Interview: Peder Bergstrand & Niclas Stalfors from Lowrider
With Refractions, their second album in 20 years, Lowrider made it to the top of most of More Fuzz members 2020 rankings and #1 for the whole team, so we had to celebrate and talk to them. Peder Bergstrand (bass & vocals) and Niclas Stalfors (guitar) were kind enough to accept our invitation. The result is a 55 min interview where we talk about Refractions, what makes it so good, why it was so long in the making and what’s next for Lowrider.
The interview was conducted on March 4th, 2021.
Quick links :
Watch the video
Mr. Momo: Peder, Niclas, thank you for joining us tonight. So just as a reminder you created Lowrider with Ole Hellquist and Andras Eriksson in 1996, you published a split with Nebula – which is quite an achievement for a first record – in 1998, and your own album Ode to Io in 2000, you toured a bit and then nothing for a while, except a few concerts here and there with appearances at DesertFest and Hellfest among others. And then there was a surprise announcement in august 2018 (teased a few years ago but that doesn’t really count) and some new concert dates to celebrate. So the first question, you’ve probably heard a lot by now, but I have to ask it: 20 freaking years? I’ve actually read in the booklet that comes with Refractions that it was actually this tour in 2014 where you did several festivals that made you realize that you had devoted fans and that these people kind of deserved another album?
Peder Bergstrand: We realized that just coming back in when we did the first gigs coming back in 2013 at DesertFest Berlin and London and we were genuinely not expecting it because I was getting emails and like Facebook started to become a thing in 2007-8, so I got the random sort of “I really like your band”, it has meant a lot, like you know, you got that every other month or something and that was super nice but the fact that Ode to Io had sort of its own life and grown within the scene to become some sort of, I don’t know, a classic, without us doing gigs or promoting it at all, that was really… We weren’t aware.
So when Reece from DesertFest London contacted me and was like: “Hey we really would like you to play again do you think it’s is there any possibility that you could like reform for just one gig?” I was just like “Oh that would be fun” but we were expecting crowd sizes like from back when we were playing in 2000-2001, then we played for between 10 and maybe 150 people at a night. If we had like 150 people that was a really good night…
We had the success of having a split with Nebula who were like some of our idols and then being even released was a recognition, beyond what we thought was possible. But then when we came on stage in DeserFest Berlin, which was actually the first gig of the two, there were like 2 000 people there, and people knew the songs, and we were like “Jesus Christ”. We did not expect it because, I mean, if you do a thing and then you don’t even do anything to promote it for like 13 years you don’t expect people to listen to that thing every day.
It’s just weird but that’s the beauty of the internet and the community that is around stoner rock and doom and everything. There are people, they’re sharing music in a way and everything is very sort of communal so we struck the hearts of people apparently!
We did one good thing or like one and a half, an EP and an album and to be able to come back and then meet this kind of love we would just realize that we can’t not do another album but then again we wanted to do it justice because when people have expectations built up under for 20 years, the only way you can do that is fuck up... There’s no way to do that properly because if you do the album like the old album people are gonna be like “Oh it sounds like the old album” and then if you do something that is radical and new then people are like: “It doesn’t sound like the old album”, but I think we were all in agreement that we needed to do something.
In 2013-14 we were just still amazed that we could play these kinds of gigs, I mean, Niclas you remember Hellfest? It was like someone was pulling a prank on us because we were like “Oh we are playing festivals now, that’s cool. It’s awesome we’re supposed to play France”. And I gotta admit myself I hadn’t really googled Hellfest, I knew it was a festival and we had played other festivals, outdoor festivals before, and they were, you know, 4 000 people at the festival, it was a nice medium-sized, very communal festival, like Up In Smoke or Stoned From The Underground, and so I was expecting that… And we had a daytime slot, at two or something.
Mr. Momo: Yeah, I understand, the Valley (NDA: the stoner scene at Hellfest) must have been a shock!
Peder Bergstrand: Yeah, we were not prepared! Niclas what was your reaction?
Niclas Stalfors: And we were late to the gig as well, we took the wrong way or we had the wrong directions to the festival, so we ended up in the middle of the festival camp, so we drove through all of the tents and so on and just hurried up into the check-in, and “Oh guys, you’re on soon” and we just ran up onto the stage and met this huge crowd and my first reaction was: “Hi guys from the other side of the festival, you’re at the wrong place”, but they came to see and listen to us and it was huge, actually.
Peder Bergstrand: Because we were just going up on stage soundcheck a little bit and there were two people at the front of the thing and we were just like “This is a very big tent!” and you just realize just we’re gonna play to these people and okay we’re fine with that but it’s gonna be awkward… And then we go off stage and then it’s like five minutes, we just talked, we just stood there and talk to our friends and Dozer who had the slot after us I think, and we go up on stage, and there’s like eight or ten thousand people, what the fuck!
Then what’s beautiful about this band is that we know each other so well and we have been through so many situations of playing for half a person and we’ve come to where we don’t expect anything from this, we just like to play and hang out. So when you’re in that situation where people are stage diving and crowd surfing… And there’s no pressure, I was just on a high! And that’s why we’ve kept on doing Lowrider, because the four of us like each other so much it’s just like we would do it anyways I think, even though there’s a lot of practical stuff telling us not to have a band, because we live in four different cities…
Mr. Momo: I understand that’s not easy and that’s actually maybe one explanation as to why it took you nearly seven years to record? You announced it in August 2018, that the new album would really come out, and actually, I’m also interested in the composition process for Refractions, because some songs were already drafted at the time Ode to Io was released. For example, there’s an acoustic version of Sun Devil, there’s the first version of Old Mule’ Pepe that’s on the extended deluxe edition, but you have been adding songs as time went by, for example, there’s a version of Red River at Hellfest?
Peder Bergstrand: Right. The thought of Refractions isn’t that it would be our comeback album. The thought was we’re just doing this experimental EP before we do the album because we have a lot of songs waiting that we are currently recording for the album, but then we realized when we started recording Refractions that this thing was becoming pretty long, it’s 43 minutes something, so we realized “Oh this is the album. This is the comeback album, we better make this really good”. But we were always thinking of it as the little thing we’re going to do before the all-new songs.
Then we figured: what are the songs that we want to get out there? The whole idea with Refractions, the name refractions is light going through a prism, and then it comes out the other side, and this was either old demos that we never finished or it was old ideas that we had and we just wanted to do them justice, or we had like old songs that we played a lot live but we never really felt we did them justice on record. Old Mule Pepe for example was on on the old Nebula split but just on a vinyl version of it, and the studio version is cool but it’s tuned in E or D, and we barely knew this song when we recorded it, and then it has become this live favorite that we always play, and it’s one of the songs that we know by heart, and we know how it sounds when we play it live, and we realized we can’t just have that not be recorded the way we know it’s supposed to be! Because the old version is, I don’t know, it’s got its charm but it’s definitely something else and it’s not as heavy…
That was the mindset we went in with: this EP is going to be a collection of old and new and unfinished ideas, which it is! But also that’s why we sort of had the Sun Devil acoustic demo, that was an idea Ole had in the studio when we were recording Ode to Io and we always thought it was a really cool riff, but that record was recorded so fast that we never had the time to flesh it out in the studio, and we always were like “Oh we have to do something with it someday” and it took us forever but still, the idea of doing Refractions was finishing stuff that needed to be done and finished. Pipe Rider for example is a friend’s old demo cassette that he had in 95 or something, just this melody in a synth track that just stuck in my head, and then we built the song from there. I mean they don’t sound very much alike but that was ‘refracted’ through Lowrider, so we’re the prism. That’s why we needed to take our time with stuff.
Red River was actually recorded as a demo. Niclas, I think it was you, me, and Andreas that recorded a demo back in 2003 when we thought “Now we’re making the second album” and then we just never got around to finishing it, because life, but we had Red River pretty much done, at least arranged back in 2003, it’s insane that it then took like 17 years to finish it!
We’ve been playing that one live as well since forever
Mr. Momo: So wasn’t it weird to re-work on things that you haven’t and touch for, as you said, 15 or more years?
Peder Bergstrand: I don’t know, how do you feel Niclas about the old dusty shit?
Niclas Stalfors: All of the songs, or some of the songs have been with us for so long, so it’s always been like Peder is saying, we needed to do something more… Looking into this recording process, it’s been quite weird actually, the whole process, since we are living in different cities and we only have the small amount of time to meet up and do the different tracks and recordings. But from my point of view, we’ve been meeting up in Stockholm or in Karlskoga where Andreas lives to do some short takes, or some short recordings, and then finally when we heard it all together it was even more huge than walking up on stage in Hellfest.
From my point of view, it was mind-blowing, how Peder and Daniel who did the mixing, kept it all together, so it was kind of a hard process, well not hard but it was a weird process, not being there every single minute. Because when we did Ode to Io we lived together in the studio, made the songs, did the recordings, mixed it and mastered it all by ourselves. But this time it was more like a project and we jumped in here and there, but the final product, so to say, ended up quite good from my point of view, but it was a strange process this time.
Peder Bergstrand: I think we did a corona record before corona, in many ways. We were laughing about how this record came about, and then I realized “Now that’s how everyone makes music”. Oddly enough we haven’t really recorded a lot since Refractions but we started doing demos and stuff like that, but then again we are not like the fastest of bands. (all laughing) That’s the understatement of the day!
Niclas knows this, we have like demoed versions of 10 or 15 songs but we put a pretty high bar for ourselves, we want it to be good enough to be as good as Ode to Io or now we need to top Refractions, and we feel we have like a legacy not to fuck up. Again. Now, we found new fans with Refractions and there’s no point in doing another record after a year that is a lukewarm version of it. Now it has to be sonically as huge and fat and as filled with ideas and cool riffs and just little sprinkles of stuff, we can just as well wait 2-3 more years and finish it, make it good.
I mean we had the idea of releasing Refractions in 2016, because the songs were done but then we just worked on the production of everything and added little things and little things. And then Daniel on top of that added his magic wand, what he got was pretty production-ready, but what we got back was like, he turned that drum kit, it was like he inflated it to be the size of coliseum! I have no idea how he does what he does but he makes everything sound as loud as it can, without overpowering anything else. I’m generally a fan of our record just because of his mixing, I can just listen to it and say “This is the best fucking drum sound I’ve heard in my life”.
Mr. Momo: The mixing is pretty impressive indeed and actually I’ve written in my review that one day I would like to ask you how the sound is so amazingly low, you know, down on the bass, etc… so now’s the time: how on earth did you manage to get this sound? And now you say it’s the mix that did everything…
Peder Bergstrand: Yes and no. Well we’re not 20 this time around and we didn’t record the thing in two weeks, so of course, when you have the luxury of not working under pressure you can listen back to what you record and then take time off from it, listen back and think: “What’s missing from this?”, not just songwriting wise or melody wise, but dynamics, and also just sonics. When we started the band both Niclas and Andreas were working or studying to become sound engineers; so they were already in the mindset of thinking about sonics and shelving of different frequencies and stuff… I was just like “Make it loud”, I was 17 years old and just wanted to sound like this record or that record but I didn’t know what made that record sound the way it did. I learned that in the past 10 years, especially since doing my other band I Are Droid, in the middle of things I realized what production and mixing were, just the art of that, and understood that to get to the bass-heavy sound we want, for the next record, I have to rethink things, how I write the songs.
Because back on Ode to Io we would think using a synthesizer would be cheating, like “no you don’t use synthesizer that’s for morons”. But on Refractions, there’s a lot like adding the extra sub octaves or like low frequencies or sometimes like a Moog synthesizer or that the bass is doubled or that you have a guitar doubled and pitched down, so it’s not just like you hear it, you also feel it, there’s just some sounds are of frequencies rather than sort of stuff you hear… And then, of course, Daniel, his work, his genius, making it not sound like a big mush of bass, he actually makes sense out of it, and when you listen back to it it’s just not all bass, which is a problem when you work with something as bass-heavy as us.
I would say that working with music production for the past 10-15 years has informed us all in how to sonically better make a record, and then Andreas also had a lot more room to play around with recording and mixing, pre-mixing the drums because he’s not just an amazing drummer, he is really good at mixing drums and producing drums, so we got finished drum tracks from him, and Daniel was like “These are the best drum tracks I’ve gotten in my life! This it’s a joy to work with this.”, both because they’re well recorded but also that Andreas knows he hits very hard when he plays live but in the studio he plays pretty softly, because that’s just when you want to then beef it up and add a lot of compression to it and make it sound huge, playing hard actually just makes it sound shittier. He has all that mindset and just having all this talent in the band, like Andreas with his sound engineering background, and Niclas as well, it really helps to make more informed decisions and not just try stuff, and then it’s impossible to mix. I guess we’re gear-heads, all of us, and it’s starting to show.
Mr. Momo: Niclas do you want to add to that?
Niclas Stalfors: I think Peder pretty much nails it, and I think what makes Refractions stand out, compared to some other tunes that you hear today, is that each sound no matter what, or each frequency has its own place in the recording or in the mix and I think it can be pretty tiresome to listen to desert or stoner rock, or heavy metal or whatever you want to call it, for a long period of time but then there are some records where, as I think Refractions shows, where there is no competition between the different frequencies, different sounds, different instruments, because it’s all mixed and blend together but not in competition with each other.
Peder Bergstrand: We tried a lot to just find a lot of dynamics, I mean I love Ode to Io, I’m really proud of it, but I think it sounds exactly like a couple of 20 years old that just want to play loud, all the time. There’s an intro, it’s just head on, and then all the pedals are on and everyone’s playing at maximum volume for the entire track, there might be a little mellow thing, but what we realized for Refractions is that, for that wall of sound to feel like a wall of sound you need it to be really mellow for a while. It’s like, you don’t get surprised by thunder if there’s a thunderstorm.
Mr. Momo: That’s applied in the book, in Pipe Rider for example where you have a very low cut in the middle of the song, and then when the riff comes back it hits like a truck, every time.
Peder Bergstrand: Yeah, I think that’s one of the moments I’m proudest of on that record, mainly because I stumbled on it by accident. This is exactly the benefit of recording demos, and have time to listen back to them and just not think about how many bars it is, just hear it, like you would listen to a record not by yourself. I did an early demo of it, I just had the verse and the chorus and then I knew we’re gonna have some type of jam here, so I just added, I don’t know, 16 bars of drums and this mellotron bass looped. Then I was listening to it in the car saying “Oh this is starting to sound cool” and then the drum track I already recorded ended but there were 30 bars more of just that mellotron going. I just kept it going, I almost forgot I had it on, it was just like getting into a meditative state, I was just thinking “This is so nice” and it just hit me: I had like put the same drums later in the file, just to have a different take, “I’ll just put that over here for later”. And you forget that’s on, I had bounced the whole track with that drum section coming back and I forgot about it, so I was just listening to this and then out of nowhere everything comes back and I realized: “That’s exactly what we’re gonna do”. We just keep that for so long that you’re just getting into this mellow state and then everything needs to come back. That happened by accident, really, and we built on it.
But nice accident yeah, and I think Pipe Rider would have been maybe six minutes long if we had released the album a couple of years earlier, because that sort of thing just grows slowly, time made us discover stuff like that. We could have recorded Red River back in 2013 and released that version. It isn’t bad, it’s just very far from how good the final thing is, because it sounds like we have been playing it live for years and years, and it’s now our song and we just do it like we always do it. There’s so much especially in Andreas’s drum track, there’s so much nuance and little things that he built into every drum fill that only comes from playing it a lot of times and owning it. So we could have released it earlier but I don’t think it would have been as good.
Pipe Rider, last and longest song on Refractions
Mr. Momo: Just out of curiosity how did you end up in the PostWax selection by Blues Funeral Records?
Peder Bergstrand: Well we already knew we were recording an album, and then a very long story short, Jadd (NDA: Shickler) who signed us back in the day for Meteor City Records, was the first one who gave us a shot when we sent in our first ever demo, when we weren’t really a band… I was playing drums and Niclas and Ole were…I don’t know who was playing bass, maybe that was me as well… So we just had a free studio day when you were in that studio because you were studying there? (NDA: To Niclas) We got a free studio weekend so we’re like “Oh let’s just record something!”. I think we have been like a band for a month or something, and that demo that we recorded and sent… We knew that this compilation with people from Kyuss was going to be made so we just sent it in for fun, on cassette tape, and that exact demo was the one that came on to that compilation, and since it was very well received they asked us to do a split with Nebula. We were like “Okay… we can do that… goddamn we need to record it!” That’s when Niclas said, “I think we need another drummer.”
Niclas Stalfors: (laughs)…And some songs!
Peder Bergstrand: Then you asked Andreas who was in your class if he wanted, and I mean we didn’t really know each other, any of us, but that’s how we formed the band really, we just knew we had to make an EP with a really cool band. That’s our relationship with Jadd, it goes back all the way to the beginning. He had been out of the music business for a while after selling Meteor City Records to another guy and he just wanted to get back into doing records again. So when he heard that we were planning to do a new record, he knew that we put out the re-release of Ode to Io ourselves, and he knew that we maybe didn’t want to do the label thing because it was a lot of work, so he told us he had this idea for doing a small record label where you get to keep all the rights, you don’t have to like sign away your record again or anything like that but you don’t also have to ship records to people from your basement, and also he had this dream of doing a vinyl subscription for people, curated stoner rock and doom and psych-rock that people got sent home. And he asked me if I wanted to do the graphic design for it because he knew I was doing stuff like that. He wanted to pick the music and then he wanted special packaging for it so that’s really where we started out talking about doing this PostWax thing and we decided to have the record to be the first on PostWax, to be the first ones to sign to it. That also gave us a deadline, which was good because we knew we needed to finish this thing. It’s really all the same people from back in 98 working together, but this time in a different manner.
Mr. Momo: OK so let’s talk a bit more about Refractions. It was out in February 2020 for the general public and it was very well received by critics and the public, it ended up number 1 album for 2020 in numerous tops – Doom Charts but also the Obelisk, of course, More Fuzz… All of that despite some serious competition, so did it come as a surprise to you and have you come with us with any explanation for it?
Peder Bergstrand: Niclas how do you feel about people loving our record?
Niclas Stalfors: Well… Actually, let’s agree: it was kind of a surprise that the reception was so good… We said during the whole process: “Let’s do a record for ourselves, we really don’t care how it will be received as long as we like it ourselves.” That was the main goal, to have a record that we really could listen to. I listen to it every day, I should admit… But that we could feel that this is the record that we are really proud of, and then if the crowd or the fans or the public will like it, buy it, love it… That’s a bonus, and it seems to be pretty well received. It’s amazing…
Peder Bergstrand: I would say we had some sort of, not a writer’s block, but writer’s anxiety, the difficult second album anxiety. Ever since we reformed we had some stuff to live up to and really it was when we stopped trying to do Ode to Io 2 that it started to sound good. Like Niclas is saying, it’s when we stopped doing a record trying to please other people when we gravitated towards the demos, I’ve been listening to this demos now for 50 times then you realize “I don’t know if it sounds like Lowrider” and then you realize maybe that’s exactly the song you should do… If that’s how I feel about it, I think there’s a bigger chance that people also like it. A track like Pipe Rider and Ode to Ganymede, I was really afraid of putting those out as Lowrider, to begin with, because I’ve felt like they were too different from Ode to Io… and I thought everyone wanted more Ode to Io.
Mr. Momo: But it’s been 20 years, people have forgotten a bit…
Peder Bergstrand: Yeah but we were in our bubble, we were only meeting the fans that knew about Ode to Io and we didn’t realize… The people who have responded to Refractions, 70% of them are people that don’t know we put it on another record before that, so it was like a debut record in a lot of ways. You know, you’re so in your own bubble, so it was really when we just started to make a record that we wanted to listen to, like Niclas said: getting praise for it or having other people listen to it as just a bonus, and also since we were so happy with it, if someone didn’t like it, it was easier to shrug it off like “Okay cool then it’s just not for you then.” Because there’s a lot of music out there that other people love that I don’t like at all, sure it’s not for me then, and of course the record we do won’t be for everyone so we told ourselves “Let’s just do it the way we like it”, and maybe that resonated somehow through the record, it feels relaxed in a way, or it just feels spontaneous, because there’s a lot of spontaneity on it. I love that there are a lot of first takes, and a lot of small stuff that wasn’t supposed to be but then were perfect.
Of course then, to have that it be received the way it was on release was… I sat in my living room crying reading what people wrote about it. There were 20 years of buildup and pressure, and then people liked it, and then to add to it 10 months later in this day and age where people forget about stuff after two weeks, people still at the end of the year put it on their top of the year list, we were getting spoiled, every day was another top list, I was sending it to Niclas saying “This is fucking insane!”. I was pinching my arm, and you also realize this is not something that happens a lot, so just cherish it while it happens. It was a little funny that came around Christmas so it felt like we were getting Christmas presents with these reviews. Again, we never expected anything from playing in this band or putting up music. When we came back to that first notion of recording music just for ourselves when no one knew about us… That’s what Refractions is. In a lot of ways listening to it, I actually think some of the songs feel as inspired as the first EP with Nebula, because there the songs are all over the place. They feel like the same band but they’re recorded in different sessions, and they’re very different but cool, and I remember some people said when Ode to Io came they felt like this sounded like too homogeneous, or like it’s all too much of the same thing, the EP was better, just because they thought it was so diverse and all over the place, and we were two guys singing. It has a lot of different flavors, and in a way, I like Ode to Io for what it is but it’s very much a punk record, we have the same guitar sound on the whole record because it’s recorded during the same five-six days! I love that Refractions is so diverse and it’s just more like a journey.
Mr. Momo: So have you tried to figure out why Refractions just seem to resonate with people?
Peder Bergstrandt: It’s really hard to pick people’s brains about that, but I’ve asked some people and some people just said that it doesn’t really sound like stoner rock, it’s more like it’s just a rock record. JJ from the Obelisk said that: “You’re not a stoner rock band anymore, you’re just a rock band, you have legit songs”. And I feel like for the first time we had lyrics that actually felt like they were honest and meant something, maybe that resonated as well. I don’t know, we just tried to make an honest record that felt like us.
Mr. Momo: Just a rock band but a bit tuned down…
Peder Bergstrand: Maybe he meant we didn’t have like the stoner rock tropes. That’s also a thing that we were a little bit weird about, maybe not you, Niclas. Like the vocals, I dialed it back because I was singing a lot harder back in the day and now it just became more melodic. Is this stoner rock anymore? Because it doesn’t sound like the bands that we listen to vocally, but then again that’s the way I sing… That’s also a thing we just said fuck, this is the way I sound when I sing so I’ll just sing like this. I don’t have to sound like Chris Cornell or John Garcia or whatever. I don’t have that kind of vocals, but then again that’s maybe where we found more of an honest identity for what we are.
Mr. Momo: Anyway stoner rock is now very wide… If you take everything that you can put stoner in front of, between EyeHateGod and King Buffalo there’s not a lot in common.
Peder Bergstrand: Yeah it’s become very diverse. Now it’s just a lot of different styles but well, we just wanted to… I don’t know how to really answer from other people’s perspective but we did a record that felt honest, and that was finished, maybe that’s also a thing, that we actually took the time to polish it, and polish it, and perfect it until the songs felt like they were written and done. Because that’s also a thing, people don’t have that luxury of spending seven years making a record these days, that’s just insane. And we won’t spend seven years making the next record of course! We’re not going to say how and when or how much but we are planning to release something, if not this year then early next year, and then more after that.
Now it’s just that the pandemic has hit Sweden kind of hard the last six months, and a lot of other life stuff just made it impossible to record because like Niclas said, we have a studio here in Stockholm that we could use for free, that’s where we recorded most of Refractions, and just the fact that now we can’t even have a weekend where Niclas or Ole comes and we can record. We can’t even be in the same room! God damn it, it’s just so much… Things are just trying to make us not record music! There are a lot of things pulling us the other way, but we haven’t stopped writing, and we haven’t stopped talking, and we have ideas of how we can record otherwise as well. But a lot of why Refractions worked really well was because both Niclas and Ole could just go in and record and not think about sitting at home recording themselves, sending stuff… I was recording them when they were doing their guitar tracks for Refractions, I was sitting there minding the whole recording process just so they don’t have to. It’s really hard being your own studio technician at the same time as you record. It can be sort of limiting. You don’t hear when you’re doing something good, and you may record over it because you think “That wasn’t anything good”. There were a lot of times when Niclas and Ole were playing and I was like “Now that was perfect” and Ole was like “What? that thing?” “Yeah, that was amazing, that solo was great, let’s just move on”. Actually, with him, he is so much a fountain of inspiration but I don’t think he really controls it himself, it’s just a stream of consciousness on his guitar, so recording solos with him was actually, it was just easier to put him on a long loop and have him record, just play on top of the thing, and then I would sort it out afterward and edit, like here’s a good part and here’s a good part. And to think that you, Niclas, or Ole would sit at home with logic or pro tools and record themselves, the spur of the moment creativity comes out of actually just playing, and us being robbed of the studio where we can meet up has not helped in making new songs, but new stuff is coming.
Mr. Momo: Well we’re looking forward to it. I won’t ask too many questions even if I want to… So you planned the tour for Refractions and of course for reasons known to all that could not happen. I was very excited to see you at DersertFest, I must admit. It was hard!
Peder Bergstrand: We were so psyched for DesertFest…Both me and Niclas, well all of us, since that was our comeback gigs, we’ve done it twice since, and it always feels like coming home in a way. To play those venues and those cities, just because we only have fond memories of playing DesertFest and the vibe is always so great, the people, the community, and the crowd, and the people that organize it, they’re also awesome. It doesn’t really feel like going playing a gig, I’ve never played in a sports team but it feels almost like you’re playing your home arena, that’s what it feels like playing at this fest in Berlin, in London, there’s no better place to go debut Refractions live.
Mr. Momo: You played Antwerp in 2017 too right?
Peder Bergstrand: Yeah that was a really good gig. I hadn’t heard them before but All Them Witches were playing the same stage before us and I was just standing there like “Oh I’ll check that band now, that’s a cool band name” and after a couple of songs I was telling myself “God damn we can’t follow that!” They were just amazing! Then I realized the only thing we could do is just go up and play… We’ll be us. We can’t be All Them Witches. But we had a really good set.
Mr. Momo: It was good! I have fond memories.
Peder Bergstrand: Yeah but you just have this “God damn it they’re good” moment, and they were good, and then they were exploding, after that really, and now they are as huge as they should be, I think. But it was very humbling, seeing a really good band play before you. It both makes you up your game and also relax in a way, they’ve already blown us off stage, all we could do us, do our thing, and have a good time.
Mr. Momo: What I wanted to ask, and I guess I already know the answer but I want to ask anyway: how did you cope with the fact of not being able to showcase your album?
Peder Bergstrand: Niclas?
Niclas Stalfors: I think I haven’t coped with it yet. It’s really, really a huge bummer. Okay, we didn’t have that many gigs planned but we really looked forward to them. It’s a great bummer actually. I do miss playing live so much, I really can’t wait for us to get out there again.
Peder Bergstrand: I realized how much I took it for granted. Even if we don’t do that many gigs, we’re doing one, two, three, festival gigs each year. Even on a year where we don’t do gigs we still do gigs… We get to see each other, we get to play one or two or three times during the summer. I felt like it was gonna be okay, it was gonna be over soon, and now it’s been more than a year since we played live. We played one gig in Stockholm as a release party for PostWax together with Besvärjelsen and DomKraft, and that was amazing. That was supposed to be a warm-up for DesertFest, just to know that we still had it, and if we were supposed to fuck up, we could fuck up on that gig. We had so much fun and the new songs were released, they were coming out so good live! We played Ode to Ganymede, it was just so great! When we were playing there I couldn’t wait for DesertFest, and then two weeks later we went into lockdown.
And now it feels almost like another life, that we were doing shows. It’s really weird, it’s like a part of your identity that you had… I’m that guy that does shows and now I’m not that guy, because it’s been so long… Maybe this is what it feels like when you used to be Wayne Gretzky and now you’re just that dude that used to play hockey. That’s a little bit like what it feels like. Sure we could go up and do a gig, but we’d have to rehearse, a lot! It feels like a lifetime ago but we can’t wait to play, really, it’s going to be awesome. But I don’t know when that’s going to be.
It feels like it’s going to be next summer, maybe? If we’re looking at it like grown-ups, when are people gonna have the vaccine in their arms, all of us? They say maybe this fall this winter. Then we’re not having gigs until March, or May next year… So yeah, that’s why we’re recording new music. I saw King Buffalo made a good use of the quarantine, they’re putting out three records this year! Bravo!
Mr. Momo: Well now is free speech time, so if you have anything you want to add?
Peder Bergstrand: Is it like this thing in school when you could just go out and perform? Do you have a flute Niclas? Do you have a good joke? It’s good to see you Niclas. God damn it, I miss these guys.
(NDA: Talking about Mr. Momo’s part in the Red River clip)
There is also something I want to say about the kind of fans we have. It’s just wonderful to be able to ask people to do silly shit and they’re up for doing silly shit. When we record our music and write it, we take it very seriously, but everything else is very unserious with this band. We’re never going to be like the doom and gloom guys, and that video and the fans we seem to have… It’s just a joy to be able to be part of a community where people are so goddamn nice and cool and funny. We really feel like we’re fans of our fans. I’m just grateful to be the guy that gets to play music.
Mr. Momo: Just as a reminder if there’s anyone who checks this video and doesn’t know what we’re talking about, we’re talking about the fan-made videos that you asked people to send you bits for, for Red River.
Peder Bergstrand: We actually shot a whole regular music video for Red River as a backup if no one was going to send us stuff but then people sent us tons of really cool shit, and we just realized it’s a lot more fun to have a video with everyone participating in it than having us play rock in front of a camera. We’ve seen that before… The fan-made video for Red River sort of encapsulated a lot of what was cool about 2020 and being stuck at home. It’s a lot of people rocking out with their vacuum cleaners and stuff like that…
Lowrider’s Red River collaborative video
Mr. Momo: Well Peder, Niclas, I think we’ve been a bit over time but that’s fine, maybe nobody will watch until the end then. It’s been a pleasure to have you, thank you very much for accepting our invitation and we look forward to hearing more from you and to see you on stage as soon as possible.