The third studio album from Viagra Boys titled, ‘Cave World’, was released in July 2022 to much anticipation after the positive critical reviews of their first two albums. The Stockholm-based band made their debut at Coachella earlier this year as they embarked on a U.S. tour during the spring in support of their album ‘Welfare Jazz’ that had garnered much attention upon release. The five-piece was founded in 2015 and quickly established themselves as an exciting live band led by San Francisco Bay Area native, Sebastian Murphy (lead vocals) whose on-stage presence is animated and engaging while Henrik ‘Benke’ Höckert (bass guitar), Tor Sjödén (drums), Oscar Carls (saxophone), and Elias Jungqvist (keyboards) provide the sonics and rhythm. Known for their dark humor and satire in their songs, Viagra Boys embody the punk rock ethos that many bands before them set the standard to.

PC: Pete Mar

Upon speaking with B-Sides before their San Francisco show recently, Murphy noted the influence of growing up in the Bay Area and seeing a wide variety of bands ranging from the Sex Pistols and Le Tigre to country shows as a kid, noting how Hank Williams III was an important influence on him. “My dad had a really good record collection and I used to raid his records and he had a bunch of like Joy Division and stuff,” Murphy stated, “he wasn’t as in the country as I am but he did introduce me to Hank Williams and that’s kind of where it probably started, my country obsessions.” Murphy’s exposure to the city life led him to get into the party scene when he was 14 years old as he described, “I was an angry kid. I don’t think I’ve ever had any goals more than that I wanted to get f*** up. I didn’t like being in reality, it was much easier to take drugs just trying to escape. I’ve just been running or I was much more then.” With the trouble and challenges he faced as a youth, accumulating issues with the law, Murphy had to avoid the three strike rule and moved to Sweden, where he had family there (his mother being originally from Sweden) and had spent many summers there. Murphy shared, “I kind of romanticized Europe and that picture in my head of me moving there, becoming a poet, sitting in Paris smoking cigarettes. I had that image of Europe and it ended up being a very cold place but it’s my home now.

PC: Pete Mar

Mixing in those influences of Murphy’s youth, bassist Höckert is the mastermind behind the band’s sound. Their vision of keeping their sound simple and rhythm-based is what has appealed to audiences worldwide. Murphy noted, “we almost wanted to make what electronic music tries to accomplish but with rock and where something is just like very repetitive but the slightest change to how something is done. It makes it so it doesn’t sound repetitive. I’m really inspired by a lot of Devo and even Motörhead and that driving sound. It’s a mix of all sorts of inspirations, it’s not just punk. We’re very inspired by techno and hip-hop. These sonics are front and center in ‘Cave World’ that is commentary and observations on the divisions that are prevalent in society and politics. The subject matter wasn’t something Murphy intended to write about, but was just so overwhelmingly at the forefront, especially in Sweden that he couldn’t not write about it. There are lyrics that are straightforward and filled with the perspective of the “idiots” on the internet from commentary on the gun-lovers in “Troglodyte” to the conspiracy theorists in “Creepy Crawlers”. During a break prior to the San Francisco show, Murphy opined how the desire for mono-culture that bubbled over in recent years in the U.S. has spread internationally, “we were in Japantown and it’s like it’s cool that America is good at celebrating other cultures whereas in Sweden, it just feels like the only thing they can talk about is how they can get these cultures out of there. It’s a very sad place the state of the world today. There’s a lot of just horrible things that are happening that are being more and more accepted and allowed to happen. The way people speak and just the racist s*** that people get away with is incredible.”

PC: Pete Mar

After the ups and downs throughout his life, Murphy is grateful to be in the place he’s in with a solid career in music, a stable personal life and an outlook where he doesn’t take life so seriously. “I try to see the humor in everything, it’s very important. I’ve learned that life is precious and shouldn’t be thrown away. I’ve got a very good life.”

Viagra Boys - Creepy Crawlers (Shrimp Sessions 3)