Johannes Persson From Cult of Luna: We Are In Music To Make Experiences.
Cult of Luna is a Swedish post-metal band originating in Umeå, the relatively small city that spawned other notorious acts Meshuggah and Refused. The sound this huge band (seven full-time members) makes is difficult to describe as it balances harsh and beautiful textures equally in unusual and evolving song structures.
Tonight, they will play at TLA with Katatonia (we spoke with Katatinia guitarist Anders Nystrom last time Katatonia was in town). Cult of Luna lead singer Johannes Persson took some time to speak with our Chad Sims about the tour and their new album, Vertikal II.
How is the tour going thus far?
There is almost no tour to speak of. We have only done two shows thus far. We played one show in Reykjavik, Iceland and we did Boston Monday. It is what it is after two days. You always make some mistakes. It takes about three shows before I get warmed up. So by Philly, we should be great. By then we will have no excuses.
How have the audiences reacted?
Well, we weren’t sure what to expect in the US because Monday was our first show in the US in eight years. The audience was really great. The last time we played in the US the audience was about twenty people. This time, it was a lot more than twenty people.
Is there anywhere in the world you really enjoy playing?
That is a very difficult question to answer because people are different. Audiences are different. France is always good. We play there very often. We are not into music to make a career. We are in music to make experiences. Just being able to go to different countries and see the different cultures is half the enjoyment of being in a band. When we played in Iceland a couple of days ago, that was amazing because I have never been to Iceland before. I love America. I love being here. Every country has its charm. I know that sounds like a diplomatic answer but it is the truth.
I read that because you guys don’t live in the same place any longer that the writing process for this album began with you sending pictures to one another. How did that come about?
We have been living spread out across Scandinavia for the last couple of years. When it comes down to it, when writing music, it is all about inspiration. We started sending each other thoughts and ideas about what we wanted the album to sound like also books, film references and picture stills. As we were sending pictures back and forth, we started noticing certain things popping up again and again like the Futurists and 1920s German Expressionism. For example, Fritz Lange’s Metropolis, which is like the crown jewel of German Expressionism.
What is the hardest thing about making the type of music that you do?
The hardest part is coming up with something from nothing. You need that first piece of clay. It is hard to find that part, that riff, that seed which will become a song. I know that it will be much easier once I get in the rehearsal room with the other guys that the song will become much much better there.
Is working in such a large band more of an advantage or a hindrance?
As a social entity, it is better to have more members than fewer. When you get annoyed or frustrated with someone, you can go with six or seven other people. There are like ten of us on the road. There is always someone you can talk to. It is harder to get people on the same page to tour and such. I guess it has its pros and cons.
Given that your songs don’t follow conventional song structures, how do you know when they are finished?
A song is finished when a song is finished. It is very hard to explain. It comes with instinct. It is something you feel.
What sorts of things have you been listening to for inspiration?
I listen to all types of music. What is good about this band is that we aren’t really coming from a heavy background. Many of us are coming from a pop culture background. It makes it easier not to fall into traps as far as clichés. I listen to everything from hip-hop to folk to black metal to singer-songwriter stuff. Anything that is written in a minor chord is down my alley. It needs to have some kind of gloom.
Was there any particular reason you got into playing guitar?
No. I just started hanging out with punk and hardcore kids and I got into it. I started taking guitar lessons with a guy from school when I was younger but it was really boring. Then I realized that I could learn songs that I actually liked very quickly with three chords. Then I started practicing like eight hours a day but that was a while ago. Now I don’t practice that much.
Outside of the band, what do you like to do?
Well I work as a casting director. I’m a parent. I do Thai boxing. I play video games. That is pretty much my life: music, kids, movies and video games.
Thanks for talking with us.
Thank you, and see you at the show.