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A Gretsch Abroad — Swedish Online Drum Retailer Slagverkskompaniet Celebrates 20th Anniversary

A Gretsch Abroad — Swedish Online Drum Retailer Slagverkskompaniet Celebrates 20th Anniversary

This month “A Gretsch Abroad” focuses on Gretsch Drums in Sweden, and some of the interesting people that help bring “That Great Gretsch Sound” to this fascinating nordic country with such a strong musical tradition.

Slagverkskompaniet celebrates a 20th anniversary with a bang!

Let’s face it, drummers know how to party. From John Bonham’s legendary antics to Animal’s erratic behavior behind the kit, it is a well-known fact that you can count on the drummer to have a good time.

Owner Mikael Kvarnlöf in 1997 when the shop opened.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Slagverkskompaniet’s online drum business, and store owner Mikael Kvarnlöf and store manager Calle Boman knew they would have to organize something big to please their customer base of fanatic Swedish drummers. And boy did they deliver! Their celebration on September 30, 2017 in Forshaga, Sweden was a perfect day for drummers of all ages. A day packed with a full schedule of professional drum clinics, as well as display booths from all major drum manufacturers.

Lucas, Sebastian, and Jens setting up.

I arrived a day early to help set up the Gretsch booth. Luckily our partners Jens Heath and Sebastian Johannesson from GEWA Music International were already there and getting things organized. We decided to go for a classy Brooklyn loft/rehearsal room vibe with the Persian rugs on wooden floors backed by a brick wall. The relaxed and authentic tone set the stage for the satin ice blue metallic Brooklyn kit, antique pearl Broadkaster kit, and the  countless Gretsch snare drums which we wanted to display.

Daniel birthday celebration in Sweden.

My cousin Daniel arrived later that night with the energetic Bernhard Weithofer, Director of Drums for GEWA Music International. Daniel is currently doing an internship with GEWA in Adorf, Germany and is actually my cousin’s son. When I inquired about his age later that night in a restaurant, he announced that he would be turning 21 in five minutes! Yet another cause for celebration for this special drumming weekend.

Daniel and I spent the following day together working at the Gretsch booth and talking to drummers about Gretsch drums and our family’s rich history dating back to 1883. This was a very special experience since it is the exact same job that our forefathers have done. I was reminded of a picture I once saw of my grandfather Bill Gretsch together with his brother Fred Jr. at the Music Trades Convention in Chicago in 1946, two years before my grandfather passed away. Gretsches working together at a trade show, talking up Gretsch products and continuing the family legacy.

Fred Gretsch Jr. (left) and Bill Gretsch in 1946.

The 250 attendees of the event, mostly drummers, pendulated throughout the day between the drum booths in the main hall and the drum clinics in the adjacent auditorium. I only caught the last two clinics of the day. The first of which was DW’s talented Aron Mellergårdh from the Swedish band Dirty Loops, who performed just before Gretsch’s very own Morgan Ågren.

Morgan Ågren performing at his clinic.

At 7 p.m. sharp the auditorium filled to witness headlining clinician Morgen Ågren with his sprawling 9-piece Walnut Gretsch kit from the 70s. His three bass drums of 14×22, 14×24 and 14×26 each proudly boasted the Gretsch drum logo.

Usually you would expect the headliner of this type of clinic day to raise the bar a little. However, Morgan took the bar and threw it like a javelin into the ceiling of the auditorium. Throughout his performance he weaved speed, technique, and creativity in such a way that it became clear that we were witnessing a world-class artist.

Furthermore, Morgan understands as well as anybody how to manipulate the ringing overtones of That Great Gretsch Sound and how to mic them in such a way that brings forth a very unique and original sound. In addition to this toney sound, his 14×26 bass drum honestly sounded like a 20,000 pound gate slamming down onto concrete.

Morgan finished his clinic with a discussion on why he plays Gretsch drums and further displays of his mesmerizing talent behind a kit. A truly perfect ending to an otherwise perfect drumming day. (Stayed tuned to Gretsch.com for an interview I did with Morgan coming up soon.)

Special thanks to Slagverkskompaniet’s Mikael Kvarnlöf and Calle Boman for organizing this special event for the benefit of the entire Swedish drumming community. You’re the ones that create a platform to bring the drum manufacturers and the drummers together in one place – the true market makers. Here’s to another successful twenty years for Slagverkskompaniet and Gretsch drums in Sweden!

Visit their online shop today at slagverkskompaniet.se.

— Lucas O’Connor

(Gretsch Generation 5)