Interview with Stefan Johansson from The City Saints

Written By Mark Jones

Sweden’s City Saints are about to release the vinyl version of last year’s ‘Guns of Gothenburg’ on the 6th October via Spirit Of the Streets records. We caught up with lead vocalist Stefan Johansson to discuss the band’s influences and what we can expect in the near future.

Sounds Of The Street. Hi Stefan, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Can you begin by introducing the band and how you guys got together?

Stefan Johansson. Stefan – vocals, Gabriel – Guitar, Carl – Bass guitar and Robbin – Drums. I have known Gabriel and Carl for over 15 years. And City Saints was started by me and former Perkele-drummer Jonsson as a side-project. But the result turned out better than we expected, so City Saints went on to be our main band. Jonsson did his last show in London, June 2015, supporting Evil Conduct.

SOTS. The City Saints are a bit different from other bands in the street punk scene and blend a lot more musical styles than other bands. Was this a conscious decision or did it just come naturally? Who are the band’s main influences?

SJ. I always loved 50’s Rock’n’Roll and wanted to do a mix of punk, rock’n’roll and Oi! I actually got the idea for City Saints when I saw the band Jim Jones Revue. High-speed rock with a punk attitude. And the hellraisers of the past really was the first punks. Jerry Lee Lewis, setting fire to his piano in the 50’s. You don’t get more rebellious than The Killer. So our main influences are the giants of the 50’s, Jerry Lee, Little Richard, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry. But we are four different individuals in the band, and everyone has their own heroes and role models. But Sham 69, Cock Sparrer, Motörhead, early Quo, Slade, Sweet and Rose Tattoo has always been big influences on City Saints.

 

SOTS. Sweden has given us some excellent bands in the past and in the street punk scene City Saints and Perkele fly the flag. What is the scene like in Sweden and what other bands would you recommend our readers check out?

SJ. I think the best bands in Sweden hails from Gothenburg. The legendary band like Troublemakers and Attentat, and lesser-known bands like Trubbel among others. But there are lots of great bands in Sweden. On the Job, Old fashioned Ideas, The Liptones, The Clichés just to mention a few. I think the scene in Sweden is OK. It feels like there is a lot of jealousy and lots of people trash-talking other bands. But I really don’t care. I don’t have the energy to be bothered.

SOTS. You recently played an acoustic set at this year’s Rebellion festival which seemed to go down well. How was it for you guys?

SJ. It was really fun. But at the same time a bit scary. You are more vulnerable. But most of our songs works well stripped down. So maybe we do some more shows!?

 

SOTS. You have released some acoustic songs in the past such as ‘Money, Corruption and Lies’ and have released some acoustic covers on YouTube. Would you consider releasing an acoustic album?

SJ. No, I don’t think so. Sure, it would be fun. But we prefer the electric sound. Maybe someday, under a different name

SOTS. You play a mean harmonica which if played correctly has an incredible sound, which players do you like and has influenced your style?

SJ. Thank you for noticing. I always admired the black blues players of the past. Masters like Little Walter, Junior Wells, and Sonny Boy Williamson. I think it is only me and Charlie Harper of the UK Subs who adds harmonica in the punk scene?

SOTS. Your last album ‘Guns of Gothenburg’ is finally coming out on vinyl in October, why has there been a delay? There’s seems to be something special about playing an album on vinyl, are you fans of the format.

SJ. The main reason for the delay is the economy. And yes, we are fans of the format. For the vinyl release, I went back and did some small changes, so the album is remixed and remastered with a slightly different track listing.

SOTS. ‘Passa Dig!’ the last song on ‘Guns of Gothenburg’ is in Swedish and I believe the band is about to go into the studio to record a Swedish album. Can you tell us what we can expect from the songs on this album?

SJ. There will be 12 or 13 fast, short songs. Every song around 2 minutes. But the album will have all the ingredients of a City Saints album. Blues, Punk, Rock’n’Roll and Oi! But this time faster, and more aggressive. It was really fun to write these songs. And it felt so natural writing in Swedish. So we really looking forward to recording this album. Which will be called “På Svenska” (In Swedish). But we are also playing around with the idea of recording all the vocals in English as well.

SOTS. Apart from recording the album what are the plans for the rest of the year?

SJ. After the recording is done, we’ll probably do some promo videos for the album. And we got one more show this year as well. Supporting Booze & Glory in Gothenburg, Sweden on November 24th. Next year will see Us do some heavy touring in support of the album. So far we booked Sweden, Germany, England, and Netherlands.

SOTS. Thanks for speaking to us and we wish you well with the rest of the year.

SJ. Thank you very much, it was a pleasure.

Pre-order your vinyl copy of Guns of Gothenburg here.