Swedish trio Simian Ghost have a new album on the way chock full of soul searching lyrics and uplifting pop harmonies. For their third recording, the guys were inspired by the 60’s and its most iconic pop group – The Beach Boys. Front-man Sebastian Arnström talks to Sound Dessert about what to expect on The Veil, why Broadcast is one of Simian Ghost’s favorite bands, and his fascination with humpback whales:
Sound Dessert: Your upcoming third album, The Veil, is scheduled for release later this year. Who’d you work with this go around? How did the creative process differ from your previous recordings?
Simian Ghost: We did and still do everything ourselves. We get together in the basement where we rehearse and just play around with ideas. There’s never a definitive direction when we make a record, but over time some kind of unified whole usually presents itself to us. We just do stuff, it’s very intuitive. If you manage to move in a lot of directions musically, but still kind of keep it all together within the confines of an album, that’s more interesting to us than making a couple of songs which sounds more or less the same.
SD: Your new single “A Million Shinning Colors” reminds me a bit of The Beach Boys (full disclosure: I saw the in concert recently). I’m sensing some 60’s elements in the bridge and the harmonies…
SG: Yes! We use some weird and jazzy chord progressions in that one and in a lot of our new material. It has a definite 60s vibe to it. It’s something we’re very aware of and if you listen to the new record it’s there, but it’s not a 60s nostalgia record in any way. We just wanted to up our game a bit in our writing.
SD: “A Million Shinning Colors” expresses certain frustrations and opens with the repeat line, “I have wasted all of my time.” What activities make you feel like you’re NOT wasting time?
SG: Well, this may sound contradictory, but making music is probably the activity that feels the most meaningful to me. It’s more a waste of time in the sense of me not being a very successful person, fame and money wise and so on.
SD: What’s Sandviken like?
SG: It’s a small town, only 25 thousand people or so here. Most of them are idiots, some of them are nice. Like most cities I guess. It’s pretty close to nature, which I like. From where I live I can walk for about 5 minutes and be in the forest. It’s not like I go into the forest every day, I mostly sit at home watching Buffy these days. But it’s nice to know you can.
SD: Sweden’s known for its biking culture, do you travel by bike?
SG: I’ve had lots of bikes, but they’ve all got stolen really fast. Sandviken is like the bike stealing capital of Sweden. I like biking though, it’s an environmental friendly way of getting around. Mostly I walk.
SD: “Echoes of Songs” is dedicated to Broadcast’s Trish Keenan. How does their music resonate with you most? Which song is a particular favorite?
SG: Broadcast was one of our absolute favorite bands. What resonates in me I think is that beautiful mix of gentle harmonies and chord progressions, perfectly blending with more noisy and skewed elements. I really love when bands pull that off. Sonic Youth is another example. The song that got me hooked was “I Found The F.” My ex-girlfriend played it for me on our first or second date, and I fell instantly in love with both her and the band. It’s a beautiful memory.
SD: Sebastian, I heard when you were young you wanted to be a marine biologist. What’s your favorite deep-sea creature?
SG: Haha, deep sea creatures scare me generally. Nowadays I’m terrified of really deep waters, it’s something that worsens with age somehow. But if I was to choose one sea living creature I’d say humpback whale. They’re fascinating.
SD: You cover David Bowie’s “Be My Wife” and really make it your own. Why did you choose this particular track to cover?
SG: We were asked to do it by Mojo. They were making a tribute album but it never got released. We liked the sound of our cover so we decided to put it out there on our own. David Bowie is an interesting guy.
SD: I read in another interview that you enjoy listening to R&B, like Beyoncé, from time to time. Have you listened to her new album?
SG: Actually I haven’t. I’m in a guitars and noise period right now and I just haven’t got around to it. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.