Millencolin's latest record tackles society's growing ignorance

SOS is Millencolin’s ninth album and the band’s first since True Brew in 2015.

It was recorded in the foursome’s hometown of Örebro in central Sweden, with guitarist Mathias Färm and vocalist/bassist Nikola Sarcevic handling the production. 

“It’s important for us to be a 100 per cent DIY band,” says Färm. “We recorded the three last albums at our own place, Soundlab Studios. Sometimes you have almost too much time. You can sit forever with a guitar part. It’s both for good and bad. So it took some time, but it was relaxed, really nice and carefree.”

Active since 1993, Millencolin’s commercial breakthrough came with their 2000 release Pennybridge Pioneers, which achieved Gold status in Australia. The band refined their sound on their next three releases before reconnecting with their punk rock roots on True Brew.

“I think the new album is pretty much an extension of True Brew in that sense,” says Färm. “Of course you want to do new stuff. You can’t do the same. So everything has to be special in a way, but sometimes maybe people can’t really hear the thing that I feel is very new and fresh for me if I’m doing something different with my chord changes or melodies. But I guess it’s important to have a good package for it all.” 

True Brew highlight, ‘Sense & Sensibility’, was a furious song directed at close-minded people. It was written by Sarcevic in response to rising right wing nationalism in Sweden and across Europe. Since the album came out, right wing populist parties have risen to power around the world. Topical themes again crop up on SOS.

“I don’t want to preach to people about how they should think,” Färm says. “Our aim and goal for the album is to get people to think and reflect about certain things.

“You don’t have to take a stand if you don’t want to; I think that’s important too. But when you have the opportunity to write something good in lyrics and express that to people, you should take that opportunity, definitely. I think we’re doing it in a good way because it should also be fun. It can’t be that serious all the time.”

As the band’s creative nucleus, Färm and Sarcevic are keen to maintain their reputation for catchy punk songs and spreading positive energy. However, their reluctance to smother listeners with ideological rhetoric doesn’t mean they’re not taking these issues seriously.

“When me and Nikola started to make music together back in 1991 in Sweden we had all of the same things going on,” Färm says. “It’s like a full circle now. We had these populist right wing parties back in ‘91 because we had a lot of immigrants from former Yugoslavia. Those parties got a lot of followers just because people were scared of new cultures. Now we have the thing in the Middle East and Syria and a lot of immigrants coming here from those countries and it starts all over again. People are kind of stupid.”

Led by its title track, SOS particularly targets purveyors of online vitriol.

“People can sit behind the computer and express extreme opinions and feelings,” Färm says. “People hide behind the computers and act like they own the world, but the only place they can express those feelings is at home. Otherwise they would never have the guts to do it. The song ‘SOS’ is a little bit about that. It almost sums up the album.”

Millencolin are unique for having preserved the same lineup since forming 26 years ago. Färm and Sarcevic maintain a close, intuitive connection with guitarist Erik Ohlsson and drummer Fredrik Larzon.

“You have your ideas and you know what you want to sound like. It’s quite an easy process, because we know what we want and it’s the same members in the band forever, so everyone knows what to do. We split everything four ways. It’s important to share everything. We’re like family.”

Millencolin’s ninth studio album SOS is out now. The band come to 170 Russell on Tuesday March 5 and Wednesday March 6 (sold out). Head to the venue website for tickets.