Imagine there is this multiple-choice question you have to answer one that will change your life forever.
Do you want to: A) Continue with law school - the safe choice, something in which you’ve already invested years of your life. Or B) Join a band that has generated quite a buzz around the country, that has just lost its drummer and really wants YOU to step in.
No, you can’t pick both. A or B?
If you’re Swedish drummer Lars-Erik Grimelund you pick B and join the band Souls and you tour throughout the U.S. and Europe. This week you release a pretty cool album in the U.S. called “Bird Fish or Inbetween,” next week you go on tour with Bush.
Sure seems more interesting than law school. Grimelund thinks so.
“It’s perhaps not the wisest choice in every aspect, but I knew for myself that I had to do this,” he says. “It was absolutely too good to turn down.”
Grimelund was in his fourth year of law school a year ago when he joined the Swedish band Souls. This three-man, one-woman outfit - now six years old - pits pretty melodies against noisy-buzzy-swirling guitars.
It is an arm-wrestle that yields some pleasing results and some disturbing images.
Her songs part true-life, part-fiction, singer/songwriter Cecilia Nordlund’s sings of jealousy, schizophrenia and revenge as her voice alternates between that of a guileless girl and a that of a shrieking she-devil.
I break into your house and sleep between you and your wife, ‘cause I’m a nervous wreck, she sings in the gritty, plaintive “Simplicity.”
I wonder where your tongue has been before you tasted mine, she wails in a voice as cutting as it is pretty in “Cello.”
The band sings all of their songs in English - like most of the bands they know in their home country. “When you try to do Swedish lyrics it often becomes too plain and just so flat,” Grimelund says, pointing out that most of the music they listen to is in English and all Swedes are taught English as a second language starting in fourth grade.
Souls - and more specifically Nordlund’s vocals - at times sound strikingly similar to Iceland’s Bjork. Grimelund sighs at the comparison but recognizes it is inescapable when talking to Americans who have few other Scandinavian bands to compare them to.
But he feels the similarity has little to do with the band’s overall music and more to do with Scandinavian phrasing and inflection. Certainly Souls has an edgier sound than Bjork, sans the techno stuff dashed with a taste of Smashing Pumpkins.
Grimelund jokingly calls it “Swedish angst.”
“It hits you in the face from time to time,” he says. “It’s not supposed to be easily digested.”
Whatever Souls is described as, the band members are enjoying the success this last year has brought them. “You should see the bus we’re riding in - it’s huge compared to what we’re used to,” Grimelund says with a laugh.
And he figures it’s all been worth sacrificing his career as a lawyer. “At first I thought, ‘I’ll give it a year and see what happens,”’ he says. “Now it will probably be another year and another year.”
Souls was scheduled to appear June 18 with Bush at the Spokane Arena. The show has since been cancelled due to sluggish ticket sales. However, you can still catch the Swedish spirits at Outback Jack’s tonight. Show starts at 9:30. Cover is $4.
Henry’s Child from Eugene headlines with a heavy, moody rock concoction that includes elements of hip-hop and funk. Spokane’s Mykey’s Outrage celebrates the release of their CD “Through the Eyes of a Child.” Thresher opens.
It has taken awhile to find their sound. But now Shoveljerk members are chiseling out the sonic identity they hoped to forge when they threw off the mantle of their former band.
So says Greg Hjort, guitarist for Shoveljerk, the Coeur d’Alene-turned-Seattle band that cleaved itself from the ashes of Black Happy.
Their debut album, “Swarm,” was written just months after the breakup of Northwest-favorite Black Happy in early 1995.
“It was like we wanted to write a straight rock record,” Hjort says, explaining that it was almost a reaction to the horn-laden dance sound of Black Happy. “Looking back on it, we hadn’t formed an idea of how we wanted this band to sound.”
Since Shoveljerk formed it has been through several drummers and, in January, took on a new bassist.
Jeff Rouse replaced Mark Hemenway - brother of lead singer Paul Hemenway. After months of touring Mark decided it wasn’t the life for him, Hjort says.
Drummer Mike Tschirgi rounds out the quartet.
Despite the changing players, Hjort says the band’s vision is finally gelling. “Now, we’ve kind of found our foothold and we’ve kind of found that direction we were looking for.”
The band has begun preliminary work on another album it hopes to release by early next year. And band members have six or so new songs they plan to perform tonight when they headline Ichabod’s North.
“It’s a radical change I think from what we’ve been doing,” Hjort says. “It’s going to be more electronic (not as in dance music) but more guitar effects. And it’s a lot moodier, darker music.”
Check out Shoveljerk’s new songs tonight at 9:30 at Ichabod’s. Cover is $5. Sugar Pig and Felix Shmitt open.
More news and notes
Spokane’s Boycott headlines at Ichabod’s North Saturday with Slackjaw and Clabberhag.
Boycott’s original bassist, Kim Campbell has rejoined this all-woman punk band following the departure of bassist Barbara Jeske.
Campbell and Boycott’s singer/ guitarist Heidi Spring have been playing guitar together since their grade-school days in Grand Coulee.
“It’s nice having Kim back because it has that same old feel like when we first started playing together,” Spring says. “It’s kind of added some more life to us.”
Spring and her husband Larry Spring (of The Distributors) recently opened the Spring Guitar Factory on Howard and Riverside.
As an added bonus Saturday, Heidi says she’ll be playing a rare guitar from their shop called a Rickenbaker Light Show. Apparently the instrument will dazzle the senses when she plays it.
Check out the lights and the music starting at 9:30 Saturday. Cover is $4.
East Wenatchee’s Lopez and Spokane’s Fatty Lumpkin kick off a joint Western-states tour Wednesday at Ichabod’s.
Lopez has just finished a split seven-inch with Humpy and hopes to have it available for release at Wednesday’s show. The send-off starts at 9:30 Wednesday. Cover is $3.
Bad news for live music fans in Coeur d’Alene: The Waterin’ Hole, an establishment that has supplied North Idaho with some of its finest blues acts, is up for sale. Live music will be phased out in the next couple of weeks, said E-chen Chane, co-owner of the bar.
Although nothing has been finalized, the owners have talked with a buyer possibly interested in reopening the place as a sports bar with DJ music.
May the blues gods help us.
Tickets are still available to see blues legend Jimmy Rogers at Tubs in Coeur d’Alene. Rogers, 74, has influenced the likes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton and helped pioneer the Chicago Blues sound in the 1940s and ‘50s. He performs at 8 tonight, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $30 and are still available for tonight’s and Sunday’s shows (they’re gone for Saturday). Call Tubs at (208) 765-9344 for more information.
New Orleans singing cabbie Mem Shannon drives into the Mars Hotel Saturday.
After a decade behind the wheel of a taxi, you can bet he has plenty of blues to sing about. But Shannon and his band, The Membership, perform their freshly vibrant style with equal parts wit and wisdom, choosing innovation over imitation. Tunes start at 9:30 p.m in the Ugly Rumors Lounge Saturday. Cover is $7 in advance from G&B;, $9 at the door.
James Harmon will bring his spicy harmonica and smoothly-sexy vocal skills to the Fort Spokane Brewery Thursday. This Alabama native blends Delta blues with a contemporary sound and a sometimes metaphysical/ philosophical songwriting style.
But most important, “If you can’t dance to this mess, you should check into a hospital,” he says. Thursday’s show start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 ($9 for Blues Society members.)