Listening to the Crazy Swedes, a Capital Region-based band is a lesson in genre-blending.
The four-member outfit mixes everything from funk to jazz to prog rock in an improvisation-driven style.
It started as a passion project and in some ways, it still is, though it’s become something more with the release of the band’s eponymous debut album. An album release show is planned for Saturday at the Round Lake Auditorium.
“This is the band that I think we all wanted to be in when we were 18 years old, where you could really play to the limits of your ability,” said guitarist Will Severin.
Each band member’s musical background is fairly diverse. Severin has done everything from Broadway orchestra gigs to touring with prog metal act Infinite Spectrum in addition to composing film scores and music for TV. Rob Lindquist, who plays keys for the band, has performed with jazz luminaries and brought together projects like the Rob Lindquist Quartet and New Regime. Bass player Eric Schwanke has played with bands like Body & Soul, Thick & Dashboard Anthem. Drummer George Snyder has performed with regional bands like Rattail Jimmy and international ones such as Cliff Morrison & The Lizzard Son Band and Itis.
Lindquist, Snyder and Severin also perform with Madison VanDenburg, a 2019 American Idol finalist from Cohoes.
They started Crazy Swedes about six years ago to experiment and push themselves musically.
“You don’t have that opportunity in most music settings because you’re usually playing for . . . what the song is. Things are always restrained. You’re maybe playing to 25% of your ability. This is an opportunity to stretch out. You can basically play more to what you know,” Severin said.
The Crazy Swedes (whose name was inspired by a throw-away line from a horror film) is above all an instrumentally driven band. There’s no lyrical narrative to distract from the solos and each member seems to get their time in the spotlight.
The songwriting process for “Crazy Swedes” is reflective of the experimental style of the music.
“It was kind of a collaborative [process]. Everybody brings something to the table. Usually, people would work on a germ or two at home and then we kind of just jam it out in the studio,” Severin said.
They started recording the album before the pandemic at North Albany Studios, working with Grammy Award-winning engineer Chris Theis (Santana’s “Smooth” and Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”).
Throughout the last year, since they couldn’t get together to perform live, they have been polishing up the album.
“During the pandemic, I ended up recording a lot of additional guitar work at home in my home studio and the keyboard player basically did some overdubs himself at home. . . It kind of kept us in it,” Severin said.
Saturday’s album release show will be the first the Crazy Swedes have played in two years.
“We’ve been getting together to rehearse and everybody’s working toward the show. That’s been interesting too because a lot of the material that we do, we had the time in the studio to really kind of think about it more,” Severin said, adding that it led to a richer sound.
Severin describes the album as a bit off the beaten path but melodically memorable.
There are also plenty of cultural Easter eggs.
“There’s a lot of homages,” Severin said. “The [song] titles actually … some of them are homages to films. Some of them are homages to musical heroes and the rest of them are homages to craft beer but that part is probably really obvious.”
Saturday’s show kicks off at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information visit roundlakeauditorium.org.