Varnagel is back and that with a vengeance I Vargars land is a really good record in typical Varnagel style. Here they answer a bunch of questions like this before Christmas 2022.



Image 1:Elsa Lundin Image 2:Jon Alexandersson Image 3:Elsa Lundin Image 4:Katriina Mäkinen Image 5:Nikko Knösch


15 years since the last LP/Full-length... What has happened in between? Have you been playing all the time?

-Everything and nothing, you can say. The band decided to close down the year after the last album and between then and now we've all done a lot of different things in different directions. On the music front, it's probably Erik and Tobbe who have mostly lied on in punky style, Tobbe in Järnmalm, Kolonien and Maskopi and the two together in Bendel & Co, as well as in the Joe Hill song band Hillstroem. Erik has also honked some in horn orchestra, while Freddan has played both singer/songwriterpop in Clas Celsing Band and hard rock in X-Romance. Over the years, however, Varnagel has made short but regular reunion gigs in connection with Beat Butcher's anniversary parties and also took the opportunity to record some new songs in connection with the anniversary in 2014


Same members or how is it. Tell us a little bit about each member, age, family, job and do you play in any other band?

-Yes, the same members, although there are one fewer of us now. Henkan stepped down from the ship in 2021 ahead of our slightly more proper reunion. The members are simply three old friends and now fathers: archivist Erik, 41, and teachers Freddan, 41, and Tobbe, 42 years. There are some bands and projects dozing off behind the scenes for all of us (see above) but right now Varnagel is our only active project.


You have named the new album “I Vargars land”(In the land of wolves). Who are the wolves and what are you referring to by the title?

-The album's title and theme allude to a society where groups are pitted against each other in the struggle for their survival. Where the flock exists for some, but not for others, where the welfare state is slowly playing its part and where everyone needs to use all the means at their disposal to secure theirs and theirs. In short, being forced to be a "wolf among wolves" - an old saying for forced adaptation for survival. The theme, then, is not a diss against our cute wolf per se, but rather symbolizes a divided and racist class society that is lurking when private economic interests hold the baton. Many of the songs are born out of an anger and frustration with this wolf community and what it does to us humans, how we feel and behave.


It was Beat Butchers who had the honor of releasing the album... Were there others interested?

-We don't know because we just haven't asked anyone else. We've had a fantastic collaboration with BB over the years and it was kind of natural to call them right away as soon as we decided to bring Nagel back to life to ask if they were on. But then when the process with the album was underway and we had the first digisingle "Som tiden ger rätt" in February, 2022, the Japanese company Waterslide actually got in touch and wanted to release the album on CD, both in Japan and here in Sweden. So, as a collaboration between BB and Waterslide, it became a CD variant, which was not originally planned, with three extra tracks that are neither on vinyl nor released digitally. For the Japan convolution, Shiva from the Japanese trallpunk band Takahashigumi also wrote a linernote text as a small introduction of us to the Japanese audience. We've had some contact with Japan in the past over the years, sold off some records, merch and such, but this with the release has really been a new and exciting gadget for us. Think they'd print some t-shirts over there now too, so soon it's time to go over to them and play! It's a pretty big and costly device, but we'll see, would be sick fun!


When you make songs, how does it work, does anyone have an embryo or do you bring ready-made songs to the rehearsal room? "Historically, we've generally worked to include decently finished song ideas that have then been polished and polished together in the scratch. This time we have worked completely differently and really written together. We have started from ideas and put music to each other's lyrics or text to each other's musical ideas, all during a constant bouncing back and forth. We had the wolf theme clear to us right early in the process, so it's been a kind of interconnected beacon during the creation of each individual song.


The cover is different and colorful, who has done it and what was the idea of the cover? -Our old friend Kristin Andersson has painted the painting, which in the original is 80 x 40 cm and made of oil pastel. She got to take part in the theme idea and songs during the creation of the album and free hands to interpret the whole thing visually. In technique and color selection, she has been inspired by psych-prog covers from the 70s, and in the cover motifs she has used parables from Roman mythology. One of the motifs, Mother Justitia - here disarmed but with a clenched fist - stands as a representative of a powerless justice but at the same time honors the memory of Kristin's and the band's mutual close friend who tragically passed away in 2019, partly as a result of prolonged burnout and mental illness - as yet another victim of the wolf community, one might say.


Is it important to have a cover that stands out and shows what kind of music you are playing?

-Of course, it's always good to have a cover that people notice. However, it is less important to have a cover that shows the type of music we play, but rather a cover that reflects and binds together the thoughts and disposition behind the songs. However, we have our logo that we have used since the start in 1999 and it works a bit as a hallmark of what it is as well, which in any case we ourselves associate with what we are doing, a certain type of feeling and sound.


How has or rather your view of punk changed since you first got into punk?

-It's probably different for each of us depending on how we saw punk as kids.

Tobbe: For my part, I think punk has been culture and music that has the special thing in it that it activates you – it both sounds, gives and breathes energy. And maybe it has to do with the fact that it's an expression that's often just short, concise and fast, and kind of a little "incomplete." It's kind of not possible to consume punk passively, I think, but it instead attracts you to "fill in" and add, thus it triggers imagination and creativity. That's how I experienced it from the start - something that was achievable to do myself, in my case make and publish music, arrange gigs, etc., but at the same time also something that inspired social and political involvement at a fairly young age. That activating and energetic component is still what I think distinguishes punk and much of what Varnagel is about.

Freddan: For me, it's rather the "safe embrace" feeling that has constantly grown and completely erased early childhood's uninformed prejudices about punk as something angry and dangerous. As a young kid, I found it exciting but also quite scary to suddenly end up in those cramped, dark, coolly scribbled premises completely crummy with people who totally poured out all their accumulated frustration in sing-alongs and pushing crowds in front of the stage. Today it is like mom's safe embrace where you just smile and feel that the opportunity to share this cozy/ output unites and stands for the best kind of community and security. The punk oasis as well.

Erik: Difficult question, I think. I got into punk (or how to put it) when I was in fifth grade, and was completely sold on the music, the attitude and the D.I.Y spirit. Since then, a lot has happened, both with me and with punk. I hope and believe that the biggest change lies with me.


Playing punk in Sweden now that the brown-blue government rules is perhaps easier in a way or what do you say about the election outcome?

-Thinks that much is reminiscent of the early nineties when there was also a right-wing populist "reaction" over the country with racism and other swindles inside the parliament house. Now this "wave" has been going on kind of since the mid-2000s and is probably about kind of the same stuff - people are experiencing welfare declines and unemployment combined with immigration to traditionally homogeneous areas/cities. At the same time, the average Swede wants more and more comfortable, not take jobs or live in areas with bad reputations. A large proportion of society's lower strata are made up of people from other ethnic backgrounds and that is what comes into focus, instead of class and segregation as well. The difference now seems to be that there is stronger international neoconservatism in the immediate area and that our Swedish nationalists have become even more polished and legitimate as well. In addition to the blatant racism and nationalism that the country has now voted for, it is extra frightening how they also seem to want to try to steer the free culture and popular education / civil society in a more state-controlled and ideological direction. But one can perhaps "hope" that the government will now implement so much traditional economic right-wing policy that it becomes obvious to many brown voters that this policy will hardly give them more in their wallets or security as well. Let's believe that most of these voters are mostly desperate and disappointed about welfare declines, and aren't racists really. But as it stands now, it is moving more and faster towards segregation, divisions and group against group, a damn dangerous and shabby development.


Your songs are political sometimes and do you think it's important to get opinions into your songs?

-Yes, Varnagel has from the beginning been a kind of outlet for political and personal frustrations, combined with a drive to create something that sounds constructive and energizing, something that gives ourselves a sense of both satisfaction and pep forward in some way. Music lyrics are a way to discuss or test an opinion in a free and quite playful way. Or opinion and opinion, it is perhaps more often about a strong feeling such as anger or sadness over something you have seen around you or experienced in your life and everyday life, which gives birth to textual ideas. It becomes a way to take care of that feeling, to explore it and maybe discuss and form opinions from outside, something along those lines. But a song is a song and we've probably never demanded that the lyrics have to be super well thought out, coherent and logical, purely political. Has probably always been the focus on the music / creation and just the outlet for different emotions, then perhaps most of anger, hatred, sadness, disappointment, etc.. Then, of course, it feels good if through this you can influence others to think about what we sing about and maybe think about certain areas, or get pep to stand up in something. Just starting from your genuine personal feelings can probably sometimes be extra powerful as you may find it easier to recognize yourself, relate, etc., that it will not only be placards as well - even though it can also be fun and peppy sometimes.


Who or who are the best political artists/groups do you think?

-Artists and groups who through music instill energy and will to act, to do things, yes, to actually change things in their life and in the life around them. We in the band have been influenced in different ways by different artists through our upbringing, but often we return to e.g. Rage Against the Machine, which we all grew up with from middle school, you could say. If we're going to namedrop some punk bands that have had that direct activating impact on us, maybe Cosa Nostra, Charta 77, Köttgrottorna, Bad Religion and Dead Kennedys. Has also been inspired a lot by singers and then perhaps mainly by Dan Berglund, Fred Åkerström, but also Joe Hill.


Favorite groups right now in Sweden? Are there any young and good groups that you can recommend?

-It goes a bit in periods how much you listen to music and there is a lot of Swedish music, in e.g. metal and song / pop / indie that we in the band dig and are inspired a lot by. But if we're going to limit ourselves a bit to punk, it's fucking funny that old stage mates and favorite bands take up the instruments again, e.g. Vintertid, Coca Carola, Slutstation Tjernobyl, Skumdum. Then you are struck by the fact that today there is a fairly lively and well-established scene in a completely different way than when we played in the 2000s. Mainly thinking of the team of super-skilled and well-sounding bands that have held the banners high and worked hard for a long time now: Mimikry, Lastkaj 14, DLK, Björnarna who are all of course impossible not to like. Then a little extra puff for newer bands like Fruktansvärld, Järncell and Slaveriet, and here in Sthlm Trallskruv and Hyrda Knektar - good fucking stuff all of it!

But common to much of the scene now is that it mostly seems to be about people our age or older. One might wonder if the punk scene has become a somewhat nostalgic old man and woman club, a bit like the Sweden Rock phenomenon as well. Or we simply have poor control and become a little blind to how things are with younger bands and the regrowth of the scene. We've also been a bit off the stage for a number of years, so I'll have to blame it a little bit on that too hehe. May hope that with a little more gigs under the vest now in the future we will have a better handle on young and new. With that said, it still seems that today some new companies have popped up, etc. that have been good at picking up some younger bands. As I said, we have poor control, but think a little about e.g. Borgerlig Begravning, which is a good band (and may not need any further introduction for readers here).


Has your audience changed when you play out today if you compare it to 15 years back or is it the same people but slightly older ?

-Surprisingly, a lot of people have turned up standing there and stuffing fifteen years ago - are just a little thinner haired and older in their faces as well. Some bring their kids nowadays and want to show them what they themselves bounced around to back in the day. That's a big deal and an honor for us. Then it seems a bit like many of the older audiences might have left the stage a bit just during the time we were most active in the mid-2000s, and who have now found their way back a bit to the Swedish melodious punk with all the awesome bands that now exist. For them, we will be a bit of a new discovery. But it's probably younger people who show up too - but it depends a little bit on where you play as well. In the home arena - Café 44 - there has always been a certain influx of new generations. But when we played the first reunion gig, which was right there, it was actually a little eerie: the 44 was the same, we played a lot of the old songs, a lot of the audience were ones that always showed up in the past, etc. It was like a time capsule, like time really stood still. Thought that we would be a little more tired and not be able to cope as much as before, etc., but thought the phase you got the same energy as before also in some way. Maybe a little more muscle soreness the day after bah hehe.


What is the best thing about playing live and what is your strength when you play live?

-When it feels great is when we can get to the physical aspect of how our songs are created and sounded. That you can feel that our and the audience's bodies and bodily fluids kind of express the combination of frustration and pep that a lot of the band is about. A concrete part of this feeling is sing-along - when there is a big and powerful sing-along through the songs, the enchantment takes place - then everyone is in the songs and you feel that we all do it together in the room as well. In this way, the songs live a bit of their own lives and the music somehow plays itself, and we as people can become as participants and experience the whole thing like everyone else, then there will be a good flow and contact with the audience. That's maybe what's our strength then maybe - that we have decent contact with the audience and can engage them in the music, and maybe that we probably feel a pretty strong belief that the songs speak for themselves and that we can thereby have fun, joke and prank a little with the audience and each other, both between and in the middle of the songs. It's probably contagious, on a good night at least. Then maybe another strength might be nowadays that we learned to play the songs at slightly reasonable tempos - is so easy to pull away at damn times live. Keeping the tempo down so that you keep up with playing can probably give a tight impression plus sometimes enough maybe even the impression that it is actually faster than it is - in short it boosts the energetic in our music then maybe.


Which of your own songs is your personal favorite, which is the most fun to play and which is the most boring? Which song is the audiences favorite?

-This is stuff that changes all the time, so this has to be a bit of a knock-down right now:

Tobbe: Favourite is probably " Ensamvargtimmen" which is also a bit difficult, but not boring to play live. Hard to answer boring to play live because usually we not play any song if it starts to feel boring live - alt. spruce it up, add something so it becomes fun again. But I've always loved to lira "Trall punkt nu" eg. It's also a bit of a crowd-pleaser in competition with " Stenar mot Pansarvagnar " then.

Freddan: "Hon står där" has a given place with me. Partly because the text is so concretely designed but still has several layers where it can actually be about almost anyone. Then it was when, before I joined the band, I heard that song live on the 44 that I was completely floored and started to rave something terrible about the fact that if the chance came up, I just had to be in the band. Erik: Personal favorites have a tendency to change over time. However, the song " Fastän ni ler” from the demo cassette “Ledarskap, karriär och kompetens " from the year 2000 is a song that has lasted a long time. One song that is always fun to play is "Frihet för få". Sadly topical.


Do you ever play any covers?

It happens, but it used to be a lot more common. There have been a few covers of bands such as Radioaktiva Räker, Räserbajs, Asta, Köttgrottorna and other old heroes. We actually recorded a cover of the song "Alinge Texas" (Räserbajs) in a project where we and some contemporary stage mates (Greta Kassler, Snorting Maradonas and Sällskapsresan) did a split where we paid homage and dusted off an old classic from our old role models (“Melodier vi minns (typ)”, mCD, 2006) Now we feel that we have so many songs of our own that would like to play so it will be difficult to have room for covers in the 30-40 minutes we often run.


Tell us a little about the following songs

a.Som tiden ger rätt

A kind of tribute to the kids of all time who stubbornly stood / stand up to the adult world's all sorts of shit even though they are always told that they are wrong and pushed down. Time often gives them the right in the end. In a world where the older generation always manages to come up with something new idiotic, it is fortunate that it is constantly replenished with angry kids who dare to go against in new creative ways. Musically, the song is a fairly simple d-beat story, based around a hard rock riff and a melodious chorus, a song that wrote itself about as quickly and easily as it sounds.

B.Den ångerfulles klokskap

A rather ironic song about prejudices about the different phases of life. The text idea was born in anger over comments about how one's life is/should be by people who "have been around before" and calls to take advantage of life as it is right now - like it would be the best imaginable as well. We're all 40+ and you're often told it's the best age, etc., so the text is probably a way of dealing with a pressure to appreciate everything and that you have no right to complain about anything, and as an irony over preferably older life judges who know what your life is like, how to feel and what is waiting around the corner in the form of regret and bitterness. The music is mostly a four-stroke that picked up some vibes from Rise Against and apparently unwittingly a bit of Raymond & Maria in the verses haha (said in review on


A song about affirming and preserving one's restlessness and creativity, despite the fact that it can make an adult person appear crazy in many contexts. In short, a kind of alienation that is still about daring to be yourself and stand for it, continue with your quirky ideas, be childish and have a layer of insanity - which it can be a little satisfying to know that people in everyday surroundings have no idea about. The music is a bit skatepunk and is, on the whole, a fairly classic Varnagel song that alternates a bit between minor and major. The song also contains the album's - which, incidentally, consists of rather vocal-intensive songs - only slightly longer instrumental part in the middle.


Have you played a lot abroad?

-In addition to a visit to UFFA in Trondheim, there have been domestic gigs for the whole penny.


Has any fan done anything crazy, or rather some tribute like a tattoo or the like?

-Don't know if anyone made a Var tattoo, alt. forgot it, but a bunch of recorded covers of people on our songs have been over the years. But the craziest thing, and then really in a positive sense, is that over the years we have gained a loyal group of followers who have been with us here and there - people who have told, verbally and in writing how much we meant to them, sometimes it has been about life and death, about lust for life and pep, but also musical inspiration to form a band, play punk etc. Then it's also a damn fun thing when people who don't usually listen to melodic punk - and there were quite a few in the 2000s, it was kind of out and about - kind of black metal people and the like who come up and say "even though you were damn good" - stuff like that. Then under the mad section, Japan can be mentioned again as well. We have had a small dedicated clique that has listened to us since the start, and some of them have come all the way to Sweden to see us, it's cool! Especially since they don't speak Swedish either. One of those of those people has the record label that is now releasing the new album on CD in Japan. Will be exciting to follow how things are going for the record over there - is pretty crazy.


Do you think it is necessary to release the music on vinyl / Cd and not just digitally. Would you feel like you've done something real if you just released digitally?

-No, don't think so. We all grew up with records and cassettes, and listen some that way still, so no, just digi I don't think is our thing really. But it was interesting when we closed down in 2008, then we made one last album with unreleased, B-sides and stuff, which we called "Sista biten". It was mostly because it was the last piece of the puzzle in the Varnagel puzzle for that time, but it was at the same time a bit considering what was happening then, with Spotify and everything (launched in the fall of 2008) - the last piece of plastic as well. But it really hasn't been the last piece of plastic for us, we've released two CDs and two LPs (which you never thought would come back) since then. The physical is fun and creative to create, to acquire, to hold and cook. It concretizes and kind of "aestheticizes" the music - in the same way that you eat not only with taste and smell, but also with your eyes.


Do you buy a lot of records yourself?

-We don't buy a lot of them these days. Some of us try to support bands when you're at gigs etc., so there will be some online orders when there are new releases of favorite bands etc.


First, latest and the most expensive record you have bought? What's the record you've been looking for for for many years but haven't gotten your hands on?

-Tobbe: Never been a discophile in that way, never chased special presses etc. But I've bought some bootlegs and some boxes, or double vinyl el. similar sometime that have cost some, but like 300 bucks max? Don't really remember the first record I bought myself for my own money, but was clearly vinyl and certainly a 7". Can imagine it was Svullo or maybe Leila K or similar. Know that I bought Twisted Sisters "Come out and play" damn early too, i.e. when I was maybe 9-10 year. Before that it was mostly cassettes, Europe, Carola, Trance Dance, Bon Jovi, Guns and Roses, Alice Cooper, Magnus Uggla etc. but I probably didn't buy them myself but got well on Christmases etc. Later when I got my first CD player, I think my first CD was Scorpion's "Crazy world", you know the one with "Wind of Change" and "Send me an Angel" - mighty!

Freddan: The first album was the vinyl single "I was lucky" with the duo So What. The brother bought "Mercedes Benz" with Orup at the same time so dad got two songs to get tired of in one fell swoop. Oops, most expensive I don't remember. Think the new press of the Bombtrack record with Rage Against the Machine stinged a little extra in the leather. The album I'm looking for but haven't found is Tarantula's (Portuguese metal) old debut album from the early 80's. It's so fucking bad that I just have to have it!

Erik: The first record I bought was not a record, but a cassette with Pontus och amerikanarna. The cassette (which of course was also released on record) was called "Följer ett spår" and contained the megahit "Godmorgon Columbus" which I picked up on the radio. For those of you who missed Pontus och Amerikanarna, it's kind pop in Swedish. The year was 1991 and I was 10 years old. The latest record is also not a disc but also a cassette; the cassette that came with the zine "Halvdan Permanent" # 1. For those of you who missed out: Check out

Most expensive record I don´t know, I don't think I paid any large sums for records. On the other hand, I have rooted through a lot of record backs in search of older Swedish punk records and have some rarities, not least old vinyls with Köttgrottorna. They made some special edition of "Pendeltåg" that I was looking for for a long time, but once I found it, I chose not to buy it. That's how it can go.


Are you guys going out and playing a lot now considering the album release?

-There will be no 'life on the road' with the aim of setting records in as many gigs as possible. Instead, we keep our eyes open to find places and gigs that we feel really good about going to. A little less gigs than we did before, but then also with more focus and joy on each thing.


What's the weirdest and oddest band you've ever shared the stage with?

 -Oh, there are many haha. Has played many times with bands in completely different genres, which has perhaps become a bit shady audience-wise, etc. But the "strangest" is probably the times we've played in contexts where mash is at a higher rate than music as well - festivals and arrangements where most of the audience is in vomit in the bushes as well. Remember one time in particular where the fermented drinks flowed early afternoon and we were surprised with the fact that there was hardly any equipment where we would play, and we didn't have anyone as well. Remember it as there was an amplifier all string benders would share basically, something like half a drum kit, some pickups from the 60s, and a yummy old pedal organ! That time we said thank you but no thanks - couldn't be playing for our part plus we were at least a lap behind in the mash marathon. So we had to go home and chew on the consequences - divas and mash-haters haha. Nope, it's time-barred and just a giggle these days. Another memory is when we attended a party in a club room for a Finnish club, together with some friends, including a black metal band. They ran pig's blood and the whole chorus, so that ended up everywhere then, not least in the sauna haha. Just enough fun to leave the room again then (to like a friend's mom), with bloodstains everywhere that couldn't be scrubbed away. The more you think, the more memories. Speaking of bands you have played with, it has happened a number of times that we have played with bands that have had to break the equipment during or after gigs, or break the whole place where they are housed and stuff. Sad style, which we've never been particularly impressed by - just bratty and spoiled behavior as well.


Do you have any other words of wisdom?

- I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.


Future plans for the band? For yourself?

-To come out and play in the country and hopefully help the album that we're really proud to end up in a little bit more record collections out there. Then we'll see what happens. Maybe direct an action reel...


Anything to add?

-Many thanks for the attention and for many fun and sometimes a little tricky questions! Drive hard with the fanzine spirit, long live etc., support and read fanzines people - it's fun and good for the soul. Cheers and good evening from Your Varpågar!