When I spoke to guitarist Niklas Källgren of Swedish heavy rocking trio Truckfighters last week, he was in a restaurant in Chicago. Outside it was cold, “like Sweden,” he said, laughing. His band was just starting a two-week tour that had already seen its fair share of tumult, considering the original booking agent had gone AWOL before confirming the West Coast end of it and that their tourmates, West Virginian instrumentalists Karma To Burn, had likewise pulled out of the game.
Nonetheless, Truckfighters had decided to fulfill the commitments they’d already made, and even though they were on the East Coast less than a year ago, come back for a run alongside The Midnight Ghost Train, who delayed recording their own album to jump on the tour at the last minute. The fact that they didn’t immediately unpack their bags and stay home in Örebro speaks to the reason they’ve been able to amass a dedicated underground following: They care about what they do.
Well, that helps anyway. There’s also the fact that they rock with unspeakable proficiency and have an energy on stage that could embarrass bands half their age who, say, hadn’t already been doing it for a decade. The subjects of a recent documentary called A Film… About A Band Called Truckfighters by Joerg Steineck and Christian Maciejewski, it’s my pleasure to bring this Truckfighters Q&A to you.
How are the shows so far on this tour?
They’ve been good. We had a really good set yesterday in Dayton. All the shows have been cool. Not like full houses, but good.
What brought you back to the U.S. so soon? It was just a couple months ago that you guys were here for the first time.
The original intention was to play most of the dates on the West Coast, but the first booking agent we had started booking on the East Coast thinking we should try and play across the country, through to the West Coast. But then he got ill when he was just about to start to book Midwest to West Coast dates.
We had confirmed those, and then he got ill and we didn’t hear from him for a month or something, and we got an email that said, “I can’t work anymore” (laughs). Then we were lucky enough to find another booking agent to finish the bookings. She decided it was too hard to finish going further away, so we kind of rounded it out to come back again.
Basically, the tour now, it goes as far west as Austin, but it’s not on the way to California, like we hoped for. We did East Coast last time, now we were thinking we should do a little bit on the East Coast and more on the West Coast, but this is cool this way.
What happened with Karma To Burn?
You have to ask them (laughs). I don’t know. They only said “for personal reasons.” We haven’t heard anything concrete why it’s not happening. It was a shame, but we have a really good band playing with us now. The Midnight Ghost Train is a really cool band.
How did they come into the picture?
I’m not really sure. We kind of made an announcement on Facebook that we needed a band ASAP (laughs), and then there was quite a few bands, actually, getting in touch with us that wanted in on the tour. Basically it was up to Michelle [Temple, of Lechuza Booking, who picked up solidifying the rest of the tour] to check out the bands and talk to them and see which ones we should have.
[At this point the background noise swells and drowns out the call.]
And you guys are traveling together, obviously.
Yeah. We’re sleeping together in one van. It’s nice. Cozy (laughs).
To talk about the documentary a little bit: How do you feel about the finished product that’s getting out there?
I really like it. It’s not what I would have expected when the guys told us, “Hey, we’re going to make a movie about you, a documentary.” We didn’t know what to expect, because we hadn’t seen anything else they had done or we didn’t know they were going to make this really cool, fun, entertaining documentary. We’re really happy about how it turned out. I think it kind of gives a good impression of how we actually work and how we are, even though they sometimes make it in a more... they make it with a little more humor, you know. But we’re cool with it and we think it’s good.
So they filmed everything and you didn’t see it again until it was finished?
Yeah. We saw one version, which they said would be the finished version, and we were like, “Yeah, this is cool.” And then they changed it a bit, did a little more filming, and then we got another version, and they said, “This is the complete film,” and we were like, “Yeah, this is cool.” We didn’t want to interfere in their work. It’s Joerg and Christian, their achievement and their movie.
We just think it’s cool that they did it. It’s really awesome. But we didn’t want to tell them “do this” or “do this” because that would destroy the honesty of the film, I think. It’s not like Truckfighters making a film about themselves. It’s two film guys to make the movie about Truckfighters, and they should do it exactly the way they want to do it.
Do you have anything in the works for the next album yet?
Yeah, we recorded actually five drum tracks and a little bit of guitar so far, but we haven’t written all the songs yet. We decided to do a little bit of recording anyway, just to get it going. The songs are long. A normal band probably could take these five songs and put out 40 minutes of music (laughs), but we’re going to make some more songs.
This time, we actually think that we should have some extra material, outtakes to choose between, because it’s a little bit of a shame now when Mania is being released in North America by Tee Pee that we didn’t have any outtakes to put on it for an American special version.
So we decided we have to record a few more songs than we actually need for the album. And also, it’s a way to make the album even better, to be able to remove one or two songs that doesn’t really fit or isn’t as good as the rest.
I had heard the rumor that Tee Pee was signing you guys. Will they put out the new album too?
They might (laughs). We haven’t signed a contract. Of course, we’re gonna talk about it. That would be cool.
That would have to be a change for you from doing it all on your own.
Yeah, but the thing is, when it gets to a certain level, you feel like there’s so much you could do if you had the time and the energy to do it, but you can’t because it’s too much with the band, when you tour a lot, a lot happens, and you have label work, which is also lots of work.
I think we’re ready for—we need some kind of record [label]—something different for the next album, and we felt like it would be cool to try to be like normal musicians for a while (laughs). So we’re going to try it, but we still have all of the old albums that we’ll work ourselves.
It’s also nice to have someone else working for the band. We really liked MeteorCity, but they didn’t do much work with us. It was more like putting it out without working so hard for it. But at that time, it was really good for us. We got it out in the States and it was awesome.
But it would be good to do a real collaboration with a proper label. Hopefully. But you never know, maybe we’ll change our minds and do it ourselves. That’s what we’re used to (laughs).
When do you think you’ll do the rest of the writing for the new record? Will you go from this tour right into writing more songs?
Hopefully. It depends on how tired we are when we get home. Maybe we’ll just take a few weeks before we write, feel like cooling down. Also, we have some gigs in Europe in April. We’re playing Desertfests in London and Berlin, and we have a weekend in Greece, so we’ll see what happens.
We’re supposed to have time in May and June at least to finish those songs. The intention is to have the album ready this year, but we also try not to give ourselves a deadline, because we want it to be even better than the last album, so I don’t know, it’s hard.
But that’s a tricky question, because sometimes you need a deadline to actually get stuff going. We try. You have to take the time it takes. And we have our own recording studio, so we don’t really need to actually plan it that much.
Of course we need to plan when to be there, not to rent it out to others from time to time, but it’s not like we have a deadline when we have to be in the studio or not. So that’s kind of cool.
The Truckfighters documentary is available now and the band will be playing in Philadelphia at The Station on March 16 and at Public Assembly in Brooklyn on March 17. More info at truckfightersfilm.de and facebook.com/truckfighters.