In a small town in the south of Sweden, two boys got shocked n’ rolled by the musical rock scene of the 70’s.The soundtrack of their childhood was written by Alice Cooper, Kiss, AC/DC and the metal acts of the NWOBHM. In the 80’s, their teenage hearts were electrified by the sleaze rock. It was during these years Fred picked up the bass and Bjorn Gustaf, BG, got entangled with the sixstringer. Their first bands played covers, but that was not what Fred and BG settled for. Being the leaders of these bands, they made it clear their own original compositions would be played alongside the covers, and so it was.
When the teenage turned into early adulthood, Fred and BG found themselves living in different parts of Sweden. Despite the long distance between them, they kept in touch and occasionally worked on new material. In the late 90’s, both of them were living in Stockholm. In 1998, they decided to pick up where they had left several years ago. The hours together resulted in a number of songs, songs they felt so strong about that they decided to invest in a digital recorder, quite a new device at the time. The intention was not to put a band together, so they used a drum machine for the drum parts.
Even though it all was about having fun, the project needed a name. Fred wanted to have a Swedish word, which also sounded good in English, maybe even in German as well. “Sitter” is the Swedish word for “sits” or “is sitting”. He thought it was a great, short and easy-to-remember word, but it needed to be spiced up and getting that international vibe. Therefore, the “s” had to go. In came the “z” and Zitter was rolling. BG made the first logo, an attempt to combine the letters of Zitter with the bands favourite bird at the time, the swan.
The writing and recording took about two years. In 2000, the debut disc, Swansong 11, was released. The title was supposed to be somewhat ironic since it was the bands first release. Neither Fred nor BG was aware of the fact that Swansong was the name of Led Zeppelins record company. The connection was completely unintentional.
At this point Zitter was not meant to be anything but a studio project. Inspiration to carry on with the project came when especially the songs Monday and Ironic, resulted in positive response from listeners tuned into the OMDs, such as mp3.com, which Zitter used to spread and share their music.
Happy Fools’ Parade
Fred moved out to the countryside, on an estate where a little red house was located. This turned out to be the place where Zitter worked on the follow up to Swansong 11. Despite the initial intensions, there wasn’t that much time to practice the new songs before the recordings began. In fact, the band members brought in their songs and told the other part how to play the song. This lack of teamwork had a negative effect on the result, Happy Fools’ Parade (2002). In short, the diversity of music on the disc made it sound a bit eclectic. There are keyboard-orientated ballads, like Childhood Days, side by side with groovy rocking tracks, like Soulless Man, and the heavy song, Right Or Wrong.
The response to Happy Fools’ Parade on the OMDs and in some fanzines was quite good. Soulless Man ended up on the compilation disc, "Buzz Songs Vol. 1" (3000Records). The second most well known song from the disc is Personal Hero, a song that grew in popularity when Zitter entered the stage for the very first time. But that was years later! At the time of the release of Happy Fools’ Parade, Zitter didn’t consider climbing up on a stage.
The positive response they received made Fred and BG think a second time about playing live, though. They brought in William on guitar, but it all came to nothing. The rehearsals turned out to be very sporadic, partly because they didn’t have a rehearsal room of their own. The inspiration sank even lower when Fred and BG realized how displeased they were with the Happy Fools’ Parade disc.
The discussions around what went wrong with the Happy Fools’ Parade disc, turned out to be very inspirational. Fred and BG felt the need to find what Zitter should be about musically. The sound and musical style needed to be set out before the nest recordings took place. Properly set up in a rehearsal room for the first time, the discussions immediately turned into new songs. The result was Alligator Highway (2003).
With Alligator Highway, Zitter aimed to be a band in the punk n’ roll genre, a label not everyone would attach to the disc, arguing the songs contained elements and musical flavours not belonging to this genre. This feedback triggered an ongoing discussion on what music Zitter played. The band kept re-thinking and clarifying what they wanted to achieve with their music.
Alligator Highway received a lot of great reviews in various fanzines. The song Nobody's Perfect found its way to "Radio Now! Vol. 2" (3000Records) and to the DVD "Cowabunga Extravagance" (Seven Films). Of greater importance though, was the contact Zitter made with the Swedish movie- and videomakers Rotten Soulz. The song Sunny Day Holiday turned up in the Rotten Soulz horror-comedy release Så Länge Jag Andas (As Long As I Breathe). The Rotten Soulz gang also recorded a video for the song. Check it out here!
The Vulture Punk 'N' Roll Machine
Energized by the great feedback the Alligator Highway disc got, Zitter put in a lot of hours to refine their musical style and define a distinct sound of their own. The result, The Vulture Punk N' Roll Machine (2006), was a statement of what Zitter aimed to be. The title was a somewhat pretentious stand that the band had a sound of their own: vulturistic punk n’ roll machine music. The shift of favourite birds, from the swan to the vulture, was a clarifying statement: Zitter was not about writing hit music for the radio, but a dirty bird machine connecting the past with genre-transcending elements, most notable the use of a drum machine and synthesizers. Zitter lay their destiny in the beak of the beautiful scavenger, leaving the swan to its own sad destiny on the sea of the dead. To make this even clearer, they gave their studio a name: Studio Vulture.
Despite the invented label, the band stuck too the musical style they showed on the Alligator Highway disc. Yet, at the same time, they tried to stretch their musical boundaries a bit further. They used keyboards more than they had ever done before, they actually recorded a live snare drum on top of the drum machine snare and they tried to get more of a groove going in the songs. The last aspect is probably most notable on the title track, which is a groovy, melodic tribute song, hailing some of Zitters main influences.
The Vulture disc got really good response in the fanzine world, some complementing the band for exploring their musical boundaries.
Zitter has never, and will probably never be, a live band. In 2008, Zitter did an exception to this rule when they participated in En kväll för cystisk fibros (A night for Cystic fibrosis), a charity show to raise money to support the research around the disease Cystic fibrosis. Their live debut in front of a 600 plus audience was short, actually one song long. Zitter performed Personal Hero, a song from the Happy Fools’ Parade disc. The performance was filmed and can now be seen here!
Playing live caused the band to re-arrange and re-record Personal Hero. Since this was a special occasion, a special appearance seemed appropriate. For the very first time, Zitter brought in another musician on a recording. The vocal performance from Malin Hween, at the time the singer of Dipstone, turned Personal Hero into a completely new song and took Zitter to a new musical level. Of course, Malin joined the band on stage. The new version of Personal Hero was released as a special 3-track EP with two out-takes from the recordings that took place at the same time. Besides the great vocal appearance of Hween, the sound on the Personal Hero EP saw a major change concerning the drums. For the first time Zitter used software drums instead of drum machine sounds. This made a significant change to the vulturistic punk n’ roll machine sound.
The recordings in 2008, was delayed even further when Zitter decided to do another exception from the studio-only-rule. In December they played live in Eskilstuna at Rock för de hemlösa (Rocking for the homeless). The 30-minute gig contained some old songs from the Alligator Highway and the Vulture discs, as well as brand new, un-released songs from the ongoing recording session.
The co-operation with the Rotten Soulz gang continued during the Vulture years and beyond. The moviemakers released the horror-comedy I Död Och Lust (Through Death And Lust), a movie containing three Zitter songs. The next Rotten Soulz-project entitled Hard Steel, is a comedy series of a fictitious hardrock band doomed to fail. In the first two episodes, Zitter is represented with a number of songs.
To show their appreciation of the Rotten Soulz-gang, Zitter wrote a special theme song for the gang, entitled Rotten Soulz. The band felt so pleased with the song, they wanted to release it as soon as possible. Since that work with the up-coming Zitter disc seemed to be a never-ending project, they decided to release Rotten Soulz as a 4-track EP. BG got some time on his own in the Studio Vulture, so he programmed special versions of two old Zitter songs, which together with the new song Flux, ended up on the EP. The title track also resulted in a video. Check it out here!
It took close to four years before Quintus (2010), the follow up to The Vulture Punk N’ Roll Machine, was written, recorded and released. The songwriting went smooth, but the recordings were delayed when the Studio Vulture went from using digital recording devices to be a computer-based studio. The transfer of the recorded tracks caused a number of problems that eventually got solved. The problems and frustrations put aside, the band was so pleased with the result that they decided to go for a professional release. In order to do so they set up A Vulture Nest Production and got a co-operation deal with Serpentine records.
With Quintus, Zitter has spread their musical wings wider than before, developing their sound into what they now label as a vulturistic beak n’ roll machine music. They still believe their songwriting is in the punk n ‘ roll vein, but that their arrangements and use of different artificial sounds gives their music an edge that might not be what to expect in the punk n’ roll genre. They have also made a shift towards a slightly heavier and darker sound previously not heard on a Zitter disc. But still, the core of the music is catchy and melodic rock.
Ironically, with the release of Quintus, Zitter decided to put the band on the shelf for a while. The mutually agreed decision is based on private and health related reasons. The irony is doubled, since the dragged out mixing process of Quintus turned out to be a productive time with the writing of new material. These songs are more or less ready to be recorded on the spot. This is not going to happen since Zitter has moved out of their rehearsal and recording space. The hiatus will last as long as the Studio Vulture has not been properly re-located and until the main problems have come to an end. Zitter will be heard of in the future!
If you have any questions or comments, please mail 'em here!