Tue, 01 Sep 2009 12:25:13
"L.A. is strange but fun," laughs Mew guitarist Bo Madsen.
Nothing could be truer about Los Angeles. However, the same statement could be applied to Mew's brand new enigmatic epic, No More Stories. The record is strange, soulful and ethereal. It's catchy and dreamy all at once as the mood swings from majestic to melancholy often in the course of the same song. Suffice to say, Stories is quite a ride from start to finish.
While preparing to open two big Nine Inch Nails shows in Los Angeles, Bo spoke to ARTISTdirect.com about writing Stories, going to "Hawaii" and much more in this exclusive interview.
How do you approach constructing an album? Are there visuals in mind that you want to call upon?
Most of the stuff is conjured in the room with the three of us playing together. Lots of songs come that way. Otherwise, one of us prepares a little something and we work on that for a long time. Basically, we're digging for something special and unique that has its own personality. When you find that, it's a very nice moment. You work out from that and try to create the rest of the song out of it.
It's about capturing those moments.
We really try to make every song have as much as personality as possible. We want each song to stick out but still go together in some strange way. We try to find something that has its own unique string of DNA.
Did you approach this album any differently than records in the past?
We try to find new ways of writing, but everything basically comes out of the three of us playing in a studio in Copenhagen—searching and jamming. That's how we do it usually. We work from home as well to try to further the parts that we have. It's very much a common creative process. That's the main source of the records.
Why did you call the album No More Stories…?
We didn't put a certain meaning into it. That title says something about the record, and it made sense to us. It's part of a lyric. We had a very different image with the cover; that also says something about the record. Those two things together give a very confused, but quite accurate signal of what this record is [Laughs]. It's kind of colorful and funny, but there's a dreamy and melancholy sadness to it.
You're in the middle of this cross-section of emotions.
I guess you can say that. This record covers the spectrum, from very dark to very happy. The title and the record cover do the same thing. We do go from one extreme to the other.
Are you looking forward to playing with Nine Inch Nails?
It's quite fun! We did play quite a few shows with them in Europe earlier this year and that was really fun. When Trent asked us to play with them here, we were definitely thrilled because it was a chance to mix up our own shows with theirs.
Did you grow up a fan?
I always knew about them, but they were a bit industrial for my tastes. Jonas and Silas were more into them.
Are you constantly creating?
We always do stuff, but right now, I'm personally not writing that much music. When you're on tour, it's difficult. When we sound check, we sometimes jam and record what we're jamming. In that sense, we write all the time. Right now, we're simply traveling the world and playing. Musically, we typically take a set time and really hammer everything out.
Where did the idea for "Intermezzo 1" and "Intermezzo 2" come from?
I really like to build up a record like a storybook and give it a whole narrative instead of just having ten isolated tracks. On the last record, we made this violently rapid succession of songs where they all went into each other. The rhythm of that record was very nice. It was cool the way the individual tracks came together. I wanted to do the same build-up this time like a story. You can clear your mind with the "Intermezzos" because a lot of stuff is happening on the record. It feels to me like this is the time when you turn the page to go onto the next page. We try to do things like that to give the album a story feel.
What's the story behind "Beach?"
That was actually an old riff that I'd done awhile back. We worked with it awhile back and we never got to finish it. We always thought it was very catchy, like a straight pop song. We don't have many of those so we thought it would be nice to put it on this record. It's a great song and the production is pretty cool.
The transition between "Cartoons and Macrame Wounds" and "Hawaii Dream" is incredible.
Thanks! "Macrame" ends off the first half of the album's story. Then we slowly reappear in the dream landscapes of "Hawaii Dream" and materialize in "Hawaii;" so it's a nice moment.
Have you been to Hawaii?
No, but we definitely want to go play there! In the original ending, the people in the song go to Hawaii but they ended up not having a great time. So they go to Japan in the end. It was a different outro. However, we stayed in "Hawaii" for the final version of the song [Laughs].