Electro-funk phenom Thieves Like Us gets chatty

Thieves Like Us is an electro band that’s two-thirds Swedish and one-third American that creates indie electro-pop that’s akin to a sonic mix of New Order and Daft Punk. The band consists of singer Andy, keybaordist Bjorn, and drummer Pontus. They released their debut album "Play Music" last October on the Fantasy Memory Label. Since then the band have been tearing up clubs worldwide with their cutting edge retro future funk.

Q: You’ve said that "Play Music" is your autobiography. What kind of events and experiences do you draw from to write a song?

A: Most of the songs on the album were about breaking up. The three of us were living in Berlin. I had gone there expecting a crowded German metropol… I hadn’t even done my research that the town had been bombed. And I thought everything would look like German book influence Christiane F. But, the town was empty. People were only listening to techno. No pretty girls would talk to me. The music scene sucked. But, there was this promise, that you could make something in Berlin. It wasn’t a "finished city" like NYC or Paris. The three of us were all down, I suppose. Bjorn and I hated everyone and everything. I was binge drinking every day starting at noon, all through the night. Luckily Pontus stepped in. He wasn’t on this mad romp in substance abuse like Bjorn and I were. I had met a sexy Austrian girl. She sang in Sex In Dallas, which I thought was shit. But she was good in bed. And seemed to love me. I was acting stupid. And I freaked out one night because of the booze. She just split up with me. And then, I think most of the songs were about losing. We are a band of losers. I think "Miss You" is the only up song on the album. That one is about being a waitress in a nightclub and also about Angela and David Bowie (I had a dream about them). I don’t want to keep writing about losing, though.

Q: The sonic vocabulary you guys employ on "Play Music" is like a rediscovered language of electronica, beyond New Order, where do you guys look for inspiration?

A: Bjorn and I were sampling our favorite records. And I had two really expensive old delay pedals. I don’t know. At that time. We wanted to sound like some late seventies kraut record. We are listening to a lot of seventies stuff. I think "Hate It or Love It" by 50 cent is a great example of a song that combines this sixties soul feeling with some modern keyboards. I also think V-2 Schneider and the "Sound and Vision on the Low" record by David Bowie are a really cool fusion of 60s soul and "The Future." So, I guess we want to combine the past with the far future.

Q: How is it to work with bandmates who are from different countries? What unique influences do each of you bring to the music?

A: Bjorn and Pontus are more pop than me. If it weren’t for them, I think every song would sound like "Broken Heart" by Spiritualized. Bjorn is always researching some older obscure music to look at. I think he had listened to a lot of R&B and soul. He started drumming at eight.

Bjorn and I aren’t real musicians. Or we were just hobbyists. We were both big fans of [musician] The Edge. He saw U2 in 1992 in Malmo and I saw them in 1992 in Denver.

Q: When you were recording the album in Berlin, London, New York City and Stockholm was it all together as a group or did you record parts and send them to each other via e-mail?

A: It was mostly as a group. I had very little to do with "Desire" and "Miss You" actually. I wrote the singing parts after the backing tracks were done.

Q: Do you remember the moment that you as a group decided that you could make music that was better than the stuff you heard in nightclubs night after night?

A: Well that must have been my first month in Berlin. I saw some really silly guy get up with a CD for a backing track. People loved it. I hated it because it was so tongue in cheek. I was listening to Blonde Redhead a lot. And I think I had this idea for a kind of slightly glamorous but tragic disco band. That would be us. Hopefully we will morph into the Bee Gees and make some money soon.

Q: I love the spoken word on "Program of the Second Part," it’s like reading poetry to the Blade Runner soundtrack. Where did the idea of spoken word in this interlude come from?

A: We had the instrumental first. And I think I was too proud, somehow. I wanted lyrics for everything, so I wrote a poem for it. I always want our lyrics to be printed. Lyrics are important. Language is important. Poetry is important. That song is maybe about watching time fade away.

Q: The video for "Program of the First Part" works so well with the footage from the Tron movie, did you guys write the song with that in mind, or did it all just fall in place?

A: It was probably in the back our heads when we made the tune. So, a gift from God maybe.

Q: What’s in store for Thieves Like Us in 2009?

A: We are making a second record, which we want to have out before the end of the year. And hopefully we will tour a lot. If we can get some extra finances, I’d like to see us pimp out our stage show with some lights and special effects.

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