I featured The Legends song, ‘Always The Same’ a month or two ago and I’ve been nursing my ringing ears since then. The band (aka Johan Angergård) have been recording since their 2003 release, ‘Up Against The Legends’. Many bands profess a wide variety of influences, but The Legends aren’t kidding. Really. From the Mary Chain influence of Always The Same to shades of Felt, Depeche Mode and The Cure on their newest record, “Over and Over”, this is a band that truly challenges their audience. If you’re one dimensional and like your music is carefully constructed boxes, you’re brain will overload and explode. If you’re open-minded and well-versed in the many ways that alternative music challenges us, your brain will explode and you’ll enjoy every minute of it.
Johan was kind enough to take a few minutes to discuss the root of this cacophony.
TDOA: Initially, the story was that The Legends were a 9-piece pop orchestra. Were you concerned that critics wouldn’t take you as seriously if they knew you were the only member of the band?
Johan: I was concerned they’d listen to it in a completely different way if it was only one member, and especially if they had heard my other bands Club 8 and Acid House Kings and knew I was The Legends. I wanted a more unbiased first impression from people and media. I also thought The Legends had a “band sound” and so pretending it was a 9-piece made the communication of the band more true to the sound. And, least, but perhaps even more imporantly, we were 9 people live and these people were the ones who appeared on the photos. So, it wasn’t all untrue. There was a 9-piece band, just not on the album.
TDOA: Obviously you’re talented enough to play a number of instruments. What is your favorite and why?
Johan: Everything or nothing depending on how you see it. I’m not skilled with any instrument. If the computer doesn’t count as an instrument I’d say the guitar.
TDOA: Can you tell us about the recording process for you, given that you play all the instruments?
Johan: The song writing starts just as much in creating a sound or a beat as in creating a melody so I can’t write songs at home with an acoustic guitar. That doesn’t inspire me, that bores me. Like with “Over and over” I wouldn’t have been able to get the angst in my head out with an acoustic guitar, and the sound of an acoustic guitar definitely wouldn’t be something to sooth my mind. So, I wrete almost everything in the studio. The place has no windows and before there was no reception on the mobile phones so you were totally cut out of the outside world. I record at night times to make it (even-) easier to cut out the outside world.
TDOA: How do you make the translation to playing live? Given your concerns about “bluring the vision” I would think you would be hesitant to tour.
Johan: I accept the live part as something different from the album and so I don’t expect to be able to recreate what I did on the album. This time we’ve focused on the noisy songs and are trying to make the sound as big and noisy as we can with five persons. It’s not better than on the album, but live versions of some songs definitely has some points not found on the album.
TDOA: You’ve said that the new album ‘Over and Over’ is “special to you”. Can you tell us why?
Johan: It’s the most personal The Legends album I’ve made. I’m not saying I wrote down and sung whatever struck my mind on the previous one, they’re definitely very much affected by how my life was at those times, but this time it was so much about expessing what I was going through. And not only expressing what I was going through, it was also the cure for all the angst. So for me it’s a very expressive and important album. I think this will be the Legends album listen to the most in 10 years time.
TDOA: The first three songs on the new album remind me of early Jesus and Mary Chain. With that Shop Assistants-like female vocalist, it blows away the genre. Can you talk about the inspiration for those songs?
Johan: I really like early Jesus and Mary Chain and I think the chaos in their sound on their first single might have influence me a bit. I wanted those songs and those guitars of mine to be out of control, I wanted them to fill up my head, clear my mind and hurt my ears. And at the same time, I love good pop melodies and that’s something that’s needed in order to make something out of the noise. Only noise would be too one-dimensional.
TDOA: The mood and style of the songs changes so dramatically over the course of the record. How long did it take to write this record and is that why the tone changes so dramatically or was that an artistic decision?
Johan: I recorded and wrote it over a period of almost 12 months. On a personal level I started in a dark hole of angst and as things eventually got brighter the songs I wrote took that direction too. The last song I wrote for the album is “Monday to Saturday” and I think that one has a joyful mood and the subject of the lyrics is pretty much everyday stuff – in this case my non existing ability to live happily together with other girlfriends.
TDOA: Are there any plans to tour America?
Johan: We just got back from one! It was supposed to be a New York tour, but we included Philadelphia so now we can call it an American tour.
TDOA: So many great bands with very disperate sounds have come out of Sweden. Why do you think their seems to be some much creative output coming from your country?
Johan: I think it’s because people see music as art and not a career. In the UK or the US bands might have management planning what they’re going to do once they have their first platinum disc… even before they’ve released a debut single. It’s not like that here. Most bands, artists and song writers in Sweden create and develop themselves without thoughts of taking over the world. That makes it easier to make something geniunly good, interesting, personal and new instead of something that the so called industry think is going to appeal to the masses. Then I think it might help that everyone is offered to learn how to play an instrument in school and that young people can get free places to rehearse for free that are funded by the government.
TDOA: You’re pretty open about your influences and the records reflect the variety of your tastes. What have you heard this year that’s impresses you?
Johan: What has impressed me the most is nothing new, it’s probably various types of older African music from like Tabu Ley, Hodi Hu Yenyan, Idrissa Soumaoro and so on. There’s a new world of music for me.
For more information about The Legends, contact them via MySpace
To purchase their music, visit Amazon.com here.