Nick and I recently sat down with (well, not exactly, but it was live!) Swedish band Klotet for a really fun interview. They punched us in the head as we talked of crows and dogs (I must always mention dogs!) and a little bit of music I suppose.
Dan: Hello Klotet! Why don’t you all introduce yourselves! Can each of you tell me something about yourselves? If you like, you can tell me something about another band member. Or you can lie, no one will ever know!
Påhl: Ok, my name is Påhl - I'm 28 years old and currently a student of Graphic Production. I play the guitar in Klotet and also play in a band called Villebråd. I have a dog.
Mikal: Hi guys! Mikal is my name and I’m a stone cold socialist. I like coffee and to play drums in Klotet. I live in Stockholm and work with moneyproduktion. Im very shallow when it comes to my hair.
Klotet: And the others: David play the bass, he's a sweet gentle man, very kind. Almost too kind. He likes astronomy, his cat Nutti and Ytron (swedish chocolate pudding). Milvesofia is very smart, almost too smart. She likes biology and animals but not insects. She plays the organ in Klotet and also in a band called Häxhammaren. She listens too psychmusic but also to OMD when no one is around.
Dan: So, as I am an ignorant American who only speaks one language, I was wondering what “Klotet” means. For that matter, what do your album titles mean? And how about some of the more interestingly-titled songs? Speaking of the songs, (in lieu of lyrics) who comes up with the song titles?
Påhl: We try to come up with the titles together. Basically Mikal comes along with a hundred titles that he thinks sounds funny and then the rest of us throws away 99 of them. Klotet means "the sphere"... "En rak höger" means "A hard punch to the head" but can also mean "a punch from the right side" - with a political meaning. "Det har aldrig hänt och kommer aldrig hända igen" means "It has never happened and will never happen again" and the whole album is related to the global financial crisis of the last year. Any specific titles you wanna know?
Nick: And our blogzine is called Prog Sphere, so we are basically Prog Klotet :)
Påhl: He, he. You're a part of us now.
Dan: Honestly I wouldn't know about any specific titles, but are there any that are particularly funny? Or interesting? Perhaps political?
Klotet: We had a song on the "Rak höger"-album that's called "En vanlig dag på jobbet, snutjävel" - that means something like "an ordinary day at work, fucking cop", that one is hard to introduce at some liveshows :-)
Klotet: We also have a song called "Dödad av döden" that is directly translated from the Motorheadsong "Killed by death".
Dan: I must say I approve of the left-leaning titles, being incredibly liberal myself.
Dan: What sort of music do you all listen to? What inspires you guys? As I mentioned when I gave my little plug to Klotet in my recent article, I can definitely hear Bo Hansson in your music, and possibly some Beardfish.
Klotet: Yeah, it hard not to like Bo Hansson, he was a great musicians and he was one of our main influences when we started. And concerning Beardfish we like them them a lot. We have played with them in the past. They are fantastic musicians, more skilled than we can ever hope to be. But we are also heavily influenced by music like Devo, Killing Joke, Goblin and some punk and hardcore music. We actually played some Bo Hansson songs on a gig last week as a tribute to the man.
Dan: Speaking of Bo Hansson tributes, did you guys like what I said about him and Klotet in my article? Would you have said anything differently?
Klotet: Well, we definately like to think that we carry some of his legacy in the meaning that we focus on simplicity and harmony in our music instead of technical skill. That can not be said about most of the polished stuff that is called prog these days. But, there are many more bands that deserve that credit more than we do.
Dan: Tell me about your music writing process, do you guys just jam, or does someone introduce a general idea and you work around it? Or is everything rigidly planned to the MUNUTIST DETAIL!?
Påhl: Yes, like you said it. Someone, usually Mikal or David, introduce a general idea and we work around it together. No magic formula. It often takes a long while to get a song finished...
Dan: So you guys released a new album this year (one of my favorite releases of 2010 so far, by the way!), which was in a similar style to your last release, if perhaps a little more chaotic. What was it like recording this one compared with recording the last one?
Påhl: Thanks for the kind words!!! It was a little bit more chaotic than the last one actually. We jammed some of the stuff together in the last minute. But the songwriting on this one was a lot quicker, we tried not to overwork the songs.
Mikal: During the last recording (En rak höger) we only had the studio for recording drums one extremely early morning between 3.00 and 7.00 so he's very happy that he got more time behind the drums this time...
Dan: So your myspace says Påhl is the one who draws the crows and skulls and stuff. I love these crows and skulls and stuff, and I think the drawings make fitting album artwork for such a chaotic (I keep using that word) and energetic band. I don’t really have a question to go with this, I just wanted to say I like the artwork. I suppose you could tell me about the artwork if you like, though. What does it symbolize? How do you come up with it?
Klotet: Thanks a lot. We like the word chaotic, keep using it. The artwork is referring to the financial global crisis (as I mentioned before). The backsleeve is also quite obviously inspired by the Napalm Death album "Scum".
Dan: What’s it like being such a little-known band right now? Andy Tillison says that even slightly more well-known bands like The Tangent are struggling to get exposure in this over-saturated climate.
Klotet: We try not to be too concerned about those things. We would not be playing this kind of music if the only thing we wanted was exposure. But we're really happy that we can play in our close community and the record deal with Musea makes it pretty much possible for people like yourself (in freakin' AMERICA!) to get hold of our albums. So we can't really complain, considering...
Dan: Do you guys consider yourselves a part of any specific cultural movement, however peripheral? Personally, I like to categorize things, and it seems to me like Klotet is clearly a part of the Swedish “Third Wave of Prog”, a term I like to throw around. Does “prog” matter to Klotet, or do you guys prefer to just make music and screw the labels?
Klotet: The term "prog" meant more to us when we started the band. At this moment we want to be free to explore whatever we feel like without caring about specific scenes and genres. It really doesn't feel like we belong to any movement other than grass root music. In our perspective most musical movements tend to be very elitist and the prog scene is no exception. Progressive music in these days is sometimes quite regressive if you ask us.
Dan: I would say prog tends to be even more elitist than some other groups.
Dan: And yet somehow, the more regressive the band, the more elitist they are, hehe.
Dan: Your myspace says you guys have a demo in addition to your two studio albums. My question is this: where can I (and the other readers of the blog, I suppose…) purchase this demo? As a follow-up question in case you say “it is unavailable for sale” or something like that: Please?
Klotet: There are sadly no copies of that demo left, BUT is you listen to the last three songs of the "En rak höger"-album you won't miss a thing. Those tracks are taken directly from the demo.
Dan: Påhl, you mentioned Villebråd before. It just so happens that Nick stumbled across a webpage about it a few hours before this interview. Can you tell us something more about it?
Påhl: Mikal might get angry with me if I use this opportunity to promote that band :-)
Mikal: *giving pahl the angry eye*
Dan: Don't worry, I was going to ask Mikal about any of his projects next.
Påhl: Ha, ha!
Dan: We'd love to hear about it.
Nick: More projects - more questions.
Påhl: Ok, we're currently working with our third album. It will be more pop-oriented than the last two albums. Don't know what to say really. Villebråd is actually one of Mikal’s favourite bands.
Dan: I had actually never heard of it till Nick stumbled upon the site today and showed me that you were in it.
Nick: Kudos for me!
Påhl: Yeah, thanks Nick!
Dan: Mikal, are you working on any side projects?
Mikal: Me and Sofia had a psykadelic proggband when we where younger, drums and organ. You can listen to some of our music here: www.myspace.com/haxhammaren
Dan: Ah, I was going to ask about that next, since you had mentioned it before.
Nick: Hm, that might be interesting.
Dan: Is that another one of what I like to call the "HK setup" (HK meaning Hansson/Karlsson)?
Mikal: Yeah, that’s true, lot of the inspiration came from them, but we also tried to broaden our music using fender Rhodes (through a leslie) instead of an organ.
Dan: Listening to samples now.
Dan: Reminds me of Sagor & Swing, but with a spookier air.
Mikal: It’s poorly produced, sorry for that.
Dan: It's very nice, did you guys release any albums?
Mikal: One cassette that is extremly rare, 15-20 copies where given out, and one cd-demo of 10 copies. We never found someone to release them.
Dan: That’s a shame!
Dan: I know this will sound impatient because you guys just released an album recently, but what are you guys thinking about doing for your next release?
Klotet: We worked on a new song today, actually. It will probably be less melodic and more primitive than before. But with more rythmical complexity... But it's too early to say anything with confidence. Just testing some new ideas really. What do you recommend us to do? What do u want to hear?
Nick: Some jazzy fusion.
Klotet: We ask the questions from now on :-)
Dan: Honestly I love what you guys are doing, but it might be interesting to hear some more instruments.
Klotet: Ok, that's cool. Like what?
Nick: Yeah, maybe accordion?
Dan: Flutes, accordions… As far as I'm concerned there can never be too much flute or organ.
Nick: Saxes would be interesting.
Klotet: Ok. We'll have to take lessons, but we'll try. Flutes are a no go, though... Sax is cool.
Dan: Well, it's up to you after all. I wasn't expecting to be asked, hehe.
Klotet: Well, we want to please y'all.
Dan: Creating music is not my forte, I wouldn't know where to start.
Nick: Ask me to play accordion, though.
Klotet: Nick, would you like to play the accordion?
Nick: Probably :D
Klotet: You can stay at Mikal's house.
Dan: You guys could have Rikard guest star :P
Klotet: From Beardfish?
Klotet: Rikard and Nick could start up a accordion/organ duo.
Dan: I like the sound of this.
Klotet: You could call yourself Rick and Nick.
Dan: And I can... watch.
Nick: It's fine with me, dunno about Rick, haha.
Dan: How about touring, what’s it like for Klotet to tour? Is there a possibility you guys can come to the U.S? Ha, we all can dream… Maybe if a festival invites you, eh?
Nick: Or Serbia?
Klotet: We have never been on a real tour, actually. We're not playing music for a living, and there are no big promoters for our kind of music. But if someone asked us we'd do anything in our might to make it happen. But it's hard to go abroad since we're all poor suckers. We pretty much only play for food/beer everytime so we only do gigs that we feel like and that are reasonably comfortable for us. But we would absolutely love to come to the US, and Serbia of course!
Dan: Come to NYC! There's more people here than all of Sweden.
Klotet: Sounds frightening.
Dan: To paraphrase Mr. Tillison.
Nick: Andy, The Tangent.
Klotet: Ah, sorry.
Dan: His song Lost in London. "There's more people here than Sweden, and it's the lonliest place on Earth."
Nick: We are both obssessed with him, haha.
Klotet: He, he, he…
Dan: As a city-slicker, I can't sympathize, unfortunately, hehe. I love gigantic crowds.
Klotet: We like gigantic crows.
Dan: Japan has both gigantic crows and gigantic crowds!
Klotet: Yeah, nice. Ha, ha, ha!
Dan: Maybe we would both feel right at home in Tokyo.
Klotet: Ok, when do we leave?
Dan: Not yet.
Klotet: Oh sorry.
Dan: So Påhl , you mentioned before that you have a dog! Please tell me about your dog, I love dogs. My old dog was a Norwegian Elkhound, and she was the sweetest dog ever (she died of cancer last year). My current dog is also the sweetest dog ever (I guess we have good luck with dogs). He’s a German Shorthaired Pointer that looks like a Dalmatian.
Nick: Here we go again... with dogs.
Påhl: Shut up, Nick.
Dan: Thank you, Påhl :D
Påhl: Now it's really interesting...
Dan: He's always making fun of me for asking our interviewees about dogs.
Påhl: Both me and Mikal love dogs, especially my dog. He's a Swedish Vallhund, and a really great guy. He's three years old and is currently sitting and staring at me 'cause he's eager to take a dump. I'm really sad that you lost that Elkhound of yours, but its the way it goes I guess. It's so disturbing that dogs only live for a tenth of a normal life span. You should really wait until you're like 80 before you get one, cause then you wouldn't have to be around when it dies.
Dan: Yeah, she lived a good long life though. She had a lot of health problems for some reason. Cancer, an adrenal gland problem, and two cataracts, but she was very happy until the end.
Dan: Anyway, we should wrap up so your dog can take a dump!
Påhl: He'll be very happy.
Dan: Ok, so we're done with questions. Is there anything you two want to add?
Klotet: Thank you both for this. It was very fun and you did very well. Thank you so much for showing interest in our music and for supporting the small bands! We would also like to say thank you to the followers of your blog for reading this far. Have a nice night!