I’m From Barcelona – the Swedish super-group with a crazy amount of members and an equally high capacity for good-time vibes – is back with a new album, upcoming tours and a vision for taking over the world with holographic versions of themselves. Intrigued? Read on as we discover more from Emanuel Lundgren, the lead singer and songwriter of this band of merry music makers.
The new album, Growing Up Is For Trees (released in March on Telegram Records), harks back to the themes of growing up and trees which often feature in the band’s music. For anyone unfamiliar with the back catalogue of this musical collective (which can have 20+ members at any one time), then familiarise yourself with the track ‘Treehouse’ (oh heck, also check out the whole of 2006 album Let Me Introduce My Friends) – and don’t just take my word for it (see the further reference to this below). Then, make friends with the new album.
Fans old and new will be filled joy then that this wholesome gang of musicians is back sharing their glorious indie-pop symphonies with the world again. Ever since the first single from the album (‘Violins’) was released earlier this year with its hand-clapping video and its tour-bus visual that maybe – just maybe – hinted that they’d be getting out in the road again – the excitement started growing. In March, the full album was finally released and the first tour dates announced.
‘Violins’ is the first of ten tracks on the record and it sets the scene for the album – a veritable pop feast, with multi-part harmonies, keyboards, strings, horns, banjo, accordion and kazoos (amongst a plethora of other instruments no doubt). Along with its soaring vocals and singalong choruses (like in ‘Helium Heart’ and ‘Benjamin’) and those tracks where you can imagine those jump-along/waving hands in the air/crazy moments at gigs (‘Not Just Anything’ and ‘Sirens’), the record does have its quieter moments (in the title track itself, plus the hymnal qualities of ‘Departure’) before ending on a somewhat soothing high with ‘Summer Skies’. The downside is that is is over all too quickly – after only 34 minutes – but that’s okay, because the anticipation of hopefully getting to see this lot on stage again (see evidence of my first time here) in the near future is enough to keep me going, as I hit ‘play’ and start the whole album over again.
In advance of the impending tour – which thankfully is not going to involve holograms any time soon (see the mention to this on the band’s Facebook page and in this video, which explains this comment further) – we managed to track down the lead singer, Mr Lundgren, for a quick chat.
Hello Emanuel, how are you? What are you up to?
I’m fine! Just came home from a gig with my fiends in Loney Dear, I played synths. And today our album is released in France, so I’m working with things like this interview.
You’ve been away from the spotlight for 4 years. How has life been in the I’m From Barcelona camp in that time?
I’ve been writing a lot of songs and the others have been making lots of babies. And during those years, we’ve been recording in several sessions, and also done a few live shows. And our record company EMI was sold, so that took time time to sort out as well.
For people who might not know your sound, is it possible to sum up your band in three words?
There is hope.
Happy (almost) 10-year IFB birthday! When exactly would the anniversary be? Do you recall the moment when you actually founded the band?
Thanks!!! The birthday is August 25th. We did our first live show that day in 2005, and that kind of started the whole band thing. I just wanted to do something that was fun. And kind of take back music to the people. For me, music isn’t about the industry or being professional. It’s what takes us through life, and something between friends. So I invited all of my friends to be a part of some recordings. That was how it started. I didn’t even plan to do this live, hence the number of people.
How have things changed over the years? Is it still as fun?
For sure, it’s still fun, and I intend to keep it that way! But it’s also a lot of work of course. But it’s worth it when you go on tour and meet the people who actually listens to what we do. You get so much energy back!
Fun seems a major component of life in I’m From Barcelona. & for anyone experiencing the band in a live show. Is that how you see it? Or is there a deep message hidden within?
Fun is important. But it’s also about life and death I think. For me, music has always been my resque. People who know me, knows that I’m a very serious person, so if you really read the lyrics I think you can find a lot of layers.
The number of band members yo-yos a bit. Is there an optimum number? Can there ever be ‘too many’ people involved, or does the maximum number just depend on the size of the next venue’s stage?
It depends on the stage of course, but it has also to do with things like the number of beds on a bus, etc. When we did our first festivals, there were 27 people on stage. Even if I am a fan of chaos, it was a bit too chaotic and people had to share mics and run over expensive equipment. Often we’re around 16 people on tour, and that works really well even in small venues.
How was the process of writing and recording your new album Growing Up Is For Trees? What was your inspiration for this record?
When I’m done with an I’m from Barcelona record, there’s never a guarantee that there will be another one. But I realised I started writing I’m from Barcelona songs again, and suddenly an album began taking shape. It’s not a concept album, so it’s hard to say one inspiration. I wanted to experiment with a lot of different expressions, moods and instruments.
Do you have any favourite tracks from this album? Or stories to share in relation to this?
I like ‘Departure’, it’s like a hymn or an old folk song, and it’s kind of a hopeful song you can sing at a funeral. When we recorded it, we gathered the whole band in the hallway of our rehearsal studio. I think it’s the best sound of our choir I ever managed to record.
What is your all-time-favourite IFB track?
Hard to pick a favourite kid, but I think ‘Treehouse’ sums up both me and our band pretty well.
Recently, you shared a 3-hour-long set list of songs submitted by your fans (via Facebook). Will this show ever happen for real do you think?
It would be fun but I think we’re too old now to play for 3 hours. But I would like to try out the thing Prince use to do. After the gig, he puts the band in taxis and they don’t know where they’re heading, and then thay play an aftershow at some small club.
I recently saw the ‘cleaning up after rehearsals’ photo (also via FB). I’m glad to see the confetti is still part of your show. Where is the strangest place you’ve discovered bits of confetti?
In my underwear. Everywhere, really. Name and place and I’ve found confetti there.
What’s on the horizon for you as a band?
I hope we can go to a lot of places and countries and play our new songs! First off is Spain and France in May. And I would be surprised if we didn’t end up in NL/BE sometime this year!
Do you have any tips for other Swedish bands for our Nordic Vibes readers to keep an eye out for?
The best Swedish band right now is Amason. And my friends in Agent Side Grider and Kite you should check out too! And Noonie Bao.
Finally, we do a ‘Fika Fredag’ feature on the website highlighting favourite places for a coffee & cake in various Nordic locations – where would you recommend in Sweden?
In Jönköping: Johans, Bryggan and Pique Nique.
In Stockholm: Blå Lotus, Kafé Valand and Café Emmas.
Once the band plans some dates in these parts, we will let you know! Be assured that if you get to one of the gigs, it will almost definitely consist of confetti, smiles, fun, sharing the moment, possibly some crowdsurfing (maybe you’ll even see Emanuel going over your head on a lilo if you’re lucky), oh and more confetti. This video gives you a taster of what the live experience half way through the band’s career. Who knows what the 10-year-anniversary tour will bring.