The Radiomöbel history
In 1973, in the University City Lund in the south
of Sweden, the youngsters Per Simonsson, Richard Moberg and Andrus Kangro began
rehearsing in the Kangro’s parents’ basement. Using two acoustic guitars, a
kazoo, a snare drum coupled with kitchen utensils and occasional vocals from
Simonsson, the band took their first step towards progressive folklore.
After a short while Kangro bought an electric guitar and plugged it into his parents Grundig™ radio furniture. It worked very well, and the band used it as their collective amplifier when they rehearsed. On a casual rehearsal evening the entire band plugged their instruments in the radio which due to overload caught fire and broke down. Andrus’ family was not too happy about this, but the incident gave the band their name Radiomöbel (which means radio furniture). Now the band had to get other amplifiers, so they built their own using Jostykit™ do-it-yourself kits.
About a year after they had begun playing together, on the 11th of February 1974 to be precise, Radiomöbel made their first live performance, and at this stage Jan Hallgren had joined the band’s quest for success. On a live performance in April that same year Swedish television was there to film the band, something which should have been a positive thing for any new band. But the song performed: ”Vill du se min snopp?” (in English: ”Would you like to see my willy?”) and the inevitable exposé (Simonsson’s) was enough to remove Radiomöbel’s participation from the programme. Chaos set in and the members of the band had to escape from the back-stage area through a window!
More and more gigs followed and band members came and went. That autumn Ulrik Mårtensson and Peter Sundin joined the band as Hallgren quit, and the recording of an album seemed the next logical step. During a live performance on 11th of February 1975 (exactly one year after their first live performance) the band decided to make a record. Their debut album Tramseböx hit the shelves in April 1975 and was also sold at gigs by the band members themselves. It was released on their own label Chockskivor.
Radiomöbel’s live shows started to improve and were quite similar to the contemporary scenes abroad. Psychedelic colour-slides were projected upon the stage as the band jammed or played longer and more freaked-out versions of their own material. At this time in Sweden, a proof of a good musical performance was when someone in the audience would light a hash pipe as sign of approval!
This period also saw many line-up changes with Mårtensson and Moberg leaving the band, and swiftly replaced by Mikael Skoog on drums, Göran Andersson on bass guitar and Fredrik Sundström on guitar, the latter soon to be replaced by Lars Jönsson on keyboards. This also marked a change in Radiomöbel’s musical direction and their somewhat primitive style became cleaner and with a more symphonic approach. The songs became longer and their musical and technical ability improved as well as their equipment and instruments. At this time, in early 1976, they even had a person employed to project their advanced slide-shows upon the stage.
The autumn of ’76 saw vocalist Per Simonsson leave the band, and in came Carin Bohlin as his replacement. With this setting their symphonic rock music reached its peak and their influences came from bands as King Crimson and Genesis and the contemporary progressive movement in Sweden at the time.
In 1978 original bass player Moberg returned, but this time he was playing keyboards. With him onboard, the band decided to record a new album with their symphonic style. The result, Gudang Garam, was an altogether bigger product than Tramseböx, but it is unfair to compare the two, since they demonstrate completely different aspects of Radiomöbel’s musical visions.
The making of Gudang Garam also saw members leaving and new faces coming in as replacements, and a few months after the recording only Kangro and Skoog were still in the band. Again, members came and went. The band stabilized in 1980 though, as the band reunited with former bass player Andersson and new boys Kenneth Rasmusson (drums) and Stefan Carlsson (vocals and guitar, after while to be replaced by a blues guitarist named Roland). Clear jazz-rock influences were evident at first, but they slowly turned toward shorter, heavier and more blues oriented songs and guitarist Patrik Wipp was added to the line-up, which now included three guitar players.
In 1981, after a few more line-up changes, Radiomöbel merged with local rock act Kissox as these two bands almost had the same members. Now with a total of seven members the music became progressive once again. The female imput was evident here with Lena Liljedahl and Katarina Andersson on lead vocals and also Caroline Leander (later to form Caroline Leander Trio) on keyboards. With this big line-up the band participated on the compilation album Skånsk Rock III in 1982.
The following summer saw Radiomöbel reduced to a power trio, with only Kangro, Andersson and Mårtensson in the band. But five years later, when recording a song for the compilation album Fullt ös, Håkan Skoglund (keyboards and flute), Nils Karlberg (guitar and vocals), Mats Isaksson (bass) and Jens Kleiman (vocals) had joined the band.
As usual after a Radiomöbel recording session, band members came and went. This time it was good though, and the new line-up of Andrus (lead guitar), Mårtensson (drums) and Andersson (bass) was going to last until their final gig. Keyboard player Håkan Jeppsson joined the following year, but other obstacles lay ahead. The vocalists Mary van Rossen and Laila Nilsson (1988-92) also passed through the group.
In the early 90s jobs, families, kids and other things of the adult world took its toll on Radiomöbel. The band stagnated somewhat since it had become difficult to assemble the whole band for rehearsals. Stand-in musicians were sometimes used at gigs, and the musical progression suffered from this, although the feel for experimentation and improvisation was as high as ever.
In 1994 and Kjell Åkerblom (vocals and guitar) was added to the Radiomöbel line-up. As a hommage to their twenty years as a band some of the older songs were brought into the repertoire together with minimalistic improvisations.
This line-up, (apart from Andersson who had moved abroad) with now Åkerblom playing the bass on his keyboard, performed Radiomöbel’s final concert of their 20+ years existence at Mejeriet in Lund. At this occasion Radiomöbel performed a progressive drone, about 50 minutes long. At time the music even progressed in accordance with conventional time, with a change of chords every twenty minutes directed by a clock on the stage!
By Tobias Petterson
Extended verion of the Radiomöbel Saga in Swedish Klick....