When I first interviewed Bolywool in 2010, they were one of a slew of Swedish bands who were spearheading a revival of psychedelic rock. In the years since the release of Through A Century, the band has continually shown a growth in their songwriting abilities, separating themselves from the pack. With the release of their new album Já, the band has moved into a new stratosphere. I was fortunate to be allowed to listen to individual tracks from the album during the recording process. In it's early formation, I was able to hear single guitar tracks as they gradually began to build songs. Several times throughout the process, I told founding members Calle Thoor and Oskar Erlandsson that these simple building blocks of songs displayed a beauty that gave me goosebumps. Like early Verve songs, their beauty was in their simplicity. Chord progressions that took the song in directions that eschewed traditional melodic structure, yet created tonalities that were remarkable.
What impressed me about early New Order records like Power, Corruption and Lies was the bands ability to layer instruments and melodies on top of each other that created what amounted to symphonic masterpieces. With their newest album, Bolywool has leapfrogged Sigur Rós and Radiohead to create symphonic landscapes that use this concept to create masterpieces. Upon completion of the record, I spoke to Calle at length about the creation of the best album I've heard in 2014.
Todd: My memory is fuzzy, but I seem to recall that you recorded some of this record in Iceland. What led to the decision to come somewhere else to record?
Calle: That's right. I reckon a good 50-60% of the album is recorded in Reykjavík and Álafoss. We tracked drums, bass, guitars and some synths with our friend Moní (Sigurmon Hartmann Sigurðursson of Kajak) at his studio in the harbour in Reykjavík and then treated ourselves to some studio time in Sundlaugin, Sigur Rós' old studio in Álafoss. It's been a dream of ours for a long, long time to record there, so it felt surreal to actually be there and record our songs within those concrete walls. Also, we've felt that Iceland is our spiritual home of sorts ever since we played there back in 2010, so it only made sense to us to record there.
Todd: A bands' first songs are generally a "best of" the music they've been writing since they first picked up an instrument. As you've gone from Through A Century to Isles to the new album, has the process of writing become more difficult?
Calle: Not really. Personally, I think it has gotten even easier to write music nowadays compared to when Through a Century came about. That record took about 3-4 years to write. Isles kind of wrote itself, since me and Oskar had this vision of doing a record that would be a soundtrack to all islands we want to visit in this life, or the next. Já was different since it was intended to be an EP from the start. But the closer we got to going to Iceland for the sessions, more and more riffs and textures snuck up on us, so - it turned out to be our third full length instead.
Todd: The first time I heard Drop of Comfort, I literally teared up, overwhelmed with its' beauty. It's the layers of melodies and instrumentation that harkens back to The Verve at their finest. Can you talk about the formation of that song?
Calle: That song is actually one of the songs that just appeared out of nowhere. I remember playing around with different setting on my delay pedal, trying out some textures, and all of a sudden the main guitar texture was there. The main texture sounded like drops to me, so the title was there from the very start to and I worked from there with the lyrics. They're short, but straight to the point. I'm quite keen on adding layers of melodies; much like (Mike from the Verve) McCabe did back in the days and the magic of Lazer Guided Melodies. I mean, it's quite a common practice in post-rock and other genres as well, but my personal take on it is more indebted to the likes of Spiritualized, The Verve and the Cure, plus The Appleseed Cast of course.
Todd: When you have a song with some many different melodies, I'm fascinated by it's genesis. So many of your songs use this format. Some bands take melodies that they'd intended for different songs and put them together in one song. Is that what you do or are you writing melodies specifically for each song.
Calle: All songs have their own melody and in 99% of the time, each song's counter-melody, or whatever we should call them are written for that specific song . But some songs that didn't make the cut might have had some good bits in it, so they might be passed on to some other song. But that is rarely the case as things tend to be scraped because they either sound like shit or are uninspired in some way.
Todd: Did Jonas produce the new album or did you use someone else? I'd be interested in knowing how you made that decision.
Calle: No, we did it ourselves along with Moní. Jonas hasn't been involved since Thoughts in Arpeggio, so we've produced everything ourselves ever since Isles. We're quite the control freaks when it comes to the production side of things. However, it's almost always collaborating with people, and we adore Cosmic Call, the band that Moní played in when we got to know each other and like his take on music so it was a rather easy decision.
Todd: How has the lineup for the band and which instruments each of your play on the record changed over the years?
Calle: The line-up changed in 2011 from being a five-piece into just being Oskar and me again. It has allowed us to have a more streamlined and free creative process without the hassle of too many strong wills and agendas. But we've still got an awesome extended family of members helping us out live and in the studio. Oskar and me play the majority of the instrumentation on the songs on Já; guitars, drums, bass, and programming - the lot. But Moní added guitar bits, grand piano, programming and synths, Susanna (Hunt, Killer Walk Among Us, etc.) added vocals to Drop of Comfort, Jonas Jensen added some guitar bits to some songs, and the mystical Cosimo added a drone to Summer Rain. Again, it's fun having other people adding their own whims and fancies to the songs.
Todd: As you've grown older, do you find your approach to lyrics has changed?
Calle: In a way. because I've never been interested in writing lyrics that are obvious or transparent. They are usually really embellished with metaphors and words that just sound nice. More of a collage of lyrical textures if that makes any sense. I always tend to recite or paraphrase transcendental poetry when I'm struggling with lyrics.
Todd: How has your approach to marketing the band evolved over the years?
Calle: It's so hard to stand out these days, so we are so lucky to release this record on Novoton. The guy running the label is really passionate about music and knows how to use various social media platforms to market stuff properly.
Todd: What's next for the band?
Calle: There are some gigs coming up that we are really excited about. We've already started working on pre-production for album number four, so we're pretty psyched about that. These things aside, we are open for whatever the future might hold in store for us. Oskar described us a being more like continuous creative process than a band, and I think that sums us up neatly.
For more information about the band, to order the new album, to declare you undying love, visit their website!
You can listen to their new record on Rdio!