30 April 2008

Band of the Week: I'm From Barcelona (slideshow, interview w/Emanuel Lundgren)

Band: I'm From Barcelona
From: Jönköping, Sweden
Sound: Uplifting, joyous bedroom pop to the 29th power
Similar Artists: Polyphonic Spree, Beulah, Bodies of Water, Architecture in Helsinki
Listen Now: "Oversleeping"

You wouldn't think a song detailing the joys of stamp collecting could whip a room into such a commotion as to cause overhead stage lights to come crashing down, now would you? Well, neither would we...that is, until we saw the gleeful force of nature that is I'm From Barcelona blow the roof off Maxwell's last Friday evening.

Seeing is believing. Led by charismatic frontman Emanuel Lundgren, the 29-member ensemble have made considerable strides since "accidentally" forming a few years ago. As the now-famous origin story goes, Lundgren decided to record some songs in his apartment over a month-long vacation from work. To flesh out the tracks, he invited his friends to come over and record various vocals, hand claps, and whatever spare instruments happened to be lying around.

It just so happens that he has more friends than you or I, and the result is a blissful debut album - 2006's Let Me Introduce My Friends - that balances the earnest songwriting and subject matter of someone composing from their bedroom (as was the case) with the insta-party vibe of having your 29 best friends on hand (as was the case).

To truly experience the band though, you MUST see them live. It's as though a stadium-sized show somehow got crammed into a much smaller space, causing a technicolor explosion of goodwill, balloons, smiles, and frantic sing-alongs (and broken lights) in the process. Your last chance for the foreseeable future comes tomorrow at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple. EAR FARM joined Lundgren and a few of his fellow Barcelonians as the band (17 out of 29 of them for this particular tour) prepared for Friday evening's show. After the jump, check out our exclusive Q&A with Lundgren as well as a slideshow of the night's activities AND live video from their insane performance...

(ABOVE: I'm From Barcelona slideshow, created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR)

EF: It must be an absolute logistical nightmare to have to coordinate everyone’s schedules

IFB: Yeah, I like to torture myself, so we don’t have a tour manager.

EF: So who’s responsibility does that fall to?

IFB: (Emanuel points to himself and laughs) Me, I’m the booking agent and everything...I’m so eager to play now because it’s been such a long time planning, and it's been all about everything else except playing so far; I’m so glad we’re here right now and we can finally play some music!

EF: How many shows are you guys doing this tour?

IFB: It’s a small tour because we cant do a four piece band to go on a tour for 2 months. So we do 6 gigs, it’s a 10 day tour.

EF: And you’re heading out to Coachella after this?

IFB: Yeah tomorrow. But I’m kind of sad because I think we’ll probably miss the Prince concert. I love Prince and I’ve never seen him live. We’ll probably be sitting in the parking lot in the bus and hear Prince in the desert.

EF: You could probably still make it, commandeer a golf cart or something...

IFB: Yeah, like “Prince, wait for me!”

EF: (looking at IFB bandmates blowing up balloons) So these are the stage props for tonight? What have we got here, some balloons?

IFB: Yeah we try and entertain the crowd, it's good to have something to do so you don’t stand here like this (stands with arms folded and blank look on his face)

EF: Right, which of course is exactly what New York audiences are known for.

IFB: Yeah but not from my experience, not from last time; they didn’t stand like this (resumes arms folded), it was a wild bunch of people.

EF: Well I think I read somewhere that part of the beauty of your live shows is that there’s a thin line between audience and performer...

IFB: Yeah, yesterday in Philly was extreme, it was very much like a punk rock gig because there were so many people up on stage for half the gig. It was a bit too crazy but I like it like that. But it’s a good contrast with that and tonight and then with Coachella, it's like two different vibes, but I like it like this (small shows), it's easier to communicate with the crowd.

EF: Sure, and you guys have so many members in your band that it must be an advantage when you go and play these enormous festivals, I’m sure you all feed off of each other on the stage.

IFB: Right, when you see a three-piece band on stage, after having been in this band for awhile, it always feels like “doesn’t it feel lonely up there? It's so empty, so much space..." But we often play small stages, and it feels good to play bigger stages so we’re not hitting each other with instruments and everything.

EF: Explain how the band started, it was basically you and your friends, right?

IFB: Exactly, the first record was all about friends. I just invited all the people I hung out with, I didn’t care if they were the best musicians in Sweden, it wasn’t about that, it was just about having fun. And now this next record is all about strangers - I can release that news - I haven’t found the perfect title yet but it will be about strangers.

EF: Is “Britney” (new single released on MySpace) an example of that?

IFB: I guess so, because it’s about the strangers I read about and see on TV; I’m a biography junkie, I love to read biographies about people so I guess I’ve read a lot of them the last two years and the new album is influenced by that. It's more about walking in someone else’s shoes for a change.

EF: So how much of that material is written?

IFB: All the songs are ready and we’re mixing them right now. We’re planning the cover and the video so this fall it will be out, probably September.

EF: Awesome, and do you think there will be another stateside tour to support it?

IFB: I hope so I really hope so[...]And we’ll have to do the thing we’re worst at: we’re so bad at rehearsing, but we have to rehearse new songs. When you’re like 20 people, it always ends up as a party, it's hard to focus.

EF: Well that’s good too though, to always have a party...

IFB: It is good, but you don’t get anything done. We’re playing some of them tonight, we’ll see how it goes.

EF: And then you guys are playing the Brooklyn Masonic Temple next Thursday...

IFB: Yeah, I’m kind of excited about it. As I told you I like to read about stuff, brotherhood and societies, it's always fascinating, I’ll probably sneak around finding weird symbolic stuff and building my own conspiracy theories. We did the pool parties with the same promoter last year and it was amazing[...] Another thing I’m looking forward to is we’re doing a show Yo Gabba Gabba, it’s a children’s program on Nickelodeon, it's an amazing music program (ed note: see recent Shins performance on the program HERE). They want to pick good music for young people, they write their own music and we did a cover of it and are going to perform it there. I think it's going to be amazing because I’ve been thinking of doing a children’s record.

EF: And your music just has that playful vibe to it too...

IFB: Yeah, and I’ve noticed we have a lot of three-year-old fans actually. I think kids are honest, they don’t care, they just feel what’s good; for me, it’s a compliment that a kid would like it.

EF: So what do you have in store for the Brooklyn show?

IFB: I think the theme will be pink….

EF: Pink...so we should tell everyone to dress accordingly?

IFB: Yes, think pink! That’s the concept. So come to Brooklyn and we’ll have a good time together.


"Collection Of Stamps" (live from this show, YouTube)
unknown new song ("Paper Planes"?) (live from this show, YouTube)

See I'm From Barcelona Live:
01 May - Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple
09 May - Brussels, Belgium @ Nuits Botanique
10 May - Diksmuide, Belgium @ Ten Vrede
03 July - Kristiansand, Norway @ Quartfestivalen
04 July - Oystese, Norway @ Bygdalarm
18 July - Poupet, France @ Les Arts a La Champagne

Visit I'm From Barcelona on MySpace.
In the recent past, the following bands have been featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week:
Tapes 'n Tapes
White Hinterland
Man Man
We Barbarians
The Dodos
Hey Hey My My
Amy LaVere

See the entire list of bands featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week HERE.


Anonymous said...

OMG your right they are so FUN live! I was at that show!!! I can see myself in the slideshow. LOL

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Anonymous said...

Awesome!!!! I can't wait for this show! Masonic Temple looks a little weird in the pics though? has anyones else been?

Anonymous said...

Awesome pics and great interview! They certainly seem fun but it's hard to get a sense of it from their recordings...

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