Music Through The Years
(Carelia Records)


Sweden continues its reputation as one of the world's leading hotspots of guitar instrumental music with the release of the 2014 CD by the group known as Guitar 60. Many of the 14 tracks on Guitar 60’s Music Through The Years are songs that guitar instrumental fans know by heart, including a number of tracks first recorded by Hank Marvin and The Shadows. Guitar 60 lead guitarist Tommy Karlsson is joined by his band mates and the result is an hour of pure instrumental guitar pop pleasure. Kicking off with the song “Chu Chi”—a Shadows original—Music Through The Years features a number of all time classic melodies including Max Steiner’s timeless classic from the 1959 movie classic, “A Summer Place” and Stanley Myer’s “Cavatina”, also know as the Theme From The Dear Hunter. Fans of The Ventures, The Shadows and Sweden's own guitar heroes The Spotnicks will enjoy spinnng Guitar 60 and their timeless Music Through The Years. presents an interview with
Tommy Karlsson of GUITAR 60

mwe3: Can you tell the readers where you live now and where you’re from originally? What do you like best about where you live now?

Tommy Karlsson: I live in Hammarö. It is an island in the big lake Vänern here in Sweden. I am originally from a place 100 km north of Hammarö called Söpafors. Hammarö is a very fine place to live in. It is a quiet place and it is also near to the town of Karlstad, and if you have a boat as I have, it is nice to cruise on the lake.

mwe3: How and when did you become interested in music and playing guitar and who were some of the guitarists and bands that shaped your musical ideas and inspirations?

Tommy Karlsson: I became interested in playing guitar when my mother and I visited my aunt. She had an acoustic guitar hanging on the wall. I was ten years old at that time. She taught me some riffs. That was the beginning. She gave me the guitar. I think it was The Spotnicks... they were often on the radio in the beginning of the 1960s, After a few years, I realized that it was the sound of The Shadows that should be my leading star. I remember thinking that The Shadows must come from another planet because their sound was so different from other bands.

mwe3: As it’s mentioned in the CD liner notes, the members of Guitar 60 go all the way back to the 1960s. Tell us about your early band The Flymasters and what brought the various players in the band together and are the same players from the original band featured on the Music Through The Years CD? Has Guitar 60 released other albums prior to the 2014 CD release of Music Through The Years?

Tommy Karlsson: We started the band The Flymasters in 1965. It had Håkan Andersson on drums. He retired from music in 2013. Leif Backlund on bass, he is still in the band. Sune Sundqvist on rhythm. He is also still in the band. Those 3 had already played together for a couple years, and when we started , the last year of school, 9th grade, I came in too. In 1967 we added piano player Lars Erik Modin He had a dance band earlier and he also retired in 2013.

Today we have Per Östlund, a former teacher of classical piano and a church organist, on piano and synth. On drums we have Leif Nilsson coming from a Beatles cover band. Leif B, Tommy, Leif N, Sune and Per are Guitar 60 today. We took that name in 1990. We didn’t have any ambitions to record a CD before, but now we thought the time has come to go in the studio. We made a tape recording in 1992, and a few years ago we put it on a CD not to sell but just to give it out for free.

mwe3: Were The Shadows your biggest influences? The Guitar 60 CD starts off with a Shadows cover from the early 1960’s called “Chu Chi” and the CD also includes a Guitar 60 cover of “The Old Romantics” from the 1982 Shadows album Life In The Jungle. I happen to think the 1980s albums were their best and Guardian Angel is my favorite Shads album.

Tommy Karlsson: Of course The Shadows has been the red line of our music. We have picked tunes from different times of their career. Of course Guardian Angel is good and also Steppin’ To The Shadows.

mwe3: Film music seems to be quite an influence on the Guitar 60 CD as there’s new versions of both “Cavatina” and “A Summer Place”. Why did Guitar 60 pick those two tracks as clearly they are two of the most revered songs ever written and recorded from way back in the 1960s. Are there other film tracks that you’d like to cover in the future and why?

Tommy Karlsson: Of course we are looking also to record film music because those tunes have strong melodies and are timeless. “Cavatina” and “Theme From A Summer Place”, as you mentioned have been recorded in many ways. I think good music never dies. I think that in the future some James Bond melodies and maybe some western melodies would be interesting.

mwe3: Can you tell us who is playing with you on the Guitar 60 album and how would you describe the chemistry among the musicians in Guitar 60? Clearly you and your Guitar 60 band mates are on the same wavelength so to speak and who else was involved in the making of the CD and helping get the sound together in the studio?

Tommy Karlsson: It is just us, the band members playing on Music Through The Years. On “Ett Litet Rött Paket” Lars Erik Modin plays piano and synth. As we have known each other for such a long time, we know what each other thinks. Per on piano and Leif on drums have been in the band for 2 years now and have completed the band in a good way. We did the recording in a studio called Small Lake Studio with Marcus Fredriksson doing the recording and mix, we also had Carelia Records Gunnar Fredberg adding in some ideas.

mwe3: What guitars are you playing on the Guitar 60 CD and how has your choice of guitars changed over the years and what strings do you prefer? Do you have some favorite amps and pedal effects that you can mention?

Tommy Karlsson: I use a Fender Strat from 1978. I have had that since 1980. The neck suits me perfectly. On the acoustic parts in “Cavatina” and “Petite Fluer” I use a Gitane. The strings I use are Elixir 10-46. My amp is a Vox Valvetronic and I am old fashioned with effects. I use a Roland Space Echo-201 tape echo from the early 1980’s. That is the only effect I use.

mwe3: Tell us a little bit about your record label Carelia Records. How many CDs does the label have out in 2014? Are there also downloads available of the CDs that go out of print? Is Carelia planning more CD releases of new and archive music?

Tommy Karlsson: We had long discussions in the band how what label we should work with and we decided on Carelia Records and to have a neutral look with a point that makes the buyer interested. I really don’t know how we succeeded with it.

The CD label is Carelia and they have pressed 1500 CDs of the album. The CD is not available on download. Carelia Records is also releasing Nordic Guitar Volume 13 in mid November 2014. That is a CD with different bands and guitar-players. 13 At the end of February or beginning of March we’ll start recording a new CD that will come out on Carelia Records in the spring 2015. 50 years after we started.

mwe3: ABBA is also covered on
Music Through The Years with a cover of “The Winner Takes It All” which was first instrumentalized on the Shadows 1981 album Hits Up Your Street. How big of an influence was ABBA on you and the Guitar 60 guys and what are your favorite ABBA songs and albums?

Tommy Karlsson: I don’t know of any guitar instrumental band who have recorded “The Winner Takes It All” except The Shadows. We’ve been playing “The Winner Takes It All” for a couple of years. “The Winner Takes It All” is a very strong and fine melody from ABBA's great collection of music. ABBA was so complete in their music, it is difficult to have a special favorite. There are no other ABBA songs that we play.

mwe3: Were you influenced by Swedish guitarist Janne Schaffer? Do you have a favorite Janne CD?

Tommy Karlsson: Janne Schaffer has another style that wasn’t what I listened to but I remember one tune from his band in the 1960’s that we played called “Just Eighteen” with his band The Sleepstones.

mwe3: How about other favorite guitar rock instrumental bands that you listened to in Sweden?

Tommy Karlsson: It was of course The Spotnicks and The Ventures, then we had The Violents here in Sweden. I can't say that I prefer groups that play covers or play original music. The main thing is how it is played.

mwe3: What plans do you and Guitar 60 have for the rest of 2014 and into 2015? Are you planning to write, record and perform live shows in the coming year?

Tommy Karlsson: We are now rehearsing for a new CD in spring that we hope will be released in May 2015 at the Nordic Guitar Festival. It will almost be all covers of different kinds of music. There will also be
concerts in two churches at the beginning of the year and further on we will plan live shows.

Thanks to Tommy Karlsson @ Guitar 60


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