This interview was made by MewX.info on October 13th 2006. The interview consists mostly of questions sent by the Finnish fans while MewX was in Finnish language only and therefore some of the questions are about Finland. All answers by Jonas Bjerre unless otherwise stated. All copying and/or publishing of this interview without permission is strictly forbidden.
ABOUT THE MUSIC
Hey, Mew! How would you describe Mew to someone who has never heard of the band? (Sofia Niemelä, Seinäjoki)
-Like growing up in a mansion and never looking to see what’s in the far east room on the second floor. Letting your thoughts and imagination shape the room, rather than actually seeing it.
Are you all “self-taught” players? How much work does it take or is it up to a person? (Tomi Hopponen, Kausala)
-Yes, we are all self-taught or – to use a more fancy word – autodidact players. It never seemed like work to us, it’s a privilege to be able to make a living playing music. The zen-approach works well, you know, being in the music. If you start thinking about what the next chord is, it usually gets harder to find it.
You are becoming more and more successful internationally and the interest (in Mew) is increasing rapidly. Has this affected the style of your music and have you been “forced to” compromise on something if the original idea has been considered too weird or no-one has believed in its commercial success? (Johanna Läärä, Jyväskylä)
-On the Frengers album we were obliged to record a few songs that we did not originally want to record. Some of the poppier stuff, which we all enjoy and like but which we seem to grow tired of much sooner than the rest of our music. Songs like King Christian and Mica. Luckily when the album was done everybody agreed to not put them on the album and give room for more of the songs we truly love. Other than that I don’t think there have been any compromises. And really, the songs are our songs and there is lots of love in our hearts for those songs as well.
The bands that have influenced your music are quite old now and you may also agree that the common modern pop music is quite boring. What do you think of the new music today that you represent as well? Are there some good new bands out there that you really like? (Janne Hovi, Espoo)
-There are good bands out there. Although it’s true we started out from being inspired by bands that are now old (I guess that makes us old too?) that is not to say those bands would have a similar impact today. They belonged to the time in which they inspired us, and since then we’ve listened to new music as well as music that’s a whole lot older. Currently we dig contemporary bands like Mt.Eerie, Why?, Animal Collective… there are also older artists that still put out music that we still like, Steve Reich for instance. It happens only ever so often that an album comes out that is timeless, that you can put on 20 years later and still be amazed by how brilliant it is. The goal will obviously always be to create such albums.
Do you know how the Danish fans are taking the success in Finland and in other countries (except the homeland)? Thank you. (Elli Helenius, Helsinki)
-I think many of them are proud that a Danish band is making an impact abroad. There are a few indie purists that don’t take it so well, it’s a mentality that I understand (how you can only like a band if less than a hundred people know about them-kinda thing) but which I think you ultimately have to put aside and focus on the music at hand. It’s an inevitable frame of mind to have for a few years but you have to grow out of it to expand your horizon.
Have you ever done or considered doing a cover song? What would be the kind of song you might want to make a cover version of? (although, no cover song would beat any of your own composings). (Sanna Meriläinen, Kuopio)
-Johan and I (Jonas) played “Across the Universe” at a John Lennon tribute for Amnesty International a few years back. Think that’s the only time. Although we like to say we don’t have rules or dogma as such, one of them is probably not doing cover songs.
ABOUT THE GIGS
Where do you get all the ideas to your backdrops? (Laura Keskinen, Seinäjoki)
-From dreams and from the pictures that form in my head when I listen to our songs.
Will you play An Envoy To The Open Fields more often and will you finish the backdrops to it? (Mikkel Eye, Sorø, Denmark)
-Hey! What are you talking about, that backdrop was finished!? When we had recorded Kites, we decided to leave more empty spaces in the backdrops so that the focus between visuals, band and music would be more dynamic. Well… I guess Envoy could have had a bit more but it was the last one I did and I guess I ran out of time… We have been playing it a few times lately. It’s a tricky one because for an audience that never heard us before it’s pretty hard to get your head around. But we’ve played it a bunch of time on this US tour.
How come there are no backdrops for Special and are you ever going to play The Seething Rain Weeps For You live? (Frederik Voss, Roskilde, Denmark)
-We did make visuals for Special but they seemed wrong somehow and when we tried redoing them we ran out of time. It takes forever to make those visuals, much longer than people realize. We’ve played Seething Rain in our practice space a few times but it got a bit messy, somehow it doesn’t work, we would need to play it differently than on the album, which we may do at some point. It’s a peculiar song because the rhythm is actually pretty aggressive but it’s mixed in a way on the album that it sounds more soaring, uplifting. Hard to accomplish that live.
What’s the difference in playing to 200 people compared to 20 000 people? Do you ever get stage fright? And do you have a lot of fans that travel from country to country to see you play? (Joonas Saarela, Turku)
-The difference, of course, is immense. But there are good things about both experiences. With a smaller audience you have a different sense of intimacy, with the bigger audiences you achieve a sense of accomplishment and maybe you get a bit more self-confident? I don’t know. Yes, some of us do get stage fright at times, although less now than in the past. Yep, we’ve got frengers that will travel long distances to see us, which is great!
You have said good words about Finland in the past. What do you think are the best things about Finland and the Finnish people? (Anna Pitkänen, Mikkeli)
-That’s hard to put into words. Feels like Finnish people are a bit more unique, independent from the rest of the Scandinavian mind set, maybe even the rest of the many worlds. They have a wholly own sense of humor for one. I guess there’s a melancholy to your nature that we share with you? Hard to say. We do love Finland, it’s gotten to really feel like a home away from home. And we are big fans of Tove Jansson!
What has been your best experience of the gigs in Finland? (Emma Poutiainen, Espoo)
-For me personally I think it was one particular gig at Tavastia a good while back. I felt a very strong connection with the audience at that show. That form of communication is not something you can consciously make happen, it happens by itself. In general playing Finland has always been a great experience!
Your Finnish gigs sell out in a matter of minutes. Are we weird or just too obsessive? And do you know any Finnish words? (Sami Uski, Turku)
-You are just great Frengers and great supporters of our music! ”Kiitos” for that!
ABOUT THE UPCOMING ALBUM
What were the factors that led to the re-release of A Triumph For Man? (Sara Vuorio, Helsinki)
-We wanted to make the album available to everyone, and for a number of years a re-release was impossible due to legal matters. It didn’t really bother us though, we knew you frengers took matters into your own hands and found ways to share the music. But when more and more copies showed up online which were fakes or even people blatantly demanding 100€+ for a simple CDR copy with a lame color copy-print of the sleeve we started getting a bit mad. And when it was finally possible to re-release we put together some extra material (some of which shows something of our approach at the time) and just went and did it!
Are you releasing a live DVD someday? If so, when? At least I have never heard any rumours about such. (Teppo Koski, Kälviä)
-It’s very possible. We have a great live show filmed and recorded and Bo has edited together a kind of making-of documentary of Kites. I can’t really give any details away about when and how because it’s not completely decided yet.
What kind of material (compared to the previous albums) can we expect from the upcoming album and have you written many songs yet? When do you hope it will be out? (Samuli Vaittinen, Helsinki)
-We are aiming to put something out before the end of 2007 but it’s very very hard to know at this time. It really depends on what happens, how much touring we’ll be able to do, etc. As Bo has stated in the past, some of it’s swinging, dance-y in a Mew-way. I am very excited about the material we’ve written so far! But it’s still very early stages and too early to tell.
Which one was first, Mew or Pokémon? (Anu Lahti, Kuortane)
-I don’t know when Nintendo invented that pesky little pink thingy. I do know that when we came up with the band name it had still not made it’s way from Nippon to the Danish shores…
Hey Mew! What do you think of Moomins? (Anna Pöppönen, Kajaani)
-We love the work of Tove Jansson! Not too fond of the Japanisation of her work though… Snork maiden should not be pink! I like the fact that her work struck such a nerve in Japan though, watching a documentary about her and her travels in Japan made me think we had something in common, because I love Japan very much.
Are you guys still in touch with Johan a lot? Do you currently live in Copenhagen like he does? (Toni Mäenpää, Helsinki)
-Of course! We are still the best of friends. He’s pretty busy though and so are we. And travelling so much it gets hard to see much of each other. But luckily touring comes in waves and in our spare time we will see much more of him.
If you could ask yourself one question, what would you ask? You may also answer the question if you like. (Satu Veinola, Helsinki)
-Hey Jonas, how about I treat you to a nice Italian lunch when this questionaire is done? Why thanks!
You have mentioned in various interviews that the lyrics to the songs often come from the dreams you’ve seen. How the lyrics appear on paper from start to finish? Do you write them directly after a dream or have they changed (dramatically even) later on? Does the melody come first and then the lyrics or vice versa? (Teemu Lehto, Järvenpää)
-Yes, I am very influenced by my dreams. They feed my creativity. However I don’t always translate them directly into lyrics, in fact rarely so. Mostly they just provide me with a certain feeling which inspires me. The melody usually comes first. Very rarely the other way around though it has happened. In some occasions I have simply gone up to the mic and sung whatever came to mind, completely stream-of-consciousness. That doesn’t happen often though.
Have you considered taking a “regular” person (as Becky Jarret) to sing or play in some of your future songs? I have played a flute for six years now and I must admit that days have gone by when I have tried to learn to play your songs. You make incredibly beautiful songs and it would be amazing to get to play in one of them. (Noora Lievonen, Oulu)
-We haven’t thought about it. The collaboration with Becky was such a random thing to happen at first but it ended up being something brilliant in my opinion, something that could lead you to believe in fate. We hardly ever like to use the same “idea” twice though as it usually never turns out as good the second time around. As for Becky though – I’d love to work with her again some day when the time is right. Did you know, I played the flute on Kites, in the song Chinaberry Tree (it’s pretty low in the mix though). We’ll think about it, okay?
What guitar effect equipments and overdrive do you use? (Valtteri Aaltonen, Helsinki)
-the governor, holy grail, hard on etc.. a midi t rex system that controls all the pedals.
You seem to be the most politically active member of Mew. What do you really dislike in this world right now? And what changes (radical even) would you do? (Jani Nikulainen, Turku)
-i think israel- palestine conflict would be a good one to get sorted out. its key to the whole west vs the islamic world situation we have now. well, i dont fucking know, theres just too much to be depressed about to really single out anything. really.
How old were you when you started playing? (Andreas Gunnarsson, Halmstad, Sweden)
-I am old now,and I started young (maybe around 12)
What is the song (of your own) that you like to play the most? (Matti Huusko, Nummela)
–shelter going into swanky. Sometimes.