Back in March, Swedish trio Peter Bjorn And John celebrated two decades of being a band with their ninth studio album, Endless Dream. It’s a record that’s billed as a return to form for the veteran band, a result of the trio getting together in the same room for the first time in several years to flesh out the songs together, instead of via digital channels.
Endless Dream is comprised of ten uplifting, danceable indie-pop tracks with infectious melodies that remind us what made Peter Bjorn And John such a great band in the first place. To celebrate the new album, John Eriksson sat down to talk Frank Zappa, Mission Impossible, and a Swedish Elvis impersonator in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Sprawling. Spectral. Twisted. Indie.
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
Like Mona Lisa’s smile.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
Definitely not Manchester!!!
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
I asked the other two guys and Peter said: Macca (a.k.a. Paul McCartney from The Beatles) and Bjorn said Elvis Costello. That made me think. In the beginning, back in 2000 when the band was formed, Peter and Bjorn went on and on about Elvis Costello. It was all: “Costello said this” and “Costello would have done this” and they played me Costello-records all the time and I hated it. Or, it was not really hate, but I could not understand what was so fantastic about Costello’s music. My hidden agenda during the first five years was actually to faze out all the Costello-ness from our music. I fought for fever chords, dumber lyrics, and more pauses. I wanted us to sound more like the early Beatles, or, even better: Pavement!!!
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
What album do you know every word to?
Unfortunately a lot of old Frank Zappa albums… I was into his music when I was a kid and as a Swedish little boy, I did not really understand how terrible his lyrics were.
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
Monks Casino with Alexander von Schlippenbach and his brilliant super-group at the Fashing Jazz Club in Stockholm. Totally unpredictable concert.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
You should always go on stage wearing a jacket, because you should always try to be better dressed than the audience. If that is impossible, you should wear more clothes than the audience.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
Hmm… I prefer following random people in the street, but, if Aki Kaurismäki (the Finnish movie maker) would be on Instagram or Twitter, I would follow him like a shadow. The tone in some of his movies are almost transcendental and the way he combines heart-breaking tragedy with quirky comedy is exactly the feeling I aim for when making music. The best films are Drifting Clouds, Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana, and Lights In The Dusk.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
“In Kommer Gösta” by Philemon Arthur and the Dung. That song creates such a wonderful vibe.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
The English translation of the Swedish word “skrubbsår” (grazed knee).
What album makes for the perfect gift?
I’m sorry, but I’ll have to say, definitely our new album Endless Dream on vinyl. You’ll get 10 fizzy songs and a board game. Beat that if you can, Robyn!
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
In a tour bus.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
Peter hasn’t got one, neither does Bjorn. I was really close, though. It was supposed to be a giant, scary snake on my right arm and the tattoo-event was supposed to happen on a day off in some random, American small town in the middle of nowhere. But no matter how much I drank, I never dared to do it. Today, I am so grateful I didn’t.
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
Eilert Pilarm. A Swedish Elvis impersonator. He is much better than the original and I mean that.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
My seven-year-old son comforted me the other day when I sucked at Mario Kart.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
Maybe something like this: – Hello John. It is me, John. Do not try to think about this, but I come from the future. Eh…I was going to tell you that you shouldn’t change anything, but now that you have had this strange encounter, I guess you will end up in a mental institution….well…my advice to you is to forget about this…I’m off.
What’s the last show you went to?
I went to a comedy show with a Swedish comedian who pretends he is a Danish psychic medium.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
Mission Impossible 4. Love it!
What would you cook if Kanye were coming to your house for dinner?
Something with ginger. When we played together with Kanye on a Swedish festival back in 2007, his dressing room was filled with ginger, so I guess he eats that.
Endless Dream is out now via INGRID. Listen here.