Terrorhawks: From Sweden With Love

Credit: Terrorhawks

This story was originally published on 07/07/2015

When anyone in our scene thinks of making it big they think of America or the UK.

They think of those as the frontiers, the places where dreams are made into reality. Rival State and Like A Storm have made the move, one to the UK and the other to the USA and they’re reaping the benefits.

But there’s a place that no one really thinks about. The place that’s home to Sonic Syndicate, Refused and Amaranthe: Sweden. Way up in the northern hemisphere it’s hidden from view as a different culture and almost a different world.

But Sweden is home to one of NZ’s little known rock bands. Up as far north as you can get the Terrorhawks are beginning to slowly carve out a name for themselves (I don’t mean carve out in the lazy music journalist way, I mean that almost literally).

“The only ‘what if’ moments I have in regards to New Zealand are on a personal level,” vocalist Kane Bennett tells me over email. “Missing family, the comforts of home and lifestyle. After all, it isn’t easy being an immigrant! The cliche ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone’ comes to mind.

“Swedish bureaucracy is…interesting. Let’s just say we’ve had our moments but the music scene here more than makes up for the short comings during the immigration process.”

Kane, and the rest of the band, are proud of what they’ve achieved and in some ways it seems like a dream run. They’ve had a festival booking (Skogsröjet — which we both agree we can’t pronounce), built their own studio, released a single (‘You Can’t Take This’) and worked with Mike Exeter (of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest fame).

“We’ve been very lucky! And while on the surface it appears dreamlike, it still required a great deal of hard work to get everything up and running.” Kane writes.

So, Sweden then. Is it the final frontier?

Kane (who’s formerly of Sonic Altar) followed Scott [Lamb, drummer] after the latter had made the move a few months before. During Kane’s time in Sonic Altar he’d wanted to head overseas — seriously considering Germany — so in a way his dreams were answered.

“I was feeling pretty disillusioned by the industry in NZ after seven years with my previous band, watching countless bands come and go, venues close down, radio play growing increasingly elusive were all contributing factors.

“There is a feeling back home that supporting your local band is a kin to a charitable exercise. For instance, NZ Music Month…I understand that these things are trying to garner exposure for local music but I tend to think they devalue it against the international market.”

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: it’s easy for a guy overseas to slam the NZ industry and you’re right, it is easy. But he has a point, he’s seen something a little different and, again, I find myself thinking: “fuck, why can’t we be more like Sweden?”

“Sweden has a much better approach.” Kane says, “The government gives everyone equal opportunity by contributing financially to costs of rehearsals, gear and recording. It’s irrelevant of genre and notoriety (sic). They also arrange gigs and tours where they get a more established band to headline and then put new bands on the bill as support.”

(To be fair, NZ On Air, if you’re reading, that would be pretty fucking cool.)

From the outside (and, based on the way Kane writes, from the inside) the Swedes have it pretty down. They’re not, according to Kane, all that interested in genres and — when they are — their definition of rock isn’t Shihad, Shihad, Shihad.

For all the talk of music industry and changing city, country and culture (‘Another Life’, which Kane admits has barbs of passion to it), there are somethings you can never change and you can never let go of. ‘Rattle The Snake’ is a ballad on Terrorhawks upcoming album.

“A woman in my family was murdered by her partner after she left him.” Kane writes. “Afterwards he took his own life. They had been together as long as I could remember and I just couldn’t believe it. I’ll never forget hearing the news.

“It seemed the type of thing that you see on a TV show or whatever. When it’s real and happens to someone you’ve known throughout your life, it’s such a devastation. It arouses all kinds of questions and thoughts that you try not to consider in everyday life.”

With the song, Kane says, he was torn about where to put his focus, on the end of her life or on the person she was and will be remembered for.

“In person she was one of the most uplifting personalities I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around but I felt it was an appropriate tribute to her to share and, perhaps, highlight the unpredictability of those around us, even those we’ve known most of our lives.”

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