Interview with Alcoholic Faith Mission


ZME: Let’s get to know you guys a little better. Please describe yourselves with no longer than 10 words each. What words best represent your characters, your way of life etc.?

Sune Sølund – opinionated know-it-all kind a guy with flair for morel mushrooms
Thorben Seierø Jensen – selfcentered, egotistic and insecure hypocondriac with a crush on B. Spears
Kristine Permild – anthropologist with lots of undetermined phobias
Laurids Smedegaard – the undisputed dog lover of the band
Gustav Rasmussen – old school, will soon acquire a monocle

ZME: You are originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, yet both albums have been recorded in Brooklyn, New York. How come? Why not in your home country? Tell us why you chose the same place for both albums.

Well, actually the first album was recorded in Copenhagen – in my bedroom (Thorben) to be exact. The idea of the „mission” just started in Brooklyn. I had spent some months sorting out my life and anxiety in the company of a very close friend in Atlanta. Sune then came for a visit towards the end of my stay, actually to bring me home – guess he thought I had been away long enough ☺
We had some time in New York, where we stayed with a couple of friends – actually one of them was Gustav, but he first joined us last year. Sune and I spent those days walking the wintery, raw, cold but beautiful streets of New York – especially Brooklyn – brushing on alcoholism and close family members wet deroute. Suddenly before us was a big neon cross. This was a holy congregation called Apostolic Faith Mission – and this was just like booze is to the alcoholic, we thought. A true mission to withstand an empty existence; an Alcoholic Faith Mission.
This is where we came up with the idea of forming a band again. We’ve both been playing since our early teens, and we had a few bands together in high school and some of the years that followed. All of them, however didn’t seem to fit with either of us – and so we embarked on making a band with only our rules, our decisions. We did, however, want to keep it in a collective spirit and brought in friends and/or simply people we felt had the potential to add on to our vision. But none, except for us, had any say in the final edit of songs. Pheew… – that was a long thing about „Misery Loves Company” and the becoming a band☺
Last year we decided to go back where it started to record what turned out to be “421 Wythe Avenue”, named by the address of the loft building, where we settled down for a half year. We picked out Brooklyn because of our past and because a lot of what influences us are from abroad. Canada and New York are homes to some of the best bands in recent times – we think. Of course we also wanted to get away from the daily life in Copenhagen in order to focus solely on writing and recording
The only thing we didn’t have was a female singer. We tried a few when we were over there, but unfortunately we didn’t luck out with any of them. Also Sune had his eye on the amazing Kristine from back home. So in the end we decided to wait until we got back to see if she wanted to bed down with us. We didn’t really know each other, only by reputation, but lucky for everyone we where a perfect fit. Now she’s the first member to join and be part of creative process aside from Sune and I – we went from a collective of two to one of three.
We do fall a bit short live and is assisted by two very talented boys – Laurids and Gustav – they also appear on some of the recordings – in particular Laurids who has been a great asset on “421”. Once we’re out playing live they are as much AFM as the rest of us – no doubt about that.

ZME: Your music has been used in the Canadian indie film „Point Traverse”. I must say, the second album in particular, sounds like the soundtrack for something like it. Also, would you see your music being used in other films as well? A friend of mine, who listened to the album together with me, told me that your music would perfectly fit in the series Grey’s Anatomy… Would you agree? Also, mention a couple of other movies or series where you could see your music being used as the soundtrack.

To be featured in POINT TRAVERSE is a huge thing for us – and should an opportunity like that arise again we wouldn’t think twice. To actually score a movie would also be fantastic – it’s been a dream of ours for a very long time. Grey’s Anatomy wouldn’t necessarily be a bad choice – though we don’t know it that well – but from what we understand it has that drama-like quality you find within a lot of shows these days. The ones we’d love to feature in are many, but here’s a few:
– Californication
– Weeds
– Twin Peaks
Regarding movies, the list is pretty much endless, once again here’s a few:
– Babel
– Anything by Cameron Crowe like Vanilla Sky, Jerry Macguire, Elizabethtown etc.
– Magnolia
– Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

ZME: What influences would you mention for your music? I see a big resemblance to Iron & Wine (because of the vocals and of the guitar) and to the Swedish pop/alternative band Moonbabies (basically because of the lyrics and of the vocals). Tell me if I got it somehow wrong and also, please mention a couple of other artists or bands you might be influenced by.

Moonbabies – we don’t know that well, but you definitely nailed it with Iron & Wine. Also we’d like to mention Broken Social Scene, The Most Serene Republic, Snowden, Animal Collective, Explosions in the Sky. Of course there are lots more!

ZME: Your second album – „421 Wythe Avenue” – is different from your debut work, especially because it contains much more electronica. Would you say you used a lot more samples? Tell us more differences of the 2nd album, when regarding the 1st and also mention, how you feel that this album represents your evolution as a band. Have you grown as artists, do you feel that your latter work is somehow better, or more complex, or more „deep” than the first?

The first album is definitely very much different. It grew out of a concept Sune and I developed – a set of dogmatic rules that had to be followed. The rules were: Record only at night, only intoxicated (NOT DRUNK), the room only lit by candles (and the computer obviously) and finally every idea could be slightly rehearsed, however only recorded once. Once it was recorded it stayed.
It was a very interesting way to work, because within the obvious limitations, there grew out songs of great intensity that we feel worked tremendously. We always felt sorry that our „little first born” – Misery Loves Company – never had a bigger audience although it received critical acclaim. It could, however also have something to do with our record label at the time – they were to put it mildly, completely ignorant. Oh well water under the bridge.
On „421” we decided that a use of electronica should be more evident and we had great fun exploring the various corners of electronica, coming up with our own particular use. In fact a new concept and straitjacket came to life: Everything that used to make the music had to be within confines of our Brooklyn loft. Creating samples, beats and synthesizer sounds only by dictionaries – electronically muted bass drum – reverse guitars and screams therefore became a huge part of defining the new AFM – and „421” stands before us as a groundbreaking change in our musical perception.
We suddenly saw, that on the one hand writing slow, dark sad songs with a whispery voice, and on the other hand writing more upbeat, grandious and adding more spherical elements wasn’t that far apart and the transition came rather easily. We still have lots of the good old days mixed with our “new” good intentions so to speak. ☺ We, along with others, like to categorize our genre as lofi-folktronica with a touch of post-rock inertia.

ZME: You use a variety of instruments: percussion, guitar, piano, bass, keyboards, drums and trombone. Tell us a little bit about your way of making music, considering that each member brings pretty much the same amount of work into the band. Is it hard to find a common ground, instrument-wise? Also, how does the writing for a song go? Who does most of the lyrics?

The process of actually writing songs changed dramatically on „421”. It used to be: I had an idea which Sune and I together tore apart and rebuilt. These days Sune is coming up with shit loads of ideas – and it’s kinda hard for me to keep up☺ but I stay competitive – ha ha… When an idea is presented from either Sune or I, we start the rebuilding together. And ever since Kristine joined the party the ideas are coming faster than flies on shit – which has resulted in a pending release. Our third album, the title is still in the workings, but will come out march 2010. I still write all the lyrics.

ZME: I’m particularly interested in „Nut in Your Eye” and „Did You Eat”. I must admit that these are my favourite songs from the entire album.

Well thank you. “Nut in Your Eye” was initially Sune’s idea and “Did You Eat” came from me – we obviously made the song into a whole together. “Recordingly” both songs are quite similar. Both ideas started with Sune and/or I being home alone fooling around on the computer at our loft in Brooklyn. Both of the songs are based on an old children’s guitar that we bought for $50 in a local pawnshop the day after we arrived. To this day it’s still that very same guitar Sune played on „NUT”. „Did You” underwent quite a few changes before it came to be what it is today. I did the lyrics for both of them and Kristine contributed as well with her lovely voice in my bedroom in Copenhagen after our return.
The instrument that mostly characterizes „NUT” is, we think, the bass kinda thing in the break of the song, but also the female/male aspect is something not to be overlooked. Really think we nailed something great here. „Did You” is a very traditional little tune – not in a bad way. It has a story within it’s lyrics that holds tragic beauty. Maybe one of the more „deep” as you put it?!

8. Which song previously released, would you say, is closest to what you wanted to obtain out of your music? Which one includes everything you always wanted to get from „THE” song? Which is your favourite, the closest to perfection, and why? Is there one song you’ve been working the hardest for?

That’s a tough one! But from the first album we have to point out „Dead Birds”. It’s really a song that has brought us further onto the „path” than any other on that album. It has everything – a melancholy sad story, ambient simplicity, our first experimentation with backward recordings and elements of electronica – it has a feeling that creeps under your skin – but in the best of ways…
From „421” it has to be „We All Have Our Shortcomings”. It has a fantastic spherical touch and it holds so much tension just waiting to be released. Is it released? – it has to up to the individual listener, but in our opinion it reaches a climax, few songs do. Lyrically the song touches on insecurity and wanting to be recognized, no matter what the cost. Very beautiful.

9. Please mention 10 other indie pop/rock bands you like listening to when you’re at home, relaxing, working, doing chores, etc.
10. Let’s imagine the perfect party: mention 10 tracks you always want to hear, in order for the party to be a successful one:
11. If you could choose the list for a festival, whom would you love to see performing, next to your name? You can ignore time frames and choose bands that aren’t performing anymore. Let’s say there should be 6-7 names, next to yours.

That’s pretty much the same answer for all three questions. Don’t think any of our picks will make a perfect party for party-like people, but we wouldn’t mind showing up at a party with this particular playlist: (in particular order)
1. Have You Forgotton (Red House Painters)
2. Frou Frou (Cocteau Twins)
3. Lover’s Spit (Broken Social Scene)
4. Anti-Anti (Snowden)
5. First Breath After Coma (Explosions In The Sky)
6. Une Annee Sans Lumiere (Arcade Fire)
7. RE: Stacks (Bon Iver)
8. She’s Half (American Analogue Set)
9. Man From Anthill (Khonnor)
10. Grizzly Bear (Easier)
…But the list goes on forever…

Read the “421 Wythe Avenue” REVIEW HERE !!!!!!!!!

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