Scandinavian Indie Presents: A short interview with

Mazarine Street

by Erik Söderström (chief@lysator.liu.se)
after a gig at Herrgår'n, Linköping, Sweden, 15-Jan-98.


Mazarine Street are:
Malte Holmberg (vocals, guitar, harmonica)
Jakob Krajcik (bass)
Luciano Leiva (keyboard)
Vejde Gustafsson (drums)
PeO Bengtsson (guitar)
Henry Moore Selder (scratch, saxophone)

© 1998 Scandinavian Indie


Short history
Mazarine Street is a rock'n'roll band filled with soul from Stockholm (no matter what they tell ya). They started to play together at the end of 1994 and actually managed to release a demo before their first record, the 7" single "Get it on", was out on Freak Scene Records (May 1995 - only six months after the band had formed). After having played a particularly successful set at the opening night of a new rock club in Gothenburg, the guys booking bands at the venue took them under their wings, and helped them getting more gigs. After a while the booking guys got tired of waiting for something to happen with the band, so they decided to start their own label, to get Mazarine Street out to the general public. Fine Tone Recordings was born, and the first band on the label? Yes, it was Mazarine Street of course. 1996 was the year and a few months later they released their debut album "The Beast of Mazarine Street" (April 1996). During the summer of 1996, Henry joined the band (the only change in the line-up in the band's history) and from then on they have been playing, recording and releasing records on Fine Tone.


Release history
1995 - MC demo
1995 - 7" single "Get it on" - Freak Scene Records
1995 - CD album "The Beast of Mazarine Street" - Fine Tone Recordings
1996 - CD-EP "Smokin'" - Fine Tone Recordings
1996 - 7" single "plays SUNRA" - Steer
1997 - CD-EP "Everyday Survivor" - Fine Tone Recordings
1997 - CD album "Thirteen Reasons to Believe" - Fine Tone Recordings

Both albums have also been released in Japan on Quattro. The band has also appeared on compilation albums and promotion singles, not listed here.


Independent small label
- What it is like to be signed to a small independent label like Fine Tone? Well, it's like being in an inflamed family. Some of us actually live together with the label owners! They have been pretty lucky when it comes to getting grants from the government for recording and production costs and all that. You know they are younger than all of us? It's true, younger and they really did something with their ideas and they are still studying even! How they learned about us? They received a demo from Juan at Freak Scene which they thought sounded like a lot of other bands they liked, so they booked us for a gig, and that's about it.


EMA Telstar
Mazarine Street was soon enough picked up by the mega-sized booking agency EMA Telstar through their manager Gene Kraut (from the US, who started the legendary radio station Bandit and who's also the manager for Pineforest Crunch and Grass-Show).

- But they were too big. We were getting gigs at after-ski parties in Sälen, and they charged about 10.000 SEK for us. We were getting something like 300 or perhaps 400 SEK left after each gig. These days, the extremely indie booking agency Skrikhult is taking care of it all.

- We're not sorry about leaving EMA Telstar. At one point, they even offered other artists and bands for half the price, if the venues booked us at the same time... We were treated like a package. But we did get one good thing out of all of this; the title "Mazarine Street goes Benchriding", after one night when we actually went down one of the slopes on a bench.


Lyrics and music
Malte writes the lyrics and he is also the one who does the ground work when it comes to the music.

- Yeah, but the music comes first. I always create a base to stand on, then everything else is added in the studio. But the lyrics are always added last, when everything else is ready, and I mean everything. When we're recording demos for an upcoming record, I never have the lyrics ready. I'm usually like, 'Mmmmmm hmmmmm hmm, ha ha, and then they, hmmm hmmmmmmm so if you mmmm...'.


Their recorded sound
- Sank (of Toytown Productions) who's mixing our songs is the one who made them fat. He's a goth who knows what he wants. We try to re-create this sound when we play live, and add a little extra to it too, so it doesn't sound just like on the records. That would be pretty boring.


How to play the harmonica
- You don't blow! You suck! If you blow it sounds horrible, so you have to suck, even though it takes your breath away.


Their website
- It's Silverbullit guitarist Andreas Nilsson's big brother Mattias Nilsson who takes care of our pages on the net. Actually, he takes care of the whole Fine Tone Recordings website. Looks great doesn't it? We can tell him if we want something added or changed and he takes care of it. Anything you'd like to see there? We know that the biography is pretty much out of date and wrong, so that one needs a little bit of work.


Why people say they are from Gothenburg
On the posters for the gig this night, it said they are from Gothenburg. Which is a common mistake. They are from Stockholm.

- I suppose it's because our label is located in Gothenburg. Our sound isn't really "Stockholmish" either. It's the true Gothenburg sound - MC5, Stooges, UCP (Union Carbide Productions)...


What some of them are doing when they're not playing in MS
Vejde: I work with young people. Politics... a cultural ambassador.
Malte: I'm actually a poor bohemian. Stearin candles in bottles and all that...
Luciano: Working in a bar called "Bisto Bohem". They want me to be the bar manager there, but I don't know if I want to or not yet.


The Verve
- No one actually listen to them, but they're okay. Malte was mad for "Bitter Sweet Symphony" a while. Especially when we went to Osaka in Japan earlier. He cried to it all the way there!


Cloudberry Jam
- Henry is actually going to Stockholm tomorrow at 5am... He's involved with the recording of their new video. They're going to be styled for the first time.


Cloudberry Jam and groupies in Japan
- Ha ha! No, their fans in Japan think of them as being extremely serious musicians, and that makes them "old" in their eyes. Which for them means there's no chance of any... funny business.


Malte Holmberg - 'Monkey Lee' drawing Mazarine Street and groupies in Japan
- The Maz gets pussy!! Cool! In Japan? Of course!!


Girls, girlfriends and sex
- At the moment, all but me (Malte) and Henry have girlfriends. Vejde and his girlfriend has been together for as long as I have known him. I'm a heathen myself, but not Henry. He's after real love. Really.


Money
- Money rules. Those who consider themselves independent are wrong, because money always decide what you can and can not do. Which means you are never independent. In that sense.


Upcoming albums
- Our third album will be called "Groggy" ("drunk" sort of) and our seventh will be called "Mazarine Street goes Benchriding". Absolutely.


Mazarine Street recommends


Bands
Malte: "Hell on Wheels", who are signed to Warner in the US, Jesus & Mary Chain, Rymdimperiet, Monkey Lee (of the Monkey Lee Knock-Out's), he he.
Vejde: Public Enemy.
Luciano: ESG.
PeO: Ricardo Ray, swingin' Latin soul with tight grooves and catchy lyrics from the 60-70's. Check out the album "Jala Jala Y Boogaloo".
All: Scratchaholics from Stockholm. They have only been around for about a year, but they kick ass. Monkey Lee Knock-Out's and Silverbullit of course.


Cities for gigs
- Tokyo! Gothenburg used to be great... and Linköping of course. Our last gig here was fantastic. We were in ecstasy! This time it was tough though. Like building a house from the ground up.


Colours
Jakob: Good looking pink.
Malte: Beige and white.
PeO: Heavenly blue.


Liquid
PeO: Red wine & Orangejuice.
Malte: Gin & Tonic.
Luciano: Vodka & Lime.
Vejde: Blackcurrant juice.


Mazarine Street songs
- "Misery Train", "The Bullet" and "Let It Come Down". We tried to sell a couple of songs to Popsicle, our more popish ones...


Monkey Lee Knock-Out's
- A disted (home) organ, drums, a guitar with only one string, a tenor sax, + a guitarist with fantastic poses who jumps down from their speakers and amplifiers. Rock hard boogie, that's what it is. The organ steals the whole show - Malte is pretty good at that... But Fine Tone didn't want to release any Monkey Lee records, so it's going to be someone else.


Links & info

* Mazarine Street official homepage:
http://www.finetone.se/mazarine/street.htm

* Mazarine Street (at Moonfire):
http://www.moonfire.com/bands/mazarinestreet/

* Freak Scene:
http://www.spray.se/~matti/freak/

* Fine Tone Recordings:
http://www.finetone.se

* Quattro (Japan):
http://www.parco-city.co.jp/quattro/quattro_index.html


Gene Kraut Management, Stockholm, SWEDEN
Phone/Fax +46-(0)8-6414233
Email: 100526.3132@compuserve.com


Scandinavian Indie Mazarine Street interview 15-Jan-98
by Erik Söderström


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