Sweden has been without a doubt leading the pack as far as turning out some of my favorite bands. Graveyard, Blues Pills, Enforcer, and notably a little band called Troubled Horse. Troubled Horse made a huge impact on me with their debut Rise Above album Step Inside but their latest release, Revolution on Repeat hit me hard with it’s sound of roots laden hard rock mixed with a punk attitude and even a touch of psychedelia at times. I couldn’t wait to interview someone in the band to try and get a little more into the story behind the band and their music.
Guitarist Tom Jondelius was such a great guy to talk to. In our interview we talked about the somewhat incestuous Swedish music scene, the new Troubled Horse album, what it’s like being confused with members of other bands, and why Empire Strikes Back is his favorite Star Wars movie. I hope you’ll dig this interview with Tom Jondelius and while you’re at it, go check out some Troubled Horse.
Tom, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today.
Thank you, Don. I’m happy to be here.
Sweden definitely seems to be leading the pack when it comes to this kind of psychedelic/occult hard rock. What is it about this kind of music that infected Sweden unlike any place in the world?
That’s a tough question to answer, Don. I don’t really know. Maybe it has something to do with where we’re from geographically. We joke a lot about the dark times here in Sweden during the winter and fall. Right now, it’s pretty dark around here. That kind of thing influences you and how you write. Maybe you just want to lock yourself into the rehearsal space and just write hard music.
How would you describe the sound of Troubled Horse to someone who’s never heard you?
It’s a mixture of guitar driven garage hard rock with punk influences.
So I have to ask. What’s up with the “no bassist” in the video for “Hurricane”? The band’s bio lists you as bassist but the FB bio lists you as guitar. Can you straighten things up for me here?
[laughs] Well, there’s actually no bass player that’s a full time member in the band. We were like, it’s just the four of us who were playing on the record so it would be natural for it to just be the four of us in the video also.
There seems to be this incestuous thing going on with Swedish bands such as Graveyard, Spiders, Witchcraft, and Troubled Horse all kind of mixing members. Do you ever get confused as to which band you’re in?
[laughs] It was actually kind of confusing to know who was in which band. I’ve actually been confused with John (Hoyles) who played guitar in Witchcraft and Troubled Horse who’s now in Spiders. A lot of times when I was in Witchcraft, Magnus would refer to me as Jon and Martin in Troubled Horse has called me John a few times. We do have similar names [laughs]. So maybe not so confusing for me but everyone else seems to confuse me with John [laughs].
I love that Troubled Horse didn’t make an obvious follow up to the first album. This album definitely has a different feel to it while still staying true to the overall vibe of the band. Do you think it was a change in line-up that brought this about?
I’m sure that might have something to do with. I guess also we didn’t really want to do the same thing over and over again. You always want to push boundaries in everything you do. I know Martin used to listen to a lot of punk music and so did I and Jonas (drums). It’s also that the theme of the record is a more frustrated theme.
Obviously, Troubled Horse is Martin’s baby but how does the creative process go down?
Well, a lot of the time someone may have an idea for a riff and we’ll just build from there to try and find the right attitude and the right feeling. Martin usually tries to steer the ship in the right direction and we just have to try to keep up follow.
Did this album come pretty easily to you guys with this new line up or was it a bit more challenging?
Well, it took actually quite a while to write all the songs. We re-wrote a lot of the songs actually. We just tried so many versions of the songs and finally we came up with the way the songs had to be. We tried so many different ways to get to the final versions of a lot of these songs. We worked on it for maybe two years.
When you’re working on something for that long, how did you keep the songs feeling fresh and not feeling old and overdone?
The thing is we rehearse a lot before we go into the studio. We didn’t play together for almost a year. I think that was necessary because we rehearsed day and night for a few months before going into the studio. We kind of needed the time off so we wouldn’t kill each other [laughs]. We were actually very excited to start playing and rehearsing with each other again. We had the first rehearsal a few weeks back and it was fun to play the songs. A few of the songs we hadn’t even played together because they came together in the studio so it was just fun to play songs from the album.
What is different about Trouble Horse compared to the other bands you’ve been a part of?
Troubled Horse is definitely more garage punk influenced and I can relate to that a lot. It comes very naturally, this type of aggressiveness in the music. There’s no fucking around and it’s just playing from your heart and getting your message across. There’s no fooling around with it.
While I would love to, I have never seen a Troubled Horse concert. What could I expect from your live show?
Well, it’s really right in your face [laughs]. Usually we try to get a very fast show so that you don’t get bored. You don’t want to just stand there waiting for a band to play. You want to fucking just hear the songs and get kicked in the face [laughs]. It’s very loud and aggressive for sure.
Tom, you are a huge Star Wars fan. What’s your favorite movie?
Empire. It’s the best directed movie. I just love the tension between Luke and Darth Vadar and the huge reveal that he’s Luke’s father. I just love everything about that movie.
Did you like the newer releases?
Oh yeah. I saw them both on their premiers. I liked the characters in The Force Awakens a lot but it was kind of like the same story as A New Hope but I loved the characters. That’s the thing that did it for me. Rogue One was good too. I love the ending of course.
Are there any Swedish bands that have yet to get a break that you feel we should be keeping our eyes and ears opened for?
Our friends from Horisont are just great. They’re starting to get a little bit more of the attention they deserve. I love their stuff. Also, well, we have Blues Pills but they’re pretty big now actually.
Tom, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk today. Best of luck with the new album and I hope you guys will make it to the states eventually.
Thank you so much, Don. It was really nice talking to you.