Mustasch a contract with Nuclear Blast in 2010. During this time, they released the following single:
• I’m Frustrated
Actually, the album-title says it all: "Mustasch". Simple, straight forward and without compromise, according to the singer and band-leader Ralf Gyllenhammar’s vision. It’s an impressive CV the band has achieved: Five albums, a huge hit with "Double Nature", sold-out tours of Scandinavia, opening- and headline tours with Motörhead, Gluecifer and cult-band Rose Tattoo in Europe, three Swedish Grammy Nominations and a Grammy Award for "Metal of the Year" in 2008.
After all this, the band reached a turning point. Full speed ahead focusing on the band or nothing at all. No half-hearted solutions, no compromises. All or nothing. - That’s the way I work as a person, Ralf explains over a cup of coffee a Tuesday morning in Stockholm. Drunk or sober, angry or happy, all or nothing. There are no in-betweens in my world. The result of bringing matters to a head was seeing two original members – guitarist Hannes Hansson and drummer Mats Hansson – choose to leave Mustasch, despite the success.
Following a run of temporary substitutes the band landed in a line-up where Ralf was joined by fellow founding member Mats Johansson on bass as well as new guitarist David Johannesson and drummer Danne McKenzie.
Mustasch Mk II entered the Bonus Sound Studios to record with producer Tobias Lindell (production credits include Europe, A-Teens, E-Type and Heed among others). The resulting album focuses on an equal strength in the individual songs. Where earlier works have had to factor in the opinions of different members – or sometimes complete lack of will to play certain songs, the end-result was patchy as a direct consequence. - The previous records have had three or four really good songs, the rest became filler material to meet everyones wishes.
This time we felt like an even album was the step to take – and that meant it was my route we had to take.
Today we have established that I am the boss of the band, and everyone is happy in their role here. The choice of Tobias Lindell came after the band visited the studio with previous producer Roberto Laghi. Tobias’ head-strong approach to experimenting and working in a non-conventional way was decisive in the bands choice of people to work with in the studio. That it only took Tobias 20 minutes to soundcheck the drums – a time consuming and boring chore that can claim days otherwise – was just one of the advantages. Tobias is also a producer who utilises modern technology to its full extent, and the whole studio is now digitized. Whether it would be better to work digitally than with old tapes is a discussion where opinions run high within the musical community. But the choice is obvious if you ask Ralf. - Well, of course that depends on what format you’re going to be playing the music on. If you only produce vinyl, sure, then you’re probably better off with the old tapes, but today when we’ve got CD and computers playing digital files, it’s just plain stupid to not record digitally.
There’s no point in being backward-aiming with the sound: if Black Sabbath, The Who and Zeppelin had the technical possibilities we’ve got today, of course they would have used them. I think it’s one’s duty as a musician to use modern technology and push development forwards. Another question that’s been heavily debated is whether, in this day and age, you need a record label or not. After being signed to, and releasing four albums on major-label EMI, and then two on indie label Regain Records, with whom the band also has released this new album with, Mustasch have tried all variations.
Ralf has a nuanced analysis of the question. The problem is in bad contracts. Without anyone helping you in the negotiations you can easily find yourself in a situation where you’re making very small amounts of money, and also having to pay tour-support and other costs out of that royalty.
"Mustasch" is the last contracted album with Regain. Whether there will be more records there, or if the band continues to do it all by themselves remains to be seen. The song-writing for "Mustasch" has been unusually painless, which Ralf credits the new members and the new band-order. Today he’s free to write as he finds best, follow his instinct and above all: focus on the best songs – not the songs the other members want to play.
Following the success of "Double Nature", one could easily think that the pressure would be heavier on Ralf and the band to deliver, but the only pressure Ralf ever felt was internal rather than external. - Earlier, I wrote a little bit every day. These days I have to gather the ideas and write in more concentrated sessions. They’re not as frequent, but on the other hand there’s more material to pick from. The lyrics are the same as always: anger and frustration. Desolation. I’m constantly angry… and right now, I’m most angry and sad over the fact that two old members chose to leave the band. Those feelings have now become lyrics and songs. It’s as simple as that. A direct result of the new no-compromise approach to the songwriting is the ballad "I’m Frustrated".
While recording the song – which, by all who’ve heard it has been deemed one of the great singles – suggestions of dist guitars and metal drums were thrown in.
But Ralf dismissed all such ideas. - It’s a ballad, and then it should be one full on. All or nothing, once again. We got 18 people from the Gothenburg Ensemble to add the strings. All arranged by Tommy Hansson, a Swede who’s worked with Desmond Child among others. I want to prove myself as a songwriter as well. It’s a good song. I am a damn good songwriter. I can write songs, not just front a band or sing. Another result is that the album is harder than earlier records, but with other tones of expression that gives a different perception of the arrangements and music.
What previously was looked upon as extreme has now got other surfaces and ways of expression. One particular way of expression will probably raise a few eyebrows: Swedish folk musician Kalle Moraeus guests on the song "Desolate", adding a line from old folk-writer Lars-Höga Jonke (which also can be found on Jan Johanssons legendary "Jazz på Svenska" album). The connection Mustasch-Moraeus isn’t as far-fetched as one could be led to believe. - I’ve got my roots in folk-music, Ralf explains. My first instrument was the accordion and I’ve been to quite a few accordion-music sessions. As my parents do a lot of folk-dancing, it was at these sessions I spent my summers.
A few years ago, when the whole band shared an apartment in Gothenburg, we always played Jan Johansson and (swedish crooner) Evert Taube at our after-partys. It was the best way to come down after a night of partying. I don’t think I’ll be mixing in more folk-music with Mustasch, however. There are others who do that a lot better than us. After the album is released on the 30:th of september, a tour of Sweden awaits. It starts in Östersund on October the 8:th, and ends in Örebro on October 31:st, the rest of Scandinavia will shortly follow and after that, the work with selling Mustasch to Europe starts. - We’ll be travelling around, our manager and myself, presenting the record to labels like we were some refrigerator-salesmen. But that’s cool. The goal is to go as big everywhere as we are in our home territory, where we are one of the biggest acts around. All or nothing. Nothing else will do. "Mustasch" is the evidence of that.