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Spiders Let Out Their Inner “Wild Child”

Spiders by Anders Bergstedt
Spiders by Anders Bergstedt

It was not a shock that when Witchcraft guitarist John Hoyles and Graveyard drummer Axel Sjöberg started jamming together that the output would have a familiar feel to it. Both bands were well known for their love for all things 1970s. Not long afterward, Hoyle’s wife Ann-Sofie Hoyles joined on vocals, and Spiders was born.

Sjöberg didn’t stick around long, leaving when Graveyard started to take off in 2011. Since then, Spiders have released two albums: Flash Point in 2012 and Shake Electric two years later. The latter release was filled with the kind of tunes that would make Christopher Walken scream for more cowbell — the rhythm section boogied, the riffs crunched, and Ann-Sofie’s powerful pipes fell somewhere between Jenny Haan from Canadian prog-blues rockers Babe Ruth (check out their 1974 performance of “The Mexican”) and the crunchy early Heart albums. It was a top-ten album in their homeland, and the band did their first US tour supporting Graveyard in 2016.

The band’s third release Killer Machine proves that while you can’t take the 1970s out of Spiders, you could take them out of the 1970s, kicking and screaming no less. Our modern times encroached on the band’s retroactivity in many ways: the record is notably more sinister, but the lyrics especially confirm that they’re not listening to Kansas anymore.

Witness “Dead or Alive,” a song about how, despite all our modern communication, we walk around like zombies with noses in portable PCs missing the trees for the forest. It, along with the wah-wah-pedaled funky “Wild Child,” which we are premiering exclusively below, was co-written by Peter Kvint. He is a well-known songwriter in Sweden who has worked with internationally renowned artists such as Britney Spears, Trace Adkin, and Natasha Bedingfield. His involvement shows Spiders to be a rare case: the retroactive band that wants to evolve.

Killer Machine is out Friday, April 6th on CD, LP, and digital through Spinefarm Records. Check out the exclusive stream of “Wild Child” and an interview with vocalist Ann-Sofie Hoyles below.

— Brian O’Neill

We are premiering the track “Wild Child.” Are you a wild child?

Yeah, of course I’m a wild child! I think all people who are into rock and roll music are wild children!

The track recalls everything about the 1970s, which isn’t a surprise in some ways, but the hi-hat and rhythms make it sound quite danceable, and dare I say disco.

I always wanted to do a song with a disco feeling, but still a rock and roll thing, but it was really hard. You know that song by Nazareth, “Expect No Mercy”? We have tried for some time, but it never felt good. When we started with “Wild Child,” I felt like, yeah, something is right with this song. Still, I didn’t like it before we recorded it for real in the studio. Then I felt like it was honest from my side. It’s a hard song for me. It’s something new, I believe, and I love that.

That song is one of two you co-wrote with Peter Kvint. He has a pop pedigree that’s not very similar to Spiders.

That was a bit strange. I don’t know if it’s the same in America, but in Sweden, it’s always like if you were into rock and roll music or punk, you’re not supposed to work with anyone; that’s more in the pop scene. Everyone is like, “What? You can write your own songs, why are you going to write with someone else?”

I felt like it’s a good opportunity to learn something more and to do something new. Why shouldn’t I? So me and John went to Stockholm and met Peter Kvint. He’s really into rock and roll music. His work is to write songs, so of course he writes in different styles; he has to make money. Spiders aren’t that much money as maybe Britney Spears or something, I don’t know! He was really good; he was amazing to work with. It felt so natural, like we have known each other for a while, but it was only two days and we wrote two songs together. So that was nice. We had some ideas and he had some ideas and we wrote the lyrics together and it was great.

He also co-wrote “Dead or Alive.” The video for the song features you shooting guns. Did you worry about that considering the furor of guns taking place in America right now?

Of course we talked about it. We know the issues with stuff like that. It’s not like we don’t care. We felt like we can’t be scared to do something. We mean something else and if people don’t get it, it’s sad. I talk a lot about it. Something is really wrong with society and the lyrics are about something else but [the guns are] a symbol of that.

That ties into something from your press release. You say that “if Shake Electric was gold and sparkling, this is more black.” It does have a somewhat more serious tone.

Maybe it’s the thing we’re talking about now. I feel it’s a little bit melancholic and something darker with it because of the lyrics and the tunes in it. We [have gone] into some weird things in the whole world, of course in America and also in Sweden. There’s so much going on. I’ve always talked about how I don’t care so much about the lyrics; we’re just playing rock and roll music. Now, it’s like I really wrote some good songs, and I’m so proud of the lyrics, and it really means something for me. This is a record about how it is right now, and we have to do a big change if it’s going to [get better]. That’s what I meant: that it’s darker and heavier than Shake Electric.

It’s as if you were reliving the 1970s, but then the modern world crashed the party.
Yeah. The 1970s thing is in our blood. If I buy a new pair of jeans, people are always like, “Oh, they look a little bit 1970s on you.” Yeah, of course, because it’s my style! All my records are old. If I do music it sounds a little bit old. But I never [have to] struggle so hard to be like a 1970s rock and roll band. But this time it’s more modern, I believe. And that’s good to hear because we want to reflect on the time we are living in now. And I think we made it.

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