Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Critics? How do they happen?

It was a fluke that got me into writing about music. Back in 1995, a friend and I walked into the local paper in Karlskoga and said “we want to review movies”. They looked at us, these journalists that had slaved away at a minor paper for twenty years, and said “Eh...you can't. The culture section does that”.

We did however get an offer to write for the youth section. It is a true sign of a great newspaper that they let just anyone walk in and start writing.

So we wrote reviews of ice cream and board games and books and the occasional text on pretty much whatever. Then, in what alcoholics refer to as “a moment of clarity”, I emailed a record company and asked for CDs for reviews. And they sent them! So I started reviewing CDs. I still have some of those first reviews, in my clippings folder, and they're horrible. Unspeakably horrible.

Then I moved to Sundsvall to go to college. I went to a Peace, Love and Pitbulls gig with some friends, and being music geeks, we stood there and had opinions on pretty much everything. A woman behind me asked if I knew the titles of the last few songs and I told her, in that condescending “my taste in music is better than you” way that I had back then (and still have, to some degree). That condescension gave me a job reviewing CDs for Sundsvall Tidning, which is a considerably bigger newspaper than Karlskoga's local rag.

After that I wrote for a couple of fanzines (this was back in the day when fanzines were still paper, made using a Xerox machine) and yet another paper in a city I went to college in. Then along came Supersatan, in maybe 1998 or 1999.

Yet another treasure from the depths of my closet

And here's a question for Hans. How did I come to write for Supersatan? I can't remember.

Supersatan was a metal site, where I wrote reviews and did interviews and such. I think I interviewed earthtone9 there, as well as P3 Rocks Håkan Persson. Writing there was a lot of fun, and we got a lot of attention and readers. Then one of Sweden's premier rock journalists wrote a column in Close-Up Magazine praising our site as Sweden's best metal site in Swedish, and specifically mentioned me as a writer with pretty much the same taste in music as he has.

About a month later I got an email from the editor of Close-Up asking if I wanted to write there. Which is an offer you don't refuse if you write about metal in Sweden. Mostly I did reviews of CDs, but I also wrote a couple of columns and did some interviews. I got to fly to London to see the first European gig Linkin Park ever did, where they played for a bunch of journalists, some record company bigwigs and a handful of fans. Business class there and back and one night in a fancy London hotel on the record company's dime, and all they got was half a page where the band answered The Basic Questions. Hardly a fair trade, but I didn't complain.

In 2002 I stopped writing for Close-Up because I had sort of a nervous breakdown (more on that some other time), and once I was back on my feet I started writing for Slavestate, which back then was an actual magazine. All of a sudden I could pretty much pick and choose which bands I wanted to do interviews with, and I got a lot more printed than in Close-Up. I've done interviews with Slipknot, Machine Head, Isis, Ministry, Cult of Luna, Type O Negative, Prong, Devin Townsend, 36 Crazyfists, Poison the Well, Burst, Pelican, etc (yes, namedropping galore, but that's what you should expect from me).

I'm still writing for Slavestate, though not as often as I did back in the day and not as often as I would like. Time is something that has been in shorter and shorter supply over the last couple of years. But I'm happy I'm still writing, because expressing my opinions about music is one of my favorite pastimes.


mistlur said...

how long have i known you? and i have to read about this in your blog! ;)

fun reading.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not 100 per cent sure on when I kicked of Supersatan, but I guess it all began some time around 98/99. At first it was launched on a friends web server but it kind of attracted people right away and pretty soon I had to get a host that could handle the traffic. During this I registered supersatan.com, it might have been in 2000, and of it went.
Short after this I remember I got an e-mail from you asking if you could participate with reviews. You also sent some stuff you'd done and said that you already got CD's from labels and distributors. At this stage I've received that many CD's that I couldn't review them all myself. But I can't remember ever sending you anything..?
Anyway, I made some friends writers to help out. But half of them didn't have computers so I received hand written notes that I'd to write myself and this took up so much time. Unfortunately this was a major reason why I had to quit cos I did nothing else after work but write Supersatan.
But we totally ruled the web at that time!

beardonaut said...

mistlur: long enough. And it's not really a story I bore people with face to face...

supersatanic: I sort of remember that now. Thanks! And yes we did rule. All of it.