Drain sth brings an edge from the land of soft pop

August 12, 1999|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

To be perfectly honest, nobody in Drain sth is particularly happy with having to lug that little "sth" around behind them. "Drain sth doesn't sound as nice as just Drain," says Flavia Canel, who plays guitar with the Swedish heavy rock quartet. "We thought `Drain' was perfect with our kind of music and our lyrics, because it's about, like, to empty yourself, empty your mind of your thoughts."

Unfortunately for Canel and company, the name was already taken in America. "It's the drummer from a band called Butthole Surfers," says Flavia. "It's his side project. But he was cool about it. He said, `Just add something to your name.' " So the Swedes added "sth" -- airline shorthand for their hometown of Stockholm.

Ever since, almost every story about the foursome makes mention of their Scandinavian roots, something which greatly amuses the band. "I mean, we don't really make a big thing out of it," she says. "I guess maybe the record company does, because it's cool to be a Swedish chick. But we don't really [care]."

She laughs, and adds, "I'm actually born in Uruguay in South America, so I'm not really Swedish. I just grew up on Sweden."

Of course, given Sweden's reputation for perky, tuneful pop -- bands like ABBA, Roxette, Ace of Base and the Cardigans -- the fact that Drain sth specializes in shred-heavy hard rock may seem strange to Americans. But as Flavia points out, Sweden has a very strong heavy rock scene, thanks to such bands as Entombed, Unleashed and Hellacopter. "I don't know if people know that they are Swedish," she says, adding that even at home in Sweden, heavy rock bands are virtually unknown. "In Sweden, they hardly play any hard music on the radio at all," she says. "It's bands like Cardigans and ABBA and Ace of Base."

That's why Drain sth has spent much of the last three years touring in America. To support its first album, "Horror Wrestling," the group played dates with such bands as Type O Negative, Megadeth and Sevendust. Now, with the release of "Forces of Nature," the group is doing shows with Black Sabbath and Godsmack.

Ironically, the band has spent so much time in America that it has barely played Sweden at all. "Just the big cities -- Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo," says Canel. "That was it. Our fans in Sweden are screaming for us to come back and play there, but we haven't had any time to do that."

Spending so much time on the road is hard work, especially on the summer festival circuit. Drain sth recently played the Ozzfest tour, and Canel was amazed at how unbearable the heat was. "It's so hot, and the audience is standing in the sun. Of course, sometimes, they can't jump all the time or go nuts," she says. "Sometimes you can see in their faces that they love you, but they just don't have the energy anymore. ... I mean, we only go out there for 30 minutes or something, and we're dying in the heat. "So I admire how they can go on from 11 o'clock in the morning to late at night, just going nuts for almost every band. I don't know where they get that energy from."

Pub Date: 8/12/99

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