Interview by Jason Barnard
Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, The Movements have been around for over a decade. However their two latest albums, collected as Like Elephants 1 and 2, has recently seen them break on the international rock scene with their 60s infused sound. What’s particularly surprising is how such a fantastic release hasn’t seen them conquer stadiums as yet. These 20 tracks are as exciting as any group are currently producing at the moment. They’re that good.
Of course I had to find out more by speaking to their drummer Thomas Widholm.
The Movements (photo by Anders Bergstedt)
Could you introduce us to the members of The Movements and what they bring to the band?
In the studio we all play different things and we use guest instrumentalists as well, but mostly we play our main instruments, which are David Henriksson on lead vocals, me on drums, Gustaf Gimstedt on organ. Daniel “Dolly” Petersson plays the bass and Christian “Krita” Johansson plays the guitar. Nowadays this has changed a bit, due to kids and stuff and live we sometimes have guest appearances from two guys named Ramo and Jonnie.
You have a very ambitious double album out ‘Like Elephants’, something that’s a rarity these days. What inspired the band to record it and what are the linking themes, if any?
The link is that it kind of is the same album. The second one is a sequel to the first, but the songs are all written and recorded in the same period of time. We all felt that the songs fitted well together and it made sense to release it as one piece, divided in two halves. They’re all individual tracks and can stand on their own, but together they’re even stronger. Like individuals in a group of people, you could say.
What are your favourite tracks?
From these two albums? It changes over time, I would say. And we all, have different ones. When you’ve written and recorded songs you live with them for a long time. You get fond of both songs and parts of songs. It’s hard to point at one particular song. It might be a different one tomorrow.
I can also hear a range of influences in your music although the term psychedelic seems to stick. Which groups do you look to for inspiration?
Same thing there, actually. We all listen to different music and it changes over time.
Other than psych I can also hear a slight Kinks sound with ‘The Death of Hall D.Y.’ too and a little Velvet Underground in ‘What Would Happen If I Tried’.
Haha. Yes, they’re both awesome bands but our intention has never been to sound like someone else. Thou, their albums – well, most of them anyway – have a great sound and breath taking songs. I would lie if I said we’re not flattered by being compared to those epic acts.
What records have you previously brought out to ‘Like Elephants’?
“Drag me up” 10″ is our first release with six songs plain garage rock
“Grains of oats” Our first full length album. It’s the first record with Krita on guitar and its produced by Björn Olsson (Union Carbide Productions). We recorded it on an island called Orust.
“The world the flesh and the devil” was supposed to be recorded pretty quickly after that Grains of oats was released but just when we were about to start working on this album David was diagnosed with cancer. The album songwriting therefore took an entirely different direction. Almost all the songs are written and rehearsed acoustically from the beginning. We brought with us acoustic guitars and rehearsed the songs with David in the hospital. As soon as David got better we went into the studio again and recorded it.
“For Sardines Space is no problems” During a tour in Germany we became friends with Dave Schimdt from Sulatron Records. He asked us if we wanted to record a spacerock album for his record label. We thought it was a good idea. The album is recorded in our own Studio Parkerigshuset. The album is a concept album about Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang and his first trip to space. Shortly after the album was released, it became clear that Christer Fuglesang would go up on a second flight to space. Christer brought the album and played it in Space at Space station ISS which made it the first space rock album actually played in space.
“Follow The Movements” is a re-release of our first EP + a lot of outtakes and unreleased songs that for different reasons didn’t make it to an album before.
Who writes songs in the band, is it a collective or solo effort?
All members in the band write songs. Someone comes up with an idea and then we usually work it into a song in the rehearsal room. We try to have dynamic in our variations of songs so that we don’t get bored. It is also important to develop and we never try to hang on to what we´ve done before. I guess that we are 5 individual songwriters that comes up with different ideas make it easier to develop our sound.
Where and how did you record ‘Like Elephants’? Who produced the albums?
We recorded Like Elephants 1 and 2 in a lot of different sessions during a period of a couple of years. It is recorded in Music-A-Matic studio a really great studio here in Göteborg. Some parts are also recorded in our own Parkeringshuset Studio. The albums is produced by ourselves together with Micke Nilson from Music-a-matic studio.
The Movements (photo by Anders Bergstedt)
When we recorded these albums it was a complete different thing than the albums we recorded earlier. When we have been in the studio before we always had some deadlines, to have a new record for upcoming tours and so on. This time we decided to take the time we needed to make the best possible album were able to make. When we after a lot of work found the sound we searched for we got so satisfied that we just continued and it ended up as two albums instead of one.
You’ve made some really cool music videos like ‘Two Tongues’. Does the band have much input into them?
To some of the videos more than other.
The video ‘Two Tongues’ is produced by director and cinematographer René U Valdes . We had not so much input to that one. Not more than that we explained our music to him, he came up with an idea and we said ok. That video is done long before the albums where completely recorded. The video to “The Death of John Hall d.y.” is more of a cooperation between us and filmmaker Patrik Lager and its filmed when the albums were recorded so that one is more representative to our own feelings of the albums. Patrik has done the video by himself but we have been more involved in the creative process about ideas and so on.
‘Six Feet Under’ is a particularly inspirational track. What tracks to your fans respond to most live?
It depends on the audience so it’s different from time to time, but usually the more psychedelic songs.
One of my favourite tracks is ‘Redemption’ that has a little country feel to it. Do you the band’s sound has changed over the years?
Yes absolutely, we constantly try to change our sound. Actually we are not doing that deliberatly but we are trying not to write the same song twice. As we always try to find new bands, new music and new records to listen to, the influences may not be the same as it was ten years ago. I think if you want to keep on playing with a band for a long time you have to change the sound in different directions otherwise you get bored.
Sweden seems to punch above its weight for its music. What’s the current music scene like there?
In our hometown Göteborg we have a pretty good music scene. Much because of the venue Truckstop Alaska which easily are the best venue in Sweden. There are a lot of our friends bands that are really good at the moment Hills, Den stora vilan, Jacques Labouchere, Spiders, Uran, Graveyard, Yuri gagarin, Goat, Greencoats to name a few. It is clearly a lot of interesting music happening in Sweden but I really believe there is lot of interesting music in other places as well.
What’s next for The Movements – do your play much out of Sweden?
Periodically, we play a lot outside Sweden. Through the years we have played quite a lot more in other places in Europe in relation to how often we played in Sweden. Last weekend we were in Norway and played at Oslo Psych Fest together with a lot of other great bands e.g. Hawkwind.
The Movements (photo by Anders Bergstedt)
Tomorrow were going to the studio to master some songs for a 10” EP that Beluga records are going to release this winter.
Finally, how do fans hear more about you and grab hold of a copy of ‘Like Elephants’?
Copyright © Jason Barnard and Thomas Widholm/The Movements, 2014. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior permission from the author.