Swedish singer Andi Almqvist started writing songs in the spring of 2003, after seven years of musical idleness. He formed Andi Almqvist & The Employees, with guitar player Jon Eriksson and drummer Conny Städe, a couple of months later.
Already at the first rehearsal they knew they were on to something unique. The sound was so rough and basic it reminded them of old delta-blues musicians such as Skip James, Leadbelly and Son House. Other more contemporary influences that came to mind were Morphine, Tom Waits and 16 Horsepower.
A demo was recorded which led to a number of prestigious shows. In the spring of 2004 Andi Almqvist & The Employees opened up for B B King, in front of an audience of four-thousand people.
In September the same year they started to record their debut-album, but fate would interrupt them. Guitar player Jon Eriksson, a carpenter by trade, bashed a hammer on a steel plate and damaged his ears. The band was forced to lay down their instruments for eight months. Doctor’s orders.
In May 2005 Andi Almqvist & The Employees started playing again and one of their first shows was at a small beer-joint in Malmö. Record-company boss Håkan Olsson walked by on the street and heard the music through the wall. He decided to go inside and listen. Three days later a contract was signed.
Debut-album “Can’t Stop Laughing” was recorded live at Varispeed Studios, Klågerup, in just three days. The band was inspired, scorching hot and smokin’!
»Andi Almqvist & The Employees play a brand of blues that’s ragged and crunchy, laying down their tracks as if they were nailing them to railroad sleepers with hand-forged metal spikes. Almqvist has the deep, vocal resonance of Chris Smither. If they had been discovered in Chicago, it’s a fair bet the whole world would know about them by now. CAN’T STOP LAUGHING is one of the better releases of 2005.«
- Loudon Temple, Maverick Magazine, UK
”Scandinavian white man sings the blues !
Looking like a fusion of Jose Mourinho and my mate Pat, Almqvist sings ragged country blues like he’s old and wrinkly. Which he patently isn’t. Sweden has been churning out lots of bands recently, and a lot of them are with Rootsy (www.rootsy.nu). Despite a dearth of acts, Rootsy is ensuring it maintains a very high quality and calibre of musicians, and Almqvist doesn’t let them down.
This debut album has been compared to Morphine, Tom Waits and 16 Horsepower. And maybe that’s what Rootsy boss, Hakan Olsson heard when he walked past a small Malmo beer joint and decided to go in and listen further. Or perhaps he picked up influences from the old delta blues musicians like Skip James, Leadbelly and Son House. And that shouldn’t be surprising as they’re all here.”
- Phil Edwards, AmericanaUK
1. Big Bad Black Dog Blues
2. Boneyard Blues
3. Can't Stop Laughing
4. The Devil Is A Girl
5. Weekend Trip To Hell
8. Black Train
9. The Old Gal And Fat Man
10. San Pedro Sula
11. Exit Song