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Maria Sjoholm / Flavia Canel - vocalist / guitarist, Drain STH
July 29, 1999 - Ozzfest III - Shoreline Amphitheater - Mt View, CA

In the past, Sweden has been known primarily for oddly-creative yet sturdy furniture and blonde babes. Not since Abba has there really been a worldwide musical force that defined a generation. The time has come to change that. Enter Drain, a bevy of four musicians from Stockholm, who play their music rough edged and to the core. Oh, and they also happen to fit the rumor of the babe export trade.

Rest assured, being a foursome of females, this is no Swedish Bikini Team to just ogle over. When Drain plays, you listen - and you listen good. The band has recently released a new CD, Freaks Of Nature, the follow-up to the previous Horror Wrestling. Dispersed are the ties to an Alice In Chains sound as Drain follows their own path of style. Drain recently appeared on tour with the OzzFest '99. Although they appeared on the second stage, the two-time tour veterans should be main stage. We had the chance to talk with vocalist Maria Sjöholm and guitarist Flavia Canel and get some more insight to the creation and direction of the band.

K2K: How long has the band been together?
MS: Six years ago as this line-up.
FC: Yes, this is when we formed Drain STH was six years ago.
MS: We had all been playing in different bands of course over the years.

K2K: How old were you guys when you first started playing?
FC: I was 13.
MS: I started to play the acoustic guitar when I was about 10. Then I changed to electric guitar and then, now, to singing.

K2K: Maria, you were not the original singer?
MS: We actually formed as Drain when I joined. It was other bands before that.

K2K: Where did you get the name from?
FC: Oh, we just made it up.
MS: Brainstorming. It took us a while. It's hard to find a good name. Nothing fitted with our lyrics and the way that we wanted the Drain influence. I mean, it's not like the "drain" of the sink.
FC: It's like to drain yourself.
MS: It took a while to find a name and we've had some bad suggestions. The "STH" is for Stockholm.
FC: We're only "STH" in America.
MS: When we first came over here there was another band called Drain (ed. note: side-project for a member of the Butthole Surfers). That guy was pretty pissed so we had to add something or change the name. So we just added "STH". Now we have different things [allusions] like "Straight To Hell" or whatever. "Swing That Heineken" and different things.

K2K: Influences as the band?
MS: Aaahh, we don't have any. I mean, we have different ones.
FC: We don't one that all of us are influenced by.

K2K: I read on your website and bios that you were influenced by Black Sabbath and Alice In Chains.
FC: We all grew up listening to it.
MS: People just compare us to Alice In Chains after we released our first album. They always want to compare new bands with bands that are already out there, so we're using backup vocals that sound a bit like Alice In Chains. It's not like an influence.

K2K: What did you guys listen to when not doing this?
FC: I listen to rap and hip-hop music.
MS: We're around this kind of music every day. I never even listen to music anymore. If I do, I listen to totally different music like classical or Frank Sinatra or whatever. Different stuff to clean your head a little bit.

K2K: Being a female band, do you think that people treat you as a novelty or respect you as musicians?
MS: It's hard for us to say. It's extremely hard for us to say. We don't know what people think. It's just sort of a job thing. We just go out there, we're a band, and a good band.

K2K: Is it harder or easier being a female band?
MS: We have nothing to compare with. We've always been women and we are doing this because we like it. For us it's no big deal. We're not trying to prove anything like, "Oh we can do this". We just go out to play.

K2K: If you weren't doing this style of music, what would you be doing?
FC: That's hard to say.
MS: I wouldn't be in the music business.

K2K: Do you see yourselves changing your style later or adding to it?
FC: We never plan what we're going to do or how we're going to sound. When we sit down to write, we just write whatever comes out. We never discuss it. We can't really say how we're going to feel the next time we start writing.
MS: I also think that since we've toured a lot, and met so many bands, that you always learn and you develop a lot. Plus we've added a lot. There's a lot of new stuff on the new album that's not on the first one. We change a lot.

K2K: How has the response been?
MS: Really very good.

K2K: What is wildest show that you've ever played?
MS: Phoenix.
FC: With a rotating stage.
MS: People were mad.
FC: A lot of beer added to the craziness.

K2K: Favorite place to play?
MS: New York. Phoenix.

K2K: Do you prefer playing in America or Europe?
MS: I prefer America a little bit because we're doing better over here.
FC: We haven't toured in Europe since 1996 so it's hard to say how we would do now. I think there are advantages in both places. The venues are a little bit better in Europe. They have showers. A little bit nicer, but America is great in it's own way.

K2K: The first CD is called "Horror Wrestling"? Where did you get the title?
MS: Yeah, Horrible, yeah. (laughs) It started out as a joke I think. It's a horror genre, Mexican Horror Wrestling, splatter movies. We never watched them. We just saw the title and thought it was pretty cool, so we took the "Mexican" away and and put that in. We thought it was a cool title that mixed in with the lyrics.

K2K: What about the newest CD title, "Freaks Of Nature"?
FC: It's actually a joke. It's more or less something like, "Oh, they're women? Can they play?". So we just made a thing out of it and with the cover. On "Horror Wrestling" we didn't have any pictures at all and no press photos or anything. So we figured, "Why not from one extreme to another?", and put ourselves in dresses on the cover and then "Freaks Of Nature" was sort of a joke.

K2K: You re-released "Horror Wrestling" with four more songs. Why did you do that?
FC: Because we got a new record company and they wanted us to come back and re-release it. We recorded a new song, [Motörhead's] "Ace Of Spades". We used to play that song live and played it really speed. We were joking around in the rehearsal studio and started to play it really slow. So we tried it live and the audience liked it and the record company said, "Please record it now."

K2K: How long is it now? About 8 minutes?
MS: Really long.
FC: We cut it down a little bit. We had to take a little bit off.
MS: If you do a cover song, you should do something with it. There's no use to play it the same. We did actually record "20th Century Boy", a T-Rex song, for [the film] "Detroit Rock City".

K2K: Maria, do you write most of the lyrics yourself?
MS: Me and the drummer [Martina]. We actually wrote 50% each on "Horror Wrestling", but this time we wrote a lot together and then I wrote a couple myself.

K2K: What are the subjects?
MS: Very personal. It's about life. About boyfriends and lots of life and death. We work a lot with the lyrics. It's very important, lyrics.

K2K: What is the music scene like in Sweden?
MS: There are a lot of clubs but this style of music is totally banned in Sweden. They never play it on the radio. They're into Euro-disco and pop music.
FC: They are playing Drain now.

K2K: Are you becoming a personal favorite of Sweden's now that you are better known?
FC: We've been here so much and, now that we've released the album, we're here all the time, but I hear that they email us all the time and they play us on the radio. Even at 8 o'clock in the morning.
MS: There is a lot of good metal bands in Sweden.

K2K: How has it been touring on with a festival?
MS: Fine. We did the OzzFest in 1997 as well. It's best to be playing in front of so many people every day. I like festivals. It's a little hard because you have to play different times every day.

Written by Philip Anderson
Maria (kneeling), Randy Arenas (of Slam Nancy), Flavia, K2K's Tara Hauff, Tara's daughter Mikayla, Martina, and Anna.
Maria, Randy Arenas, Flavia, K2K's Phil Anderson, Martina, and Anna.

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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