Veröffentlicht am 16.10.2019 | von Sophia Kahlenberg


MANDO DIAO – Interview

Foto-© Linda Schäffler

Wer war mit 15 eigentlich nicht verliebt in Björn Dixgård oder einen seiner Bandkollegen? Wir zumindest schon ganz schön. Und, guess what, Mando Diao sind zurück mit ihrem nunmehr neunten Album. Erste Reaktion: Nostalgie. Zweite Reaktion: das ist eine verdammt gute Platte. Mando Diao wieder so wie damals. Zurück mit BANG – und das Album hält was der Name verspricht! Wir trafen Björn und Carl Johan in Berlin und sprachen über…ach, eigentlich querbeet alles!

The roots of Mando Diao date back to 1999, right?
Björn: Oh we don’t even know..the keyboard player brought me to his band, a cover band, in ’96 I think. But it’s hard to say – the name I came up with in ’97.
Carl Johan: It’s probably more than 20 years. I mean I joined in 2000 and I think you guys played Rock’n’Roll since 99 and before that it was Trip-Hop…

How have you kept the motivation up for all these years?
B: It’s music. Music is just eternity, it never ends you know. It’s like life basically, you can never get fulfilled..
CJ: Imagine going to work every day. And what you do, you go to your studio and you sit and play the piano or the guitar, produce stuff. You get to go to nice cities and eat some good food and maybe go dancing in the evening – that has been our life since 2002. There’s nothing, no other work, you can compare that to. Of course you get tired of flying and traveling and stuff like that. But the positive side is, if you have a meter in green and red, then the green is over here. And the red is more almost orange.
B: It’s fruity. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
CJ: On the other hand you need to figure out how to combine your life with family and kids. Now when we’re home, we’re home. We don’t need to go to an office and sit there until 6pm.
B: What he’s trying to say is that we’re really blessed.

You just mentioned your kids – has fatherhood had an impact on your creativity or your work as a musician?
CJ: I don’t think it has changed my creativity, but you definitely worship the time you have to be creative more.
B: You’re more focused maybe, it’s hard to analyze for us. I do feel a slight responsibility for my daughter and my son – I’ve got to write good tunes for them now.

Aw, you’ve done well so far!
B: Thank you!

With BANG album number 9 is coming out in October – can you share some especially memorable Mando Diao moments with us?
B: Well the last years since Gustaf quit, it was…for a second it’s absolutely weird. A special moment was the first gig we did without him. It was a really fucked up show.

That must have been pretty strange?
B: It was so strange!! But also such a big relief.

Relief in what sense?
B: From just doing it. And from just going on.
CJ: When you lose a member, it’s so tough to go on and do another show.
B: We felt like we were completely naked on stage. It was weird, but it was one of the most memorable gigs I think with Mando ever.

When did you feel like you’ve settled in again?
CJ: That gig, but that summer in general was a bit rough. Now we’re very safe with everything we do. Not in a boring way, but in a good way. It’s been a long journey.
B: We’ve also accepted the fact that, when you’re a band for 20 years, there will be change. We’ve been around for so long, people are gonna come and go and these things happen in life.
CJ: And you realize that you have to have something else to do aside from the band. Everybody makes other kinds of music as well, we experiment with electronic music in our spare time and have different projects. And that way Mando becomes really interesting for us to keep on going with. In the beginning we only had Mando, all the music we did was Mando-related and now we’re way more free.

Keeps the fire burning.
CJ: Yes, there’s no reason to quit. We want to be like the Rolling Stones and die on stage.
B: I’m glad that all of us appreciate different genres and different sort of music. That’s the way we grew up too – my dad and my mom especially played a lot of different music to me. To this day we appreciate a lot of stuff.

Björn, you did a solo tour a few years ago. Did you ever think, okay right this is it, I’m just gonna go solo now?
B: No, I never want to go solo. Not that I know of at least. In case you guys started to act like assholes I’ll think about it. Having a solo career sounds scary, that must be brutally lonely. I’m impressed by people who can do that.
CJ: You’re a team guy. Either you play tennis or you play football. And I don’t think any of us are tennis players.
B: Music is about unifying with other people. I can’t make music alone. I did that solo tour, because there were some band members who couldn’t tour. We had this new record out and we were thinking about what to do, if we were gonna tour it at all. It was a weird tour.

How has BANG come together? Can you share some of the steps, when did you start, who did what and so on?
CJ: On the road, writing songs, recording them. We were touring Good Times and a lot of songs came out at home, when Björn and Jens were writing together. On the road I remember one late night, I heard from my bed this woowoowaah… and they kept on doing that for three hours. And I was like, okay it is a catchy chord but please go to bed you fucking idiots. But it’s how it works.. Then we went into a studio in Malmö a couple of times and to one in Borlänge, where we are from, and started recording.

So it’s a very natural process following an initial spark – you sing about it in one of the songs too?
CJ: Yes when you feel like it, you go and do it.
B: It’s a lot about the spark and the fire. We used that topic before, on the Give Me Fire record. Here we go, it’s there again.

Speaking of, I think I must’ve listened to Gloria about 1 Million and ten times back then. Thanks for that!

CJ: You know that chord change in the end? That was my idea!!

When did you decide on..?
B: The chord change?

Piece of genius, gotta admit!…One Last Fire as the Opener? And the first single coming out in August?
B: It just felt good. Everybody was up for it, the label was up for it.
CJ: A lot of decisions we make are based on gut feeling. Sometimes you don’t think at all, it just feels good so you need to go for it.

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Well and also, isn’t it often, that you overthink things but in the end you come back to the initial thought anyway?
B: Exactly! The music business and writing music and such, the more you plan the worse it gets pretty much. We really met a lot of idiots in the business during the years, who think they know the answer. If you do a song like this, listen to this, it was a big hit last week. But what about next week? Nobody knows what’s gonna happen then. You better stick to your heart.

Speaking of the heart – it seems like you brought a lot of the old Mando Diao vibes back?
B: Yes, at least the riffs and…my voice and your base playing CJ.
CJ: For us it’s a step forward. Since it’s a more Roch’n’Roll sounding record, it probably reminds you of Bring Em In and Hurricane Bar in a way. We never thought about those records, when we made this one.
B: You feel so sexy when you play guitar riffs as well. Even though we’re getting old, we still feel pretty sexy some times. Especially when you play a guitar riff.

Okay, fine, we can all agree on that.
CJ: We’re really eager to go on stage and show, hello there it is. Who can resist that? And then you hold that note for sooo long..

When was that Berlin gig again? 1st of December? We’ll be front row! Change of topic. In your PR statement it said, that the key word for Bang was hedonism. How did that come about?
B: We have our own version of hedonism. It’s about becoming free. As simple as that. Allowing yourself to be free, because all of us humans have a lot of problems in our lives, things can be hard. But the only cure is to think of your own freedom and how to get there.

There’s a moment when you realize, that you have a choice. Pretty liberating..
CJ: You’re responsible for your own life and you’re responsible to not take away freedom from other people nor yourself. Do whatever you want and let go of your boundaries – as long as you don’t do anything bad to other people.
B: Life is not supposed to be 100% all the time. But it’s supposed to be free through all the ups and downs.

What do you do outside of music, that makes you feel free?
CJ: We’re nature people. Björn is a fisher. We go out into nature, go fishing, go to the cabins.
B: Clubbing is a hobby to.

Dancing always helps.
CJ: It was so interesting. Yesterday we went out in Berlin and it’s so crazy how much energy you gain from music and dancing. Would we have sat in a bar until 3.30am we’d struggle big time today. But when you go dancing, you can stay out for hours and hours.

Natural ecstasy.
CJ: Yes! You now the first time we went out into a techno minimal club somewhere in Germany, it was the most boring things I’ve ever experienced in my whole life. But after a couple of years you realize that it’s not boring at all, it’s just fantastic.

Let’s go back to Bang – can you tell us about the cover art?
B: Since the record is so basic, we wanted to have something really simple. As in involving the elements, fire is basic and water is basic and air and the earth. So we called in this French diver, who is doing all these underwater images.

There are old interviews in which you call your hometown in Sweden, Borlänge, a boring little town. Has the connection to the place changed with all the touring and traveling you’ve done in the last years?
B: Well. The older you get the more you appreciate your past…Haha no, I like that city. The good thing for us is, that there was nothing to do. When we grew up, there was nothing. It’s better now, they even have a little music festival now in the summer time. We played there too!

You played so many shows – are you excited to go out and play the new music live? What can the audience expect?
B: Yes.
CJ: Oh yes, absolutely.
B: Playing live is like dreaming. It’s hard sometimes to describe. When people ask me right after the show, how it was, sometimes I’m like oh well I don’t remember. I remember parts of it. It’s like when you have a dream and sometimes you remember it quite detailed, sometimes you remember just parts of it. It’s a dream screen play you go into, playing music on stage. And how can you get tired of dreaming? Never.

Mando Diao Tour:
22.11. Hamburg – Sporthalle
23.11. Wiesbaden – Schlachthof
28.11. Dresden – Alter Schlachthof
29.11. München – Tonhalle
30.11. Köln – Palladium
01.12. Berlin – Columbiahalle

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Über den Autor

Sophia, 29. Fotografin. Dann kam das Schreiben. Verspürt starkes Herzklopfen beim Wort ‚Australien‘. Aber Berlin ist auch ok.

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