LES FLEURS DU MAL :: We have worked more closely together

Bereits vor einigen Jahren hatte ich ein Interview mit Axel Grim veröffentlicht, welches uns interessante Details dieses Musikprojektes aus Schweden näher brachte. Nach der kürzlichen Veröffentlichung des neusten Werkes „Concrete Ravings“ stand dann erneut eine kleine Frage-Antwort-Session statt, dessen Ergebnis ihr euch in den folgenden Zeilen erlesen könnt. Ich habe das Interview bewusst in englischer Sprache gelassen, um die Antworten in ihrer tatsächlichen Form zu lassen. Viel Spaß beim Lesen (michi)

(Pictures by Ann Törnkvist)


Hello Axel, how are you?
I’m fine, sipping on coffee waiting for it to turn into ale.

What has happened in the last two years since we made our last interview together?
Apart from the usual gettings up in the morning and goings to bed at day’s end, we have recorded and released two digital maxi-singles and recently a new album, Concrete Ravings

Have you had any memorable on-stage experiences with the band.
Well, every time I’ve been on stage is memorable for some reason or another. We’ve had some great ones and some not so great ones. However one not so great one actually afterwards revealed itself to have been a great one. We were in a smaller swedish town doing a gig at a 10 year anniversary of an EBM-club. We were the only rock band amongst german EBM stars. The crowd historically have been synth and EBM fans. We started off with technical problems, the guitar not sounding at all at the first part of the opening number. I got nervous. On stage with all our smoke, sunglasses and lights directed at my face, I couldn’t see the audience. When the first number finished I waited for the applause and there was just a compact silence. I thought: ”Good god! There’s nobody here. Then came something that could be interpreted as applause and I could see a few gothicly made up people in front. I got sore and thought: ”These synth-guys hate us” and hated them back. I randomly insulted the synth-people, randomly making everybody certain that we were just playing for the five people in front. Lastly we did a cover of a Depeche Mode song and I said: ”Ok, you bastards, now we will destroy your favourite song!” Later when we went to the bar and waded through a dense crowd. I was told the room had been packed during our gig, I just hadn’t seen or heard the crowd through the smoke and noise. Apparently they liked us aswell. The club asked us back a year later. I felt a bit bad having been a complete arsehole on stage.

How would you describe the creative process of „Concrete Ravings“?
As a mixture of pleasure, agony, self-doubt and being too pleased with oneself. Normally I write the songs in solitary confinement. In that same confinement I record a demo, sometimes with almost finished lyrics, sometimes with incomprehensive jibberish. I then bring that demo to the studio and my brother August. This time around we have worked more closely together with restructuring the songs, adding stuff, subtracting other stuff. We re-record some of the stuff and argue, in a brotherly fashion, about what should be in there and what shouldn’t . Then I am told to leave my brother to do the mixing. And then I get to tell him what I think of the mixes. We also had some sort of a focus group in this time. That was great. Thank you guys (as if they’re reading this).

Are there distinctive experiences that you have processed in your songs? Or is the song writing based on fictive stories?
The lyrics are definitely based on things that have happened to me or without me, but that actually did happen. Now of course, even though the songs have a narrative side of them, they are not fly-on-the-wall documentaries, but rather put together to describe feelings, society as I see it, or myself in relations to what’s happening in, or to, that society. That is when I’m singing that I’m falling into a black abyss, I’m not actually falling into a black abyss. And I haven’t actually been a jury member of American Idol neither. And for the record I haven’t been envolved in staging fascist entertainment nor served anybody with that perspective on life any refreshments.

Last time you told me about your FILM NOIRE passion. Are there newer movies that have pleased you in the recent times?
I do like film in many genres. It’s just that the original film noirs serve as good inspiration for the lFdM-project because of it’s bleak and somewhat cynical view of society. Not that I’m very cynical myself, I’m a hopeless romantic. Maybe I have grown old faster than I should, but I’m really sure of what you mean by recent times. I’m very fond of the swedish director Roy Andersson, of his choice of subject matter and general aesthetics. I really like the way in which he allows himself to be consequently conceptual. I also like the british director Ken Loach a lot. I haven’t been utterly moved in a movie theatre recently, but our live bass player Luger Haptén tells me he really liked the saudi ”The Green Bicycle”.

I think the new records orientates more towards classic gothic rock that before. Do you agree with the assessment?
I’m not sure I do, actually. I mean, of course, the foundations of classic gothic rock is still there, but personally I feel we have allowed ourselves to stray somewhat. I know I’m not alone in that interpretation, I might of course be wrong.

One of my highlights is the song „Nothing“. What can you tell us about this track?
It’s one of my favourites also at the moment. I like the attitude and I’m rather pleased with the lyrical content aswell. It’s also quite funny how it started as a song of defiance and ended up as a song of self-deception. But among the deceit I managed to squeeze in something about my fear of not being able to sleep and some class war propaganda. I’m rather pleased with myself come to think of it. By the way, it’s not one of the songs we spent the most studio time with and it’s not very complicated. But sometimes that seems to work out.

„Celebrity Gala“ seems very sad and emotional! Do you agree?
Really? I was trying to write a song of joy. I must have failed. Seriously, the song is about the modern love affair with success. Success is a very ungrateful lover, pathologically fond of one night stands. She is also very cruel to suitors not making the grade. Frankly, the whole idolatry of success, that is the main theological direction in our society, is detestable. It is a child of our economic order in itself just as detestable. No, perhaps even more.

Also, this song is provided with many elements that remind me very much of THE CURE from the early 90th. How do you see this? What do you think about Robert Smith?
He’s one handsome guy!

Will we see you Live on the German stages next time?
Hopefully not too far into the future. However at the moment we are waiting for our guitarists daughter to grow some.

Finally, a vision for the future, what will happen to LES FLEURS DU MAL next time?
Oh, I’m not so good with visions. Haven’t got the gift, they say. However my plans are to continue doing what we do. We are working on more material, maybe it will be Les Fleurs du Mal: II, maybe it will be another full length album. Who am I kidding? We are going to conquer the world!