How ‘a drunken, mad weekend’ with the ex-Catfish drummer birthed the band Hearts

By Owen Jameson

23 May 2024

From Gothenburg, Sweden to the Victorious festival this summer (along with one more…), Hearts have an incredibly unlikely story that spans the North Sea, Sweden and the UK.

Now, time for a little introduction; Hearts consists of ex-Catfish and the Bottlemen man, Rob Hall on the drums, Jesper Jansson on vocals and guitar, Erik Ahlblom on guitar and Johan Reiman on the bass. Hearts have an instantly catchy and energetic sound that’s like nothing else on the airwaves at the moment – they are truly ones-to-watch.

Introductions out of the way, I asked Jesper how Hearts came to be: “Basically, there’s two sides to this band. There’s us, the Swedes and there’s the Brit side of it.

“On the Swede side it’s me and Erik. We used to be in a band called the Bongo Club, we played in that band for almost fifteen years.

“We did a few European tours, we were flying over to the US, we did Mexico and Japan so we’ve really done our hours. Our Bass player, Johan, was in a band called Bottlecap and he was basically doing the same thing we were doing.”

Hearts are a band that wouldn’t have been possible without other bands prior. An amalgamation of the Swedish rock scene and British indie rock, together they’ve formed a powerful combination of musical styles that sets them apart from the rest.

Stepping away from the Swedish trio in the band, Jesper recalled how he met Rob at a music festival: “I met Rob because I was working a club festival here in Gothenburg, called Viva Sounds which is a club festival and conference. It’s a bit of like a showcase festival.

“Rob moved to Sweden approximately four years ago and he was attending this festival, he was there to make contacts.

“At this time he was out of Catfish. It must’ve been probably six months after the last couple of shows at Reading and Leeds.

“We just met and got along really well.”

After this initial meeting, the stars started to align for the creation of Hearts as Jesper and Rob ‘quickly became mates’.

About 7 months elapsed, and despite having one Jam session with Rob nothing really came other than friendship; until another chance encounter with Rob in Gothenburg.

Jesper told me: “We randomly bumped into each other on the street, again in Gothenburg, which felt like a weird coincidence.

“We were like ‘Oh shit! Maybe we should hang out more’, and that evolved into us talking more.

“He said to me… ‘Come over to mine for a weekend, bring some friends and we can jam.’ So we invited Erik and Johan to that and we had like a drunken, mad weekend staying up until five in the morning.

“Most of the songs that were on the first EP were finished that weekend, and that would have been early January last year.

“It’s pretty fresh still!”

Jesper, in action for Hearts

As we all know, some of the best bonding experiences happen over a few beers or ten.

For Jesper and Hearts, this was the start of something truly special and with all members having previous band and touring experiences – they have set themselves up for success.

Jesper confidently spoke about how those past experiences have helped Hearts in their short time as a band: “When you’re twenty years old you make all of the mistakes of a twenty year old.

“Now we are in our thirties, it feels like we have fast tracked this project quite a lot.

“I feel we are at the same level with this band as we were after ten years with the Swedish projects.

“We trust our guts a lot with songwriting as well. Whereas, with our past projects we struggled a bit only trying to write hit songs and now we just do what feels good, and then it becomes good.

“It’s a mix of confidence and experience really.”

With more confidence and experience, Hearts have been able to focus on being the best band they can be.

They are certainly reaping the rewards of this experience and maturity, having just finished a UK tour and with Victorious Festival in Portsmouth as well as another huge UK festival lined up this summer; I would not be surprised if they blew up over the remaining months of 2024.

Jesper kindly sent me Hearts’ new EP which is set to release on the 24th of May, and let me tell you – it is brilliant. The second track is powerful and the third has elements of The Killers to it. These songs are meant to be listened to live, so if you get the chance, you need to go and see Hearts.

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