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February 11, 2011
From Twittering self-evaluations of songs, to transforming photo shoots into rogue music video shoots, to creating self-dubbed “World’s First Indie Pop Karaoke,” Swedish poppers Acid House Kings (Julia Lannerheim, Niklas Angergård, and Johan Angergård) explore the lighter sides of life and love on a wink and catchy chord cluster. Five years since their last release Sing Along With the Acid House Kings; the trio has once again taken to Summersound Studios to create their next pop opus.
Under the Radar joined the amicable bunch on a warm afternoon outside of Labrador Records in Stockholm Sweden to check on the progress on fifth full-length, Music Sounds Better With You, and discuss the secrets of their sun-drenched sounds.
Laura Studarus: Johan and Niklas are brothers, so it’s obvious how they met, but Julia how did you meet them?
Julia Lannerheim: That’s the thing; it’s actually a family thing. Niklas is married to my sister.
Were you singing before you joined Acid House Kings?
Lannerheim: No. They were trying to record a song, and Niklas couldn’t sing it. So I went in, and I recorded it! And it all started there.
And what song was that?
Lannerheim: “This and That.”
Niklas Angergård: Yes.
And which album was that?
Johan: Advantage, in 1997.
So you’ve been at it for a while.
Niklas Angergård: So they say. [Laughs]
And now you’re working on your fifth album. How far along is that?
Niklas: Two weeks ago, we didn’t have anything, except writing the songs I mean. But now, we’ve got quite a bit.
Lannerheim: I would say like 70 or 80% perhaps.
Niklas: Maybe 40.
Lannerheim: [Laughs] Okay.
Johan: Usually when we record it goes really, really slow. This time, I don’t know why, it seems like things are going a bit smoother.
Niklas: A bit faster, if you take out the five years we’ve been waiting before we started.
What was going on during those five years?
Johan: Well I was recording with my other bands, Legends and Club 8. I think that kept me busy. And I think the sort of songs that I was writing then didn’t really fit into Acid House Kings. All the songs that I’ve written for Acid House Kings now are songs that I’ve written in the springtime.
And you do quite a bit of the writing as well.
Niklas: I write one song a year. That’s why it takes five or six years to get an album.
I’m sure it’s a very important song a year, right?
Niklas: Absolutely. Always a very brilliant song.
Do you collaborate as you’re writing?
Johan: Yeah, we do. I know we did it on the last album, Niklas wrote some parts, I wrote some parts of the same songs. But not yet on this one. We produce it together in the studio.
And then you, Julia, come in to sing.
Lannerheim: [Laughs] Yeah! That is how we do it!
Do you get a chance to give your input?
Lannerheim: Johan and Niklas, their songs, the style of their songs are different from each other. But I’d say they’re almost completely done when I step into the picture.
Johan: More or less. In a way they are, but we put on most instruments after you put on the vocals, actually
Lannerheim: Yeah? That’s true, that’s true.
Johan: [Laughs] So you could have a lot of input if you wanted to!
Lannerheim: Yeah! Like the last time we met after we had watched Jens Lekman. I said, "I want to have more tambourines and claps and happy things!" [Laughs] That’s my contribution!
Johan: And then the day after, I went to the studio and put castanets on the song.
Johan: I did!
When I hear a happy bit on the album I’ll be sure to credit that to Julia.
Johan: You like the happier songs the most.
Lannerheim: I do, I do! The thing is, when me and Johan met two days ago, I said, "I think we should have more happy songs!" And then when we listened to all the songs, they were happy—all of them! [Laughs] Some are extremely happy. Those are the ones I like the most.
Johan: There’s a lot of up-tempo songs this time. No slow songs. Not yet at least. I was thinking maybe we need more slow songs, but Julia thought we needed more fast songs.
So how many songs are going to be on the new album?
Niklas: An even number, that’s for sure.
Niklas: So 12 or possibility 10.
Johan: I think 10 is good.
Is there a reason you don’t like odd numbers?
Niklas: Maybe it’s from the vinyl times, that there should be five songs on side A, five songs on side B. Then it’s an even number.
Johan: Even numbers just feel more right, I think. It feels like you’ve forgotten to put a song on the album if it’s eleven songs.
Niklas: What about the last one!
Are there songs you’re working on that you can talk about yet?
Johan: Yeah yeah yeah, most of the songs.
Lannerheim: I have my favorite. Guess which song?
Johan: Oh, we really don’t have a name for that song. But for now it’s called “Underwater” on the recording. But I don’t know if it will be called that later on.
Lannerheim: It’s very catchy.
Johan: It’s the fastest song of them all. Both of us sing on it. For an Acid House Kings song it’s a little bit more noisy than usual, I think. But without being noisy.
Niklas: It’s our Beach Boys song, isn’t it?
Johan: Maybe maybe. I hadn’t thought about The Beach Boys.
Niklas: I think with the chorus. Maybe. They’re simple.
Lannerheim: It’s simple, straightforward.
Johan: It’s very straightforward. Otherwise the new stuff on the album—I’ve been listening quite a lot to French music in the '60s. I like the arrangements they have on those. And then, do you know Swedish dance band music?
Niklas: It’s the most uncool style of all. It’s very melodic, but only super uncool people listen to it.
Being cool is overrated.
Johan: It is, it is!
Lannerheim: I agree.
Niklas: [Laughs] We’ve got a touch of dance band.
Johan: There’s a contest called Eurovision Song Contest here. I think a couple of songs would fit into it.
Lannerheim: I actually have to tell you this. I actually had a dream last night that I met this singer that we’ve been discussing! [Laughs]
Johan: Kiki Danielson? [Laughs] We’ve been talking about a collaboration with a singer called Kiki Danielson. Part of an old classic dance band. And a Euovision singer. She doesn’t know about it yet, though. I think it could happen, for real. We’d do a version of a song on the album, but in Swedish.
Lannerheim: And I dreamt about meeting her last night. She was very enthusiastic.
Johan: She was?
Lannerheim: Yeah! [Laughs] And she looked kinda hot.
Johan: Really? In your dream?
Niklas: She looked like a hot sausage?
I want to see you all in Eurovision next year.
Johan: I think we’ll only send Julia!
Lannerheim: No no no!
Most of our readers probably aren’t acquainted with your music. You mentioned The Beach Boys—do you have other bands that you draw from?
Niklas: No, we say people draw from us.
Johan: I think bands like Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura. They steal from us. No honestly, we were first. And then they came along. They don’t sound the same—but they have a little bit of that.
Sounds like the beginning of a pop war.
Johan: [Laughs] Yeah. Maybe. What else?
Niklas: What we listened to when we were younger, The Smiths, Sarah Records bands, and Felt for example. '60s girl groups.
Johan: This album might turn out sounding a bit '60s. A bit of a France Gall touch to it. It’ll be quite percussive, not in an African or a bongo way but in a—
Niklas: —in a Spector way.
Johan: [Laughs] A small Spector sound.
And you’re both producing?
Johan: Yeah, always. I think in the beginning we didn’t really know what it meant to produce something. But I suppose it was us producing. Coming up with it.
Niklas: But we had someone else recording for us.
Johan: It’s much better, I think.
Niklas: It suits us as well because we’re extremely slow. It would be very, very expensive to put five years into the studio.
I remember at one point you had a ten-year plan when it came to releasing records
Niklas: 1992, 1997, 2002.
Johan: That was a long time ago. Our new plan was to release an album every three years. But, it didn’t happen. [Laughs] We were actually thinking about that for a while because we did start on this album once in 2007, but I think we’ve thrown away all those songs.
Lannerheim: Yeah. Those songs we haven’t used them now at all.
What made you decide against using them?
Johan: We never finished them then—I think they were good songs, but we never finished them then. I think it’s difficult to go back to songs once you’ve left them. Two years later it doesn’t feel new. At least the songs I wrote, it wouldn’t be exciting to finish them now.
Niklas: Maybe we were doing a slightly different record.
Johan: Now we’re doing a much more catchy album.
Niklas: It would have been the “difficult” album had we continued. This is the “very easy to like” album. Of course, difficult for us wouldn’t be all that difficult.
How do you think this album differs from previous albums?
Johan: I don’t think when people hear the new album they’ll think, ‘Is this Acid House Kings? I don’t believe it!’ They’ll recognize it. Still I think it has new things in it. New sounds and new arrangements we haven’t used before. Still, it won’t sound the same as the last album. For me it’s different. I think that’s why I got excited to write Acid House Kings songs again—because I felt there was something slightly new I could do with it.
I know that Johan has several musical projects. Do you have other bands as well?
Lannerheim: No, we put our heart into this one.
What do you do when you’re not making music?
Lannerheim: I’m a lawyer. That’s what I do.
It’s great you can have a creative outlet.
Johan: [Laughs] We’re creative?
Lannerheim: [Laughs] Yeah, I’d say so!
Posted by Laura Studarus @ Undertheradarmag