When thinking of the dawn of popular American rock and roll, our minds naturally think of 1950s acts like Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and the like. And while these legends spanned the globe, (the first one might’ve spanned the universe) I for one, haven’t given much thought to just how profound their impact was on cultures outside of America.
Such is the case with Swedish rockabilly revival band The Nightdrivers, who for nearly 40 years have paid tribute to such legends playing music akin to the 50s rock and roll era music historians and old school rock and roll lovers in America hold in the highest light.
They recently released their Chuck Berry-esque rockin’ number “Come Back Josephine,” that delivers riffs and lyrics to that of our rock and roll forefathers. The song has the driving beat and high energy first displayed more than half a century ago from the radios of St. Louis, Memphis, Macon, and soon all over the U.S.A, and this Nordic quartet has adopted this adored sound and carried its torch in Sweden and beyond.
The band is based out of the small municipality of Torpshammar, and consists of Dick Sörholm on keys/vocals, Mikael Backe on drums/vocals, Peter Bergman on guitar/vocals, and Patrick Rapp on guitar/vocals.
We had the chance to ask them some questions to better learn how this music resonates in Sweden and the greater Nordic region, what they’ve got going on creatively, and more.
So how did The Nightdrivers get together, and how long has the group been going at it?
We were already five good friends who played in two different bands, so we decided to jump off those and start The Nightdrivers. We have been going for 39 years now.
Did you dabble in other styles of music in your tenure, or has it always been 50s rock and roll swing-style music?
It has always been 50s & 60s rock and roll, blended with country western, and surf.
What’s the music scene like around the Torpshammar region, or more broadly, Sweden as a whole?
The rockabilly/rock and roll scene is quite popular as a subculture in ages 18-70, mostly with car clubs for American cars etc. But commercially, pop music sells best here like anywhere I guess.
How is this kind of music received where y’all are?
Pretty good because it’s rhythmic and often in an up-tempo beat, easy listening stuff.
Pre-pandemic, did y’all do much touring in Europe or elsewhere?
We usually tour in an area about 500km around Torpshammar and exceptionally longer, but since we all have day time jobs, it’s tough to tour further away.
What is the songwriting process like within the band?
Most often, one of us gets an idea for a new song and prepares music and lyrics at home, then he presents it to the rest of the band at rehearsal. Sometimes he (the composer) has an idea for the arrangement on a demo, but other times we just play around and make the arrangement in place all together.
So it was your song, “Come Back Josephine” that caught our ear. Can you talk about the influence and inspiration behind this track?
Nice- thanks! I just wanted to do a song in this kind of groove and style, borrowing influence from the 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll. I was mowing the grass at home and listening to music in my earphones and I heard what I think was a Little Richard song, and I remember that he sang the first line in the verse and then repeated the exact same words in the second line. So I thought it was cool and used that “method” in “Come Back Josephine”.
Is it a part of or going to be a part of an EP or LP?
It’s going to be part of an album (LP but probably not vinyl, only CD) around New Year.
What is the band working on currently?
We are working on new material for what perhaps will be another new album.
How have you been keeping busy and trying to maintain momentum for your music during the pandemic?
Fortunately, we did all the recordings to the upcoming album before the pandemic. So all the new singles this year, both our own and the ones we’ve done together with artist Danny Cooltmoore are maintaining momentum and hopefully the interest from our followers too.
Do you feel the pandemic has helped or hurt your creative process? (or perhaps neither)
It may have hurt us a bit since we have taken the decision not to rehearse during this period. But then again, our songwriting usually begins at home.
What’s one of your proudest/accomplished moments as a band in your career thus far?
The release of our first record, a vinyl single with two original songs “Outlaw/Golden Sunburst” (1984).
What might fans expect from The Nightdrivers in the latter half of the year?
They can expect 2-3 more singles for streaming and later the album. There will also be 2-3 more singles with Danny Cooltmoore & The Nightdrivers this year, later summed up in an EP.
What do you think makes Sweden such a special place compared to other countries?
Our four seasons, our beautiful nature, and of course all our bands and artists! 😉