Swedish independent band Hion Martell has been around for more than
twenty years. During the history of the band Hion Martell, they
have been testing many various styles, bordering at country, soul,
blues and heavy rock, all the time making music in a style of their
2009 the band's lineup has been: Christer Nilsson (Guitar & Vocals),
Ulf Hagberg (Guitar & Vocals), Håkan Nilsson (Drums & Backing Vocals),
Stefan Larsson (Bass) and Peter Subäck (keyboards).
name - Hion Martell, is to be pronounced high on Martell and is
of course a tip of the hat to the world famous cognac. The story
of HION MARTELL can be divided into three eras; The Recording Project,
The "Oh, are you in the band too?"-years and finally the Present
Day version of the band.
Recording Project (1992-1999)
It all started back in '92. It was not exactly deep down in Louisiana
among the evergreens. It was a small town called Ljusdal, in the
middle of Sweden, among the pines. Guitar player, singer and song
writer Christer Nilsson got some friends together and recorded
a few tracks. Influenced by artists and bands like JJ Cale,
the Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd the style of
the music was very basic rock. There wasn't a permanent line up.
There were different people singing and playing on the tracks. The
songs were written to be easy to learn, with minimalistic chord
progressions. Often a four bar chord pattern was repeated the whole
CD's were released during this era of the band; '...for your exquisite
delight' (Bombolaget, 1993) and 'Hit Ambition At The Canadian Club'
(SCARILLA!, 1999). The production was very raw and lo-fi. Some tracks
were recorded live, some on 4-track cassette recorders and some
in a cheap demo studio.
the musicians performing on the recordings a few names might be
familiar for the Swedish audience: Staffan Lindfors (Östen
med Resten, Sofia Karlsson), Jocke Blomgren (Engmans
Kapell, Tommy Nilsson), Jonas Gröning (Måns Zelmerlöw,
Carola) and Peer Åström (producer known for his work
with Céline Dion, Madonna and the Glee soundtrack).
Less well-known but equally important for the band was Stefan
Karlsson (Hueremere, Wombat, Dubango), Kenneth Forssell,
PO Andersson and Lasse Sundberg, just to mention a
"Oh, are you in the band too?"-years (1999-2008)
With the release 'Top Of The Vision' (2000, SCARILLA!) a new, more
"permanent" line up emerged. Drummer STYXX (ex 80's glam
band Bess) and bass player Stefan Larsson, a.k.a.
Babbaen (ex metal band Julie Laughs Nomore) entered the stage,
together with keyboard wizzard and prog head Ulf Pettersson
Apart from this core of the band there were still plenty of changes
in the line up from recording session to recording session, and
from gig to gig. Sometimes the band played as a trio, and sometimes
there were up to eleven (!) people on stage.
though female background vocalists was always an important part
of the Hion Martell sound, this was the first time that there were
any girls in the line up. Actually at a point there were four of
them! By the time 'PEACE!' was released in 2002 only two of them
were left;Sofia Klingefors and Tanja Hedlund.
After the release of 'PEACE!' the band started writing a concept
album: 'Music From The Swing Dynasty - IRON MOTEL BY HION MARTELL'.
Quite a few of the tracks featured in the rock opera were co-written
by STYXX, who never the less left the band to be replaced by drummer
Ronnie Persson. The album was released and available as download
only in 2005.
2006 the 4 track CD 'Water' (SCARILLA!) was released. The disc features
re-recorded versions of four of the tracks from the Iron Motel.
Half way through the recordings Ulf Pettersson and Tanja Hedlund
decided to leave. The majority of the keyboards on the CD are therefore
handled by Kristofer Eng (Brighteye Brison), another
prog crazed disgustingly skilled player.
2009 the band finally got a permanent lineup. Peter Subäck
was added as keyboard player. Peter had been associated with the
band for years, but as a photographer! He shot pictures for the
covers of 'Top Of The Vision' and 'Water'.
left the band and Håkan Nilsson got behind the drumkit. Håkan
had been playing with the band ever since 'Hit Ambition At The Canadian
Club', helping out playing percussion, drums and even bass. This
made him the perfect drummer for the band.
first release featuring this lineup of the band was the full length
CD 'Will Cure Any Disease', in November 2010. The album was the
first HION MARTELL album to be released on the indie lable Viskningar
November 2011, the band released a single for download; ' Water'.
The song became one of the most played local productions on regional
radio (SR Gävleborg P4), in 2012.
same year also celebrated the band's 20th anniversary. The
band summarized the first 20 years on the compilation album 'Ultimate
High' (Viskningar & Vrål/Plugged).
2014 the band released the album 'Riffs In A Box'. The album was
produced by Daniel Lindblom, and it was actually the first
album where all tracks were recorded in the same studio. The album
received quite a bit of airplay in Europe (for example in the Netherlands,
Belgium, Germany, Luxemburg and the UK) and the United States, mainly
on web radio stations and regional stations.
album also received great reviews in the press and on the web.
brave, mostly compelling mix of styles" the well-known British music
journalist Dave Ling wrote.
the Southern Boogie feel of the upbeat 'Working On It' and the infectious
fun of 'Fly Tox Jive' have, with repeated plays, continued to raise
a smile." Michael Anthony wrote in the UK magazine Fireworks.
a spin-off, Hion Martell got to name a brand of beer. An ale. A
Hion Mart-ale, named Riffs In A Bottle, described as "Fruity, slightly
burnt taste with a distinct bitterness, hints of toffee, dark rye
bread, dried figs and chocolate."
September 2016, while getting ready to work on the next album -
eventually titled 'Trust Me On This One' - Ulf Hagberg decided to
leave the band, due to lack of motivation.