Ah, Sweden—the birthplace of Stockholm syndrome and more importantly, Thor. As tempted as I was to engage in typical American conversations about psychoanalytic theory and the Viking era of the 8th and 11th centuries, I spared the members of Scenic View quite generously. From the depths of a southern one-gas-station town in Sweden, we chatted over the interweb about their upcoming album, their depictions of hell, and of course, sibling rivalry—only to conclude with a painstakingly important question concerning Twitter and its effectiveness for bands from abroad.
Ashley Jean: In contrasting your band name with your song “Sailing to Hell,” what kind of “scenic” images come to your mind when you play this song? Like, are here bon fires everywhere? I’m curious! Everyone has a different hell.
Scenic View: The main message of the song is not to restrict one’s life to everyday chores. You have to take the chance to develop as a person. If that leads to people thinking you are doing something wrong, it’s their loss. The hell we are singing about is not the same as you read about in the Bible (which we think got it all wrong anyway). It’s simply the place where you’ll end up. So yeah, it could be bon fires everywhere, but only if you’re willing to take the risk that’s in breaking your daily routine. It’s really the trip that makes it all worth, not so much were you’ll end up.
Ashley Jean: Listening to your music, I can’t help but to think you sound slightly like Franz Ferdinand. Maybe it’s just Philip’s vocals—but do you guys model your sound after any particular contemporary artist?
Scenic View: We haven’t heard that comparison before but Franz Ferdinand is a good band, so thanks! One of the corner stone’s in our creative process is to not imitate any other group, neither is it trying to sound dissimilar to contemporary music, all we want is to create music that feels right, something we can put our name on. However, on an unconscious level it is unavoidable not to be influenced. Since we all (even if there are three brothers in the band) have very different musical preferences it’s strange we can create anything that sounds the least coherent. The bands we listen to ranges from Damien Rice, Dinosaur Jr. and Soundtrack of our lives to Danko Jones and The John Butler Trio and Entombed. Maybe it’s a strength in our sound, there’s something for everyone, but it could also be deceptive if it makes us too hard to put in a certain category, listeners might feel lost. But as mentioned before, we don’t make music speculatively. This is who we are, deal with it!
Ashley Jean: What’s the writing process for the Scenic View? Do you guys take long drives and admire nature, or is it a little more complicated than that?
Scenic View: That would sure be something but at the same time it’s not that far from the truth. Even if we don’t take that many trips devoted for studying nature we all share the origin of a one-gas-station-village in the deep dark southern forests of Sweden, something that might have influenced our sound and not least our lyrics that almost always has a dark tone. The band was first a project initiated by Philip who wrote most of the songs. Nowadays the embryo of a song can originate from anyone really. After that it comes down to solid craftsmanship. This is the stage that has changed the most, Philip used to have the song already recorded and the others just followed his lead, now the craftsmanship is largely a democratic process. We are fortunate to have a studio as a rehearsal site. That makes the creative process easier, when we find something to work with we just hit the record button. Therefore, we always end up with several versions of the same song but deciding which one to continue to work with isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Ashley Jean: Do you think, in the future or somewhere down the line, we’ll hear songs written in Swedish? Or does the English language seem a more comfortable fit for the type of audience you’re trying to captivate?
Scenic View: Interesting question, haven’t really thought about it. Maybe the English language is better equipped for writing songs. Don’t know really. Thinking about it, there aren’t many rock bands singing in Swedish at all, not any that we listen to anyway. Also we want to reach beyond the Swedish boundaries. Sweden is a small country and there isn’t much room for music that isn’t ultra-commercial.
Ashley Jean: You’re all brothers, except for Tommy and Andreas. What motivated the three of you to band together?
Scenic View: Well, we have always played together teaching each other new songs and licks, although never as a band. When Philip started his project it would have been strange if he’d asked anyone else, it felt very natural and the leap wasn’t very big.
Ashley Jean: Is there any (healthy) sibling rivalry?
Scenic View: No doubt about it, and probably some unhealthy too, but also a lot of love. Philip, being the oldest, always had to be the first, best and the one who’d show the way. Kristopher being the middle sibling tried to challenge this dominance, which made him excel on guitar. Looking at the roles in the band somewhat strengthens this hypothesis, Philip on lead vocals, Kristopher on solo guitar and Johannes on what was left over- the bass. Ha-ha. Playing in a band with your brothers gives a deep and profound stability. At the same time the boundaries that otherwise would stop arguments don’t exists. But since we’ll always be brothers we simply have to solve problems and in the long run that will probably develop us a band, and maybe also as brothers. Tommy, what’s it like playing in a band of brothers?
Tommy Magnusson: At first it was really hard to catch all the unspoken messages, since they know each other so well they often just use facial expressions to state an opinion. At first all that went over my head, but after a lot of effort I began to understand their language and now I feel equally included. Playing in a band where some of them are brothers adds a dynamic and creative dimension that in my experience has been more of an advantage than a disadvantage.
Ashley Jean: So I hear you’re releasing an album this year. If you were painting a portrait of the album, pick the colors that you think depict the sound of it.
Scenic View: Compared with our debut album, which was based on a brown reddish acoustic sound, with a torn western touch to it, this next one will be a little bit more modern, electric and straight forward. We would use blended black and white showing the dynamic of our sound that has both hope and despair. There would also be some intense red in there somewhere symbolizing the cordial passion and playfulness we have when we work together.
Ashley Jean: If you could pick your dream tour, which bands would you like to open for, or even better, open for you?
Scenic View: Okay, let’s dream. I think we all agree on that Bruce Springsteen would be unbeatable. His music is timeless and he has such a broad audience. Maybe an acoustic version of him, taking care of the warm-up before we enter the stage would do. The other way around is also an alternative. And how awesome wouldn’t it be to travel with him, cracking some beers and just hanging out. He would probably have quite a few stories to tell about life. Playing with bands and artists like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Damien Rice or Kris Kristofferson would also be great.
Ashley Jean: I see you’re on A LOT of social networking sites, but not Twitter. Why is that?
Scenic View: Well, right now our focus is on completing the album; we really don’t feel the need for Twitter. Most of our fans are from Sweden and Facebook is way bigger here so that’s good enough for the moment. However, it seems as if Twitter is bigger abroad so maybe we’ll have to create an account as soon as we are ready with our album.