The mushy, squishy, kaleidoscopic electric folk of the Amazing's second LP, Gentle Stream, suggests the Stockholm ensemble spent hours at a Fairport Convention, poring over dusty Nick Drake, Tim Buckley and Love LPs. And while that most certainly would be true of band member Reine Fiske, who's best known for his work with like-minded psych retro-rockers Dungen, the group's vocalist and songwriter, Christoffer Gunrup, spent most of the time he was working on Gentle Stream listening to the music that inspired him as a kid: Black Sabbath, Eric Clapton and Wu-Tang Clan.
"I was listening to a lot of stuff that doesn't come out on the record," he says. "I was so into my own stuff that it's hard for me to describe my inspirations." That said, the singer cites "life in general" as his main inspiration on the album. "I was breaking up with my wife, and stuff like that," he tells Hive nonchalantly. "There aren't any breakup songs on the record. I tried to leave that behind me and look forward." Here, though, he looks backward at some of the most influential artists and experiences that have shaped him over the years, and by proxy, played a part in the creation of the resplendent Gentle Stream.
1. Black Sabbath's Master of Reality
"Black Sabbath were one of my main influences when I was growing up," Gunrup says. "I love the '70s albums best, the early ones. My favorite one would have to be [1971's] Master of Reality. I love the rawness of the whole album and the production."
2. Joni Mitchell's Blue
"I love Blue, but I wasn't listening to it a lot while making Gentle Stream," says the singer, whose sound owes a debt to Mitchell's Laurel Valley musical roots. "I like the album's arrangement and Joni's lyrics. My favorite song is 'Little Green.' It's just beautiful song and her playing is incredible. The whole feeling of that album is just something I love."
"Right now, I'm listening to the Admiral Fell Promises album by Sun Kil Moon," Gunrup says, citing the alt-folk group's main-man Mark Kozelek as a major inspiration. "I think it's one the best albums I've heard in years. I just love his melodies and I think he's an outstanding guitar playing. That album is just him and a guitar. I highly recommend it."
4. The Cure
"Some might see the Cure and Robert Smith as gathering of moaning trolls, but to me Robert is the best songwriter ever," Gunrup beams. "There is something fantastic about that man, Robert Smith. I remember playing along to their records, dying my hair black, trying to get the hair right. Never quite dared to put on the lipstick, though. But their records still mean a lot to me." Even though the gothic-tinged new-wave band's music doesn't come through much in the Amazing's sound, Gunrup calls the Cure his biggest influence, even if he's alone in his band with that opinion. "I often play the Cure to the band when we get together for drinks," he says. "I see as my duty to convince all of them just how good they are."
5. Going on Walks
The one non-musical influence Gunrup cites is his proclivity for pedestrianism. "Often I have been listening to our unfinished music while walking," he explains, "making up my mind on what to do with the songs, how to finish them." His favorite place to go walking is in Stockholm, especially on a winter's night when the city is alight. It's a ritual of sorts he's been doing long enough to have an OCD-like preference for his walking paths. "I have specific routes, I never improvise," he explains. "I choose one of the routes and always follow it through. Sometimes when I'm out walking with a friend I always try to take one of my routes, without saying anything and when the friend suggests another direction I get stressed out and can't enjoy it at all. I realize this might sound weird and boring, but it's just something that I have to do."
Gentle Stream is out now. Watch the band's video for "Gone" below: