Psychotic Youth - Devils Train


  • 19 May, 2016

Take a pinch of 60's garage punk, mix with a healthy amount of Detroit punk, 70's New Wave, plenty of power pop and just a few grains of the band's homemade Happy Metal brand. Add sweet harmonies, a generous dose of humour and frantic no-holds live action. Voila... (fanfare) THE PSYCHOTIC YOUTH!

But, you wonder (now don't you), how did it all begin? Well, we have to go back all the way to the autumn of 1984. Up in the tiny town of Kramfors in northern Sweden, 18 year old ex-hooligan Jörgen Westman, fed up with wrecking cars and playing guitar in mediocre new wave bands, decides to start up a new project, inspired by the then-somewhat-fashionable 60's garage punk revival. Westman recruits workmate Kent Sjöholm (who turns out to be a dynamite drummer as well as a nice fellow and all-around good guy), persuades his friend Anders Nordstrand into buying a bass, and manages to lure mad half-Dane Nils Lund-Larsen, top guitar player of neighbouring town Härnösand, into it all. The band is called the Ratfink-A-Boo Boo's, after a song by the Nomads, which pretty much tells what it's all about. The 60's punk collection Nuggets makes a handy manual; covers of songs by the Sonics, the Standells and the Strangeloves are mixed with original Westman compositions in a similar vein.

After changing the name to the Psychotic Youth and recording a flexi disc for Jörgen's fanzine Straight from the grooveyard, multi-instrumentalist Gunnar Frick from örnsköldsvik (yet another small town in the area) is brought in as a organ-player in the autumn of 1985.

Playing rock'n'roll in northern Sweden was a struggle in its own. Gunnar reminisces:

"Every second Sunday I used to get up at 8 a.m., bring the organ on the bus 100 kilometres (!) south, where Jörgen was waiting with his ratty old Opel for further transport to Nyadal, a small village outside Kramfors, where we rehearsed in the local folklore centre. Nils, if he could afford the ticket, came with another bus from fifty kilometres to the south, changing to ferry (!!) before finally meeting up with the rest of us. These days, I find it nuisance not to be able to walk to rehearsals..."

These Monty Pythonesque conditions ("My family lived in a shoebox on the motorway...") notwithstanding, the band manages to stay together and develop. Gigs in northern Sweden being sparse, the band's main activity in 1985-1987 is recording for various local labels, First out is the EP "Devils Train", and after that, notably, the aptly-titled debut LP "Faster! Faster!". Jörgen writes the original songs; Gunnar works the studio magic and try his best to keep some working discipline in the troops. Although the 60's punk revival is petering out, they do attract some attention, not so much in Sweden as on the continent, where Swedish garage punk is still considered hot. For instance, the single "Just like me/Stop waistin' my time" is released in France and Spain only. The difficult second LP "Anything For A Thrill" is not reviewed at all by the Swedish press (except for the reviews band members write themselves for local papers); nevertheless, it is released in Holland and other foreign places.