Last Days Of April
Ascend to the Stars (Bad Taste/Crank!)
An interview with guitarist/vocalist Karl Larsson
by Tim Den
The first time I heard you guys was from your entry on The Emo Diaries Chapter Three, which sounded quite different from your American debut, Angel Youth.
Yeah, we consider Angel Youth to be our “real” first album. It’s also the album where I, for the first time, wrote most of the songs. The song on The Emo Diaries Chapter Three was from ’96, so (laughs) we’ve obviously changed a lot since then.
When did the band start?
Let’s see… Angel Youth was recorded in 2000… so I guess about four years before then? ’96?
And you started out much more post-hardcore than dream-poppy, from the sounds of it.
Yeah, we were definitely a melodic hardcore band. Our influences were Texas Is The Reason and Fireside. But by the time we did Angel Youth, we wanted it to be a very song-based album. Just really good pop songs. The producer, Pelle Gunnerfeldt (of Fireside fame), was a big help in the studio. He had all these amazing synthesizers that gave all the right touches.
Line-up changes happened before Angel Youth, right? Did that have anything to do with the much more “mature” sounds on that album?
There were four of us up until that album, but our bassist quit right before recording. And before (latest album) Ascend to the Stars, Lars (Taberman, guitarist) quit too, so that album was just basically me and Andreas (Fornell, drummer). We’re recording a new album right now, and again, it’s just basically me and Andreas.
Is this one being handled by Pelle, too?
Yes. It’s coming out sometime next year. We’re getting some studio help from friends, though. The singer and especially the bassist of Logh have been working on the songs a lot.
What’s the new album going to sound like?
We were just talking about this tonight in the studio… It’s still early to say for sure, but I’d say (chuckles) that it has an early-’90s, lo-fi theme to it.
Lo-fi? Meaning Pavement, Sebadoh…
Yeah! Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, all that. Stuff we listened to growing up. I know I laughed when I said lo-fi, (chuckles again) but I really think it sounds great.
Kind of like how Starflyer 59 did their best album (Leave Here a Stranger) in mono.
Oh yeah? (chuckles) That’s awesome. Cuz, even if the songs aren’t really great – just pretty good – they would still sound amazing in mono.
How old are you?
I’m 24; Andreas is 26.
Do you guys have to keep jobs outside of the band?
I haven’t had a job in a while… like two years. I’ve been able to support myself with the money we make off of royalties and tours. I’m not rich or anything (laughs): I just live very simply. But I might have to get a job after recording this new album. We haven’t played shows in a while.
Do you see a U.S. tour any time soon in the future?
I would love to tour the States if we had a good opportunity, if a good band invited us to go. I hear that it’s very risky to tour over there, so I don’t want to do it unless it’s something worthwhile.
What about all the bands you’ve toured with in Europe? The Promise Ring and all them… don’t they ever invite you?
Uuuhhh… no. (laughs) I mean they’re super nice to us, but they’ve never offered to give us U.S. shows.
A lot of the themes on Angel Youth and Ascend to the Stars seem to be based on broken hearts, especially the lines “if you need more time, just go ahead and say it/you know where to find me,” where you’re basically swallowing your pride and saying “leave me for however long you want: I’ll be waiting for you.”
More like no pride at all! (chuckles) Yeah, I was going through some problems. But really, it sounds a lot worse than it was. Kind of like in painting or poetry, you have to exaggerate in order to fully realized the scenery.
(1223 Wilshire Blvd. #823 Santa Monica, CA 90403)