Photo by Andreas Nilsson
Marc Strömberg is undeniably passionate about two things. The first is hardcore. As a resident of Umeå, Sweden, he has long been an active member of the local scene that has produced acts like Refused, Step Forward, and DS-13, making zines and playing in his own bands including Hall Det Akta and Swan Sex. The second is soda. He. Fucking. Loves. Soda.
Strömberg decided to combine these two passions recently in the form of an Instagram account called Hardcore and Soda. The premise is as simple as the name implies. Each post is a quick video clip of Strömberg’s tattooed hand cracking open a bottle or can of soda and pouring the contents into a glass and capping it off with a straw, set against the backdrop of a hardcore album while one of its songs plays in the background.
It’s hard to say why exactly it works, or maybe it doesn’t. But either way, he keeps doing it. The account is updated almost daily, each video featuring a different combination of colas and records, and has almost 130 posts under its belt. Sometimes he’ll pour out a nice bottle of Swamp Pop praline cream alongside Converge’s You Fail Me. Other times, he’ll crack open a tall boy of Shaquille O’Neal’s strawberry cream Shaq Soda with Ceremony’s Rohnert Park LP. When he’s feeling sassy, he’ll play Combatwoundedveteran’s powerviolence classic I Know a Girl Who Develops Crime Scene Photos with some Faygo ginger ale, the drink of choice for Juggalos who have been forbidden from drinking alcohol at their sisters’ weddings.
But why? Why combine these two things? What is to be learned or gained from pairing various kinds of sodas with different hardcore albums? We talked to Strömberg, a graphic designer, to get to the bottom of it, much like a delicious bottle of Cheerwine, which, in case you’re wondering, apparently goes well with the Judge discography.
#108: Black Flag + White Rock / #keithmorris #blackflag #everythingwentblack #blackflagwasted #henryrollins #gregginn #whiterockrootbeer #blackflagbars #nerepånollpodcast @danielnatterdal #hardcoreandsoda
A video posted by Hardcore And Soda (@hardcoreandsoda) on Jun 16, 2016 at 12:57am PDT
Noisey: So I guess I’ll ask the obvious. Why?
Marc Strömberg: I just want to be active in the hardcore scene. Also, all these sodas just recently started to get imported into Sweden within the last year. There had been none of that, ever. Big shops have begun taking in more kinds. We never had cream sodas, we never had cherry sodas, we never had anything like that. So people have started talking about it and drinking them. And me being straight-edge, I’ve never had any wine or beer or anything, so it’s been exciting to explore this whole new world. I’ve never known the difference between Pepsi and Coke until last year. So I thought it would be a good way to explore that and couple it with hardcore.
I am downright amazed at the sheer number of soda varieties you’ve had. Where are you getting all these sodas?
I’m searching the country like a maniac and having friends send them to me. We’re sharing tips and locations. It was just recently, like two months ago, that the first soda shop opened in Sweden, in Stockholm, called Soda Nation. Those sodas are more like, fine sodas in glass bottles. I don’t want the soda world to be this micro-brewery trend. I want it to be kids’ sodas and dangerous colorings and stuff you shouldn’t drink when you’re pregnant.
A video posted by Hardcore And Soda (@hardcoreandsoda) on Jul 24, 2016 at 5:55am PDT
Tell me, Mark. What makes a good pairing of a soda and a hardcore record?
Sometimes just the coloring of the front cover, or different song titles, or the location of where the band is from. On the first ones, I didn’t even write a motivation. I’ve started writing smaller motivations now, because I understood that some pairings are so cryptic. I want to make the coupling as clear as possible. Like the one I did today, I put up Grave Maker, Bury Me at Sea. That record, coupled with this weird French soda called Kem. They have a song called “Cast Away” about someone being broke at sea and landing on an island, and it’s a tropical soda with the palm trees and coconuts and things.
When have you thought: Man, I really nailed that pairing?
I like the Agnostic Front and Cuba Cola, because the singer, Roger Miret, is Cuban. There was Bad Brains and the Bob Marley drink. And also, the first Rage Against the Machine album with Burn Energy Drink, I like that. Oh, and Harms Way, their album Rust, I did that with the White Rock root beer, which is like a copper can.
A video posted by Hardcore And Soda (@hardcoreandsoda) on Apr 29, 2016 at 1:11pm PDT
You’re like a straight-edge sommelier.
Yeah, I’ve dug into this world so heavily now and I collect all the bottles and all the cans and everything, and I’m putting out my own soda later this year, like a cloudberry soda. But I don’t want it to be this snobby micro-brewery attitude where these guys do this [does impression of a snooty man tasting a beer]. Ugh, I don’t want it to be like that.
A video posted by Hardcore And Soda (@hardcoreandsoda) on Apr 27, 2016 at 12:31am PDT
What’s your soda going to be?
I did a symbol which merges a cloudberry and a hand grenade. I put it on shirts and beanies and I have it tattooed here on my face as well. [points to side of temple where, sure enough, there is a tattoo of a cloudberry grenade] The cloudberry is like the national berry in the north of Sweden. It’s really hard to come by. You have to go up in the mountains, all along these big insects and mosquitos, it’s damp and wet. It’s called the “gold of the north.” There’s not a soda like that in the whole world.
What album would that go well with?
Maybe one of my own records, with my own band. That’d be the best one.
#67: Converge + Jolly Rancher Green Apple - "When in the green, apple is easy to drink" / @converge @jbannon @benjaminkoller @godcitymusic @deathwishinc @jollyrancher #convergecoralblue #allweloveweleavebehind #hardcoreandsoda
A video posted by Hardcore And Soda (@hardcoreandsoda) on Apr 22, 2016 at 1:46am PDT
What happens when the video turns off? Do you drink the soda?
Yeah, I drink it or I share it.
What’s been the worst soda?
That was recently. Yesterday’s post, the Czech soda coupled with Spirits. That was definitely the worst one. I poured it out. It was this weird… it was supposed to be like a malt soda, and it tasted straight-up like a piece of loaf bread. Bleh, so gross.
What’s been the best?
I like Dr. Pepper! I’ve got to say, I’d never had Dr. Pepper until last autumn. I also like the Swamp Pop sodas.
A video posted by Hardcore And Soda (@hardcoreandsoda) on Jun 11, 2016 at 1:10am PDT
What do you as a Swede make all of our energy drinks in the States? I saw you did a Monster soda, I think I saw a Red Bull.
Yeah, and Jolt. I drink a lot of energy drinks as well. I don’t drink coffee, but when I have one of those energy drinks, man, I don’t sleep. I like it. There’s worse stuff to drink. We have a couple of Swedish brands as well that are really good, but all of them are focused on training, like gym drinks.
A video posted by Hardcore And Soda (@hardcoreandsoda) on Jul 29, 2016 at 1:06am PDT
How long can you do this for? How many sodas are there?
Now that Soda Nation is open, I think I have a couple hundred more.
Is there an ultimate goal to this project?
No, I just want to do something different. It’s just fun. I’d love to do a podcast as well, where we pick a soda and an album and talk about them.
Can I be a guest?
Of course! I’ve got this big want list for stuff I have to go over to the US to get.
Records, you mean?
Check out Hardcore and Soda on Instagram. When he's not downing various colas, Strömberg plays in Swan Sex, who released a video today. Watch it below.
Dan Ozzi is on Twitter and likes a good cream soda with The Hope Conspiracy's 'Endnote.' He also thinks Crystal Pepsi can go fuck itself - @danozzi