Interview: Zinny Zan goes rocking again

In the 1980s, Swedish vocalist Zinny Zan (aka Bosse Stagman) fronted Easy Action, the Swedish glam rock band that also housed Kee Marcello and went on to sing with Kingpin which soon became Shotgun Messiah before he founded his own band Zan Clan. He participated in an Easy Action reunion which included playing at Sweden Rock Festival and opening for Twisted Sister on their farewell tour. In recent years he has mainly performed under the name Stagman. Roppongi Rocks boss Stefan Nilsson checks in with Zinny in Sweden and finds out that there is a plan for a return to Zinny Zan singing hard rock in English.

Your musical journey has gone from playing punk to sleaze and glam and then metal. Now, at the grand age of 57, you have established yourself as somewhat of a rock singer-songwriter. Have you made decisions to move into specific musical genres at different points in your career or has it just happened that way? “To be honest I have never looked at it that way at all. I have just played the music that has come out of me at that particular point in time. But then again, I love all kinds of music so somehow it all makes sense that I have played it all. But metal? I don’t know, I’d rather say hard rock, since I don’t really consider Shotgun Messiah metal.”

In recent years you have mainly sung in Swedish, your mother tongue. What made you switch from English to Swedish? “The reason for me making three albums singing in Swedish was that at the age of 50 I realised that I had never tried to seriously write and sing in my native tongue which is Swedish. That seemed like a great challenge and I love to challenge myself because when you throw yourself out into the unknown, often great things happen. So, I just decided that I’d give it a try and when the first album I did in Swedish came out good I thought, OK, let’s make another one and another one. Haha!”

You left Sweden and lived in Hollywood for a while when you were fronting Shotgun Messiah. What were the highlights and low points of your period in the US? “The highlight of living in Hollywood, California with Shotgun Messiah I must say was the achievement of managing to get a deal in the US, relocate the whole band to LA and then tour and reach the top 100 on the Billboard chart. Back then not many Swedish bands had achieved that. Low points, I don’t know since sometimes low points happen for a reason and it turns out later that it was good in the long run so I choose to look at it as a journey to an end and a new beginning of things.”

I believe that you are currently writing an autobiography. Your old Easy Action bandmate Kee Marcello (who went on the become the lead guitarist in Europe) wrote a great autobiography some years ago. Will your book be similar where you don’t hold anything back? “Well, in some sense my book will be similar to Kee Marcello´s since we have played in the same band, etc. But my book will have so many other layers in it since I have lived in different parts of the world which Kee hasn’t and I have also had a very successful business career outside of music which will give my book many more perspectives than just a rock’n’roll tell-it-all book.”

Your English lyrics were typical party and rock’n’roll lyrics. Now, when you sing in Swedish, your lyrics seem to be more political and focused on social issues. Is this lyrical evolution part of you growing up, getting older and having different priorities in your life? “Stefan, that could very well be. I have always loved the good-time party bands, but also bands that are more political, like The Clash, Rage Against the Machine and Queensrÿche on ‘Operation: Mindcrime’. But I think it all became that way when I started singing in my native language because all of a sudden everything was very close and came straight from the heart which also was my intention with the Swedish albums. To be totally honest and only sing about true happenings and feelings.”

After a long period with no gigs due to the pandemic, on 28th August you have a special one-off storytelling gig in Sweden where you will combine telling stories from your life as a musician with playing songs. How did this idea come about and what you have planned for that gig? “It came up in my head as a cool way to meet your audience after a pandemic! Here is an opportunity to have a night together and really give them it all after being stuck at home without meeting too many people for more than a year. I thought it would be a great idea to have it intimate and let everyone know how the songs came about and the whole story behind a song, etc.”

In your band we can find bassist Nalle Påhlsson (Therion, Treat). You played together in Zan Clan and both of you also played with Easy Action in the 1980s, although not at the same time. Can we expect that you may play some Zan Clan or Easy Action songs during the show or is that now completely in the past? “You can expect the unexpected, as a very great man with the name Inspector Clouseau once said. So, yes there will be songs from all parts of my career.”

What’s next for you? More gigs, new album or something else? “I am extremely excited about my new project which includes Stefan Bergström (Skintrade) and Nalle Påhlsson who both have been a part of the Swedish Stagman band. We are now working on a new album in English to be released later this year. I am very thrilled! Most likely it will go under my name Zinny Zan but it is a band! I hope that we will have a first single out sometime in September this year, so keep your eyes and ears open!”