Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Ebbot Lundberg Interview: The ex-Soundtrack of Our Lives front-man on his new single and TV show, the 5 Billion In Diamonds project and more...

Ebbot Lundberg photographed at Press Play Studios, London by Paul Slattery
Retro Man Blog (Q): Did the idea to release such an unusual cover version come from your time on the TV show “Så Mycket Bättre", which featured famous Swedish musicians from different genres and generations performing each other’s songs in their own style? Ebbot Lundberg (A): No, not really. We did a live show three or four years ago in Stockholm and somebody in the audience was annoyingly screaming “Royals” all the time so we kind of started to improvise around it. That song was frequently on the radio so everybody knew it. The radio here in Sweden is unbelievably shitty but I thought this song sounded better than the usual stuff, I mean I wouldn’t go and buy it, but I thought, “Who is this?” So when we went into the studio for the album “For The Ages to Come” we just recorded it for fun and I was thinking how it might sound if you put your own chords to it. Q: I detected a bit of TSOOL’s “Borderline” in one instrumental passage of “Royals” and you’ve occasionally referenced your own back catalogue in new material, especially on “Throw It To The Universe”. A: I put them in for fun, there’s even a bit of “A House Is Not a Motel”, something like that, if I do a cover song I might as well put in some other stuff as well. Q: You often liked to drop in extracts of other songs when you played live, off the top of my head I recall “Turning Japanese”, Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown”, “I Feel Love”, The Damned’s “These Hands” and even the Punk/Oi! Poet Gary Johnson but you rarely recorded any cover versions with your previous bands.

A: We never considered playing any covers with Union Carbide Productions or even The Soundtrack of Our Lives in the beginning but then I thought, OK maybe you can do a song in your own way, like we did with Nick Drake’s "Fly" on the "Communion" album. It´s a bit of a challenge, even if it's a shitty song as long as you can make it good in your own ears. Like when Devo did their version of "Satisfaction" which was quite unexpected at the time. It would have been too obvious for me to do something like Pink Floyd or Black Flag for instance. I mean we recorded “Arnold Layne” and stuff like that but we were just playing around with some different material and “Royals” just sounded like a fun idea to do. It was supposed to be the B-side of the first single “To Be Continued” but I didn’t really feel like it fitted in. Then I totally forgot about the song until I played it for my old pre-cambric mod-fossil friend Frederik Harper at a party at Cosmos Recordings. The funny thing is he was working with Lorde and he was like, “ah we gotta release it mate!” I kind of held back at first as I thought it’s not good enough or whatever, but I fixed it up a little bit, did a remix to put it out and we’ll just see what happens with it on the radio or whatever. Q: Did you consider the lyrics of “Royals” before you recorded it or was it just a case of “this is a good tune”? A: For me “Royals” is like the connection with the Royal bloodline, the Annunaki and the Illuminati and all that stuff, that’s my interpretation of it, I don’t know what she means but it would be interesting to know.

Ebbot Photographed by Paul Slattery at Press Play Studios, "5 Billion In Diamonds" Session
Q: At last, the long-awaited “5 Billion In Diamonds” LP has just been released and it's excellent. It's a project based around the producers Butch Vig, James Grillo, Andy Jenks and various guest artists. How did that idea originate? A: It actually started when I was in San Diego, Mike Stax had this Ugly Things magazine anniversary party and I sang with all the remaining original members of Love and some guys from Baby Lemonade. We were just going into some hotel bar before the show and suddenly there were James Grillo and Butch Vig sitting having a drink. That’s when they asked me, “We have this new project, do you wanna sing?” So they sent me the basic track of “Gravity Rules” and I thought maybe I have something here. Then I went to Bristol to record the lyrics and melody and we did the arrangement together. It just kind of formed into some really laid back thing and we just felt there’s no rush so it went back and forth. I went to LA and Silverlake to record in Butch’s house, I met David Schelzel and all the guys involved and we just let it grow. Yeah, now it’s finally out and we’ve already started on the next album. I don’t know how much time we’re going to spend on it though, we were talking about playing live next year, I can’t really tell, it’s their project. Q: It must be difficult seeing as there were so many people involved and you are all, not only busy with other projects, but based in the USA, U.K. and Sweden. A: Yeah, we played once at James Grillo’s birthday and that went well but it was like “fuck” there were like 12 people on stage! Everyone was changing instruments but it worked out and everybody is really into it but I think we’re in need of a really great light show. We haven’t discussed anything yet as we’re doing things on our own so probably, it’s just down to timing. I think Andy Jenks, one of the producers, is a genius actually, he’s really brilliant. I love that sort of dreamy stuff that he´s doing.

Promo Photo for "Ebbot's Ark" TV Show
Q: You had a high profile TV series called "Ebbot's Ark" recently broadcast in Sweden, can you tell us more about it? A: I’m not really into doing TV but this time it’s my own idea; being on a ship and going to Slussens and all these fantastic places that nobody knows existed. I had this idea as a tour first and then I thought maybe it would be a good TV show if I could bring my band and invite different people. So we did five episodes and it was really fun, kind of one of the best things I’ve done as an experience. Q: So, it’s like a travelogue with music? A: No food or anything like that, just music! The guests picked a favourite song that meant something to them, you know most are like songs they heard when they were 10 years old. It’s the same for me, I’m kind of picking certain places where I’ve had some sort of connection with and it’s turned out pretty OK I think. It’s kind of different; we had a lot of fun. It’s not like I prefer doing TV instead of touring or whatever, it’s like a bonus. For me this is something I would do if I were to pick a vacation, instead of going to Mallorca or whatever, go on this boat just being a captain and basically doing nothing except singing and asking some questions in between. Q: But you’ve often played in unusual locations such as ruined castles, beach side shacks, ornate theatres and then you also did the “Moped Tour” for example, driving around playing in out of the way places. A: Yeah I kind of love all those stupid ideas. I want to get away, I got so fucking tired of all the regular touring when you release an album and you go from town to town, it’s not the same atmosphere any more. People don’t even go out; people have become scared that someone is going to kill them! Also, Festivals are becoming like so fucking corporate and boring you don’t really feel it’s a festival anymore, it’s like going to some shopping centre or something. It’s kind of that era, I think I have been living that for thirty years and I am really sick and tired of it, I need to find new ways. Maybe the next idea will be on a spaceship, beam ourselves to perform some music over the open air. I truly hope so!

Ebbot Photographed by Paul Slattery at TSOOL's last ever Slussens Pensionat Show
Q: Is that why The Soundtrack of Our Lives intimate shows at the beautiful Slussens Pensionat on the island of Orust were so special? A: Yeah, but that was like the highlight. When we actually started to do all those things like Slussens, those were the best shows we ever did, and I thought it should be like this all the time. That is how I’m trying to plan my life now, just being in all these places instead of being on a big stage at 1 o’clock in the afternoon with the audience a hundred metres away because there’s so much security everywhere. I wish we could just do a fucking hologram set instead, it’s ridiculous. I want to have people around me I don’t care if they kill me, whatever! It’s about freedom, not being protected in a golden cage like some idiot. Q: That sort of fearless attitude to performing reminded me that at our Retro Man Blog gig in London last year you went ahead and played even though you had a broken collarbone, where do you find the resolve and energy? A: The collarbone is great but now it’s my knees, they are fucked up because I’ve been carrying stuff and travelling so much. I’ve really been around this summer and it’s been too much I think, it's been fun but I play in a big jazz thing as well with 20 people, and I’ve just been touring around like crazy. The only thing I have to watch out for is myself, my own older fucking stuff you know, yeah you got pain everywhere! Oh well, you just can’t do what you used to do suddenly. I have to swim or something, I have to exercise, I hate it but I have to do it. Q: Talking about being busy, you also found the time to do a couple of reunion shows with your legendary but sadly underrated first band Union Carbide Productions, did that go down well? A: Union Carbide turned out fine as well. I don’t really know what’s going to happen with that one because we felt “shit, this sounds really good” you know so we were talking about maybe doing a single, I don’t know, it worked out fine especially the gig we did in Spain, that was absolutely marvellous.

Ebbot photographed at our Retro Man Blog Night June 2016 at The Half Moon Putney by Paul Slattery
Q: So, what do you have planned next Ebbot? A: During the summer I was doing the TV show “Ebbot’s Ark” and touring everywhere and I’m dying to finish all that stuff so now, my intention is to release another single followed by an album, but that’s my own stuff. The new album will be called “The Kybalion”, based on the old hermetic principles of the universe, which may sound a little bit pretentious but that´s basically what I´ve been into for the last 25 years. I hope to release it in January or February next year and I don’t know if it’s going to be a single or a double album yet but we recorded a lot of stuff and we did it really fast. Now with The Indigo Children, it’s more like a group than when we did “For the Ages to Come”. Q: It’s a good point, it definitely seems like a proper band now rather than just you as a solo artist with a backing band of faceless session musicians and they are getting a lot of praise. A: They are a different generation but they are remarkable, I don’t really have to tell them what to do, they know where I´m at and sometimes they even know better. We have played a lot now and it’s completely different, it’s fucking unbelievably strong, more energetic and there’s more diversity in the songs this time I think. A true elevation. We’ve found that magic spell to raise the frequency a little bit.

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children Retro Man Blog Night June The Half Moon Putney by Paul Slattery
An edited version of my interview was published in Shindig! Magazine. For information on how to order "Royals" and news on upcoming live dates and happenings please check out the Ebbot Lundberg web-site here. There's also a Soundtrack of Our Lives fan's group on Facebook here which also covers all the ex-members current activities as well as tons of archive material. The Indigo Children feature members of Side Effects and The Hanged Man, both are well worth checking out in their own right and both have highly recommended new records out now. Please click on the highlighted links to find out more. You can check our feature on 5 Billion In Diamonds here, it's a project started off by Butch Vig, Andy Jenks and James Grillo with guest appearances and contributions from Ebbot, Bristolian chanteuse Helen White from Alpha, The Ocean Blue's David Schelzel and Sandra Dedrick from cult 60’s vocal group The Free Design. Amongst the project’s musicians are a stellar cast of collaborators including bass player Sean Cook and drummer Damon Reece from Spiritualized, Massive Attack and Elizabeth Fraser, guitarists Alex Lee of Goldfrapp, Florence and Suede), Pete Aves from High Llamas, Damian O'Neill of The Undertones, That Petrol Emotion and The Everlasting Yeah and bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen from Beck and NIN.

The Retrosonic Podcast above is from our archive and features an interview with Ebbot recorded at Slussens Pensionat back in July 2015. With many thanks to Paul Slattery for the excellent photos. 

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