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For 30 years, Sweden’s original rock ‘n’ rollers Backyard Babies have pumped out music that has been the epitome of what it means to rock ‘n’ roll.
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The party they played was infectious, people the world over turning to their bolstering sound. As part of a massive worldwide anniversary celebration, the Backyard Babies will head out to Australia, their first appearance in well over a decade, to party with their fans and remind us all why Backyard Babies, four young friends who came together to jam in 1989, weren’t ever going to be anything but rock stars.
A day apart, Hysteria had a chat with vocalist Nicke Borg and Dregen, to get the scope of what Backyard Babies’ longevity means to them, and of course, what they really think of each other after so long together.
Nicke On Backyard Babies:
“When you don’t think about it, when you don’t talk about it, it feels we started a band last year,” says Nicke. “We feel like a new band from time to time, but then when you look at the fact that, ‘fuck, we’ve being doing this for 30 years?!’ It’s like a lifetime!
“It feels more like you’ve been in different bands over a long time. It’s hard to put your finger on the fact this is the same band, the same four fucking guys who’ve been doing this for 30 years.”
The constant struggle in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, as Nicke puts it, is one of the reasons he’s grateful Backyard Babies never “made it big” 20 years ago. “It’s the reason we are still together. As much as it’s been frustrating for many years, we’ve never been close to breaking up. We’ve been humble because we’ve been on the same level as a band.
We’ve been travelling around the world jammed up in a car, sleeping on stages, sleeping in one bed, all four of us–don’t get any ideas!
[ Nicke Borg ]
“Tomorrow is [always] a new challenge for the band, or the next tour. I’m proud and happy and stoked people are acknowledging that it’s been a while!”
At one point in their career, Nicke admits there was a moment where he realised Backyard Babies weren’t just a band, they were family. “That happened really early,” he says. “We’ve been travelling around the world jammed up in a car, sleeping on stages, sleeping in one bed, all four of us–don’t get any ideas!
“I’m not saying modern pop artists aren’t struggling–maybe they’re going through their [own] hell, I’m not sure–but I’m saying a real rock ‘n’ roll band that starts out the way we started out, that builds some kind of bond that is much more family-bound than colleagues in a band.”
Nicke On Dregen:
Nicke calls what Backyard Babies’ bond one of brotherhood, which of course, includes lead guitarist, Dregen. Of all the memories Nicke might have of Dregen, the weird and wonderful, it’s details Hysteria wants to know. “You should be careful what you ask for!” laughs Nicke. “I would say me and Dregen, we are two really strong personalities. “In other bands, there’s usually two persons who have their mind set on how things should be done, and most of the time we meet on a creative level, but sometimes we don’t on a personal level.”
Nicke has hit a wall, struggling to reply and thinking very hard. “I’m admiring my guitarist and my friend, my brother-in-arms; he’s one of the most stubborn if-there’s-a-will-there’s-a-way kind of attitude. Making the impossible possible.
“We’re four kids with no education who started playing guitar, who lifted the middle finger. And here we are, we’ve made a living from playing music our whole lives.
“Dregen has a way of charming the audience all around the world, and being the one in the band that we–and this might sound romantic–can’t change. There’s no replacing Dregen, there’s no one like him. We’re sticking together.”
Dregen On Backyard Babies:
A contrast to a conversation with Nicke, Dregen, for all that he’s vibrant and energetic with a guitar in his arms, is drastically quiet in conversation–might have something to do with being on a tour bus during his chat with Hysteria, but the guitarist still finds words to describe how little has changed after 30 years on the road with the Babies. “It’s a cliché but it’s all gone really fast,” says Dregen.
Just like talking to an old couple and asking the secret to a happy marriage, Dregen has his own perspective on the tricks to Backyard Babies’ longevity. “It’s like a marriage, for sure, and none of us give a fuck anymore!” Dregen says with a chuckle. Just like in a marriage, there have been ups and downs. “Only over things like salary,” he says. “It’s hard to answer. I think we’ve found some secret to keep it interesting.”
Using the word “family” to describe the band, Dregen is much in the same mind-set as Nicke when it comes to how he views the group’s relationship. “The hardest part to keep it together was in the first five or seven years. That’s when you’re seeing if things will work.
“Like with anything, when you become family, you can argue and you think your brother is the most stupid guy on earth but you always make up.”
Over time, the family has extended to not only include the members of Backyard Babies, but their fans around the world. On this massive anniversary world tour, different places have different ways of welcoming the Babies, Dregen says, and of enjoying the music. “They’re louder in South America than they are in Sweden, for example,” he says, “but that’s the beauty of rock ‘n’ roll.
“It’s a language to which people can’t respond or react the same–I’m not just saying this, but it’s a bit more exciting to go to Australia for tour!”
Dregen On Nicke:
And Dregen’s fondest memory of Nicke? “[He’s] consistent, steady, kind of stable,” Dregen teases. “He’s somebody you can trust, I would say.” Having grown up on the same kind of music, Dregen says it’s that commonality that’s helped keep the working and personal relationship exciting. “We listen to different stuff as adults,” says Dregen, “which is a good thing because you can’t play really good stuff if you’re listening to the same thing.
“We’re [both] fans of great songs and not great musicians–it’s always been about the song writing than the person or band. That’s something we’ve tried to reflect in our band.”
Catch Backyard Babies at the following dates:
SYDNEY // Friday 4 October // Manning Bar
MELBOURNE // Saturday 5 October // Max Watts
BRISBANE // Sunday 6 October // Wooly Mammoth