The Way Back is a documentary film about the life of legendary drummer Nicklas Åkerlund. It is a follow-up to his previous documentary, The Drummer. Directed by Anders Johansson, it was shot during the first album sessions for albums 3 and is a highly-entertaining watch. As Nicklas says at the beginning of the film, "I did some time in my life...I was playing drums for four bands, but I wasn't really happy with what I did. I couldn't stand the fact that people laughed at me and I couldn't stand the fact that no one respected me."
Nicklas's nickname 'The Drummer' was given by his contemporaries because of his black cowboy hat, flashy T-shirt and flamboyant outfit-like persona, which did away with the traditional drummer image and replaced it with a more demure and, dare I say, thy image. But despite this conservative look, he managed to change his image somewhat in later years, embracing his position as a solo artist and performing with pop bands such as Roxy Music and Sonic Youth.
At the time of filming, Nicklas had recently left the band of his childhood idol, Hans Zimmer, who had recommended him to re-join the band in late 1990. He was interviewed by a journalist, Jonas Öberg during a concert at Helsinki's Kuopio Stadium, and upon realising that his own drummer was sitting next to him in the press room, the young Nicklas said, "I'm so relieved, because he looks very good!"
Another fascinating figure of the film is Stephen Bruce, who played Nicklas's right-hand man on the tour. He was given the title 'The Drummer' as a homage to his role in the band. In the documentary, he tells how he looked up to Nicklas and has often met him in person - "I was always very impressed by him...a boy from Brixham, Kent".
In the same documentary, Björn Jónsson, Nicklas's close friend since they were teens, reveals that the nickname 'The Drummer' was actually a nickname that was given to him by a fellow guitarist of The X-Ray Spex, when the band was given a two-year suspended sentence. He says that he was not happy with the nickname and that, once the band reformed, the nickname was changed to 'The Guitar'.
Whitey Nelson, also interviewed, spoke about how Nicklas often went on long road trips with his friends and would play the songs he had recorded for them on the bus. He also spoke about how, when the band was first formed, they would only come into contact with members of the X-Ray Spex, the band that had dropped them when they were in their early stages of music education.
Producer, Ragnar Westberge, points out that the movie should be applauded for its dedication and attention to detail - the film is a very comprehensive look at the band, both in the past and in the present. He explains, "We wanted to understand the circumstances of the band's rise to fame, how it had been broken up and then reformed, and how it was then brought together again in 2020.
The documentary also shows us what kind of real life Nicklas is. He takes us on some wonderful journeys, through the music videos, the club nights, interviews with the other members, and all of this are shown very well. There is a lot of footage of Nicklas, but the filmmaker has also edited it down to make it more comprehensible to a general audience.