Scott at Hultsfred. Emma Svensson photo
SCOTT'S 2004 SOLUTION TOUR DIARY
It took five seconds of decision to realize I was part of The Solution.
I had just been asked by DKT-MC5 to participate in their first Detroit show in 30 years. The last time I played with the band members was at the last show of the Five at the Grande Ballroom, not counting doing a few songs at the Rob Tyner tribute,where Bob Seger and I were special guests. I was really looking forward to it.
Then The Solution got booked at Hultsfred. It’s the biggest festival in Sweden. Our single was riding high in the charts and the “Communicate” release party and rehearsals were all set to begin. The problem was not DKT-MC5. The problem was I couldn’t be two places at once.
So it’s 6am and I’m stuck in the Heathrow Airport mall for five hours with not much to do but kill time. Finally my plane leaves and I arrive at Arlanda Airport in Sweden at 3pm. I taxi to Sound Pollution. They’re the distributor for Wild Kingdom Records, who are releasing “Communicate!”
The first thing I do is two interviews and a photo session. I’m toast but somehow remain surprisingly coherent. When Nick Royale and Carl (the owner of Wild Kingdom) show up it’s time to take me to Carl’s apartment, which he has generously loaned me. The view looks out over Stockholm Harbor and Nick says it be enough to turn him into a poet. I say goodnight.
A great team: Patrick of Luger management and Carl of distributors Sound Pollution.
Next day is rehearsal with the rhythm section, and then an interview for Hultsfred. The interview turns into a Spinal Tap affair since they set it up on two chairs in the building’s driveway and a truck is coming through while Swedish ladies tell us we should have picked a better spot.
Later that evening, we have our release party at a club called Debaser. Nick and I take pictures and do an interview for the Stockholm morning paper, which will later run on the cover of their culture section. On the day of the Five’s show in Detroit, Nick and I have two more interviews, and find that we are record of the week on Swedish national radio.
The next day I actually hear the record on the radio at Sound Pollution. It’s in rotation on both the radio and music television.
On Saturday, our guitar player, Mattias “Memphis” Hellberg is spinning records at Debaser. There are rehearsals every day that include our four-piece horn section and female vocal quartet, The I Fours.
Monday, June 14 is my late Dad’s birthday. I’m planning on this show at Nalen being his send-off party. The ballroom is a beautiful 1930s era room with a high ceiling and chandeliers. It’s owned by the Musician’s Union. It’s a great night for our first gig even though we had to wait until the Swedish soccer team finished their game on a big screen. This problem will haunt us throughout the tour.
Afterwards, we close several bars and I end up having a smoke in a park with Kenny Hellacopter. Happy Birthday, Dad!
By Tuesday I’m starting to dream of home but we’re now bouncing around in the Swedish Top Twenty.
Friday, June 18 is Hultsfred Day. The place is totally rain-soaked. I’m dressed for summer but this is Swedish summer . It’s cold and wet. We have a full house at the Pavilion, even though the Swedish national soccer team is playing at the same time. We do two encores and retire to the backstage. Since I was hangin’ out with Dilated Peoples, the rest of the night is kind of spacey.
Mattias and Nick at Hultsfred. Emma Svensson photos
Saturday is interview day at Hulstfred. All afternoon we answer questions and take photos. The rain just keeps on comin’. Too bad I wore my cowboy boots because we are walking in mud all afternoon and evening to see various shows. Even though I have three t-shirts on, I’m not warm. By 11pm, I’m ready to crawl into the van, with Bengson, our tour manager, behind the wheel and head for Stockholm.
Now it’s gone from hectic pace to nothin’ to do for a week. I go book shopping with Kenny, have midsummer’s day with Jocke from The Nomads, see Strings’ band, Thunder Express, and generally hang out.
The Sound Pollution Olympics: hanging out with the crew from our distributors.
Finally, on Monday June 28 we’re back to work to prepare for a show just booked in Helsinki, at a ‘70s era club called Tavastia. The gig is on Thursday and it’s my first time in Finland.
We fly in and head to the club. Jarrko from the Flaming Sideburns tells me I was scheduled to play there in 1989. It was with Scots Pirates and Rob Tyner, but it fell apart at the last minute. Apparently the posters were already up for it.
It’s a great gig and our promoter Milla does a world-class job. Now if we could just get to Moscow…
Back in Stockholm we have a gig spinning soul and reggae at the Brothers Olsson. I fall out early. Next day we are on our way to the rehearsal space at Bjorkhagen to leave the gear for our trip to the Roskilde Festival. I have my suitcase and guitar and I see jim, our bass player, on the other end of the subway car. I walk toward him pulling my suitcase. At the next stop, Nicke gets on and we are having a conversation. We get off at our stop and head down the escalator. When we get to the bottom I realize the last I heard of my guitar was it hitting the floor of the subway car as I leaned it against the wall.
I run up the stairs and look in the car but don’t see it. The train takes off and we run to the ticket booth to report it missing. I take a ride when the train comes back to the station but it’s gone. Sounds like the clunk of guitar against floor is the last sound I’ll ever hear of it.
A one-owner ‘67 Tele with a burnt headstock. Let me know if you see it. Kind of reminds me of “Brownie”. It’s the guitar Eric Clapton sold for half a million at auction - but that’s another story.
Boys in the Band: Magic (sax) and Jim (bass).
That night we leave for Roskilde, Denmark at 3am and arrive on our tour bus at 2pm Sunday. The Stooges had played on the main stage the night before and I missed them. I’m 0 for 2 on MC5/Stooges shows.
Nick and I are busy with interviews for the rest of the afternoon. At 6 we watch Santana on the main stage and then go to dinner. The main stage is huge with giant video screens on each side. It must be 50 yards wide and the audience area 100 yards long. At our backstage, I meet Don from the Von Bondies whose bus is parked next to ours. He’s from Ann Arbor so we invite him back to our area. Baby Woodrose from Denmark comes back and we go over “1969” which I am to play with them on the big stage later.
Our stage is the same one we played two years ago with the Hydromatics and special guest Nick Royale. It’s a 7500-capacity tent, and our biggest audience so far. The soccer finals are at the same time as our show but nobody cares anymore. It’s Portugal against Greece. Sweden has been out for the last two shows and Denmark was just eliminated.
Looking sharp for filming: keyboardist The Duke of Honk.
The band hits on all 14 cylinders and we can head off into the Danish mud, which seems to be about six inches deep everywhere. Stephan, our tour manager, and I are off to the main stage. We find my pay, which is a fifth of Jack, and get ready. I look out into the crowd just to see what the view is like, and it’s awesome.
“1969” goes off without a hitch (as Nick says, it’s only two chords). Baby Woodrose likes it so well they ask me to do the second encore. Sure man, I’ll just play my guitar on the mike stand with the wah wah going. It’s a fitting end to a great day as I walk off the stage. Unbeknown to me, my comrades have just urged that my guitar (borrowed from Halkan’s of Stockholm), which is leaning against my amp howling feedback, be smashed a la Pete Townsend. The bass player obliges but it doesn’t break. Oh well.
That would be the end of the story if we didn’t have one more task. We’re shooting a video for “Mojo” which is the second single from "Communicate!" Charlie, the director, shot the first in black-and-white video as he was making a documentary about the recording of "Communicate!"
Charlie - a great director, not so good at negotiating productivity deals with cats.
This time we are in a studio with an all-white background, the band in white and me in black, a black cat, and on Super 16 film with a full camera crew. It starts early in the morning and takes all day. About the same time as the cat refuses to cooperate due to contractual problems (apparently it’s not a union cat). I’m getting pretty tired. About 11, I walk off the set, say goodbye and pay one last visit to my neighborhood pub before throwing my stuff in suitcases for the 6am wake up call.
Not much more to say except that we played some great shows, did a lot of interviews, shot a video, and left Sweden with a hit record. The tour of Scandinavia, the UK, and Europe is in November. In the meantime, I’m gonna enjoy a Michigan summer. - Scott Morgan