Tag Archives: England

A Graceless Journey

This journey starts on a rainy summer day in 2011. I was locked inside, laying in bed, slightly hungover, watching the world outside my room through my Twitter-feed, while listening to damp heavy raindrops dripping down the window. Suddenly I come across a link to a video with what to me was a completely new band called Sulk.

What I then hear when I press play are John Squire-esque guitars, Suede-choirs, a deep bass over a heavy hitting drum, and an overall sound that could be taken straight outta Nowhere by Ride. It was a mash-up of everything I loved. Mixed together it felt new and fresh. I was mesmerized.  The song I was listening to was called Wishes. And I kept listening to it while the leaves switched colour, and those raindrops turned into snowflakes.

The more I listened to Wishes the heavier became my addiction. I needed more, and I needed stronger dosage. I told my friends about this new band and when I realized that they too loved them, the stronger became our friendship. And the stronger became my eagerness to hear more from Sulk. A while after Wishes was released second single Back In Bloom hit the shelves. And me oh my, this was just as good. I bought both singles on 7 vinyl and I even got one of them signed by all band members, as a gift from a lovely lady I saw at the time. Everyone in my circle of trustees knew I was hooked, and there was really no way out but to keep the consumption flow going. Wishes and Back In Bloom

I started searching the net for material. I listened to remixes of the songs, read article after article, followed the band on Facebook and Twitter, watched all the videos I could find from gigs and also from the earlier constellation of the line-up when the band was called The Ruling Class.

Days, weeks, and months went by and all while I was waiting for Sulk to release their long awaited debut album, life happened.
Liam Sulk I started to question why no record label had picked them up. Is the music I prefer and listen to that dead? I started questioning my own musical taste. Was I wrong? But how could I be since not only did all my friends love them (the ones which have a musical taste I agree with), they also got the approval from my other peers. Not the ones I have a pint and listen to music with, but the ones that write the music I listen to while I have a pint. Mani and Jon

But as 2012 became 2013 Sulk announced that their debut album, titled Graceless, would be released on April 15. My feelings to this surprised me. I did not feel the happiness and relief I had believed I would. Rather I felt a feeling of emptiness and fear. Is this it? Is the journey over now? And what if the record is shit? Obviously I pre-ordered the record, both on vinyl and CD, and when I came home after work on Monday, April 15, postman Pat had delivered it to me. I opened the same window I had been staring out of when I first heard the band in the summer of 2011, almost 20 months ago. This time the sun was shining. I pressed play. Sulk Graceless

So was it any good? Well, that you’re gonna have to figure out for yourselves. But I will tell you this, it was well worth the journey getting there.
Johnny Marr and Sulk

Football’s Funniest

Football has followed me through my entire life. Many of my life changing decisions has been made based on a ball. It might sound silly but it’s true. When I was fifteen I moved away from home because I signed for a club in a different city than the one I was born and raised in. When I was 18 I was able to move to America and get an amazing opportunity to play football while I got a degree, for free. And most of all, experienced the best years of my life. Many of my closest friends I would have never had met if it wasn’t for the game of football.

The late footballer, manager, and Scotsman Bill Shankly once famously stated: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” Bill Shankly

Frankly Mr Shankly some of us agree completely with you, others find it absolutely ridiculous that there are people on this planet spending so much time, energy, and devotion on something so simple as a game.

Regardless of which I will now post my four favorite football clips where football was, exactly what Mr Shankly refused to believe, just a game. These four clips have one common denominator, the players featured are not football players, they are just people that love the game of football but found a living doing something else.

Boris Johnson spears a German
First up we have conservative politician Boris Johnson. Boris is the only British politician identifiable by his first name alone. Just that makes him interesting. Boris Johnson Born in New York with a Donald Trump-like haircut this laugh-riot of a man is now more popular than ever in his hometown of London. Boris has always had a high focus on the importance of physical education and played a big part in the success of the 2012 London Olympics.

In 2006, Boris took part in a charity football match between England and Germany, consisting of celebrities and former players. He came on as a substitute for England in the 85th minute and infamously rugby-tackled a former German international in a vain attempt to win the ball with his head. In addition to that: he wore the number 10 on his back and refused to put on chin-pads.

After what can only be described as a spear tackle, Boris popularity rose even higher and in 2008 he became the Mayor of London. He was re-elected in 2012. In 2008 a number of Londoners were asked why they voted for Boris. With the Second World War still in mind more than 10 percent listed the spear tackle on the German as a main reason. Was it a simple game of genius or just loss of balance? You decide. It’s damn funny though.

Serge Pizzorno shows he’s a rock’n’roll star – twice
Kasabian guitarist, and in my opinion, one of the coolest kids on the planet, Serge Pizzorno was in younger years left at crossroads. He was either gonna hang up his guitar or his cleats. He decided to stick with the six string. I’m glad he did. I’m also very glad he picks up those boots from time to time. Just have a look at this absolute belter on Soccer AM.

Secondly, take a look at this absolute top finish from a Soccer Aid game in 2012. This clip has so much to bring to the table. The one who assists Serge is legendary winger Freddie Ljungberg, the goal is scored on David Seaman, and the first player to come up and congratulate Serge is Hollywood funnyman Will Ferrell. Truly one for the books.

Woody Harrelson is forced to take a penalty kick
In 2010 Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson took part in a Soccer Aid match at Old Trafford to raise money for UNICEF. Woody is known for his basketball skills, however he has never played football in his entire life. In this game the Rest of the World team had forced England to a tie. The game would be decided on penalty kicks with the Rest of the World having a chance to win it for the first time ever. 


The penalty shoot-out went on forever. When someone scored the other team scored. And when someone missed, the player with the golden opportunity got nervous and shanked it. With all players on the pitch having taken a pk only Woody was left. Having never taken a penalty kick before, which is quite obvious as you can see he doesn’t know where to place the ball, none really believed that Woody could pull it off. But nothing is greater and more refreshing than when an underdog does the unexpected. Just as Mike Myers cheers him on and Robbie Williams crosses his fingers for him to miss Woody Harrelson decides what foot to shoot the ball with. He chose his right. The rest is, as they say, history.


America is outraged. The largest and highest CPV (celebrities per visitor) numbered festival in the country, the Coachella festival, is headlined by The Stone Roses. I think it’s a blessing but the 20-something hipsters and Average Joe’s in the U.S. think it is an absolute disgrace. Don’t they love guitar driven Madchester music with songs so catchy and monumental it’s doubt-able we’ll hear anything like it in the future? No they don’t, in fact they’ve never heard of it. Instead of cheers and an extreme eagerness for the festival to start the Americans are now asking: Who are the Stone Roses? Coachella

Since the news arrived that Manchester band The Stone Roses will headline the Coachella festival in April of 2013 Twitter has been flooded with outcries and honest questions on who and what The Stone Roses in fact are. The hashtag #whoarethestoneroses has gathered the best (or the worst, depending on how you look at it) tweets on the topic.Whoarethestoneroses

When I was reading the tweets on the matter yesterday I remembered my first interaction on the topic of Stone Roses vs. America. It was in 2007 and I was playing collegiate soccer in Jacksonville, FL. It was the first season with my new team (I had played two seasons with University of South Carolina prior to my move to Florida) and I loved it all. My team mates were amazing and the weather was even better, the next day was just as exciting as the one before. Life was good. Reminiscing about it now I highly doubt I’ll ever be in an happier place than when I was living college life and playing sports in America. But one experience was awful. It was the one when my two worlds collided. The people I loved vs. the music I loved.

Prior to each season all players in the squad gathered to make a warm-up tape. This warm-up tape was to be played one hour before the game would start, when all players were on the pitch warming up. It also gave a boost to the atmosphere and surroundings since everyone in the stands could listen to the music. Each player got to pick one tune for the record. We had a few days to decide before we at one practice would play the CD in the locker room before a session.
I decided to pick the song Waterfall by The Stone Roses. It’s not an up-tempo song but it gives me an enormous sense of well-being. The cooling sound of the first note, the guitar-intro that feels like a giant ship slowly conquering a cold dark sea, the soothing voice of Ian Brown when he sings the opening line: “Chimes sing Sunday morn, today’s the day she sworn…” I just love this song and it puts me in a great mood.

The reactions in the locker room when my song started was shocking. “What the fuck is this?” “Who would want to listen to THIS before a game?” “What band is this?”. It was completely awful.  A disgrace. Anyone can talk shit about me, but don’t talk shit about my music.
“They are called the The Stone Roses”, I told my bewildered teammates.
The room got quiet for a few seconds before a striker in the squad said: “Who are the Stone Roses?”.
“They are from Manchester, England, and I consider them one of the best bands in the world”, I quickly said before I left the room to go out and get my ankle taped. But it wasn’t my foot that had been hurt, it was my heart. And my ego.

I remember that the song, even with all the critic, stayed on the warm-up tape and before each home game that season I got to hear it, and everyone else had to listen to it. I don’t know if it grew on my teammates, or the people in the stands, because I never spoke to anyone about it. I remember thinking it was a lost cause. Americans don’t like this kind of music. They rather see a dead rapper spitting out some rhymes via old recordings through a hologram than to watch and listen to this kind of music. It was sad to me then.

But hey, everyone’s different, and places are different. And isn’t that lovely in its own little way.

Different worlds will always be colliding, that’s just a fact. Let’s cherish it instead of argue about it. The Roses headlining Coachella is far more interesting than if they would play three more gigs at Heaton Park or headlined Glastonbury for instance. In England they are already huge, for fuck sake, there is even a cover band called The Clone Roses that fills up arenas all over that lovely island.

Now we will see something special. And new people will be able to listen to a band they have barely heard of. It’s a daring move and it might turn to shits. But hey, at least it is unique and unexpected.

So when Ian, John, Mani, and Reni conquers the main stage at Coachella in front of thousands of Americans and play their mega tunes they might not be in their natural habitat. But I am certain that some people watching the gig will enjoy it immensely. Why wouldn’t they? They are watching The Mighty Stone Roses after all. And that’s who they are.

Out and about with Stone Roses bass guitarist Mani and my mate Jimmy.

Out and about with Stone Roses bass guitarist Mani and my mate Jimmy in Stockholm, 2011.

Watching The Stone Roses live at Hultsfred, Sweden, in 2012.

Watching The Stone Roses live at Hultsfred, Sweden, in 2012.

Kvinnan som tog mig för en sate

Först ska det konstateras att flygplatser är så fruktansvärt mycket härligare när man är på väg någonstans i jämförelse med när man är på väg tillbaka från någonting. Stansted myllrar av människor när klockan närmar sig 19.00 en kall onsdag i november. Efter en sån där härligt dekadent långweekend i London känner jag att det kommer minst sagt bli väldigt tungt att gå upp och jobba nästkommande dag. Lägg därtill att jag inte kommer öppna dörren till min lägenhet förrän klockan slår early dawn och ni förstår att reseplaneringen inte är ultimat. Men efter en iskall Asahi Superdry på Yo!Sushi, lite mat samt en stor hazelnut latte är jag ändock på så när brukligt humör när jag vandrar mot Gate 42 för att åka hem till Stockholm via Skavsta. Magen är mättad, endorfinerna finns där i någon mån, iPhonen är fulladdad, spellistorna rullar, jag är förberedd för att göra det värsta en människa kan göra – stödja flygbolaget Ryan Air. I detta fall var det en nödlösning baserad ur tjockleken på min portmonnä. Och nu är det bara att make the most out of it. Då möter jag henne, kvinnan som får mitt humör att rasa. Och är anledningen till att jag skriver denna text.

Väl vid Gate 42 står människorna på rad. En stor, lång, svensk kö med resenärer som likt jag kommer missa Sverige vs. England på TV för att istället se England bli till Sverige över ett molntäcke och en iskall Atlant. Kön är brutal och jag tänker för mig själv: är det värt att säga upp bekantskapen med en vän om man förstår att den vännen är en sån person som ställer sig och köar i flera kvart för att gå på ett flygplan istället för att lugnt sitta ner och vänta för att sedan gå på när kön är obefintlig?

Jag går varsamt förbi kön och sätter mig ned på en bänkrad som står placerad längst fram vid kön. Eftersom jag ska vänta tills kön är obefintlig och gå på efteråt är detta perfekt för jag minskar då avståndet jag måste gå efter att jag rest mig upp igen. Och eftersom Ryan Air försöker tjäna pengar på allt vet jag att jag kommer få en plats med extra benutrymme. Då dessa kostar extra blir de sällan köpta och ges därför till de personer som går på flygplanet sist. London-Skavsta-flighterna är alltid i princip fulla så jag vet att jag kommer få en topplats om jag är bland de sista att gå på planet. Detta vet troligtvis inte kvinnan som nu går fram till mig med bryska steg. Jag tittar upp mot henne, frågande, samtidigt som jag tar av mig mina hörlurar. Hon, tittar ned på mig, och fräser ut: “Hörrudu unge man, kan du ställa dig sist i kön?!”

Jag blir tagen på sängen för en sekund innan jag långsamt förklarar: “Jag kommer gå på planet sist, skulle aldrig falla mig in att stå där – med er!”. Nu ska det dock sägas att jag förstår att som familj eller stort sällskap man vill sitta tillsammans och därav står och köar för att få platser just bredvid varandra. Men denna kvinna står helt själv i kön. Utan vare sig make, man, eller mitt-emellan.

Jag försöker koppla bort kvinnans påhopp men det går bara inte. Jag sitter och tänker på henne hela tiden. Trodde hon att jag, 27 år gammal, skulle smitit in i kön när boarding väl inleddes? Herregud. Vem gör sånt? Inte jag i alla fall. Jag lurar systemet, sitter enkelt ensam och väntar på tills alla gått på, för att sedan få mycket bättre platser än alla de som stått och köat i över en halvtimme.

Det går så långt att jag funderar på mig själv och vilken känsla som skulle varit starkast vid en eventuell krasch: rädslan och vetskapen att mitt liv nu kommer ta slut om någon minut eller rädslan, men ändå lyckan, att jag tar kvinnan med mig i fallet? Absurda tankar, men jovisst, dom fanns där. Mörk energi. Så jävla mörk.

När väl boarding inleds sitter jag ensam kvar med några andra enskilda, alltid unga, människor som fattat vinken. Jag försöker möta kvinnans blick när hon går förbi mig och vandrar in förbi boarding-kontrollanterna. Hon vägrar titta mot mig. Men jag vet att hon tänker på mig. För hon hade fel.

Väl på planet går jag förbi henne och ler stolt som en tupp när jag blir placerad på en plats med extra benutrymme medan hon sitter på en B-plats. Ja, en B-plats, mittemellan window och aisle.

Mitt beteende är så här i efterhand extremt narcissistiskt, det vet jag. Men det gör ingenting. För jag vann. Och kvinnan som tog mig för en sate, du förlorade.