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Friday, March 28, 2008
Johan Angergard should be a major player in the Swedish pop game. He runs the respected indie label Labrador and is a member of three working bands, two of which he leads. Still, he doesn't claim to be much of a scenester.
"I'm not good at following trends," he says from his home in Stockholm. "I just concern myself with what's happening on Labrador Records and the bands I already like. I don't think there's a big trend at the moment. If there is, it's probably to sing in Swedish."
Johan sings in English in two of his bands, Acid House Kings and The Legends. However, it's Karolina Komstedt who handles the English vocal chores in Club 8, which Angergard says is the project closest to his heart.
"My most personal and melancholy songs are written for Club 8," Angergard says, "and I think Karolina expresses the emotions in them very well. She doesn't really like uptempo, happy songs."
Club 8's music isn't exactly depressing. It's jangly pop music with solid rhythms and catchy melodies, but there's an overcast quality to the lyrics and the production that will probably reinforce people's image of what it's like to live in Scandinavia; the sort of music you put on to keep yourself warm on a cold, gray winter afternoon.
The band will soon make their first visit to Japan to promote their latest album, "The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming," which has been especially well received in Britain — a development Angergard finds surprising, though it shouldn't be. Club 8 is similar in style to so-called twee pop groups such as Blueboy and The Field Mice, who recorded for the late British indie Sarah Records. And Angergard's two favorite bands, The Smiths and Television Personalities, are both British.
"I like (Television Personalities vocalist) Dan Treacy a lot," Angergard says. "There's something open and honest about his singing." He appreciates music with a "vulnerable" quality, but is careful about conveying it in his own work. "I try to avoid writing love songs," he says, "because it can easily become a bit pathetic."
Angergard is fortunate in that each of his three bands provides an outlet for a particular creative impulse. The Legends is his attempt at something lively, something he can take on the road. "Neither of my other two bands perform live very often," he admits. "I wanted a band with songs that were so simple you could get drunk and still play them with a bunch of friends."
Attitude is more apparent with Acid House Kings, a tongue-in-cheek pop outfit that Angergard formed with his brother in the early 1990s. The band's latest album, "Sing Along with Acid House Kings" even comes with a DVD of karaoke versions of all the songs.
"I think we were the first indie band to do that," he says. "When Club 8 come to Japan, we should go to a karaoke bar and see if they have Acid House Kings."
Club 8 play Apr. 3, 7 p.m., at Shibuya O-Nest, Tokyo. Tickets are ¥3,400 in advance. For more information, call (03) 3271-3185.