Interview with Peter Bjorn and John
Hello John. Thanks for answering some questions, first off how are you and where are you?
John: Hi Nessy! It´s all good here in Stockholm, Sweden. We are rehearsing and learning how to play the new songs live. Have to say that some are easier than others.
You have been playing as a band for 11 years now, how do you keep creativity fresh within the band? You all have been involved in outside projects, does this help?
John: Defininely. Doing other projects and making music on our own and with other musicians makes Peter Bjorn And John evolve. If you skip thru our six albums I think you can hear a clear progression and I think that the way each album sounds is affected by the stuff the three of us did in between the albums. Apart from our separate “side-projects”, the input also of course comes from art, movies, books, people and other peoples music.
Gimme Some is out on March 28. Per Sunding produced, did this make you more relaxed during recording as you didn’t have to produce yourselves or did you find yourselves under pressure to impress him?
John: Haha. No, we didnt try to impress him. Sort of the opposite. For the first time we could almost relax during the rehearsals and recordings. It was a new thing for us to work with a producer but it was so much easier to let someone from the outside decide how to play a song and what to sing or not to sing. When we say those kind of things to eachother it often ends up with 50 minutes of discussions or with someone getting pissed off and quitting the band for a day or two. Also, non of us needed to backup the harddrive after the recording sessions or edit the vocals and the other instruments.
So during this recording we actually had time to do other stuff such as drinking, reading papers and playing tennis. Per is a really sweet and calm person with a taste that is quite similar to ours so he could bring out the best of us and at the same time it didnt feel like we were working. Later, during the mixing we were a bit more hands on though. I think we were bugging Per hard as three enoying mosquitos that he almost went crazy. But the end result turned out to be awesome and as Per said: “-Great music is built on compromises”.
How did you approach this album in comparison to Living Thing?
John: Generally, after the first album we have step by step taken each new record closer and closer to some sort of “less is more”- attitude. And to achieve that we had to make some rules.
On our second album “Falling Out” the rule might have been to play fewer chords on the guitar, to play more simple patterns on the drums and not to play on too many organs. On “Writers Block” we tried to find a special sound for the whole album and to make arrangements with more air in them and then on “Living Thing” we sort of took that idea to the max.
The “Living Thing” album I think is very unique because at that time most of the music (both indie and mainstream) was very packed with sounds while our album had a huge amount of space and silence in it. We created this wierd hybrid of hiphop, synthpop, sound experiments and indiepop produced in a luxurious way and I strongly believe that we took the art of pop a little bit further. I was almost shocked that the album wasnt regarded as the album of the year in every music magazine. So, when we were supposed to make the follow up to “Living Thing” we tuned down the urge of making something brand new and came up with the idea of moving back in music history.
Our goal this time was to make a classic punkrock / powerpop album. The only rule we made before recording “Gimme Some” was to make an album that didnt need any other sounds than Guitar, Bass, Drums and Vocals. So there was still some sort of a “less is more” attitude on this album and since we are quite ok at playing as a powertrio live, this concept was perfect. For the next album though, I have a feeling that we might try out the old “everything is more” concept and see what happens then.
John: We have always had three objects on our covers so that was already decided. At first we talked about having three dicks on the cover but when we took some photos for a magazine the photograper took some shots of our hands making the thumbs up and that seemed like a better idea to use on a commercial cover. Then, my brother recommended Jonas Torvestig who is a graphic designer in Stockholm and he came up with the fantastic cut-off-hand-design. It really, really fits the feel and the sound of the record we think.
Young Folk was such a big hit, do you feel under label pressure to come up with another huge track?
John: We would of course be a little bit stupid if we didnt at least try to write and record songs that could match our first big hit. But you´ll never know what the people will like and you only got one period in your career when you are looked upon as the “new shit”. The challenge is what you do after that period. Our formula is to surprise people by making different kinds of albums and to make music in various genres and styles but at the same time keeping a unique semi-twisted Peter Bjorn And John sound. Peace.
We will continue to write and record both hits and regular music and if some of those tunes becomes another huge track that´s fine. If we would just keep on getting love and interest from our fans that is very fine too.
How much of a kick is it to have someone like Kanye West use your song?
John: It is of course very cool. Especially if you are a three piece indiepop band from northen sweden.
Are you releasing a single before the album?
John: We are actually releasing two single-songs before the album. “Breaker, Breaker” and “Second Chance”.
You’ve no Irish dates announced on your tour yet, does that mean you will be playing here for one of the festivals?
John: Yes, thats the plan. If some of the irish festivals wants to have us that is...
Finally, Sweden has produced some awesome bands. Apart from yourselves who’s your favourite ?
John: At the moment “New Rose”, “Paper” and “Holiday For Strings”.
Thank you so much! You should tweet more!