Alibi Tom: The critically acclaimed Swedish art rock band

Wednesday 9th November 2011

Tony Cummings quizzed Markus Goranson of Sweden's ALIBI TOM

Alibi Tom
Alibi Tom

As far as Cross Rhythms reviewers go, Sweden's Alibi Tom are a class act. One scribe enthused that the band's debut album 'Scrapbook' from 2007 was "packed with melancholic and bitter sweet lyrics that still feel warm and positive" while 2011's 'The Sleeping' brought forth the comment "like a blend of Radiohead and Sigur Ros, Alibi Tom introduce an inventiveness and ethereal quality to melodic and haunting songs."

Guitarist Markus Goranson explained how the band were formed. "Alibi Tom was born from the ashes of a band called Out Of Clouds. Since three of us are brothers or cousins, we've made music together since our teens, but we started a proper band around 2002/2003 somewhere. Joel Westergren joined on drums in 2005. The aim back then was to make pop music easy to listen to, but pretty detailed in terms of arrangements. Our biggest inspiration sources back then was '60s pop and the British music scene of the '90s. Alibi Tom started late 2007. We actually started to record our debut album as Out Of Clouds but changed during the process. The original line up was pretty similar to that of now: Joel Goranson, vocals, cello, bass; Erik Goranson-Milton, guitar, keys, backing vocals; Markus Goranson, guitar, keys, backing vocals; Joel Westergren, drums; Martin Dalby-Pedersen, bass (Martin quit the band in late 2008). With Alibi Tom we wanted to take our music further and dig deeper lyric-wise than we did before. When we look back I think [the development of] Alibi Tom has been an ongoing process."

There is a strong classical influence in Alibi Tom's music. They name Bach, Palestrina and Rackmaninoff as being particular influences. Markus spoke about their approach to music. "Our aim is to allow music to grow on you. It's really hard to remain in that approach though, since we get bombarded by conformed music all the time that tends to shape our demand on how music should sound and how we listen to it. I think we learned that during and after the first album. I personally still would like to think of music as a mystery. It's not only soundwaves, there's more to it than mathematics."

In 2007 they began working on their 'Scrapbook' album. Said Markus, "'Scrapbook' was the first time working together with a producer, in this case Joakim Sehlstedt who also worked with us on our new album 'This Sleeping'. We recorded the live takes during the summer and it felt a bit like being on a summer camp! We continued the rest of the work by ourselves in the autumn and late in the winter we realised that we had a lot of new ideas that weren't going to fit the album. I think 'Scrapbook' is pretty much a history book of us as a band and a worked through diary in the search of our 'own sound'. It's more of a closure for our old band than an Alibi Tom album. It's a fun album, but we rarely play any of those tracks today. We learned so much by making that album."

After completing 'Scrapbook' the band undertook a tour which as well as Sweden took them to Holland, Denmark and the UK. In Britain the band were featured on BBC Oxford and on BBC 6 with Steven Lamacq.

Alibi Tom: The critically acclaimed Swedish art rock band

If 'Scrapbook' was good, 2011's 'This Sleeping' was outstanding. Markus spoke about some of the many outstanding tracks on the project. "'Puppets' is not a political song, although it's questioning the market and what it does to us as individuals. It's basically about the fact that you can't serve two masters. There have been a few very different pre-productions of this song. At first the song was even slower and darker, then it became much faster and more pop with a catchy chorus melody. It sounded terrible :-). Finally we ended up with this version that doesn't have a chorus and it felt just right. The live take was done in our own studio and the piano was recorded in the church my mother works in."

Markus continued, "When we recorded 'Lines' Joel (who writes most of our songs and lyrics) didn't show us the melody nor the lyrics before the live take of the song was cut, since he wanted the instruments to have their own life and story to tell. The first time I heard the melody and the lyrics I got goosebumps. I still do sometimes. The live take was done in a wooden church in a small village in the middle of the forest. This is my personal favourite of all our songs."

After the Scrapbook Tour Markus spent a couple of months in Brighton doing work experience at a recording studio. It was in Brighton that Markus penned the chorus for 'This Sleeping''s title track. He explained, "We had a rough sketch of this song done by Joel influenced by 'Vocalise' by S Rachmaninoff and I remember sitting in Wild Park in spring time writing the chorus for this song (later on Joel wrote the verses). The song holds a sense of urgency about us people never paying attention to all sorts of alarm bells about the lives we're leading, what is really important and what's not. This song is the inspirational source behind the entire album."

The band have just returned from an exhausting tour of Sweden, Holland and Germany. Said Markus, "For a period of 17 days we only had two days off, one of which was spent in the car driving from Germany to Holland! The best memory from this particular tour was probably a garden gig at night outside Rotterdam in Holland. Fires and torches lit up the garden and we played under the stars. That was amazing!"

So how does Alibi Tom's Christian faith influence their music? "I don't know exactly how, but I'd like to think that we have been really inspired on this album. However, if I put it like this: How can our Christian faith not influence our music? Faith is life-changing by definition and it ought to reflect every aspect of your life. We often talk about this in the band. It's a question you tend to get a lot as a Christian musician and I often think that I would love to ask that very same question to anyone with a Christian faith working in the stock market. . ." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


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