A few times during the early-2000s, I gushed about a Swedish indie rock outfit by the name of Kevlar (later known as KVLR), so imagine my surprise when I learned a week ago that two of said band's members have returned over a decade later in an excellent—and similar-sounding—new trio called Statues. Their eight-song, 25-minute debut, Adult Lobotomy, is out today on Crazysane Records out of Berlin, Germany. You can order now on either limited edition, hand-numbered vinyl or CD.
Expect energetic, hook-filled songwriting that infuses subtly post-punk-tinged melodies and jangly, discordant phrasings with charging power chords and a punked-up garage rock grit—fronted by truly unique vocals and bundled up in a warm, close-knit mix. But don't take my word for it, hear for yourself below (or on Spotify), followed by a little interview with guitarist/vocalist Johan Sellman…
Johan and Magnus have been playing together on and off since the early-'90s in bands such as Shredhead, Starmarket, and—most known to me—the mighty Kevlar (a.k.a. KVLR). That being said, it had been more than a decade since the final Kevlar release, so talk about what led into the formation of Statues.
Yes, it's crazy that we didn't play together or play at all for almost 15 years. We started hanging out again and listening to music—basically a newfound love for music we grew up on; for example Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Black Flag, etc. We started talking about doing something again, and our idea was to start Statues and write the kind of songs that we are good at writing. At the end of KVLR, I think we just tried too hard and started dabbling with stuff we weren't comfortable with. We have always liked playing fast and loud, so that's what we're best at. We asked Calle to join. We played with Calle in various punk bands when we were really young, and he's a great bass player for this kind of music.
Statues' core sound is very reminiscent of Kevlar and all that I love about that band. I'd guess that the similarities are just a natural outcome, so discuss the ways in which you specifically set out to have Statues move into some different directions?
Well, we didn't wanna overthink stuff. We wanted to let things happen naturally, and if a song ended up being one minute long, then that's fine. We also felt strongly about being a trio, like KVLR was in the beginning. I think it's the ultimate setup for this kind of music, it just feels more raw. So, when we arranged songs in rehearsal it just came together very, very quickly. We never went back to a song and changed stuff around. We noticed that this formula was the way to go, and it was a lot of fun because we got quick results!
Impressively, Adult Lobotomy was recorded in a mere six hours across two days this past summer. Everything sounds pretty damn great, so talk about the overall recording experience a bit. How were you able to achieve such an effective sound in almost no time at all!?
We recorded all the music in Parasit Studios in six hours, and then we did all the vocals in our rehearsal space in a day. Because we hadn't played in 15 years, it was kind of hard for us in the beginning to actually manage playing these songs [laughs]. We were really, really rusty. So, when we were in the studio, it wasn't about laying down the best version of the song, it was about actually getting through the whole song. All the songs on the album are basically first takes. We hit record, played as good as we could, and when we got through a song we were like, "We made it! Let's not try it again!"
How would you describe or shed light upon the lyrical direction of the album? There's an "obvious" socio-political undercurrent that at times touches upon the shameful political landscape of the U.S. at the moment, but the way the lyrics are put together and gel with the hook-soaked catchiness of the music is interesting in that it obfuscates the message a bit. If you're just listening as opposed to reading along, the topics don't necessarily jump out at you.
Being away from rock music for 15 years, it almost felt like the soundtrack to an existential crisis writing songs again, and that's probably heard in both the lyrics and the music. Lyrically, we wanted the themes to be partly political—mostly I think about the rising right-wing threat in Europe, the political landscape in the U.S., and the global climate situation. But, they also express the worries of being a parent in a world taking horrible directions. There's some humor in it as well, some absurdity—like choosing Cthulhu to be a savior that rises from the sea and destroys everything that is wrong in this world ("Sunken City Here We Come"). Some of them are soaked with pop-cultural references from the movie They Live ("Unnamed Drifter") and other movies and rock songs. They are supposed to be sung by a really confused and stressed out person. I guess the lyrics have always been less important than the music, and that sort of fits the choice of genre. If we were a hardcore band, I guess the lyrics would have been more direct.
Adult Lobotomy will be released on LP and CD through Berlin, Germany's Crazysane Records. How did you get hooked up with the label?
We have a friend in Zurich who is a big KVLR fan, and he wanted to hear the recording. He then sent it to a friend of his who works at a big music magazine in Germany, who in turn tipped Crazysane (Chris) about us and we instantly signed with them. The whole process has been super quick, which adds to an unreal feeling. It feels like we just started playing our instruments again, and now Adult Lobotomy is out. Weird and amazing.
It looks like there's a release party coming up tomorrow, and there's been a passing mention of tour dates, too. What's next for Statues?
Yes, we are going to play as many shows as possible, with the realization that we're not in our 20s anymore and we all have day jobs, kids, and other responsibilities. But we love playing and we'll keep playing as long as it's fun. We will do a shorter tour of Sweden and then do some shows in Germany next year. We will see what happens, we're just happy to play anywhere—basements, clubs, whatever—as long as we find the time.