As regular readers will know, I'm a bit of a fan of a number of acts on the Swedish label The Sign Records, and the fabulous Liar Thief Bandit from Malmo from their roster have recently released their third studio album 'Deadlights'. Guitarist and frontman Mike Jacobson submitted some answers to the BBMATB questionnaire below and talked about the album, plans before and after COVID, and the scene in Sweden amongst other things.
Liar Thief Bandit are Mike Jacobson (Guitar / Vocals), Niklas Dahre (Bass / Backing Vocals) and William Grube (Drums / Percussion).
'Deadlights' is available digitally on the streaming site of your choice or as a CD or limited edition coloured vinyl (Blue or Transparent Red) from their Bandcamp page - liarthiefbandit.bandcamp.com. You can also still pick up 2016's 'Gun Shovel Alibi' and
2018's 'Straight Ahead' on the digital sites.
Hi Mike, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for those readers who might not be familiar with Liar Thief Bandit, could you give a short history of the band?
Hi, thanks for having me! The band started in late 2014 and so far we’ve released three studio albums and done eight European tours to date. We are a power trio that play classic rock’n’roll with a modern touch and focus on melodies.
And who would you say were the main influences on Liar Thief Bandit?
The Hellacopters, Foo Fighters and Thin Lizzy.
You've recently released your third album ' Deadlights' - do you have a sense of how it's doing out there in the 'big wide world'?
We’ve gotten overall great reviews and the audience seems to like it a lot – both our old crowd and the new ones that are discovering us now. Most people listen back and express that they can tell how we’ve progressed and that it’s in the right direction. We are very happy with how it’s been received!
Where did you record the album? Was it somewhere you've recorded before? And who helped you produce the record?
We recorded the album at Tambourine Studios in our hometown of Malmö, Sweden. We had never recorded there before but we’d heard great things about it and we really liked the atmosphere. We produced the record together with Erik Sunding, who also mixed the album.
What's your favourite tracks on the album and why? And were there any tracks that didn't quite 'make the cut' and that you've left off the album?
My favourite tracks change a lot but right now it would be 'Deadlights', 'Good Enough' and 'Limitations'. I just love the heavily melodic feel and the melancholically driven lyrics with a hopeful twist. We had a couple of songs in the pre-production state that didn’t make the cut but since we had twelve songs that felt right for the record, it was not really a hard choice. We’ve actually revisited some of those rejected ideas and changed them a bit, so versions of them might just end up on future recordings.
How do you think 'Deadlights' differs from your previous two albums - 'Gun Shovel Alibi' and 'Straight Ahead'?
It’s a slightly higher pace overall and even more melodic than before. There is a dynamic and diverse curve through the album that we didn’t really achieve on the previous albums. The lyrics have always been personal but this time I think I’ve taken it one step closer to being transparent. I’ve never been this “naked” as I am in some of the songs on the new album.
Did Covid present any challenges to you in recording and getting the album together? And has it presented any other specific challenges to you as a band - apart from obviously not being able to play live - over the last year or so?
We had to cancel a lot of shows, tours and festivals that were planned for 2020 and we decided to focus on recording and finishing up everything around the new record. We already knew that we wanted to find a new record label to release the album so we put our energy into that as well and it all turned out great! It was a relief to have something to work on during this time, since we are so used to touring 2-3 times every year. We actually had time to really make this album the way we wanted without any rush and we got the opportunity to weigh our possibilities carefully before deciding on where, how and when to release it.
The general pandemic situation has prompted bands to try alternative ways of reaching their audience - livestreams, podcasts etc? Have you tried any of these and how did you feel doing them? And are they something you'd consider doing again even when live shows come back?
We have done one livestream last year in June and it was fun. We did it because we just had gotten out of the studio recording the album and we really longed for playing the material live so we actually played the whole album from start to finish and took the video down after 48 hours. Other than that, we haven’t done any livestreams since we have had a lot of work to do around planning the album release and everything around it. We could absolutely see livestreams being a good complementary idea when things are starting to get back to normal so that people can choose to see the show online or come down to the show if they’re local. I think that’s going to be more common if we’re not able travel across borders for some time, we can “tour” at home, digitally, but with a crowd as well.
And talking of live shows - do you have any gigs currently planned?
We have some festivals that got pushed back from last year that is most likely going to be pushed back to next year as well. Other than that, we’re carefully looking at how everything is progressing and at every opportunity that seems doable.
What do you think of the rock scene in Sweden presently - do you think it is a good scene? And are there any Swedish bands you'd recommend to readers?
The rock scene in Sweden is flourishing in one way and in one way it isn’t. There are so many great bands coming out of here but they get very little attention and booking shows in Sweden is really hard if you’re not already a big name or have the chance to get a support slot for a bigger band. You can absolutely play smaller bars in Sweden but, at least pre-pandemic, people just didn’t show up. That’s why we went south very early and have played more shows in Germany than we’ve done in our own country, it’s just a different climate over there, scene-wise. Hopefully Swedes realise that they have taken live shows a little bit for granted and I really wish that things are going to change for the better after this long time without live music. Swedish bands we strongly recommend: The Demtones, The Hawkins, Hot Breath, Vokonis, and Royal Republic.
What plans do you have for Liar Thief Bandit going forward in 2021 and beyond?
We will look closely at how the world situation develops and make plans when we can. With that said, we are always ready to play and if we get the chance to perform in front of an audience in a safe way – we will. Other than that, we have continued writing new songs to fill the gaps that would have consisted of touring, so I believe people can expect new music from us rather sooner than later.
And finally for us old rock fans (!) - Zeppelin, Purple or Sabbath?