Asta Kask … Furious 1980’s Swedish Punk [Music History]

Yes, they sing in Swedish but that haven’t stopped them from being very well liked in other countries. Their fast 2-bar music with catchy melodies makes them nothing short of amazing.

Asta Kask forms a fund for a lot of Swedish punk bands that appeared in the 1980s and 1990s. Among Asta Kask’s own influences are classic Swedish acts like Ebba Grön and Grisen Skriker – it was songs by these bands that in the very beginning were the material on the scratches.

The bands first rehearsals took place sometime in 1978 in Töreboda, a small town in the southern parts of Sweden. The name Asta Kask was not yet invented and Micke Blomkvist, Pelle Karlsson, Uffe Karlsson and Stefan Hovbjer called themselves X-tas. The name change must have taken place sometime in 1979-1980. It was not a sudden instinct but rather forced when Micke B is said to have cut a note where it said “beware” and put the pieces together into different names. What first became “Asta Task” was modified to Asta Kask.

It was now that the band for the first time met a real audience. On Asta Kask’s own website, it is revealed that it was a dance band organizer who contacted and suggested their participation in a folk band tour – also a way to start for a punk band.

It is also said that the gigs were surrounded by chaos when so-called Raggare (Someone who is part of a subculture in Sweden concerned with American cars and music of the 1950s, comparable to greasers.) showed up to the venues.

However, this did not deter the members of the band who the following year recorded their first EP, “För Kung och Fosterland” (Translates to “For King and Motherland”).

The music was raw and fiery, fast and brutal. Asta Kask has been called a forerunner of the 2-bar fast punk. According to the band themselves it was because the bands first drummer was too lazy to play in 4-bars.

The EP “För Kung och Fosterland” sold out its 500 copies, but the band had different opinions and soon the first incarnation of the band split. However, Micke Blomkvist made sure that the punk group survived in a new guise. Asta Kask was reorganized with Bonni “Bonte” Pontén (Guitar and vocals), Magnus “Ernie” Hörnell (bass) and Magnus “Bjurre” Bjurén (drums) around Micke.

With the exception of Bjurre who was replaced by David “Dadde” Stark, the set has lasted until today. By this time, the record company Rosa Honung had opened its eyes to Asta Kask. The band went to Stockholm and signed a contract (something they would bitterly regret, more about this later). Now began a diligent touring while new songs were recorded.

The first thing that came out of this on record was “Plikten Framför Allt” (Translates to “Duty Above All”) which was released in the spring of 1984, an EP that contained four songs. Here is “Inget ljus” (Translates to “No Light”) which is one of the strongest songs by Asta Kask. The text reproduces in unmistakable words a hopelessness that stands as a sign in a lot of 1970/80’s punk. It is the directness together with a well-found melody that contributes to the powerful expression. The song would return on “Aldrig en LP” (Translates to “Never an Album”) in a new version.

Ni skickade mej ett kuvert
Synd att ni gjorde er sånt besvär
För jag tänker inte ställa upp


Translation:
You sent me an envelope
Too bad you made such a fuss
Because I’m not going to line up

“För Kung och Fosterland”


Criticism of conscription and meaningless wars is a theme that is noticeable in several songs such as “Värnplikt” (“Conscription”), “Vietnam” and “Välkommen Hem” (“Welcome home”.)

The group’s production largely consists of EPs. Some have called “Med Is I Magen” (Translated to “With Ice in the Stomach” … a Swedish expression for “keeping it cool”) from 1985 an LP, although it is more correct to call it a mini-album as it only consisted of eight songs. However, it has been re-released as a CD and then contains more songs.

Not least, this was confirmed by the next release in 1986 which was called “Aldrig En LP” (Translated to “Never An Album”) and was the ironic title given when the group early on had the attitude not to release LP albums because this was considered “selling out”.

Today in times of file sharing and Spotify, it’s a little difficult to understand why a full-length is more commercial than a single. But at this time it was a common attitude among punk bands because LP was a more commercial product than a single.

So when Asta Kask finally released a regular LP, it was just to fuck with part of the audience who had started to call them sell-outs only because they had started to attract a bigger audience. Although history tells another story, you can call them what you will, but sell-outs are not even close to the truth. They never did interviews with large magazines or TV, because they refused to do anything under other peoples conditions. If a magazines wanted to take pictures of them and asked them to color their hair in “shocking” colors, they simply told them to f**k off!

When the album then got to experience the CD age, it was of course re-named “Aldrig En CD” (Translated to “Never A CD”). Asta Kask sound had undergone a certain change before this album, which had also been noticed on the EP “Än Finns Det Hopp” (Translated to “There is Still Hope”) from earlier that year. The tempo had increased further and choral songs had become more common. On the whole, the sound is a bit heavier, “Mänskliga Faktorn” (Translated to “The Human Factor”) is a good example. The band that used to produce itself had this time enlisted the help of the producer named P.O. Pettersson.

Aldrig en LP” (“Never An LP”) was also the last thing Asta Kask did before they were dissolved. Micke B started playing with another Swedish punk band Strebers. Bonte and Bjurre formed Cosa Nostra and Ernie formed another new punk band: NEIN.

In November 1989, however, it happened that Asta Kask was reunited, a reunion that was only the first of several others to come. It happened with a now legendary gig with drunkenness, fighting and chaos as a classic setting. In the same vein, another Swedish band Rolands Gosskör (Translated to “Roland’s Boys’ Choir”) reunited and the two bands each played a night. These gigs are immortalized on the split live album “Sista Dansen” (“The Last Dance”).

The result as it was on this recording was not too gratifying with an Asta Kask that was a bit away from its glory days. In any case, the gig gave more flavor and several reunions have followed and today the band still lives and thrives with partly new members. In 2006 came their first studio album in 20 years, “En för alla ingen för nån” (“One for All, All For No One”). They also released a documentary, “Dom Får Aldrig Mig” (Translated to “They Will Never Get Me”) in 2007.

The group has also been in dispute with the old record company Rosa Honung for several years. When Asta Kask wanted to re-release the older records on their new company, this was prevented by Rosa Honung legally owning the songs and the band name.

In 2015 they released a compilation with all their early 7″ and EP’s called “Välkommen Hem” (“Welcome Home”)

After all the years that have passed, Asta Kask remains a cult band with a large crowd of fans. It is also undoubted that later bands where it is possible to trace influences are innumerable in Swedish punk.

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