Graying memories not withstanding, we’re confident that it was during our initial introduction to the band’s music that these apes fell in love with The Movements, a love affair brought upon by the relatively unassuming release of a seven-inch on Crusher Records, entitled “The Death of John Hall D.Y.”
Over and over we listened to “The Death of John Hall D.Y.” And while it’s slightly tempting to follow convention with undue humility here and declare that from such humble, two-track beginnings, we never could have imagined the not one, but two, magnificent, magical full-length albums (“Like Elephants 1” and “Like Elephants 2,” conveniently) that would soon manifest from The Movements, never could have imagined that the music of The Movements would soon approach a place of true, unsurpassable resonance in our hearts, minds and ears, never could have imagined that the two albums would be joined in holy record-nerdery as the debut release from Sunrise Ocean Bender Records, the recently animated venture of long-time honorary ape Mr. Atavist.
Actually, we did know. We knew … something. We knew from the very first time that we heard The Movements that their sound was special, that their songs would remain in our lives for years and years to come, that we would be compelled to keep an eye on their musical path for as long as The Movements remain in motion.
That’s not said to sound pompous – this is no humble brag. This is simply an expression of how wondrously moving we find the music of The Movements, and perhaps you will, too. We couldn’t be more proud to have Thomas Widholm, drummer of The Movements, and guitarist Christian “Krita” Johansson respond to our ridiculous questions below. Enjoy.
What does the word “movement” represent for you, in regard not only to your music, but in a broader context as well? How has your relationship to this word evolved over the years? Does your current state of mind have you yearning for more movement in your life, or less?
The Movements are starting to have kids nowadays, so life is definitely moving, after standing more or less still some years ago. So it has definitely been a lot of movement in our lives these last couple of years. I guess that the word movement is a quite important aspect of life. To be aware that everything is always changing, whether you want it or not, and for your own sake you better try and keep up with it. Otherwise, you might get stuck. We have always tried to follow the movements our music makes. Mostly we don´t change it consciously, but we have gone along with it and I think that is why we have been able to play together for so long. It has been creative.
Can you pinpoint an album or artist that you view as absolutely critical to your musical development? What was it about that music that such an impression on you, and how did it alter your way of thinking about your own potential as an artist … if at all? How have your thoughts about this music evolved since you first heard it … if at all?
I can say that 13th Floor Elevators, Hawkwind and The Byrds have been very important for this band, but in different periods of our development. I don´t think it has changed our way of thinking about our potential, but digging in to the music of these bands has happened in periods where we needed to develop. It made us want to learn how to create new vibes. These are great bands but now we have gone through them and need to find more music that makes us wanna go further.
In what ways do you find that your physical surroundings impact your music? Are their specific environments that you search out, feeling that they are conducive to thinking about or creating music? Are there environments that you consciously avoid?
For me there is no specific physical environment that makes me more creative or less. It is more about where your minds at. And that is always moving.
Our rehearsal room / studio is located in the harbor. So if some environment affects us, it’s that environment. When we rehearse and need a break we usually go out and sit on the dock and watch the ships leave port and head out to the open sea.
When do you think you first gained confidence in your abilities as a musician, or at least, as a part of a band? Do you think you still maintain a sense of innocence with regard to making music, and do you find that is a difficult thing to maintain?
I have always had good confidence as a musician but it has definitely grown with the years. And, of course, innocence is almost impossible to maintain. That lies in the process of becoming older and wiser. You win something but you also lose something. You just have to accept that that is always the case. But try out new things is a way to keep your mind less aware of what you are doing and that keeps your mind younger, I guess.
How would you compare and contrast your emotions when it comes to performing live verses constructing The Movements music for recording? They seem to be reliant on a different set of skills – but is there a different emotional response in your mind as well? Does one make you feel closer to the music than the other?
For many years I thought recording was a process that was necessary to do to make good live shows. I have always enjoyed recording but before it was not the main thing for me. But now it is the opposite. I still enjoy playing live but recording is where I now feel creative and where I lose myself in the music. I have totally gone mad about this the last four years and made more recordings than ever before. We have our own studio so that makes it easy. I think making an album with the right flow is an art form. There are so many pieces that shall fall into place and I love that process. How instrument sounds and playing with overdubs is what gets me high nowadays.
We would rarely be so blunt about this, but because of the magnificence of the albums “Like Elephants 1” and “Like Elephants 2,” both as separate entities and as a collective whole, we’re hoping you’ll tell us everything there possibly is to know about the album’s opening song, “The Death of John Hall D.Y.” From where does the title originate? What does the song mean to you? Would you be willing to tell us a bit more about the lyrics to the song in general and the lines, “Out of time / And in to the shadows / I’ll be fine / With God on my side / I’ll be leaving the earth today / But where it’s too hard to say / I know we’ll meet again someday”? Without exaggeration, this is one of our very favorite songs of all time, by any band, anywhere. It’s a miraculous start to a miraculous album.
Big thanks!! It is one of the songs I am most proud of, of all songs I have written. The lyrics were first about taking your own life but being OK with it, if you know what I mean. Not having anxiety about it but accepting that I can´t reach further with myself so I end it with peace of mind. But then I read a book about this dude John Hall, son of one of Gothenburg’s most successful businessmen in the 18th century. He tried to follow in his father´s footsteps but didn’t have his father´s nose for business. He was instead interested in music, art and science. He was quickly fooled of his fortune and died on the streets as a homeless man. His way of seeing things and his death fit right in to the lyrics so we named the song after him.
What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what is your favorite Swedish band of all time and why?
Lately I have been listening to a lot of African music. Both with all these collections of 70s African music but also contemporary bands like Tinariwen or Bombino, for example. But the best Swedish band of all times is Träd Gräs och Stenar. Also Harvester, which is the same members more or less. You have to hear it. According to me there are not many bands that really manage to build their songs around long psychedelic jams, especially bands that don’t just rely on the guitar pedals to do the job. Then it often gets boring and uninteresting. Träd Gräs och Stenar is the exact opposite; they are one of those bands that have total feeling and total interaction with each other for the music they make. In my opinion they are the true masters of psychedelic jams.
Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor we are attempting to start right now) that the album title “Like Elephants” is a direct reference to how the band approaches a traditional Swedish smorgasbord?
Ha ha! Then we should have called the album “Like Pigs”!
In “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” Milan Kundera wrote the following:
“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”
You shall always try and choose the path between. In all things in life the truth lies between. It might sound boring but if I have learned something in my life, this is what I have learned. So don´t over-think things; go with what makes you happy.
What’s next for The Movements?
Don´t know, really. Some festivals and touring and then seeing what happens when Sunrise Ocean Bender releases “Like Elephants” as an double album in the US. I expect nothing but I´m happy about everything.
“Like Elephants 1 and 2” is available now from Sunrise Ocean Bender.