Mando Diao Biography
They returned after playing 137 shows before more than 500 000 fans in Sweden, England, Germany, USA, Japan, Holland, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Luxemburg, Hungary, Italy, Canada and France. Inspired by the journey they immediately started working on song ideas, which during early 2006 materialised into "Ode To Ochrasy", the third album from Mando Diao.
"Ochrasy" is the band's self-invented name for the early hours after the show, the after show party and the strange nightly meetings with odd characters—but before the next day begins. It's a world of their own, somewhere between dream and reality.
Bjorn Dixgard: "Ochrasy" is the last song on the album. It's a fantasy name for that hallucinatory world you enter around four and five in the morning…a sort of utopian world where anything can happen, where everything is allowed. And for the first time we've been able to turn those very special feelings into lyrics that really express what you feel. Take "San Francisco Bay", for example. It could have been the last night of your life. Instead, it became a song.
Gustaf Norén: "Ode To Ochrasy" is about everything we've experienced during the last years. The clubs we play in those Central European cities are situated in areas which appears completely lawless. There's so many oddballs out there. We've become oddball magnets. And we love them—it's ordinary people that drive you mad. The hours after the show is the best. Either people come backstage or we meet weird characters on bars after the show. So there are lots of references to all those sort of strange persons on "Ode To Ochrasy"—while at the same time we're always very isolated in Mando Diao. Sometimes it's like we're all alone in that world.
Bjorn Dixgard: In Munster a guy came up, asking us if we wanted to see his Bart Simpson-briefs. He thought our gig was fantastic. Then his friends came and we realised he was deaf.
Gustaf Norén: It's like we live in this fantasy world—in the small hours, in bars or in the tour bus. That's when you start to daydream and question yourself what kind of life you're leading. Sometimes there's nothing worse than being on tour. You've got a problem with your relationship, you've got a cold, you're in a cold and damp dressing room, you're sitting in a disgusting sofa where people have had sex and puked, and you're dead nervous to go on stage. But you do it anyway—because you believe in the euphoria of rock music. "Amsterdam" is about all that. But you won't find any happy lyrics on the album.
"Ode To Ochrasy" is the result of an initial cooperation between the band and artist/producer Bjorn Olsson (formerly of Soundtrack Of Our Lives), who was instrumental in getting the band to focus on the big picture instead of narrowing in on details.
Carl-Johan Fogelklou: Working with Bjorn really made us learn how to capture the right feeling when you're recording. He showed us that regardless how weird an instrument can sound when played back, the recording as a whole can still sound brilliant. So this time we've been listening more to the general feeling and how we play together, instead of worrying too much about details.
Having got the album in motion, Bjorn Olsson stepped aside and in the spring of 2006 Mando Diao finished the sessions, adding the kind of raw “live" atmosphere they wanted. The result can be described as a mix of the uninhibited rock'n'roll action of “Bring ‘Em In" and the more controlled sound of "Hurricane Bar".
Samuel Giers: We've built our whole career on playing live. It's like a drug to us. You've got to come out and play—otherwise you'll become like a boxer that just trains. You have to get to the match and get a release of all the tensions.
Bjorn Dixgard: When we come back to the same town after half a year, we've probably done 70-80 gigs in the meantime. So our audience can really tell that we're getting better all the time.
The opening song, "Welcome Home, Luc Robitaille", immediately puts "Ode To Ochrasy" on the right track. The song is mixed by Owen Morris, who created the wall of sound on Oasis debut album, "Definitely Maybe", and the Canadian hockey star is only one of the album's motley crew of characters.
Gustaf Norén: I was going through my old things at home and found a lot of posters and pictures of Luc Robitaille, which stirred up a lot of childhood memories. But it wasn't the happy and carefree part of childhood that came to mind—instead it reminded me of the struggle to grow up, become an adult and be taken seriously. Amazingly enough, we still have to fight with that. As a band, we're relatively young in this business and they patronise you all the time.
Other unsung heroes are "Killer Kaczynski" (who enjoys "a little lustful life"), the junkie "Josephine"—not to mention assorted terrorists, angels and demons. In short, “true fiction" from the eternally dawning landscape of Ochrasy.
Bjorn Dixgard: Some of the harder songs actually started out as acoustic numbers. We had played "Long Before Rock'n'Roll" with acoustic guitars at backstage parties for years, when suddenly everybody in the band started to like it. And there are plenty of songs on the album that was written more like Serge Gainsbourg-tunes than rock'n'roll-stuff. But then we plugged in the electric guitars and upped the tempo a bit…
Which probably goes to show that in the magic world of Ochrasy, anything is possible. Like the album's cover art, painted in 1959 by a ten-year-old boy who at the time was travelling in Europe with his parents. If you want to go there, what better place to start?