The Mascots

Stefan Ringbom (guitar, vocals)
Gunnar Idering ( guitar, vocals)
Anders Forsslund (bass, vocals)
Rolf ”Boffe Adolfsson (drums, vocals)
Kjell Jeppsson (drums)
 

English Translation of Their Best CD by Heather Mcneill

 They became known as the boys who played pop music in the evenings and studied Beethoven and Bach during the day.
Inger-Marie Opperud, who was something of an expert on pop culture, pointed out in 1964 in The Express that they were Sweden’s most “musical” pop group.
 It was also, no doubt, because the Mascots were accomplished students at Adolf Fredrik Music School that Lennart Hyland, for the first time, invited a long-haired pop band to his popular TV-show, Hyland’s Corner.

 – Of course we got a lot out of school.  We studied music several hours a week and had choir-practice besides, says Stefan.  It gave us a certain confidence.
 – But it was only when we began playing that we really understood what music was, Anders adds, when we understood that if you moved your finger one string up, that was called a subdominant.
But the Mascots also had an advantage in their great charm and in the fact they were very much like the Beatles.
 – There’s nothing special in just being musically-educated pop singers.  Style and compatibility make the difference, said Boffe in a newspaper interview.

 The Mascots made their big breakthrough in the spring of 1964 when they won Nalen’s twist-band competition.  It was a really prestigious win.  You see, three weeks earlier they had been in National Radio’s pop band contest.  They had entered the competition but had lost out right away!
 The difference between the two competitions was that the radio had a panel of experts and at Nalen it was a public competition.  The Mascots had a devoted audience who hung around at Nalen every Sunday afternoon and Tuesday evening to be near their idols.  The fans, who exclusively were long-haired mods, had followed the Mascots’ career from school dances and youth centres to Nalen and the show “Jump In” in Gröna Lund.
 Most of all, the Mascots liked to play at Nalen, in the Harlem room to start with, the smallest and darkest room, where there was a well-known cabaret.  It was here that the new, young pop bands got the chance to develop and size up their competition.
 Radio was brought into Nalen to take advantage of the great ambiance.  When “Pophalvtimmen” (a half-hour pop music program) began to be broadcast live from Nalen in 1964, it also launched the Mascots in their career outside Stockholm.  It was Carl Eiwar, the producer and voice of Tio-i-Topp, who was the emcee.

 After the twist-band competition the offers rolled in from record companies.  Recordings, tours, and competitions came one after the other.  The boys were constantly writing new songs.  Mostly it was Stefan and Gunnar who did the composing, but sometimes everyone in the group was involved.  That’s clear from the pseudonym M.Fair (Mascots, Forsslund, Adolfsson, Idering, Ringbom), which the boys used in the best Hollies-style.  More than 50 of their own songs ended up on records between 1964 and 1969.
 Most of this happened while the boys were still going to school.  Anders Forsslund was the oldest (born in 1946).  Stefan Ringbom and Gunnar Idering were one class back.  When little Rolf “Boffe” Adolfsson (born in 1948) came into the group in 1963, he was then only 14 years old, and his father wouldn’t let him play after 10 o’clock at night.

 But let’s start from the beginning:
It happened that Anders and Gunnar played together with Anders “Henkan” Henriksson (guitar!!!), who also went to Adolf Fredrik school.  On drums was Kjelle Jeppsson.
 But then Henkan finished school.  He and Kjelle formed Marianne and the Boys.  As luck would have it, there was a fellow in Gunnar’s class who used to sing and play guitar at parties.  It was Stefan Ringbom.  Anders, Gunnar, and Stefan formed Western Trio and played Kingston Trio songs like “Greenback Dollar” and Shadows songs like “The Bandit.”
 – Then we took the name Mascots and toured during the summer of 1962 with “Burken” Björklund.  The drummer was, by the way, Janne Persson.
 But the Mascots had no desire to be a backup band – not for Burken and not for Owe Thörnqvist when he asked.
When the trio discovered Boffe playing the marching-drum in the school’s band, they knew they had found the right person.  Boffe was the missing link in the Mascots.
 – He was one of us.  He was also a mod, and it suited him well.  Earlier the drummer had been Sunar.
It also meant a lot that all four went to the same school.  Anders explains:
 – We lived with music and played constantly.  During breaks we never went out.  We gathered around the school organ, took out our guitars and played.  The teachers gave up in the end; they couldn’t get us to go outside.
 – After school we were at my place in Bromma, where we practised and wrote songs.  Mum made food and invited the guys to stay and eat.  There in the Forsslund house the Mascots began to find their own style, a style that was inspired by the Beatles and the Liverpool sound.  The newspapers started to call the Mascots “Sweden’s answer to the Beatles.”
 – If we sounded like the Beatles, that was probably because we had worked so much on the harmonies.
 The Beatles were their idols.  It goes without saying that the Mascots had stood next to the stage when the Beatles appeared at Tennishallen on their first Swedish tour, in October 1963.  In that concert the main attraction was Joey Dee.  The Beatles were in the second wave of warmup acts, after Jerry Williams.
 – They ran on stage quickly, stomped “one, two, three, four,” and did “Roll Over Beethoven.”  We were blown away.  We didn’t need to see anyone else.  We went home.  It was just the Beatles who counted.  Nothing else.

In the summer of 1964 the Mascots were one of the warmup bands for the Beatles.  This time the venue was Isstadion (Ice Stadium) in Johanneshov.  Ten thousand young people were yelling and screaming long before the show even began.  Beatlemania was in full swing.
How did it feel to be so near to their idols, to play before such a huge audience, to experience all that crazy pop hysteria?
 Anders and Stefan smile a little to themselves and seem almost embarrassed – it was of course 30 years ago.
 – Oh, yeah.  We drank tea – or whatever it was – in their dressing room.  We had a look at Paul’s electric bass guitar – a beautiful, shiny guitar that he used when he was photographed – and an old, scratched one that he used on stage.
Did you talk with them?
 – Sure, lots. . .  Still, it was like meeting God, but we had to keep a straight face.  So we left saying, “See you later, alligator.”  And Boffe, then 15 years old, who thought that Ringo had had problems with one song, went out saying, “Better luck next time.”
And then it was over.

The year 1964 was their breakthrough year.  That was when the first three singles were released.  “I Like My Bike” was a fun song with the usual I-love-you chorus, and “Lyckan” was a parody on the Swedish Top Ten program.  But it was with “Baby, Baby” that the Mascots took the final step toward fame and fortune.  “Baby, Baby” ended up in the top ten.  Finally!  Five weeks on the charts, holding the top spot for four of them. . .

 “Baby, Baby” was quickly followed by further Tio-i-topp hits: “A Sad Boy” and “Stones Fell.”

 The song “Words Enough to Tell You” was written for a special occasion.  The magazine Bildjournalen held in 1965 a competition for the best pop song.  The entries (in addition to the Mascots, the Shanes and Merrymen were in the competition) were released on a flexi-record and included in the newspaper like a supplement.  The readers voted, and the Mascots won the competition!  “Words. . .” was released on vinyl a year later, but it was a bit late by then!
 – Perhaps it was a mistake with the flexi-record, because when the song was released on the single, it was a little too late.  Well, okay, that’s perhaps a trumped-up excuse, the boys say today.
In any case, the songs were so good that a well-known American record catalog noted the Mascots as one of the best rhythm-‘n-blues inspired bands, and they considered the best song to be “Words Enough to Tell You.”

 It was a bit of a problem trying to get that really big hit, a problem that the Mascots, naturally, shared with a lot of other bands.  Lasse Hallström (who later directed the film “My Life as a Dog”), who had worked in various youth programs in the mid-60s, took up that theme in a TV-movie.
 Lasse was a friend of the Mascots from Adolf Fredrik school, and he depicted in his film a pop band’s hardships to make it to the top.  In the film the Mascots perform one song after another, and the buttons on the opinion-meters click, in the best Tio-i-Topp style: Stockholmers like the songs, but in the rest of the country the feeling is ice-cold.
Lasse Hallström’s voice-over in the film says: “Well played, boys, great harmonies, but it’s just too nice.”
The boys look for a new sound, run around in a field in the best Beatles-style, and find, in the end, the right recipe for success, which is to be a little more raw, a little tougher.  In the film it’s “Since You Broke My Heart” that moves up on the charts and makes the group well-known.  The song is recorded in 1966 at the well-known Olympic Studios in London as well as “The Girl that You Are.”
 The boys came to England with Lasse Hallström, who was still busy making his film, and with a tape of the recorded sound of a pile-driver (!), whose thump-thump sound appears on “The Girl that You Are.”
 – You know, we were looking for a new sound in the film.  Why not the sound of a pile-driver?
At this time the boys also were on the verge of international fame.  English record companies were thinking of launching the group, but it was on one condition – that they change the name of the group.  The name “Mascots” was too awkward.  Instead, the name “Swedish Design” was proposed.
 – Over our dead bodies, the boys thought, and instead rejected the offer.

 At home in Sweden there was no mistaking their name or their popularity.  The Mascots took part in many of the big performances of the mid-60s and, among others, appeared with the Who, Chuck Berry, the Moody Blues, the Hollies, P J Proby, and the Dave Clark Five.
 They appeared in movies, on TV programs for young people, and they also did soundtracks.
 Torbjörn Axelman played in a spy film, “Hot Snow,” with, among others, Grynet Molvig.  The Mascots did the music.  Per-Arne Ehlin let the Mascots write the music for his Sprejp-films.  And in Ragnar Frisk’s “30 pinnar muck” the boys offered “Since You Broke My Heart” and “The Girl That You Are.”
How did you boys, who were only teenagers, cope with this merry-go-round?
 – We didn’t really.  It was others who coped with it for us.  And lined their pockets quite nicely at our expense.  But certainly we earned money, money which we quickly spent again – mostly on clothing.
 Anders remembers the first tailor-made pin-striped suit with a vest and designer pants that the Mascots wore on Hyland’s Corner.  Chic!
Otherwise it was Carnaby Street that set the style for party and personal clothing.  Birgitta “Birran” Arvidsson, seamstress for Uffe in Fabulous Four, made green velvet pants, vests, and white shirts.  “Birran” became something of a court seamstress to many pop bands at that time.

 In August 1966, while the band was in London, Boffe and Gunnar went home to Sweden again and back to school.  Stefan and Anders, who were not in a big hurry to get back because they had written their student exams in the spring, were able to borrow manager Lars Dalenius’ black Volkswagen and headed south.
 – It was the trip of our youth.  We saw all of Europe, ended up in Athens, and got to know ourselves and others – perhaps for the first time during our hectic life in pop music.  When we came back, we had a feeling that we wanted to try other things, not just stand on stage and sing pop.

 During the Mascots’ later years there were a number of changes in the group.  For a whole school year Boffe left the band and was replaced by Lasse Sandberg.  When he came back, he emerged as the band’s lead singer and played kongas.  Former school buddy Kjelle Jeppsson was again on drums.

 In 1967 the Royal Drama Theatre put on the play “Us”, a play dealing with the FNL (National Liberation Front of South Vietnam) movement.  Someone called up from the Royal Drama Theatre and asked if there was a pop band who could write music and perform in the play.
 – That was how our involvement in the Vietnam movement started, say Anders and Stefan.

It was Midsummer’s Eve in 1969 when the Mascots did their last performance.  It was in Boxholm in Östergötland.  It became a thanks-and-farewell performance.
 – Right after, we climbed on the tour bus and drove to Lule? to take part in a play about the workers at Norrbottens Ironworks: the NJA-play.  It made theatre history and was the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.
         Gunilla Carlberg
 

Epilog:
The Mascots would like to send a big thank-you to all their crew: “Gotland” with his 350 horse-power Mercury with the cracked manifold, “Tomten” with his hopeless VW-bus, and “SOL,” who lent his yellow-red-black-blue-green de Soto to Tomten when the clutch gave out in Södertälje.  To all the fellows from Värmdö and Musiktransport, “Svompa”, Arne, “Fransson,” “Kilen,” and, last but not least, Hasse “Döden” Löfvenberg.  Guys, we’re still alive!  Thanks!

Produced by Sven ?gren, Lennart Hanning, Dave Hadfield, and Anders Henriksson

Recorded by Rune Andreasson and Björn Almstedt at Europafilm; Frank Owen, Olympic Sound Studios in London; and Björn Norén at EMI.

Compiled by Sven ?ke Peterson

Thanks to Anders Forsslund and Stefan Ringbom, Sonet Grammofon AB for the use of the Hep House songs, and to Tommy Kjell for the record collection.

Edited by Björn Norén
Design and layout: Sven ?ke Peterson based on an idea by Kjell Andersson
Foto: Torbjörn Ehmvall, Roland Skogfeldt, Lars?ke Thuresson, Teambild, Bengt af Geijerstam
Kolorering: Wenche Arnesen
 
 

English Translation Of  Their 1st album Your Mascots

        The Mascots, were  musical boys who went to Adolf Fredrik Music High School where they studied Beethoven and Bach in the daytime, and pop in the evenings. It all started at Adolf Fredrik  where Gunnar Idering and Anders Forsslund played together with another pupil, Anders ”HenkanEHenriksson. Behind the drums sat Kjell Jeppsson, who many years later, was to become the drummer for Mascots. Henkans´  piano didn't quite fit the Mascots´”BeatlesstyleE so he had to quit the band. Ideríng and Forsslund soon found Stefan Ringbom who became a member in the band and they called themselves Western Trio and played songs by The Kingston Trio and the Shadows. Later on they took the name The Mascots. A few years later they saw a a young guy playing the drums in the school band. They immediately realized that he should become a fourth member of The Mascots, and with Rolf ”BoffeEAdolfsson . The Mascots were now a complete band.
       When they saw the Beatles on stage in October 1963, they realized that this kind of sound was the right thing. The Mascots made the charts in spring 1964 when they won the contest ”Nalens TwistbandstävlingE(twistband contest).  Three weeks earlier, they had been voted out in ”Sveriges Radios PopbandtävlingE( Swedish Stateradio popbandcontest). At "NalenE( a  well known dance and popstage in Stockholm at the time) the audience voted and (not  ”jury of expertsE as it was in the Radio contest. In July, The Mascots had the opportunity to open for the Beatles in front of 10.000 visitors at Johanneshov; a football stadium in Stockholm Before this, they had released their own single, ”I Like My BikeE  a travesty of a song with ”I love youEin the lyrics. But it happened to be the B-side, ”Yes I KnowEwhich reached no 15 in the Tio I Topp(Top Ten).
       The second Mascots single, ”Lyckan (The Happiness), was a flop. But with  the third single, ”Baby, BabyE they again were voted in on Tio I Topp(Top Ten) During the years 1964-1966, The Mascots were one of the most popular bands, inspite of ever having made a real big hit. The best singles during this period of time, were ”A Sad BoyE ”Words Enough To Tell YouEand ENobody CryingE  The last-mentioned got great reviews in the magazine, Bildjournalen. The critic thought that this maybe was the best song ever from the Swedish popwave. Not to forget ”I Want To LiveEwhich maybe was the most experimental song at the time. The Mascots sometimes wrote songs under the pseudonym of ”M. FairEas ”fairEwere the initials of the band members. After 1966 one  heard too much from The Mascots anymore. Some of the members were bored with being pop stars, and they couldn't tour as much as they wanted because of the schoolwork.
       During an interview, The Mascots said they had a dream about participating in a TV show where they could express their feelings about the music business, but when this finally happened, be broadcast was cut before it could be aired.
       In 1966, a British record company wanted to try to make The Mascots popular in the UK. They demanded that the name should be changed to ”Swedish DesignE But this idea was refused by The Mascots. In 1967, ”BoffeEAdolfsson temporarily was replaced by Lasse Sandgren, later  he came back but he became the lead singer and Kjell Jeppsson joined the band on drums. By now the Mascots had quite a lot of releases, but the singles from 1966 and 1967 didn´t sell very well. The band continued to developed all the time, and songs like ”The Girl That You AreE "Since You Broke My HeartE ”You Could Be My Friend and ”Tell Me LadyEreally should have sold better. The best was their version of "Stewball", which became the Mascots last hit in the Top Ten. The second album ”Ellpee is pretty good, despite the poor recording quality. The Mascots tried to make it in the beautiful world of the movies, and wrote the soundtrack to the movie ”Het SnöE(Hot Snow), starring Sven-Bertil Taube and ”GrynetEMolvig. The movie may be categorized as a drug thriller. The single ”ZigenareEwhich was partly  released under the name of The Mascots, was really a exerpt from a theatre production. Stefan Ringbom wrote the music, but it wasn´t  really a Mascots production at all. During the end of the -60´s, the Mascots´members became more and more interrested in politics and they were engaged in the Vietnam anti-war movement. In midsummer, 1969, Mascots made their last apperance. Right after the gig, they went to Luleå to preform in a  play about the workers at Norrbottens Järnverk ( a steel company). Some of the members were also engaged in ”Fria ProteaternE Stefan Ringbom and Anders Forsslund have continued working with music, as has Gunnar Idering who became a music teacher (as well as teacher in the arts). Rolf ”BoffeEAdolfsson became actor at ”DramatenE( Royal Swedish Drama Theatre)

Thanks to Janne T.

English Translation Of Their 1st album Your Mascots

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