Rock’s Irreplaceables: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives Interviewed

Sweden's The Soundtrack Of Our Lives are calling it a day after 16 years of active service, and playing a final UK gig tonight at London's Heaven. David Quantick spoke to the band's Ebbot Lundberg and Mattias Bärjed about their decision to cease operations, and tells you why you should catch their show tonight

Photograph courtesy of Paul Slattery

There’s no adequate way to describe The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, but there are several brilliant ones, so here we go. Factually, they’re a Swedish rock band who take the good bits of the Rolling Stones – well, the one good bit, that huge sliding ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ / ‘Gimme Shelter’ sack of riffs which make any song sound like a volcano trying to get round a tank on a ten lane highway – and give them added melody, intensity and urgency. So that’s one. They’re also formed from the bilious acidic ashes of Union Carbide Productions, a punk band who made The Clash look like a pub covers act. In their day, UCP broke America. Not in the dull sense of "did well there." They actually broke America. It was their fault.

Also? The Soundtrack Of Our Lives are the only band who ever really influenced Oasis. Not The Beatles. Oasis only sounded like The Beatles had The Beatles been a snotty punk rock band under the severe misapprehension that The Stone Roses were any good. Oasis took to Soundtrack like a duck to slaughter. Once Noel Gallagher had heard early Soundtrack songs like ‘Infra Riot’ and ‘Confrontation Camp’, he removed all the jangly mod crap from Oasis – causing Liam to cry all over his Sgt Pepper coaster set – and turned them into a solid rock item. Oasis’s ‘Lyla’ is the biggest hit Soundtrack never had.

And? The Soundtrack Of Our Lives are arguably – if "arguably" means "obviously" – the greatest rock group of the last 20 years. They’re brilliant. You should buy their albums. And you should go and see them. Now. And by now I do mean "now", at Heaven tonight, because it is the last UK show they’ll ever do. Soundtrack are jacking it in – or are they? Yes, probably, because they’ve completed their mission. Which was, essentially, to be a brilliant rock band and split up in 2012. Take note, REM, who forgot to split up and everyone kept wondering when they were going to leave. And take all the notes in the world, U2, who actually died in 1989 but nobody was brave enough to tell them.

Meanwhile, there’s a final album, Throw It To The Universe, which sounds like classic Soundtrack because, well, it is, and because it’s composed of recordings from every period of the band’s career, like The Rolling Stones’ Tattoo You, only brilliant. I gave it 10 out of 10 in Uncut magazine, because that’s all the points there are in this linear world, but it’s even better than that. It’s full of the band’s unique ability to take every aspect of rock music, from splotches of psychedelia to punk roar, from blank-eyed drug folk balladry to stadium songs that sound like songs which were composed by actual stadiums, and create a unified, not like your band, sound. It’s louder than everything, except when it’s very quiet, and you’ll buy it or join One Direction.

But, for now, here by way of intro or outro, the Quietus spoke to Ebbot Lundberg, the extraordinary singing bear god of Soundtrack, and Mattias Bärjed, guitarist and songwriter.

You said, "My idea when we started this band was that we were going to peak around 2012." Did you really believe that

Ebbot Lundberg: Yes, I always did.

Why did you say that?

EL: Because I knew it could happen. And it did. For The Soundtrack Of Our Lives is an alternative stargate to something more relevant than this specific era in our timeline.

[To Matthias] Ebbot said he thought the band would peak around 2012 – do you agree?

Mattias Bärjed: Yeah.

Why did he say that?

MB: I don’t know. Maybe he always felt that it was a limited time for TSOOL as an active working band, and I totally agree on that. Maybe he had it all planned. Anyway, it’s the right decision to call it a day. The music is still here and that’s what counts. On this last ride I guess we all try to avoid all the bullshit that’s been sucking a lot of energy out of this band during all the years.

It’s been 16 years. Have you had a good run?

EL: I certainly did, even if I was sometimes in the veil of forgetting myself. Maybe it was not a healthy trip physically but the purpose of the music has been served so far.

MB: Yeah, this last tour has been great so far, but we still have plenty of time to ruin that. I’ve been in TSOOL for fifteen years so it’s an important part of me and my history. A very dysfunctional world it is, living with TSOOL. But I love this band, it’s been a fantastic trip.

What’s been done and what’s not been done?

EL: Seven albums has been done and some promotional excursions around the globe with a lot of different labels and people. What has not been done is yet to come.

MB: I don’t think we missed out on a lot, except deadlines.

Rock’s not in such a good way right now – are you tempted to stay on and fix it?

EL: I don´t have to. There will be a change because there are a lot of young doctors waiting round the corner to fix it.

MB: Motörhead is still around, so there’s no need to worry.

The new album is great – it’s full of life and excitement and confidence – did you feel high when you made it?

EL: I felt higher.

MB: I love the album. It has some really beautiful stuff on it. Most of it was recorded years ago and if I go back to what I felt when some of the songs were recorded it’s quiet interesting. A lot of the times the vibe in the studio has been very, very bad. But that’s a part of TSOOL’s nature.

Is the world going to end soon? Or just Soundtrack’s world?

EL: Nothing is going to end because the world was over a long time ago. It is going to change. For the better If we want to.

MB: Nothing lasts forever.

People like me are sad that it’s apparently over. How should we console ourselves?

EL: Follow the yellow brick road (but maybe without Toto and Elton John this time…)

MB: Try "Turn Into Earth" by the Yardbirds.

You’re playing with Noel Gallagher. He is a fan. How will the show be for you?

EL: It will be great as always. It´s what happens after the show I´m more curious about.

MB: Hopefully not cancelled.

What have been your best moments?

EL: These moments are yet to come but I would say surviving ourselves among people and following the essence of what makes a great entertainer. Which was when we played live in Egypt 1997 A.D.

MB: Working with such outstanding and talented people as the boys in the band. Pain and pleasure. Often both at the same time.

If you had a tombstone for the band what would it say?

EL: Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dusty, We know TSOOL never gets rusty, Strung out in heaven’s mind hitting an all time high.

MB: Rest in species.

Or would you like the band to be remembered in a more optimistic way? If so, in which way?

EL: For sure. There is a sense of humour in it. We are a joke in a way. Maybe not musically, but in an interesting one when it comes to optical illusions and human behaviour.

MB: Turn around and forgive each band member.

You are asked by a space agency to give them some of your songs to represent music to aliens for a satellite – what would you give them?

EL: Nothing. They already have the whole catalogue.

MB: That’s a hard decision, but these songs are a pretty good start. ‘Galaxy Grammophone’, ‘Sister Surround’, ‘Instant Repeater 99’, ‘Coma Blues’ (outtake from Extended Revelation with Fredrik Sandsten on lead vocals), ‘The Passover’, ‘Broken Imaginary Time’, ‘Tonight’.

Does your own mission continue?

EL: If I survive the rest of this tour and world I definitely will.

MB: I still don’t know what my mission is. So yes, I guess so.

What next for you?

EL: To mend what has been broken and continue trying to save the world from shit as an artist… or just reinvent myself as an iPond for ducks in space. There are a lot of options in life as a mantra slider.


MB: I’m releasing the soundtrack to a movie Call Girl that I’ve worked on. It’s gonna be out in November 2012, and it’s a great film. It’s directed by Mikael Marciman, who in my opinion is the best director in Sweden. My new band Free Fall is releasing our debut album in February 2013. I’m going to tour next year with Free Fall and some other artists, but that is not official yet.

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives are rock’s irreplaceables. You can hear their influences but they sound like nobody else. And you’ll miss them, whether you know why or not. Of course, that’s just my opinion, if by "opinion" you mean "facts". Play it, you’ll be happy. Go and see The Soundtrack Of Our Lives.

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