Ticketmaster Blogger Callum Galbraith gets the lowdown on life on the road from Millencolin.
Swedish punk-rockers Millencolin have been playing shows around the world for almost quarter of a century now. From the high-octane skate punk of 1995’s Life On A Plate, through the landmark Pennybridge Pioneers (including the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 Soundtrack classic No Cigar) in 2000, to 2015’s finely crafted True Brew, the quartet have kept audiences captivated with an ear for a tasty hook and huge choruses time after time.
As they set off on the road once again for the True Brew World Tour, we speak to bassist and lead vocalist Nikola Šarčević about how touring life has changed during his time taking on stages worldwide…
Hi Nikola! You’re about to start the True Brew World Tour, are you excited to get back on the road?
“Yes, we’ve all been working out a lot since Christmas, so now we’re ready for the upcoming European tour. We’re looking forward to all the countries we haven’t been to yet on this new album like Spain, France and also the UK club shows.”
Do you enjoy coming to the UK to play shows?
“Very much. The UK is a great place with nice music and a solid beer culture – two things we like a lot. We also like fish and chips!”
What other places in the world do you enjoy playing the most?
I like Australia a lot. They have great weather, easy going people and summer when we have winter. Plus, we have a great following there. Good craft beer scene too!”
True Brew has been out for around nine months now, have you been enjoying playing the new songs live? They’re really energetic – do you have a favourite?
“Yeah, I think we’ve played around eight or nine different tracks from the new album live now. I like Egocentric Man and True Brew a lot.”
True Brew is your eighth album, how do you go about picking a setlist with such a big choice of songs?
“You’ve just gotta pick the ones that you think are the best, ones that you think people will appreciate and ones that sound good live. Sometimes we try songs we think are good, but then we realise they don’t really work live.”
What are some of your favourite songs to play from your back catalogue?
“I like playing Mr. Clean [from 1999’s Same Old Tunes]. I usually make Mathias [Färm, guitar/backing vocals] sing that one [laughs].
UK rockers Templeton Pek will be joining you on these European dates, have you toured with them before? They seem like a really good fit for a Millencolin show…
“Yes, we have! They are a great band so it’s gonna be rad having them on the bill!”
How big is punk rock in Sweden?
“I don´t think punk rock is big at all in Sweden. It’s doing okay I guess, but Sweden is a small country and it’s very sensitive to different trends in the mainstream. Right now the mainstream is electronic pop, so punk rock isn’t given any space on radio or in the media at all.”
Do you get to keep up other hobbies whilst you tour? I know that you’re big fans of skateboarding. Do you also write solo material/Millencolin songs when on the road?
“We mostly sleep, eat, drink beer and play shows while on tour. I will bring my skateboard and if it’s not too cold I’ll try to use it [laughs]. Sometimes I write songs, but usually you’re just too tired to do much creative work on tour.”
You’ve been a band for almost 25 years now, has the live music scene changed a lot in that time?
“A lot of new bands are out there, plus all the other bands are still playing so the competition among bands to get booked is much bigger and more intense, so I guess it’s the promotors market in a way. Otherwise the shows are kind of alike… people are still into circle pits and stage diving!”
Do you find that people are better behaved these days on tour due to constant scrutiny and camera phones everywhere?
“Yes, I think these cameras are probably making people think twice before they do something, or on the other hand it can also trigger people to do weird things just to be filmed.”
Has technology made touring easier for you?
“Yeah. Now there’s Internet everywhere, streamed podcasts and music, and apps instead of tour books. Before, it was all about reading books and playing cards, which is a lot of fun too. Even the beer is better these days, with the whole craft beer scene exploding! I like it!”
What keeps the spark and magic of performing alive after all these years? Do you still get a buzz from it?
“It’s all about traveling, meeting people and having a good time together as a band. It’s not always a lot of fun, but it’s all worth it. To stand on stage playing our songs is always fantastic!”
What does 2016 hold for Millencolin?
“A lot of touring! Europe in February, Australia in April/May, USA in May/June, summer festivals around Europe in the summer, then more touring in the fall. Hopefully a Canadian tour and another South American trip and more European shows. I would love to go to Japan again but I doubt that they are that interested in us these days!”
Thank you and all the best for the tour!
“Thanks a lot, cheers!”
So, there you have it. If you’re in Japan, show Millencolin some love. If you’re in the UK, grab the boys a cold craft beer and catch them on one of the following dates in February:
12 – London, Electric Ballroom
13 – Manchester, O2 Ritz
14 – Bristol, Bierkeller