IN VINO PÄRITAS:
Drinking with a skate punk
The band Millencolin is probably not what you come to think of when talking about wine, but behind the drum kit sits a humble man of refined taste. Millencolin member Fredrik Larzon and I have talked about wine many times as we shared one or two bottles together on the road as I was touring with the great sons of Örebro skate-punk a few years back. His taste for vegetarian food and the noble grapes of northern Italy has often prompted us into long conversations about food and wine combinations. As a vegetarian since the mid-90’s, I have explored the lighter, sometimes really young reds, crispy whites, bubbles and sherry for the best matches with tofu and veggie platters. Switching to eating fish some 15 years ago had me jumping for joy when I discovered new possibilities and the last few months, my inner carnivore self has been popping mature Bordeaux and crafty Napa Cabs to my adventures in red meat. Larzon sticks to his veg but enjoys the more refined tastes in wine nevertheless.
Since they started out in 1992, Millencolin have sold over two million records worldwide. With a bunch of gold records under their belt, they are hailed as being among the world’s skate punk pioneers and they have toured the globe, playing with some of the biggest names in the industry. Their latest album True Brew was released on Epitaph Records on April 22 in Sweden.
Fredrik Larzon and the rest of the band have just got back from the Australian Soundwave Festival tour and I got a chance to bring over a few bottles to his new home in Malmö. I asked him for a comment on the wines, the upcoming new release and his summer plans.
After traveling more or less the whole world, on tour and privately, where have you had your best food and wine experience?
You can have great food and wine experiences pretty much everywhere – just ask locals where they go. For me, I like to go all-in with the culinary traditions of the country I’m in. If I’m in Italy for example, I’d get their local red wine and a nice aged grappa after my typical regional pasta or pizza meal. Same thing in Mexico or southern California. I’d start with a frozen margarita to the nachos with guacamole and salsa. After that I’d go for a veggie tostada or the veggie fajitas with a cold beer and a nice tequila. Maybe some white southern Californian wine too. In Japan I find a nice hot Udon noodle soup with a Japanese beer followed by some sake.
But I really like Italian wines. I’ve had everything from the homemade great fresh wine by the owner of some bed & breakfast, tasted the nice wines on the sidewalk from the hole-in-the wall wine bars and from cozy family restaurants, to having some of the real top Barolos. For me it’s all about the vibe at the moment.
You are still a vegetarian, what food do you think goes best to your favourite wine?
Yes I’m still a vegetarian, I have been since 1995. I could easily have a glass of newly discovered Piccini’s Memoro to my Tzay-sallad!
On a random weekday, what’s in your glass for dinner?
I usually have a glass of cold water, still or sparkling or some tasty Italian red wine.
And when the weekend approaches… perhaps you and the missus have something to celebrate, what would you pour her?
I’d probably pour her a glass of nice cold Cava while I’m cooking dinner, maybe something Asian – and of course, vegetarian.
On tour, what do you make sure is always on the rider list?
Veggie tray, veggie spreads, some local beers and a Barolo or similar.
I suppose you, as the drummer, do not drink before the gig – do you make up for that afterwards? And do you always stick to wine?
I usually don’t drink before shows but might have one or two beers during the show or some white wine. Oh, I don’t need to make up for lost drinking time, no.
What is the preference drink for each of the other band members: Mathias Färm, Erik Ohlsson and Nikola Sarcevic?
Nikola is definitely the micro/craft ale guy, Erik the single malt whiskey dude and Mathias is really into cognacs.
Being on tour, playing so much as you do, is it hard to maintain a somewhat healthy approach to drinking or do you go wild on tour and being more modest and sober back home?
I think I have an OK approach to alcohol, trying to keep it so that I don’t have an uphill battle next day. I definitely drank more some years back. I usually wake up a few hours earlier than the rest of the crew and go record shop-hunting or something like that.
Millencolin have written a few songs during your career about both food and drinks. Can you name them all? And is there anyone on wine so far?
Oh that’s a tough one, haha! But Bowmore and Story Of My Life are the only ones, right? I can’t remember we’ve involved wine in any of our lyrics.
Which wines would you compare to your albums Life On a Plate, Pennybridge Pioneers, Kingwood and the upcoming True Brew?
Great question! Life On a Plate would probably be the youngster wine, say a cherry wine or something similar. Pennybridge Pioneers I guess was a little bit of a comeback for us and could be a sparkling wine with all that new-found energy. Kingwood could probably be the 2004 rich red from a great district, with lots of taste. True Brew is a crispy Riesling I’d say, rich in taste and almost sparkling in its feel!
The wines you have in front of you, Rotari Rosé, Piccini Memoro and the ecological Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Bianchi, would you like to describe them and what Millencolin song might describe each one of them?
I haven’t tried any of these three bottles before so this was fun. I really like the Piccini Memoro, very Italian-tasting to me, which I love. Lots of fruit, maybe even some coffee in there? I really dig this one and would prefer it just like it is, no food or snacks necessary.
Memoro definitely belongs to our tune No Cigar. The Rotari Rosé is a very fruity, sparkling and refreshing wine. I usually prefer this type of wine in the summertime but it was good and would go well with our song Ray. The ecological Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Bianchi was to me a little lighter than the Memoro but still with heaps of fruits and berries. I would gladly have this to my pasta and tzay meal. This one belongs to our new tune Sense & Sensibility. Three very nice wines!
Tell us a little about your coming album and plans for the summer.
The new album is called True Brew and contains 13 songs. We recorded a lot of it in our own studio Soundlab in Örebro and did the vocals and mix at Fascination Street with Jens Bogren. The whole recording has been a great experience and I believe we made our best album so far, ever. I’d say it’s a punkier album than Machine 15 was, shorter, straight-on melodic punk songs. We are very happy with the result and really looking forward to start touring! We’ll start off in Örebro April 24 with a release party, then there are European dates to follow in May and European festivals during the whole summer. After the summer we’ll go to the States, on another European run and hopefully South America and Australia. It’ll be great, I’m super-stoked!
The wines Larzon had in this tasting:
Piccini Memoro (BS nr 2392) 89 kr
Bianchi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Umani Ronchi (nr 7126) 69 kr (Ecological)
Rotari Rosé (nr 7701) 109 kr