At the top of many a Best of 2010 list, Clinging to a Scheme marked the return of Sweden’s The Radio Dept.– a band which has fused dreamy indie-pop with new wave subtleties in a perfect cult-following fashion since their first release in 2003. Unlike fellow Swedes that have made big headlines for dance moves in recent years — think of your Robyns, Lykke Lis, and The Knife here — The Radio Dept. keeps their beats at somber levels, inducing the sort of sway dancing one may encounter at any given Smiths night.
Staying slightly under the radar has given the band time to work out the kinks in their own sound, on their own terms, leaving a yearning fanbase at their personal whims. But if these records take 4 years to make, I say, take your time dear friends.
The Radio Dept. plays the Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight and tickets are still available. And for those of you bummed about the canceled Webster Hall show on the 3rd , your tickets will be honored tonight– so we suggest to get there early before it gets packed, and to catch the dreaminess that could only come from San Francisco, Young Prisms.
Check out our interview with The Radio Dept.’s Johan Duncanson after the jump where he talks about the band’s weary progression, whether or not Sofia Coppola catapulted them into fame and what Swedish bands we should never listen to again.
I want to start by talking a bit about your three major studio releases — Lesser Matters, Pet Grief, and last year’s Clinging to a Scheme. How was each recording process different? The recording processes were identical in the sense that we recorded all of them at home. What we do in the studio, or in our case my or Martin’s apartment, is not very interesting. We fight, try a lot of different ideas, fight some more and then, suddenly, the record is finished. And it’s been like that from day one really.
Which album would you say you’re most emotionally attached to? I’m happy to say that for me it’s the latest one that I like best and feel, as you say, most emotionally attached to. I’d feel horrible if it was the first one.
What were the reasons behind the four year wait for Clinging to a Scheme? We lived in different cities so each time we met up to record some songs we would be somewhere else musically compared to the month before. We threw away lots of songs because we got bored with them or because they didn’t suit our flavour of the week. We could have kept going for a few more years easily but I’m so glad we didn’t.
How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard the music before? It’s hard. If it’s a friend of my parents whose idea of contemporary Swedish pop music still spells Roxette or Ace of Base I usually say “Yes, that’s pretty much what we sound like”. If it’s someone younger I might say it’s sensitive, sometimes noisy, melodic, angry and hopeful. Romantic maybe.
And furthermore, what do you feel the band is trying to convey? That keeps changing… We try not to analyze ourselves too much though and I don´t think we should. Then we would end up even more self concious and that would be the end of us because we’re on a really unhealthy level already.
I feel like a lot of people grew most familiar with your sound after Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette– did you feel that the visuals played into what the songs were trying to say or was it interesting to have someone else perceive the meaning of your songs to include in her own work? The later alternative. We have a very different image when it comes to those songs but it was great to see them work in that context. We’d love to write a whole soundtrack for her one day.
So how did the singles record come about? What was the process behind choosing which songs made the cut for Passive Aggressive? It’s a singles collection so it was easy. The first record consists of all the a-sides and the second one of our favourite b-sides. Many of these singles and eps are hard to get hold of so it’s a record for people who don’t spend their free time on ebay. Or an introduction to the band I guess if you haven’t heard us before.
Do you tend to listen to music that is in the same sort of genre as yourselves, or are you influenced by all different types of sound? Specifically, what kind of music do you guys listen to when you’re on tour? We’re influenced by a lot of different styles and sounds. Last year I listened to a lot of old dub records and Lovers Rock from the 70s and 80s. Now we’re into Stornoway, the first Bathory record and The Fall.
Are there any Swedish bands that we probably don’t know about, but should? Pistol Disco, Nana April Jun, Museum of Bellas Artes and Most Valuable Players… And then there are Swedish bands you probably know about, but shouldn’t. Like The Teddybears for instance. Horrible band.