This is pg.lost's second Asian tour. How did that start? What made you want to come to Asia?
We got in contact with Jef from New Noise and he told us he liked our music and he said we had fans here in Asia. We didn't have much clue about what the music scene was like. But he initiated it and we're very thankful for that.
Was the first tour a success?
Yeah.. we came here with the expectation that maybe nobody will pick us up at all. We hadn't met Jef before and we were sitting at the airport and started to think that maybe it was just some friends of ours playing a big joke.
Crowd-wise we had no clue at all. It was way above our expectations.
We were setting the expectations low so we wouldn't be disappointed. We've done a lot of big shows and smaller shows so we've got a good range.
I think the tour was amazing. Jef who helped put on the show, said it was above his expectations too, so that felt really good.
So that's why you signed on again for another tour...
Yes, but I think it is a different goal this time, like to try and visit countries outside China and also try new places. We have six shows in Korea, so what I've heard, that's quite unusual for bands to do that many, so we're real excited about that. And we're doing a show in Kuala Lumpur. After this we go back home for a few days... and then Russia. And then a few days break and we start a Europe tour.
I had a chance to listen to your new album Key, and while it's still clean and has your disctinctive style, it seems like there is more of a dark and heavy atmosphere. What made you guys choose to go in this direction? Do you agree this album is more dark and heavy?
We can agree with you because we hear it a lot. When we started writing the album we thought it was more melodic and lighter in some way, but how we finished, how we recorded the songs because we used old vintage sound amps which are very popular in the doom [metal] scene, so the amp production maybe made that sound heavier.
We always wanted to be a heavy band or like a hard band in some way, but way back we didn't have the knowledge how to get that sound. So if you compare the album before, In Never Out, I think that was kind of dark and also heavy, but not in the same way. Now I think we have melodic parts that we didn't do earlier.
I think our goal in the earlier albums was to do it how it sounds when we play live, not adding other instruments. For this album it was more like, let's just do whatever it takes, use timpani or add strings, whatever, let's just do it. I think we ended up doing almost the same as before, but were more picky about sounds. We worked much more with the guitars this time, like trying new sounds with fuzz pedals and stuff like that.
And I guess we were working with Magnus Lindberg from Cult of Luna. We've been working with him a lot, not only in this band, but in other bands we've played in, so it feels natural to work with him. He has a great sound. The first time I heard the production I fell in love with the drums because it's really unique and powerful I think.
And now it's quite easy to work with him also. We mixed the album in four or five days so, he's really quick. We had him mix In Never Out also, and we wanted him because we wanted his sound for some parts of it. We just told him, do your thing and we can give you our input. Because we recorded and produced it ourselves.
A friend of ours just bought a new studio, so we supported him and rented it. We recorded it ourselves in his studio because all of us are in some way working in sound tech. Our city, Norrköping, is a small city so we are like a collective, having bands with each other and having the advantage of each other. It started as just a fun thing to do, like jam and drink beer.
The list of great Swedish bands is extensive; Immanu El, Amon Amarth, Refused, In Flames, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Knife, ABBA or Basshunter... Sweden has a population of only 9.5 million people, how is it that your country can produce so much great music?
Sweden is a boring country. (laughs)
Every band says that, but it's not true.
I think for us it's maybe because we have so much time. Because we don't have to work that much to earn a living, we always have time to go to the rehearsal space. In other countries people have to work all the time, to pay the rent and that sort of thing.
We're also riding on previous bands.
Sweden has a great tradition of putting great bands out to the world and now in 2012 we just tag along.
I think that's an important thing because we always have bands to look up to. Bands in Sweden are very close. We can watch them several times and we have friends who play in bands that have helped us a lot with gear and such.
Is the Swedish government generally supportive in offering funding?
Sure, you can always get money, but for us that has never been the focus. It's like you have to be a certain kind of band, or like you have do classical or something really mainstream so we've never really checked into it.
Do you guys think there is a kinda Swedish 'sound' in post-rock, a style that's common with bands like Jeniferever, Ef, We Are The Storm and pg.lost?
It's a small country. Kristian produced two of Immanu El's records so we know each other, all the bands in the genre. We're tight. We're always comparing ourselves and talking to each other and doing shows together, so I think in the end that makes the Swedish sound in the style of music. Mono, Godspeed and Mogwai were really popular it started some sort of trend. I don't know who started it but those international bands came to Sweden, and Sweden is a country that is interested in music in general so someone started playing it, then other bands followed. I think for us it was like hearing the big bands like Mogwai, Godspeed and Mono, we didn't hear the Swedish bands and decide 'ahh we want to sound like this, we'll start playing post-rock.' It was the old stuff.
Was there an element of your sound that also came from 90's hardcore, which was happening in Umeå?
Yeah, we grew up with that so that's a huge part of every one of up. I think for us as page lost, or pg.lost whatever you say, we have those hardcore roots and we're quite DIY in the beginning. I think that's good for us. I don't know about the other Swedish bands, I don't know if Immanu El have any hardcore roots (laughs)... well, they probably have.
As far as the types of concerts you're doing, how have things changed?
When we started out we were quite picky with shows, like we supported Mono in Sweden and that really helped us. I think we turned down the small shows because we were in other bands doing those shows, so we wanted pg.lost to be something else.
We prefer to do new things, like this Korea tour. We have no expectations, we just love to see and try new things.
You recently mentioned on Twitter that your Shanghai show at Mao Live House was perhaps your best ever.
I think the thing with the Shanghai show for us was the venue with the big screen and our visuals. We just made new visuals for this tour, working with a British filmmaker Craig Murray and I think that's been a huge uplift for us. We had expectations of the venue before because Jef had told us about the huge LED screen, but when we got there it was beyond our expectations, and with the crowd and everything else, it all just came together. The special thing was the great stage, great sound, the visuals looked great, and there were over 600 people there to see us. We didn't expect that at all. It was a dream thing.
How did working with Craig Murray come about?
Our idea for Key, the new album, was to work with other people. We have one guy who does our artwork, Valentin Maelstrom, your brother (points at Kristian.) So he does all the artwork for us, we have Craig Murray doing the visuals and we do the music. We all, for the first time, just synced great with each other.
Is that something you want to do more in the future... stronger cooperation with artists of different mediums?
Trying new things is one of the main things with pg.lost, so hopefully the next album is a step further, like maybe we'll have dancers on stage (laughter). It's a possibility!
Another thing, we're going to be doing a split album with a band called Wang Wen (惘聞). They have already recorded their songs and we'll do ours when we get back home so we can get the vinyl pressed. I think that will be huge for us because they're the biggest Chinese post-rock band, and they're great.
I think we both benefit. In Europe they'll get some good publicity.
Your new album Key is available to listen to in its entirety online, even before it's been released in CD form. What was the reason you didn't just release one or two tracks, like bands usually do?
We had this discussion because we knew that we were doing an Asian tour and we were going to sell it here anyway. It's ridiculous to go on tour and not sell the album. If you sell an album it'll be out on the internet in like a day or two, it's always like that, so we felt 'why the hell not?' In this genre, if people like it they buy the CD anyway. For us that's not been the main reason anyway, it's more important having an audience that grows instead of selling 400 CDs more. More fans, more shows.
We've never released a CD in China and yet we got to go on tour there and play to 200 people - on the first tour. We didn't even know people knew us here, but they do because of the internet and downloading. That's been nothing but a huge help for us. Other artists don't want you to say that. I don't think we would sell more records if people couldn't download our music. Maybe for bands like Metallica they maybe lose CD sales with people downloading, but we're so small, people buy the CD if they really want it.