Comebacks in the music business are sometimes difficult to manage. Some bands return for the wrong reason and for the sake of false gods. And when your heart once belonged to a certain band you even see a return quite sceptical. But all in all you’re happy since it can feel like the return of a long forgotten friend. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION is clearly happy about the return of TIGER LOU. And we’re pretty sure that the Swedish indie-rock formation around charismatic songwriter Rasmus Kellerman also had quite an impact on a lot of people out there.
After the release of their third longplayer A Partial Print in 2008 the band parted ways. It was a planned but indefinite hiatus. Now, five years after the release of the record the group reforms for two shows in their home country Sweden, combined with the message of finally working on new material. It’s a comeback we’ve all been waiting for. But how does TIGER LOU work in 2013? The plan seems to be the avoiding of a plan. We’re quite honoured to have Mr. Kellerman for a little Q&A session about the rich past of his musical past, the excitement of the present and the hopes and expectations from the future.
“I’m doing this for another ten years, that’s one of my worst fears” – one of my favourite lines from your 2003 key track “Sam, as in Samantha”. Now, ten years later. Looking back on this time – what was your fear back then and what’s left of it today?
The fear is still there, as a faint whisper in the back of my head, reminding me to never allow myself to get stuck. For the past three years, I’ve been working at an office, but for a month or two each year, I’ve taken time off to focus on writing music and doing the other stuff I also love. If you are a person who has a lot to express and many ways of doing so, not doing it is a very sad option. I could never make enough money from my music to call it my job, but even if I would have, I would still have kept working as a designer. Doing just the one thing is never an option. That’s what the song is about: escapism.
You spend four years in indefinite hiatus. So, on behalf of all the fans I’m starting with the most important question: Is TIGER LOU back for good?
Who knows … I needed a break, all of us did. But me the most I guess. Between 2002 and 2009 pretty much all the music I wrote was for TIGER LOU, and for every new record I wanted to push the envelope. But after A Partial Print, things just felt kind of concluded. In many ways I had reached a wall, one I could not seem to pass. Or wanted to. I couldn’t play faster, louder, more intricate. That was it for me. And for a long time I hated that feeling. I sickened me. It felt like a failure in all of its glory – cos at the same time I’m so proud of that album. But for a very long time, I could not see the point of playing, writing, recording and performing as TIGER LOU anymore. This summer all of that changed. The band got together to play at a friend’s party out in the woods. We decided to only rehearse once, and play as many songs as we could remember. No strings attached. It was so beautiful, the four of us together in a room again. It took all of what, 30 minutes, for someone to say “Why don’t we do this anymore? This is fucking great!”. So here we are now. The only agenda is to do what feels right, enjoy it and don’t think too much.
Sounds like you were looking for something that you couldn’t find outside of TIGER LOU?
Yeah, I spent a lot of time trying to write music for different projects, none of which panned out. For different reasons. After a while it felt like what I was creating just got poured out into this big void, this black whole. So I took a deep breath and regrouped. Life’s too fucking short to not be doing the stuff you love.
What happened to your plans on the second solo album and the NEO NEO project?
A second solo record is bound to happen some day. I’ve got a few nice tunes for it. But I can only focus on one project at the time. Therefore the NEO NEO project no longer features me. We did a bunch of songs that came out sounding amazing and both John and Claes are geniuses in their respective fields. But at the end of the day, having a full-time job, a new born son and firing up TIGER LOU, time is not something I have a lot of. So some thing’s gotta go.
Over the course of years TIGER LOU got bigger and bigger. It emerged from a solo project to a full-band, the music got heavier and heavier. Was a temporary split after such an intense record like “A Partial Print” the only choice? I mean what could have followed this?
Yeah, you’re right. I started out alone, and as the band got together the songs changed. The way I wrote new songs changed. One of the goals of A Partial Print, was to write stuff that was challenging to play live. I spent a lot of time writing, examining, arranging, rearranging and analyzing each song. When the recording process started, every song had an extremely precise blueprint, and we never strayed from them. We even recorded chronologically, starting with the first song, finishing with the last. No extras, no nothing. So to a lot of people, this would have been the most boring project ever, to be a part of. But my mind works at its best, when things are super organized and strict. I’m analytic as a mother fucker! When I recorded The Loyal, only three to four songs were finished going it, the rest I wrote during the process. As a result, it feels half finished listening to it today, but very alive and warm and inviting. A Partial Print is the total antithesis. Every sound, every placement is immaculately precise. There was no winging it. All that happened in the writing process, at home in my room, the weighing of options, the choices and answers. Today, I wanna go someplace in-between these two places.
TIGER LOU: “Right now there is no plan, just ideas and good vibes”
Next year also marks the tenth anniversary of your debut album “Is My Head Still On?” Seeing it in retrospect, Rasmus, what are your thoughts on it?
I love it! It’s got my worst and best tracks on it. Most of all it’s a labour of youthful energy, with a total sense of not knowing what the fuck is going on! I really think a song like The War Between Us defines exactly what TIGER LOU sounds like. It’s taken me many years to come to this realization. But that song, and perhaps also The Loyal, are to most profound pieces of music I’ve ever written – in terms of structure, rhythm, emotions, melodies, lyrics and energy. The Wake is also one of these songs, that hits a certain tone, a certain feel, that is kind of unique, I think. Or hope, anyways. But for a debut album, it’s nice!
I know it might be too early but you said you’re back working on new material. How does TIGER LOU sound in 2013/2014? After the heavy sound of “A Partial Print” you might expect a more reduced ‘back to basics’ sound.
I dunno man, I’ve got a bunch of new tracks, and they’re all kind of different from all things past. I just want to close my eyes, listen to a track, and have it make me not think about anything else. If I can make songs like that, there will be a new record. A song should be a journey I think, moving you away from the mundane, everyday life. Techno is great at that, being in a club, no sunlight, shirtless, drunk and delirious, dancing for hours not thinking about anything else. I want the music to suck you in, and keep you there for a while. Where it’s just you and the tune.
You became a father earlier this year. How much did this change your perspective on certain aspects of your life and your music?
It changed everything, in ways I didn’t expect it to, but all for the better. He’s a rad little dude, and I’m extremely grateful of getting to be his dad. And also scared shitless as I don’t know the first thing about being a dad.
What’s your favourite TIGER LOU tune? Which one do you enjoy most playing live?
The More You Give/ The Less You Have To Carry and The Wake are some of my favorites to play live. But it always differ, from night to night, place to place, crowd to crowd. The Wake is two chords, for four minutes, and I’ve played it 5000 times, but it just has this vibe that gets me every time. Recording wise, I really love The Loyal, mostly cos there’s so much randomness going on. It’s one little riff over, and over again for the last two and three minutes, but guitars, feedback, noise and slap backs moving around on top. No structure, just emotion and chance. I love that. And a pounding, repetitive beat.
“The more you give the less you have to carry” is still one of our favourite song lyrics here at NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION. Are you still sticking with it?
Yeah, most definitely, I try to own as little as possible, to give as much as I can, which is never enough. It works on many, many levels, depending on how you use it. It was crowned by my friend Avi (of It’s A Trap-fame) on a cold night in Umeå, so I take no credit for this very insightful idiom.
What are you most excited about in the future?
Watching my son grow up, learning all the little things we all take for granted. Seeing where we end up with TIGER LOU next year. If we play more shows, record any new songs and end up releasing them. Right now there is no plan, just ideas and good vibes. I’m gonna be on parental leave for seven months, so not working a proper job is gonna be nice. We’ll see what happens after that.
We are all about hope and passion. You too?
Pretty much. I guess hope is the most important thing, but without passion it won’t get you anywhere.