June 4 The Low Anthem´s USA-tour hits our dreamvillage of Louisville, Kentucky. They play Headliners Music Hall (together with Daniel Lefkowitz and The County Line) and it will for sure be a night to remember.
Kentuckyseven had a chat with bandleaders Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky when they visited Gothenburg, Sweden. We talked about Pringles chips, the soundtrack of Sweden and the smart kids of Deer Tick.
Welcome to Sweden! Last time you played here were a much talked-about gig at Pustervik in the summer of 2010. You recall?
“Sure, that was one special evening. It was late, late at night, a really rowdy crowd who had their fair amount of Swedish beer. We started out with all our instruments on stage and I know we looked at each other and didn´t know which way it would turn. But after three or four songs we knew, everything connected and we really enjoyed it.”
You even played to the crowd in line outside the bar who couldn´t get in?
“Yeah, that’s right (laugh). It was sold out and a long line of people stayed outside. It was raining, and we stopped and played a song for them outside. The night was dark, it was very special. “
The song “I´ll Take Out Your Ashes” is your most Swedish song ever, Ingmar Bergman-style. Beautiful, guilty, sad feeling. Like a soundtrack of Sweden. What can you say about that song?
“Really? Well now for sure we will play that one tonite. The song was written a night after hanging out at a bar with my friend who just told me a story about her mother passing away, about how her family was feuding about how to deal with the ashes. The family was fighting about who should come to the ceremony, and who shouldn’t. Meanwhile the ashes was at my friends house, on her kitchentable. For months. She more or less wrote the song, just telling me the story.”
In our ears you got two different type of songs. One aggressive, direct, rock-style. One slow, thoughtful, folk-style. Why does it come out like that?
”It’s all about commitment. We just don’t play the arrangements. We keep ourselves to a high standard of really being there emotionally in the songs. And whether it’s the loudest, most abrasive song or the most beautiful, inviting rich song, it’s the same level of commitment to it, so I think that is the same about those two styles. I really didn’t look at it as a matter of styles, just a matter of intensity.”
You´re from Rhode Island. What can you say about the place?
”We live in Providence, in Smithsville. There is a wonderful community of artists there, and an artschool, and Brown University, where we went. The schools are very liberal, and the area is very un-American. And also it is very off-the-map, no national music comes there. Which is kinda good.”
Deer Tick is another Kentuckyseven fav-band, also from Rhode Island, you know them?
”Sure, we know them. They are wild, but it is somewhat staged… they are actually smart kids, they are making an effort to look weird you know. They love the artistry, and they are cool like that. By the way, you need to check out another guy from Rhode Island, Death Vessel. And Brown Bird, you need to check them out as well.”
Social Media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Is that important to you? How do you handle it?
“We don´t. I think it´s pretty boring for the fans with a twitteraccount that some publisher or pressguy takes care of. It´s seldom from the artists themselves, and rarely any personal and interesting stuff.” But we do write all the emails, for the mailing lists and such.”
Finally, the future. Where will The Low Anthem be, say in 10 years?
Artist to artist:
Q: John Grant:
”How have you managed to keep from having your collective digestive systems destroyed by the ravages of Pringles whilst on the road?”
A: Ben Knox Miller: ”I think that the food at the venues saves us, coz if we were left at our own devices we would probably eat the food from the gas stations, you know those Swedish hot dogs, love em. So we balance the crappy food with Pringles. And ketchup.”
The gig after the interview was amazing, and the guys were as well. We hope to see them again in Sweden soon. And by the way, the played their most swedish song, upon request…
Read the review here: The Low Anthem @ Pustervik
One of 2010 best albums, came from this man. Thomas Jonsson, AKA I’m Kingfisher. The album, ”Arctic” was released by Playground Music, the harbour of great swedish music. I’m Kingfisher is one of the greatest in that crowd.
The man has toured with artists like Ed Harcourt, and has recorded stuff with artists such as Rosie Thomas (one of my all time favorites) Damien Jurado, Ned Oldham and other great acts.
He is currently on tour with Damien Jurado, and will be playing @ Pustervik (Woody West, again with the majestic bookings) and later in Malmö and Stockholm.
Thomas is a man with a plan, Arctic is just a part of a trilogy plan, and one can only imagine the great stuff that is coming our way. We’ll be waiting. Impatiently, but still.
Got a word with the awesome swedish singer-songwriter that is I’m Kingfisher…
What are you listening to right now?
- A lot of instrumental drone stuff. I just fell in love with Earth’s newest album ‘Angels of darkness, demons of light I’. This year I think Earth, Mogwai, Tennis, Thomas Hine and James Blake have done really good stuff.
I’ve also recently listened a lot again to last year’s best album ”St Bartlett” of Damien Jurado, since I just got it on vinyl after our show in Copenhagen a couple of days ago. And oh, it has also been a lot of Efterklang’s newest.
Best book read during 2010?
- Der Ganze Weg by Kristin Berget, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, Fantasiön by Henrik Brandao Jönsson and Poetry of Birds (anthology)
Your hopes for this year?
That I will tour as much as I want while finishing the recordings of my next album, as well as an album with a new Swede-Swede-French collaboration project I’m a part of. That mink farming will be banned once and forever. That sound engineers on my shows from now on and forever will set my guitar sound as loud as I want without questioning me.
Three artists who inspire you?
Recently: Victoria Legrand, singer of Beach House.
For the Arctic album: Six Organs of Admittance. Forever: M Ward.
Who deserves a breakthru in 2011?
- Dear Euphoria, my favorite Swedish band, whose 2010 EP ”This Night will Flee” contains ”Rescue”, one of last year’s two best pop singles (together with Sleigh Bells’ ”Rill Rill”). It’s on Spotify!
I for one, is going to see I’m Kingfisher on sunday, and I know for a fact that you can still pick up some tix.
Listen to the magic that is ”I’m Kingfisher”…
Photo: Dylan Priest (www.dylanpriest.com)
Sometimes when you see or hear a band for the first time, you just know.
At the extraordinary mini-folk-festival put together by Woody West, I met The Head and The Heart for the first time. And I was floored. The sound, the harmonies and the people on stage, just had me at he…
They were praised at SXSW and no wonder, their music is something else. The American roots are built in, to the very last particle of the sound. The vocals and of Jon, Charity and Josiah together with the rest of the band just exploding off stage, in that powerful feeling of love for what they do. It is breathtaking. In any way possible. It is ”up above” in a way not even the songs can explain.
I know, it sounds like some being in love for the first time, but I am in love. This is something special. Something very rare. I had the pleasure of talking to both Jon and Charity that night, and the feeling just kept going. These are persons that just make great stuff, for the love of it.
The Head and The Heart will release their debut album on Heavenly Records in Europe (Subpop US) and for those of you who haven’t met them yet, I suggest you pick that album up. On April 18. Currently touring with The Low Anthem, if they are heading your way, make sure to hold a ticket.
If you wanna fall head over heels, just like I did, just get on that first date, by listening to the song below. And hopefully, you will hit it off.
Check out and follow them on:
Photo: Maria Gunnesson.
¤ This night was something else. Woody West gathered three bands, all in that crowded, rowdy place called Pusterviksbaren, a small yet beautiful Thursdayfestival. The Head And The Heart started out, and man – you can tell why they were the talk of the town in Austin (SXSW). A band that just made new friends, Kentuckyseven will follow their great path. Then Woods did their folk-psych-thing and killed it. Jeremy Earls voice is from space, intense stuff. And then they entered stage, The Low Anthem.
These Rhode Island-fellas brought everything with them on stage, 14 instruments to choose from. Singer Ben Knox Miller started out with Ticket Taker from their 2009-album Oh My God Charlie Darwin and just rolled with it. We heard Hey All Your Hippies, Boeing 737, Apothecary Love and their most swedish song ever I´ll take out your ashes. The band mixed their folky roots with some aggressive rocktunes and let it all out. The place was packed, I had to lean over on the harmonium just to write these lines.
The Low Anthem is a great liveband. This Bella Union-quartet tours all the way to November and I would enjoy every gig. They lay their hearts out on stage and don´t think twice about it. It´s what they do. Jeff Prystowsky hitting the drums, Jocie Adams with that trumpet, it all makes sense, live music at its core. Before the lights went off they did a couple of a cappella´s and you got that religious, goosebumpy, powerful feeling. You know, just glad to be around when it happened.
Judge says: 6/7 Kentuckyseven´s.
Best song: Charlie Darwin.
They play next: Hamburg, Germany, March 25.
Look out for: Kentuckyseven got an interview with The Low Anthem coming up, stay tuned.