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The Coffinshakers

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What if Johnny Cash had been more interested in vampires, werewolves, and the German expressionistic cinema than in walking the line? Meet the Coffinshakers.

Formed in 1995 in Karlstadt, Sweden, by Rob Coffinshaker (Robert Fjällsby), the Coffinshakers eked out an existence from small printings of 7" red vinyl singles and occasional gigs to a mostly uninterested audience. Their first single, "Dracula Has Risen from the Grave," inspired by the classic Hammer horror film, appeared in 1996. Consisting of Rob on vocals and guitar, Joe Undertaker on bass, Fang on electric guitar, and Andy Bones on drums (after the 2000 departure of Blackfist Bill "to study voodoo practices"), the band survived the audience indifference by the boldness of its idea and the near flawless execution. The band's direction of merging traditional country sounds of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings to subject matter closer to Roky Erickson & the Aliens may have sounded loony, but Rob Coffinshaker's voice echoed the same gloomy low registers as his influences. The traditionally performed songs were catchy and entertaining, the Ennio Morricone and Ventures influences cleverly integrated, and the lyrics were...full-bodied.

Their first full-length record appeared in 1999. We Are the Undead continued in the same vein as the early singles, and they had a small but rabid following — mostly in the neighboring Finland. After their first Finnish gig in 2001 they followed up with a mini-LP, Dark Wings Over Finland. Small tours and slightly escalating interest didn't quite convince the band to keep up, and they spent more time in their (not-quite eternal) resting places than they did recording new material. Lured out with an offer they couldn't refuse — unlimited recording time in a studio and a good contract — a Finnish promoter got the band back on the road, and they recorded their self-titled second album The Coffinshakers in early 2007. With this first release by a budding Finnish record label, these graveyard country-rockers creeped up to the Finnish Top 40 to mostly excellent reviews and a very receptive audience.

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1995 in Karlstad, Sweden

Years Active:

'90s, '00s