Texas BBQ with Spärhusen
by JM Dobies
While I will be missing pretty much all of this year's South By Southwest activities, whether they be film, music, or interactive, I did get to spend a couple of hours today with Spärhusen, the legendary Swedish psychedelic pop group, while they were being filmed documentary-style.
Actually, Spärhusen is the fictional subject of an ongoing mockumentary web series, as well as a series of spots for Ikea. Illeanna Douglas plays Beirget Kattson, the icy chanteuse, Todd Spahr is Gert, and Rob Mailhouse plays Olf.
Rob and I went to high school together and hadn't seen each other in almost 30 years, but had recently caught up via Facebook. In the interim, he'd gone to L.A. to pursue an acting career, and had also done a stint as the drummer with Dogstar, forming a rhythm section with Keanu Reeves. Like most cool shows that happen here in Austin, I missed the band's debut performance last night at the Red Eyed Fly, but I did enjoy watching them make improv comedy gold out of the band's eating Texas barbecue at Artz Rib House in South Austin.
Here's the band's legend, from the official Spärhusen website:
On the night of July 25, 1974 Spärhusen-the almost great band of Sweden came to a tragic end when their plane Swedish Fish crashed into the ocean. Two members of the band Olf Nystrom and Gert Forseberg were never found. Beirget Kattson -the third member of Spärhusen was able to swim from the wreckage to shore. After a period of mourning she continued to write and produce music and poetry from her home in Stockholm.
Beirget Kattsson was pregnant at the time of the plane crash but never revealed who the father of her baby was. Gert Forseberg, or her long time love, Olf Nystrom. To this day Beirget Kattsson has not revealed who the father really was. It was rumored that DJ Jelly Lund-a close friend of the band or perhaps Spärhusen's own"whale of sound" producer Vorste Feirron nicknamed "Fierse" could also be the father.
This is one of the many mysteries surrounding Spärhusen-the almost great band of Sweden.
Their many hits-the raucous "Ice Fishing", the thoughtful "Midnight at the Fjord" and "ID", Beirget's "Candy" the revenge song, and of course their biggest hit "Apples and Fish"- the last song they recorded before the fateful plane crash remain.
In the 1980's rumors surfaced that Olf and Gert were alive and well and living in Umholtz under assumed names. The plane crash merely a ruse to avoid the spotlight. A new band also calling themselves Spärhusen released the song "Cannonball" and to many it sounded eerily like Gert and Olf. Bjorn Epstein their long time manager would not confirm or deny that this was in fact the real Spärhusen.
Beirget Kattson refuses to discuss Spärhusen and handed over the rights of all Spärhusen material-which includes sound recordings, unreleased songs, photographs of happier times and never before seen footage of Spärhusen recording "Apples and Fish" to Anna Shapoola, her attorney and confident. Will the current interest in Spärhusen finally force Beirget, Olf, and Gert to tell their story? Until then we will simply listen to the music and wait.