His time had come. Hallbeck have been a part of numerous bands and projects. as a guitarist, engineer, and producer. even when I owned a record company a while back. But for him, taking the plunge and embracing his unique voice and talent is a big step.
In the 1990s, Hallbeck traveled the globe with an alternative band. played in the USSR as it was disintegrating. When the tanks rolled in during the coup attempt against Gorbachev, they were in St. Petersburg and then Leninggrad and witnessed its final, desperate tremors. As it all fell apart, they performed a concert with cheering crowds right on Nevskij Prospect.
Hallbeck now writes songs that he hopes will touch on everything that makes us human after finding his own voice. Finding love is the subject of the opening song. even in your middle age, taking the chance when it presents itself. You may have experienced a failed marriage, but if we dare to look for it, we can all find happiness and love. The movie “Dagarna” is also about those fleeting joys of life. Having a summer night wine party on the porch.
Even if you don’t speak Swedish, he hopes you’ll enjoy it and pick up on the positive energy he tried to convey while writing and producing it. Check out the latest release and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
HALLBECK: I am from Stockholm, Sweden. I was always into music. As a kid I saw The Sweet play and I was blown away by how cool they were. I was ten years old, and Brian Connolly rocked my world. To this day I consider him one of the greatest singers in rock n roll.
Musically I got started in the punk scene in Stockholm. You HAD to be in a band. That was just how punk was done. So, I got a bass, (Clad in tartan flannel. It had almost no tome whatsoever. It went plonk when you played it. lol) and started a band with some friends. There Ain’t No Justice or TANJ, for short. We had our first gig after just four practices warming up for a very popular band at the time. I had played bass four hours in my entire life at that point. We had a fifteen-minute time slot and in fairness we had five songs that each were about two minutes so that was ample time. However, we were convinced that we were hot shit, so after we played our actual songs, singer said, “Our music is art! How much art can you take!” And we played a two-chord song where those were all the words, for another fifteen minutes until they shut down the power. We were 16, I think. Such rebels!
After that I went on to play a lot of bands and ended up touring all over the world with Perry and the Poor Boys and then The Miscellaneous.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
HALLBECK: Mostly self-taught but I have taken lessons in music theory and singing. I will do more singing lessons. Extremely good for self-confidence and learning how to use the voice right. A lot of myths about taking vocal lessons. And, no, they will not turn you into a crooner or an opera singer. Seeing a vocal coach and train will help YOU sound more like YOU.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘HALLBECK’?
HALLBECK: Well, Hallbeck is my last name. I was considering getting a more band sounding name for this solo endeavor, but in the end, I think it works. No umlauts to confuse people, so there is that lol.
The Sweet were my starting point as a kid. After that I have had gone through several musical phases. I think most of us do. I had the Punk phase with Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat and Flipper (OMG FLIPPER! No racket has ever been more beautiful!) My Beatles phase, Helter Skelter started metal, Day Tripper led to the Foo Fighters and Across the universe gave us Radiohead. You know I am right 😊
I loved the post-punk scene in the 80-ties as well. Bands like Killing Joke, The Cure and even U2. People were trying desperately to find rock that wasn’t the blues. That led to music that to me still works. Guys like Nik Kershaw or David Sylvian did deceptively accessible music. But you try to play those songs, I dare you!
But even now I find so much music. I love how the democratization of the recording process has empowered people to just get out there and try to express themselves. I think it has been especially empowering for women to have complete control and not have some 50-year-old geezer (like me) telling them how things “should be”. Billie and Finneas Eilish for example are amazing. They started at home. They had a vision and went for it. St Vincent! Annie Clark is a genius! Some musicians my age just stop finding new music. It is very odd to me. As a musically driven person, you must find new things. It is what keeps your mind fresh.
So, major influences? Lol ALL YOUR MUSIC ARE BELONG TO ME!
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
HALLBECK: Damn that’s a tough question! I mean we all want to be unique, right? Are we though? Am I? The only thing we can do as artists is to try and be true to ourselves and say what is on our hearts and try to express that as clearly as we can. If I feel something, maybe I can share that with someone. Maybe we can meet in that emotion. So, this song, Dagarna med dig (Days with you) is about second chances. It is about finding love and a new life later in life. It is about taking that chance and not holding back. Dive in, heart, soul and body and do not hold back.
Sonically I wanted that love to shine through in the melody and in a lush sound. But there is also an edge to it that I think is needed not to fall into a saccharine buttery hell. And maybe that is it, then. Hellback is about sweetness with an edge.
I think my producer Magnus Sjoqvist nailed it on the head. Lushness and intimacy in the verses but then more push in the louder bits.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
We have an obligation as human beings to leave the world a better place than when we were born into it. We are doing a shit job of that. While my music so far has not necessarily been too political, with one exception, as song by my band Charkoal called Panic Attack, I am a very politically involved person. Right now, the extreme right is growing all over the world. The religious right has won a huge win in the overturning of Roe Vs. Wade in America and you can bet the same thoughts are spreading in Europe as well. In Sweden an extreme right party is in reach of real political power and may even be in the administration after the election in September. This an atrocity! How can we be here today after WW2? Didn’t we learn a fucking thing? Breivik, who murdered kids at a summer camp like some fucking norwegian knitware Jason Vorhees, his manifesto is held as truth to a huge group of right-wing shitheads out there. It. Needs. To. STOP!
But art is never just one thing. So, I can be about all if that and all about writing a pretty expression of love to my wife Ellen. I reserve the right to say what I believe and write what I feel. It all comes down to truth.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
I am too old to expect! lol. If anything, I expect to continue to write and play as much as I can. I still secretly dream about being a fulltime artist. But if I can make music and find new ways to express myself, I am good with it. I am trying to build something though. I try to grow this thing now as I have more songs in the works. And I have received so much love for this song that I feel I need to try to up the ante a bit. So, I will try to get some more attention for this thing than I have done in the past. I am also learning a lot how to go about doing it as well. Like getting in contact with more and more online communities like yourselves, for example.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
Mostly I sit with a guitar. Maybe an electric and a fiddle with different effects and then something sounds interesting, and a melody starts forming. A few words pop into my head that I try to make sense of. After that it is finding my minds duct-tape and start puzzling things together. I never sit down with a guitar and set out to write a certain thing. I just start with noodling and see if anything interesting happens. Maybe tune the guitar differently. Maybe put a capo on. Maybe switch guitar. I do collaborate a lot. Bounce ideas off people a trust to see if they like something. If they like it or hate it, I keep at it. If they are indifferent or look like they rather check FB posts, I scrap it.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
Oh man… where to start? Well, there are a couple of things. Professionally it was realizing at the end of the 90-ties that I wasn’t going to be catapulted into teenage stardom and had to cut my hair and get a job. I spent some time in foster position on a couch trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I did, I was successful. Until I wasn’t. (How is that for forshadowing?)
But that isn’t even remotely the hardest thing. And I want to be clear here, I am not trying to parade around and show off something to gain sympathies. But if by sharing my story, someone out there might find hope or see that there is a way for them, THAT would mean something.
So about 13 years ago I was in a very destructive relationship. It ended with me jumping out of the fourth floor of where I lived. At the time I felt I had no other option. I felt so imprisoned, so lost, so… useless, that it just seemed best for everyone that I wasn’t there anymore. As a result, I lost my kids, who I haven’t seen since then and I lost my job and career.
But I got away cheap. I lived to tell the story. And it has taken me every day of those 13 years until today to rebuild myself and my life. And I have. And for anyone out there who is in a situation where you might be having those kinds of thoughts about yourself, I am here to tell you that you shall not believe the lies your brain is telling you. The song Dagarna, as I said before, is about getting that second chance. About finding that life. Happiness, love, companionship, all those wonderful things we all crave. They are out there. Even if you don’t think so when you believe you are worthless. But you need to be here for it to happen. Sometimes just being alive takes all your strength. To quote a great songwriter, Amigo the Devil, “As long as I wake up. I am already stronger than dead”.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
HALLBECK: Honestly, I think this is it! Daring to step out as an artist under my own name as a songwriter and singer. None of my songs have ever received as much attention as this one has. Here is the thing, when you play guitar and don’t like your tone, you change guitar, right? Well, your voice is what it is. You can’t change it. You can get better at using it. But no matter how I try, I won’t sound like Kirt Cobain or Freddie Mercury. I must be me. Just me. And I will have to find something in that voice that I can be proud of. And by extension I have to be proud of myself. And bearing in mind what I went through all those years ago, that is fucking huge!
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Photo credits: Staffan Rennermalm
Thank you so much!