July 2001 interview with Bjôrn Magnusson
Linda, Matt, Chris (Fozzy), Alex
Note: We don't think we made it to the site yet, based on this message "double u gav inga träffar." But what do we know? We can't read Swedish!
Björn's email: As I've already said about a thousand times, we have no deadlines, so let this as long as it takes, don't neglect doing other things just to answer this! Perhaps I should briefly describe this little fanzine thing you're being interviewed by: it's called Twisterella, and we write about whatever we want, as long as we love the music.
Oh, it's all in Swedish, so I doubt a visit would bring you much joy.
Well, I am really looking forward to reading your reply! I am very appreciative that you're taking the time to do this. Again, let it take as long as it takes!
-- Björn Magnusson
...and sorry about writing so much inane things.
1. From the picture of the band and the names listed in the Falling Lanterns booklet, I have come to the conclusion that the band consists of two men and two women -- is this correct? And if so you, Alex, would be a woman -- am I right?
ALEX: My whole name is Alexandra; i.e., I'm female. Matt's my husband. We formed the band in 1943 or so with our former drummer, who put out a single for us to give to our wedding guests.
2. What does each member do in the band (vocals, instruments)?
Linda: lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion; Fozzy: drums, percussion; Matt: lead and backup vocals, guitar, bass; Alex: backup vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards.
3. The guy that does vocals on, among others, "Iridescent Sleepwalker", is he singing actual words in some language I don't master, or is he just producing weird vocal sounds that fit the melody?
MATT: I had hoped it was Swedish.
LINDA: He speaks a language that he made up--only one person that we know of understands it.
ALEX: My sister-in-law's uncle, who lives in southern India, heard Matt's singing and is sure that it's some known language, and he's determined to track it down. It's been five years since we met him, and I guess he's still looking!
4. I couldn't describe klezmer music if my life depended on it, but for some reason, your music, in some places, reminded me of it. Is this intentional, or am I just odd?
MATT: I like klezmer, but I hope you are just odd.
LINDA: I don't know what Klezmer music sounds like???
ALEX: I'm not sure if you're odd or not. We write carnival-style songs sometimes, so the jump to klezmer seems logical. One time I saw a klezmer band, and this woman stomped on my toe with her high-heel. I wanted to elbow her in the butt, but that would've been rude. Another time was at my cousin's wedding Ð a woman got so excited that she did an erotic dance on the ground with a long strand of toilet paper. If that happened at our show, I'd be thrilled.
5. Please don't be offended by these two, they may sound evil, but I think they're somewhat justified: Exactly how serious are you with your music? And how seriously do you expect your music to be taken (by reviewers and listeners in general)? I mean, there are certain parts that could put off "serious listeners". (Note: although I consider myself a fairly serious listener, I do like what you do, a lot.)
FOZZY: Um, All right.
LINDA: Are you insinuating we are a joke band. We love playing music together and we love being creative together. I guess you could say we are almost as serious as Emperor.
ALEX: I don't worry if people take us seriously. Not sure what you mean, but you should trust your musical taste. Sounds like you're unsure?
MATT: I'm trying to think of what aspects you mean. Our voices are unusual, and, I suppose, our song structures can be too. We all try to play our instruments with skill, but sometimes we might prefer a pathetic squeak or burping noise rather than a more typical "alternative" rock guitar sound. We try for more real emotion to the parts and less using cliches like "stomp on the distortion box for the chorus." I like sad music with something a little absurd lurking underneath, or vice versa. To me, most "joke" bands aren't very funny, and bands with no sense of humor are hard to take seriously.
6. What's the general reaction you get from people who've never heard you when you perform live?
LINDA: I love you--Is that your real voice? You guys are like an M&M in a gnome's bed on mushrooms.
ALEX: Are you from another country? I'm in love with your band!
MATT: Wailing and gnashing of teeth, vomiting of blood, obscene gyrations, or sometimes, the Charleston, Bunny Hop, or the Jitterbug. Other times: peaceful slumber.
7. (Every band's favourite question:) How would you describe your own music?
ALEX: Fighting against the oppression of routines and anxiety.
LINDA: Magical little peas in a witch's kettle.
8A. What is it that you're trying to achieve with your music?
MATT: I avoid having too clear a preconception. It seems more interesting to me when there's a style or feeling you can't quite identify.
FOZZY: I want to be more evil than Meshuggah.
LINDA: We have our combined spirits working together to express our sincere feelings and subconscious urges.
8B. Do you have a goal, a mutual thought behind it, or do you just... jam?
ALEX: We all contribute to the shape of the songs, but usually Linda or Matt will come in with their parts intact, and I will come up with a song idea through jamming in practice. Here's a sample: we're working on a song Matt originated at home. Linda's fooling around on the keyboard, trying out a squeaky part. She says, "A puppet came in, said hi, and ran away." That makes perfect sense! I tell them my piano teacher used to have roosters that took naps on the moss in his back yard, which Linda transforms into a song name.
9. Do you have any major influences, or do you pick small pieces from a lot of different sources?
LINDA: We don't pick any small pieces--source=self.
MATT: Lots of small pieces from different sources, crushed together and mutated.
ALEX: I study classical piano, so I'm influenced by the big guys: Bach, Chopin, Satie, Bartok, etc.. Rock is my friend, too My earliest favorite band: the Partridge Family. I was in love with David Cassidy. I thought they could see me through the TV set, so I was afraid to change clothes while the show was on. When I was in fourth grade I wanted to make a rock opera based on the songs from "Elton John's Greatest Hits."
10. What kind of music do you like to listen to?
FOZZY: Benny Goodman and the Rolling Stones.
LINDA: Hans Reichel and Parmeciani
MATT: Huun Huur Tu (Tuvan throat singing, if you're not familiar), Benny Goodman small band stuff with Charlie Christian and Lionel Hampton, vintage Indian field recordings, Hank Williams, Enslaved, Grandaddy, sounds of certain poorly maintained trucks, and the mutant duck at Golden Gate Park. (With all of us this list must be pretty long. I guess the short answer is that we're all over the map.)
11. The animated film by Matt Hall, for which "Brambles" apparently functions as a soundtrack, what's it like?
LINDA: An animated noir about a lonely man and a lonely fish.
ALEX: Craig, our record label guy, wrote: "A man takes his big pet fish to the sea, where it jumps in and coexists peacefully with his fellow fish before the man rudely sends down his shoe to signal that it's time to go home. It's a beautifully made film but is also kind of sad as the man carries the fish back to his factory home. Such is their music: wonder and serenity, chaos and melancholy." It's not commercially available. Matt and I have copies that we purchased ourselves, but they're expensive--$6 for a 3-minute short.
12. I haven't heard anything else but Falling Lanterns -- is your other material in the same style?
ALEX: We had a different lineup on our first two CDs (trio vs. quartet; a different drummer who also played harmonium), so I'd say that it's in a similar style, but mutated and injected with new spirits.
LINDA: I have other albums from a NYC band, Smack Dab (see below). I wrote most of the songs for that band. My style fits well with Matt's and Alex's.
13. Is it possible to get a discography? (Just a list of albums/EPs/ singles; compilation tracks aren't necessary, but I wouldn't mind!)
(See Stuff We Recorded.)
14. Lastly, what are your plans for the future?
ALEX: Record, record, record. Matt wants to visit Tuva. I want to write more fiction. Get more gear--incorporate more samples and percussion instruments, like Fozzy's glockenspiel.
FOZZY: Rich, luscious green Africa and spirals (to be sure).
LINDA: To be as creative as possible and to truly enjoy life.