It’s a moniker that perfectly fits the Sweden-based four piece, as their music is all about being on the move: shifting to the next level, covering new ground, travelling through terrains of as-yet-unknown extremes.
PASSENGER started way back in 1995/96, but it was not before 2000 when they fully realized that what used to just be an idea had turned into a band. Patrik and Niclas both got a little tired from solely shredding thrash and death metal in different constellations, but they felt the urge to do something that was more song-oriented and dynamic.
“We wanted to mix up the harder, meaner and groovy stuff with a little pop music”, explains Niclas with a subtle smile, “therefore we started our own little version of a pop/rock band, back then called Cliff.” Inspired by bands like Handsome, Chum, Helmet, Depeche Mode or The Posies they entered Studio Fredman, Gothenburg, to record two demos that never made it further than their own CDplayers. Still, their mission was born: edgy and groovy songs with a twist and clean vocals.
While Niclas was doing Gardenian and Patrik did the drumming for Transport League, PASSENGER took a break for a couple of years. In 1997 Niclas was hired as a session-guitarist for In Flames on their Whoracle tour and the new seed was planted into the ground that Patrik and Niclas had levelled out back in 1995/96. During this tour, In Flames vocalist Anders and Niclas simply indulged themselves in sharing the same visions and goals, listening to the music that was played in the In Flames tour bus: “We just tortured the other guys with bands like Chum, Handsome or The Tea Party -- among others”, recalls Niclas. “From early on it was clear that we should form a band together and play simply good and catchy songs.”
Since this was exactly what Niclas and Patrik were doing in their band Cliff, there was no need for searching for members: Niclas “brother” Patrik went straight into the fold and the same goes for bassist Håkan who was the only one they could picture for this job. “There is a very strong bond between the individual members of PASSENGER.
The love for great music brought us together and this is the best outfit we could play in – it’s pure love!” The first demo, which was only a hint of how PASSENGER would sound like, was recorded in summer of 2000. By the time they recorded their second demo in early 2001 they had shaped their style, so early versions of “Used”, “In My Head”, “Circus” and “Drowning City” already found their way onto tape.
The reactions to these songs were amazing which was reason enough to keep up the work and a third demo was recorded in Anders’ Phlat Planet Studio (which is located in the same building like the legendary Studio Fredman) in summer and fall of 2001. Since Patrik is working as an engineer in Studio Fredman, it was only natural that they compiled and mixed their debut-album, simply entitled Passenger, in Studio Fredman.
“One of the best things about PASSENGER is that we didn’t start this yesterday, it’s been a long way of finding our own identity and sound”, sums up Niclas. Asked about the concept behind unusual titles like “In Reverse”, “Carnival Diaries” or “Circus”, frontman Anders has a little riddle ready: “You can describe them as a playful introversion with a sense of realistic irony…”
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