Die besten Geschichten sind die, die im Kinderzimmer starten, oder? Also: vor 15 Jahren saß ich in meinem Kinderzimmer. Es war 2 Uhr morgens und im TV lief MTV. Damals liefen zu der Zeit noch die guten Tracks. Nichtsahnend, dass einer dieser Tracks mein Leben ab diesem Zeitpunkt maßgeblich beeinflussen würde, hockte ich da und gab mir alles von den Strokes über die Foo Fighters bis zu eben diesem Song: “Down In The Past” von Mando Diao. Darauf folgte das, was jeder clevere Teenie damals getan hätte: der illegale Download über eine ominöse Website, damit der alles verändernde Song straight mit der besten Freundin via ICQ geteilt werden konnte. Der Rest ist Geschichte.
Zu dem Zeitpunkt haben Mando Diao gerade ihr zweites Album “Hurricane Bar” released. Fast 15 Jahre, sieben Alben und diverse Stil- und Mitgliederwechsel später haben wir Sänger Björn Dixgård und Keyboarder Daniel Haglund vor ihrer Show in der Berliner Columbiahalle getroffen und über hartnäckige (Ex-)Bandmitglieder, alkoholhaltige Routinen, Wirtschaft, Speed Limits und Gruppentherapie gesprochen.
Nina: I remember seeing you play here in 2005. What has changed for you as a band between now and then?
Daniel: Some of the members..
Björn: Haha, yes. Some of the members are not with us anymore.
Nina: And some are back!
Björn: And some are back, yes! Like him..
Er zeigt dabei auf Daniel, der die Band 2004 verlassen musste. Die Gründe dafür sind umstritten. Manche sagen es sei wegen seiner Vorliebe für die Band Dream Theatre gewesen.
Daniel: We’ve also been doing a lot of different experiments, both live and with writing music. But now we are more mature. We have a better chemistry in the band.
(Ob es so ist, weil er jetzt auf andere Musik steht, oder weil seine Bandkollegen eingesehen haben, dass man Menschen nicht nur nach ihrem Musikgeschmack beurteilen sollte, sei dahingestellt.)
Björn: Yeah, better than ever.
Nina: Talking about changing band members: How long did it take for you to get a routine after the change in the band line up?
Björn: Pretty much one day. It’s all about drinking a small glass of rum before the show. We always do that since we have the new band constellation. Just a small rum shot. Not too much, we can’t be pissed on stage. But afterwards..
Daniel: But to be honest: it took some time getting a new routine of course. I think the recording of “Good Times” was a process of getting to know the new constellation of people and the chemistry.
Björn: Good answer!
Mando Diao – Don’t Tell Me
Nina: The one thing that seems to be consistant is the contact to your fans. How important is it for you to stay in contact with fans, especially the one that have supported you throughout the years?
Björn: Staying in contact with our fans is very important to us! Otherwise we wouldn’t be sitting here, so we gotta take care of what we have. We’ve got this present behind you from a russian fan today. It’s pretty cool!
Er zeigt auf eine Art Plastik-Statue mit leuchtendem Mando Diao-Schriftzug.
Björn: But the presents are not the important thing, the fans are what’s important. And that’s why we thought it’s a good idea to ask them to cover our songs on instagram.
Nina: You even played a song with one the fans that sent in a cover yesterday before the show and shared it on your instagram.
Daniel: Yes, the girl was so professional and didn’t seem to be nervous at all. She later said “This was the best day of my life”.
Nina: Seems like that’s what makes it worth it and why Mando Diao can look back on a band history of 20 years now…
Daniel: .. According to Wikipedia..
Björn: According to when Daniel and I met.. puhh.. 1996? We don’t exactly know, when our jubilee is. We just celebrate it all the time.
Nina: Where do you still find the motivation and especially inspiration to continue making music after all this time?
Björn: Well, humankind is doing a lot of bad stuff in the world, but one magical thing that we are doing is music, so I think that’s something to stick to. When you are a musician, you want to do that for the rest of your life and as long as there is a good chemistry we can go on forever.
Nina: Are there moments when you think you can’t go on?
Björn: Maybe sometimes when we are touring. It can be very hard. It’s a luxury job, but the travel days and..
Daniel: .. and the days we play late shows and end up around 2 am and have to be at the airport at 7, these are times when I think “What the fuck am I doing with my life?”
Björn: But you have this with every job, you always have moments where you think like that. I had this moment last night at 4 am. I was lying in the tour bus and couldn’t sleep.
Später stellte sich raus, dass der Grund für seine schlaflose Nacht Schlagzeuger Patrick war, der laut Björn wie ein “fucking moron” schreiend in den Bus kam.
Nina: So it seems like you are still going strong with the partying after shows?
Björn: Well, we can’t do it as hard as we did 15 years ago, but sometimes we still do. And today is the tour ending, so today it’s gonna be a lot of clubbing.
Nina: Sounds like a plan. Berlin Sundays are great for clubbing. Is the partying also a thing that motivates you to go on tour?
Björn: It is! But our actual motivation for touring is that we love each other and it’s always like being on a school trip. It’s really like that, but you are grown up. That’s the good side.
Daniel: The best thing is having a night liner. You can just go to sleep on the bus and wake up in the next city. You don’t have to get up early like when you’re flying.
Björn: Flying is killing.. everything in the world basically. It’s killing people, it’s killing nature and it’s killing motivation. But don’t tell Lufthansa.
Nina: No worries, i’m not in close contact with them.
Björn: Haha, good.
Nina: Let’s talk about your latest record “Bang”. You went through many sound changes over the past years, but it seems like you have rediscovered the “old Mando Diao” sound recently?
Björn: Well, to us it feels both old and very new. We just had a lot of guitars. Me and Jens made a lot of the songs on the new album that are based around these guitar riffs and that was something we fell for at this moment. We always try to plan stuff before. Like the next record, it’s going to be a little more 50s and I am sure, the moment we enter the studio, it’s going to sound different. So it’s hard to plan. You have to be spontaneous and follow the idea of the day.
Daniel: The Mando Diao sound is quite wide and right now we are sounding like this but in the next moment we may sound different.
Nina: To me it feels like “Bang” is getting you back to the roots. It’s kind of similar to your first two records “Bring ‘em in” and “Hurricane Bar” soundwise.
Björn: Yes, a little bit. I think it’s more mature and at the same time more danceable. The speed limit is a little slower. The need for speed..
Nina: With the age comes the desire to slow down probably.
Björn: Haha, probably! But seriously, the early songs are so fast, you can’t really dance to them. But you can dance to the new songs.
Daniel: Speed limit.. that was a good one!
Mando Diao – One Last Fire
Nina: In “One Last Fire” you’re singing “One last fire, gonna leave them all behind”. Can this also be interpreted as a sign that this might be your last record?
Björn: No, definitely not. (Sein Handy klingelt) Oh, did I get a text? (Guckt auf sein Handy und liest die Nachricht) The manager says: Yes, it’s your last record!
Daniel: No, it’s not the last one. “One Last Fire” is more about the troubles and the evil shit in the world. That’s what we meant. You have to put up a fire to get rid of some shit in your life, that’s what it’s all about.
Nina: So, good news for all the fans!
Björn: Definitely. It’is a cheer up song basically. Let your inner fire keep burning.
Daniel: So, no. It’s not the last record. We have plans for two albums..
Björn: And one EP.
Nina: And then another best of.
Daniel: And then maybe we stop.
Nina: You said that during the writing process the concept of freedom was an important inspiration to you. What does freedom mean for your individually?
Björn: Freedom is a hard thing, you know? Because even when you think you’re free, you’re not. We feel like we have a free job and we are free as a band but still we are controlled by a lot of shit.
Daniel: That’s actually a hard one to answer.. because.. what is freedom?
Björn: Maybe moving to the countryside, staying in a house and growing your own vegetables.
Da ging wohl ein Gruß raus an den alten Bandkollegen Gustaf Norén, der die Band vor vier Jahren verlassen hat und seitdem genau das tut.
Björn: It’s weird… BUT: music! Music can make you feel free for at least the whole night or even days. So that’s important.
Nina: There are 17 years between the releases of “Bring Em In” and “Bang”. How did your focus change during that time? What is important for you now that you didn’t really think of before?
Björn: If I were 22 again, I would have started economy class. Because we got screwed so many times by different managers and other people, but well.. money is just money. The good thing is that we could work on music all the time. Despite change in band members and all the troubled times with bad chemistry in the band we always stick to the music – now more than ever. And that’s the big change: the focus is even stronger on the music.
Daniel: We are stronger in every aspect. We learned some things the hard way.. actually we learned many things the hard way.
Björn: We even went to group therapy together. That was great. Like Metallica, but we didn’t film it.
Nina: Did you do it in your current band constellation including Jens and you, Daniel?
Daniel: Yes, I was back in 2010 and Jens joined the band in 2015.
Björn: Yeah, they both have been around for quite some time, but Jens is still the rooky of the year. He always will be.
Mando Diao – Long Long Way
Nina: But not only Daniel and Jens joined the band, also Patrick, who was your roadie back then is now a full member of the band.
Björn: Well, he was roadie, he was sound engineer..
Daniel: He has done everything.. except playing with us.
Nina: And he eventually managed to be in the band.
Björn: Yes, the day we realised he was a great drummer, that was the day he started basically. It took some time before he showed that, haha.
Nina: Good for him and it seems like it’s really working out with the new band lineup as you just signed a new record deal with an independent label. Nowadays more and more artists are going down the route of releasing their music themselves. What do you think of the importance of record labels nowadays?
Björn: Nobody knows shit about record business. They pretend to know how things are working but nobody knows. Especially now with Spotify and all that. Nobody knows how to market music. So we just took the label that we thought was most enthusiastic about the music.
Daniel: Sometimes we have to tell them to chill the fuck down, because they’re too enthusiastic, haha.. But that’s good!
Nina: Do you think bands will still rely on record labels in the near future?
Björn: It’s gonna change. It is already actually. They don’t earn money. And when there is no money, the system changes. Like our friends from The Hives. They put up their own music. They don’t care anymore.
Nina: Have you also thought about putting up your own music?
Björn: It might be an option.
Daniel: But to be honest, Björn. You should go to that economy class first.
Björn: Yes, probably. It’s all about administration and we don’t like business, so we are not really good for that.
Daniel: Bands or any music creators need assistance with spreading new music and that’s a lot of work. We can just stay creative, that’s it. As long as we are creative, then usually it’s fine.
Nina: Not only for you, but also for your fans! This was actually my last question, but I could hear you calling The Hives your friends. 15 years ago it didn’t seem like that at all?
Björn: We weren’t! Because Gustaf talked shit about them in a Swedish magazine several year ago. They were not too happy about it. But now we’re grown up and it’s better now. Much better!
Nina: When did the turning point come when you became friends? Was there something like a conciliation talk?
Björn: I had a long therapy talk with their guitarist. That was the big change. Explaining what we ment.
Nina: So it’s all about therapy! Thanks for sharing your secret with us and thank you for the interview.
Titelbild: Gustaf Elias