“The ideas of what we wanted [True Brew] to sound like, those ideas came right after we finished the album Machine 15. Even before we released Machine 15, I said to Mathias [Färm, guitar], ‘The next album, we’re just going to have 12 songs, and they are going to be Bad Religion songs’,” says Sarcevic.
“For me, I guess every album you do is sort of a reaction to what you have done before it. And we just felt like with Machine 15 we didn’t take our sound as far as we could have. With True Brew, we wanted to go back to where we started and dig a little deeper. It wasn’t a conscious decision to go back to our roots. We just felt like we needed to just make a Bad Religion album. But for me it was just a reaction to the previous album.”
True Brew is by no means a reinvention of the wheel. The album clings to the staple elements of the band’s signature sound, with sing-a-long choruses and punk rock abandon galore. It is a re-ignition of the re that burned bright in the band’s beginning years. It is the best studio sound the band has achieved to date, owed to the band taking the production into its own hands. Recorded in the same studio that captured Machine 15, the band once again made use of its very own Soundlab Studios, outsourcing the mixing duties to famed metal producer, Jens Bogren. “On previous albums we wanted a producer to come in and do miraculous things, like come up with genius ideas for vocal harmonies or other ways to sing a song. This time we thought, why not do it ourselves? With all the experience we have from recording albums together, and the experience Mathias has as a producer and working with the Soundlab studio – we didn’t see any reasons as to why we would pay a lot of money for something we can do ourselves. For the first three albums we were all living in our hometown. We were rehearsing and jamming on the songs regularly in the same room and that’s how the songs would develop. With True Brew, no one was ever in the same room at any one time [laughs].”
Traditionally, Millencolin’s songs were a collaborative effort, with Sarcevic and Färm bringing song sketches to the rest of the band as a starting point. For True Brew however, Sarcevic crafted would-be songs on acoustic guitar, sending the early incarnations to Färm to reproduce in the studio. “I sent over a demo to him with like 17 songs with just acoustic guitar and vocals. Färm added another two songs, and we then boiled the lot down to 15 tracks we were happy with.” Färm spent the next six months developing the demos in the studio, creating prototypes of what would soon be True Brew. Once completed the remaining members, one by one, tracked their parts in the studio. The result ending in 12 punk rock bangers, direct and to the point, with little time spared for filler.
Social commentary makes up the bulk of the lyrical content. In particular, the increase of political opinion online, courtesy of the advances in social media and the recent political climate in both his homeland and the world. “Usually the lyrics are the last thing I write. But during the time of writing these songs, we had the elections here in Sweden,” says Sarcevic. “I was inspired by things I saw on the news, and on social media among people I know. With Facebook and social media, everyone is expressing so many opinions. There is this pressure for people to have an opinion on everything. Before you really didn’t, people were just living, now everyone has an opinion online. Some of those opinions got me inspired to write some of those songs. Before I was writing about things going on in my head and what I was doing, and now it’s less about what I am thinking and more about how a community is thinking and working together as a society. And I think that is the reason this album is more political, because I’m talking more about society than my own mental state.”
April 26th will see the Swedes back on Australian soil. The Australian leg will see the beginning of the True Brew world tour. With the band’s visit down under only a few weeks away, Sarcevic laments his Australian tour preparations. “You have to do a lot of training to look good on the beach. We’re not 20 years old anymore, so staying in good physical shape is a big part of it. Being on tour it’s very easy to gain weight and on stage you want to be as light as possible.”