Swedish indie band Easy has been a fixture on the music scene for 30 years. With the release of their new album Radical Innocence, they’ve reinvigorated the music scene showcasing why they’ve had such a tremendous impact and why they still do today. We had the chance to catch up with Rikard Jormin (bass), Tommy Dannefjord (drums) and Johan Holmlund (vocals) and talk about the new album, working with legendary producer Pat Collier, the full-time addition of keyboardist Ingvar Larsson, what about them has given them a 30-year career, and much more!
Photo by: Eyleen Kotyra
1. You’ve recently released your brand-new album Radical Innocence. Tell us a little bit about the album and what people can expect to hear from it.
Rikard: It was an album made differently from how we've done it before. We worked on the songs more organized and structured because we know we would have less time in the studio and had to be effective. We worked really hard on the arrangements.
Tommy D: Since we reformed things have been both easier and harder for us. The hard part has been that we are geographically spread out and have very little time to actually get together. But the easy, or at least easier, part has been our collective confidence when we actually meet for rehearsals and song-writing. Things just come together, and we all trust in each other’s abilities to bring what’s needed to the table. For this album, we decided to focus on a few songs and to record them in a short period of time.
Johan: Going to London to record made us more focused. And when we got the chance to record with an experienced producer like Pat Collier we didn't want to let him... or us down. I think the listener can hear what a joy it was recording these songs.
Tommy D: We recorded and mixed the album in just six days with only some small changes made afterwards. Pat was a professional and very quick, with many years of experience in recording bands like us. We usually spoke Swedish to each other discussing changes in arrangements, but then Pat already knew what we would come up with before we even said it to him in English. As a drummer, I was very pleased to record with Pat, since the drum sound is the best I ever had on any record. He didn’t comment on my playing at all, something I interpret as him relying in our own abilities as an experienced band.
Johan: I love the guitar sound as well. Our two guitarists, Anders and Tommy E, were a joy to watch recording their parts. And there must be something in English producer´s tea because the guitars always have an extra twang to them.
Tommy D: The album became exactly what we wanted: Easy being just Easy. This is what we sound like – take it or leave it. Since there are very few overdubs on the record it will be easy to recreate the songs on stage. I really look forward to playing these songs live.
Johan: Easy to play Easy songs live...that was not always the case, was it?
2. This is your first album in a decade. What similarities will long time fans hear between this new music and your previous material? And flipping that question over, what major differences will they also hear?
Rikard: - We´ve got a different kind of touch to our music, not so dependent on guitars.
Tommy D: We have actually released a few albums since our “comeback” in 2010, Popcorn Graffiti and Swimming With The Beast and then also a compilation album called A Heartbeat From Eternity in 2017.
Johan: But I think you can say that this is a 100% effort to do it properly. It´s like us finally embracing the Internet Age. And as a vivid record collector I find it cool that the Popcorn Graffiti and Swimming with the Beast albums already have become collector´s items.
Tommy D: The later albums sound more confident than the earlier ones, and this time I think it’s even more so. Fans will hear it’s us, that’s for sure, but hopefully they will notice that we are better than ever, 30 years after our debut album. The differences are that we are much better musicians and lyric writers these days, and we do hope that this come across to both our old fans as well as new.
3. The album has been hailed as your most ambitious to date. In what ways did you change your songwriting process going into creating this album that gave a fresh feel to your familiar sound?
Tommy D: We have worked in very much the same way as on our later albums. Someone comes up with an idea, usually on guitar, and we all jam together trying to find the right feel. This time, our new recruit Ingvar Larsson on keyboards helped us by playing simple but effective parts, gelling the pieces smoothly together.
Rikard: Yeah, Ingvar has made it sound different. The arrangements are really good this time as well.
4. You worked with legendary producer Pat Collier on the album. How did Pat’s expertise help you most discover the sound you were looking for with this new batch of songs?
Tommy D: Pat has worked with so many bands and mainly recorded us playing live in the studio. He let us be what we are, and there wasn’t much talking about arrangements. He relied in us being prepared for the task, and the process went very smoothly from start to finish. I think he would have told us if we were doing something wrong, but he didn’t, so I think he was happy with the result.
Rikard: I think we got the result we wanted, but there was no room for much spontaneity this time. We had to be effective. Like a day in school, you know, with a time schedule.
5. The album also features a new member – Ingvar Larsson on moog and keys. With the addition of Larsson to the group, how did your songs find an entirely new feel that wouldn’t have otherwise been there?
Rikard: It´s hard to know what these songs would have sounded like without him. He was already in place when we started to write them.
Tommy D: Ingvar is a great guy whom I also play together with in other bands. He helped Easy a few years ago by playing one keyboard note on our song “A Picture”, from beside the stage. These days he is a full-time member of the band and a real asset in so many ways. Ingvar is easy to work with and came up with fitting keyboard parts, without trying to change our basic guitar-orientated sound. We have used keyboards before, so the main difference this time was that we already had the parts before we entered the studio. I personally think we will be able to develop our music even more in the future, having Ingvar onboard in the song-writing process.
Johan: I think the whole process of playing gigs in England and Germany, bringing Ingvar into the band and going back to London to record was more than a breath of fresh air, it has turned Easy into the Peter Pans of Swedish Indie. We are now, as a band, at least 20 years younger.
6. You released “Crystal Waves” as the lead single. What about this song made it the perfect choice to introduce your new music?
Rikard: Its a song out of the Easy manual song book, music written by guitarist Anders.
Tommy D: The song is a perfect opener. It’s catchy and sound very much like us, but with an added keyboard touch from Ingvar.
Johan: It like the fact that a positive message is hidden somewhere in there.
Tommy D: After “Crystal Waves,” the listener will be ready for the more experimental sounds of the title track, which also will come out as a single.
7. You followed that release with an incredible animated video for the song “Day For Night,” which was produced by Ian Holmes who also did the video for “Crystal Waves.” How did Ian’s visuals for the songs enhance them the most that made him the right fit?
Johan: Together with Ian we decided that we were going to make the visuals harmonize with the lyrics. Ian did a splendid job, he's a real talent.
8. What is your personal favorite song from Radical Innocence and why?
Tommy D: For me it’s hard to choose just one, since I like all of them very much. But closest to my heart are “Day For Night,” “Golden Birds” and “Radical Innocence.” The first is really well-arranged in all its simplicity, with a beautiful lyric, sounding like a timeless pop ballad. “Golden Birds” has a great groove and feels like a classic Easy song, with a hypnotic verse and a catchy chorus. The title track is a grown-up cousin to “Pleasure Cruise” from our debut album. This time we manage to pull it off a bit better musically, but the idea is the same: to let the song breath and go wherever it takes us. Stylistically, this song is a crossbreeding between Swedish folk and German kraut, which is fitting since we are Swedish and due to the fact that our singer lives in Germany these days. The last part of the song is a total natural ”being in the moment” thing, something I personally regard as one of the band’s strongest assets.
Rikard: My favorite is the title track. Its more on the edge so to speak. The lyrics are very distinct. It’s a song that uses other elements than music to build up the tension. Voices, for instance.
9. Your music has remained a fixture for 30 years. Incredible! What do you feel it is about your songs that have made them continually resonate with music lovers to give you this type of longevity in an industry that’s not well-known for it?
Rikard: We´ve been a very headstrong group, holding our heads high. We have learnt the trick how to make good music over time, getting better every year.
Johan: The spirit we had in the beginning, it´s still there. It´s not about fame or money, it´s about finding that piece of music, that sound and lyric that will light up the experience of being a human.
Tommy D: Our music has influences from many genres like 60’s and 70’s pop, indie, new wave, punk, krautrock and so on, but I would like to think that we have some timeless quality, even if many people, especially in Sweden, think that we are stuck in some 90’s indie style, just because we started off during that period. When we reformed we recorded a track called “Song To Remember”, just to piss people off and having a laugh. That song sounded exactly the way journalists described us when we first became popular, but we always felt that we didn’t agree in the way they saw us. It’s hard to say that we have made a big career in music, but we rather be important to those who understand than being popular in the mainstream area.
10. We’re all about helping the next generation at allageszine.com, so we always end all our Q&A’s with this question. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with their music today?
Johan: Try to begin every day by playing your instrument or some lyric writing, because your dreams are still there early in the morning. Don't be too selective, just get everything down on paper or record what you play. Dreams are the things that songs are made of.
Rikard: If you don't succeed with the one thing / idea/ song you believed in, do it again and again. In time that idea will bloom and someone will notice it.
Tommy D: Have fun, be creative. Play with people you like. Be happy when people listen, but don’t be sad when they don’t. You and your music are important to you – that’s enough. The rest is a bonus. The music business is a joke, but your music is what matters. See you out there, come and say hello.
Also please listen to our music. You can find it on Bandcamp https://easy-sweden.bandcamp.com/album/radical-innocence
or Spotify https://open.spotify.com/artist/0DjECvHwnn8WAvqMWflvB5