Of the new colorful release and the more modern sound, about the "Dark City", playing with IAMX's drummer, gloomy vision of the future, swedish postpunk explosion, Game of Thrones and other interesting stuff with the band's frontmen before their CZ premiere.
SANCTUARY.CZ: HEY THE EXPLODING BOY, HOW ARE YOU? IT SEEMS YOU HAVE BEEN VERY BUSY WITH TOURING LATELY…
Stefan: Hello Prague! The north is calling, its freezing cold, winter is surely now coming and we don’t know how long we can fight with these white walkers, please help… sorry. From going back and forth between Central Europe and Scandinavia the last couple of weeks and at the same time rewatching Game Of Thrones… lives a bit blurry now.
Johan: Yes, it’s been quite a lot this year, both touring and a lot of private stuff, but it’s good that things happen so there’s no point complaining.
SANCTUARY.CZ: THE TOUR IS (QUITE UNDERSTANDABLY) DEDICATED TO YOUR NEW RELEASE “ALARMS!”. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT STRIKES LISTENER’S EAR IMMEDIATELY IS A SOUND SHIFT FROM THE CLASSIC POSTPUNK WATERS OF YOUR PREVIOUS ALBUMS INTO SOMETHING MORE… LET’S SAY “MODERN” IN THE VERY BEST SENSE OF THE WORD. WHAT CAUSED THIS CHANGE? I GUESS THERE IS MORE BEHIND IT THAN JUST “WE WANTED TO BE PLAYED MORE IN THE RADIO AND GET FAMOUS” ATTITUDE.
Stefan: Well, I guess you're right about that ”modern” touch, but to be honest it was not something that we had a plan for. I think it had much more to do with how we recorded this album. Earlier we have been very D.I.Y. and done most of this ourself in Lars' apartment, this time we wanted someone else to be in charge of the recording and also using a studio. So, the ”modern” touch in many ways i think is due to this.
Johan: Yes, exactly like Stefan said. We have been writing songs the same way as before and decided things together the same way as before. But we also have 2 new members on drums and bass so that’s probably a new touch to the sound as well.
SANCTUARY.CZ: THE FACT IS, THAT “ALARMS!” ALSO PRESENTS YOU ALL IN THE BEST VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL SHAPE SO FAR. WHAT IS BEHIND THIS IMPROVEMENT? IS IT THE AMOUNT OF THE GIGS PLAYED TOGETHER?
Stefan: I would say ”see answer above” – the fact that we have recorded in an actual studio this time, with a guy who knows his shit makes it a lot easier to record the song. You can be quite limited recording in someones apartment when it comes to give it your best. And yeah, to be fair, it's been five years since our last album, that also means that me and Johan are five years older and have more of this ”sexy old guy Dean Martin” vibe in our voices…
Johan: Haha, yes that must be it :D.
The Exploding Boy – Alarms in Silence
SANCTUARY.CZ: THE ALBUM INCLUDES A LOT OF MUSICAL INFLUENCES, BE IT POSTPUNK, NEW WAVE (O.H.M.Y.G.O.D.), BOURBON-SOAKED TRAVEL TRACK “DANGER ZONE” OR ALMOST INDIE RADIO HITS LIKE “RUN RED”. HOW SUCH A COLORFUL ALBUM IS BORN?
Stefan: I don’t know. I think on most of our previous albums there has always been a lot of influences going, so I dont know if that's a unique thing for ”Alarms!”. And this has always, at least I think, been because that in between us in the band we have a really different taste of music. Perhaps with the two new members in the band, Richard and Mattias, this shines through even more on the new album. Also for a lot of bands I think you can here that they are really in to a special sound, we have never had the approach to restrict our songs in that way. We usually start by writing the song, not based on any sound, and then we just let the songs fly free.
Johan: And since we had 5 years there was more songs made to listen to and decide from than usual. We had more time to prepare.
SANCTUARY.CZ: ONE OF THE STRONGEST WEAPONS IN THE EXPLODING BOY’S ARSENAL IS THE ABILITY OF WRITING A REALLY STRONG CHORUSES. HOW DO YOU ARRANGE TWO VOCALS, TWO/THREE GUITARS AND KEYBOARDS INTO SOMETHING THAT IS NOT A MESS BUT A POWERFUL WALL OF MELODIES? IS THERE ANYONE IN THE BAND RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT OR IS IT A TEAMWORK BEING PUT TOGETHER IN YOUR REHEARSAL SPACE? IS THERE A LOT OF FIGHTS ABOUT IT?
Stefan: Well. First of, what I said before that we usually start by writing the song itself – if it's me, or Johan or someone else it doesn’t mather, And by doing that you need to have some kind of hook to the chorus, otherwise it will not get through the other guys filters. Then when we put it together it's rarely that we have done that in the rehearsal space. That happens during the recording, but at that point it's all about team work, everyone contributes. And in the case with ”Alarms!” also our producer Jon have had a lot of ideas for melodies and stuff.
But if it's a lot fighting… well to be honest I would love to have a story here about how it even can get physical, ending up with people not talking to each other for weeks but on the recording for ”Alarms!” we were like... well fuckin Coldplay or something. Everyone agreed on almost everything. Really boring in retrospective.
SANCTUARY.CZ: AFTER MANY MANY YEARS OF PLAYING WITH A DRUM MACHINE YOU TOOK A LIVE DRUMMER ON BOARD. WHY? AND HOW MUCH IT AFFECTED YOUR LET’S SAY “NEW SOUND”?
Stefan: It started with just an idea some years ago when we were gonna play WGT and just did not want to go back there for our third time and do the same thing again. So we started talking about having everything live, nothing on backtracks. At that same time Richard, who’s been a friend since before, had quit drumming with IAMX and well was up for grabs and interested in having a go at The Exploding Boy. Mattias came along as well with his bass and, yeah, getting those two in the band just made it so much more fun playing so it was a no brainer to take them in as full part members of the band. And of course this has affected the sound a lot, not only when it came to recording the album, but also live. I mean you get so much more dynamic into the music with live drums and a live bass as well. Specially with such talented guys as Rick and Mattias.
Johan: The fun thing is that we were really sceptic about it for a pretty long time. We were so used to the drum machine so it took some time to get out of that feeling, but once we did we feel better than ever. The only bad thing is that is costs a lot to travel with 6 members in the band…
SANCTUARY.CZ: “ALARMS!” WAS RELEASED ON DRAKKAR RECORDS, LABEL THAT IS FOCUSED MAINLY ON METAL ARTISTS… WHAT BROUGHT YOU TWO TOGETHER?
Stefan: To be honest, I don’t know the story behind that. If I would guess, they are from Hamburg, we have always had a great connection to Hamburg… maybe we met them drunk in St. Pauli somewhere?
Johan: I think Nick Xboy knew them from before and they wanted to sign us or something, and they were really nice and made a great work so we’re pretty happy about them.
SANCTUARY.CZ: THE IMPORTANT THING OF “ALARMS!” IS ALSO LYRICS THAT ARE DISTURBING AND SOMEHOW... URGING A LISTENER TO TAKE SOME POSITIVE ACTION, OTHERWISE THE WHOLE WORLD WILL COLLIDE. DID I READ IT CORRECTLY?
Stefan: Hmmm. Did you read that correctly? In a way, but also no. You are correct that on ”Alarms!” we paint a picture of a disturbing world. And that's just because, at least when I look around what happens, it sickens me. These movements of extreme nationalism, protectionism and glorifying of authoritarian leaders, I just dont grasp the fact that this shit is building up again around the world.
Don't get me wrong, I get that people found themself lost in the ongoing globalization, that they feel small in regard to this huge world economy, that they perhaps are frustrated with welfare systems breaking down, and that there is an overall uncertainty about the future. I get all of that, but turning your hope to political parties and leaders who’s only answer is pointing fingers towards people of other religions, races, nationalities, people that in most cases actually is below you on the ”food chain of the world” while at the same time the wealth of the world is being more and more concentrated with a few. Thats just bullshit. Thats just idiocy.
How ever, even if we are pointing fingers towards things that are fucked up with the world, I’m not sure that we are urging a listener to take some positive action, of course that would be something to endure, but to be honest i think we are beyond the point of no return. And thats all because of how we treat this earth we are living on. It might be a bit nihilistic but I just don’t believe that we can make this world great again, we can sure as hell be better towards one another, but with the rapid climate changes standing against t this fundamentalistic belief in an everlasting economic growth. No. Were fucked.
SANCTUARY.CZ: THE OMNIPRESENT MOTIF OF YOUR RELEASES IS ALSO “THE DARK CITY”… ON THIS RECORD YOU LET IT BURN TO THE GROUND. WHAT IS THIS DARK CITY ACTUALLY? IS IT MORE A METAPHORICAL PLACE OR A REFERENCE TO YOUR HOME STOCKHOLM?
Stefan: Well. The long answer is that Dark City is perhaps in a way Stockholm, but a more metaphorical story that runs through the three latest albums dealing with a regregation towards a fascist society. First there is this numbness of people, making them puppets in the hands of an authoritarian state, which of course leads to the death of a liberal society as we know it and in the end to the total destruction of the world. The short answer – Dark City is just a cool title for a song so we have used it three times now.
SANCTUARY.CZ: SPEAKING ABOUT SWEDEN, FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW IT SEEMS THAT THE SWEDISH POSTPUNK SCENE IS ON THE HUGE RISE WITHIN THE EUROPEAN DARK SCENE. I MEAN THE EXPLOSION WITH BANDS LIKE YOU, A PROJECTION, THEN COMES SILENCE, AGENT SIDE GRINDER AND OTHERS. WHY DO YOU THINK IS THAT? IS THE DARK SCENE IN SWEDEN SO STRONG? IS A LOT OF PEOPLE INTERESTED IN IT?
Stefan: Yeah, just if you compare to when we started out ten years ago the swedish postpunk-ish scene has grown a lot. At that time I hardly can remember any bands that was active on this scene. At least no one else that was touring all around Europe. And, well, yeah people must be interested in it, would be weird otherwise. But, how come? I'm not sure. I mean, there has always been a ”dark side” to a lot of music coming from Sweden and the other countries of northern Europe. The metal scene has always been huge, the goth scen has been big at least in our eastern neighbor Finland, even a lot of the dance music that comes out of Sweden have often had a dark nerve. But why the post punk-scene has been growing these last couple of years… I don’t have any good answer to that, more then there is a lot of ”right” people in right places that are into this at the moment?
SANCTUARY.CZ: ARE THERE MORE NAMES YOU WOULD RECOMMEND FROM SWEDEN?
Stefan: Oooh. Well, everything might not be postpunk, but if we are talking about darkness and sadness… A list just of the top of my head: Kite, Pale Honey, Henric De La Cour, Nicole Saboune, Katharina Nutall, Iamamiwhoami, The Hanged Man, Henrik Berggren, Principe Valiente, Its for us… Hmm. I hope i didn’t forget any one now.
Johan: All our friends play in bands… Cool or sad, I don’t know.
SANCTUARY.CZ: ARE THERE ANY MORE SIDE PROJECTS OF THE EXPLODING BOY’S MEMBERS BESIDES SJÖBLOM?
Stefan: Maybe nothing that is 100% active but Richard still get together sometimes with his old band Melody Club, Lars and Mattias have The Black Cordelias, me and Nick have had a industrial project called Pigmachine on standby for decades now… and yeah, me and Richard started up a stonerproject at a bar after we played in Hamburg some weeks ago. Don’t know if that one counts though since we were, well a bit drunk.
SANCTUARY.CZ: THE BORING USUAL – YOUR FUTURE PLANS WITH THE EXPLODING BOY?
Stefan:: The boring answer… we will see what happens :).
Johan: Depends on how this tour goes. If people are interested maybe we’ll do a new album quicker that last time.
SANCTUARY.CZ: IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL TO YOUR FANS BEFORE YOUR VERY FIRST SHOW IN HERE?
Stefan: Of course that we just think that its just awesome to be playing in Prague for the first time… and also a shout out to the great Jaromir Jagr.
Johan: Yes, we are so looking forward!!!
SANCTUARY.CZ: THE SAME WITH US, GUYS! SEE YOU ON WEDNESDAY!