Few bands have the extensive résumé and indie credibility of Swedish pop-rock group Peter Bjorn and John. Even fewer bands in the current music industry have careers that span over more than a decade.
But for this pop-rock power trio, who hit their 10-year anniversary as a band this week, their music is still as fresh as it was a decade ago.
Although based in Stockholm, PBJ reached the height of its popularity in America for its whistle-happy 2006 single, “Young Folks.”
Björn Yttling, bassist, keyboardist and vocalist of the band, referred to “Young Folks” as “a very catchy tune that we never get tired of playing; our own version of ‘Jailhouse Rock.’”
In addition to its single, the highly melodic pop trio has five full-length albums. Living Thing, the group’s newest album that was released in early 2009, was eclectic enough to win back all of the die-hard fans that had temporarily strayed away after the unprecedented success of “Young Folks” and still managed to acquire a new following as well.
PBJ’s music is a combination of toe-tapping electro-pop with a noisy experimental rock cooked in an expensive imported oven. Their inspiration comes from many artists who would not mix well together, although you can easily hear a little bit of each of in PBJ’s songs. The dissonance of My Bloody Valentine combined with the classic rock of The Cure and the pure melodic mastery of Paul McCartney come together in the songs. Or, in Yttling’s words, “[the group’s] inspirations are dancey, noisy and melodic.”
All of these artists had the chance to share a stage with Peter Bjorn and John last April during the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. This year, PBJ got to play on the main stage on April 19, the third day of the festival. As the sun started to set, the trio picked up their instruments and went straight into an upbeat and energized set.
“We actually prefer to play in the tent, just because we can feel the [energy from the] public,” Yttling said when asked about which Coachella appearance had been more fulfilling for the band, who also played the 2007 festival.
Peter Bjorn and John is not the only successful indie band to hail from Sweden in recent years. Other great bands that this snowy Scandinavian nation has given the world include Miike Snow, A Camp, I’m from Barcelona, Suburban Kids with Biblical Names and Lykke Li, among many more. El Perro Del Mar, another band from Sweden led by Sarah Assbring, is responsible for opening for Peter Bjorn and John during its current tour.
The band is playing shows throughout the United States celebrating 10 years of a very fruitful musical career. A career full of very interesting highlights and, without a doubt, very interesting music.
“I am glad I became a musician instead of a cab driver, only because I could not get my driving license in Stockholm,” Yttling laughs.
The US Birthday Tour kicked off early this month and ends in Los Angeles on Saturday, on the band’s anniversary date. Saturday’s highly anticipated performance will take place in the cozy Club Nokia, at LA Live. El Perro Del Mar will be accompanied by San Diego band Lights On as openers.
Though Yttling remains secretive about Saturday’s show, he hints that concertgoers should plan for the unexpected.
“People should expect many surprises for the show,” Yttling said. “In New York we had Amanda Blank and Andrew WK come up on stage with us, but for the LA show we are having even bigger surprises.”