The Black Sheep Interviews: John (but not Peter or Bjorn)
- Written by Brendan Bonham
- September 9, 2011
The Black Sheep: How did having a hit like "Young Folks" change your approach to writing songs for Gimme Some?
John: I think we’re 50% "screw it" and 50% "let’s not screw it up". Having a hit in the genre of "indie-pop" --or whatever we are-- could be a bit like if the most popular dish at a steakhouse was fish, in other words, "confusing." For us "the hit" works like a carrot on a stick, "Young Folks" has a life of its own and that is what you want to happen to all of the songs you write. We wanna make evergreens, classic fucking pop songs that will last forever, and we try to do that all the time. Sometimes we fail, of course, but on Gimme Some we think that there are some pretty decent ones, for sure.
TBS: What's the creative process for you guys? Like, talk me through how you get an idea for a song to how you get a finished product.
John: Things start when I’m on tour, walking the streets of some city like Chicago and a melody starts playing in my brain. I’ll pick up my smartphone and record the melody. Then, when I get back to Sweden I’ll go back to the smartphone for the melodies and the lyrics or notes I made for it. I use that to build a song. Three months later I’ll make a demo and sent it off to Peter and Bjorn, we’ll meet in some deserted cellar and rehearse it for 30 or 40 minutes. Eventually we’ll book a studio with some decent mics, walk into a studio and spend 8 or so hours recording a song. Of course the song gets changed like, 6 times. After a few beers and some more mixing we’ll like how it sounds, and we’ll head to mixing (the most mysterious part of the creation). We’ll fight over the mix for a while, and a few weeks later it’ll be finished, we’ll master it and it’ll be ready for a person’s ears.
TBS: Can you talk about the differences, if any, in touring different countries or continents? Can you make--or speak in-- generalities about venues and shows in different parts of the world, or is that just a myopic point of view from an ill-traveled interviewer?
John: People are more or less quite similar all over the world, believe it or not. The biggest difference-- and the stuff that will affect the show-- is the way the stage works and what kind of food you eat before playing. (And we have eaten much better stuff in Texas than in France).
During our upcoming US tour we want to explore those differences even more. In Chicago, for instance, we play at like four different venues during one week. We had this idea that people could get a super ticket and go to all of the shows, we want it to be like a big PB&J buffet, hopefully no one will throw up afterwards.
TBS: You've shown a lot of support for hip-hop, and hip-hop artists have shown a lot of love to you. Why do you think your music lends itself so well to that genre?
John: I think it’s because the drums and the beats in our music are so awesome. (Editor’s note: Because John is the drummer, you see.)
TBS: When you're not busy doing music things, what are you doing?
John: At the moment mostly kissing and eating. Not at the same time though.