Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Interview:: Jonas from Mew

We’ve been hyped on the prog rock style of Mew for a while here at the hill. Well today we had the chance to talk to Jonas about the rock sensation Mew ’s first trip to the US in support of the Bloc Party.

HH:: Hey, Jonas. How’s it going today?
Jonas:: It’s alright. I did some drinking for the first time all tour last night, since it was the last night of the tour. So I’m a little bit hung over.

HH:: Well, hopefully you don’t have too many of these things scheduled, because they aren’t fun when you are hung over.
Jonas:: No, no. It’s cool. I’m not that bad.

HH:: Excellent. Well that is a great first question. How was the tour with Bloc Party?
Jonas:: It was really amazing. We did two headline shows and the rest were opening up for the Bloc Party. It was really nice because we love the band and the shows went great.

HH:: So how did you get hooked up with them? Did they just hear your music, or were you friends with them?
Jonas:: What’s great is that they actually like our music. The guitar player came and saw a few shows in London. It’s so much better to be able to tour with a band that likes your music, instead of getting something through a booking agent.

HH:: And this was your first time in the US? I guess with the huge influx of Scandinavian bands making some noise over here, was it a goal of yours to get heard in the US, or did it just kind of happen?
Jonas:: Well, it was a goal of ours to be heard outside of Denmark. You really have to separate the Scandinavian countries. Sweden has been putting out great bands for years. The Cardigans and other good acts. Demark has not been very good at exporting our music or culture, which is too bad because we have some great musicians. It wasn’t until about 2003 that bands from Denmark starting getting heard outside of Copenhagen, so it became a goal for us to get signed in the UK or the US so we could tour. We wanted to see different countries and play for different people.

HH:: It must make it hard then. I mean, not a lot of people at the shows probably know that you’ve been around forever. This is your fourth album. Is it weird to be playing songs you recorded so long ago for new fans, or is it going over well?
Jonas:: Not at all. I mean, our first two albums were done super low budget, and we’ve changed them quite a bit. They were both indie-releases, and the third album was about 60% old stuff from those records that we rerecorded, so it’s great to actually be playing this stuff live for people. We didn’t really tour a lot for the first two records, and it is actually mixing really well live.

HH:: That’s cool. I’m not sure if you’ve even read any of the press about your records or the live show, but people are blown away by your voice.
Jonas:: Well, I’ve read a few things. It’s amazing to know that.

HH:: So I guess what I’m going to ask is, what is the writing process you guys go through? I mean, it can’t be easy to try to write melodies and riffs to match the crazy styles and range your voice has?
Jonas:: It is different for almost every song. I mean, some of the best stuff we come up with is just some immediate melodies that appear when we play. But some of it comes from long nights in the recording studio as well. Sometimes I really want to think about it, so we can have different changes and chord structures.

HH:: Yeah, I’m not sure if the word carries over, but you guys have this prog rock style. But what I love is that your songs don’t go on for like 9-minutes. You keep them short and it makes them much more powerful.
Jonas:: Well, thanks. Yeah, when we first started getting called prog rock, it was weird because we had always been labeled indie rock. We weren’t setting out to make a prog rock record, we more just were excited by the changes. We didn’t want to write songs that you knew the whole song after 20 seconds. It was more our curiosity to see where we could take the music as opposed to being influenced by 70’s prog rock bands. But I’d much rather be called prog rock than something like garage rock.

HH:: (laughs) Well it makes it easier to write about if we can slap some label on it, even if it doesn’t fit or the sound is actually pretty unique. One of your songs getting a lot of love, especially on blogs, is Zookeeper’s Boy. I read that you actually wrote that after a dream?
Jonas:: Yeah, well parts of it. A lot of our songs are actually combinations of different parts, so some was from this really vivid dream I had, but the other aspect of the song is a really naïve love song; those feelings of being insecure. Like do I like her more than she likes me? Just about falling in love. But the other part was from this nightmare, where something terrible happens that everyone expected to happen.

HH:: Was it hard to convey such a vivid image to the band?
Jonas:: It is often hard to at times, but we are really inspired by images and symbols. I mean, our drummer goes to exhibits and comes home with these pictures of sculptures, which is not to say we right a song about it, but that inspires us. Especially living in London where something is always going on. It really keeps you excited.

HH:: That was going to be my next question actually. After seeing your Web site and your live show, it really is obvious that the imagery of your music is as important as the music itself. It’s cool because so many artists don’t really pay attention to it in today’s download age.
Jonas:: Wel lit is really important to us. I used to work in post-production, so I build a lot of animation for the screens behind us. I like seeing bands in small, dirty clubs but after a while it starts to seem “the-samey.” I like to see different things. It doesn’t have to be animation, but I like to see bands keep it new. It’s more exciting.
HH:: So since it’s your first time in North America, did you find the shows different than other places you’ve played in Europe?
Jonas:: Well, we didn’t really play a lot of places, but we were wondering if people would know the songs and sing along. In most places they seemed to know every song. It’s not like the culture was so different that people couldn’t understand the music. We were just really happy about how open-minded people were about the music. Fans of the Bloc Party were really receptive to our show. It’s hard to support acts, you know with people showing up late, but that didn’t happen on this tour. It was great.

HH:: So what is the one thing you’ve enjoyed most about this trip?
Jonas:: The people I’ve met and how they’ve responded to us. It feels great to know that they understand what we are trying to do. As for the country, just how big it is. It’s so exciting, and it seems endless. One thing I don’t like is the air conditioners. It’s almost like people use them as a display of power. You get in a car, and it’s like getting into a fridge.

HH:: (laughs) So one last thing. With all the success, any chance of another tour over here for you guys?
Jonas:: I think so. We want to. We’d actually love to go to Canada. So we will have to see.

Posted at 12:19 PM by ack :: 2 comments

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At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Nina Sabatino did sayeth:

Thanks for this great interview!
I found it by doing a Google Blog search.
I saw Mew at the Hiro and at McCarran Pool and got to meet the guys.
They were amazing live and so friendly.
Hope they tour again soon!
Photos are here:


At 1:54 AM, Anonymous Sean did sayeth:

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.


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