Band: Swedish Death Candy
Album: Are You Nervous?
Label: Hassle Records / Membran
“In a post-modern society where logic is generally valued over the metaphysical, music is one of those mysteries that slipped through the cracks.”
Like so many young people, in 2019 the members of Swedish Death Candy find themselves living in a state of uncertainty, not just in reference to the obvious current political unrest in the UK. The London-based international acid rockers are gearing up for the release of their forthcoming second album Are You Nervous?, and it’s playing on their minds. “Environmental issues, technological advances…it feels like we’re on the brink of massive change,” says front man Louis Perry, “Are You Nervous? felt like an appropriate title.”
Completed by guitarist Francesco Codardo, bassist Jiwoon Whang, and drummer Marco Ninni, on the new album the band were able to spend much more time considering individual sounds and how they fit within the sonic spectrum, hand-selecting the perfect tone for each moment. “To use a painting metaphor,” says Perry, “it felt like each brush stroke and colour combination was considered, as opposed to the first record, which was more like a photograph in that it was an attempt to capture the energy of a moment.” Recorded with Tobin Jones and assistant engineer Lucas Mendez at The Park Studios in Wembley, it’s a deeper delve into the band’s sprawling cultural influences than they’ve ever committed to tape previously. “Tobin’s an awesome producer/engineer and a wicked guy all round,” says Perry. “His approach is aimed at producing the album the artist wants to hear and creating something unique.”
With their self-titled debut album very much a live record that was written and recorded through jam sessions, the band re-focused on their songwriting craft for album two, bringing fully formed tracks to the studio and working intensively on arrangements. As a result, AYN? is a more concise and considered injection of SDC’s influences than ever before. Whilst retaining their core psych-sound, there’s a heaviness to SDC that seems latent within the band; gut-twisting, rolling riffs, dripping in distortion, ooze naturally from their skin like psychoactive substances from a toxic frog. “I’m not entirely sure really, it’s not always intentional,” shrugs Perry as he ponders the origins of those heavier influences. “We’ll write a tune that, in our minds, is fairly mellow and dreamy, and it’ll turn out like some kinda MC5-esque freakout. We’re a live band and the energy of playing live seems to bring out the heavier side of things.”
The band’s international makeup is itself the flipside of a coin; a reflection of everything positive about modern multicultural society—an exchange of culture and influences merging and mingling to create something new and utterly unexpected. “Jiwoon definitely opened my eyes to Korean music,” enthuses Perry on this aspect of their creativity. “I’ve been really digging this folktronica artist called Mid-Air Thief,” he continues, an influence that becomes evident on the experimental nature of album tracks like ‘Space Holiday’—an almost completely electronic departure that breaks new ground for the quartet. As a result of these myriad influences and experiences, the record as a whole is a stark juxtaposition of the confusing tangle of emotions that modern society foists on us all, as Perry explains: “It’s not all doom and gloom; although fear and anxiety are strong concepts throughout the record, it’s also about optimism and embracing the positive aspects of the time we live in.”
Early tracks released from the album—‘Green’ and ‘A Date With Caligula’—were given an airing on their own 7” single release, and hinted at a leaner, meaner version of SDC; still retaining the swirling psych and drifting desert rock influences, but with their compact riffs distilled and weaponized to a new pinpoint accuracy. Elsewhere, album cuts like ‘Modern Child’—about an orphaned child born in the future to robot carers—weave Perry’s disparate cultural influences together perfectly, illustrating how taking a creative approach to the storytelling on the record allowed him to examine topics from multiple perspectives. “I’m a big sci-fi fan,” says Perry, “and the best science fiction is generally a social commentary based in a futuristic universe. I feel like we’re living in that time. We aren’t far from the future that a lot of the classic sci-fi novels refer to. This story doesn’t feel that far fetched considering how large of an effect technology has on the youth of today,” Perry continues to reason. “My six year old sister can use computers and tablets like it’s second nature. The internet has had a huge influence on our upbringing, and even I can’t imagine what a modern child’s perception of technology is, considering that they’ve never lived without it.”
The lyrics, especially on the new record, are important to Perry, a literary-minded songwriter with a keen interest in philosophy and poetry. “Music is conversational,” he contemplates, picking up the thread of his earlier thoughts on its transcendental nature. “It has a message. There’s something inexplicable about the way music makes you feel. The mystery of a melody can often make you question your consciousness; where do my feelings come from and why? Same goes for writing music; where do the melodies come from? It’s all a mystery. In a post-modern society where logic is generally valued over the metaphysical, music is one of those mysteries that slipped through the cracks.”
“There’s an aspect of escapism in our music, so it’s important for us that the lyrics be somewhat ambiguous,” says Perry when he considers giving too much away. “The message is there if you want it, but you can just chill out and enjoy the tunes if you prefer.” And for those of us that are looking for that message, that profound insight experienced through the lens of SDC’s music? “One person’s truth is another person’s lie,” he rounds off, sagely. “As individuals we strive to understand our version of the truth, but it’s only relative to our environment. It’s important that we respect each other’s version of the truth.”
If there’s one thing with a proven track record in uniting people and fostering a respect for others, it surely must be music, and as they’ve already demonstrated, Swedish Death Candy are the kind of band that are attracting the curious; the open-minded. For those experiencing the anxiety of modern life, music offers a journey into the unexpected, the other—a ritualistic purge in the waters of rock and roll. Pulling back the curtain and inviting you to step into their world, the question remains hanging in the air: are you nervous? Take a look around. If you’re not, then maybe you should be.