With quite a few Swedish bands making noises over here in the UK, Mates of Mine is not just another over-processed attempt to follow the trend; rather, they've been together over a year, which has given them just enough time to explore and develop their sound and style before their debut onto the music scene with their much-anticipated album, 'North Nowhere'.

R13: For those who don't know who Mates of Mine are, can you tell us a little bit about you?
Peter Hallberg: We are four guys from Northern Sweden; Peter (me), Simon, Henrik and Oskar, all 21 years old... or young, if you like. We have been writing and playing music together for a couple of years and recently finished the recording of our first album. It's called "North Nowhere" and includes 12 tracks of acoustic-soul-pop.

R13: How do you all know each other?
PH: Simon, Oskar and I have known each other since preschool and been good friends ever since. We got in touch with Henrik through the years of high school and adopted him as one of our Mates, ha ha.

R13: The band has been together a while, but Henrik is quite new to Mates of Mine, was it hard to welcome in a new band mate?
PH: No not at all, we knew Henrik would fit as our drummer and like I said, we all knew him before it was decided.

R13: Was it difficult adapting songs to the new band set up? Are there any songs that you prefer in the original version?
PH: Well, we've rearranged a couple of songs but it was definitely for the better. Henrik is such a great drummer and it has kind of taken us to a whole new level. We decided to keep 'Live Your Life', 'Sitting by the Ocean', and 'I See You' in their original shape on this album.

R13: Your new album has taken a while to be released- do you think it will be the better for having been in the works for longer?
PH:Well, it was a new experience for us and we didn't have all the songs we wanted back when we started to record. We wrote about 18 songs total but still felt it wasn't complete. That's one of the main reasons why it's been delayed. And then there's the distance between our hometown in Umea and the studio in Stockholm. Anyhow we believe the album will be as good as it can be. We are very anxious for people to hear it.

R13: What are your influences? Which influences will we hear on this album?
PH: When it comes to writing it can be anything in our daily lives. The music on the other hand reminds a lot of people of American singer/songwriters. We listen to all kinds of music and sources of inspiration but we are really trying to create our own sound.

R13: You're unsigned; is this a conscious decision? What are your views on getting signed?
PH: We haven't thought about getting a label so much to be honest. It would of course be great to get help with promotion and such, but we've managed so far. The album isn't released yet and we haven't got any suitable offers yet. Fair and square.

R13: As an unsigned band, are there any skills you've picked up which you did not anticipate having to acquire as musicians?
PH: Yes, we have learned that "hard work" is not an exaggeration. You really have to give the most of you. Deadlines are often broken which requires a lot of patience. Simon also became a master of Sudoku during the studio sessions.

R13: You've recently done a music video with Erik Lofgren. What was that experience like?
PH: It was a lot of fun working with Erik. He's a great film producer and director. Music videos are a fun way of expressing your music!

R13: With each step further in your music career, and each move closer to success, does it get harder to stay grounded and humble?
PH: No not at all. All four of us speak or meet every day so everyone knows exactly what's going on within and around the band. We consider ourselves to be pretty down to earth since we are the ones doing the work. A big bonus with all of this is to travel around and meet different people. That is one of the best benefits with being a musician and it keeps your spirit up.

R13: As you're from Sweden, what is your perception of the music industry in the UK? Do you want to branch out over there?
PH: The music industry seems to be really nice over there, actually better then in Sweden. We just got in contact with a management company in the UK and hopefully we can come over and play! It would be so much fun to play in another country and especially in the UK.

R13: Where would you like the band to be a year from now?
PH: We would like to be on tour, opening for a great artist and perhaps living in a bigger and warmer town then our little cold hole here up north.

R13: Who would win in a fight to the death between George Bush and an underweight warthog? (The warthog is thin but feisty)
PH: Oh, that's a tricky one. After hours of pointless fighting they will finally discover their similarities, fall in love, and mate. The offspring will one day take over the throne of the "world" (as a family tradition).