The History of ‘Spaced Out’ – The Band That Might Be Swedish

The history of music has been shaped by giants whose names and accomplishments are legendary. Then there are just legends.  

This story is one of those.

Tobias Borg, Otto-Leroy Tolgfor, Eskil Billstrom and Sten Leijonborg grew up in Kiruna, Sweden, a town buried deep in the far north of the country in Norrbottens Lan province. During the long Kirunian winters, these four young, unathletic men declined to participate in hockey, sledding, biathlon and ski jumping like their classmates. Instead, each young man retreated to the solitude and shag carpet of his own basement where music and back issues of Swedish medical journals eased the pain of their social awkwardness.

Each teen developed his talents on his own until Tobias met Otto-Leroy at a church camp for the musically gifted and especially devout. Their chemistry was immediate. Tobias and Otto-Leroy penned their first song together, “Kyrka Sig (Church Sucks),” just hours after they met.

Tobias and Otto-Leroy soon became fast friends, spending long nights together refining their musical technique and exploring the wonders of their pubescent bodies. When Otto-Leroy began dating Cecelia, a young butter-melter at the local cinema, he met her brother Sten who was already well-known in the Kirunian underground as the best one-armed, half-blind drummer on the local club circuit.

The three young men formed their first band, King Carl Gustaf, in 1971, but broke up soon afterwards due to the unresolved sexual tension between Otto-Leroy and Tobias. Otto-Leroy and Sten then connected with Sten’s cousin Eskil to form a three-piece marching swing band called Bjorn Dangles. The band quickly lost momentum and soon asked Tobias, now going by his middle name Loui-Loui, to rejoin the band, which he did.

Rechristened Saab Bandits, the four friends began writing songs again and put together a demo album that drew the attention of the one record label in town, Ratrugan Nord Grammofonskiva (True North Records).

When Loui-Loui returned to using Tobias as his familiar name, he and Otto-Leroy picked up the song-writing pace. The band briefly went by the acronym TOES, but after a club performance that ended with a tambourine accident that nearly cost Sten his only arm, the four lads from Kiruna became Spaced Out and the rest is history.

Tobias Borg – Lead Vocals

Known for his distinctive six-octave vocal range, Tobias Borg is married to Gunilla Clarkson and has seven children: Mikka, Thorrsenn, Tryptich, Lingenburna, Lupmilla, Bjorn-Mats, and Lipenstrumer. He maintains a full-time residence in Monaco where he is the custodian of the world’s smallest vineyard. He established the Kiruna Mongoose Foundation to rescue stray mongeese in his hometown.

Otto-Leroy Tolgfor – Guitar, Vocals

Otto-Leroy Tolgfor was named one of the top 100 Swedish guitarists of all time by Artic Circle Stummer Magazine.  He invented and patented the schwoopenhammer, a guitar pedal that lends a Swedish accent to every note. Together with his long-time girlfriend Cecelia, he runs a daycare in Ragunda, Sweden in his grandfather’s ancestral home.

Eskil Billstrom – Bass

Known in Scandinavia as the “Rytm Magiker” (Rhythm Magician), Eskil Billstrom is the dean of music at the Backaskog Kollegium in Sweden. A tragic accident in 1996 robbed him of his sense of taste, but despite that, he has become a minor celebrity on Norwegian television as the “Wild Chef of Backaskog.” He lives with his mother.

Sten Leijonborg – Drums

Sten Leijonborg is one of the fourteen drummers in Percussion Concussion, an all-rhythm band that tours extensively in Asia. His hit songs “Beat Beat Beat,” “Thumpa Thumpa Thumpa,” and “Whap Tap Tap” have all gone platinum in Vietnam where the band’s popularity has made Sten and his bandmates living legends. In his spare time, Sten installs residential hot tubs.