Interview with Goran/Generous Maria
by Vera Matthijssens

With the recent release of the excellent sophomore album Electricism, Generous Maria proved to be a band to reckon with. We wanted to know more about this groove-laden collective hailing from Sweden and the debonair singer Göran Florström was so kind to answer all our questions. Read more about the band who achieved my album of the month predicate this month.

You are from Gothenburg, but I guess you have more affinity with colleagues as The Quill and Spiritual Beggars than with the melodic death scene, isnt it?

Göran Florström: Yeah, thatīs for sure. We donīt have much to do with that scene, Iīm not into that at all. Weīre more associate with bands like The Awesome Machine, On Parole and Mustasch. Great bands from Gothenburg and great guys.

Can we speak of a stoner rock scene over there too?

GF: Well, yeah.. the term kinda seems to be fading away a bit.. but there are still quite a lot of bands with those cool 70īs roots around, like the bands I just mentioned and bundles of more. A lot of good stuff going on in this scene. Even if it sometimes seem to be the underground of the underground. Itīs about time that changed!

I get to know you now by the second album Electricism (a stunner!), but the band was founded in 1998. Can you tell a bit more about these early days and history of the band?

GF: We started out, as you say, around 98.. jeez, time flies, doesnīt it? Anyhow, our first proper release was this EP Strict Nurse that came out on a split CD together with a band called Skua like year 2K. Then we got signed by Lunasound Recordings and the album Command of the New Rock was released 02. Then it got released in the States 03 and re-issued by Buzzville 05. Inbetween we recorded stuff for different compilations and singles. We actually started the work on a new album earlier, but for a lot of different reasons it only turned out to be 7 single, the Crawl back In single that was mainly meant as some kinda tour-single for our Euro trip 2004. So now finally Electricism is out and weīre so happy about that!

Who are the founding members and did many line-up changes happen in the meantime?

GF: From the very beginning it was the bassist Jeppe and the guitarist Ulrik that had this idea of putting a heavy act together. Then I joined, Jeppe is an old friend of mine, we had plyed together earlier, and in the real early days we had another drummer and second guitarist. Mats, our current drummer joined really soon. So itīs only on one of the guitar positions weīve had some changes. But Dan has been in the band for quite a few years already now, so weīve been pretty spared from member turbulence so far, which is a very good thing, it takes so much energy and focus from what you really wanna do.

Your first album Command Of The New Rock was re-release by Buzzville Records with four bonus tracks. Why was it re-released and can you tell a bit more about these bonus tracks?

GF: The bonus tracks are taken from different compilations and also a 7 single we self-released for the Euro tour 04. Wild Child is a Zodiac Mindwarp song we were asked to do for a ZM tribute album a couple of years back. And Devilīs Brood is from double 7 kinda comp out on Game Two. Crawl Back In and Daddy Rattlesnake are from that 7 single I mentioned. Basically it was re-issued because itīs a great album. Lunasound closed their doors so the album was om the verge of being lost in the void. Iīm so fucking glad Buzzville decided to re-release it! But this label rocks!

Now we are coming close to my home country J How did you get in contact and signed at Buzzville Records?

GF: It was actually our manager Peter Högfeldt at High On The Hog Management that sorted that for us. I mean, Buzzvilleīs been a label that weīve heard a lot of good stuff about for quite a while before, so when he said he had a deal cooking with Buzzville we were really exited. And it worked out fine so far, for sure.

There is a brief tour ahead of you, which includes a Belgian gig too. What are the prospects (or memories if you answer this after the gigs J )

GF: Yeah, the tourīs behind us now. And it was a blast for us, yīknow, meeting all these exemely nice, rock-addicted people out there. And actually meeting the people of Buzzville in person for the first time, which was really nice. We had some good shows as well, the one at White Pig in Bad Frankehausen, Germany, was a blast. We got together with 3 Speed Automatic, the Dutch band we toured with in 04, and played with them at this really cool place Villa Rocka in Rotterdam. So cool. The gig in Aalst was not bad either, a lot of very very nice people there. We also did an acoustic session for this radio station in Brussels, FM Brusel. Thatīs nothing weīre all that used to, but it was really fun.

Is it the first tour abroad? Did you play often in the past? What were the highlights until now?

GF: This is our third trip abroad. When you tour thereīs always both wine and water, so to speak, but weīre always having a good time. Hard to pick highlights though.. When I think of it, I gotta say the city of Erfurt, Germany. Weīve played both at the Museumkeller and the Stoned From the Underground there, and it both have been great!

Lets focus a bit on the record itself now. First of all the writing process. Are the songs a result of rehearsals and jamming or do they come into shape another way?

GF: Yeah, guess itīs pretty much as you say there, rehearsals and jamming.. Mostly one of the guys comes up with riff or a basic structure and we build from there, together in the rehearsal room.. Sometimes it happens that someone comes in with a song thatīs more or less ready, just to put the vocal melody and the final arrangements to it, but thatīs not all that often. Mostly we build the songs together, trying out different ways to go. Itīs might be a bit time-consuming at times, but usually itīs a very interesting process.

Does Generous Maria keep in straight in the lyrics or should we pay attention at some special lyrics (personal, fantasy, society, nature) Who writes the lyrics?

GF: I write the lyrics and they all should be paid attention to, hehe. As for interpretation I wonīt be at any service though, they mean different things to me from one day to another so itīs really no good idea to pinpoint them for somebody else.

Did anyone of you had some experience in former bands?

GF: Oh yeah, all of us, except maybe Ulrik, have been in bands before. The bassist Jeppe and me have been Cloud Catchers together, he played guitar in that band. We released a couple of albums in the 90īs. Dan has been in so many bands, Mary Beats Jane for example. And Mats used to be in Mobile Mob Freakshow.

The record is produced by guitarist Dan Johansson. Any special reasons to do it yourself?

GF: Well, Dan is not like anybody, yīknow. Itīs not like just doing it yourself actually. If Dan wouldnīt be in the band we would have chosen him as producer anyway. He is producing a lot of other stuff, getting more and more work as a producer, so heīs just so good. Always makes me sing better then I thought I could. And making the others play at their peaks as well.

Mastering was done by Göran Finnberg, a renowned man! How did you get in contact and can you tell about working with him?

GF: He has mastered a few songs for us earlier, songs for various compilations. Itīs basically the studio, Grand Recordings, where we mixed the album, that has the connection with him. We gave him the tape, together with our guidelines, and he basically mastered it on his own. He likes to work that way, not having band members running around at the place. We trust him a lot, so thatīs really no problem. And it came out quite alright, didnīt it?

Where comes the name Generous Maria from?

GF: Girls are inspiring yīknow, so we wanted to have a girl in the name, to keep inspired at all times.

There is a guest on guitar in Precious And Grace: Christian Smedstrm. Can you tell a bit more about him and how did he get involved?

GF: Itīs Christian Smedström, the guitarist of The Awesome Machine and On Parole. Heīs a good friend of the band and he happened to around the recording sessions at the time when we were doing Precious And Grace so one thing led to another, as they say.. He ended up doing some guitar parts on the song and we thought it real cool.

I read something about a side project Strap On Sally on your website. Who is involved and what can we expect of that musical effort?

GF: Itīs me and a guy called Johan Granat and Dan on drums (heīs a really good drummer as well). Actually weīre just fooling around for a bit. Nothing really serious. Weīve recorded a couple of songs and one of them, Letīs Explode, was recently released on a comp called Sons of Guns. Itīs a disc that came with the May issue of Classic Rock Magazine. Itīs just fun to have something on the side, yīknow.

For us, Sweden is a fabulous countries music-wise. So many bands, so many opportunities for bands, Are you very aware of that feeling of being happy to be born in Sweden or do we have a wrong vision on that? Maybe you just see it as too much competition hehe..

GF: Well, I canīt give you any satisfactoring answer on why there are so many good bands up here, really canīt. A lot of competition though, as you say keeps us on our toes. We have to be better then everybody else. To be honest, I donīt think all that much about it. Itīs just the way it is, and itīs difficult for me to compare with other countries and stuff.. I think there are great bands from everywhere.

One of the salient features of Generous Maria is that the music is not only powerful and groovy, but it has also a kind of sensual atmosphere. Do you agree on that? Is it important?

GF: Well, it sounds important, when you say it like that. And if you feel it, it gotta be there, right? I guess that this is one of these things that you experience on a personal level, nothing you can put your finger on. If you feel it, itīs there.

It is not all about speed and thunderous noise, but about emotions too, isnt it?

GF: I put every single fucking emotion Iīm able to produce into my singing. Itīs nothing I can choose to do, or choose not to do. Itīs just the way it is.

Can you tell a bit more about the songs Shes Got Plans For Me (reminds me of Zodiac Lung of Monster Magnet) and the occluding track Lil Crisis of Mine?

GF: Well, itīs two of my favourite tracks from the album youīre mentioning there. Two songs that in their structures are, at least to me, like two little journeys. Thatīs the way I think a good song should be, taking you from one place to another, telling you a little story on the way, leaving you satisfied but still wanting more.

A little explanation why did you cover Precious and Grace from ZZ Top?

GF: It was Jeppe who came up with the idea, a while back. We donīt do all that many covers in Generous Maria, so we thought it was a good idea. I mean, itīs such a great song.. We had it in our live set for a while, and when we started recording Electricism we thought what the hell, letīs record this one as well, and see what happens. It turned out so good that we wanted to include it on the album.

What are your favourite tracks to play live?

GF: I like to play all of the songs live. But the two mentioned above are actually very high in the list.

Are there plans to play more gigs in the near future?

GF: Yeah, of course, weīve got a new album to promote. If everything goes as it should, weīre coming back to Benelux in October, which Iīm looking very much forward to.

What can we expect of a Generous Maria live gig?

GF: To get your mind blown away!