Considering they’ve been around for more than two decades, it’s strange to think Danish trio Mew will only be making their second voyage Down Under this month. The band made their maiden trip back in 2015, the result of years and years of their adoring followers pleading for their arrival – including a petition back in 2009.
The band will be proudly carrying their latest LP Visuals, which dropped earlier in the year. The members managed to write, record and release the album, plus all it’s visual stimulants within a 12-month timeframe, which was a rapid turn around, considering they’ve only now released 7 albums within 22 years. Making this an even more impressive feat is the fact the band did just about everything themselves.
We spoke with the band’s vocalist Jonas Bjerre to learn more about the album process, and just how involved, yet rewarding, the whole thing was.
The Neversphere: You’re coming back for your second ever Australian tour…Did it take much to twist your arm to bring you back a second time?
Jonas: Absolutely not. We’ve struggled to get back there. We knew we have a fan club called Mewstralia, who have been around for years so we’ve had contact with them. We’ve been relatively close to Australia a few times but we never succeeded in setting it up.
The Neversphere: What impression did of our part of the world did you leave with after the first tour?
Jonas: We did a few things which you probably think of as touristy – we pet the kangaroos, I got to hold a koala bear which was amazing to me. I couldn’t believe how soft they were. It feels like the best of both worlds. You have real cities, like Sydney, fairly close to wild nature. What more can you ask for, you know? In Denmark, Copenhagen is a mid-sized city and we don’t have any exciting nature.
It’s a very flat country, and not very wild. I’ve been to many countries, and I think Australia really is a wonderful place. I don’t really like the winters here in Denmark; it gets too dark and cold for me. When it’s winter here, it’s summer there, so next winter I might come to hang out.
The Neversphere: You’re coming at the right time. The water will be warm enough to swim, but there’ll be very few sharks so you can swim in peace, rest assured…
Jonas: Ugh…Really? Are sharks a major problem?
The Neversphere: Not at all, they’re so well fed they hardly ever bite people.
Jonas: It’s something I think about. So many people want to be buried when we die. We eat so many chemicals in our food now I don’t think we’re exactly healthy food for the worms anymore, I think the same could be for us as shark food. That’s probably why they don’t want to eat us, right? they only have to touch you and you bleed, right? Their skin is kind of sharp…
The Neversphere: Yeah, the skin is weaponised so if you go against the grain you get a bit shredded.
Jonas: Man, that is really fascinating!
The Neversphere: This time, you’ll be bringing Visuals with you. The album is out now, the response across the board seems to be really positive. Speaking of bites, now they’ve had the chance to sink their teeth into the record, how do you think Visuals went down?
Jonas: I think it went down really well. In a lot of ways, it was an experiment for us. Historically we spent so much time on each album. We tend to get into these weird cycles of doubtful procrastination, and second guessing everything. We didn’t want to do that this time! We didn’t have a goal to finish it within a year but we just kind of did; That was a great thing for us.
We produced it ourselves and we wanted to tie it in more with the visual side of the band. That’s been such a big part of our live show for many years, we really wanted to make an album inspired by that. So, we finished it a lot quicker than we usually do, that was scary in a way. We weren’t sure if we missed something. But the response has been great. I feel like we needed to make this album at this time in our lives, maybe the next one will be totally different and we’ll spend 10 years making it, but it felt really good making it faster than we usually do.
The Neversphere: I can’t imagine it would be easy to flip the switch like that…
Jonas: A lot of people have asked me in the past ‘What do you do first? Do you write the lyrics or the music first?‘ If they’ve seen us live, they might ask us if we come up with the visuals first. I say ‘No, but that sounds so exciting to do‘ – soundtracking a sequence. So, that’s what we started to do with Visuals. We didn’t do it completely the whole way through, but we had the initial ideas for each song.
I always like to have something when we start – just a word that I like or something. This time it was a visual idea for each song. That was part of the experiment, we wanted to see if it took us in a different direction, and what would come out of that. It’s hard to say how much it informed the final album but it definitely made the process interesting, enjoyable and different. I think it’s important to try new things, otherwise you just make the same album again and again; I don’t see the point in that.
The Neversphere: Did you ever feel as though you’d put too much pressure on yourself to do an album in half the time you normally do, all the while writing it differently and doing all the extra bits yourself?
Jonas: There were times when I felt like we’d really spread ourselves over too many things at once. I also made all the music videos this time, we usually don’t do that ourselves. We did almost everything on our own for the album, even a lot of the engineering. It felt good to continue in that vein and make all the visual aspects come from within the band.
It all has a very focused direction to me because of that. As is always the case, no matter how long you spend on an album, the last bit of time you have left to finish it will always be stressful. You always say, ‘We’ll worry about that later, we’ll figure it out later’. Suddenly, later is the last 2 weeks you have. For instance, I had to finish all the artwork for the album in 5 days. 5 crazy, sleepless days.
I enjoy the challenge of that a lot. It all worked out…
…and I get to have some sleep afterwards.
Mew ‘Visuals’ Australian Tour 2017
Supported by Closure In Moscow
Tickets available now
Sunday, September 10
The Triffid, Brisbane
Monday, September 11
Manning Bar, Sydney
Tuesday, September 12
Max Watt’s, Melbourne
Wednesday, September 13