If I was forced to name my favourite band, Kent would be that band. I love everyone of their albums, and surprising the English versions are my least favourite (but still better than most out there)
Kent is a Swedish rock/pop band that formed in Eskilstuna, Sweden.
The band has had numerous Swedish radio hits since the breakthrough single “Kräm (så nära får ingen gå)”, from their second studio album. They are the most popular rock group in Sweden, but are more or less unknown outside Scandinavia. Kent briefly attempted an international career with English versions of the albums Isola and Hagnesta Hill and an accompanying American tour for the former, but they gave up after failing to achieve the breakthrough they had hoped for.
Kent has released eleven studio albums, sold over three million records and has won 21 Swedish Grammy Awards. “VinterNoll2” is an unlockable track in Career Mode on Guitar Hero World Tour. Kent recently got their own Singstar called SingStar Kent released on PlayStation 2 and 3.
Jones & Giftet and Havsänglar (1990–1994)
The band Jones & Giftet (Jones & the Poison) was formed with members Joakim Berg, Martin Sköld, Markus Mustonen, Sami Sirviö and Thomas Bergqvist (synthesizers). It all started with Jocke going to London and buying two guitars, one for Sami and one for himself. Sami and Jocke had a band that rehearsed at Balsta Musikslott which consisted of three people. Inspired by My Bloody Valentine, Martin and Jocke decided they were going to start a new band. This happened at the school S:t Eskils cafeteria Grönan. Jocke and Martin met up with a very drunk Markus outside of the Restaurant Vildsvinet in Eskilstuna. Whilst drunk, he promised to join the band and play the drums. Thomas Bergqvist, a friend of Martin Sköld, was invited to come along and play the synth. The first gig was played in Lindesberg in Västmanland, and the second at Knegoffs in Eskilstuna.
In 1991, Jones & Giftet won the contest Cult 91 at the Skylight in Eskilstuna. Magnus Nygren from EMI was taken by Jones & Giftet’s demo got them a gig at Stockholm venues Daily News and Universitet. Today Kent is very pleased that Magnus chose to pass on the band.
1992 is the year that Martin Roos plays with Jones & Giftet for the first time at Cult 92. Soon thereafter Thomas Bergqvist was replaced by Martin Roos. On September the 30th, 1991—Jones & Giftet changed their name to Havsänglar (Angelshark lit. Sea angels). Gigs at the “Spaghetti Companiet”, Hannas Krog and the Pet Sounds Bar followed.
In 1993 Martin Roos moved up to Stockholm, and soon the rest followed. Jocke’s brother, Adam, came up with the new name Kent. Kent played at Stockholm venues Tanto, Hyndans Hörna and Uppsala venue Kalmar Nation.
In March 1994 Kent recorded a 10-track demo under very simple conditions in an 8-track studio at Nytorpsskolan near Blåsut in Stockholm. The demo was given to Peter Ejheden at pet Sounds who back then was working as a booker for a club (Pet Sounds Bar). In the same chain of events where he got the tape, Peter quit Pet Sounds and started working at BMG. In April Per Lindholm, A&R at RCA/BMG heard Kent for the first time and was immediately interested. On the 26th of June, Kent’s first contract was signed. Kent went up to Silence Studios in Koppom, Värmland, to record the debut-album.
Kent and Verkligen (1995–1996)
In 1995 Kent released their eponymous debut Kent. It was distorted and not much reminiscent of what Kent would release in later years. It got almost no commercial reputation at all. Four singles were released, with “Frank” closest to being a hit.
Just one year later, in 1996, Kent released Verkligen (Really). Guitarist Martin Roos had left the band for his career at Kent’s record company BMG, but has since become the band’s manager. The pre-release single “Kräm (Så nära får ingen gå)” immediately became a radio hit and gained Kent some serious fame for the first time. Two more singles were issued, “Gravitation” and “Halka”. Musically, the album was slower with less distortion and more emotion. A Japanese release of “Verkligen” featured the group’s first English-language song, an altered version of “Kräm (Så nära får ingen gå)” entitled “What It Feels Like”.
In 1997 Kent released Isola. Guitarist Harri Mänty had joined the group since Verkligen. Verkligen had been heavily toured, gaining some reputation for Kent. The pre-release single, “Om du var här” (If You Were Here), became a hit as would the second single, “Saker man ser” (Things You See). Musically the album changed a lot from Verkligen, going a lot in the direction of slower, more thoughtful songs with more emotion. The last song on the album, the 7 minute, 47 second-long “747”, with a characteristic keyboard riff and a long instrumental outro, became the band’s closer for every show for the next 8 years, and won numerous best-song polls on Kent’s website. It was also released as a single, cut down to four minutes and with an added short chorus.
In 1998, what many in Sweden had been asking for became reality when Kent released an English version of Isola, featuring an extra song only available on the English version, “Velvet”. Kent embarked on two accompanying US tours to promote the album. The first was in support of fellow Swedes, The Cardigans, during which they highlighted new song, “Protection”, and the second was a double-bill with American band, Papa Vegas. The band would close the shows for the second leg of the tour with what they described as their “only cover song”, a version of Depeche Mode’s classic single, “Stripped”. Singles were released in various territories for three of the album’s songs, “If You Were Here”, “Things She Said” and “747” (featuring the English version of “Kräm”, entitled “What It Feels Like”). The English version of the album was initially not meant to be released in Sweden, but public demand was too great.The English version sold poorly outside of Scandinavia.
Hagnesta Hill and B-sidor 95-00 (1999–2000)
“Musik Non Stop” (1999)
In 1999, Kent released Hagnesta Hill, named after Hagnestahill, a part of Eskilstuna where the band had had their first studio. The first, pre-release single, “Musik non stop” (Music Non Stop), a disco-rock song, became a huge radio hit and helped bring recognition for this album. The album was, for the most part, faster and less ballad-focused than Isola, and also mildly experimental with drum-machines and electronics. The singer and songwriter of Kent, Jocke Berg, later complained that he thought the album was too long (thirteen songs spread over one hour). Two more singles were released, the industrial-esque “En himmelsk drog” (Heavenly Junkies) and the power-poppy “Kevlarsjäl” (Kevlar Soul).
In 2000, an English version of Hagnesta Hill was released, featuring two songs from the Swedish version replaced with two new English tracks (“Just Like Money” and “Quiet Heart”). The album was also released in a limited digipack with one of the excluded songs, “A Timekill to Die For”, included as a hidden bonus track. The album was accompanied by the release of the single, “Music Non Stop”, featuring the other omitted song, “Insects”, as a b-side. A single show, played in front of a tiny crowd at London’s Astoria 2, was recorded for Japanese TV and has been widely bootlegged. A Japanese edition was released, featuring fourteen songs, one of them being the bonus track “Time Kill To Die For”. A planned US release of the album was shelved, resulting in only “cut-out” promo copies floating around. Likewise, a US tour never materialized, as there was officially no album to promote.
Since their debut, Kent had recorded a large number of b-sides, usually exceptional in quality. Since most of these singles had long gone out of print, it was very hard to get these legally, so in 2000, Kent released the 2CD B-side collection B-sidor 95–00 (B-Sides 95–00). It featured 21 b-sides, re-recorded versions of two of these and two totally new songs. One of them, “Chans” (Chance), was also released as a single. A hidden bonus track, featuring Finnish vocals, was also featured.
Vapen & Ammunition and the White Concert (2002–2003)
“Dom Andra” (2002)
After a long break, Kent started to work on their next full-length album in 2002. They reported from the studio that they tried to make an album consisting of ten singles. The first single “Dom andra” (“The Others”) became a huge hit on Swedish radio. When the album Vapen & ammunition (Weapon(s) & Ammunition) came out, the next two singles “Kärleken väntar” (“Love Awaits”) and “FF” (from the double A-side FF / VinterNoll2), plus the album track “Pärlor” (“Pearls”) became huge radio hits, resulting in album sales over 600,000, more than twice as many as any other Kent album to date. The definite proof of the album’s success was evident when the band received seven Swedish Grammy Awards in 2003.
An English version of the album was planned—as can be seen on the tape titled “Guns & Ammunition” in the “Dom andra” music video—but was cancelled, according to lead singer Joakim Berg: “We decided it was not worth it (releasing the album in English) when we realized we had sat in a tour bus for two long US-tours, and nothing had happened.”
Kent hadn’t toured for several months when it was announced that they would only do one single performance in Sweden in 2003, on June 6, the Swedish national day, in Stockholms Stadion which holds a crowd of 30,000. As the band told the crowd to come there dressed in white, it was nicknamed “The White Concert”. The concert received mixed reviews and critics claimed that the band should have done something extraordinary at the concert, instead of playing more or less the same setlist as in the 2002 tour.
The band also played at the less known Parkfestivalen in Moss, Norway on June 14, 2003.
Du & Jag Döden and The Hjärta & Smärta EP (2005)
For more details on the albums, see Du & jag döden and The hjärta & smärta EP.
“Dom Som Försvann” (2005)
Sample of “Dom Som Försvann” from the EP The hjärta & smärta EP.
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After taking a one-year timeout, Kent returned to the studio to record their sixth album in 2005. Studio reports said it would be “a very dark album”. The first single released, Max 500, was well received by both fans and critics and became, as the last three singles had, a radio hit. When the album Du & jag döden (You & me, Death) was released, it was very well received and was considered by most fans to be one of their best albums. Two more singles were released, “Palace & Main” and “Den döda vinkeln” (The blind spot) – the last one stirring up some controversy among Kent fans because Kent didn’t release any b-sides along with it (but still the single has a shorter version of the song). The last track on the album, “Mannen i den vita hatten (16 år senare)” (The Man in the White Hat (16 Years Later)) was very well received and is seen by many fans as Kent’s best effort. It also became the first song ever to replace “747” as the finale of a Kent concert.
During 2005 they embarked on “Turné 19” (Tour 19), doing 12 gigs in Sweden, one in Norway and one in Finland. The concerts took place in huge tents with a capacity of up to 18,000. This was the only tour that followed the release of “Du & jag döden”.
There were rumours about Kent releasing an EP, as they had been spotted in studio and guitarist Sami had said, “We might release an EP, but if we do it will only be digitally released.” Just one month before the November 2005 release, the The Hjärta & Smärta EP (The Heart & Pain EP) was confirmed, as a CD as well as a digital release. It was well received and contained five tracks, “Dom som försvann” (Those Who Disappeared) becoming the radio single and having a video recorded. The single EP made No. 1 in Sweden.
During 2006, the band has played only once in Sweden on the Hultsfred Festival and on two festivals in Norway. They’ve also released the single “Nålens öga” for Swedish Save the children. It is their longest single to date, at a time of over six minutes.
Hagnesta Hill (1999)
Vapen & ammunition (2002)
Du & jag döden (2005)
Tillbaka till samtiden (2007)
En plats i solen (2010)
Jag är inte rädd för mörkret (2012)
The hjärta & smärta EP (2005)
B-sidor 95–00 (2000)
Box 1991–2008 (2008)