Interview with Peter Morén of Peter Bjorn And John: Three Of A Kind

When did you know you were going to be on tour with Depeche Mode?

I don’t remember, but I guess we got the request pretty early in the year. We thought it was a good idea timing-wise with our record and everything, but also since we had a lot of references for this record and it was a lot of ‘80s music that was popular when we were ten years old, and they were among that. It’s kind of funny but we were influenced by them.

Were you sort of overwhelmed every night, or at least in the beginning, that you were opening for Depeche Mode?

Not that much actually, that’s the weird thing. I think other people were more overwhelmed, like some friends at home in Sweden that are big big big Depeche fans, they were more overwhelmed than I was, because you still have to focus on what you’re going to do and you can’t really think too much that it’s amazing (laughs). You still have to do a good show.

You just released a video for ‘Living Thing’ the song? Is that just a bunch of cuts from Bollywood films?

Yeah. It was a friend who put it together for fun and we thought why not put it up on the ‘net (laughs). And it kind of ties in with the other videos on the record with dancing and everything.

And you guys aren’t in any of them.

No, that’s also the idea (laughs). We have a plan for the next record to actually be in the videos. That’s our new plan. We’ll see what happens.

Any particular reason? I don’t know what videos even mean now in terms of promoting a band.

I think videos are pretty important these days even though MTV maybe isn’t important anymore but YouTube definitely and blogs are important. That’s almost the only way to get someone to know apart from radio that you’ve released a single. You make a video, and that’s kind of the single in a way, because no one buys singles aside from digital forms.

It was something we started already with Writer’s Block with like the ‘Young Folks’ video which is a cartoon, and there’s another video for ‘Let’s Call It Off’ which we are in the video but it’s all in shade and you see our profiles. I guess we did in the early years a lot of totally unknown videos for our songs that are more classical, standing a room performing and being a rock band, and we kind of grew tired of that and wanted to do something more expressive and more like a mini-movies. I think it’s more interesting.

After this U.S. leg, are you breaking or are you touring further?

You know, we were supposed to go to Australia and we were supposed to go to Russia (laughs). We were supposed to go to a lot of places but I think we just decided today that we’re not going to go anywhere, and we’re actually going to start to work on the next record. I think that’s what we’re going to do. It’s not totally decided. Also, Bjorn needs some time off because he has got a kid and has to stay home with his family next year a bit.

Are you itchy to write new material?

We all write all the time and I think I already wrote my parts for the next record half a year ago (laughs). It’s just stacking up. That’s never an issue with this band. We all have different projects. I’m going to release next year a solo record in Swedish, which is like the first time I’ve ever attempted to do that. That’s going to be really interesting, and that will obviously just concern Swedish touring. That will be pretty quick (laughs). But still that’s going to be really interesting. We are going to try to write for other people too. We’ve done a little bit and we hope to do that more. We just love to work and we love to do music all the time (laughs).

Tell me, there are an awful lot of Swedish bands that almost exclusively record in Swedish. Is it just because most of the world that buys records speaks English or is it because most of the music you’ve inhaled is primarily in English?

I think that’s the reason, the second thing you said. When I started to write songs when I was ten years old, I never thought about singing in Swedish even though I couldn’t really speak English because I was a music freak and listening to Beach Boys and stuff like that. I never thought about singing in Swedish (laughs). It was more phonetic English, you know. I never thought about it. In the early ‘90s, when we started to form bands, there was a big indie pop boom that never got any exposure in your country apart for the Cardigans maybe. There were a lot of other bands that came in that same era and they all sang English and toured in Sweden. You still have artists in Sweden now that are totally unknown in America and the States but sing in English and are pretty big in Sweden.

I think it’s because of the tradition because if you want to be a popular artist in Sweden, it’s smarter to sing in Swedish, because then you get your grandparents. That’s really the big sellers in Sweden sing in Swedish.

Huh. Okay, well thanks again. I look forward to your show.

You know, it’s our tenth anniversary. We celebrate that this year, so we hope that this tour is going to be something special. Maybe we’re going to serve cake on stage or something, blowing up balloons. So come and sing ‘Happy Birthday.’

Peter Bjorn And John perform at Philly’s TLA on Nov. 8 and Webster Hall on Nov. 9.