The early days
On a cold and frosty January morning in 1986, on the 6th of January to be exact, three boys decided that they wanted to get out of the isolated world of writing music that no one would hear, because they didn´t have a band. Each one of them had a synthesizer, or a keyboard. These three boys were Tomas, Per-Henrik and Jörgen, and the place where it all started was in Jörgen´s basement on Vallvägen 20. The very first song they played together was “Midnight Man” by Flash and the Pan. A name had to be invented, and after listening to Pet Shop Boys, they took the name West End.
The instruments they used were: Yamaha PSR 31 home keyboard, Casio CZ 230s and a Yamaha DX 27. You can´t do that much with these instruments, but it was a start.
In the spring of 1986 they bought more instruments. Jörgen bought a Casio SZ-1 four track sequencer, Tomas bought a Casio SK-5 sampling keyboard, and the three of them bought a Kawai R-50 drum machine together. The summer was a perfect time to write music, and the result was their first complete song, called “This World”.
During the autumn they wrote seven more songs, and recorded all of them in December 1986. This resulted in the tape “Tales of Mine” which never was released. At this time Jörgen bought a Kawai K-1m.
Somehow, they found out that none of them had a voice that could sing their lyrics. They tried to tape the song one by one, while the other two stood outside the recording room, laughing until they cried. Jörgen and Per-Henrik thought that Tomas could sing, after hearing a recording of him singing the theme to Ghostbusters. They were wrong.
Something had to be done, so they tried some different singers (which was quite difficult considering where they came from), and finally they found Andreas Karlsson who, I quote, “sounded a bit like Bono in U2”. Never the less, they made their first appearance on stage in February 1987 in a local rock music competition in Ahlafors. The jury had prizes for different instruments, and the prize for best keyboard player went to “someone in West End” since they were the only ones who played keyboards. All three of them actually. Per-Henrik rushed to the stage to take the credits.
Time went by, and they did a brilliant performance at “The Mill” outside Gothenburg in front of 11 people. So good, but so misunderstood. Jörgen sold his Casio SZ-1 and bought an ATARI 1040 stfm Computer and the Steinberg Pro 24 III sequencer program in the end of 1987. Per-Henrik bought his first 12-stringed guitar to write songs with, and the performing at local rock music competitions went on, as unsuccessfully as usual.
The original idea of making great sounding synthie-pop music, and making a lot of money seemed very far away at this time. The songwriting continued, and in August 1988 Tomas bought the AKAI X-7000 sampling keyboard. The influences started to come from other directions when Andreas wanted to sing music that was quite a long way from what the other three wanted to make, and things seemed hopeless.
A turning point was reached in March 1989, when they got an opportunity to record a song on an LP along with other bands in the area. The song, “Burning Desire” (the title makes you puke, doesn´t it), was recorded at Studioljudet, Surte. The desire to make music returned, and they invested in new instruments in the summer 1989. Tomas bought a Casio FZ-1 sampler in July, and then he bought an Emulator Emax in August 1989 with money that he borrowed from Jörgen´s mother. Jörgen later bought the FZ-1 from Tomas, and Tomas could return the money to Jörgen´s mother. At that time, they had told Andreas that he no longer was in the group, and they were back to where they started. No singer, but some damn good songs.
At this time they had their studio at Tomas´s house. He had his own house 300 meters away from his parents house, so they could play as loud as they wanted. Later that winter they moved back to Jörgen´s house because of the distance to Tomas.
Suddenly it was Christmas, and there was a Christmas show taking place in their school on the 19th of December. The day before the show, Tomas, Jörgen and Per-Henrik realized that they were going to perform in the show. Since they didn´t have a singer, they joined another band who had a singer, and went home to Jörgen´s house to make some music together. The three new members were Magnus Gink, Bjarne Johansson and Niklas Eriksson. Niklas was the proud owner of a Korg M-1, and the performance was made with Tomas, Jörgen and Bjarne on Synthesizers, Per-Henrik on Acoustic guitar, and Niklas as the leadsinger. This was such a successful performance, and everybody knew that this was the start of a new band.
When hearing what sounds Jörgen and Tomas had to their samplers, Bjarne bought an Emulator Emax, and Magnus bought a Casio FZ-1. Niklas had a IBM computer, and from that day they started to make their music on the Voyetra Sequencer Plus program, which at that time was a much better sequencer program than the Steinberg Pro 24 III.
“They drank so many beers that
they forgot to bring back everything
but the synthesizers”
The constellation was very successful, and they needed a name fast. After a few seconds they came up with “Yellowstone”. Not a good name, but shit happens. On the 21th of December 1989 Magnus and Tomas put together some songs which they were going to perform, but there was something wrong with the PA system, so they couldn´t perform. Instead they drank so many beers that they forgot to bring back everything but the synthesizers.
On March the 10th they performed at a bigger rock music competition in Gothenburg. They insisted on performing first, so that they could go to an enormous party afterwards. They made a brilliant performance, but they had no idea if they had won the competition or not.
The summer came after a few minor gigs, and in early August they traveled to Smålands stenar to appear in a competition for bands from all of Sweden. Niklas was abroad, and so was Jörgen and Bjarne, so the only thing that was left to do was to let Tomas be the lead singer for one night. In front of 700 people, Tomas, Per-Henrik and Magnus won second prize in the competition. At that same time, Jörgen traded his FZ-1 for a Korg Wavestation, and also bought the Cubase program for his Atari.
Later, Niklas wanted to leave the group, and in January 1991 Yellowstone consisted of five keyboard players, but no singer.
This was the end of the pre Vez era.
The definite start
The story continues as Yellowstone had a gig at the Red house café in Kungälv. They needed a singer, and Tomas thought of Jesper, whom they had seen perform live in 1990. Since he was the brother of Joakim, from whom Tomas had borrowed sounds in 1989, they knew who he was. Jesper found the idea thrilling, and they started to work on a performance.
The 2nd of February 1991 they performed their act, with Bjarne on Emax, Magnus on FZ-1 (with a broken foot), Tomas on Emax and Wavestation, Per-Henrik on toms. There was no room for Jörgen on stage, so he recorded the show on video. Jesper made his first appearance for what soon would be Kiethevez.
After the gig, there was a great party at Jörgen´s house. Tomas slept on a vacuum cleaner. Jörgen broke some hearts and went to bed. Magnus jumped on one leg the whole evening, since someone had hidden his crutches. Jesper met a girl in Jörgen’s mother’s bedroom. Afterwards everybody watched skinless people on TV…
“Covered in black leather, MIDI cables,
white make-up, black eyes and lips”
From this night and on, Tomas, Jörgen, Per-Henrik and Jesper started writing their own material, and the contact with Magnus and Bjarne went to an musical end. The definite break was made on the 19th of March, when the four entered the stage as Kie the Vez in the last appearance at the local rock music competition. They had serious problems with the jury every year, and for that reason they made a song called “Kill the jury” which they performed along with a song called “Kiethevez”.
Covered in black leather, MIDI cables, white make-up, black eyes and lips (Jörgen had a black nylon condom over his head) Jesper shouted out his guts to the audience, and Jörgen and Per-Henrik laid down on the stage after one and a half song in protest. Nobody understood what they were doing, so no one got offended. This was the definite start for Kiethevez.
Some weeks later, they recorded the song “Female Terror” on the album “Faces and Images” for Limur records in May 1991. That summer was a good time for writing songs, and in August 1991 Tomas moved to Gothenburg. In September they moved their instruments to Kie the Studio in Gothenburg, since everybody but Jesper went to school there at that time, and the material produced during summer and early autumn was performed at Valvet, Gothenburg in September 1991.
Freddy Mercury died two days after Tomas had written the song Mercury, and that song along with many others were performed at a electronic music club, called Obsession. The performance was divided into two 45 minutes parts, and during the second part, a movie recorded by Kiethevez was shown on a big screen behind the band. It was magic!
The rest of the autumn they spent in KieTheStudio recording what was to result in the MC “Undressed Confessions”, which was released on the 26th of December at a charity gig for Amnesty International. For those of you who´ve never heard this magnificent cassette, I can only say I´m sorry. Nine of the best songs made so far.
The tape was only pressed in a limited edition, but somehow the cassette reached as far as Australia, and the letters started to come.
During the spring they occasionally performed around the Gothenburg area, and in September 1992 they got a letter from a newly started record company called “October”, with a request to appear with three songs on a compilation compact disc. The songs “Perfection”, “Lovely Spring” and “Relief” were recorded, and appeared on “Sounds of October”. The cooperation was started, and went on.
The man behind October was Dennis Berggren, and soon after the first album was made, a second would follow, named with the clever name “Further Sounds of October”. For this occasion, Kiethevez made a live recording at White corner, Gothenburg, and selected an extended version of “Perfection”, “Mercury” and “Hope” to be the three songs to appear on the CD. Tomas bought the AKAI S1000 sampler in November 1992.
During this period Jesper bought the Kawai K4 synthesizer, Per-Henrik moved to Tarifa, Spain just above Africa, to windsurf. The year was now 1993.
That spring of 1993, Kiethevez signed a contract with October, and started to record a 5-track CDM named “Replenish My Mind”. After a few minor promotion gigs, there was a kind of release party for the record in Ludvika, Sweden on the 10th of May.
The record was released soon after, and made it to the charts in Italy six weeks later. Tomas made his military service with start in June the 14th 1993, Per-Henrik got back from Spain and did his military service in August the 9th.
Meanwhile, they started to work on the title track for the Two Men Out production “Violent Relations”, which was a Mikael Kyrklund film.
“The show itself was a success, except
for that one thing, that you couldn´t see the
stage for all smoke from time to time”
They started to work on their first full length album “Three Empty Words” in the autumn of 1993. At this time they had moved their studio from Gothenburg to Surte, where they also recorded the album in February 1994.
During this time, they just did some occasional gigs whenever they were asked. Tomas and Per-Henrik got out from the military on the 27th of May 1994, and Jörgen started his military service on the 10th of October 1994.
At this time, a release date was set for the album: the 20th of October 1994, and the release party was held on the CC club in central Gothenburg that same date. The club could only take 400 persons, and it was sold out very early, and everybody was there.
The show itself was a success, except for that one thing, that you couldn´t see the stage for all smoke from time to time.
The record was the start of the three empty words tour 94-95, which was arranged by their new manager and old friend, Tony Svensson. Tony and Tomas played as an opening act to Kiethevez during the tour as Xhile. Most of the time Jörgen was in the military, and that made Kiethevez look like almost a three man band. During this time Kiethevez played in all of Sweden at about 20 gigs.
In January 1995 they released yet another single from the “Three Empty Words” album. This time it was a double a-side single with “Anything Higher” and “Nothing I Can Do” as the main tracks. This record brought a great deal of attention to the group, and for the first time Japan got interested in their music at the music festival in Cannes, France. Per-Henrik bought the Roland Super JV 1080 synthesizer.
During the summer of 1995, Kiethevez started to work on the motion picture soundtrack to another Mikael Kyrklund production called “Destinies”. They decided that the title track should be released on a five track CD named “Destinies”. This record was not planned at first, and musically it can be described as somewhat different than the earlier work from the group. In the autumn of 1995 Tomas bought the E-MU ESi-32 sampling module.
A video was also made to the title track “Destinies”.
In March 1996 they moved their studio from Tomas and Per-Henrik´s apartment to a nearby office, and they started the building of Coeur Noir Studios. Some new equipment was purchased, mostly studiostuff, and the Novation BassStation and Deep Bass 9.
Most of the time during 1996 they worked on the forthcoming album, also known under the name “The Forthcoming Album”. 25 tracks were made, and in December that same year the studio was all set, and all that was left now was to record the songs. For this reason, they ordered the E-MU Darwin 8-track hard-disc recorder, the ultimate recording tool. For one reason or another, the Darwin wasn’t meant to be delivered at that time, so they had to wait. In the meantime, they bought the Audio-technica AT4033a.
Because the album was meant to be released in April 1997, they had to work like dogs, and nothing could go wrong. This was when the basic communication between the band, computers and Darwin failed. Darwin couldn´t handle the pressure, and collapsed.
After several attempts to get the Darwin on the right track again, they succeeded and began the recordings at last. Some minor trouble with the computer scared the death out of them, but it was just an old MIDI-cable that didn´t want any information to reach the computer in the right order, 01100 instead of 10011!
“At this time, there was still no name
found for the forthcoming album”
Only one live performance was made during the spring. It took place in Stockholm, and was a great live performance by Kiethevez and two other great bands, Restricted Area and Kliché, but the audience didn’t show up. Sad, but true! Kiethevez went home to Gothenburg directly after the show to continue with the studiowork at Coeur Noir Studios. During the spring Kiethevez also released a CDS named “År Som Blad”, which is a Swedish version of “Off The Wall”. The other track is “Röd Blick” which is a Swedish version of “Destinies”. They also participated in several compilationalbums, among them: SHOT 3.1, Your World In Our Eyes, Rising! Synthpop VS. The World, Reconstruction Time, Best Of European Synthpop. Two new songs were presented on SHOT 3.1, “Off The Wall” and “In My Eye”. In May Coeur Noir released a homepage for Kiethevez.
In June they were ready with all the vocals except for some female vocals by Jessika Strand. At this time, there was still no name found for the forthcoming album, but they had a handful of damn good songs to release. They worked with the arrangements during this month and it was very hot in the studio. Therefore they opened a window, which resulted in that a flowerpot fell down on the Sansui Taperecorder and filled it with soil. But that was a minor problem, because it wasn´t in use anymore. Kiethevez also recorded a video for the CDM “Can´t See This”, made by Marcus Johansson. So far, so good. The only things remaining now were to give a name to the album, choose the album tracks, and mix it at Gothenburg Sound Studio, Studio I (where the “Destinies” CDM was recorded).
After a lot of discussion Kiethevez finally decided which songs that should be represented on the new album, and they gave the so called “Forthcoming Album” a name, “Opium”. At the Studio 1 in Gothenburg they started to mix the new songs and work with the sound of “Opium”. Together with Urmas Plunt at Gothenburg Sound they mixed and improved the new songs during July. Everything worked perfectly, which was quite confusing when you think of the earlier problems, and the album was given a very nice sound during this weeks. Everyone was pleased with the new album “Opium”, and at last the new Kiethevez album was ready to be released in the the beginning of October, almost three years after the release of the “Three Empty Words” album, three years of blood, sweat and tears. The new album was meant to be an album with quite a lot of different angels of the same type of music, different sound and different reflections of the creations – but always the special Kiethevez sound – and that is what “Opium” was all about. And we were very satisfied when everything was mixed. A sleeve was designed – and everything was now prepared for the release. Even a release party was booked at this time – on the 26th of September at the ROMO NIGHT club in Gothenburg – about one week before the official release. Kiethevez was back on the scene!
In August Kiethevez continued to prepare the release of “Opium” together with the record company. The new album was mastered and the album was now completed to 100%.
The release party for “OPIUM” the 26th of September was a success. Kiethevez performed the following songs: Beyond And Below, Seems So Easy, Anything Higher, One Roman Choir, Replenish My Mind, Happy Today, Can’t See This, Mercury, Slightly Perceptive and Hope. The ROMO NIGHT-club was crowded!
The 8th of October Kiethevez released the brand new CDM “Can’t See This”, containing 9 tracks. Six different versions of “Can’t See This”, “Deep”, “Off The Wall (Autumn Saint’s Mix)” and “År Som Blad”. Some of the remix teams were Forbidden Colours, Paradigm, The Echoing Green, Jennifer, The Memory Garden. This was originally going to be a two-part single with separate US and Swedish versions, but was combined into one nice package. A “Can’t See This” video was released.
The 17th of October Kiethevez released the new CD “OPIUM” containing: Wait, Religion, Can´t See This, Happy Today, Make Me, Erina, Destinies, One Roman Choir, Holy Water, For The Love Of Ophelia, The End, Seems So Easy, Off The Wall.
“The Opium album ended up among
the three best alternative albums in
Sweden that following year”
The Opium album sold quite well, both in Europe and in America. In America the Opium album was released under licence of A Different Drum in the end of 1997. Kiethevez made a mini-tour in Sweden during the winter of 1997/98, playing in some of the major cities of Sweden, such as Uppsala, Göteborg, Stockholm and Örebro. The Opium album ended up among the three best alternative albums in Sweden that following year at the SAMA arrangement (Swedish Alternative Music Awards). At the same time they recorded the Erina video, shot by Marcus at Evenco. In September 1998, Kiethevez released two singles from the Opium album. The Erina single was released for the European market, containing Erina (Single Edit), Beyond and Below, Erina (Radio Edit). One Roman Choir was released for the American market, containing One Roman Choir (Radio Edit), In My Eye, One Roman Choir (Holy Mix), Happy Today, One Roman Choir (Holier Mix), Can’t See This (CD-ROM Video), Erina (CD-ROM Video). The American single was a hit on the electro- and alternative dance floors for a long time.
After that hectic period, Kiethevez started to work on a new album. But there was a lack of inspiration that created negative energy. After a few months, all the new songs were thrown in the garbage can. The songs were not good enough, and there was something with the sound that didn’t feel right. They agreed on taking a major break from creating music, they really needed it in the early 1999. The members of Kiethevez worked on sideprojects like Xhile (with Tony Svensson as the leadsinger and PH Petersson and T Amneskog on keyboards), lead singer Jesper was writing songs with a friend and Jörgen was composing film music. Nothing happened for almost 7 months. After the Opium album they were drained of creativity and inspiration. A lot of touring, singles, videos and so on created some kind of emptiness.
In September 1999 Kiethevez was signed for two shows in New York, and one show in Canada. Because of the bad weather on the Atlantic, Kiethevez had to stay in Paris for a few days. They just made it to the show at the DownTime, New York, the 17th of September – and it was a major success. It was crowded and everyone knew the lyrics of the songs performed. After some sightseeing it was time for another show on Long Island the next day at the Detour Night Club. Kiethevez played the best songs from both Three Empty Words and Opium. The third gig was cancelled, because the arranger threat the members to death with a screwdriver…Anyway, the American visit was really great and the band made a lot of new friends. Hopefully there will be a return to the US within the near future.
After coming home to Sweden after a horrible flight crossing the Atlantic, they decided to perform in their hometown, Gothenburg. At Kåren they had a showcase together with the Swedish alternative band Yvonne. Kiethevez performed songs from Opium such as Erina, Can’t See This, Happy Today and One Roman Choir. It was the first time they performed Erina live. They also played a very special version of Holy Water – also from the Opim album. In the end of 1999 Erina was selected as one of the best alternative singles that same year at the Swedish Alternative Music Awards.
It was in the late of 2000 that the members came together again and talked about the future. No new songs so far. The inspiration was low, and nothing had happened since they threw a couple of songs in the trash can back in 1999. There was nothing to write about, there was nothing to say. The only thing that took their time was to upgrade the studio. Some new synthesizer modules, some new guitar effects modules and a new computer were the only results during 2001. To gain some inspiration Kiethevez decided to perform at the Gothenburg Festival in August 2001. They choose the hits from Three Empty Words and the Opium albums. They also played special versions of Destinies, With the Frights Inside and an acoustic version of Holy Water. It was a successful performance and afterwards there was a really great party at a pub not far away.
“It was like an awakening. The new,
not yet titled, album was taking form”
In December 2001, the members came together again in a meeting. They discussed the being of the band, the future and how to get started with a new album. The inspiration started to grow. It was like an awakening. In June they decided to start to work on a new album. During the remaining months of 2002 a couple of new songs were completed. It was the rise of a new sound. The same characteristic melancholy melodies were still there, but the sound had matured – changed to something more organic, to something more truthful and honest. After listening to the new songs, they agreed to work further with that new sound.
The first six months of 2003 were spent in hard work in the new studio. Some new songs were composed and everything felt really perfect. The inspiration and the motivation had created some good results. In September 2003 KTV released a brand new website. The new, not yet titled, album was taking form.
To be continued…