By Barbara (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This interview took place outside of Bill's Bar in Boston, MA on October 5, 2002. Thanks to Hector at Epitaph for setting this up, and to Per Stalberg for spending some time to talk with me before the show to make a great interview.
Barbara: There are still a lot of people in the US who don't know that much about you; can you give us a brief history of the band and tell us what some of your goals are?
Per: Well the history is about 5 years old. We started out in Gotenborg, Sweden. We wanted to be a band that used a lot of heart, instead of having just an idea of what the band be. We wanted to be honest, direct and impulsive. We felt that there was so much bullshit out there at the time, and still is, so I guess our goal is pretty much to take over the world, and get people into fucking real music. Music, art, whatever.
Barbara: Yeah, once you were quoted as saying, "I think the Division of Laura Lee will be one of the most important bands in the history of all rock." Why do you think that?
Per: Well I don't know if I think that, there's a lot of irony in that. I know that we already are one of the most important bands of rock ever, but I don't know if the people are gonna know that cause this market is controlled by money and power, which I don't have that much to put up against. Too bad, but, we for sure are one of the most important bands right now, if not the most important band. It's going good for us, we're taking the world by storm. But it's... you can go so much further. We're gonna keep going, we live our music right now. It's good to be out playing all the time, touring. The US has been good, selling a lot of records. It's only been out a couple weeks, I think we're the best selling record ever on Epitaph for the first 3 weeks. So we have a good start, and we're thrilled about being here and touring here. This tour is a promotion tour to get some groundwork done. We're coming back in January again so the people who miss us now have the chance to see us pretty soon again.
Barbara: Great. This is your first US tour; have the US audiences been making you feel at home? How have they been?
Per: They've been really good. It's all good. The people are thrilled to see us. I think a lot of them that didn't know about us before are kinda shocked, we have that thing you know. We like that, to shock people. It's good.
Barbara: Yeah, your album, Black City, has gotten rave reviews even though it has only been here for a little while. How do you feel about the album, is it everything you hoped it would be?
Per: Yeah, actually it is. Almost. It's a good record; we tried some new stuff on that record, like talking about stuff we haven't talked about with anybody before, bringing up what happens when you grow up in a small town in Sweden; its not easy. There's a lot of personal politics in that record. It's just very dark and edgy; I don't know if the next one's gonna be like that but it's just pure honesty.
Barbara: I've been hearing a lot of people talk about the album, they've been saying that the CD is totally emotional; they are shocked about how much it touches them.
Per: Yeah, that's the whole idea, I guess. We didn't do it to touch anybody else really; it's cool that it does, you know. We just wanted to, as I said before, we had to be honest to ourselves. Everything went like we wanted, so good. The production, everything - it just came out of us. It was natural in a way.
Barbara: That's awesome. How satisfied are you having signed to Burning Heart and Epitaph? Has that been everything you wanted, have they been supportive of you?
Per: Yeah, they're very supportive. They're good labels. You should never trust a label completely anyway, but yeah they're good. We're thrilled about being with them, people have their eyes open for those companies, you know, at least Burning Heart, which is pretty hip for the moment. And the Swedish stuff is getting big. I don't know if we like getting compared to other Swedish bands 'cause we don't have anything to do with them. But it's good still that the Hives are big cause they opened up the eyes of the people.
Barbara: Yeah, Swedish music like the Hives especially and the (International) Noise Conspiracy, have been making a really big mark over here.
Per: Yeah, that's what I heard. And I guess that we're getting there. So, it's cool.
Barbara: What do you think that you have that sets you apart from those guys?
Per: I mean, they're good bands. The thing is like, The Division of Laura Lee is just something totally different. We're from... we had a rough time growing up, we didn't buy our attitude. We didn't buy our stage clothes. We don't need to be somebody else because we are tough. We are fuckin'... we are hard enough. Not tough guys or anything, we've just been there. We don't need to buy some rock image because we don't care about that shit. It's just stupid. We are what we are. And I don't think that all the Swedish bands have that because a lot of Swedish bands try to be something they're not, like the Rolling Stones whatever, that's fucking 30 years ago. Who cares? It's bullshit. Still, most of the old music is really good, and we're into that stuff too, but we're not gonna be a retro band because we're a band for the future, actually. I think Sweden has a lot of good bands. I like the (International) Noise Conspiracy a lot, and the Hives too.
Barbara: Yeah, a lot of people compare you to those guys just because you are all from Sweden. But what bands do you think have influenced you guys, when you first started playing together, and now?
Per: I can say first of all, we've been doing music for at least 5 years, 10 years longer than those guys - they've been probably ripping us off. (laughs) But it's not like American people would know that, you know? But we've been doing good in Europe for a long time, not in particular in this band, but we've been in lots of bands before this. And we're good friends with the (International) Noise Conspiracy. They're like our best friends, you know. The drummer, I kinda hooked him up with the band, the drummer is from my hometown, and we've been friends since way back. We're all friends, I've known Dennis and those guys since like 91 or something. They're our best friends as a band you know, except Soundtrack of Our Lives. They're good friends to us too... But anyway, you wanted to know some stuff that we were influenced by? I would say that we are all from the punk rock /Hardcore scene like mid 80s to late 80s. Early 90s we were into a lot of indie stuff, you know Fugazi, Sonic Youth. That American Weirdo band, a lot of Brit pop, of course we have that retro bit to us too, like the Stooges, because their music is so organic. We like organic music. But there are so many bands. Punk, hardcore - just so much.
Barbara: Do you have any crazy tour stories you want to share with our readers?
Per: I think I have too many to share. I can't really remember anything now ... well, we've been through some weird stuff, definitely. We played in a what do you call it? It's like a farmer's house that you have cows in, what do you call that?
Barbara: A barn?
Per: Yea, a barn. Once, in Spain. It was a barn in Spain. And there were actually more cows than people at the show. That was pretty weird. We played in a cave in Berlin.... but this is like, when we were starting out, before we were really known. But we had a good time doing that stuff, some good stories.
Barbara: What are 3 bands that you don't think get as much attention as they should?
Per: I think a band called Syllable in Sweden. I think they're called Citizen Bird in the US. Yeah, they're one of the best bands in the world right now. I think the band Primal Scream should get more attention in the US. They're known, but they're not huge or anything. There are so many bands. I can say us, but we're getting there. We've done so many interviews. Oh, and also Soundtrack of Our Lives. Which is also the best band in the world right now.
Barbara: Awesome. What are your band's plans after this tour with Haven? Do you have any plans for the near future?
Per: Yeah after this tour, we're staying in this country for 2 weeks more with the International Noise Conspiracy. Then we're going home for 4 days and then leaving for a 6 week European tour. And about that time its Christmas, we're gonna be home for a while and then we're coming back here in January. So thats about it, just tour until summer, and then we're gonna try to do a new record.
Barbara: What would you say is the biggest difference between the American scene and the Swedish scene, or the European scene?
Per: Well, i see the differences a lot. But its not like i'm part of any European scene. I can say we're part of the Swedish scene. Sweden is in Europe, but its not very European. It's very Americanized. It doesn't look like Europe, it looks like here. Everybody speaks English. It's so different from Germany or France or something. But what's really cool with the American scene... I mean you have a lot of shitty bands, but, so does Sweden, all the "big" stuff, but we're not gonna talk about that, if you talk about the underground scene or the bands that are actually doing something. I think the funniest thing, the biggest difference is, in Sweden, you kinda have to be stylish, and if you're not, people are gonna be laughing at you and shit. Its so trendy, Sweden. And here... sometimes American bands look like funny copies sometimes, they're trying to be trendy and cool looking, but they can't, they're actually shitty looking, and I like that a lot (smiles really big). I think that's good.
Barbara: (laughs) That's so awesome. Well I wish I had more questions for you; you're a great interviewee!
Per: Thank you!
Barbara: Is there anything else you want to add in closing?
Per: I dunno, we're really happy to be in the US. I hope that people will give us a chance and come see us at the shows.
Barbara: Do you have a website you wanna reference?
Per: Yeah, we have href='http://www.divisionoflauralee.com' target='_blank'>www.divisionoflauralee.com, which is something if you wanna know what we're up to.
Barbara: Thanks a lot.
href='http://www.punk-it.net/' target='_blank'>Visit Punk-It.net