I was lucky enough to meet this group of Swedish Vegans on the Perth leg of their Australia/ SE Asia tour earlier this year. This is a chat I had with them on a curb outside 208. There were some issues with the recording of the first half, so unfortunately there’s a bit missing, but it’s still a good chat. Enjoy.
Who is Anchor?
Claes – Vocals
Mattias – Guitar & Vocals
Ulf – Guitar & Vocals
Fredrik – Bass
Carl-Johan – Drums & Vocals
You’ve got a lot of touring under your belt, is this an important aspect of Anchor?
Claes: It’s been the foundation of this band to have a touring band that’s into Animal Rights, I think those were the two things we really wanted to do. We wanted to get out on the road and we’ve been doing almost 350 shows in the past five years in the US, Australia, Europe, and South East Asia next week. It’s been the fundamental thing about this band to be out there.
Carl: We wanted to go to as many places as possible. All of us five guys give everything we have to this band, we lost jobs and girlfriends and stuff like that. I got dumped last week, and I probably could have saved the relationship if I was with my girlfriend, but this is what we do.
Claes: I think all of us have had a lot of sacrifices for this band and I think you have to sacrifice to make it go on, I mean we’ve had to switch some members because it just didn’t work for them to be on tour as much, but I think that the five of us now, it has become our lifestyles, and we build our lives around it. We’ve come so far with this band, that we realised that we have to try and help each other to make our lives work with the band, so we don’t lose our jobs every second tour, or lose our girlfriends.
Frederik: Also, I think Anchor is the kind of band that if we decided to not tour for a year, and just do other stuff, to maybe make some music elsewhere, I don’t think that would work for us, because since the start, we’ve been touring all the time. I think even the first tour was being booked before the first song was even written actually. Sounds like a bad idea, but it worked out.
Claes: We didn’t even have a second guitar or a bass when we first booked the European tour. 16 dates, full European tour, with Ritual. At that time, we were just talking about doing to band, and then we were just like, alright we’re going to do this for real now. Some of us had been in bands before this one, and kind of felt like we never did it as real as we wanted to.
Frederik: Also everyone in the band lives very far from each other, I mean, I live in Norway, I mean it’s only 4 hours away from Gothenburg, where we have our rehearsal room, but before that I lived 14 hours away for 4 and a half years of the band, I lived that far away, and Carl lived about 3 hours away and Claus lived in Stockholm which is 5 or 6 hours. So I think that if we didn’t tour, we wouldn’t do anything because it’s just too far to just rehearse every Wednesday. This band only kind of exists on tour, because we don’t get the time to rehearse, we mainly just write for the tour, which is what keeps the band together.
Claes: It became my lifestyle, this is the only way I know how to survive at home, when I know that in 2 or 3 months we’ll go on tour. I couldn’t think about going to work year in, year out. That would kill me.
As a Vegan Straight Edge band, was it a big deal to release something through Catalyst?
Claes: Before we released it, it was a real big deal for us, because it was a big label from when we grew up, and most of the bands that have been on catalyst we really like, but I think it is really awesome to release with Catalyst because we are friends with Kurt, but other than that, he has a cool label, but we have been working with 8 or 9 other really cool labels. I mean of course he has a legacy with his label that’s really awesome to be a part of. I think when I look at it now, I’m really proud to be part or React! Records and Pee Records, Refuse Records, and Let it Burn. There’s so many that have done so much for us, Kurt is one of them, but not more than any other one I would say.
So how long have you been Vegan?
Claes: I’ve been vegan since 97, so I’m obviously super old, see can see that I am about 400 years old, old as fuck. When I was younger, I could count the months, like “I’ve been vegan for two months now, I’ve been vegan for 3 months, 2 years whoa!” now I’m like, “is it really that long?” It’s not fun anymore, it’s just proof that I’m older than everyone else, I hate it. These guys are at 10 years, a couple years, not that long.
What are the main animal rights issues you encounter in Sweden?
Claes: I think the fur industry is one of those battles that really is ongoing. We almost had that abolished, but we had a new government come in and they made another stance on it because we got a right wing government who simply pushed the progress of animal rights back about 20 years, which really sucks. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of everything bad they have done to our country, they’re fucking assholes, they only care about rich people. But the fur industry is definitely a debate that’s out there for everyone, not only animal rights activists, but it’s something people talk about. Also in the latest years, there’s been a lot of discussions about the meat industry because of the health issues of eating red meat, which is definitely something that’s on people’s lips. I’d say that vegetarianism and veganism is getting trendier and more accepted.
What’s your opinion on “trend veganism”?
Claes: As long as you don’t eat animals, I don’t care for what reason. I hope that people stick to it, but if they don’t, and they don’t eat animals for two years, then that’s better than eating animals for 2 years. Even while you’re vegan or you’re vegetarian, someone else is going to bump into you, and that person is going to be influenced by you, even if you’re going to leave it behind in two years. That’s how it was for me, I met a guy when I was 15 years old, who was Vegan, and he influenced me to become vegetarian, and become vegan, and I met him a couple year later, and he didn’t care much about it anymore. I’ve been living like this for 16 years now. I think every time someone makes a step, it’s positive, and you know maybe you’re vegetarian now, and then you forget about it for whatever reason and then pick it up again when you’re 60. My mum went vegetarian when she was like 55, and she’s been doing it for 15 years. I think as far as veganism being trendier now, I think it’s a positive thing, because as long as it’s out there, it’s getting accepted.
Historically, most people would associate Sweden with a well-run government, in light of your comments above, can you explain a bit about the current political climate there?
Claes: I honestly must say, that even though we have a right wing government, that right wing government could have been a lot worse. The whole idea behind this government, is that they have been picking up a lot of the social democratic ideas, and they’re promoting themselves as a working class party. They do of course, compromise the rights of the working class, and they’re selling out everything that used to be owned by the state, but in the perspective of other right wing governments, it’s a left wing, right wing government. So it could have been a lot worse, I’d say that the leading party in our country, while the rest of the European right wing governments have become like really neo-liberal, they’re conservative in their ways, but they are really liberal in their economic basis, and Sweden is not like that, it is still pretty conservative in the economy. So even if our welfare is being sold out, it’s taking a lot more time, and there our right wing government does not accept the ideas of the extreme right wing ones that are ruling in a lot of countries in Europe. I think, in Norway it’s different, they have a Left wing government now.
Frederik: The Norwegian left wing government is doing kind of the same as the Swedish right wing, they’re moving a bit to the middle, from the other side. That party has been in power for many many years, and people want something different, so it feels like they are moving a bit towards what the people want, so if they want a right wing government, that party is going to move that way. It’s turning more and more into the middle. I think in the next election we will have a right wing government as well it looks like.
Recovery has been out for about a year now, any new material on the horizon?
Carl: We’ve been having two days off here in Perth, and Mattias and Ulf, who plays guitar have been sitting and having idea for riffs for new songs, because it’s been 41 degrees, so it’s too warm to be outside, so we have to do something inside. I know they have a lot of ideas, we haven’t started to put it together into songs yet, but we will, some time.
Thank you very much for your time, any final thoughts?
Carl: It’s going to be an interesting time in South East Asia, there’s going to be a documentary. My best friend back home in Sweden, is educating himself to be a documentary film maker, and him and his friend will be meeting us in Kuala Lumpur and they will be joining us for 6 days. So they will be making a south east Asia tour documentary. So hopefully we won’t mess that up, and it might be released later this year if we’re lucky. You never know, everything in life just gets fucked up all the time.