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Herd and Destroy

Up here it's all about metal. You can see for yourself, as soon as a band strays ever so slightly from that monotonous, fast drumming, as soon as they become the least bit inventive, the floor clears at live shows.
Κείμενο Tomas Kärrstedt

Photo by Jenny Källman

Up here it’s all about metal. You can see for yourself, as soon as a band strays ever so slightly from that monotonous, fast drumming, as soon as they become the least bit inventive, the floor clears at live shows. I play in a hardcore/skate band, we don’t really have a name yet. One of my favourite drummers is Chris Pennie from Dillinger Escape Plan, he’s just off the wall. It’s us and another band, we’re the only ones that don’t play metal here. And then there’s a reggae band, the Gnarly Boys. They have a keyboard that they lay the drums on, and a guitar. Recently there’s been some tension between us and the metal bands, because we’ve been skating in the space outside the rehearsal rooms. It’s a big room with flat stone floors, so it’s perfect, and it doesn’t harm anyone. Still, we’ve been getting notes with complaints. But that’s the way it is up here. Small towns make for small minds. Actually, it’s been downhill ever since this place was voted Youth City of Sweden in –96. They’ve been cutting funds and downsizing everything. We had a skate park but they tore it down. It’s talk about shutting down the rehearsal space as well. It’s a bit close to the Pit. The Pit was created when they blew away some mountain. The earth is so full of mining tunnels so now bigger and bigger chunks just keep disappearing into the Pit. It’s some hundred meters deep, and more and more houses get labelled “landslide risk” and are either torn down or moved. This whole area is soon going to be just barricades and landslide risk signs. I’m 19 now, and I figure I’ll keep working at the M.O.T Testing for about a year more, and then I’ll jump straight into the reindeer forest by the time I turn 20. I’m right out of school now, and I just want to get a chance to do other things too, like travelling. My girlfriend isn’t Saami, but she says she’ll support me in what I want to do. She’ll be helping me out whenever she can, with slaughter and calf branding and whatever. I don’t care if I’m with someone who’s Sami or not, but I could never be with someone who couldn’t accept me working in reindeer husbandry. My dad is Swedish, so I work with my mum’s brother and my grandmother. I’ve been helping out since I was a kid, but there are still things I need to learn. It’s mainly about learning how to recognize different cattle. I mean, it’s not like my eyesight will improve, it’s more about learning to look in another way, and how to recognize other families’ brands faster. Getting better at throwing and just get more experienced. You’re never fully educated, you always get better and better, but by the time I’m 30 I figure I’ll be pretty skilled. Reindeer husbandry has been in my family for a very, very, very long time, and amongst all those other plans about becoming an archaeologist or whatever, it has always been there at the back of my mind. It’s something I’ve always done, I know it by heart and it’s something that makes me very proud. I think it just might be one of the best occupations in the world. I’ve been helping out seriously for the last five years, and it wouldn’t surprise me if my sister would be getting into it too, I know she’s very proud of being a part of this too. Our reindeer pemmican is both smoked and dried, and it’s good, but it’s a bummer because my girlfriend really loves the kind that is only dried. But that stuff you buy in the stores, that’s just slaughter refuse. Those are little pieces of head, stuff you wouldn’t normally touch. We sell beautiful reindeer meat to the stores, and they’ll pay us €3 a kilo, and then they’ll sell it on for €23 a kilo. But there is no way to get an independent business going, people have been trying since the 70s. It just doesn’t work, people will keep buying the shitty meat. To get a really profitable business going you’d need something like 500 reindeers, big amounts. And now they’re discovering the Russian reindeer herders, who’ll sell them meat for €2 a kilo, and so suddenly everyone’s into Becquerel reindeers. And now they have a Saami art project at the local school? I used to go there, and you know what? Throughout all the time I went there we didn’t do one single project on Saami culture. It’s even in the curriculum; it says you’re supposed to have at least one project on Saami culture for junior high, and one for high school. But the damn teachers are clueless, so of course they won’t teach us about it. They don’t even know themselves.


The Pit is a great big pit in the ground in Lappland. It’s 250 meters deep and appeared after the swap from open-cast mining to underground mining. Every year it grows a bit bigger and thousands of people have had to abandon their apartments because of the landslide risk. Right now the Pit is being filled, but all the old mining shafts has made the ground as hollow and frail as old Swiss cheese and the erosion is showing no signs of slowing down. According to calculation by the mining industry the Pit will keep eating it’s surroundings for at least 20-30 years more. Next up for landslide risk is “The Pit,” the band rehearsal space. When that fence to the left reaches that house to the right there will be no more rehearsing.