Interview conducted August 05 2016
Interview published September 20 2016
I think I shouldnt
even try to copy what Dojan did on the first record.
Metal Covenant met up with Mustaschs
since one year drummer Robban Bäck at
in August. Robban has in the last couple
of years been a member of Sabaton and Eclipse, among
others, and also functions as a session musician once in a while, so I
was kind of curious to find out
what would make him stay with this particular band and new employer in
the long run and also what
his first year with the band has been like.
Ralf is actually 40 years
older than what I am.
Tobbe: The last Mustasch record [Testosterone]
has been out for about year by now, so how far have
you guys come with the work on next record?
Robban: Were working on it, you know. I
mean, Ive been with the band for a year and I gotten to
realize that music in this band is written constantly. We were writing
on the train on our way here and probably on the flight to Finland tomorrow.
As soon as someone gets an idea, you know. What I like with this band
is that everyone is involved, so when someone gets an idea its
like Lets go! and we record it on our phones or whatever.
As soon as theres material enough we will record a new album.
You just told me that the whole band is involved, but for the last record
Ralf [Gyllenhammar, vocals and guitar] let David [Johannesson, guitar],
together with the producer Rikard Lövgren, handle most of the songwriting.
Not lyrically, but for the actual music, and could Ralf let this procedure
continue? Would he dare to let go of the songwriting again?
Robban: No, absolutely not. This will be a band
effort. As I understand it, it was an experiment from their side. Ralf
has for the most part written the music throughout the years. When Testosterone
was about to be recorded, he was like We have to freshen up in
some way. I will write the lyrics and David! Just do it!..
Its a record that sounds a little bit different and its
because David has done most of the writing. He worked really hard, you
know, for almost a year. But what the hell, it became great in the end.
But for the next record the whole band works together.
Tobbe: You are already involved with the
music, but during your kind of short time with the band, how much are
you involved with the business side and the activities of the band by
now? Or do you just
follow and they lead in the beginning?
Robban: You know, Ive been playing with
so many bands, like Eclipse and Sabaton and blah, blah,
b lah, you know, and as soon as I joined Mustasch I got full insight
immediately. It was like meeting a chick who undresses and washes away
her make-up and This is what I look like. Take me or leave me!.
To me there are no question marks. Its the cards on the table
and if someone gets bothered with something or someone we take the discussion
Tobbe: Most of the people who listen to
heavier music in this country are familiar with quite a few
Mustasch songs of course, but how much did you know about the music, in
detail, before you joined
the band? Honestly, you know.
Robban: You know, I skipped school and went to
the record store and bought Mustasch records. I
owned them all and listened a lot to them, so I have grown up with this
band, more or less. But when we started playing the songs
have their own versions when its played live. Its a completely
different thing, you know. I told Ralf Its cool. I can play
tomorrow if you want me to. No problem.. And then we met up and
hes like What the hell! This is not how we do this part
here.. But Im a big Mustasch fan too, you know.
Tobbe: If a song is played pretty close
to the studio version, do you try to copy the original drumming
or do you want to put your own style to it?
Robban: I think I shouldnt even try to
copy what Dojan [Mats Hansson] did on the first record. Its Just
forget it., you know. We will play a couple of songs tonight,
which we havent played together before actually, and I was trying
to analyze Dojans playing style and I just [sighs].
is so damn unique and an awesome drummer. And I try to be an awesome
drummer too, but I have a different approach, you know. So I try to
take his stuff and try to adapt it to my drum kit. It becomes a little
bit different, but kind of the same. Well, you know.
Tobbe: But honestly, most of the people
who see you live dont specifically hear a big difference. But those
who do, see it as a huge difference, you know.
Robban: Yes, exactly. We have changed and do
so much digitally, you know. We have no guitar amplifiers and the drums
are digital. We played in Kungsträdgården [A park in central
Stockholm] 2 weeks ago and there was 10000 there and then theres
at least 5 drummers there and then you get 5 judgments after the gig,
like What the hell are you doing? You cant play drums like
that. John Bonham didnt do it that way.. But were
like We gotta try it.. Progress moves forward, right?
Tobbe: Like you said, you been with Sabaton
and Eclipse recently, and then a bunch of other bands too, so what will
make you stay with Mustasch? And my question is also: Does the economical
it weigh in as well?
Robban: Well, you must not forget that its
a job, you know. My job is playing the drums and people change their
employment all the time. But as soon as I get a new job theres
like a huge hate storm. You know, I have kids at home and I must make
money. Ever since I bought my first Mustasch record I have always dreamed
about Ralf calling me and I have jumped between many bands and all of
a sudden I get that call.
So for me this was a lucky strike, even if none
of us make millions, you know. If we wanted to be really rich we would
have started a carpenter business, or been running festivals, or whatever.
But we do this because we love heavy metal, you know.
Tobbe: Its a job that you enjoy and
you dont suffer when you think of it. Not too often anyway, but
guess it still gets boring occasionally.
Robban: Ive been playing with so many
bands and theres always someone that is annoying or theres
a conflict in one way or another. I dont want to slam the other
bands and its not what Im saying, but in this band
we argue like hell, but we lay the cards on the table. If theres
an issue we clear the air immediately and theres no one lurking
around and mumbling Oh, I hate that
fucker. [Whispers]. Were just like [Snaps his fingers.]
And to me this is essential if I want to stay, you know, at my job.
That everyone has a say and that its a democracy, you know.
Tobbe: Didnt you get kind of a smooth
transition when you joined the band, since you started with a
few live shows and there wasnt a big announcement either?
Robban: Yeah, they wanted to try me out. The
previous drummer [Jejo Perkovic] left the band quite suddenly, so they
needed a drummer in an instant, you know. And I was like Lets
go!. My first gig was in Arvika last August and I wanted the job
permanently, but their, at that time, manager told me that they were
thinking that I wasnt gonna bear with them and they didnt
want to hire someone who would leave after 2 months.
was a trial period for both sides. We did a German tour and a longer
run in Sweden and when we did the last gig for last year, they asked
me if I was wanted to become a permanent member of the band.
Tobbe: Were you guys never worried about
the age difference? Youre like 30 and even if David is somewhere
in between, the other 2 guys [Stam Johansson [bass] and Ralf] are actually
considerably older than you. Were talking like 20 years.
Robban: Ralf is actually 40 years older than
what I am. At least. [Smiles] But you have to ask them, really. I started
playing the drums so early, you know. Already when I was a little kid,
older guys began to hire me, so I have always played with people who
are older than me. I have always been the youngest one in the band.
For me, it hasnt been strange at all, so you have to ask them.
When you hang out with someone who is 20 years older, theres something
in the biology and they always point out something. Even if Im
a grown man, really, they try to raise me.
Tobbe: By having kids and family probably
makes it easier to get along with them.
Robban: Yes, besides Stam, we all have 2 kids
each, so we can relate to each other, you know. If
someone says that they will be late for rehearsals because their kids
are sick, the other guys are
understanding. In other bands that Ive played with its like
What the hell! Leave the kids at daycare. and Im like
Its Sunday!. [Sighs]
Tobbe: If I dare asking you. About Sabaton
and when you quit the band. Did you really quit or did they
ask you to leave in the end? Everything hasnt come to light yet.
Its been like I wasnt comfortable
anymore, but was it really that simple?
Robban: I can tell you exactly what it was like.
I resigned almost immediately after I was hired for the job. I signed
the contract for the company
Its not Sabaton, but its
another company, and I think there was a notice period for 3 months
and I almost immediately knew that I wasnt comfortable, professionally,
economically or with the boys in the band, you know. I chose to pull
away, more or less after the first gig, but I kept going because I had
signed the contract. At that time, and this is quite funny, Mustasch
was looking for a drummer in 2011 and someone put out Davids cell
phone number on their homepage, so I received a text message from a
friend, like Mustasch is looking for a new drummer!.
So I call that number and talk to David and we
were talking drums and he told me that they had a few names that they
were gonna try out, but he would call me if that didnt work out.
Then the next day Sabaton calls and We need a drummer! Come on
now!. So we flew to the U.S.A. and we were there for 10 weeks.
The years went by, you know, and then our paths crossed again. All the
time in Sabaton I was thinking Mustasch! Why didnt you pick
The bands have quite different styles. Mustasch is like dirty hard rock
and Sabaton is more like sing-a-long heavy metal in a way.
Robban: Absolutely. And it works great for them.
Their concept is great. But I simply wasnt fit for the job, really.
Just like someone doesnt want to work in a grocery store anymore
and wants to do something else. Its just the way it is.
Tobbe: Dont get me wrong now, but
what can you really contribute to a well-oiled machine like Mustasch is
after over 15 years of record releases? Like This I can really bring
to the band!.
Robban: I think I can benefit from being younger
than them. Unlike Ralf, I have grown up to his music, so I join as a
fan. Like tonight, we will play a different set, because Im like
We must play that song, and that song.. And Ralf is like
You really like that song? OK, lets play it.. So I
think that this can benefit the band; that Im hungry and eager
Tobbe: So when you will lay down the drums
on the record, do you think that you will be a little bit
Robban: No, I cant afford being careful,
because I will get yelled at then. I record with other bands too, as
a studio musician, and there Im used to be laid back and ask them
what they want. With this band theyre like What the hell
are you doing? Double bass drums! Lets go now! Drum solo!.
Its kind of funny, because we always have a drum solo nowadays.
It started right after I joined the band.
We were in Germany and Ralf approach me at my
drum kit and I must have a cigarette. Just do something. Play
a drum solo or whatever. and then he just leaves. I start to play
something and looks back and wonder where he is. After a while he returns
and hes like Good job! Thank you.. And ever since
we always have a drum solo in the set. I think its fun, because
everyone in the band likes drums. They like a lot of drums, so I get
to play without shackles, you know.
Tobbe: What can Mustasch really do at this
point to take yet another step? Or have the guys in the
band, including yourself, accepted that this is the level you will stay
at? Like We wont be one step
bigger.. Or do you try to work hard to take that step? Please feel
free to elaborate.
Robban: We work in the hard rock industry, one
can say, and it goes up and down all the time.
Someone once said a really smart thing: A watch thats standing
still will show the correct time twice in 24 hours., right? So
we have said that were just gonna go. We play hard rock because
we think its fun and we dont release albums to make money,
because thats impossible, you know. If we record an album its
because we wanna release music that we think is good and then we just
follow the wave. Right now were kind of in the doldrums, but maybe
in 3 years were bigger than The Beatles, you know. Who knows?
That I know. Did you really have to compare yourselves to The Beatles?
But, of course things go up and down.
Robban: Yes, exactly. So we just gotta keep
going. And like I said, if we wanna make big money, we will have to
stay at home and start a carpentry business or whatever. So its
just the passion to music that keeps us going.
Tobbe: About touring. It inevitably affects
your families, so to what extent can you be away from home? Can you be
away for like 2 months?
Robban: Yes, of course we can. What can I say?
Its what separates the wheat from the chaff. Its just realize
that If you like hard rock, then show it!, you know. And
hopefully you can return to your kids with some money in your pocket.
Its a way of life, you know.
Most of my friends, who I grew up, played bass
or guitar and also drums, but they quit after a while because they couldnt
stand being away from home. Its really important too, that if
youre gonna be away on tour for 2 months, you must feel that this
is your second family that you hang out with. If youre not comfortable
in the tour bus, then you cant stand even 2 days.
Tobbe: Where does your passion come from
then? From within or is this something you build along
Robban: To me, its just natural. It just
feels right. Ever since I was little Ive always been restless.
I always must be on my way to something new, so this fits me perfectly.
If Im away on tour for 2 months, and during the last week I just
wanna go back home to my kids, then after 2 days at home my fingers
start to itch and I wanna go out and play again. Its just the
way it is. This is not something for everyone. Its not like the
land of milk and honey. Absolutely not. Not for us at least. Not in
2016. So its hard work, but we like it. At least I do.