Bo Anders Persson interview about Pärson Sound, International Harvester, Träd, Gräs och Stenar & beyond
Thank you for taking your time, Bo. Where did you grow up and what were some of your influences as a teenager?
As a kid I was singing with my parents in a Baptist church i Stockholm, I remember being attracted by those organ base lines. Later I had a really good Jewish piano teacher, when she realized I was hopeless she anyway taught me a little theory, then I was able to try playing some New Orleans-style jazz with my class-mates, i guess it was around 1950 or so (I´m as old as that!) I sure owe her a lot!
Anyway I found out I was not talented enough to make a living on music, so I studied technology up till I was around 21 . One summer I was working at a big chemical plant in Liverpool. The all industrial England was too much, I got very depressed and decided to look for something that could be worth living for. And so I started try understanding what music was, from the bottom, studying harmony and counterpoint for some years, and going to concerts with works of Messiaen and Stockhausen and so on. There I met Torbjörn Abelli, when I for a shore time attended the Music Academy of Stockholm we formed small noice-oriented group, with Arne Ericsson and Urban Yman, practicing in the Academy cellar. I also made some noises on my own, using primitive tape-looping. Then Terry Riley came to town, and we all took part in a performance of his performance of “In C”, a minimalistic classic if there is one! And that´s where we started: Repeat some primitive phrases of your own like, (preferably NOT all of them strictly 4-bar!) add bass and drums, and you have Pärson sound. By then Torbjörn played base, Urban electric violin, and Arne was trying a home-made “cello” and also a Hofner keyboard. And above all, poet/singer/sax player Thomas Tidholm, and the multi-talented drummer Thomas Mera Gartz joined the band. We tour small places for couple of years, occasionally bigger clubs. We even played support for the Doors! Think it was autumn 1968.
Were you in any bands before forming Pärson Sound? Any releases from then?
Pärson Sound was formed in Stockholm 1967 by Royal Music Academy students Bo Anders Persson & Arne Ericsson. You combined the musical ideas of Terry Reily with rock music & Swedish folk music. Would you like to tell me the concept behind it and how do you remember some of the early sessions?
We started out as an artsy group making some more or less structured noises for various performances in Stockholm, sometimes using tape-loops, sometimes instruments, sometimes everything in the room. Sometimes planned, and sometimes driven by sheer panic! But when we got the base/drum thing going we met other audiences, while still having enough complexity to make the thing interesting to ourselves. It still strikes me, the kind of impact an audience can have on music! Our music at that time was 100% fueled by people. Standing, yelling, dancing or just sitting dropping their jaws!
You didn’t release anything as Pärson Sound, but these days the compilation of songs was released. Would you like to tell me about the recordings?
The Pärson sound record was compiled from tapes of the most diverging quality one could imagine, I for one did not have very high expectations. But I was kind of smashed when I heard the result, at the release party. Thomas Gartz and others had sucked the most delicate vibrations possible out of those simple recordings. And kept me away from the process, perhaps a wise choice! I tend to be very much affected by my own feelings at the time of the performance, or by my own feeble performance, and so being unable to look at the whole picture.
You changed your name to International Harvester Basically, which is the same band as Pärson Sound. Why did you change the name?
When we got our first gig as a (sort of) rock group, I had to come up with a name for the posters. Obviously I was lacking fantasy: “OK: Persson Sound” We soon changed it to Pärson Sound, to get it away from my own name. And later, to International Harvester, or Harvester. We reap the good ideas of the times, sort of.
In 1968 you released Sov gott Rose-Marie album on Love label. What are some of the strongest memories from producing and recording your LP?
In fact that record was almost entirely planned by Thomas Tidholm. I made few contributions to it, trying to sing some back vocals and the like. But I think it´s a good record, nevertheless.
What can you say about the cover artwork?
It was made by Mats Arvidsson, who is an accomplished art specialist at the Swedish Radio. He is obviously also an art designer as well!
How many pressings were made?
You´ll have to ask someone who knows such things. But I remember seeing a Korean bootleg, a truly curios feeling!
Hemåt is another LP from 1969 you released as Harvester. This one was released on Decibel label. The music is really avant-garde. What can you say about it? What inspired you the most at that period of time?
That record is more like our live music of 1968-69, we thought of it as a part of the -68 left/anarchist movement of the time. Though I remember I felt it was the last of its kind, I was longing for something more root-like, earthy vibes, but still with the psyche feeling present, of course. Now I can see that I was probably not quite up to my own role in that concept.
If we go back a little bit to the year of 1967. You released Was? / Proteinimperialism with Folke Rabe. Would you like to share a few words about your co-work?
The thing is, we met regularly, I was at times a stand in for him as sound tech at the Academy. But we were both influenced by Terry Riley. And yes, I was taking part in some performances staged by Folke Rabe and his regular trombone cooperator Jan Bark, who was also another influence of mine. Yes, these men have been essential for me, your questions bring me back to this insight!
In 1970 you compiled and released field recordings LP called Reportage: Spela själv and was released on Expo Norr label…Please share a few words about it…
It was basically an idea of Thomas T: Put some humans of various ages in a room, and provide them with simple instruments like drums, bells flutes etc. And see what happens. It might be music! I have to admit that I did not think so much of it, but it kind of worked, at least sometimes! And Rikskonserter had a label for simple recordings called “Reportage“, they asked me to gather material for it. But one of the best examples of the energy in this concept is on the green record “Träd Gräs och Stenar”, that track (Power to the people) and “Tegenborgsvalsen” are possibly the only worthwhile tracks on that record.
Around this period or a bit earlier Träd, Gräs och Stenar was born. Why did you decide to change the name again? Is it because of the music, here you recorded a bit more accessible material for people…
Thomas Tidholm had been a driving force during the Pärson Sound/Harvester period. It was impossible to go on under the same banner. And the music sure became more Accessible” or conventional if you like! By then, I thought of it as providing organic music for rural country friday night ceremonies. I also had some vague idea of providing a music that should have been appropriate for an modern nature religion, like some modern equivalent of african bushman music (I think those recordings are among the most beautiful things there is) But, as said, I was hardly up to the task. Even if Jakob Sjöholm joined the band, it helped a bit but maybe not the whole distance! Anyway, from then on we basically had a Beatles setting for some years to come…
You released four amazing albums. Among them there is your debut from 1970, Djungelns Lag from 1971, Mors Mors and Rock för kropp och själ from 1972. I would love if you could share a story about producing and recording this albums. Perhaps you can also share a story from touring and some favourite memories….
These were the live years! The recordings were nice to have but they were of less importance. It was the live music that should support the process of looking for a life in tune with the environment, in tune with people. A simple, joyful life living close together in harmony. Of course it did not work. It is very disappointing that all these good thoughts are so hard to realize! And that the music they should nurse is so hard to hear!
TG&S is still going on! My dear person is replaced by Reine Fiske, he surely can play the guitar, including mimic my regular mistakes! And when Torbjörn Abelli sadly went out of busyness, he was replaced by Sigge Krantz, a longtime friend of ours. And Thomas Mera Gartz and Jakob Sjöholm are still there!
In 1974 you released one LP as Hot Boys. What is the story about that?
Another Thomas Tidholm succes! It is entirely his record, with clever/funny lyrics, and some good music too. It was great fun to make it, having no responsibility except a little piano playing and humming now and then!
I’m sure you have some crazy stories from touring/concert experiences to share with us…
Sorry, these things are rare, in my book! I´m not enjoying these travels you have to do when touring, I think airports are an insult to earth, from whatever angle you look at it. But of course, I´m grateful for having met people like Makoto Kawabata and Jim O´rourke , even been jamming together! And of course it is interesting to see the rusting infrastructure of the US, the most rich, most helpless , most dangerous nation on earth.
What were you doing in the 80’s and 90’s?
Growing potato and onions and carrots, working as music teacher i the northern Swedish countryside. And going to Stockholm capital for an occasional gig. And of course, trying to be a part-time father of two kids, different mothers (by now they are around 40 years, time is no joke!)
What are you doing these days?
Growing potato and onions and carrots, and pumpkins, tomatoes, chili garlic. In fact almost anything that grows in these parts. My aim is to lead a simple life with low impact on resources. A hard rain´s gonna fall…
Thank you very much for your time! Would you like to send a message to It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine readers?
Oh… yeah..start growing potato and onions and carrots, and pumpkin…
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2012
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