Peter Bjorn and John
Peter Bjorn and John are a Swedish band formed in Stockholm, named after the band members: Peter Moren - guitar/vocals, Bjorn Yttling - bass/vocals, and John Eriksson - drums/vocals. Peter Bjorn and John's sound borders on lo fi and indie, and blends various sounds to make up their own, and with an upcoming album being released early next year (March), Peter was kind enough to share some insight into PBJ.
1. How would you compare the music scene in Stockholm to another major city and what would you say are the differences?
Peter: Stockholm is relatively small, so everyone knows everyone and there are a couple of places where most of the concerts take place. But maybe that's true for most cities? Still its a pretty diverse scene with a lot of different styles, freejazz, heavymetal, folk, indie etc. Since it's the biggest city in Sweden people move here from other places so it's a good mixture of people with different background as well.
2. Would you say the new record is more experimental than the previous records? How was your approach different this time around? Was there any kind of planning that differed from the past?
Peter: Do you mean "Living Thing" or the one we are just finishing for a release early next year? If you mean the new yet untitled 6th record, I would say it's less experimental and concentrates more on capturing how good a live band we have become. Most of the songs are recorded straight ahead live with guitar, bass and drums and most of the overdubs have been vocals, guitars and percussion. So it's a bit of a more straightforward pop/rock-band-record than "Living Thing". And it's very energetic. But we still cover a lot of different styles, like punk, power-pop, folk-rock, shoegaze, manchester, rockabilly, psychedelic, old school r'n'b, glam, pubrock. We are always eclectic even when we try to be simple.
3. What do you feel is important to convey in music?
Peter: Energy, honesty, good songwriting and lyrics, swing and soul!
4. Are there any particular things you get inspiration from to write a song? What do you do if you hit a wall and get stuck somewhere?
Peter: I get inspiration from everything. Everyday life, relationships, art, books, politics, history, movies, food. Music of course. Anything can inspire. But if you are stuck a good title is always the key. If you have a title, you can always spin the rest of the lyric around that. And I have an easier time theese days to start with the lyric and then work out the song.
5. With Bjorn producing other bands, how do you feel that benefits this band or otherwise?
Peter: His knowledge from working with other bands obviously helps, especially technically. But we all have experiences from other things that help the band, John with his classical background, me with soloprojects and liveshows. The downside might be that Bjorn is always busy with other things.
6. Would you rather be a support act or headline a show and why? What do you feel are the main differences from a band's point of view?
Peter: I always prefer being headline. When you are a supportact you feel stressed to finish on time and you can't play all the songs you want too. Also it's harder with technique to be a support. The mainact always get a longer soundcheck and decides things. But sometimes I've been doing supportshows as a soloact, all by myself with a guitar and that can be really nice if the audience listen, 'cause it's less complicated and more suited to a short show.
7. Where is your favourite place to play?
Peter: 9.30 Club in DC is a nice club, great room and great people working there. For a small club, Mercury Lounge in NYC is great. Herrgården in Linköping is a small Swedish student venue where audiences often are great.
8. What do you enjoy doing while on tour or something you try to get around to and also something while not touring?
Peter: I love walking around new cities, taking in the sights and architecture and obviously I love great food and restaurants. An artmuseum or two is nice as well if you have time. Small book, record or clothesstores I also like to visit. Actually I like the same thing while at home. Taking long walks and eating nice. Maybe I'm a bit more into nature then I used to be, so Stockholm is perfect that way, very green and never far to the countryside or the sea. I'm a countryboy at heart, from a really small village in rural Sweden.
9. What is something you would tell people to do or some place you would tell people to visit while in Sweden?
Peter: I always tell people to go on a boattrip to the archipelago outside of Stockholm. Amazing and beautiful! And also while in Stockholm, take a trip around Djurgården. It's a bit upperclass maybe, but heck it's still wonderful
10. What are some bands you are currently listening to?
Peter: Of the new stuff I really like Avi Buffalo, the latest Caribou-album, Harlem, Fresh & Onlys, Papercuts, the latest MGMT, Sonny and the Sunsets, Smith Westerns, a lot of lo-fi-american stuff, especially SF-based.
Some old favourites/favourite records?
Peter: Well I just rediscovered The Beatles! No kidding! I owe them everything, but I know them too well to have been listening to them a lot since my early twenties. But especially the early albums like "A Hard Days Night" and "For Sale" feels superfresh to me now. I'm not particulary keen on "Abbey Road" or "Sgt Pepper", that's a bit boring. I like pop and rock'n'roll!! Also I did me some listening on the early Elvis Costello-albums from ca. 1977-1981, which is also stuff I loved as a teen. So I guess I'm looking backwards to my roots a bit at the moment. The Jam I also rediscovered. And old indie like House of Love. And I've been into to all kinds of vintage soul for the last couple of years. Booker T., Smokey Robinson, William Bell, O'Jays, Meters all that stuff. There's a collection of Souther Soul called "Take me to the River" which is amazing. Go-Betweens I always recommend, especially "Before Hollywood". And Tim Hardin always works, his first two records I have on one cd and whenever I put that one I feel comfortable and at home. Only good songs. Leonard Cohen as well. Also the early Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Larry Williams, Screamin "Jay" Hawkins. Rock'n'roll!!
Anything you're looking forward to being released?
Peter: I love the swedish singer-songwriter Anna Järvinen and hear she is working on a new one.
Last cd/vinyl/digital purchased?
Peter: I believe it was Woods "At Echo Lake". And a box of Philly Soul from the 70's, the Gamble-Huff-productions, amazing!!
Last movie you saw & show you went to?
Peter: Last movie was Claire Denis fantastic "White Material" and last show the crazy sweet Sthlm performance-art-band Sir Eric Beyond and The Avantgarde