THE STORY OF TREAT (1982-93)
Since I´m from Sweden people always ask me about the mysterious melodic hardrock band TREAT. I got tired answering the same questions over and over again and since there´s absolutely no info about them on the web, I decided to write a "short" bio and info. So... here it is! The story of Treat! Enjoy or... not! Hate mail, opinions etc. should be sent to: Urban "Wally" Wallström,
TREAT or "THE TREAT" as they called themselves at first was formed by Robert Ernlund (Vocals) , Anders "Gary" Wikstrom (Guitar) and Leif "Lillen" Liljegren (Guitar) in Stockholm /Sweden in 1982, but they had all been playing together since early 1981 in "THE BOYS", a more straight ahead Rock band who sang in swedish only and recorded one album. Well... It all actually begun back in 1977 when Ernlund fronted his big brother Göran´s band "Sprängdeg" a rock´n´roll act that never recored anything but played a whole lotta live gigs in and around the Stockholm area. Liljegren, who played with HEAVY LOAD for a couple of months joined them in late 1980 and the above mentioned members became "The Boys" who later went on recording a demo tape as "THE TREAT" which by the way got turned down by every single label they sent it back in late 1982.
It wasn´t until drummer Mats "Dalton" Dahlberg (ex-Highbrow, Power) joined the guys in the summer of 1983 that things started to happen. Dalton had some contacts within Swedish Polygram who at the time was looking for a new Swedish hardrock band to sign. At the same time, bass player Tomas Lind joined The Treat and the five of them begun to record new demo songs together in the Polygram studio. They all said in early interviews that they were influenced by bands such as Journey, Foreigner, Def Leppard, Boston, KISS, Whitesnake and Van Halen.
Lind left the band in early 1984 and he was replaced by Kenneth Sivertsson, a 25 year old Bassist who before had played with FACTORY, a pop band that sang in Swedish and had a couple of really big hits between 1978-81 (I´m sure that many Swedes still remember "Efter Plugget"). They changed their name from "The Treat" to simply just "Treat" and the first single "Too Wild" were released back in May 1984. It really took the whole hardrock scene by suprise and there was no doubt about that EUROPE, who at the time was the only "major" hardrock band in Sweden was no longer safe at the top. In fact, Joey Tempest (Europe´s vocalist) said in later interviews that "Too wild" was such a good song that it made him both angry and happy at the same time. "I knew it would be a hit and also that I would have to try and write something even better to keep up with TREAT-ers". The legend also says that he wrote "Rock the Night" a couple of days later as an answer to the catchy rock anthem "Too Wild".
The first single was an big success and they only managed to play two (2) live gigs (1:st gig ever: 8th of June /1984) before WASP wanted them as support act for their first tour in Sweden. Next single "You got me" released Oct.-84 proved once and for all that Treat were no one hit wonders, even if it didn't sell as much as the debut. They went back into the studio in Dec-84 to record their first full lenght album, an album that they were going to name "Inside Out" at first, but as you might know ended up as SCRATCH AND BITE.
Anders Wikstrom said they were heavily influenced by Def leppard´s "Pyromania" when they went into the studio to record Scratch and Bite and there´s no doubt about it either, as many of the songs do sound a lot like Def Lep. Including "No Room For Strangers", which really is nothing more than a rip off of "Billy´s Got a Gun". SCRATCH AND BITE was released in the early summer of 1985 and the band had a couple of minor hit songs in Sweden with "Get You On The Run" and the lovely power ballad "We Are One". Both did well in the charts and the later became a much-played song at the biggest radio show for the youth (Tracks). Treat came from nowhere and actually took over the title as "The Best Hardrock Band" in Sweden that year, as Joey Tempest & Europe had recording and voice problems. Then of course came the payback with THE FINAL COUNTDOWN in 1986.
They toured all over Sweden in the summer of-85 and everything seemed to be hunky-dory in the Treat camp, before "disaster" struck down without a warning. Drummer Mats "Dalton" Dahlberg suddenly left the band without a notice or explanation in August-85! It came out years later that Dahlberg believed that Ernlund had been talking behind his back about the way he played his drums and that he wasn´t pleased with him at all. It also came out that Dahlberg left in anger without a word to Ernlund or any other band member about the whole thing. Looking back, it may seem a bit unnecessary and childish, but Dahlberg made his mind up and left before anyone even had a chance to stop him. He later formed his own band DALTON who released two pretty good melodic albums (THE RACE IS ON - 1987 & INJECTION -1989) which had songs co-written by both Jon Bon Jovi & Michael Bolton etc.
The new drummer Leif Sundin who had his roots in Jazz music and his father was a well known Jazz musician in Sweden, was maybe a strange choice for a hardrock band even if Sundin played with "Six Feet Under" for a while! The very same band which Bjorn Lodin (Baltimoore) and the Johansson brothers Jens & Anders (Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio, Stratovarius, Hammerfall etc.) once played with. It became clearer after a while though that Sundin wasn´t the right man for the job, he later teamed up with the famous POP band "Style" even if he at first recorded the next album with Treat.
They decided to bring in ex-Plasmatics / Little Steven bassist Jean Beauvoir (who at the time lived in and recorded two solo albums in Sweden) as producer for the next single. So... once again back into the studio and the result "Ride Me High" was released in December of -85 with a new and fresh sound. Maybe not fresh enough, as they decided not to continue with Beauvoir as producer for the next album THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE, even if the song itself was pretty catchy and the single did okay in the charts. Nope, instead they hooked up with a more experienced producer and musician: Gregg Winter, who also helped out with the songwriting on six of the nine tracks even if Wikström as always was the main songwriter with Erlund taking care of the lyrics.
Released in the summer of -86, with more keyboards this time and overall more mature sounding than the debut, "THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE" became perhaps the best album Treat ever did. Recorded in the famous Polar music studios (ABBA) with not one a single weak track, is it hard to say otherwise. They may have done better songs, but not a better album? Still, it did not become the success they all hoped for! Remember this was the year of "THE FINAL COUNTDOWN" Europe took over the charts all over the world with the most succesful hardrock album ever to be released by a Swedish band. Treat had nothing to be ashamed about though, as songs like "Rev It Up", "Love Stroke", "Eyes On Fire" and the marvelous "Strike Without A Warning" (with one of the best guitar riffs ever?) are all candy for music lovers. A matter of fact "Rev It Up" was covered by the American band NEW CITY ROCKERS a year later and was a hit in the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the states.
As mentioned before, things did not work out with Leif Sundin and he left (or got fired from?) the band in August -86. His replacement Jamie Borger was yet another ex-SIX FEET UNDER drummer (popular band huh?) who also played with CAPRICORN (with Mats Leven as vocalist) and SWEDISH BEAUTY (who later became Swedish Erotica) in the past. Things did not work out with 1986 years tour either as the band ended up in debt instead, remember that they did not tour outside Sweden at all during all these years. Things were actually so bad sometimes that they had to enroll for unemployment benefit. So... the band decided to take a new approch and moved down to Hilversum (south of Amsterdam) Holland for a while to record the next album with dutch producer Albert Boekholt in the Wisselord studios.
DREAMHUNTER (1987) may be the album everybody talks about when it comes to Treat, as it´s reputation and the fact that the original CD is very rare (it has been re-released now though), makes this is a collectors item for melodic fans. But... maybe its' reputation is better than the album itself? "World Of Promises" may be the best song they´ve ever done, but I still find DREAMHUNTER to be a bit overrated, even if it´s not a bad album at all. First only released in Sweden with a "statue" cover in the late summer of -87, this time with a better production than ever and even Ernlund sounded better as he took some singing lessons for the first time in his life. They toured in Sweden in the autum/winter of -87 before it was time for another change in their lifes.
There´s no secret that Treat were jealous over all the success Europe had with THE FINAL COUNTDOWN and they decided to get rid of their old Swedish managment and begun to look else where and abroad. West-German manager Uwe Block (BFS managment) was the right man (?) for the job as he brought them down to Frankfurt, from where he thought it would be a much easier task to promote Treat for the european market. DREAMHUNTER was released in Germany on the 10th of January 1988 and a deal with Polygram USA about releasing the album in America were as good as done. There was also talk about a big european tour as a support act for a major name in the hardrock business and some other things that Block had up his sleeve.
Out of this came nothing though! In fact, the only good thing that happened in 1988 was when Block managed to get them the opening slot for the German "Monsters Of Rock" festival in August -88. By far the best moment so far in the history of Treat and also the largest audience they ever played in front of. The "big" european tour become only one week of club touring in West Germany in October and the American contract never happened. The video for "World of promises" got very little "airplay" and I believe it was only aired once in Swedish television. All this caused some problems within the band and guitarist Leif "Lillen" Liljegren was fired in December of '88 ("Merry X-Mas Dude"!). The rest of the band thought he couldn't handle his guitarparts for the new song material anymore and they basically saw him as a pain in the ass. Bass player Kenneth Siwertsson left the band two months later (Feb. -89) since he got tired of all the set backs and the fact that very little or non success ever came true. He also mentioned that he wanted to spend some more time with his studio.
The rest of the band (Ernlund, Wikström & Borger) back in Sweden again decided to continue and some new, fresh blood was needed to kickstart their metal hearts. Borger knew a bassist from his old band SIX FEET UNDER (again!) and Joakim "Joe" Larsson (Ex-Six Feet Under, Power, Jammer) was brought in as replacement for Siwertsson. Larsson is actually the younger brother of guitarist Thomas Larsson (Glenn Hughes, Baltimoore, Six Feet Under, Talisman etc.) They also decided to replace Liljegren with a keyboard player instead of a new guitarist, as this would take some burden off Wikström´s shoulders as he always played both guitar and keys live. Patrick "Green" Appelgren (ex-Power) the younger brother of Mikael "Äpplet" Appelgren (European table tennis champion in the late 80´s) handled all keys from then on.
A brand new start and 1989 was going to be the year when Treat finally broke through to the big audience, at least that´s what they all hoped for. In reality this (sadly) never came true! The new songmaterial was ready to go and the band moved down to Frankfurt again, where they spent six weeks in the Hotline studio recording the new album "ORGANIZED CRIME" with producer Peter Hauke. It was mixed in Holland (Hilversum) a re-recording (new version) of "Get You On The Run" from the debut album was included and the album cover art was designed by a mighty proud Wikström. The new label (Vertigo) also released a compilation album "TREAT" the very same year with the best of (?) the previous two albums THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE & DREAMHUNTER, this would cause some problems in the future for fans and record buyers.
ORGANIZED CRIME was/is a great record that sadly didn't sell as much as it should have. I must say that Treat also seemed to have blind faith in their German manager, who up to this point had done pretty much nothing for the band other than the Mosters Of Rock gig. Block(-head?) had again some major plans for the band after the album was released in September -89. A long promotion tour with interviews etc. all over Europe, a big tour (again) as opening act for a major band was scheduled (Motley Crue, Poison & Whitesnake came up) and a record contract (again) in USA with ATCO and Derek Schulman (Bon Jovi, Cinderella etc.) were almost all set to go.
Out of this came... again... nothing ! Indeed a small headlining tour in Japan in early 1990 did follow, but it was still not enough and a major disappointment for all the band members. It was maybe too much to handle for vocalist Robert Ernlund as he decided to leave, tired of all the B.S. and the lack of success he would later return to his previous occupation as sound engineer and producer. Everybody thought this would be the end of the line for Treat, but the only original member left, Anders Wikström decided with the rest of the band, to give it one more shot for the fame and glory. A search for a new vocalist begun and Jamie Borger recommended (again) an old partner from a previous band (not Six Feet Under though!).
Mats Leven (ex.Capricorn, Swedish Erotica) joined them in late -90 after one pretty successful album (at least in Sweden) with melodic sleeze rockers Swedish Erotica. The song "We´re Wild, Young And Free" became a minor hit in 1989/90. The new managment Mainhattan was nothing more than a new name for the old one and the last album "Treat" was again recorded in Wisseloord, Holland. Produced by Joey Balin and released in 1992 the self titled album is in my opinion the worst they ever recorded. Gone was the magic between Ernlund & Wikström and also gone was most of the catchy songmaterial, even if ballads such as "Poor Man" and the marvelous "Learn To Fly" are indeed great. The label wanted a rougher attitude and style and many of the better songs would end up at the bootleg CD "MUSCLE IN MOTION" years later (even if the demo has been out there for years)Again nothing much happened when it came down to tours or promotion and they finally decided to give up and split up on the 26th of March 1993.
There you go! The story of Treat ends(?) here as I really don´t believe in a reunion, at least not as long as Wikström is doing fine as producer/songwriter for pop music. He works now for Jimmy Fun Music (the company founded by Per Gessle from Roxette) together with his co-partner Fredrik Thomander (ex.Grand Slam - Zinny Zan´s band), Martin Thomander´s (ex-Electric Boys) younger brother actually. The two of them are the "Epicentre" team and are responsible for writing and producing material for artists such as N´Sync, A-Teens, Jessica Folcker, Excellence, Backyard Babies etc.
The Story of Treat by: Urban "Wally" Wallström,