Peter, Bjorn and John are an indie rock band formed in Sweden in 1999. The band are Peter Morén on guitar and harmonica; Björn Yttling on bass and keyboards; and John Eriksson on drums and percussion. They released their self-titled debut album in 2002, followed by Falling Out, released in 2005.
The bands’ 2006 release Writers Block, featured the track « Young Folks », with vocal contributions from Victoria Bergsman from fellow indie rockers The Concretes. For their sixth album the band chose to work with a producer for the first time ever enlisting the skills of Per Sunding at Tambourine Studios in Malmo.
The new album « Gimme Some », a follow up to 2009’s more experimental Living Thing release, is a definite return to Peter Bjorn And John’s pop roots. So the move to work with Per Sunding – a member of the now defunct Eggstone seemed especially fitting.
John accepted to answer some of our questions :
How did all you guys meet?
Well, Peter and Bjorn met in high school where they used to sit around eating noodles and listen to old music such as Beach Boys, Elvis Costello and Lasse Berghagen.
A couple of years later they met me at a party and being drunk, I apparently said yes when Bjorn asked me if I wanted to try to play the drums with him and Peter. So I did, and after a couple of jamsessions we decided to form a pop-trio called « Royal Pink Ink ». The day after, we changed the name to: « Peter, Bjorn And John ».
Can you tell us what events happened between both releases Living Thing and the Gimme Some ?
Between these two albums we have pretty much worked full time with the band with some small intermissions in between.
We toured a lot (especially in the US where we have at least 70 % of our fanbase). First a lot of gigs on our own and after that we opened up for Depeche Mode on their entire North American Tour of the Universe.
So we managed to play on all kinds of venues that year. From clubs and theaters to arenas and hockey rinks. (without the hockey).
We also managed to play a gig in Moscow after drinking endless amounts of vodka the day before.
After that we wrote songs and recorded the « Gimme Some » album.
How are the songs put together? Are they « written » first, with melody and lyrics, or is the arrangement part of the writing process, finding sounds and samples etc.?
It varies from album to album but it always starts with the three of us sitting on our own in our studios or apartments writing songs.
Then we make demos and send them to each other.
After that anything can happen.
On Living Thing we experimented a lot, creating sounds from another world, building castles of ambiances where the songs could breathe. It felt almost like we where making music for a science fiction movie about greasers actually.
Then on « Gimme Some » we worked like you might have seen on TV sometime.
We plugged in a guitar and a bass and miced the drumkit and then we played and played until each song was ready.
Luckily, this time we had an outside producer called Per Sunding who led the way towards the final product.
So, to answer your question, the process is always different.
Next time we might try hypnosis or satanism. Or both at the same time.
A lot of your music has turned up in TV programmes and commercials; is that a big part of promotion for bands these days?
It´s both promotion and as a matter of fact our income. People talk about that it is better for the musicians these days but I dont think so. In the good old days a band like ours could actually make a living out of selling records and playing live.
Nowadays you have to sell your soul and music to all kinds of commercial companys to survive. Thats a fact. If we would have said no to all of the TV programmes and commercials, we would have been working with something else like teaching or beefarming.
Capitalism is ruling the world of music even more these days unfortunately.
Do you guys watch a lot of TV?
Not that much. I was a TV addict 10 years ago. I could watch anything. From a program about cheese to the entire season of Big Brother. Now, I think we all mostly watches TV-series and movies on DVD or at the cinema. TV is for old folks.
The industry has created this machine that will tell you if a track has the right formula for it to become massive a pop song – that it’ll sell. What do you guys think of that?
John: WOW! I havent heard of that! If that machine exists we would buy it first thing tomorrow. We try to write massive pop songs all the time and if you could check the potential thru a machine that would make things so much easier.
Then we would not need to argue as much as we do and we could skip to re-record a bad song 13 times.
Please send us the link to that machine!
Do you feel there has been an expectation people have placed on your band since the start?
Hmm… I think not. Maybe in 2006 some people might have thought that we were three cute blond swedish guys who walked around and whistled all the time. And maybe in the beginning, when the band ws formed, some of our friends thought that we would sound like Toto or something but then they discovered that we often couldnt even play in tune so that was that expectation.
Is there anyone you guys would love to collaborate with?
Yes. Brian Eno. James Murphy. Yo La Tengo. It would be fun to perform « Call it Off » Live with Drake someday and it would be fun to do something with Larry David. Maybe a trashmetal album?
Where are you answering our interview questions from?
Three reasons to love your new album?
Its Pink, Punk and Perfect.
Any closing words for TEEZ’FM listeners?
Yes. Dont be mean. Seriously.
Thanks to John and Berangere
Thanks to Seb Gueb
Interview by Thierry Jaussaud