This morning hanging around Tequila Mockingbird recording studio waiting to chat with Jason Bentley on Morning Becomes Eclectic, a bunch of Swedes were loading equipment in and hanging around in a uniquely Swedish way. Still in a morning fog and on the other side of the space, we wondered what was going on — this despite the fact that we knew what was supposed to be going on. Anyway, someone calls out a 'Bjorn!', and duh, we've been watching Peter, Bjorn and John getting ready for their in-studio performance on MBE.
For the next hour we watched them soundcheck, watched as their video guy followed them around documenting their every move, and, at one point, even heard PBJ's ubiquitous “Young Folks” whistle melody — live, out of the blue. Cool experience.
Soon enough, they're hanging at a table just asking to be collared for an interview. Bjorn was all too happy to oblige.
So how many shows are you playing in Austin?
Bjorn: I think we're only playing three or four this year, which is nothing like the mayhem of years ago — we had fourteen shows.
That was when you guys were exploding in America. That must have been really exciting to experience in Austin.
It was fun, yeah.
You've got a much bigger stature now. How have you noticed that manifesting itself at SXSW?
It's like the return game in the champion's league of football. It's like, the first time kind of catches you off guard, but this time America is going to be more aware. We're not the underdogs anymore.
Yeah, but that has its own pressures. Was there pressure on you in recording the new album to follow it up with something bigger?
Um, Dave Grohl told us that we had to make another hit. And at first we had some instrumentals, and he was not happy with that. But we aimed really high on this record, and this time we also had a budget, and more time to work on it. But no real pressure, and you can't start a record with that in mind when you're recording. I mean, we did our best, and we did some sharp tunes that come at you directly and you'll like immediately and another spectrum of softer songs, and longer ones, and deeper ones. I think it's all there for people.
And you've been doing this for a decade now, so you have an idea of how it works.
Yeah, but we've never had to follow up anything that went well. (laughs) But I've done it as a producer before. I've done stuff for Capitol in the US and different labels, follow-records for people. So I've kind of learned how to play that. You always need to deliver different stuff, you need different shades. We like pop singles, and we like longer blues jams. We just put it in there and the label picks out whatever is suitable for the first single, and all that. You play it the best you can.