On a grey Saturday evening we sneak in to the Mastmagasinet in the small town of Kristinehamn to listen to the sound check with Sator. Apart from the well know tunes that hits me coming in, I hear a tight band, welded together, giving each other suggestions on how to get the best sound possible. While the rest of the band walks towards the buffet, I sit down with Mr. Chips Kiesbye to have a chat and to hear about the band’s future.
You have been doing this for a long time now…
Yes, it will be thirty years next year since we changed our name to Sator.
Is that why it says twenty years on your backdrop?
Nope, it says ”Over 20 years” It’s froms when we were touring together with Backyard Babies and they had ”20 years of rock´n´roll” on their backdrop;. We made our own backdrop and wrote ”Over 20 years of rock´n´roll”. As a joke between the bands. But we have played together for over twenty years so it’s still correct.
So you never have to make a new backdrop…
We’ll see if we’ll change to”Over thirty years” next year.
Will there be a new album? It’s been a while..
The first one to arrive will be ”Barbie-q-killers vol 2”. We have said that we will be making the album for seventeen years, now it’s nearly finished but we’ll see. It’s done when it’s done.
Are you the producer?
Yes you could say that. Basically no one is producing; we just record more or less live and see what’s happening.
But you charge extra for your name as the producer?
Absolutely, always. Ha ha. No, I don’t know if my name will be there. Maybe it will say produced by Sator or nothing at all, we’ll see. But I’m in charge of the project.
Are you the one choosing the songs for the album?
It’s basically me who pick the songs as suggestions but we have recorded 25-30 songs, so in the end we’ll be democratic about which ones will make it all the way to the album.
So there won’t be a vol 2 and 3 at the same time?
That would be cool. Twenty years in-between the first two and then just a few weeks between the others. That would be fun! There will definitely be enough songs for two albums.
You produce for other bands as well…
That’s my living really; Sator is more of my hobby at least time-wise.
How is it to produce other artists? You are a musician yourself, isn’t it difficult to not make it all sound the same?
I think that all musicians actuallly want to try a little bit of everything musically but it’s easy to be ”type-casted” This is why Sator never will release a reggae album.
But all bands are different and it’s very important to learn how other people think. You also get something back, a new way of thinking. Then you can use something from that when you write your own music. Whether you like it or not, you will get some kind of inspiration. But sometimes it also makes you wonder, why am I working my butt off on other peoples albums when I could have worked on my own instead.
So no solo album with Chips, where you have other influences?
At some point there will be a solo album. Kent made one so I should make one just for the balance. But it seems like there’s never time enough to do get it done. I have a folder with solo songs, I always write, different genres. It usually depends on what I am listening to at the moment. Me and Kent have around 100 country songs and we will probably never make a country album, so I really don’t know what we’ll do with them.
You have never thought about selling songs to other artists?
One could do just that but we’re quite bad at ”selling ourselves”. We just put the songs in the folder and write another one.
Do you remember the first album you bought yourself?
That’s pretty easy. The first album I said I wanted and that my mum bought for me was Burken ”Live”. The first album I bought with my own money was ”Rocket To Russia” with the Ramones, so I know exactly which they were, I still have both of them . No… actually I can’t find Burken’s album. I don’t know if I lost it when I moved. I used to see Burken outside of the off license shop at Södermalm back in the old days before he died. I went home to look for it and thought I’d might get it signed, it was an important album to me but I couldn’t find it, so it might be lost.
I suppose you have an enormous collection of albums.
Yes my entire flat. All rooms except my children’s are full of vinyl. The alphabetical order is ruined so it might take years to try find an album sometimes, so Burken’s album might actually turn up, but it’s too late now to get it signed as he has passed away.
What are your feelings about streamed music VS owning it in physical format?
I think that you don’t really have it unless you have it on vinyl. I don’t even think that a CD is for real. CD is just for the car and streaming doesn’t count at all. It’s like having it on a cassette.
You released a CD together with Norrlands Guld (a Swedish beer) in 2010, how did that come about?
They simply asked us... We’ve always said no to sell songs to commercial and all of that. But we needed funding for a new album and we thought that this song (I Wanna Go Home) it’s an old one that everybody knows anyway, so okay we’ll release it to them. So it was simply for financial reasons.
You sold your soul to mammon?
Yes, we sold out. You just have to make sure that you get paid when you sell your soul. And we made sure the money went back in to the music. An album came out of it.
You fall under the epithet punk band when I read articles about you. Do you feel that it’s correct?
We are difficult to pin down. We play rock´n´roll just like Gasolin' or Hurriganes (but with a little less 50: s in it), or like The Clash. The Sator-sound is one part of punk, but it’s the -77 punk, the first generation. Then it is one part of hard rock, like BTO, Kiss and then a large part of glam rock, like Sweet and Slade. Music that we grew up with and then there’s the 60: s part… Iif you mix all of that together you sort of get what we are. There are a few bands that we feel related to such as Cheap Trick and The Dictators. They have a similar blend of influences The Australian wave during the 80: s was also a big influence.
Your own mix…
Hopefully you end up with something unique with this mix, I think it’s sad when you realise that a band has just listened to one band and everything sounds exactly the same. The result might be okay but the original is always better.
A bit like with AC/DC and Krokus.
Exactly. There’s no point. And even if Micke [Mikael Solén] claims that Krokus are really good, I’m a bit sceptic but I’ll give them a chance.
Are you the driving force regarding lyrics and song writing in the band?
Not really we write together (Chips and Kent Norberg). Most of it is 50/50. Maybe I’ll write a little bit more lyrics. But we’ve made a deal to always share equally regardless who comes up with the song. We don’t want any rivality in this, like trying to have most songs on an album just to make more money But the others won’t have anything unless they have been part of the writing process.
So they will be happy anyway?
From the start the band shared everything equally but later me and Kent got a bit grumpy: -When you guys go on holiday we’re sitting here for six weeks in the basement writing songs. I remember that Hasse said: -That took some time for you to realise. We had thought that they would object but they just said it was logical. But we don’t have a rule that the others can’t write, it’s just like some of us do and others don’t. I can’t sit around with a guitar and not have a song come from that, I am not saying that everything is good but at least something comes out.
And then a few of them ends up in the folder?
Yes, most of the times we have like fifty or sixty song ideas to work with when making an album. Then you start to sift out and sometimes when you go back and listen after ten years you might find a song and think it’s really good and all of a sudden you know what to do with it. I saw that AC/DC had done something similar; they had listened through old riffs and found a few they missed.
Are you writing songs all the time or do you decide to sit down and write songs for an album there and then?
We used to do that when we were on tour all the time. It was like, you have six weeks and then you are going in the studio. Back then it was just to go in to the rehearsal premises each morning and sit around for like eight hours and you went home with like three songs. Some days it became three Sator classics and other days three songs that sucked. I have kept a diary through all the years and sometimes I’ve gone back and taken a look. It’s fun to see that two songs written on the same day is still around thirty years later. Wow if one had known that this song would still be played perhaps one should have thought it through one more time.
Your lyrics, are they just words that come or are they self experienced?
We have an idea that they have to be about something real, not just ”hey baby”. I like when others have lyrics like that but I can’t stand around and sing ”baby walking down the street”. It doesn’t work for me... It might be our punk roots shining through.
We write about a wide area and sometimes it’s like you just playing around with the words. More word-games than a message. Sometimes you get angry with something, a lots of songs are about people we know (They might not be aware of that) and sometimes it’s about two people you know but in the lyrics they become one person. We have no rules. Regarding some of the older songs I’ve forgotten now what or who they were about.
But you don’t have your own protest song?
If you start looking, we’ve written a lot of punk lyrics. Pure social criticism we just tissue it a bit and we don’t want that to shadow the song. We’re still a rock´n´roll band. The song comes first and the lyrics should go with it. I am struggling with too much slogans, it doesn’t give me anything and it just scare people away. We lure them instead so that they might think twice.
Do you have an anecdote or weird tour memory to share with us?
It would have been fun to have had a documentary filmmaker on our first tour in Norway in 1986. Our drummer looked at a map and called a lot of places in Norway.
We went from Tromsö in the north down to Oslo during three weeks in the middle of winter, a really bad idea. We drove off the road several times and we had money just enough to get us to the next gig, so all we made was petrol money really. On one of the days we had driven after the map and came to this mountain pass with a road gate with a sign saying”closed between November and March”. We had to drive back and around the mountain and it was 250Km. As a result of this we arrived like two minutes prior to when we were supposed to be on stage. The audience helped us to bring our gear in. Sometime I think that Micke lied a little because sometimes they could ask: -So you do play country rock? We had to throw in a few covers to actually get paid. We had a lot of fun but it was also a huge ordeal. We usually say that it was during this tour that we became a band.
svip.se thanks Chips and look forward to coming records.