Music Q&A: Mew

Jonas Bjerre of the Danish alt-rock trio says the band has an identity beyond its members and recalls spending time with a murderer while recording. They play Manchester's O2 Ritz, 22 May

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What informs your music and songwriting?
I think mostly what happens to us, in life, and the way we play together. Growing up together musically, we kind of have our own musical language, and that’s something that keeps developing.

How have you evolved as a band over the years?

I think we have a certain curiosity about music and about places we can go with it, and we’re always trying to expand our horizons. Being in a band for a length of time, the band sort of starts having its own identity, outside of the band members, and we try to stay true to that identity, while at the same time testing new ground every time we make an album. We really don’t want to end up making the same album twice. I don’t really think of us as becoming “better” or “wiser” with age, as I think each album is exactly what it should be. I’d like to think we’re exploring new things all the time, rather than becoming “good” at it.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?

I am preparing for the upcoming tour, rehearsing with the band, and finishing up visuals and animations for the tour. I’m working a lot with kaleidoscopes, Claymation and macro footage. And we’re doing a lot of harmonising, even more than we’ve done before. Very excited to try it out with an audience.

What’s on your rider?

Healthy snacks like celery, carrots, nuts, hummus. And a bit of wine. Nothing weird.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
When we recorded our album And The Glass-Handed Kites in LA, there was a sweet homeless guy staying outside the studio. Sometimes he’d help us out with stuff. He was a bit weird, and talked a lot about leaving his body, astral projection style, visiting other places. I would often have conversations with him late at night, with no one else around. He seemed a really gentle spirit. But a bit after we left, it turned out he was actually a violent killer who had escaped from a prison for the criminally insane in Cuba. Far as I know he was captured again and sent back there. That was a bit of a shock to find out. From the time I spent with him I find it so hard to believe he’d be capable of hurting anyone.

What song do you wish you’d written?
That’s a tough one. So many good songs. Maybe Ashes To Ashes by David Bowie.

What’s your worst lyric?
When I was 13, a kid from my class was changing schools and me and a friend decided to record a hip-hop song for him. We even made a video for it too, in which I had a big clock around my neck, I guess trying to look like Flavor Flav. Needless to say, although it had good intentions, it’s a song I am grateful is not to be found on YouTube today…

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