The Cardigans - Interview
With a brand new single out this week and 5th album 'Super Extra Gravity' coming soon the wheels are in motion on The Cardigans' promotional bush. Last week we went to a swanky celebrity hotel in London's oh so untrendy Shepherds Bush to catch up with our favourite Swedes.
Your first release 'Emmerdale' was way back in 1994. Did you ever think you would still be releasing stuff 11 years later?
Magnus: I don't think we really believed we were putting out Emmerdale back then!
Nina: No definitely not, I think we were coming from a place where there aren't many people putting music out. And we were totally small fish with no idea what we were doing.
This new album is produced again by Tore Johannson. Since you last worked with him, he produced the Franz Ferdinand album. Did you find your working relationship with him had changed or was it just like old times?
N: It changes all the time, because people change you know. Our inspirations and our approach to producing and recording changes. So yes we found a difference from when we worked with him for a little bit on Long Gone Before Daylight. But he's the same character that he's always been and he's really funny. Even though we've changed the way we work, our dynamics have remained the same.
M: I think he changed a little bit in the sense that he had a period where he didn't work with bands too much. He was concentrating on the pop world, and doing weird things with Mel C!
P: Heh yeah, but he was trying to become more of a pop producer wanting to sit in front of a computer basically. And so that's why it didn't really work out for us and him on the last record. And then suddenly he made the Franz Ferdinand record and that made us realise that he'd gone back to his roots a little bit more, which made us want to go back and approach him for this album.
Although this album is an evolution of your sound, by and large it seems to keep the intimate and organic feel of Long Gone Before Daylight. Did you at any point think you might go for a more dramatic change in musical direction or are you very comfortable with this style of writing and recording?
N: I think we are comfortable with it. The songs could probably have been on any of the two last albums, and we were happy with the recording style we've settled in. We weren't interested in any new dramatic sound or electronics or anything like that. At the moment we're good at playing together as a band, so we've got to capture that while we've got it!
When you're writing what comes first? The music or the lyrics?
N: Music, almost always.
M: Except for one line which you normally get when you're making it.
Nina, your lyrics often seem very personal and honest. When you're writing do you ever worry about going too far?
N: I really keep that in mind when I'm writing. I have to live with these songs for a long, long time and I have to be able to talk to them over and over again so I write cautiously. I have limits – there are places I wouldn't go. I don't want to break down every time I have to talk about one of them! I don't want to reveal anything I'm not willing to repeat again as I know they are going to be scrutinised afterwards.
'I need some fine wine, and you, you need to be nicer' is the first single from the album. Why did you pick this track?
P: I don't know really. I think it's quite immediate.
M: It's got potential. But actually we always just let the record company decide. We put together an album containing 11 songs and they can pretty much pick any song. If we picked something that radio wouldn't play then that would ruin it, so we let them decide because they know what they're doing.
We had a little look to see if it's the longest song title ever, but that record is held by Meatloaf!
N: Ha! We had a look on our forums and our fans are suggesting some really bloody long song titles! They want it even longer.
And what's the video for the song like?
N: Well it's not really about anything. It's us playing a song in a room with all our kit and I'm an aggressive type of woman, which I felt a bit uncomfortable playing! Also there are these crazy bits with a cat and a dog running about. It's all about the imagery of me in different drag outfits.
Do you like making videos, or is it a chore?
N: It's quite fun, this one was quite easy. When we did the Favourite Game video we were in the desert and it was so hard, really excruciating heat, and so exhausting. But no, its fun. Anything we can do, on our part, to illustrate what we're about is great.
On the showing what you're about thing, the album is being released with a bonus DVD. What's on it?
M: Well this is down to me as I made half of it with my own video camera. The other half has been made by two of our friends, which is really nice, rather than having total strangers coming in.
It's really hard to do a documentary with interviews and stuff when you're actually making the record. Now it's easier to talk about it, but when you're in the middle of recording it, it's quite strange.
P: At the same time, you can only capture a certain amount while you're working. Sometimes you aren't really sure where you are going with something.
M: We also made about half an hour of semi-slapstick Cardigans clinic where we show what we're we are doing and why. Nina teaches us how to use our headphones in a very graphic way! So I hope it translates well to an English audience and it's not just our strange Swedish humour. I'm not sure!
And finally, will you be going on tour to support this release?
N: Yes, if they'll have us! Next year we're going to go on tour. We didn't go last time round in the UK, so there must be someone out there who'd like to see us!
Do you look forward to playing live?
N: Especially as at the moment all we do is talk about the music. We've been doing a couple of sessions for radio which have been great. So we're getting to play live and that's what we're best at. We just want to go out and play it.
M: We might take a couple of extra musicians out with us on tour to make it sound more powerful. I'm not sure how it'll be because obviously we haven't played it to people yet, we haven't seen their reactions but it should be great!