“All we need are two bikes, one laptop, three microphones and our keen sense of whimsical instrumentation,” says Erik Sunbring and Jacob Lind of Marching Band, a Swedish indie-pop duo. Their debut album Spark Large dropped last week and PopWreckoning Editor-in-Chief Jessica got the chance to chat with the pair.
Jessica, PopWreckoning: I understand that you both met at university several years ago, but what sparked the formation of Marching Band?
Marching Band: During the first weeks of university, we met at something similar to a “freshman’s-party.” A mutual friend presented us to each other and from what we remember we started talking about forming a band already at that point. We had similar background and name-dropped some bands that we both liked.
The first time we met we were sitting with our guitars in Jacob’s room showing each other ideas for songs. And since then we’ve been making music together, four albums in four years (while still studying).
PW: You’ve got great pop sensibilities, so I’ve got to ask, who are you musical influences? Any non-musical influences?
MB: Our influences are pretty diverse but mostly come from pop music from the 60’s and onward. Crosby Stills and Nash is a favorite of Erik’s and Genesis for Jacob. You could say that we listen to melodic music with interesting arrangements and song structures, qualities we try to recreate in our own music.
Our music is pretty happy but it’s not like we are overtly easy going people. Growing up, I listened to more dark music though in my 20s I haven’t felt the same need for music with those sentiments. Writing songs that make you happy seems like a more constructive way of dealing with angsty feelings. Still, I hope the melancholy side of our music shines through and reflects what we are like.
PW: Your debut album Spark Large — which is just wonderful! — dropped last week. What was the process for creating the album?
MB: Glad you like it! We’ve been gathering these songs for years really. One song (“Travel In Time”) was on our second self-released record, two other (“Letters” and “Feel Good About It”) were on the third, so those songs have been with us for a long while now — but we’re still not tired of them.
Some have been with us for a couple of years, but last summer we took time off to write new stuff and work on older ideas, so during that time the material for the album took shape. We ended up sending almost 30 ideas to [producer] Adam [Lasus] before we went into the studio. Then in January we had some 15 songs we knew we wanted to do and started tracking. Then we spent almost 2.5 months in Adam’s pool house putting it all together.
PW: What have you learned from the making of Spark Large that you’ll apply towards the creation of future albums?
MB: Recording in a real studio and with a producer we learned a lot about sounds and the level of perfection in the playing that is needed to make a multi-layered recording work.
Listening repeatedly and intensely to the songs had made us more aware of what the songs really need. It’s hard to say at this point what direction we will go for our next album. Right now we are eagerly awaiting the public and the critics’ response to the songs. It will be interesting and rewarding to see what makes the audience excited, because right now we tend to only see the flaws of the album.
PW: How did you get involved with Adam as a producer for the album and with U&L to release the record?
MB: We met Jonathan from U&L when we were on tour in South Africa in Feb ’06, supporting my friend Cheri’s band Harris Tweed. He was playing drums with the headlining band of a festival while we were playing at 4 pm with no other audience than the mountains of Stellenbosh and him really. But he loved our performance and contacted us afterwards wanting to sign us to their new publishing company in the U.S.
Then they also signed us to their record label and connected us with Adam, and we thought it sounded like a great idea to do a record with them…
PW: A couple of your tracks have been in films and television — how were you approached for these projects?
MB: We have a publishing company, U&L Publishing, pitching our music for different projects. It seems like our music fits for certain scenes.
PW: What are your thoughts on so many indie acts appearing on the screen today when less than a decade ago it was considered “selling out?”
MB: I don’t think it’s a problem as long as you don’t have to change the sound of your music. I think that was the main problem when indie bands in the late 80’s and early 90’s went major.
Since record sales are in decline I think it’s an OK way for a small to mid-size band to be able to make more of a living from their music. It’s also a good way expose your music to new people. Commercials is more problematic: a song can get really associated with a product and images that you wouldn’t have preferred. But if it means that a band can focus more on their writing and recording for some time I think its justifiable.
This indie trend among movie creators may soon blow over so bands like ours should take benefit from it while we can. 🙂
PW: Do you have plans to tour the new album? If you could put together a dream line-up to tour with, who would you want on the bill? (any artist/band living, dead, whatever — have fun with it 🙂
MB: Our label is working hard on putting together a tour in September to support the album.
A dream tour would maybe be to reunite Fleetwood Mac and have them play the whole Tusk album as an opener, then maybe Elvis could come out from where he’s hiding and do some shakes to warm up the crowd, then us, then finishing it with an unplugged session with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in the street outside the venue, only playing their hits from the first two albums. Or something similar.
PW: Lastly, what have you both been listening to and do you have anything you’d like to recommend?
MB: Jacob has been obsessed with Love Affair‘s “Everlasting Love” recently. Jude Sill is a somewhat forgotten artist with some great songs. The variation of the chorus at the end of Britney Spears‘ “Oops, I did it again” is classic, well worth checking out again!
Erik has finally discovered that Big Star is a great and important band. It’s impossible to filter away all the bands that have been influenced by Big Star but 1972 they must have sounded very fresh. They also have a Glam-Rock element that makes it easy to skip some songs but behind that there is genius.
Also been listening to Richard Thompson‘s work in different constellations and trying to pick up some of his guitar playing skills.
PW: Thanks so much for your time, fellas! Best of luck with the new record. Hope to see you State side this fall!