Our interview with Johan Wohlert from Mew

Our interview with Johan Wohlert from Mew.

Jonas Bjerre, Bo Madsen, Silas Graae, and Johan Wohlert, otherwise known as Mew, are releasing their first album in six years on April 27 on Play It Again Sam. Titled +-, it was recorded in Copenhagen with Michael Beinhorn sharing production duties with the band. It’s a sweeping, anthemic display of their particular musical sensibility, combining nuance and sheer energetic expansion. Back as a four member group for the first time in a long time, it’s another example of their unique sound, one that’s won them fans all over the world. The first two tracks to be released, Satellites and Water Slides, showcase their appeal. There’s a video to accompany Water Slides, an edgy and moodily romantic dark vision that is a perfect match to the music. Northern Transmissions wanted to hear about the new album. Alice Severin contacted Johan Wohlert, who recently returned to the Danish band. He talked about what brought them back together, and the Mew vision.

Northern Transmissions: Hi, how are you and where are you right now?

Johan Wohlert: Really well. Doing a new music video as we speak.

NT: This is your first album in six years. Why did this feel like the right time to work on new music together?

JW: It was actually our producer Michael Beinhorn who convinced everybody that it was time for the four musketeers to ride again side by side.

NT: Why did you choose Michael Beinhorn as producer, and what do you think he brought to the sessions?

JW: Besides getting the band back together, he had a very clear idea of what kind of record we should try and make. He wanted a slightly more direct approach. Which I think we have nailed pretty well.

NT: You’re mentioned by a lot of bands as being an influence and an inspiration. Is there something that you’d like to be remembered for?

JW: First of that’s really flattering. It means a lot if you can, somehow, inspire others to do great things. We’ve always been a real band’s band. I guess doing our own thing, having our own sound and way of writing and playing is what sets us slightly apart and makes us Mew.

NT: Where did the idea for the album cover come from? Does it symbolize any idea in particular?

JW: M/M Paris once again did the artwork and thought that the record felt a bit like a battery, that made Jonas think of the +/- title.

NT: 808 State just remixed your newest single Water Slides. How did that come about? Are there plans for more remixes?

JW: I’m not entirely sure how that came about, but it sounds pretty cool. Remixes are a fun part of releasing music, so yes I think we’ll keep that tradition running.

NT: You have this incredibly loyal fan base all over the world, the frengers. What is it like to have this loyal support, and do you ever meet with some of the fans?

JW: Well, it’s like if you like Mew, you REALLY like it! There seems to be no two ways about it. That means loyalty, and it means that we can actually get away with talking a long time between records. We do meet n greets every now and again. There are fan clubs around the world that we collaborate with on various projects.

NT: I saw that you would like to work with Kate Bush?  Did you get to see any of her live shows last year?

JW: No, unfortunately! She’s amazing, the best female artist in my book.

NT: There is an epic and grand quality to many of your songs yet they also seem very individual at the same time. Do you think of those ideas when you write?

JW: We always try to vary our approach to songs but I guess we, like any other band have a certain way we like things.

NT: The last song on the album Cross the River on Your Own is very beautiful. What was the inspiration for that song?

JW: It’s a classic Mew epic. We loved the key changes and almost Burt Bacharach-esque middle eight.

NT: The video for Water Slides is like a mysterious film – are you involved with the concepts for the videos?

JW: Usually we are but on that particular video we let the director run with his vision which is both beautiful and haunting at the same time, a bit like the song.

NT: Did you ever listen to musicians like the band Yes?

JW: Well I had a period where I listened to some of the Yes stuff, but personally I always preferred Gabriel-era Genesis over Yes. Genesis had better melodies, more melancholy and of course Peter Gabriel, who’s the finest male vocalist to grace this earth.

NT: You seem to have had this strong artistic vision right from the beginning. Did you always know what you wanted?

JW: I think we searched a bit on our second album Half The world is watching me, but then with the Frengers album we became the Mew that we all know and love.

NT: And five albums that inspire you.

-Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
-Afghan Whigs – Gentleman
-My Bloody Valentine -Isn’t anything
-Pixies – Doolittle
-Neil Young – Harvest

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