1” album. But for me and my friends you kind f disappeared with that album. Or am I wrong?
“Well yes, that was a pretty rough time in the middle of the 90s when we had to fight in court for our rights and a whole lot of other shit. We won at last, but it took a lot of time and energy.
It was after that episode that we decided to do everything ourselves, and don’t care about the rules of the music industry. So we bought a studio, started a record-company and left the big booking-company!
Obviously, that meant that we didn’t have that much money regarding advertising, videos and so. It’s the price you have to pay to be independent. But it was worth it, otherwise I don’t think that Sator would exist today. We got tired of all the shit that didn’t relate to the music.”
You said, fighting in court for your rights. Now you have to tell me, coz it’s nothing I heard about. Was it Barbie-Q? Or Mamma-mia? What feet were you stepping on?
“No, we didn’t step on anyone’s toes, it was the opposite. We’re actually not allowed to talk about it according to the deal we made. But in short, we were fighting to get our rights back to our own records.”
After the album “Barbie-Q-Killers vol. 1”, you released the album “Stereo”, but it almost felt like you split up after that. Is that correct? Or were you the band Sator the whole time, and just waited?
“Well, it’s the answer from the question above actually. We never quit, but since we were not signed to a big record-company anymore, well then you don’t get to be on TV and radio. We didn’t mind since we still did a lot of shows, and people came to watch. Our albums didn’t sell so much anymore, but since we got rid of all the middle-tier, we could still go on!
And then we all got kids, which also mattered. But we still toured abroad during that time.
In 2008 we had a band-meeting and discussed how to, and if, we would continue. And we all thought that we would like to have the band for real, and not just as a hobby. So, we decided to, actually, start over. We began to do some shows and rebuild from the start. We named the tour (with more than 100 shows) to “Under the Radar”. That’s how we felt. A bit outside the system and under the radar.
So it was quite natural to name the new album with the same title: “Under the radar”, the result of the tour!
Exactly! When I listened to the album “Under the radar”, I kind felt that you guys had a reawakening somehow. Was that the feeling you got on the tour as well? Like, fuck em all, we are Sator and we do what we want!??
“Yes! That’s exactly how it was! Above all, it was the feeling to play live that much more, that gave us that feeling. We really remembered why we started in the first place! And we were also surprised over the amount of people that came to see us play. Apparently we were not as forgotten as we thought we were!”
In which countries do your tours go to? I think that you play a lot in Sweden, Finland, Norway and maybe Denmark. Any other countries? Or is it just Scandinavia that have a good taste in music? 🙂
“Since we don’t have the opportunity to be away from home that much anymore (kids and stuff), it’s mostly Scandinavia, and also Germany. Then sometimes a bit here and there – Spain, England, France, Switzerland and so on.
Probably we will do a short tour in Italy next year. I think that will be great! Sator has never played in Italy before, but I know we’ve got a bunch of fans there. Me and Kent toured several times with White Flags in Italy. Great country to tour.”
I know that I, and my friends had some “ issues” with the album Headquake… but today it still sounds like the Sator that I loved. Was it just me, or…? (Just a note, when I listen to the album today, I think it’s almost as good as “Stock Rocker…”) Or were you just a head of your time?
“Well, that’s how it works. We got too big, and all of a sudden we we not “your band” anymore, of course. I’ve actually done the same once.
There was a band I fought hard to get people to like. I nagged everybody to check em out. And later on, they released the song “Dookie“, and then I didn’t had to nag anymore… Then all of a sudden, it wasn’t my band anymore. I’m talking about Green Day. I still like them, but I don’t buy the records anymore. It’s kind of twofold. You want everybody to like the band you just discovered, but you also want to be alone with them.
There is one band that we in Sator try to tell everyone about, and that is “Bäddat för trubbel“. We’ll see if they will have the same story to tell later on….”
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean, this was my band! But for me I think it was something else than you got big and “public knowledge”. I actually liked that, I had told people over and over again to listen to you guys. However, I feel that the album “Headquake” was so much more “produced” than the first two albums. Still it was heavy and the sound was actually much better than the first albums. But it was more like, “easy”. And I kind of liked the “not so easy”…
So, when I’m thinking about it, it might have been a problem that it got to polished? Don’t get me wrong, but compared to the “old Sator”?
“Well, Headquake was kind of the end of the road to us. It was where we wanted to go with a bigger sound, a lots of choirs and so on. And, when we completed that we were done, we were through with that. The album after that, “Barbie-Q-Killers” was the complete opposite! Alive in the studio, without a lot of guitar-dubs and no giant choirs. I guess that Sator belongs somewhere in the middle of all that really.”
You mentioned the band “Bäddat för Trubbel“. Who are they? I’ve never heard about them! But maybe you could introduce them to me. And maybe I’ll listen to them and bring them to the blog and “spread the word”!
“Bäddat för Trubbel is a band from Malmö (Sweden) and they play really old-school punk. 1977-punk with a little of pub-rock left in it. They are amazing! Check em’ out! http://www.baddatfortrubbel.se/”
Bäddat För Trubbel: “Det här jobbet”
The end of part 1 of “Chips from Sator on prehistoric age and the future: Too few influences just makes you a copy!” Keep your eyes opoen for the next part of the interview, with a lot of more cool questions, pictures and music! I will also give you a playlist with my “best-of”-Sator-songs! Part two will be published on the blog in a week from now!
Sator – We’re Right You’re Wrong @ Hultsfred 92