INTERVIEW WITH STEFAN KERY (JUNE 2003)
Ø Stefan, tell us about the first Stomachmouths days. How did you come together into the Stomachmouths and who were the members of the band in the beginning?
I met Lars and Par in a record shop in Stockholm in the early 80s. We had never meet prior to that. I was stone drunk after walking out of my job at McDonalds and heard they had started a band and I just demanded to be the singer. We got together in their rehearsal space in the northern suburbs to Stockholm. It all went well and I joined the band. In those days the band was called Rager Mar (Swedish joke spelling of Roger Moore), I dunno why as everybody preferred Jean Connory as 007, and had a 2nd guitarist. After he left I picked up the axe.
Ø Were you in any other bands before joining the Stomachmouths?
Oh yeah. My first group was called Red Baron we formed around 1972. I was still a pre-teen and played drums. The other guys were a little older and used old radios as amplifiers. The music was early 70s heavy psych teenage punk. In 1975, still a pre-teen, I formed a new group; The Pink Panthers, here I was doing lead vocals and some guitars. We actually did a couple of gigs but like with the earlier group no surviving tapes only pictures. Next was the Firebirds we were still grinding out teenage punk psych heavy with a little early Alice Cooper influence and slowly drifting in to 70´s punk with me on guitar and vocals. After that I formed Dragonfly with me on guitar and vocals. Contrary to the band name we were playing Stooges/MC5 type rock with some covers of their songs as well. In early 1977 influenced by the uprising US & UK new wave scene I started the punk band Dogwayst. We almost got signed by CBS to cut a 45 “Silvia is a Moron”/”Fucked Up” but I guess they thought we were too young. I was only fourteen and the deal fell through but we played a lot live. I played around with various Stockholm punk bands, to many to mention, but no recordings. In the early eighties I joined Rager Mar consisting of Lars Kjellen, Par Stavborg (later Stomachmouths, Livingstones and Daytonas). We played around quite a lot doing Seeds style garage rock but never cut any records. After some time Martin Skeppholm took over the drums in the band and after some discussions we changed our name to the Stomachmouths.
Ø Who’s idea was the name of “Stomachmouths” and what exactly that means? I have already heard a story by Jens Linberg about that.
It was inspired by the book “Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy O´Tool where the title character refers several times to his intestinal “valve” this word is “magmunn” in Swedish which literally means “stomach mouth”. I think it was Par who came up with the idea to call us the Stomachmouths but all of us had been heavily in to the book.
Ø Your influences back then?
60s bands from all over the world. I was seriously in to record collecting.
Ø Where did you usually play live in Stockholm?
Kaos was the hot spot cellar for garage rock but we played most clubs in town. Kaos was really cool as it was a very old cellar in the Old Town in Stockholm and was run by a Sik who of course always wore his turban proudly.
Ø Did you tour outside Sweden?
Mostly Italy and Germany but also Austria, Spain and Finland.
Ø Can you tell us some band names that the Stomachmouths performed live with?
We played around with most garage bands of the day and except for Swedish band like the Creeps, Crimson Shadows we gigged with the Fuzztones, Stingrays, Vietnam Veterans, Sick Rose and lots of other cool local bands who’s names escape me now.
Ø What covers did you usually perform on stage?
“Born Loser”, “That’s Cool, That’s Trash”, “Ode to Rhythm & Blues”, “The Cat Came Back” and “Dirty Ol’ Man”. Never all of them at the same time as we mostly did originals.
Ø Did you got much attention by the Swedish music press or radio back then?
Well not really but all big newspapers and music magazines did at least a couple of smaller articles on us.
Ø What’s your personal opinion about the “Solna” sound and bands?
They are/were nice guys unfortunately many of the Solna bands only did covers. The quote that "they took badly performed 60s songs and made them good” is ridiculous. How could they possibly better those recordings?
Ø What Swedish garage band you personally liked the most from the 80’s era and what band outside Sweden?
The Soul Searchers from Sweden and The Raunch Hands from the USA.
Ø What happened and the line-up changed after the “Something Weird” LP?
I went on an extended vacation to the US and no one thought I was coming back so the band basically split. While in the US I got an offer from Jeff to join the Lyres but I decided to go back home.
Ø What exactly happened with the LP on Voxx Records? The “Wild Trip” LP was the one that you were supposed to release? There are some stories around concerning that subject, so give us the true story!
We got an offer from Greg at Voxx to do an album for them when we sent out our first demo tape in 1984 but nothing happened. We even signed a contract but never got the money to pay for studio time. Then we recorded and released our first 45 ourselves. Then Got To Hurry released a 45 with us and when we were in the studio recording the “Something Weird” lp a check arrived through the mail from Voxx but since we were now working with Got To Hurry we never cashed it and instead returned it to Voxx. When the “Something Weird” LP had been out for a while the Voxx LP suddenly appeared without any warning. It was a mixed blessing as the tracks on the LP especially the badly recorded live concert (one of our worst) took up all of side two. On the other hand Got To Hurry’s distribution was zero. We got so many offers for worldwide distribution but the guys at Got To Hurry, although very nice people, never wanted to deal with any foreign distributors so there wasn’t a copy shipped outside of Sweden. Voxx who had good distribution sold quite a lot of their LP.
Ø Which song is your favorite one out of the Stomachmouths set?
I think that depends on the mood I’m in.
Ø Who exactly is “Dr. Syn”!?
He was the local home chemist drug dealer ..no seriously Dr. Syn is a character, a smuggling Vicar of Dymchurch, who was portrayed in some movies and comic books. The song really doesn’t have anything to do with this. I got the title from flipping through a film lexicon with my eyes closed and just pointing at a title but the lyrics are really about a late night drugged out car ride we did while blasting the Golden Cups insane version of “Hey Joe” over and over and again. At one instance everybody hallucinated that the car doors blew of. We were roaming the countryside looking for a legendary haunted house with some kind of weird triangle shaped candles in the windows. Way out in the woods we passed a car that looked totally burnt. When we passed it, it turned around and started following us and poor Anna started crying. Spooky stuff.
Ø When and why did you split?
I don't think anyone really can answer that but I'll try to. We were completely drained from touring and rehearsing plus managing our day jobs so we took a brake that lasted forever.
Ø Were there any plans or even recordings about any new release that didn’t came out?
Ø What did the members of the Stomachmouths did after the split?
I started my record label Xotic Mind.
Ø Did you regret for anything you did or didn’t with the Stomachmouths?
Well we could easily have done an album that was 100% perfect. Not to long with too many songs and that we knew more about how to record than we did back then. Most of our releases sounded so much tamer than we actually sounded. Fortunately one can now hear us more like we actually were on the new CD comp.
Ø Do you remember any funny or strange story that happened back then concerning the Stomachmouths?
We had some crazy times. It’s hard to recall everything really, it’s all in a haze, `kind of like if you ask someone what went on in the sixties they never seem to remember… like “if you remember you weren’t there”. I nearly broke my back somewhere in Italy when I did a real daredevil stage dive flip (not so common in the eighties) of a real high stage and everybody in the crowd moved a way so I ended up landing on my back on the floor. I was paralyzed for several minutes but got up and continued to play. I got nick named “the rubberman” for always doing crazy jumps and stuff.
Ø What the members of the band are doing today?
Lars has now stopped playing music altogether instead concentrating on his interest for motorcycles and cars. Per Stavborg works with a major record label that doesn’t have anything to do with rock music, Martin Skeppholm is a doctor specializing in back surgery. The last time I saw Anna Nystrom she had signed with Madonna’s label Maverick. She did a song for the movie “Cable Guy” and one for one of those horrible “the spy who shagged me” disasters. She now lives in London working as an architect. Jens I busy being the “godfather of Swedish garage rock” and a great wine expert working at the System Bolaget (the Swedish states monopoly for alcoholic beverage sales) information department. For someone who was dubbed “Captain Haddock” .by the press in Spain this must be the perfect job.
Ø Some words about the new Stomachmouths CD?
I think it sounds great, as I was able to use the old masterings we did ourselves back in the 80s. They are much more rawer sounding than the vinyl releases. The way they should have been released back then.
Ø Is there any thought about a reunion, like the Gruesomes and the Stems did?
That would be grand but it’s practically impossible for everybody to get together and play I’m sorry to say. But I just started a new garage band…more on that later.
Ø Anything more you would like to say?
It’s fun to see that garage rock is now finally becoming more known and that some bands from Sweden are having some huge success abroad like the Soundtrack of Our Lives. Just hoping that some will lend an ear to what was done back in the 80s. It’s funny to realize that it was 19 years since the Stomachmouths started playing, which is a longer time than had passed since the 60s bands, that we were influences by, were originally playing. Do check out the Stomachmouths “Born Losers” CD even if you have all our old vinyl releases. It’s worth it.
Ø Thank you very much, Stefan!
Stefan Kery (in the middle) and his first band ‘The Pink Panthers” at his age of 12!!!