Danish alternative rock act Mew’s music is always epic in scope.
THE concept of polarity is not new to Danish alternative rock outfit Mew. The band’s enigmatic guitarist Bo Madsen once described Mew as “the world’s only indie stadium band.”
He makes no apologies for Mew’s ambitions beyond the indie music circles. As audacious as that description sounds, it’s not entirely too far off from the mark when it comes to the band’s explosive stageside persona.
Formed in 1994 in Copenhagen, Mew also includes lead vocalist Jonas Bjerre and drummer Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen.
A term like “epic” would not be far-fetched when you talk about the band’s music outlook, which has consistently blurred the lines between prog-minded pop, post rock, and late 1970s inspired arty punk.
Over 10 years ago, Mew made its presence felt in the international scene with its third album Frengers (2003), which produced such indie anthems like Am I Wry? No and Comforting Sounds.
Mew’s subsequent records – the dark and largely misunderstood And the Glass Handed Kites (2005) and the widescreen rock of No More Stories … (2009) further established its credentials worldwide.
A few months before its (yet-untitled) sixth record arrives, Mew is busy taking in a few festival/concert shows in South-East Asia.
In fact, Kuala Lumpur is lucky to have the band on a much-hyped double bill with American post rock band Explosions In The Sky this Thursday night at KL Live, Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur.
Guitarist Madsen sat down to answer some email questions about Mew’s new record and the band’s recently launched app.
A short break from the studio for this South-East Asian trek is a refreshing thing. But how’s the new album shaping up?
It’s going well. We have been recording on and off now for more than six months ... so it’s taking time, like always. I think we are making our best record ever – that’s the difference between this one and the other ones before.
What are some key differences between being signed and not signed (to a major label)? What’s the first thing you guys noticed as independent artistes now?
Well, we were with Sony (Music) for nearly a decade ... we always had complete artistic freedom. But we also had our own label Evil Office since 2000. So the new situation is more like running the shop the way we want it. We hire the people in, and we need to fill out the blanks.
Tell us about your recently launched app Sensory Spaces and what brought it about?
The app is just a way of giving something extra to the fans. And it’s free.
We are exploring getting our music out in new ways along with the opportunity to present our universe in a different way.
Mew’s songs are often times epic and prog-minded in nature, especially on The Zookeeper’s Boy and The Circuitry Of The Wolf. There are many different movements happening in a single song. How do these songs develop?
A lot of stuff gets jammed up – in the studio and on stage. We write parts and fit them together as we go along, and we try to surprise ourselves and therefore the listener. Well, the new one (Klassen) is less progressive.
We try to reinvent things as we go along and sometimes changing up the rhythms is the answer, hence the prog reference. But I usually say we are ‘indie stadium.’ A mix between ‘feelings’ and ‘thinking’ is usually good.