ARTS

  /  

November 8, 2002

The Soundtrack of Our Lives: We love the viking-hippies

The Soundtrack of Our Lives may very well be answer to every ADHD afflicted, twenty-first century hippie, classic, punk, and garage rock fan's prayers. The six-member outfit comprised of the remaining members of Union Carbide Productions (the group that effectively brought garage rock to Sweden in the late eighties and early nineties), The Soundtrack of Our Lives presides as the elder statesmen of the recent Scandinavian music boom. Although rivaled in popularity only by Abba in their native Sweden, the Soundtrack of Our Lives is relatively unknown stateside. But this may change with the release of their latest album, Behind the Music, and a box set including their previous two albums, to be released later this year. Their sound may be comparable to the a condensed dosage of thirty years of American rock and roll, combined with a healthy dose of socio-political commentary and trippy Space-Indian imagery. I recently had a word with Ebbot Lundberg, an affable Swede with a booming laugh, who is described on the band's website as "a Hippie-Viking-Punk-Songwriter"—a label understandably justified by his lumberjack's build and penchant for performing in a kaftan.

Chicago Maroon: What do you think about the "Nordic Invasion", the influx and growing popularity of so many Scandinavian bands now—The Hives, (International) Noise Conspiracy, Sahara Hotnights, etc.?

Ebbot Lundberg: It's so unreliable; everything goes in circles. It's cool that this trend is giving new injection to this type of music. But I think our type of music, we have been doing the same for years, and we'll keep on doing it. We'll still be here, you know. We'll be here in this world making music for the few years we have left. Although there are a lot of great minds in Scandinavian now. That's why we have the Nobel Prize. Maybe it's the Northern Lights (laughs), who knows.

CM: Your previous band, Union Carbide, has had a huge influence on Swedish music. Can you see Union Carbide's influence on the newer Scandinavian music coming out now as well?

EL: I think it influenced a lot of bands now that are forming—Hellacopters, Sahara Hotnights—all the young bands are old Union Carbide fans. Maybe we just started doing something that wasn't available at the time. So now we're the old guys coming back.

CM: Union Carbide was actually one of the Swedish bands to sing in English—what prompted this?

EL: We grew up with English; that's our second language. It just seemed more natural. English just fits this kind of music better; rock and roll sounds funny when you sing it in Swedish.

CM: In what ways would you say your music is a reflection of "the times"—a theme you bring up several times in your songs?

EL: It's obviously reflecting the time we live in. Most of the music today is so disposable. It's like fast food, mass produced, like everything else, the whole mentality. It's kind of depressing, you have to do something about it. [Our music is] like a parallel universe, and at the same time, we just try to reflect the actual, what's going on around us. We just try to be here now and create something of quality, you know?

CM: Is the new album Behind the Music a departure from your previous two in any ways?

EL: I don't think so; it's just different. You know, we do all the albums different. It's not a big difference, we just decided to make it a little bit easier, easier to listen too, easier to make. But we really have too many songs in our heads; we'll always be recording.

CM: Performance seems to be such a large element of your music—what do you think playing live adds?

EL: Playing live is like an extension of the music. But it goes with the area. It depends on the vibe where we are, and of course we're creating a new vibe when we play. When you play live, you never know what's going to happen; that's what makes it interesting. There's some kind of elevation going on, I guess.

CM: Do you have any future tours planned yet?

EL: We're planning to do two or three more tours in America next year, and we'll do some festivals as well. We're always going to be doing tours. We enjoy touring and everything so far, but it has to do with the chemistry, you know? It's really good right now with the current members, which is very rare for a group, I'd say. It wasn't actually like that in my old band, [Union Carbide Productions]; that was very different (laughs).

CM: Where is your favorite place to tour?

EL: I'm looking forward to coming down to San Diego again, and San Francisco as well. I prefer to tour here in the states rather than England. But I would say France is very nice, and Spain—the west coast of America and the Mediterranean.

CM: All popular vacation destinations . . .

EL: It's just more fun to get away. It's a lot of action, of course [in Sweden], but you want to get out of there, you know? That's the whole reason why you do this (hearty laughter).

CM: What is your all-time favorite work of art—painting, film, album, etc?

EL: That was a tough question; that's a really tough question. Why are you doing this to me? Well, I would say the film Chappaqua. It features Ravi Shankar and John Coltrane and such, so it's got a really great soundtrack as well.

CM: Speaking of Ravi Shankar, I noticed some sitar and a lot of other obscure instrumentals in your first album, Welcome to the Infant Freebase. How did that come about?

EL: It just fit; it just happened, you know; it had kind of a native feel—we try to create a native feel to what we do—kind of like Space-Indians. We're trying to take back the country (laughs). Restore it.

CM: What is your favorite article of clothing / what do you like to perform in?

EL: I just wear a kaftan, something pajama-like. That way you can be naked underneath it, the best way to be.

CM: Beatles or Stones?

EL: That's a tough question as well. . . They have both influenced us so much. The thing is I just like all the things they both did in the sixties . . .although the Beatles really screwed up in the seventies, which was good in a way. While the Stones made a lot of good things in the 70's, but I don't know about them now. Now they just look like a museum.

CM: Black Sabbath or White Light/White Heat?

EL: White Light/ White Heat

CM: How would you define Soundtrack's sound in three words?

EL: One of the greatest trips in the acid rock universe.

CM: What is the best way to listen to music?

EL: The best way is to drive and listen to music. To sit on a train or drive while listening to music. Or just come and watch our shows.

CM: Don't worry, we will.

The Soundtrack of Our Lives and an entourage of rowdy Swedes play the Metro on November 13. Citizen Bird and Cato Salsa Experience open.