Every Christian Lionhearted Swede Will Show You

I did a stint playing bass in a Swedish indie pop band. The first time they came to LA since my audition, their label was not convinced they were worth the money it would cost to put them up in a hotel, so I agreed to let them stay with me. WHY? Three fucking Swedes, two of them tall as shit, in my one bedroom apartment (which was super cramped and disorganized, because that’s how I roll). What am I, in college? And they have to be the only Swedish indie rock band in existence comprised of devout Christians. Not the storied laid-back, stoner, sexually blasé, “ja, whatsever,” Swedes. I Joined a Scandinavian Rock Band and was Still the Coolest Member. That is a memoir I did not sign up to write.

So yeah, Christian Swedes in an indie rock band, but, mercifully, not a Christian rock band. These guys are originally from Linköping (rhymes with Deng Xiaoping), a city north of Stockholm but south of Uppsala (above ABBA, below Bergman) which started out as a diocese way back when they invented Sweden. Some Christians remain. Some of them are musically inclined.

They were funny. Peculiar funny. They were clearly not American because they didn’t fake laugh to make me feel comfortable. I actually prefered that because I’m not used to feeling comfortable. Peculiar in the way that Europeans eat the same foods that Americans eat, but not the same ways in which we eat them. The angriest I got at them was when I came home one evening and found they had left cottage cheese, grape jelly, and bagel crumb debris scattered over my counter all day. (They’d previously thought all the ladies who lived in my building were “maids,” so why wouldn’t they think I was one, as well?)  But what pissed me off more than them leaving the kitchen all nasty was the fact that cottage cheese and jelly on a bagel is just a fucking revolting thing to eat, and I was ready neither to confront nor comprehend the vile truth that people I know actually consume this circle of hell.

As I stood aghast, assessing the carnage, the Swedes walked in. I don’t remember if I yelled at them or killed them with my face, but they sure couldn’t understand why their being such disgusting humans in my territory had me so pissed off.

I surrendered. I’d just let them keep my apartment  and I stomped out of there, all Red Army, and headed to the bar down the street. I figured I’d just live there forever until they went back to Sweden. I hate-slammed vodka tonics and soon felt much better about being filled with spite. My local bar was decorated in Big Woods Hunting Lodge Clusterfuck:  moosey-elk heads, log-cabin booths, antler chandeliers. Damn, it was cozy. This was a good hate. I switched over to single-malt because it tasted like succulent wood and burning for my now more settled, more refined hatey palate.

About two hours past I Don’t Give a Shit, the Swedes found me there. They were all sweet and huggy (which in Swede is pleasant and pat on the backy). I chose to interpret it as, “We’re sorry! We love you!”

D’aw, the big lugs. Because really, I just wanted to be appreciated. Or respected. Common courtesy is okay, too, I’ll take it. I don’t need much. I’m too screwed up to ask for it directly, but still. I forgave ‘em. It was the Christian thing to do.

Here we are playing Spaceland in Los Angeles. I'm the tiny speck on the Mustang bass.
Here we are playing Spaceland in L.A. I’m the tiny speck on the Mustang Bass.

So the Swedes and I went on to play some stellar shows in New York, Los Angeles, and at SXSW in Austin. Still, their label was not convinced I was worth the money it would cost to send me to Sweden to play with them there, so they hired a bass player from the motherland. That bummed me out but I pretended to be cool with it. And the next time they came to LA, the wigs paid for them to stay at a rental apartment, but not before the they asked if I’d put ‘em up again. Jesus, I didn’t forgive them that much.

Paula Kelley
Borderline-expert on so many things that are damn near useful.