Epidemics is an oldschool punk-band from Umeå formed in 2007, consisting of four friends who met each other through the punk-scene. They’ve released one full-length album titled Waking Up The Dead, a single featuring the song I Don’t Get It which also landed on Turist I Tillvaron Vol. 1 and an EP titled No Reply. I did this interview a while ago and didn’t get any response for a while, which was the stupid mail-systems fault. So I finally got the answers from Emma Swanström, the singer of the band. I asked her about the background-story of Epidemics, what their favorite show was like, what they’re releasing next and many more interesting questions. Follow the lead and click it for a feast! Just joking, click the damn button and it’ll open up itself for you.
Why did you pick the name Epidemics? Where did you start out? Have you played in any other band before this one? Who are you?
– Choosing a band name is freakin’ hard! We had a whole bunch of ideas that we rejected, and kept coming back to this suggestion. I like how it can refer to several different things, like how other people could think of us (or people like us) or as a way to think of ourselves. I’d like a new punk wave to come like an epidemic! It can also be a cocky wish that our music will spread like an epidemic.
We were formed in 2007, when me, Richard and Erik split up our old band Disconvenience. Patrik, who had played bass with The Rats with Erik joined us, and we decided to try to write really good, catchy punk songs inspired by the classics but with a sound of our own. We’ve played in a whole lot of bands before, especially Erik. He’s just the person anyone would like to have in their band, thanks to him being such genius drummer and being a blast to watch on stage thanks to that long hair and making an intense appearance all through the gigs.
We’re four people who live in Umeå (Sweden) and Malmö, who met through the punk scene and have this really big need to write and play music. We all love to tour and meet creative people who think alike everywhere we go. Me and Richard live in big a house in the forest outside Umeå with our kids, some friends and a lot of animals. Erik is a student and Patrik is our good friend that we keep missing all the time since he moved to Malmö.
I found you via Lukinzine (of course), what do you think about that guy?
– I love that he keeps doing his thing, there is a passion in it that deserves all respect!
Why do you think that Swedish music-journalists are so focused on the big acts? When there are great acts like yours around?
– The whole music business sucks and i hate it deeply. They focus on the big acts because the music industry is totally corrupted, capitalistic, inbred and only reproduces the worst type of hierarchies in this society. Sadly enough, I think that few people, even within the subcultures of music, have the ability to question those positions. I sometimes even hate the punk-scene for the same reasons. I want to be a part of a subcultural music movement that doesn’t use mocking reviews to get credit without questioning how their taste in music was formed, or considering how much effort the musicians behind a release have put in it and how ungrateful it is to be in a band in the first place. Haha, what a deppressing answer! Next question before I write a whole book about it!
Could you tell me something about the songs I Don’t Get It and I’ve Had Enough that are featured on your YouTube page? Are you satisfied with them? Could you tell me a little bit about the studio-process of it?
– I love those songs, they’re two of my favorites! I think they summarize quite well what I want to do musically. I think they’re catchy, but with a hardcore touch, and I like both lyrics. I’ve Had Enough is a song we wrote when we weren’t really happy with one of the four songs we had for the “No Reply Ep”. We had already done a demo recording with that song and where about to step into the studio to record it. Then we wrote this one that we liked more, and I think it turned out to be the best song on that release. We usually end out gigs with it, and I love it every time. We asked different people in the audience to film it in with my digital camera in some cities on a tour last year, and then filmed me singing it at home when we came back. I was quite pregnant at the time, which you can see in the last few seconds. Me and Richard did all the editing and got some kind of video together.
I Don’t Get It is one of the songs that will be on our next album. When Mikael Sörling asked us to record a song for the “Turist i Tillvaron 1” compilation, we picked this one. I think Oskar Sandlund did a great job recording and mixing it. It sounds just the way Epidemics should sound! Lyrically, both songs have a similar theme: I’ve Had enough is about anger as a good force to make a change, and I Don’t Get It is about questioning things around you. Both songs are written with a sense of humor. We asked the artist Madelaine Sillfors to make a simple zero budget video. We had a completely different idea of how we wanted it, but she came to our rehearsal space and secretly filmed us there. The video turned out to be a collage from that, and it surely doesn’t look glamorous, haha. I think it’s charming!
What’s your most favorite thing to do when you’re out playing on a venue? Do you have any certain ritual you do before getting on stage?
– I love it when I feel a connection with the audience, like we’re really communicating. Spontanious things can often occure when that happens, like ending up making out with some girl at the end of one gig in Hamburg. We don’t have any certain ritual before playing, except for looking out for each other to make sure that everyone is set to do their best. I always give 100% on stage, and dancing around is one of the things I love the most!
You seem to be a little bit tired about politics and the human race, could you tell me what have driven you this far?
– Yeah, people tell you that you get less idealistic as you get older, but I’ve found myself getting more and more radical. Having kids is probably a big part of that. Capitalism, religion, racism, the patriarchy and speciesism is driving our civilization to an end, and every politician in the world knows that our lifestyle is quickly draining the worlds’ scarce resources. Yet nothing happens! As I’ve become more aware and see how it’s all connected, I can’t seem to stop trying to do something about it and. I try not to harm others by my way of life (of course I fail, but at least I do my best), and I support and take part in different movements to make the world a bit better. I almost started to cry one day as my daughter looked at pictures of a coral reef in a book and asked me what it was. I realized that she might never get the chance to see one. People have really fucked up, but I refuse to give up for the sake of my children (and for all children in generations to come).
Writing songs about all this frustration won’t save the world, and I don’t flatter myself thinking that I’m all that good at putting words to these things (especially not in english, haha), but at least it’s a way to get rid of some frustration for the moment and to share it with others.
What would you say is the most positive thing you’ve experienced recently?
– With Epidemics, that would be that we’ve found a stand in bass player for Patrik (who won’t be able to play with us for a while) who can actually fill his shoes in some way, and feeling good about all the new songs for the next album. It feels like we’re on to something really good with them, which is motivational!
So you seem pretty busy with making babies, how do you combine this with your band?
– Making babies is fun, but we still get time for the band in between! Music is so important to me that I have to make the time and space for it no matter what.
What will be the general theme of your first album? How far in to the process have you come?
– Our first album is old, it came out in 2008, called Waking Up The Dead. We hadn’t existed for all that long as a band back then, and we probably sound quite different now. Our second release, “No Reply Ep” came out in 2010, and we have written nine songs for a new album now! We’ve done some demo recordings and are working on the last details on most songs. We’ll write a few more and then book the studio!
The theme this time around won’t be much different from the last two recordings, but the lyrics will probably be stronger, with more defined messages and written with more humor. There will be feminist messages along with the good old “feeling alienated”-theme. One of my favorites is called I Am The Apocalypse. I think that I Don’t Get It gives a pretty good idea about the sound!
How much material have you written up until now? When will you be releasing anything?
– About 25 songs that we can stand for enough to record and release them, previous releases included. Nine songs for the upcoming album!
What kind of music do you believe have influenced you the most? What music do you like yourself?
– Old school punk and hardcore, definitely. Both the big, classic bands and the obscure ones that hardly no one has heard of, old ones and ones from the 2000’s. That’s the kind of music that speaks to me the most, but I also love postpunk, new wave, EBM and synthpop from the 80’s, for example.
Do you read any zines that you would like to recommend?
– To be honest, none right now! I think both me and Richard used to be so much more into the punk scene some years ago and kept updated more back then. Like I’ve answered before, I sometimes see the same kinds of hierarchies being reproduced in the subcultural context as in the commercial, so I’ve sort of stuck to just making music for a while and disconnected myself from the world outside, at least musically.
Where have you played so far and what would you say have been the best and the worst place you’ve played at?
– We have played a lot in Umeå, of course, and done tours in Sweden and Europe. We’ve played at some really great places in Germany, Poland and Czech Republic. Cool venues, often squats run by inspiring people! The worst place was on a shitty tour in Germany in 2009. We played one gig in a basement under a restaurant, and when we got there the room was full of crap that we had to remove in order to fit in our gear. There was no PA, so we had to run the vocals through a stereo, and the crowd consisted of people eating at the restaurant above that where convinced by the owner to come down and watch some live music.
So, have you gained any die-hard fans yet? Even though you haven’t been around for long?
– The last time around in Europe, in 2011, it seemed like it! People drove a long way to some gigs, and a lot of people knew the songs. It felt great!
How would you describe the music that you make?
– Catchy punk rock inspired by the classics, with a hardcore touch and a mix of anger and humor.
What have you got planned for the near future? Any live-shows?
– We will get a stand in bass player for our beloved Patrik, who don’t have the time to play with us right now. As soon as this new person is ready, we’ll do shows and record! I can’t wait, since it’s been a year without playing live. Playing live is what keeps me breathing.
Have you signed to any label yet or will you choose the one you find to be the most interesting?
– We have released stuff on several different labels, but we’re not sure who will release the next album! We haven’t worked all that hard on that part yet.
Where do you think you’ll be a year from now?
– We’ll be far more active than we’ve been for a while now, and I’m really looking forward to that!
Thank you for this interview! Now you have your final say, what would you want to say?
– Thank you for showing interest in us! That was a bunch of funny and tricky questions!
Go over to YouTube and watch their music video for the song I Don’t Get It:
And watch their music video for the song I’ve Had Enough:
Listen to their latest EP No Reply:
You can also find them over here: