January 7, 2024

The Boatsmen is a self-styled four-piece rock ‘n’ roll explosion from Örebro, Sweden. Permanently dressed in black leather and drenched in beer, they’re here to save everybody from boredom with screaming guitars, frantic drums and songs about all of the good things in life: eating pizza, drinking alcohol and making love. All of this emerges from out of the famed Scandi-Rock School of general “Over-The-Top-ness” espoused by Marvel and more than a few others, together with more than a touch of Ramones and the 70’s UK pub-rock scene like Radio Stars. There’s obviously something seriously dodgy in the water up there!

Life is hard but The Boatsmen is harder. Their philosophy is that there should be no rules when it comes to either beerdrinking or songwriting. Sometimes it’s fast and hard, sometimes a bit slower and more gentle, but always fully focused on having fun. Stepping into the unfiltered story of the lives and minds of The Boatsmen on their fifth full length album, Hard Livin involves signing up to Party-time!

four nice quiet gents….Håkan Ficks, Martin Ficks, Johan Söderberg and Jacob Martinsson

The Boatsmen was formed when (according to the band’s singer and bass player Håkan Ficksall) most other great rock ‘n’ roll bands had quit, retired, or just stopped being any good…. The band’s mission is therefore very simple – to keep the great rock and roll flame alive. Now, after more than a decade, they claim to be burning harder and hotter than ever, and by constantly touring all across Europe they’ve got their stage shows down to a fine, if slightly uncontrolled art, leaving no-one untouched and fans reputedly screaming for more.

(Thinks): are these guys Marvel without their headgear???! Heh!

The songs on the album tackle everyday life – it’s a quirky and complex combination of being “party-rock-and-good-times-all-the-time” guys, whilst simultaneously being happily aging family men, albeit with ever growing midlife crises. Hard Livin’ is therefore that little-known sub-genre labelled kitchen sink realism punk rock ‘n’ roll!

The ball starts rolling with a delicate number called Livin’ On Lust, more than a tad inspired by Iggy Pop perhaps? Fast-paced, the whole thing is a roller-coaster of energy, nice burst of guitar solo in the middle. I Wanna Clone is straight no-frills three-chord-thrash Punk, you’re not going to find too many musical boundaries pushed here – but that’s not the point. In the same vein, Why Wait is straight out of the Sham 69 stable – no frills, just a glorious fist-pumpin’ melt-down, Håkan sounding uncannily like Jimmy Pursey! Foggy Man relentlessly continues the energy level, I might well have spotted a fourth chord, mind 🙂

Take Me reverts to that classic pub-rock sound, and I have to confess I love the timelessness of it. No frills, just try keeping still to it though! Hard Livin is the title track, keeping the tempo right up there – I’m sure I’ve heard this one a thousand times before – by roughly a thousand bands, but hey (or maybe Gabba Gabba Hey)!

The rest of the tracks do follow the predictable, if hugely enjoyable, vibe – it almost feels like a trip down this aging punk’s memory lane, and what’s wrong with that? The song-set finishes with the intriguing title B-MEN, clearly a paean to their chord-thrashing, non-stop, ageless punk-inspired selves, again with that amazingly close Jimmy Pursley impression! Rock On, Kids!

They’ve released several 7″ singles and five full length albums: The Boatsmen (Zorch Productions 2013), City Sailors (No Balls Records 2015), Thirst Album (Ghost Highway Records 2017), Versus The Boatsmen (Ghost Highway Recordings and Spaghetty Town Records, 2021) and now Hard Livin’ (Ghost Highway Recordings and Spaghetty Town Records – out now!