múm are back! Two years after the release of their last album "Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy", the band's fifth album proper, "Sing Along To Songs You Don't Know", is set for release in August on Morr Music.
Recorded in countless different places in four different countries, although most of it was done in Múm's native Iceland. In Estonia they borrowed a beautiful old house in Leigo, a place with hundreds of lakes, where they wrote new songs and recorded with the Estonian Suisapäisa Mixed choir.
It’s a more laid back album than their most recent outings - more relaxed and quietly sad. Sometimes the music sounds naively utopic, but always manages to stay effortless and pure. As usual, the songs are brimming with unusual sounds, this time much of the songs revolve around a lightly prepared piano, hammered dulcimer, a string quartet, marimbas, guitars, ukuleles and if you listen carefully, in the background you can hear Örvar's parent's parakeet singing with the piano...
First of all, we toured the crap out of the last album and played in as many places as we could. Then we just started playing music again and the new album just sprang to life really quickly. Somewhere in the meantime, I (Örvar) personally had a baby. Maybe the band can collectively have a baby at some point, but not yet.
When did you start recording this album - and who was involved this time around?
I guess we started recording last summer, maybe before that. Actually one of the songs we wrote and started recording while doing Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy, we've been playing live for a couple of years. It's pretty much the same group of people as on the last albums. Róbert Reynisson, the son of beast who has been touring with us since Ólöf went on hiatus, plays a big part on this album with his guitar shreds. And who knows when Ólöf comes back? But the only real rookie on this record is Högni Egilsson from Hjaltalin. He toured with us for a bit and brought some fresh winds, arranged the choirs and got lost in an airport.
So you just started writing songs and let it take its course?
We very rarely have any pre-conceptions of what the albums should sound like and we never really have a clear aim. We did discuss that maybe we could make a simpler album than the one before and it looks like we achieved that. Go Go Smear was very complex and I think the thing that the simplicity is what separates the two.
What are the main similarities from the band’s perspective?
The titles usually come from someplace that is beyond the borders of reason, so I don't really know. But I'm guessing the title means that people shouldn't be afraid to sing along in life, we will never know what could have been, if we don't sing along. Naive metaphors maybe, but who cares.
Some of the songs here have a slightly more acoustic and folky flavour than previous albums. Was this intentional?
Not thought out or planned. Our musical leanings zig-zag a lot, so we don't really know what will happen on each album. This seems to piss some people off, but this is the only way we can make music. If people are looking for re-productions of our first album, I can assure them that there are plenty around.
The album was recorded in a few different places. How do you manage the logistics of this, as in getting everyone together with equipment in Estonia or Finland etc?
Well, since we went to Galtarviti lighthouse with all our gear the first time around in 2001, any other logistical situation just seems easy.
Which were the most special places you recorded and why?
Recording at the house in Estonia was surely the high point of the recordings. The house is many hundreds of years old and carries a certain atmosphere, we had the fire going all the time (you can hear it in some of the songs) and the hundreds of lakes around were beautiful.
You’re known for playing unusual instruments – what are the most unusual on this record?
There is a bunch of prepared piano and a weird harmonica with accordion buttons. The strangest instrument we have used recently is on both this album an the last one and is called a Hohner Guitaret we wrote “Illuminated” on that.
What kinds of things influenced you while making the record?
It's no fun to dissect where influences come from, it usually ends up coming out the wrong way. Politics and personal experiences definitely played some part, food and sleep probably as well. Last winter was very strange for being in Iceland. There was an awakening here after a long sleep in materialist-land, we took part in protests in the street and there was a different spirit in the air. Songs like “The Smell of Today is Sweet like Breastmilk in the Wind” are directly influenced by this new mood.
The press release talks of a link between the political situation in Iceland and the record – can you elaborate on that?
The political situation in Iceland has had an effect on everyone here, you would have to live underground to not have been affected of what has been going on. The uprising and protests of last winter really inspired us in a positive way, it is so refreshing to see people in Iceland take direct political action, even though it is debatable where it has brought us. Anyway, there has been at least some change in the way of thinking here and we are very happy out that, we haven't been happy with the situation for many years and it is great to have more people aware of what has been going on. We wrote some of the songs while this all was going on and even though the songs aren't overtly political, the moods are there. We won't start making protest folk songs with political lyrics like someone suggested, but we will keep making our own utopic works and keep presenting an alternative view on the world. To us, that is one way to make protest music.
How did you write the songs these days – is it still Gunnar and Örvar taking the lead with input from others?
It really differs between songs and what is going on at each time, me and Gunni are still in the core and at the helm, but sometimes we go all in and all the kids in the group bring in their amazing talents, whether it's in a group situation or just working on some recordings with me and Gunni.
What was the biggest challenge with this record?
Deciding when it was finished. That's always the most difficult thing.
You’ll release it through Morr rather than Fat Cat: why the label change?
We left Fatcat for a number of reasons, but the bottom line was that we couldn’t really work together any more and they have headed in another direction. Thomas Morr has been a good friend of ours for ten years now, he runs his label perfectly so Morr was the obvious choice for the European release. But we do release it on other labels in other territories, such as North America, Australia, Japan and Iceland of course.
What are your touring plans for 2009 looking like?
2009 and 2010 will be filled with shows and tours and festivals and all kinds of shenanigans. We are putting the finishing touches on the first European, US tours and Japanese tours and then we will keep piling on there. We have a couple of UK shows this summer, the London one is already sold out and so we will try and get there again soon.
You can catch múm at the the following shows – many more are TBC, so be sure to check the band’s MySpace.
8. July 2009
múm DJ set at TEATRI DI VITA - Bologna
11. July 2009
múm DJ set - Loop festival afterparty at Digital - Brighton
12. July 2009
Loop festival Brighton
13. July 2009
Tabarnacle -SOLD OUT!-London
14. August 2009
SUMMER SUNDAE festival-Leicester
15. Augustus 2009
Studio 24 Edinburgh (with Benni Hemm Hemm)
16. Augustus 2009
Deaf Institute Manchester
17. August 2009
National museum of Wales - Cardiff
18. August 2009
Norwich art center - Norwhich