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Saturday, March 9, 2019

PSYCHOTIC YOUTH - 21 released on Waterslide Records

Sweden's legendary power-pop-surf-punk heroes are back with a new full-length album called “21” released on Japanese label WATERSLIDE RECORDS. What you get here is super catchy guitar-driven, high energy power-pop, surf and garage-punk as well as their well-known sugary multi-layered vocal harmonies that would even make the Beach Boys jealous.

So it was time for this blog to have a very enlightening conversation with Jörgen Red Westman, mastermind behind Psychotic Youth.

1) Jörgen, we would like you to tell the viewers of this blog the full story of Psychotic youth. The origins of the band, from your first release in 1986 Faster! Faster! till Steroids in 1998 How Psychotic youth got back together again in 2015 and finally the release of your latest CD "21". We want to hear it all from you!

The band was started by me and my childhood friend Anders. As 10-year old we made our own fake guitars and used cookie-jars as drums, put on water-colors and dreamed we were KISS. Later on we started several bands as we learned to play but it wasn’t until we met our drummer Kent at the SAAB factory (we all worked there) Psychotic Youth got together in late 1984. We started for real early 1985 as we joined with Nils on guitar.

Me, Anders and Kent lived way out on the countryside where we rehearsed in a  abandoned house and Nils had to travel 40 kilometers by car with his guitar. From the start we were influenced by The Nomads and tried to sound like them – but we couldn’t. So we got more punkish after the first flexi and EP which resulted FASTER FASTER. By now Gunnar has joined us on organ and as a recording technician.

As for ANYTHING FOR A THRILL we were convinced that we would break internationally. But between the recording and the release the band broke up and me, Kent and Gunnar moved to Gotenburg in the south – just to find the album coming out and bookies demanded a tour. So we found another guy from the north (Magnus) and went for our first tour in Holland and Germany.

But the old albums didn’t fit our new line-up, so I started writing more Detroit-punkish-surf-pop tunes which ended up on SOME FUN – our 2nd coming. After making it big we toured heavy for a few years playing all the big festivals and clubs in Scandinavia and central Europe. But the label we were on was bankrupt and sold to a bigger label (MNW) where we didn’t fit in. The album BE IN THE SUN is the result of that period where we really didn’t find our sound. After that Magnus, the guitarist, left to start his own band and Ulf joined us on guitar.

It all clicked as I wrote the songs for JUICE and POP and the band had its 3rd coming. We got signed by a new label (Nonstop) and could record in a great studio with a real producer which made a lot to the great sound on the albums. The tours kept on until Kent had enough and quit. Then Gunnar developed Tinnitus and also quit. Instead we were joined by Crippa (bass) and Dennis (drums) and the sound got more punkish again as I wrote the songs for STEREOIDS. The tours started to wear us down and as BOMP Records released the album and a US tour was planned – Dennis and Crippa left and me and Ulf decided to call it quits for good. A last concert was held on June 24th 1999 and recorded at a festival in our hometown Kramfors. It can be found as a Italian EP LEAVING THE 20TH CENTURY ALIVE or the whole show as the CD ALIVE UNDER THE MIDNIGHT SUN (Target Earh/Japan).

After that I started my rockabilly career instead and it wasn’t until 2015 as Paul Collins asked if Psychotic Youth could get together and join him and Kurt Baker Combo on a tour that we started again. But the previous guys were not interested, except Ulf, so I took the guys in my rockabilly band and had them playing Psychotic Youth-tunes instead. It all developed into a compilation album and a Japan-tour where we met Kazu of Waterslide Records, who since then releases our stuff.

I had a painful divorce as I wrote THE VOICE OF SUMMER. I guess the title is a longing to get away from that situation and I was never really pleased with the material. But with the new album 21 I feel I have found what I was looking for back then. The whole band is very proud of the new album and more – the original line up with Kent (drums) and Anders (bass) is back!

2)About this latest release, "21" what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?

21 was actually recorded in our rehearsal room by me where we kept all drum parts. Then all add ons like guitars were made there. The vocals was laid down in my appartement where I have built a special room just for singing (and not to disturb the neighbors) and the organs were recorded in Gunnars rehearsal room. So the whole album is a DIY project with a minimum of overdubs. The mix and mastering was done by The Yum Yums wizard-maker CHRISTIAN JACOBSEN. He makes all the difference.

3) Do you consider it should be foolish not to use the nowadays recording technology or do you guys only work with analog machines in analog studios?

We use modern recording techniques as it is free and let you do it without the stress that comes with buying studio-time in a professional studio. Just a sound card and a computer. And we will do it like this in the future too.

4) To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager and does it still influence your today work? What was your favorite band as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.

As a teenager I listened to Johnny Thunders, Fuzztones, Stiv Bators, Paul Collins Beat, Plimsouls and a lot of Detroit punk like Stooges and MC5. Also Swedish bands like The Nomads and Hidden Charms. But at the same time I also listened to 50’s stuff like Elvis, Billy Lee Riley, Link Wray and Little Richard. I guess it all mixes down in what I write in present time.

5) You Are the main composer in the band. So how do things happen? Do you come to a rehearsal with a full prepared song (music and lyrics) and you tell the other members what to play or is everybody involved in one way or another?

I write, sing lead and all choirs, record all instruments (by the help of the computer) and send full songs to the guys before we meet. I’ve always done it that way. It also give the guys the chance to suggest changes before we try it out or if the song is plain bad and should be thrown away.

6) Is there any video on YOUTUBE to promote the new album?

We have no money to make videos so I record live shows instead and try to promote us that way.

7) What can concert goers expect at a Psychotic youth? 

Energy. A smile on their face as they leave.

8) Are you still playing live songs from the previous records or is the gig only focused on the new material since the band is back together?

We play songs from all albums, but mostly from SOME FUN and onwards. We have loads of songs
to take out if someone asks. Right now we do 1/3 from the new album and mixes up the rest.

9)You previously covered "This is rock'n'roll" of our very own Belgian pride and joy, The Kids. A band I saw live for the first in 1978 opening for Patti Smith. How did you, way up north, become aware of this band? Did you ever consider covering "There Will Be No Next Time" by the Kids?
I was listening to a number of bands on YouTube and the KIDS popped up as a suggestion. I was hooked immediately! I will look into the other song you mentioned.

10)Anything you wanna add?

I hope we will come to France sometime!


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