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The Cardigans | Long Gone Before Daylight | interview | Nina Persson| alternative | Lollipop
Long Gone Before Daylight (Koch)
An interview with vocalist Nina Persson
By Tim Den
photos by Nathan Blaney
Like many others, I certainly didn't expect this. Sure, The Cardigans have been known to change their sound as often as their hair styles, but after the cold techno-ish sounds of Gran Turismo, the last thing I expected was a return-to-roots pop record like Long Gone Before Daylight. And I certainly couldn't have imagined its gorgeousness.
The band on Long Gone Before Daylight are not the rag-tag bunch found on Life, or the bouncing, young darlings of First Band on the Moon. The Cardigans have been around for over 10 years, and they sound every bit as rich and seasoned as age would deal the most fortunate of us. Gentle, articulate guitar pluckings caress vocalist Nina Persson's sultry, world-weary voice... like Aimee Mann's plaintive narratives, with as many potent turns-of-phrase in even better songs.
Ah, the songs... From the moment opener "Communication" dips its finger into the aural pond, the ripples grow and grow. Steadily, patiently, calculatedly. Each song wrings your heart like a wet rag, brushing against your skin like an autumn breeze, puncturing your defenses with anecdotes that only those who've lived through life and love can tell. They break you down, pick you up, make you think about your own experiences and lost loves, all the while turning you into a mush beneath their exquisite songcraft. Remember the scene in Magnolia where all the characters are singing "it's not going to stop"? Remember how powerful that melody felt? Long Gone Before Daylight makes you feel like that over and over again.
A vulnerable, moving, and truly incredible - not to mention surprising - achievement, Long Gone Before Daylight has already procured a spot in my best of 2004 list.
Congrats on winning two Swedish Grammies.
What took the U.S. release of the album so long, considering the worldwide success it's had over the past year?
I don't know. We took a while to shop it around. Plus, the American market's very big and takes so much energy to concentrate on, we had to wait until we were done with Europe.
This album's quite different from Gran Turismo, which itself was a huge departure from your earlier albums. It's obviously a return to a more "organic" songwriting approach. The lyrical dexterity reminds me a lot of Aimee Mann's multi-layered phrases and titles...
Gran Turismo was very much based on ProTools. We wanted to see if we could make music without being traditional. I guess now we want to go back to being musicians and see what we sound like as just the five of us with our instruments. We had to pay more attention to the songs instead of the production, challenge ourselves to see what we had learned during the break instead of waterproofing our sound.
Tell me about "the break." Why you took it, how you benefited from it, what it effected, etc.
It effected everything. If we hadn't taken that break, I don't think we'd still be together. We all had time to pay attention to our private lives and whatever projects we'd been nurturing during the years of not-having-time-to-do-anything-else. When you're working too much, you start to complain about everything. During the break, we had the opportunity to realize that we missed working, we missed the band. It was important for us to chose the band again.
Speaking of private lives, I noticed that (ex-Shudder To Think vocalist) Nathan Larsson helped out with the lyrics and vocal production on Long Gone Before Daylight. He's your husband, correct?
Yes. He's doing a lot of movie soundtrack stuff: American, English, Swedish... And he's also producing records for other people.
What did you think about Righteous Boy (bassist Magnus Lagerberg's solo project)?
I thought it was great. The break allowed us to do things that didn't fit with The Cardigans, and that was one of them. It was amazing: Magnus has developed quite a lot.
I loved the album and was surprised to find that he didn't contribute to Long Gone Before Daylight.
During Gran Turismo, we realized that, when it comes to The Cardigans, I'm a lot more driven. Magnus is more personal, quiet, and private. The Cardigans has been me making huge leaps forward and being more "active." I think he needs to sit in his room and play his own music.
When the band started, you had practically no experience singing, right?
Yeah, that's true. I loved music and was buying records, but I'd never played an instrument or had any idea that I would make music. I joined cuz I was asked by these nice guys. I eventually learned to love it.
Why did they ask someone who'd never sung before?
Because I was available. (laughs) And I was a friend. Oh wait, before me, they had someone else. They had a singer who trained her voice very heavily. She could sing really well, but they didn't like it. They wanted someone who was more personal.
I read on a few different websites that Life was supposed to be a jokey, tongue-in-cheek album?
No. We've never done anything as a joke. (chuckles) I've read that a few times, too. We'd never spend all that time doing something as a joke.
What about "Lovefool" and the massive success it gave you relatively early in your career? Do you look back on it as a curse or a blessing?
We were working a lot before then, too, but on an indie level. We had to, to keep ourselves afloat. But then, suddenly, it was a whole different kind of work. We had to fly from Japan to the U.S. just cuz Letterman wanted us, stuff like that. It was strange. That song was on our third record, and it was strange for us to be suddenly that connected to that one song and that one movie (Romeo + Juliet). I'd never ever call it a curse; it helped us so much... But we have so many other things to talk about now. (chuckles)
It's funny, on the last tour, we dutifully played it, and many people said "you really don't have to. It's not as interesting - or, at least, too different - from the new stuff." We were surprised!