Du und wir
Schweden, Schweden, Schweden - was haben die bloß in ihrem Wasser, daß sie so großartige Bands hervorbringen?!? Einer dieser Wassertropfen hat The Wannadies hervorgebracht, und dieses Wässerchen steht für puren Gitarren-Pop, allerdings live sind sie doch etwas rockiger, was aber den Songs absolut nichts schadet - eher im Gegenteil! Der "You And Me Song" dürfte wohl auf jedem Gute-Laune-Sommer-Tape draufsein, und ein you and me Erlebnis hatten wir dann am 09.06.97 in Köln an einem wunderbaren Sommersonnentag mit Sänger Pär und Sängerin Christina...
I guess this is the second time you're over here in Germany, right?
PÄR: Yes, we did a really short tour before, which was...
P.: No, not really crap, but the record company we had, we didn't really have, they didn't really exist, we hardly met them, and the promotion company who worked for us then, mainly did dance-music, so when we came into their office they must have thought "Oh god, a scary guitar band!". And they didn't know what to plug. I don't know what this tour is going to be like, but last night in Munich was great, we expected nothing and we got it all! People screaming their heads off...
[At this point, for a strange and unknown reason, Pär and Christina start speaking absolute nonsense in German! Which leads us to this little story...]
C.: I studied German for three years, but I can't remember anything!
P.: Ja, ja, ja, was ist los, was ist das? Do you remember that song? Unfortunately, you do. We have covered that for a radio show, where we had a sort of joke session...
C.: It was a radio show with a really funny comedian, and he had bands in...
P.: Playing unfuckingplugged! You couldn't use anything except for your body!
C.: You were allowed to use a pen, or a lighter, but no instruments and none of your own songs!
P.: I think you were allowed to do whatever you wanted to do with your voice and a mike! You were...
C.: I was the hit-hat!
P.: Gunnar was bass-drum, I was rapping. We did a mixture of "Cotton-Eye-Joe" by The Red Nexx and "1-2-Polizei"...
C.: Our two most hated songs at that time!
So, back to your music now. Do you see a big difference between the first album and the new one?
P.: I think, "Be A Girl", was an album that we were really proud of, and the only thing we did when we went in to record "Bagsy Me", we used the confidence and the energy from having done a really good album, so we just walked into all the studios that we recorded in and took control over everything - you know, we demand good music! You know, we had this really [then he couldn't pronounce the word "theatrically" - so, he ended up using the German word for it] theatralische thing going on, screaming out "We do what the fuck we wanna do!" - "It's us against them!" - "Who's them?" - "I don't know, and I don't care!"...I guess what happened was it was going to be another "Be A Girl", but this time more cynical, pop, jazzy, experimental, more playful and yet more dark. We just widened our territory. "Be A Girl" was more a straight forward pop album, "Bagsy Me" is a bit more of everything.
Was that also part of the decision to have a Swedish producer and not, what might have been an obvious step, having a British producer?
C.: Well, we were happy with our Swedish producer, and we thought "Why change a winning concept?". So, we recorded in the same studio, the same producer. Although it doesn't say so on the album, we pretty much produced it ourselves.
P.: We've done a few recordings and a few mixes, and we said, that we are a really strong-minded band, we never give in on anything. Usually, the more people you get involved, the bigger the risk that you just flip out. We sort of realized that we were strong enough ourselves. I remember, when I did the vocals for "Be A Girl", I just crashed, I just totally lost it and spent three or four days singing one song, and it was still crap. So, I had a bit of a mental breakdown there, but we didn't blame Nille [the producer]...[then their soundman starts to test the limits of the PA-system and the rest of Pär's words got lost...]
How do the Wannadies write their songs?
P.: In the end, everybody's involved. Usually, it's me who's got an idea, and then the big band-war starts, when everyone's argueing about the song, until everybody's really happy with it. And usually, if everbody's happy, it's a really good song. I mean there's five different people, we listen to the same kind of music, but of course occasionally Frederick listens to dance music, and Stefan listens to soft ambient music when he puts away his hardcore records, so it's quite varied. We just trust ourselves. One of the best things with being in a pop-band, is that you do something only for yourself, it's basically masturbation, enjoying that you're trying to get as many kicks and thrills out of it as possible. And then when you hand it out, loads of people like it, and they think that the songs are about this and that, and actually they're not. But I like that, and I think that lyrics should be easy to grasp, straigh forward, but in an interesting way, and very detailed.
C.: And it's cool when people think it's about their lives, then it's a good lyric.
P.: For instance the "You And Me Song", the drummer of a hardcore band got engaged with his girl-friend, and they wrote on one of the rings "You And Me", and on the other one "Always And Forever", they split up and they got together again listening to that song, and the lines fitted so perfectly. After that we got to know them. Actually, I'll tell you another story: the girl called me two months ago in the middle of the night, and I didn't know who she was, and the guy was over here in Germany touring with his band, and then she was crying to me on the phone that the ring is gone. I asked what ring - the "You-and-me-always-and-forever"-ring. He just called and told her that he lost his ring, and then she had a few too many beers or whatever and she called me at four o'clock in the morning crying that he lost his ring! Anyway, the thing in the song is the other way round, ‘cause what I'm talking about is a boy and a girl and how they can have the loveliest time in the world, even though they just watch TV and do boring stuff, but it's them. It should be detailed enough to interest people, but you have to be vague enough to let people's imaginations work. You know, that song could be about a father and son relationship, it could be anything. In the end, it's just that with people you like you can do whatever you want. You can sit in a pile of shit and it doesn't matter, or you could be in paradise. I think that's a really good example if lyrics work in that way, that people actually can read in their lives into that song.
The "You And Me Song" has also been featured on the soundtrack for "Romeo & Juliet" - how did you get involved with that one?
C.: Well, the film producer must have been in England last year, when the song was just released, and he must have heard it, so he called us and asked if we wanted to be on a soundtrack! I was like "What movie is it?" - "Romeo & Juliet" - "Who's starring?" - "Leonardo di Caprio" - "Yeeees, we do it!".
P.: I mean, we like the producer, but we are very careful when it comes to anything, you know, cover artwork, videos, everything, even being on soundtracks or whatever, so we thought carefully about it. But Luhrmann's film "Strictly Ballroom" is a great film, and we thought he can't be that wrong, you know, going for "Romeo & Juliet", he's going to do something nice. But we were a bit scared at the beginning, only because they described it to us as the Romeo & Juliet story in modern times, with the original Shakespearean English in American accents - and we were like "Urgh!" - but then the Leonardo di Caprio thing just turned it all over. And it was a good movie!
Here in Germany we have this fashion shop chain called "Hennes & Mauritz", and they had this campaign, where you could meet the Wannadies in London - did you know about this as well?
P.: They just called us, and said "We've never done this before, but we really love your band - can we have your album and posters in our shops? Could we have large posters in the windows with you looking cool?" - and we got to chose which picture they would put on. They wanna help us to get out to the people - fine! If they would have asked us to do a commercial for them, it would have been a blank "No!".
The first prize in this campaign was to win a trip to London and have a meet'n'greet with you - what do you think about those music industry meet'n'greets?
P.: I hate them! I love doing interviews when it's nice people, intelligent people, you talk about stuff, you know, that's cool, but when it comes to that really cold-hearted business meet'n'greet...
C.: You know, sometimes you know what those people are going to say even before they open their mouths! They're going to say that you're fantastic, great songs blablabla....we all know, that they don't care and we don't care, but we all have to do it...
P.: Usually, they're all quite nice, but there was this American bloke, who was so utterly non-communicative, he said in his American voice "We're gonna release this fantastic song." - "So, you don't think that this song is better?" - "We're gonna release this fantastic song." - "Yeah, I know, but as I was saying, this song might be better!" - "We're gonna release this fantastic song." - he just couldn't talk anything other than that, he just wouldn't listen to what we said. And that's the most horrible meet'n'greet scheme.
But you still enjoy this whole music thing?
P.: I love it. I get so thrilled everytime somebody from Germany, Australia, Japan or Aberdeen comes up to you and says "I've got all your singles, and I love them!". We wrote those songs for the fun of it...
C.: We wrote and recorded them in a shitty little town up in the North of Sweden, and you get letters from Japan telling you stories about how their lives changed when they listen to those songs. That's amazing!
P.: It's like we mean something to other people!
C.: Even though they don't know us!
P.: That's really mindblowing. It's like having a love affair with thousands of different people without being unfaithful, I guess.
Eine Liebesaffäre mit dem Album "Bagsy Me"? Ist gut möglich, denn die Platte rockt und poppt an allen Ecken und Kanten - so wie wir es doch alle mögen, gelle?!?
[Erstveröffentlichung im Baby Talk-Fanzine #11, August 1997]
Interview: -David Bluhm-
Fotos: -Meike Witte-