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Having emerged from the hard rock/metal scene of Sweden, BLINDSIDE’s first two releases in the U.S. Blindside and A Thought Crushed My Mind- established the band as blistering rock powerhouse that combines both introspective lyrics with an intense, yet melodic sound. These two albums, along with relentless touring, catapulted the band into the hard rock mainstream.

Blindside – Christian Lindskog, guitarist Simon Grenehed, drummer Marcus Dahlstrom and bassist Tomas Naslund – was born a decade ago in the suburbs of Stockholm. When they formed the band in their late teensÑinspired by American metal and grunge and the then-burgeoning alt-rock music scene at homeÑthey weren’t very accomplished musicians, to say the least, Lindskog laughs: “The good thing was that we sucked equally. And we started growing together.” The band’s rise was as organic as it gets: First they got a rehearsal space in a run-down area of Stockholm, and then they secured regular gigs at an alcohol-free local youth center. Because the venue was funded by the government, the shows were free. And, with each gig, the band’s audience would build, eventually hitting some 500 people. Linking up with friends in other bands, Lindskog, Grenehed, Dahlstrom and Naslund held down jobs while hitting pretty much every major city in Sweden on the weekends

After pressing a self-financed demo in 1996 and selling it at shows, the band debuted in April 1997 in Sweden with their self-titled debut, a collection of old and new songs that serve as a snapshot of Lindskog’s life at the time. The disc was released later that year in the U.S. by Tooth and Nail. “That’s when it felt like a real band for the first time, that’s when we toured the U.S. the first time,” Lindskog says. In 2000, Blindside returned with A Thought Crushed My Mind, a more aggressive album featuring deeper, more vulnerable lyrics. “It went into a darker, deeper place, and was more self-expanding about who I am and what I’m dealing with in my life, and how I relate to the people around me,” Lindskog says. “It’s also about the thoughts that we’re carrying around, and the impact they have on our lives. When that album came out, I remember being really scared because I felt really naked.” Both albums were recently digitally remastered and re-released with four bonus tracks apiece, and featuring special new artwork designed by Lindskog.

With its momentum building, Blindside became the first band signed to Elektra’s 3 Points imprint, and in 2002 released Silence, a tighter, more produced record on which the band marked its musical growth and dabbled in more mainstream fare. The move worked, as two years later, after tours with Hoobastank, P.O.D. and Linkin Park, the band returned with the melodic, meaty About a Burning Fire which hit the top 40 on The Billboard 200 albums chart. Produced by Howard Benson (who also helmed Silence), the album found the band settling into its new dynamic style, sporting the bite of the band’s early hardcore and the polish that comes with time. “If we all like it, then it’s Blindside,” Lindskog says about the band’s songwriting process. “We don’t put boundaries on our music.”

“I think we see music a little bit differently,” Grenehed says, reflecting on the band’s first decade. “When we started, we were just having fun. We’re still having a lot of fun together, but you just want to dig deeper.” Adds Lindskog, “Our friendships have grown stronger over the years, which makes it easier to write music together, because we know how to connect with each other emotionally and musically.” But while the band’s music and relationships have changed and evolved, its goal has remained the same, says Grenehed. “For us,” he says, “it’s always been about trying to get a positive message out there, some kind of hope. That’s the main purpose in both writing music and playing live. That’s the thing that we always come back to.”