With the wave of new music hitting the airways from Sweden, one never knows what is coming next. Dislife could be that next big thing. Straying from the garage rock glory of the current trend’s of Sweedish bands, Dislife are a much more polished, hook oriented group. I sat down with Dislife’s lead vocalist, Chris Michols to help introduce this band to their public.
GOM: When and where was Dislife formed?
Chris Michols: Well, that’s a tricky one… we didn’t just form over a day. The easy part is that we’re all from Uppsala in Sweden. I started writing music in 1995 when I was 15. I felt that I wanted to express these songs with more than just my guitar and me singing. So I asked a guy (Peter J) who I knew had been playing music for many years but had quit for personal reasons. I gave him a demo tape and he went for a trip with his car, listening to my tape, the day after when he came back he had bought a violin and a jembe (African drum). He wanted to do something different with my stuff. So we started out him and me and called ourselves Eternal. After a short while I felt that I wanted to at least a bass player in the band. Peter J said no, ‘cause he wanted to keep things as it was. We argued a little but he agreed to at least let a guy try. After that we grew to an acoustic band called Breeze, we were five guys. We played together ‘til 1997 and then started to develop in completely different directions musically and personally. After that, many band members where replaced and more were added. We recorded our first demo in 99 I think, in Stockholm / Sweden. At that time we called ourselves This Life. We recorded six songs that year and then some more band members where replaced. So after all these changes we felt we needed to change band name again. Ever after we’ve been Dislife and have recorded about 30 songs together.
GOM: Who are your influences?
Chris Michols: Hehe… well… that’s a tricky question too … ’cause the band consists of seven guys with completely different background and musical tastes. I think when we play together as a band we use what the music we’ve done earlier as influence to how we should sound and how to develop.
GOM: You guys have had some songs featured on American television, how did that come about?
Chris Michols: Actually, as far as I know we’ve only had one single song on Dawson’s Creek, but if we’ve been featured elsewhere as well I’d really like to know about it (laughter). We had our song “Reverend Rider” on Dawson’s Creek episode 606 thanks to a co – publishing deal we have with Cherry Lane Music Publishing. They handle the licenses for a bunch of our little older songs. One of the cool things with Dawson’s is that it is broadcasted in many parts of the world even here in Sweden so it’s a show most people know about.
GOM: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Chris Michols: Generally I’d say that the biggest accomplishment is that there actually are people listening to our music. Making people feel happy, and having fun on our shows. Stuff like that. When people ask about lyrics and say they can relate or are touched in any way by the music and/or the lyrics. Maybe that’s not an accomplishment in its true meaning but still to me it is…
GOM: When you guys write, what is that process like?
Chris Michols: Usually I sit at home with my guitar just jamming and singing nonsense lyrics to the chords I play. Once in a while a short period of notes pops up that gives a feeling in my stomach, just like the one you get when you’ve heard a new song a couple of times and it’s just giving you the chills. When I get that I know that I have something to work with. Sometimes I can finish the whole song myself but sometimes I can’t and then I’ll take it to the band which usually gives the song just the chord or that little tune which makes it complete. Peter L in the band also write songs, I really can’t tell you how he’s doing it, everyone works in their own personal way I believe. Whenever anyone has a song or an idea for a song we play it to the band and we decide together if it’s good enough to work on. If it is, everyone adds their personal touch to it and then you have it, a ready to go Dislife song!
GOM: What do you think of the current state of music?
Chris Michols: It seems to me that a new wave of “rock” music is rolling right now. A year or two ago most music played to the public ears via TV and radio was “plastic” stuff. Music and artists whose only purpose was to make as much money for the record labels in as short time as ossible. But looking over a longer period of time it’s the same thing coming back all the time. What’s important to me is that there always will be musicians putting their soul in to their music, performing them with their bands in small clubs just for the fun of it, not the profit. So to me the current state of music is what it’s always been. The important thing is that there always will be a wide variety of music for people to choose between, everyone has their own taste and I believe that we all have a need for music in our lives. So I’d say that the current state isn’t that very important other than for the big industries. I mean some people still listen to Elvis and have done so all their lives and will never listen to anything else no matter how hard the industry tries.
GOM: What is the worst musical trend at the moment?
Chris Michols: I’m not sure if there really are any bad musical trends. Music is art and the beauty of art is always in the eye of the beholder. I’d like to add though that the focus on the music often is distracted by elements like image and looks. But that’s the way the biz is. I’m not bitter about that. There are all types of persons in this world. Some like to listen to whatever they hear on MTV or the radio and some don’t. Some like to wear the clothes that their idols wear and some don’t. I think you get my point. To me everyone has a right to their own opinion and taste. Maybe people that judge others should ask themselves “who am I to judge him/her” more often. Everyone has prejudices; it’s a part of human nature and is actually vital for the human brain to control and sort the constant flow of information that it’s constantly bombed with. But I mean, many things can be explained with biological or other forms of science. But I don’t mean that we can’t at least try to look ourselves in the mirror once in a while.
GOM: How many albums has Dislife released?
Chris Michols: Officially, (like in record stores), not a single one. Unofficially I’d say we’ve released about 5 – 6. I’m not quite sure though. There are a few dedicated fans though who knows exactly and have all of them. That’s kind of flattering actually. I don’t know if there’ll ever be an official Dislife album released. Sometimes it feels like it’s meant for us to fight with all our hearts just to give a few couple of cds to whoever wants them. We’ve been offered record deals with distribution and all but still none we’ve felt being serious enough. There’s a lot of talk and little action in this industry. Sometimes it’s safer to take the stairs instead of the worn out elevator (smiles).
GOM: Do you have any advice for other unsigned artists?
Chris Michols: In general I’d say, never forget why you’re doing it, I do it ‘cause it’s a part of my life that lets me express myself in a way that gives so much back. Like the kick I get when getting on stage and hear the first chords of our own song and get to sing for these people in the audience… It doesn’t matter whether there are only two of them or two hundred… The feeling is the same to me. The day I forget about that I’m no longer an entertainer. Also a word about the internet and music: The internet can be very helpful… but we’ve also learned that it can be very dangerous… there’s a lot and I mean A LOT of sweet-talkers out there that promise you heaven if you only pay the annual fee or something like that… we’ve been offered contracts that we when we’ve read through seen were complete rip-offs…. I’d like to give out a warning to all emerging artist to be very suspicious about everyone everywhere when it comes to this biz the upside is that we’ve made a lot of fans and a lot of great contacts… people that we’ve never ever had gotten in contact with or having listening to our stuff if it weren’t for the internet… the internet makes the world a stage…
GOM: Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?
Chris Michols: It’s so hard to tell, I can only answer for myself. I have no clue if the band will stick together that long. There are way too many things that might change in either of each of the persons of the bands life. I’d hope though that we’re still together, that we have our little audience so that we can travel around in a little tour bus making a living of what we love to do. To me music is such a big part of my life that I at least easily can say that I still will be writing and performing music in some way.
GOM: Is there anything you would like to say or address that hasn’t been mentioned?
Chris Michols: Well… I’m not a wise old man or anything… But when I do have the opportunity I would like to express a short word that might be good to think about. Many of us people in the world rush through life without ever stopping to reflect, other stop and reflect and get stuck where they are. Many people believe everything they see and many people see everything as a conspiracy. Many people live in relationships their whole life and wonder what they get out of it, not what their partner get. What I’m trying to say is we might have forgotten the importance of balance. Everything is in a way based upon balance. Like if there were no sorrow what would happiness be? Many people try to control everything around them, many does everything to lose control. One can’t control everything but one must never lose control either. We need to search for a balance. But still… these are just thoughts running through single persons mind right here, right now. Is there a bottom-line? I don’t think so… Does it have to be? I don’t think so either…
For more info on Dislife, visit their website, http://www.dislife.net. Remember, you heard it here first.