The Cardigans

By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 1999
The Cardigans

“Gran Turismo,” the latest album from The Cardigans, shows the band moving in a darker, more experimental direction than their last effort, “First Band On The Moon.”

Drummer Bengt Lagerberg attributes the different sound to the extensive touring they did in support of the last album (which included a stint on Lilith Fair).

“It tends to be very much more rock and roll on stage,” he says. “It seems like a lot of people think we were influenced by trip hop, just because of the drum and guitar loops and stuff. But i think it was more maybe the way Depeche Mode or the Prodigy do things, bands that create the electronic equivelant [of rock].”

Since there was quite a bit of technoloy involved in making “Gran Turismo,” The Cardigans use a sequencer on stage to play the songs live. They’ve also allowed a few older songs (“Been It”, “Losers”) to take advantage of this set-up by giving them a more electronic edge. However, vocalist Nina Persson says that it’s “hard to do with the really old stuff.”

Contrary to what their label bio says, the album is not named after a video game.

“It’s not, that’s wrong!,” proclaims Nina. “I want to ask them to change that. The Playstation people took the word, also, from what it really is, a car. ”

The Cardigans don’t mind that members of the public who are not fans yet often don’t know anything from the band other than “Love Fool.”

“The pros are of course that we get known,” says Bengt about the song. “A lot of people know us. The bad thing is that they only know us from that song. But when we tour, since concert tickets are still pretty cheap here in this country, people tend to go to the shows just to check out what is that they’ve only heard one song off the radio from. A lot of people heard ‘Love Fool’, which means a lot of people came to the shows.”

Though they hail from Sweden, much of the Cardigans music is in English. According to Nina, in the beginning they did this because most of the music they love was in English. And as they began to focus on overseas markets, they saw a reason to change. Peter writes all of The Cardigans music, with Nina coming up with most of the lyrics.

“It’s not a very romantic thing at all,” says Nina on her lyrics. “It’s just mathematics, basically I just make up my mind what I want it to be about. Sometime’s I’ll have some lines from before that I like. But inspiration is such a hard subject to talk about, I can’t say where it comes from.”

In making “Gran Turismo,” the Cardigans had the music written but not rehearsed when they entered the studio. Though studio technogoly played a big role in the album’s sound, the extensive touring they’d just done made them think about how the music would come across live as they were making it.

The Cardigans currently have touring plans until May of 1999, heading to Asia after about 4 weeks in the US. They’ll be doing summer festivals in Europe, and hope to do some American dates in June or July.

“We more or less set aside the rest of the year for touring, says Bengt.

“The bad thing about touring is the waiting, because there’s so much waiting,” he explains. “Performing the songs is as important as recording them, I have a really good time on stage every night, but the other 22 1/2 hours of the day can be quite boring. It’s like the Rolling Stones said one time. Someone said ‘now you’ve been touring and done shows for 25 years, how does that feel? And they were like, “we’ve done shows for 5 years and we’ve been waiting for 20 years’ That’s pretty much how it is. I wouldn’t compare us to the Rolling Stones, though.”

“They’re ancient,” proclaims Nina.

“Yeah,” adds Bengt.

“It’s very enjoyable traveling, in one sense, but when the periods are so long you miss home,” he goes on to say. “Also you miss very much being by yourself, that’s almost impossible on tour when you’re travelling on a bus with other people.

“I miss people more than anything. I mean, my home can be a word for my friends,” says Nina.

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