new Vacuum album "Your Whole
Life Is Leading up to This" marks
the start of a new era for the band.
The line-up, sound and image have
all changed. And frontman Mattias
Lindblom hopes he has left his turbulent
and dark years behind him.
Vacuum's first single was a massive
hit and they claim to have sold over
five million albums so far only in
Russia. Quite rare for a synthpop
band, wouldn't you say?
I visited Mattias Lindblom in his
flat in Stockholm and met an open,
warm-hearted man that seems to be
in love with music.
from day one
Vacuum started as a trio consisting
of Alexander Bard, Marina Schiptjenko
and Mattias, although Anders Wollbeck
was present in the background writing
the songs with Alexander. The debut
album “The Plutonium Cathedral”
came out in 1997 and spawned the massive
hit “I Breathe”, which
opened up many doors for the band.
then, they have released the album
“Culture of Night” and
seen song writer Alexander leave the
band, as well as Marina.
According to Mattias, Alexander Bard
left the band due to creative differences.
They wanted different things, and
after a while Marina left the band
as well. As it happens, Alexander
and Marina have their new band Bodies
without Organs, who are coincidentally
also pretty big in Russia.
- I think we took Vacuum as far as
we could, she and I. We had some fantastic
tours and journeys together and will
share the memories for the rest of
our lives. But maybe it was more of
a business relationship, while I strived
for creativity and art. But absolutely
no hard feelings! I haven’t
met Alexander for four years, but
Marina and I keep in touch sporadically.
We will never be strangers to one
Mattias and Anders have continued
to work together and are now establishing
themselves as producers and songwriters
for other artists, such as Alcazar
and Rachel Stevens. But about one
year ago, they decided to focus on
a new Vacuum album.
- We said, fuck it! From now on, let’s
do nothing else than Vacuum. It doesn’t
matter who calls, we’re not
interested. Although, of course, if
Martin Gore gave us a call, we might
have reconsidered, Mattias laughs.
- Anyway, we went into that process
with all of our energy. We started
out by just talking about what the
album should be about, and came to
the conclusion that it would be about
our lives up until now. Trials, love,
things both negative and positive
- everything really - although with
a bit more focus on the negative since
that inspires me a lot more. It’s
also about ageing and disappointment
over things that didn’t turn
out the way you wanted them to; every
promise you're told as a kid that
isn’t true. I was told that
the best part of my life would be
between 20 and 30, but those were
the most turbulent years of my life
so far. It started with my mother
Mattias thinks it was hard making
the new album.
- Because we dug deep into ourselves,
and touched upon subjects that are
very sensitive. Our friendship and
musical partnership was taken to its
limit. Fortunately, we didn’t
end up as enemies.
Mattias and Anders started writing
songs together, Mattias had never
- At least not for Vacuum. So at first
we said, “let’s try it
and see how it goes”. And then
we wrote ten tracks in a week! After
that it was a pretty easy process
for us to become professional songwriters,
for other artists. And it really works
well when we write for Vacuum. This
album actually turned out exactly
the way I wanted it to. We wanted
to do a record that we ourselves would
buy, and be the best album since Frankie
Goes to Hollywood made “Welcome
to the Pleasuredome”, which
it is, for us.
by: Ronnit Hasson
When looking back on his career, Mattias
remembers it with joy, but also reflects
on the fact that he was thrown into
a highly commercial world that wasn’t
entirely to his liking.
- I do like commercial stuff though
- the artistry and such, but there
was an extreme amount of pressure.
One of my first gigs ever with Vacuum
was in Italy in front of 300 000 people,
and there is no way to prepare for
that. I also went through many personal
problems at the time, with my mother
dying, like I said. That was a huge
process for me, which took me well
over ten years. To be honest, I only
remember fragments from that time.
He is very proud of “The Plutonium
- Because it broke all the conventions.
We made a record that the label didn’t
have much to do with, since the industry
had a lot of money then and could
invest in more risky ventures. And
of course I remember all the success
with “I Breathe”. I’m
not that fond of the second album
“Culture of Night” though.
For me things really got going with
“Starting (Where the Story Ended)”.
That song actually happened when Anders
and I went to a Slipknot concert.
I think they are pretty interesting,
but we were a bit afraid of going
there for some reason. Anyway, we
wrote that song in the car, and thought
it was something new.
"Starting (Where the Story Ended)"
was released by the independent label
Subspace Communications in 2002.
- The commercial merry-go-round is
about 90% bullshit. All about looking
cool on a photo, stuff like that.
I like the image thing, I played with
the androgynous look on the first
album for example, but I think it
must be based on who you are. Our
new image is a lot rougher, because
that’s who we are. The picture
of me with the hat on the cover is
a character that’s gone underground.
It’s about finding strength
in you, which sounds like a cliché,
but it’s a very human thing.
Also, I’m not a happy-go-lucky
kind of guy. I think more about the
dark passages of my life. When I’m
happy in a relationship, the music
suffers. You lose some creativity,
but that’s OK. Naturally, I
want to reach ultimate happiness.
But there’s more to life than
that. If you have been down in the
darkness, the moment you reach happiness
is more meaningful.
by: Ronnit Hasson
Since the line-up has changed this
time around, as well as the sound
and the squeaky-clean image, it’s
going to be interesting how the fans
receive this album. Apparently early
reports are promising. Mattias has
a special relationship with his fans,
and has contact with some of them
almost on a daily basis. There is
also a web page where people can ask
questions to the band, and he answers
them as often as he can. He also seems
very passionate talking about them.
- They are like small bright lights
all over the world, and they analyse
a lot of what we do. I seldom get
responses like “that was a good
album”, it’s more like
“this album helped me get through
a very difficult period of my life”.
It’s easy to focus on Russia
since we are so big there, but they
are global. I get mail from Pakistan!
Vacuum is big in war zones, he says
with a big grin on his face.
- I must tell a beautiful story, by
the way. We have an Italian fanclub
manager called Angela, who nowadays
runs the club from Belgium because
she’s married our Belgian fanclub
Some more fanatic fans have even travelled
to his apartment, standing outside
crying. Young girls that have run
away from their family. Mattias takes
them in and orders them to call their
needs stage fences? The big square
where Vacuum played.
Photo by: Patrik Bergman
Mattias claims Vaccum have sold five
to seven million albums in Russia.
Even though almost all record sales
are pirated material, it's been tracked
somehow. A couple of weeks ago, the
town Saratov of around 100 000 people
let their citizens vote on which band
they wanted to see. Vacuum came out
on top. Consequently, they went there
to play in front of 25 000 happy Russians,
guarded by the military.
- It all started when “I Breathe”
leaked into Italy in 1998, from where
it later spread to Russia. When Alexander
left, Marina and I toured there, and
Vacuum really exploded then. I love
it there, and though the new album
will be released "everywhere",
I really look forward to going back
Mattias notes the difference in size
between his home country Sweden -
- In Sweden when you go to a church
you might hear “Well, this church
was built by king Karl XII when he
returned from Poltava”. In Russia,
it’s more “250 000 people
died here” or “this is
where the Tsar was killed”.
Mattias is also surprised with the
level of education.
- Music journalists have studied for
seven years, at the conservatory.
If you walk up to a beautiful girl
at a bar, she really is a nuclear
physician! You feel stupid.
live in Saratov.
Photo by: Patrik Bergman
At the time of writing, the new album
is released (or about to be released),
this time on major labels around the
world including Poland, Russia, Italy
and Greece, even though SubSpace Communications
is the one taking care of it here
in Sweden. Small Sweden is not SSC's
focus for Vacuum though.
Mattias claims he’s very happy
with the label, because he’s
always been a fan of electronic music.
- They even say “we don’t
care if the album doesn’t sell”,
which is great. They are the winners
in this industry, in the middle of
the crisis. Because now, most labels
have shown their real, greedy faces,
and it’s great to be on a label
that cares. I also like the other
bands on the label. I want to produce
the next S.P.O.C.K single, he announces
single “They Do It” is
doing the rounds right now, and the
video by Mikael Abbhagen is showing
somewhat regularly mainly on Swedish
ZTV but also on MTV for whilendy .
A new single will be decided upon
shortly and a tour should be happening
later on: first in Sweden, then Germany,
Russia and other countries.