FUNHOUSE: Sweden’s goth veterans… Frontman Mikael Korner talks about the past, present and future…
…by Tzina Dovve…
Tzina: As I understand, Funhouse date back to the mid-eighties when you formed with quite a long career in the dark/goth scene. What prompted you to distance yourself from the scene for over ten years and re-emerge in 2019?
Mike: It all started in a small town called Kalmar back in 1985, me and Fredrik Täck, a good friend of mine talked a lot about starting a band together because we had so much in common. Fredrik played the guitar in a new romantic band called Soldier Blue and I had just joined the Space Faggots, a new upcoming glam rock band.
After endless beers at the local pub, we made the decision to start a band together, and after a few more beers we had a name, Funhouse.
We recorded our first demo at the Soldier Blue’s rehearsal place one cold night in Nybro.
I played bass and 12 string guitars and Fredrik played drums plus some rhythm guitar and he also did the vocal stuff. Our first songs had lyrics in Swedish but after some serious talk we decided to go for lyrics in English.
After a few more demos we decided to get some more people, so we asked Håkis the drummer in Space Faggots to join us plus another guy named Jonas on bass. Jonas was a Robert Smith look alike, so he was perfect.
We played a lot of shows with this line up, so in late 1986 we decided to move to Malmö, a bigger city in the south of Sweden. Not everybody liked the idea, so Fredrik and I plus our new bass player Joakim Täck from Soldier Blue took our stuff and moved to Malmö in Jan 1987. After a few not so good drummers we finally got Gōran Ekelund on board. Göran played drums in a band called Young Men, where I played the guitar a few years earlier, so we knew each other pretty well.
Ok, to keep a long story a bit shorter we will jump forward a year or two.
Fredrik, who was the singer, got very sick and had to spend months at the hospital and during that time the rest of us wrote 5-6 songs that we really liked. I did some crappy vocals just to get the right melody etc.
Finally, we all met up again and we played the new songs and Fredrik freaked out… two weeks later Fredrik and Göran left the band to form a new band called Crawling King Snakes.
This was the biggest turning point in the history of Funhouse, I guess, because now I was the singer and the song writer… Joakim the bass player joined another band, so I was all alone for a few months.
One night at the pub I started to talk to some rockers and suddenly we had a new Funhouse line up going.
Fast forward again…
We got a label deal and recorded our first single Sunset Tomorrow in 1991, we gigged a lot and changed the line-up a lot. Suddenly, Fredrik was back in the band but this time as the guitar player. Joakim, the bass player from Soldier Blue was now working in a studio, so we asked him to produce our first album (Girls) that was released in 1994.
Fredrik and the bass player decided to leave the band due to some awkward stuff not to be mentioned and this was two months before we were going to support the Mission.
We did the support gig with Richard Lion on bass and Anders Mantler (Kindred Spirits) on guitar. A few months later I met Franco Bollo and I realized that he was just the perfect guitar player for the band.
The new line-up was me on guitars and vocals, Richard Lion on bass, Franco Bollo on guitars and Jonas Elmquist on drums. We recorded our second album Never Again 1995 and we played everywhere, and we drank everything that’s possible. Richard Lion then left the band to form his own goth metal band, Tenebre, so we brought Måns Tomsby on board on bass and recorded Second Coming in 1998. We played even more and drank even more and suddenly we all collapsed.
I had demos for a new album already, but we couldn’t continue so a break was needed.
Finally, in 2002, we recorded the Flames of Love album, but this time we had changed the sound as we now had a keyboard player in the band plus a new guitar player cos Franco Bollo decided to leave the music scene due to personal reasons. The new line up is me on guitars and vocals, Måns Tomsby on bass and vocals, Peter Mårdklint (ex Tenebre) on guitars, Dennis Berggren on keyboards, programming and vocals and Jonas Elmquist on drums.
We played some amazing shows with this line-up, but when I presented the songs for the next album everything collapsed (again) and that’s why we decided to have a little pause from everything.
Me and Dennis (keys and programming) said…. let’s take a break for a year and rewrite the new album.
Well, here we are 10 years later.
I’ve been writing songs the whole time and I’ve got tons of requests to perform live with Funhouse, but I have always turned them down until 2019 when a guy from Berlin contacted me and said: “We would like to book Funhouse for our mini festival in Berlin in March 2020”. I really don’t know why but I said yes and here we are 🙂
Sorry for the loooong answer but I figure it might make sense later.
Tzina: What is the current line- up of the band? Are there any original members?
Mike: Glad you asked and that’s why the long answer above makes sense…
When I said yes to the gig in Berlin I had only one member in my mind and that was Dennis (keys and programming). He’s my right hand so if he would have said no we wouldn’t actually be here now :-). Anyway, Dennis said yes let’s do this.
Next up was finding a bass player so I asked Richard Lion and he said yes right away.
So here comes the tricky part.
I thought it would be a great idea to ask Fredrik (guitars) and Göran (drums) to be a part of this as it would be pretty close to the original lineup but after a few month of rehearsals I realized that this wasn’t going to work even if it looked very good on paper so now we have Franco Bollo back on lead guitar and a new drummer (Kim) in the band and I’m pretty sure that this is the best Funhouse line up ever, in my opinion.
Tzina: As the main songwriter of Funhouse what inspires you the most to write music? What are your musical influences?
Mike: Hahahaha, well here it comes. You know, I’m a guitar player and not a singer, so I write more or less all the guitar parts for our songs, but I’m not really that person that has a lot of dark stories to tell, so I simply write songs about my ex-wife. We were married one year and I’m pretty sure those 365 days were the worst days of my life…
I can’t deny we had a great time too, but we also had the worst possible days. That’s what all my songs are about (give or take)… There’s, of course, another subject hidden between the lines that is pretty obvious for some people, but the main subject is love and betrayal.
Tzina: Your lyrics are sometimes very dark and melancholy. Are there any hidden meanings behind some of these lines?
Mike: Oops! Guess I did hint that above 🙂 well I’m from Sweden and I’m not that comfortable writing in English so I always go for the easy way and let the listener find their own hidden messages in my miserable love stories but yes there’s always a hidden message.
Tzina: Are there any plans for a new album in 2020? Are you working on something at the moment?
Mike: Absolutely! I’ve been working on a new album for some time now, and I do want to involve the rest of the band, but right now we are focusing on our live set. We haven’t been on a stage for over 10 years so we have a lot to do before we go on stage in Berlin. We will play a few new songs that night and I’m pretty sure people will love the new stuff, hahaha
Tzina: What can Funhouse fans expect from you this year?
A big f… ng surprise hahahahhaha Well, I don’t want to ruin anything but I’m pretty sure we won’t go on stage totally lost like we used to do back in the days and hopefully we will play some really, really awesome concerts instead of just fooling around in the haze of 3 smoke machines 🙂
Tzina: It has already been announced that you will be playing Leipzig WGT Festival this May. What are your feelings about participating in the biggest goth festival of the world? Do you have any other upcoming shows?
Mike: Well, what can I say! WGT contacted me and wondered if we were interested in playing at the WGT festival again! I’m honoured to be a part of this fantastic festival and I hope we will make a lot of people happy when we go onstage at the WGT festival in May.
We have played this festival at least three or perhaps four times before and we have always had a fantastic response, so I’m very, very happy to come back and this time we will play our best concert ever and that’s a promise.
Tzina: As a musician for so many years what are your ambitions for Funhouse this time round? What do you wish to achieve?
Mike: Hahahaha, very good question! Well, as I mentioned earlier we were completely lost in the haze for so many years so we couldn’t actually make any new records or play our songs in a good way due to alcohol and drugs so personally I want to show everybody that we are back and this time we will do what we should have done 15 years ago.
Tzina: Being on the dark /goth scene since the eighties how do you view it today? Do you feel it has evolved and changed? Do you think it is any different in your home country from the rest of the world?
Mike: Well, it’s hard to tell! If we didn’t have a goth tag on our band I think we would have played a lot more here in Sweden but people are too focused on those tags so it doesn’t matter. If I say we’re just a bunch of punk rockers with long hair, Funhouse will still always be a goth band in people’s mind. There was a band in Sweden called Kent and they played a lot of dark melancholy songs, but they ended up being tagged as a (indie) pop band so you never know and to be completely honest I really don’t give a fuck 🙂
I grew up with bands like the Cure, Joy Division, Siouxie and the banshees, Sisters of Mercy and of course the Mission and I figure that’s why I write songs of that genre.
However! I don’t think Sweden is a typical goth country, we have a lot more indie pop bands here.
Tzina: Do you believe there is some sort of goth revival at the moment ?
Mike: I haven’t really thought about that, but it could actually be so cos I’ve noticed there’s a lot of old bands getting together again, so yes there could actually be some kind of goth revival at the moment, but with that said I can assure you that I didn’t decide to open the Funhouse box again just because there might be a goth revival going on. I started work at the new Concert Hall here in Malmö a few years ago and suddenly I had way too much spare time and that led me to pick up my guitar and start writing songs again.
Tzina: Anything else you would like to share with your fans ?
Mike: I have tons of stuff that I want to share, but let’s keep this short… this time I have promised myself to meet as many people as possible at shows instead of sitting alone in the backstage room with a bottle of southern comfort, so hopefully I will make a lot of new friends in 2020. I will also spread unfinished demos and rehearsal tapes via social media, instead of keeping everything private until I have the final super perfect version ready. Life is simply way too short and there’s no point in writing new songs if people can’t have a listen before everything’s 100% perfect because that day will never come….
Cheers / Mike