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Swedish punk finally sells out

2:57 min

A new 700-page book summarizing Sweden's history with punk music has sold out, just two weeks after hitting the shelves of bookshops.

Swedish punk is not dead, though it is certainly middle aged. Between 1977 and 1982, at least 500 bands were formed, and rode the power of the three-chord song into the history books.

Author Peter Kagerland has been working on a single book, to cover all of the people involved. If you are a fan of Swedish punk, you may have heard of Ebba Grön and KSMB, but this book also covers the real unknowns, like The End, from Mora, or IQ 55.

It has taken Peter Kagerland ten years, and he says that he does not even want to think about what it has done to his telephone bill.

Some of Kagerlund's interview subjects had trouble remembering their punk careers, because they happened so long ago.

"Some didn't remember anything" says Kagerland. He says they hardly remembered who was in the band. While others "went straight to their book shelves and came back with folders full of set-lists and everything."

The book is titled "Ny våg", which means "New Wave" in English, and is also about the related genres of synth, and new wave itself.

Peter Kagerland says that this time in Swedish music history is important: "before punk, there was very little "tough rock" in Swedish. More like prog rock, bands like Nationalteatern and Motvind.

And the author also says that the punk and synth groups had high ambitions. They often had a lot of political and artistic content in their lyrics.

But writing in the conservative newspaper Svenska Dagbladit, editorial writer Per Gudmundson says that it is wrong to see the punk and synth music as something inherently connected to the left.

He quotes a survey from the book itself. An academic polled 300 punk musicians about their family background. While 20 percent say they come from a working-class background, 29 percent reported themselves as coming from the upper middle class.

Which leads Per Gudmundson to say that, while punks may have famously written songs opposing social injustice, punk itself was possible due to Sweden having a rather well-off middle class.

Peter Kagerland says that many punks are, 30-plus years on, doing quite well, financially.

On the one hand, several of the musicians are still playing, like Thåström, Stefan Sundström and Thomas DiLeva. And that others have got jobs in the creative industries like art and media. Peter Kageland says that the sense of musical fellowship that so many were part of has actually led to many people developing a good network of very useful career contacts.