Man Were do I start ….Well Sportswear have always been a band I’ve been interested in and loved.
I remember being very interested in that whole Scandinavian Hardcore scene around.
those guys were getting it so right back then.
I myself have spent a lot of time in Scandinavia traveled around all of it and lived for two years in Sweden as well as spending a bunch of time in Denmark as my girlfriend was working there.
But I really do think there is a very different vibe all over nothing is the same really in any of those countries.
Nothing is the same there now not many bands really seem to go there anymore which is a massive shame as i do think they have some very dedicated fans of Straight Edge Hardcore.
Norway is great place and id say hands down my favourite of the Scandinavian countries.
I actually never though id get to interview any of the guys from Sportswear so being able to work with Peter was just killer.
DR: Hey Peter, what’s up man? I know you’re a busy guy so what have you been up to recently?
I don’t know about busy but… I work in the art world as a curator and I just did an exhibition with a bunch of international artists that opened last week in Stockholm… Our band FOR PETE’S SAKE I pretty busy practicing these days as we have a couple of shows coming up. Right now I am up in the mountains skiing with bass player Arne and we have been catching a lot of fresh powder even if it’s almost mid summer. Pretty rad
Sportswear at Skylten, Linköping, Sweden. Feb 99. Photo Geoff TDT
DR: Lets go right back to “The Wear” (Sportswear), tell us where and when you decided to start up?
Well, the idea was initially to do a one off “mystery” cover band bringing back a total straight edge vibe… That was already as far back as 95. It was me, Espen, Arne and this guy Lars who was in Contention and Amulet. That was at a time when bands like Snapcase ruled the earth and no one really understood—or cared—about what we were doing. The band was called Deconstruction, we did one show and it basically deconstructed on stage as it happened. I just remember people actually running out when we played. Extremely unsuccessful. What happened next is kind interesting because things changed really quick. We brought Onward back together and worked super hard on that and some of the worked paid off I guess. Espen showed up with this band Rectify with a bunch of younger who was doing this all out straight edge thing. All of a sudden there was a strong scene with people into a more youth crew inspired straight edge hardcore in Oslo. I was on fire.
As this scene grew I guess it also generated a lot of negativity from other parts of the hardcore scene. Oslo and Norway went from being this huge, metallic, very 90s hardcore scene to what appeared to some as a “fashion conscious,” “Nike and Champion wearing,” “Schism Records worshipping” crowd of “snotty straight edge kids with bleached 100 dollar haircuts.” That’s basically how Sportswear came up. You know, the typical over the top straight edge response to that sort of criticism. Give them more of what they hate to piss them off. So Sportswear was Onward and Rectify members getting together to do what Deconstruction failed at. The name came from this Britpop band called Menswear that was hyped and hated at the time. It wasn’t really meant to be a band at first—we played this huge show in May of ’96 with Onward, Rectify, and Contention and just did a bunch of cover songs. It was me on vocals, Espen (Rectify) on bass, Arne (Onward) on guitar and Kim (Rectify) on drums. I remember a certain band had bad mouthed Onward and the straight edge scene in a music paper the week before—stressing that they wanted to play good music and definitely not “enlighten the people” and change the world. Sportswear went up on stage and I screamed that this band had an agenda and that we wanted to change the world. Then we played “We’ll Make The Difference” by Insted and the place went nuts. So, even if The Wear came into being as a somewhat contrived tounge-in-cheek one off cover song band there was more at stake. Contrary to what we intended we kept on practicing after that show because it all went down so well and we really gelled musically and we wanted to make it into a total BOLD worshipping kinda project. That’s when me and Espen wrote this song called “The Sake of Dedication” which is just that: pure BOLD worship. It wasn’t until later
that fall we decided to make this an actual and totally serious band in its own right and wrote the rest of the songs for the Sportswear demo. By the beginning of 97 the band had been transformed from a tounge in cheek one off project to piss people off to a extremely serious and somber endeavor. In hindsight I guess this transformation wasn’t really communicated well enough in the beginning. Maybe we didn’t even understand it ourselves.
First ever show in Sweden
DR: was there many lineup changes throughout your time?
No, we didn’t really have any changes. But as I said when we realized that this thing was to become a fully fledged super serious outfit we added this kid Bjornar Ness on bass to become a five piece and have a fuller sound live. He appears on the songs we recorded for that Supersoul compilation. When he a little latter was out of the band Arne took on the bass duties as bass really is “his” instrument and Espen stuck with the guitar. This is the lineup that recorded both the It Runs Deep EP and the Building Dwelling Thinking album. At the end of Sportswear Dan Frankowski had moved to Oslo and had started to practice with the band but he never appeared live.
DR: “Keep It Together” was your first release in ’97. What was the vibe and scene like in Oslo and Norway in general at that time?
Yeah, we recorded the demo the winter of ’97 and then Crucial Response Records gave us money to record our first EP that summer. To me, a somewhat golden age was inaugurated when Onward resurrected two years before. When I tell you about this introduction we did to INSTED We’ll Make The Difference I actually feel the emotions, aspirations, ambitions and dreams that was all around at that time. I mean the scene was kinda small and all but there was this group of kids that totally connected and not just in Oslo but in smaller towns around. I had always been in close touch with Tim McMahon from Mouthpiece and parallel to what happened in Oslo they started Hands Tied and a lot of like minded bands popped up over there… Floorpunch, In My Eyes, Ten Yard Fight, etc etc… I guess we really felt something was happening and that we were a part of it… It was really potent times… It was almost like that Youth of Today song, it seemed as if every move actually mattered and something new happened around every corner. I can only speak for myself but I definitely felt we were on a mission and we were in the world. Every practice, every show, even if very poorly attended, meant the world to me. Incidentally, that summer, 1997, was the warmest in recent history in Oslo, we probably just hung out at the beach ALL THE TIME if we were not going to shows and stuff like that. Real pastoral times. And we all the stuff happening in the US and in Europe and beyond filled us up with hope and a burning desire to build a even better hardcore scene (and world). Hopeful times. Really sincere, almost naïve I should add.
Sportswear — what turned out to be the last show . Feb 99 w Floorpunch
P: Petter Mothership Connection
DR: “It Runs Deep”, one of my favourite Straight Edge Hardcore 7’s was next for you guys in 98. Where were you at by this point with the band? Where had you toured and who were some Crucial bands you had played with?
If 97 was almost naïve, I would say 98 was marked by maturation in a sense. The band had quickly transformed into this super serious thing as I said, but by 98 The Wear was a hard working machine. I have never been involved with a band harder working and more committed than The Wear 98. We really pushed it. I remember writing with songs with Espen just being really disciplined. We played a lot of shows… We started to paly Sweden regularly and we witnessed that whole Sweden scene grow and change really fast. All of a sudden we played huge shows to almost 1000 people in Linköping north of Stockholm and those felt like home turf shows. We played with Refused, Shelter, Agnostic Front, Texas Is The Reason… Local Swedish bands like Outlast and Eyes Shut, Cross Check, Another Reason… Tiebreak from Norway (Kim drummed for them as well) was supertight. We played with Eyeball. We toured Scandinavia with this band from Oslo called JR Ewing which was really cool because they were not the typical band people expected us to tour with. We was on that tour with Hands Tied, Ten Yard Fight, and One King Down for a number of dates on mainland Europe. That was a pretty sick tour. We played with Better Than Thousand that summer and Ray got really into it… He had already asked us to be on his comp but then he really wanted us to be on his Supersoul label. It was kinda cool… Ryan Hoffman from Chain was doing Ambassador at the time and they too really wanted us to do our album with them. I was really star struck to say the least.
DR: Was there a regular hang out/place for shows in Oslo at this time?
Man, we hung out at the beach. All the time. The beach was Oslo City Hardcore. Then the local Govinda—Krishna’s Cuisine—was like hardcore central. A bunch of us worked there and we often had tons of hardcore kids hang out and eat after closing hours… I guess the coolest Norwegian shows happened in this town called Kongsberg—that club was super small and the kids just went so crazy. I think I never saw anything just like that.
shooting of Deeper Praise by Jørgen Johannessen
DR: What bands were big inspiration for Sportswear throughout?
That we worshipped BOLD in a huge was is no secret, I guess. That being said a lot of other bands inspired us a lot. Youth of Today, obviously. Judge, Cro-Mags, Against The Wall and harder sounding bands like that. Discharge. Then the vibe of bands like Insted, Chain, Wide Awake… We drew a lot from bands like Kiss and Iron Maiden too.
DR: Was Scandinavia seeing a serge of Hardcore bands and a big Straight Edge scene all over at this time?
Oh yes. The straight edge scenes in Norway and Sweden got really big there for a while. That is, it wasn’t really this huge, karate kicking 90s styled ninja straight edge thing, but a more lenient, posi inspired scene… I remember the first couple of times the Wear played Sweden and there didn’t appear to be this huge straight edge scene, but a lot of people into both the whole Victory Records kind of thing and a lot of more punkier stuff… piercings and all that… Then a couole of months later we returned to this town called Linköping (Linköping had all the best shows at the time and 1000 + kids would show up) and there were literally hundreds of kids outside the club in Nike Air Max shoes, posi tops, Champion sweaters… Ha ha, I don’t know if it was because of Sportswear, obviously not, but I always like to think we had part in that… I remember we played with Refused a weekend in Linköping and Dennis jokingly accused me of turning the Swedish hardcore scene into a catwalk for American brands like Ralph Lauren and Nike … I remember I retorted with pointing at the three buses with people and equipment from Swedish national TV—SVT—that was lined up inside to cover the whole Refused bonanza… I mean, there might have been a couple of kids wearing Ralph Lauren that night, but we all know what band it was that really transformed not only Sweden, but everywhere beyond…