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- Posted on Jan 18th 2011 3:00PM by Emily Tan
"It's more similar to how we sound live," guitarist and singer Peter Moren tells Spinner. "We just wanted to recreate the energy of the live show with just the trio -- the guitar, bass and drums. It's a different direction from the last two albums and kind of a return to our roots."
Read this exclusive interview to hear more from Moren about working with one of his idols, his feelings about the Swedish royal family and why he feels 'Gimme Some' -- due out March 29 -- reflects PB&J's true sound.
How did you go back to your roots on 'Gimme Some?'
If you've seen us live and jumping up and down and having a good time, that's kind of what it sounds like but it's still pretty eclectic. We try to keep it guitar, bass and drums. There wasn't any overdub. It was basically guitars and vocals and harmonies and bass and percussion. I would say it's a pop album -- pop, rock, power-pop.
Going in this direction, what should fans expect from the new record?
An old side of Peter, Bjorn and John, but radically improved. This is what we would have liked to sound like when we started the band, but we couldn't. We've been playing together for 11 years, so we do it a lot better but it's basically the same thing. Some fans have heard the early albums and this record is like a mixture of the second record, 'Falling Out,' and maybe a bit of 'Writer's Block,' but more punk. If you like those two and like punk, then you're going to love this one.
Watch Peter Bjorn and John's 'Breaker, Breaker' Video
It was really great. Per Sunding, who produced it, is an old idol of ours. When we were teenagers, we were listening to his band, Eggstone, which was also a trio. Seeing [Eggstone] live was a great inspiration for us back in the days when we were kids, so in that sense it was really great to work with him. For what we wanted the record to sound like, it's kind of similar to what he was doing in the past with other bands and how they sounded like, especially live: a little bit of pop, punk, the Jam, Buzzcocks, that sort of thing.
Were you nervous about working with someone you have looked up to for so long?
Maybe at first. I met him when I was a kid and getting his autograph. After that, it's not like we knew him before [recording 'Gimme Some'.] He was a little bit nervous, too.
But when we got over that thing, it was really inspirational. We were working in his studio where a lot of albums we listen to were recorded. He was there helping out with the arrangements and singing some harmonies and playing a little bass, so he's been really involved. It's hard to produce us because we produce ourselves, but we did a good mixture. It was nice to have a fourth person there.
When you're three people and writing songs, it's always two against one, but the fourth opinion is really helpful because then an idea that usually would have been scrapped might be used. Sometimes you need a person to say it's already good so you don't overwork it.
Drummer John Ericksson mentioned in an interview that 'Cool Off' was inspired by Sweden's royal family. What's the story behind that?
Well, it's kind of funny because there's a lot happening with the royals in Sweden. There's a book about the king partying and seeing other women, so it's been a scandal, going from feeling warm about the royals to the cold part of the spectrum in the media.
Bjorn wrote the original lyrics, so I don't really know everything he means. It was written before all these activities, so it's a coincidence that it was so well-timed. The three of us don't have anything against them as people, but having a royal family in a democratic country, I don't think we need it. It's hard for them as well because it's nothing they choose.
Aside from 'Cool Off,' are there any other tracks that have a political inspiration?
There's another political song that maybe isn't as obvious called 'Down Like Me.' It's about being negative about people that always put their career and ambitions before people's well-being [laughs]. There's also a love song about being buried with your loved one. It's an out-of-body experience, like watching your own funeral from above, but you see it as something beautiful because you're still together with your loved one. That's called 'May Seem Macabre.'
'Gimme More' is the record you say you hoped Peter Bjorn and John would sound like. Why did you decide to do this now?
In 2002, when we made our first record, we wanted to sound more like this. Now, after all this touring and experience, we just wanted to capture that we sound like a live band because most of this record is recorded live. The last record was much more "fixing on the computer" and this is more how we sound as a band. We were influenced by hip hop and synth-pop and African music, so now we wanted to do something more basic. Maybe the next record will be something different again. It's a constant progression and contrast to the last one.