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Bullet - With the old into the future

Interview and pictures by David

This is the story about the band that consider themselves to be the future of heavy metal. Bullet has just bought an old bus, which they plan to renovate into a true and faithful friend on the road. This Saturday morning I am heading to Ingelstad, a village outside Växjö in the south of Sweden, to meet the band and have a look at their latest acquisition. The bus stands on a farm outside Ingelstad, belonging to guitarist Hampus Klang's parents. At the moment it may not be an impressive sight, but soon it will be some tons of metal heading for the top. Bullet will attack the world with new force gained from this highway pearl.

Hampus: - It's a Volvo 64, coach in aluminum… Just the model we wanted! We gave 10 000 Swedish crowns for it. A real piece of scrap. It has not been driven for some ten years, so there are a few things to work on, but we hope it will be ready before Sweden Rock Festival. It will be a tour bus of a kind.

We are soon joined by Bullet's other guitarist, Erik Almström. Today's mission is to put in some wooden floor.

Hampus: - We should paint the outside; fix walls and floor inside; exchange filters, some bulbs and oil; fix some rust; fix the gas meter… Otherwise it is in perfect condition.

They are also planning to put in beds, a stereo, a bar, a small kitchen and of course some lighting before the bus is ready for the road.

Hampus: - I think it has been a post bus earlier, then tour bus for an orchestra and the last owner drove folk race cars in it. Now it is going to be ours till the end. We will never exchange it.
Erik: - When we become filthy rich we'll send it to a professional renovator.
Hampus: - It is great to have a bus that you can rumble around a bit in.

Bullet has just released their debut album Heading For The Top on Black Lodge Records. Their early 80s heavy metal is not original in any way, but a fresh revival of the old classic sound. First you think that Klang is joking when he says that Bullet are a unique band, but there is some sense in his reasoning.

Hampus: - There is a need for a band like this. There aren't really any… just old fellows.
Erik: - There are not many young bands today sounding like this. Somebody must take over the day when all the old fellows quit. We know that we're not doing anything original, but…
Hampus: - Look at Udo, he doesn't seem that fresh… [pointing at a poster]

But anyway, what make Bullet special?

Hampus: - We have a hell of a good singer. That makes us special. And a great bass player…
Erik: - The hardest thing for a band today is to find a singer with some balls. Hammerfall for example lack this, but we have it.
Hampus: - We have a nice bus as well… And a fan club… Hm… where is the set-square…?

A couple of fan club members are actually here to help out with the bus. They already have a bus of their own to travel around and watch Bullet play. Bullet started back in 2002. Hampus had already played with singer Dag Hofer in a coverband called Breakers (which also included Erik Stenmo, who later went on to a successful pop career in Melody Club) and with bassist Lenny Blade in Hypnosia and Birdflesh. I try to make the guitarists describe their band members.

Hampus: - We have a great lineup, it would be hard to exchange any member. Lenny Blade is the old guy. Then we have a fat curly headed singer, who is just lying at home watching TV…
Erik: - …and eating kebab.
Hampus: - "Gurkan" [Gustav Hjortsjö] is the drummer, what can we tell you about him…
Erik: - …alcoholic at the age of 23.
Hampus: - If we should say something serious… a nice guy… he is a gourmand, he likes to have it good, eat good, he doesn't like to stress…What else do we have… hm… us… we like hard rock and old cars.

Hampus is apparently the 'daddy' of the band.

Erik: - He takes care of stuff… the rest of us live out the rock star life, and you take care of things.
Hampus: - It has just happened to become that way.

During the interview the work on the bus is going on around. There are noises of drilling, sawing, and hammering, creating a nice background to the talking. I lead the conversation back to the album, Heading For The Top.

Hampus: - Yes we feel like there is something great on its way. We hope… or I mean Yes is is!
Erik: - I have been waiting for this since I was born, it is great that it finally is out there, for everyone to buy.
Hampus: - Nice that it is a Swedish record company, not some Polish shit that we've tried earlier. We have signed for three records. Hm… has anybody seen the set-square…?
Erik: - Most reviews are good so far, even those who do not like our sound personally usually writes that you should check us out if you like AC/DC, Accept and this kind of bands. We are compared a lot to AC/DC for some reason. It must be the singing. It's a great band, but… I mean, Raise Hell is more of a Motörhead song. Leather Love is more of Accept. We're not exactly thinking "let's do an AC/DC song", we just write great stuff and then it happens to be as it is.

How would they describe Bullet themselves then?

Erik: - Beerdrinking heavy metal that just make you happy.
Hampus: - Good rocking heavy metal! We have taken away all the bad stuff from all other bands.
Erik: - I read a great review the other day, it said something like: "why invent the wheel twice"… [David: - Hm… Hey! I wrote that…!]

Most bands have gathered songs for some years before they get the chance to make a debut album, so has Bullet. But now they only have a year or so to do the follow up record.

Erik: - Now we have set the standard.
Hampus: - We have written about half of the material for the next record already. It will be on the same theme. Maybe some more faster tracks.

Hampus and Erik, together with drummer Gustav Hjortsjö lies behind most of the Bullet songs. Erik explains the process.

Erik: - First you have to be wasted, then you have to be happy, then you meet with Hampus and Gustav. Often one of us has an idea and then we gather to put it together to a song.
Hampus: - We are kind of exacting and put a lot of time in the process. Hm… set-square…?

When you gather all these early 80s clichés in both music and image, it is almost inevitable to wonder how serious the band was from the start. And aren't they afraid of becoming too big? Will there be t-shirts with the Bullet logo crossed over sold a few years from now? Are they afraid of the Hammerfall-trap?

Hampus: - We have been stone serious about this from day one. We will be as big as possible, we are not afraid of that at all. We are prepared. It was Bajsmannen [an infamous Swedish festival character] who did those anti-Hammerfall-shirts. I think he likes us…

One of the highlights for Bullet so far were when they got the chance to be local support for U.D.O., when the Germans played in Växjö in February.

Hampus: - Udo wasn't that kind to talk with us. But we met the bass player, Fitty Weinhold. He said that he would like to write a song for our next album.

Now the band is looking forward to an even greater experience. The gig at Sweden Rock Festival, Thursday 8 June 13.20 at Zeppelin Stage.

Erik: - Sweden Rock will be a success. It is early on the first day so people will still be relatively fresh. If it's nice weather, I think it will be many people there.
Hampus: - Then we are going to socialize and play chess. I hope that we can see some other bands and drink some lemonade. There are a few bands that you would like to check in: W.A.S.P., Celtic Frost, Krokus, Deep Purple, Crucified Barbara…
Erik: - But then you usually end up drinking lemonade anyway.

Unfortunately there are not going to be any pyrotechnics in the show, it will be too expensive with all the safety precautions that the arrangers have listed. But have they prepared anything else spectacular for this event?

Hampus: - Maybe Lenny Blades bass solo will be a bit longer… We have not decided everything yet. We will try a few things on the gigs before the festival. Dull answer…
Erik: - The kind of question where we should make something up… Let's say there will be a lot of bombs…
Hampus: - Two tigers on stage… and naked ladies.

Bullet has already got a lot of faithful fans, but now they are prepared to head for the absolute top.

Erik: - If you come around with this kind of bus, people will see you. Otherwise, we will make as much noise as possible so that people will hear us. We have many fans already in many different ages. People even know our lyrics.
Hampus: - We have a fan club in Uråsa and one in Örebro.
Erik: - There are like 20 people around the band, but only five who play.
Hampus: - We are not exactly rich yet, there are most expenditures so far, but it is fun and that's the most important. Eventually it will pay off economically, I hope, so that we can stop worrying about unemployment insurance's and stuff like that. That has been our goal all the time. We will not be a hobby band that work during the weeks and then go out and play in the weekends. We will do the full thing! … Wait, we have forgot Gurkan! [Hampus was supposed to pick up the drummer in Ingelstad…]

There is a lot of hard work left to get the bus ready before Sweden Rock Festival. Time will tell if they make it or not. But anyway there will be a party at Zeppelin Stage on Thursday. Be there!

~ David, May 2006

See also: review of the album Heading For The Top »»

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