Drain S.T.H.

by Paul Gargano
June 1997

Sweden's Drain S.T.H. on the cover of Maximum Ink - photo by Paul Gargano

Sweden's Drain S.T.H. on the cover of Maximum Ink
photo by Paul Gargano

Looking for the foolproof way to ruin a perfectly conversation? Drop the phrase “girl band” while talking to the members of Drain (they write the name Drain S.T.H. to specify they’re from Stockholm, not the Butthole Surfers side-project). The Swedish quartet got the break of a lifetime when Type O Negative asked them to be a support act on their recently completed tour, and they took full advantage of the situation, winning over crowds with metallic grind, heavy crunch, and a foreboding presence. As a result, they earned a spot on the second stage on this summer’s Ozz Fest tour. When they settle into a groove, vocalist Maria Sjoholm, guitarist Flavia Canel, Bassist Anna Kjellberg and drummer Martina Axen can channel their energies just as powerfully as any of their testosterone-driven peers, carving their won little niche in a heavy genre dominated by men.

On tour in support of their recent Horror Wrestling release, Drain are no strangers to the festival setting: they made an appearance a the annual Livestock Festival in Tampa in April, kicking the day off with an 11 am performance for the event’s early risers. Though they weren’t blessed with the best time slot of the weekend, it didn’t dampen the spirits of the quartet. The first act to take the stage, they provided the caffeine kick of the morning, raising the dead (and hungover) with their Stockholm stomp. Their adrenaline punch snapped attendees to attention and swept them into a guitar-driven and bass-paced uproar. Fists pumped, the pit got off to an early afternoon swirl, and Drain proved they’re metal, justifying their addition to Ozzy’s second annual metal meltdown.

After their three months with Type O Negative, the Swedes jumped onto another month of dates – including opening slots for Sister Machine Gun in the northeast and headlining dates in the Midwest and southeast – then embarked on Ozz Fest, where they’ve reunited with Fear Factory (who they performed with overseas) and Type O. “Our manager came on the bus with pink champagne and cigars,” recalled Kjellbverg of learning they got he spot on the tour, joining Downset, Neurosis, Slo Burn, Coal Chamber and Vision of Disorder on the side stage. “It’ll be like our families are getting back together,” the bass player added. “We grew up on Black Sabbath, and it will be very cool sto see Marilyn Manson,” added Axen.

Type O Negative – joined on the main-stage by Powerman 5000, Machine Head, Pantera, Ozzy, and a near-reunion of Black Sabbath – have already met the infamous Manson brigade, but are anticipating the partying that is sure to accompany the tour, “our livers aren’t looking forward to it, ” quipped frontman Peter Steele and drummer Johnny Kelly, also present at Livestock. Though all the members of Type O are huge Black Sabbath fans, none consider the show the reunion it is being billed as, especially Kelly, “It’s not Black Sabbath to me. I refuse to acknowledge that it’s Black Sabbath without Bill Ward. Especially being a drummer! I’ll still be impressed, but it not Black Sabbath,” he said. Though there were rumors that Ward was going to be added to the lineup, it never came to fruition, “That would have been amazing,” awed Steele. “I haven’t seen Black Sabbath in the original lineup since August 22, 1979, in Madison Square Garden. It was my first concert, with Josh [Silver, Type O keyboardist].”

As for how the drab four’s meeting with Manson went? “We met them at a show in Sweden,” Steele said of this generation’s addition to the shock rock encyclopedia. “We were playing, and him [sic] and his cartel came down and hung out. We had a few words, then the road crew started a fire in the dressing room and everyone had to leave. They made a pentagram on the floor out of lighter fluid, and it didn’t spread, but it set off some sort of internal alarm that went straight to the fire station.”

An omen of things to come? Maybe…One thing’s for certain, with the assembly of bands that the great Oz has amassed, anything is possible!

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