Peter Bjorn And John Interview

As Clash's debuts their new album
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Read an interview with Sweden's Peter Bjorn And John as their new album 'Gimme Some' is streamed on ClashMusic.com ahead of its release on 28th March 2011.

We spoke to the Swedish trio’s Peter Morén about the new album ‘Gimme Some’, working with an outside producer Per Sunding for the first time and the demands of touring.

You can listen to Peter Bjorn And John's new album, 'Gimme Some', in full on ClashMusic right now HERE.

How does it feel to have completed your sixth album?
It feels really, really good, I think it’s one of our best albums as a whole I think it’s really good it’s not too long and a really good album.

‘Gimme Some’ is your sixth album; did you have any thoughts on how you wanted to progress and do things differently?
We always try and do things differently with each album, but the big difference with 'Gimme Some' is that we brought in an outside producer for the first time, as we usually do everything ourselves. We had this idea that we wanted to make a back-in-the-day style, drums record, and wanted it to sound live. As were always slightly more energetic and punky live then on a record so we wanted to capture that on an album. We were aiming to make those live tapes and play together as a band; it’s just good to be a band and concentrate on that and not on all that other stuff. It was really good.

Were there any particular inspirations that came to making this album?
Well we had that guitar/bass/drum idea so from that we gathered influences from the rock'n'roll we listened to when we were younger. Not much new stuff, just mainly stuff we listed to from 10 to 50 years back, going back to the roots.

Going back to the big step you mentioned about working with an outside producer for the first time, what made you guys particularly choose Per Sunding to work with?
Because he’s worked with bands and on records that we liked, I mean if we were aiming to make a dance, techno album than we wouldn’t have gone with him. But because we were making a guitar and drum record he seemed suitable. And he started to become a shrink; he started to do psychiatry which I think was good to because we probably needed some shrink help being in a band for so long. You get stuck and argue about the same stuff all the time, so if you have that person to make things a bit more nice, I think it was his niceness that helped a lot to making this record. So we argued a bit less and had a bit more fun. We still argued a bit as a small bit of arguing is good for creativity.

'Young Folks' was of course such a hit; do you think there’s a recipe or particular method that goes into making that perfect song?
Well there were a couple of things; I think one reason is there’s bare open minimalistic production. For a guitar band, there’s no guitar, so that’s different. There’s the words, and a lot of different things that we usually don’t do and we didn’t do before and don’t do now because it’s not very typical of the band. But you can’t really plan on writing, you just write good songs or what you think are good songs and the rest is media.

Of course with Sweden being your native country are there any other current bands that you think are good?
Well there are always good bands everywhere. At the moment I’m always listening to a lot of old punk, so I haven’t really listened to much new stuff lately. There are still bands I always like, such as Surgical Power and even Bobuss who just put out a new record. But that’s a really old band, I can’t think of new ones.

Are there any outside opinions you take, or advice from outsiders that you listen to, when it comes to making your records?
We never take outside advice when we're making music, and then of course when we finish the album the label or management get involved. But this time around Pers had a lot of ideas on arrangement, backing vocals, lyrics and everything like all producers do. Of course that was a different approach for us. But we have to do what we like doing at the moment, and then see what happens.

Listening to songs such as ‘Cool Off’ and ‘Dig A Little Deeper’ there are a lot more guitar riffs and elements of strong instrument echo than heard in the previous albums was this an intentional decision in terms of production?
Yeah we wanted to make an album that reflects a bit more our live energy and that would be easier to play well live directly and would work with the instruments. In the past we'd make an album and then rearrange the songs so that they would work on stage. As we're only three people, but this time we wanted to make an album that would work from the start when performed live.

So there is a difference in performing as a recording artist and performing and touring as an artist?
Yes, of course I think there should be a difference too. People have different expectations of live shows they want to go and see a live show sounding like the record and if I do that I think it’s boring and disappointing. I want something more and I want people enacting on stage and improvising and playing in the heat of the moment. So this record is written to be played live.

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You guys worked with Drake for a remix of ‘Let’s Call It Off which was on his mix tape ‘So Far Gone’, what was it like having his contrasting music style on the song, and would you do anything like that again?
Well the thing with Drake was interesting in the fact that we didn’t actually meet Drake and it was actually him who suggested the idea. Actually it happened quite a lot in the States with a lot of rappers, Kanye West did 'Worship' too and on the last record 'Living Thing' which was kind of a Hip-Hop inspired album. There was a whole bunch of people, rappers, producer and DJ’s who worked on that whole album. So there been a lot of Hip-hop involvement which is fun I guess we have good beats and drums which they can pick up on easily and it’s a huge compliment. As I said I don’t really listen to much Hip-Hop, John does but to be amongst such top Hip-Hop artists is nice.

Although the collaboration with Drake was smaller in the sense that it was on a mixtape and you didn’t physically meet and work with Drake directly, are there any collaboration’s you would like to do?
Yeah we’ve been talking about for a long time, that we would love to have Brian Eno producing a record, and everyone wants to work with Brian at some time! But we probably can’t afford him but we actually know where he lives so maybe we should go down there and play a song.

Other than producers, are there any other artists you would like to collaborate with?
I love that Deer Hunter record; it would be fun to work with whoever produced that record. Also another band I love Papercuts, so we could maybe do something. But there all indie bands, maybe I should mention something else, it would be fun to make a duet with Beyonce. But I don’t too think much about that really if something come up, it comes up. Instead we are usually thinking about the next record or the next 5 projects or stuff that we do with our friends.

You’ve got the big tour coming up which you must be excited about? Any routines or rituals you have to prepare and maintain yourselves through?
Yes we are very much looking forward to it; as we have a lot of dates and even a few in the UK! In terms of routines I have to brush my teeth, not that anyone is that close to my mouth but you feel like you’re waking up a bit. I wash my face if I don’t have time to take a shower. John is like, hang around the venue and has a beer, and Bjorn usually takes a nap. But we all have to have a good dinner but we don’t like eating too close to the gig as we end up feeling terrible so we eat three quarters of an hour before and nothing too heavy. So the usual practices.

Around the time of making 'Gimme Some', what kind of music were you guys listening to?
There were a lot of mixtapes, but there are some obvious ideas and rifts that were taken. Like the riff in ‘Dig A Little Deeper’, a lot of people said it sounds like Alphabeats song but for me it’s more like we’re trying to make punk music but failing. I did a demo trying to play some punk style drums, but I’m an awful drummer and then John listened to it and it became this weird pattern that we probably would have come up with so that’s kind of funny. Other stuff was ‘Don’t Let Them Cool Off’, one riff from The Only One and another one from R.E.M. - It’s all in that guitar/bass/drums area. And on the ‘May Seem Macabre’ song you have the bit where I play 2/3 different guitars. I was kind of imaging The Edge playing one of them and Johnny Marr playing one, then John McGuire the other so three different sounds with three different players.

Do you think there is anything missing from contemporary music, anything still waiting to be tapped into?
Might be that people tend to expect big shows with a big lighting rig and big production, and then in reality there are probably a lot of backing tracks and some people don’t really care. And it’s funny because we had a lot of criticism earlier on for having a sample of whistling because I couldn’t whistle all the time, if my throat was dry It sounded awful. And then you have all these bands whose actual whole show is built on backing tracks and then they play on top of it.

So it’s funny that we, who are actually a live band, get that sort of criticism. So one thing I think is missing from today and is needed is to bring back live music. One thing about when we were making this record is that it’s kind of a pop-rock record which an English movement in the 70’s that went before punk, bands like Dr Feelgood used to play in pubs and then the movement eventually led into punk. So were really kind of paying an homage to that, being a couple of people in a band playing good in a pub even if we usually play to a bit bigger room and just jump around have some energy and fun. And that’s not to say that the record shouldn’t be weird, and expansive and experimental even if this one isn’t that much. But I don’t think you have to go out and play the big expansive record, it’s not really interesting, that’s why you make records and play shows. Both should be different.

And finally, if you had to describe Gimme Some in three words, what would you use?
Peppy, as in happy which might sound odd as the lyrics are dark and depressing. But listening to it, it’s good to have on if you’re going to a party. Power, and lastly pop!

Interview by Zara Bokhari

You can listen to Peter Bjorn And John's new album, 'Gimme Some', in full on ClashMusic right now HERE.

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