When naming the best band in the world, most people probably think of the big names: bands that are known internationally and sell millions of albums and concert tickets. Names like The Rolling Stones, U2, Radiohead and Muse might come to mind in an instant, but those assumptions might also be wrong.
In the summer of 2011, a little stoner-rock trio from Orebro, Sweden, swept in from across the Atlantic for its first whirlwind tour of the U.S. with its sights set on proving itself the heir apparent to the throne of rock royalty. One month, eleven dates, countless cases of beer and bottles of vodka later, the three band members may not have won over the entire continent, but they left a wake of rock carnage behind and won over new fans at every turn with an exhilarating and exhausting live show that was built for arenas yet executed in a series of small clubs.
If that all sounds a little far-fetched, you may be right. After all, most peoples' response to the tale is "Who the hell are the Truckfighters?" and rightfully so: this was the band's first visit to the U.S. and its exposure was limited. Sometimes success is all about how you present yourself, though, right? If that's the case, the stoner rock trio from Sweden made all the right moves last summer to make themselves legends -- at least in their own minds, if nowhere else.
Look into the band's back story and it formed in Sweden in 2001, releasing EP's in 2001 and 2002. A split EP with fellow Swedish band Firestone followed in 2003 and the group finally settled in to record its proper full length debut, releasing Gravity X in 2005. The sophomore release, Phi, came out in 2007, followed by the band's latest, Mania in 2009. Released on a small European label, Fuzzorama Records, the group actually has developed something of a cult following since forming and building a solid fan base overseas.
After ten years, however, Fuzzorama felt the band was ready to import stateside and a summer U.S. tour was set in motion in July 2011. This wasn't just a throw them to the wolves and see if they can survive plan, though. Instead, Fuzzorama started filming a documentary about the band and hit the internet with a series of promotional moves to hype the band and garner some intention.
When a trailer for the Fuzzomentary hit the internet, the band found an instant buzz. With cameo appearances and quotes from Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, Kyuss), Nick Oliveri (Queens of the Stone Age, Mondo Generator) and Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, Yawning Man) and bands like Fu Manchu, Valient Thor, Witchcraft and Graveyard all singing the bands praises, those bands fans quickly attached to Truckfighters and had to check out the shows.
In reality, most of the quotes were reportedly acquired with some guerilla journalism and filming tactics, hitting their subjects with a camera and a request to "Talk about Truckfighters," but most of them played along, adding to the legend and hype.
It's all primarily tongue-in-cheek with a nod to the absurd. Even the trailer opens with Homme saying "When I was a young boy, in primary school, my dad used to talk to me about a band called Truckfighters. My first reaction was 'Trucks shouldn't fight, they should just drive together and get along'; but then I realized that was really a stupid statement..."
It's hard not to be drawn in, though, when you see and hear Nick Oliveri maniacally growl "Truckfighters rule!" and others start riffing on the band, saying "They toured with Metallica and all kinds of crazy shit" or "I know they definitely influenced Kyuss..."
After all, how can you not want to seek the band and its music out when Homme goes on to say "As I grew up, I came to understand the Truckfighters were not just the best band I'd ever heard, but the best band that ever existed..."
As a result, the trio, which includes vocalist/bassist Oscar "Ozo" Cedermalm, guitarist Niklas "Dango" Kallgren and drummer Oscar "Pezo" Johansson, found an instantly rapt audience for the group's first run through American clubs. The reviews continued the hype, noting the band's explosive energy and contagious enthusiasm when playing.
Having started in 2001, the group is obviously taking the lead of its predecessors, both sonically and stylistically. It has also been blessed with a great sense of humor and appreciation, however, when the artists it takes cues from play along and help build hype with cameo appearances in the film.
The documentary was finally released in 2011 and intersperses the commentary clips with and actual documentation of the band's development and members struggling to find a balance between touring in a rock band and returning to day jobs and the monotony of everyday life when not on the road.
With a second U.S. tour taking the band through Middle America and off to the west coast in March, this power trio from Scandinavia is doing its best to realize those dreams and not return to the coma. Even if the band doesn't make it to the arenas, its members are more than happy to have the chance to be face-to-face and sweating on fans in tiny clubs across the country.
Somehow, Tulsa got lucky enough to score a Truckfighters show and the band arrives in town this Friday night, March 9, to headline a show at Downtown Lounge with Midnight Ghost Train as direct support and local openers RL Jones and Baron Von Swagger. Doors open at 8pm for the 9pm show and cover is only $10 at the door or you can grab your ticket in advance by dropping into the club.
With a rare stateside appearance, you won't want to miss this one. As Josh Homme said, "Beatles, Schmeatles; Rolling Stones, Rolling Bones. Truckfighters: that's the good shit."
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