The 2005 Sounds of the Underground festival tour was about as decidedly “un-funky” as they come. Equally put off by the lack of anything remotely “in a pocket,” Per Wiberg of Opeth and Jean-Paul Gaster of Clutch set up shop outside the bus trailers and sent an open invitation to any like-minded musicians. Shortly thereafter, they commenced to fill the void.
All told, this happed only a few times, but when it did, great spontaneous jams were pulled from the aether. They were a sorely needed respite from days crammed full with blast beats and monster howls. The good times, however, would inevitably come to a halt when a participant would insist upon “shredding” or “wailing”. This was not the spirit of said jams. The credo was “get funky or get out.”
Seeking to further reap the rewards only found in that spontaneity, Wiberg gathered a group of friends in a rented house in Falun, Sweden. It was somewhat of a leap of faith in that the session would rely primarily on the collective writing and recording of one week’s time. But considering whom Per had assembled, there was plenty of reason to be confident. Thomas Juneor Andersson (Kamchatka) on guitar and vocals, Ulf Rockis Ivarsson (Beatundercontrol, countless sessions), Eric Oblander (Five Horse Johnson) harp on “Leaving Letter Blues”, Tomas Agnas on sax for “Mr. Clean”, Jean-Paul Gaster (Clutch, The Bakerton Group) on drums, and finally Wiberg on vocals, keys, and guitar.
Prior to the session, Wiberg sketched out a few ideas and Andersson had hummed a tune to him over the phone. But other than that, the session was an honest blank slate. It was recorded together live as a whole by Robert Ekholm. This was not an easy task. The studio was wired into a rented vacation home populated by musicians who love beer in equal measure to music. When all was said and done, the group banged out a full-length album of merciless blues, funk, and rock and roll. Two covers made the cut, “Running”, written by Curtis Mayfield, and a stellar Freddie Hubbard version of Weldon Irvine’s classic “Mr. Clean”. The album documents one week in Sweden when a small gathering traveling musicians threw their ingredients into the collective cauldron, enjoyed the meal, and then departed as quickly as they had come. For this reason, they call the group, and its debut release, King Hobo.