Jonas Bjerre, Johan Wohlert, and Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen from Mew, a Danish alternative rock band return to Indonesia for the fifth or sixth times and the latest one happened on 9 September 2017 during the celebration of Soundrenaline 2017 at Garuda Wisnu Kencana, Bali. Mew are currently embarking on a world tour across Asia and Australia to promote their latest album “Visuals”. The Display had a chance to interview Jonas and Johan straight outta the beach in a quick session and also caught their performance later that night. Humble is the word to describe this band whose members and crews are down to earth to answer our questions although their tiredness can not be hidden. Here are several facts about Mew that we learned from themselves, check it out!
What does it exactly mean? Johan kindly elaborated to us that Mew always try to explore their music and differentiate each album that they have made. “We want it to be different from the ‘+-‘ record, that’s always primary goal when we do any record. I think since “+-” consists of songs that are pretty long, I think we were intrigued to try and do a record that felt a little lighter and shorter. Jonas had a lot of demos that we tried to work on in the past but didn’t work. This time we listened to it as a whole and realized that there are bones of good pop records and I think that was kind of spark or initial inspiration.” The tracks on “Visuals” do sound lighter than their previous prog-rock heavy tunes and sound optimistic in terms of their melodies. But do not let it fool you, because albeit having cheerful tone, the lyrics of the songs contain dark and sad meanings. They jokingly added it was a pretty dark year when they were working on it.
This time we asked a rather sensitive subject regarding Bo’s departure from the band. Bo was known to be the guitarist of the band since beginning until 2016. Johan on the other hand left the band as well in 2006 but decided to return in 2014. Working as a trio, Mew said that what they do now generally not so different than before. There are some space missing after his departure, but definitely more room to work more for the remaining members. Johan also reflected on his experience of leaving the band, and when he wasn’t there Mew did “No More Stories”, which was different from “The Glass Handed Kite” when the four of them were together.
“Visuals sound different, and it should be. Because an album is a product from the members who were in the band at that time. It is important for ‘Visuals’ to be its own thing, and it is the case for a band whose members change,” said Johan.
3. Visuals’ aesthetic artwork and video were inspired by Jonas’ childhood memories
“Visuals” contain a rather beautiful but oddly looking style of art from the mind of Jonas Bjerre and we asked him about the inspiration behind the artwork, music videos and the visual direction of the album. He experimented a lot for this artwork and he used his camera, different angles and lighting, tools to make “Visuals” look like what it is. He took pictures anywhere and reflected it on glass, the result is an astonishing symmetrical visual, no matter how irregular the shape is or how chaotic the picture was. “We put it on a mask and projected it on our faces and it happened to look really cool. Mostly it came from playing with a lot of stuff,” explained Jonas. He also cited his experience of watching “The Yellow Submarine” with his dad when he was little, inspired him to produce art direction for “In A Better Place” video. Sadly, there is no other music videos from “Visuals” to be released next. However, Jonas really do enjoy dancing on the video, while he is too shy to do it while on stage.
4. Indonesia is one of the favorite place for Mew to perform
If it is their fifth or sixth return to Indonesia, it means that we’re doing something right as a host. Mew said that the reaction, anticipation, and response from Indonesian fans are one of the best that they have ever encountered. Two countries are listed as their die-hard bases, and it’s Indonesia and Norway. They were fascinated at how two separate and such far apart countries could accept them so well. They also told funny stories on how they met Indonesian fans wherever they go, whether it’s a show in Singapore or further. Both Jonas and Johan guessed that each country has their own liking to music and it happen that Indonesia loves their kind of music.
With 7 records to date, Mew have a wide variety of option when it comes to setlist. Performing on Menthol Burst Stage, Mew opted songs from their “Frengers” era to “Visuals”. Fans were delighted with nostalgia they offered with “Am I Wry? No”, “Zookeeper’s Boy” and introduced new ones like “Carry Me To Safety”, “Candy Pieces All Smeared Out” and “In A Better Place” before ending their set with our favorite “Comforting Sounds”. Their setlist was shorter than the ones they perform on their world tour, but it was equally enchanting and mesmerizing. They handed out setlist and bowed in the end and made the first night of Soundrenaline 2017 #UnitedWeLoud became more memorable. They departed to Brisbane, Australia that night so their coming to Bali in a very tiny slot during their world tour was very kind of them. Catch you guys later on another stage!