Real rock ‘n’ roll requires a little bit of mystique, a little bit of swagger, and a little bit of trouble for good measure. Sweden’s Old Man’s Will possesses all three of those ingredients in spades, and they comingle into a wonderfully inebriating aural concoction on the band’s second full-length album, Hard Times – Troubled Man [RidingEasy Records]. The quartet— Benny Åberg [vocals], Klas Holmgren [guitar], Tommy Nilsson [bass], and Gustav Kejving [drums]—delivers a brash, bluesy, and brilliant opus that’s the perfect soundtrack for all kinds of trouble.
In between drunken late night jam sessions, parties in apartments with instrument-covered walls, a healthy diet of Deep Purple, Free, and Stray Dog, and other assorted mayhem, the boys emerged from Umeå’s underground with their self-titled debut in tow. They embarked on a successful European tour before RidingEasy Records came upon their Soundcloud and offered them a deal to reissue their first offering. In the midst of it all, Old Man’s Will began compiling ideas for what would eventually materialize as Hard Times – Troubled Man, sharing a collective vision.
“It was a step towards a more classic rock sound,” says Klas. “On the first album, we were heavily influenced by a lot of contemporary sounds and bands—something we are moving away from. For Hard Times – Troubled Man, we used old hard rock and blues as a foundation, creating something that’s meant to become the sound of Old Man’s Will.”
The first single “Troubled Man” shucks and jives between a hummable riff and a swinging stomp. “Basically, it’s about being a creative musician today and the life around it,” explains Klas. “Musicians and creative people are unique, and they’re troubled. Sometimes, the more troubled you are, the closer you are to writing that magic An ordinary life just can’t compete. Playing rock music today means big sacrifices and insane amounts of work with barely no return, but we love what we do and we don’t trim our sails to the wind.”
“Ratking” subsides from a barrage of guitar acrobatics and howling vocals into an entrancing saxophone solo, while “Another Seven Days” morphs into a seven minute-plus epic. Klas continues, “It’s about a certain type of angst. When using your inner fire as a blowtorch to get shit done, things can get out of hand. You can’t balance enjoying your accomplishments because you can’t sleep and you’re all stressed out. It’s something musicians go through.”
Ultimately, Old Man’s Will do what their idols did. They take the foundation of rock ‘n’ roll and leave an indelible stamp of their own. “We never had the intention of inventing a new genre,” concludes Klas. “We’re not about social media, posing, being ‘hip,’ or playing a certain fuzz or guitar pedal. For us, it’s just about great songs.”