The Vomiting Frog

Tomas Ahlbeck
5 min readMay 13, 2022

“Goddammit! This is SOO good! Check it out! Damn it, it’s SOO fucking great!”

Dagobert was obviously totally sold on the new rock-album he brought home to the dorm, waving it around in the air above his head. The album cover was a black and white photo of four longhaired guys in jeans and leather jackets, leaning against a wall and with the text Ramones in big red letters all over it. The album cover stated that the albums name was Rocket to Russia. It didn’t really look like the records Dagobert usually bought — Genesis, David Bowie, T Rex and Yes was the artists he listened to the most.

He ran over to the record player, threw away the record that was on it already — Brown Sugar with Rolling Stones which was Berties favourite, and threw the new record on the disc. Onetwothreefour!!!!!!!!

We just stared into the speakers. Holy shit, this was awesome! There and then the idea to start a band was formed. THAT’S how we wanted to sound! Dagobert as always went all in whenever he got a new idea, and the next day he collected all his more than 500 LPs, went down to the pizzeria in the house next door and put up a sign. ‘SALE!’. Before the day was over he had sold all of this musical inheritance and spent the money on a used electric guitar.

Myself I was the guy that was chosen last in gym class whenever we were supposed to play football (or soccer for the US residents).

“You can be defender. Just stand there and stay away from the ball”.

In our newly formed band it was more like ‘You can be bass player, then you won’t need any musical skills’.

That said, I took an extra job distributing commercial flyers, and soon I had enough money to buy a second hand bass guitar, a maroon coloured Hagström.

And we went all in for our band. I even took classes in how to play the bassguitar. My teacher was a bassplayer in a progressive fusion band that had limited success with gigs at dance clubs in the region. He didn’t teach me much to be honest, but at least I got his help to tune my bass once a week. And I got to learn how to play ‘florists’ or something like that. It was a wimpish way to play several notes at the same time. At least that is what he claimed. I never got the hang of it. After all, I had big troubles separating C major from a Shetland pony.

In the beginning we called ourselves The Vomiting Frog, but when we got to know that there was a band called Vomiting Helicopter we thought it was too similar, and since they already had some sort of commercial success we decided to change our name. We never could agree on a name though, which had as a result that we changed bandname as often as others changed chords. Mouse in the House, Moosecheese, The Heliocrats. The names became more and more strained as the weeks went by, but our music always stayed the same. When we started our career it was very limited, and even though we rehearsed twice a week, it never got any better. We only knew two tunes: Paper Plane and Jumping Jack Flash. Status Quo and Rolling Stones. Same chords in both songs, at least in our versions.

Since there never really was any risk that our crossover of punk rock, boogie, metal, glam rock and car accident would admit any space for a long Deep Purple-like bass solo it instead was important to me to get a cool attitude — if you can’t play then at least you can look cool and tough. It worked for Sid Vicios, then why not for me? So instead of picking the at least the day after the bass-class well tuned e-string regardless of what song we played, I hammered furiously with a grey hard guitar pick. OH-MY-GOD what a noice! Attitude!

Our setting was even in our local musical world of non-musicians unique: two electric guitars, (none of the guys could play solo so both of them played rytm guitar) electric bass (me), drums and oboe. Bertie wanted to play saxophone, but he didn’t have one. His father had an old oboe by some reason, so he sort of ‘borrowed’ it from his dad. And as he so confidently stated — Andy Mackay of Roxy Music played oboe sometimes. Mostly saxophone since that was more common in rock music. But hey — oboe schmoboe. If it’s good enough for Roxy Muxic it’s good enough for whatever our name was that week.

We didn’t have to bother about the lyrics. Since we after all had the self awareness that we didn’t let any of us torment the surrounding with singing, Bertie instead used to bawl something close to the vocal part on his oboe.

One day when we got fed up with being named Eddie and the Roe deer — a name we had been giggling at in a week but then realised it wouldn’t give us any openings in our career, we changed to the not so politically correct Bertie Poof and the Four Cheeks. A student-like choise of name we had for about one day under constant protests from Bertie. He wasn’t gay he announced, and he didn’t want to be labeled as such.

The rest of us defended the choise by arguing that none of us was that either, but it was a fun name that could maybe stir up some interest for us. Nobody would be interested in us because of our musical skills anyway.

But the choise of name destroyed the atmosphere for the band that day. It went as far as Bertie threatening to leave the band if we didn’t change our standpoint in the name-issue. And since he not only was the one that played the vocal part on oboe but also owned the amplifiers to the two guitars ( I played my bass connected through a boom box) and was the only one of us that could read notes, we succumbed to his threats and change name again, the third time that day. This time we agreed on ‘Sitting on the horns of an elk’. And that was the name we kept for the last three weeks of our modest career.

The band managed to stay together that day in spite of Berties threats, but it had become obvious to us who really decided in our democratic band. The spontaneous joy we had disappeared. Our rehearsals became shorter and less frequent and finally we just ceased to be a band, without anyone actually deciding to disband. The only memory of those days is an untuned electric bass somewhere in the back of my wardrobe.

Tomas Ahlbeck

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Tomas Ahlbeck

Swedish Standup comedian, writer & diabetic. Published a few books, done a few gigs. ‘Sweden’s own dirty uncle, brilliant writing and some very dark humour.”