Jonas Bjerre is not your typical rock band frontman. Though he fronts the Danish dream rock band Mew, Bjerre is a bit soft-spoken and shy, not one who enjoys being the center of attention. In fact, a big reason that live shows by Mew double as visual art exhibitions is specifically because he wanted to do something to distract the audience from focusing on him when they perform. “I didn’t really like being front guy,” he told me during our recent interview, adding, “I was a little too shy to really immerse myself in it.”
With the band currently in the midst of the US-leg of a world tour — with stops upcoming in Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Ana, and Los Angeles — in support of Visuals, Mew’s seventh studio album out this past April, Bjerre made some time to chat with me about touring, why he enjoys playing at music festivals, his inspirations, and the perils of life in the modern digital world, among other things.
I’ve been a Mew fan for a few years now and I’m really excited to finally see you guys perform live. What goes through your mind as you approach going on a tour in the US? Do you approach it any differently than touring in other parts of the world?
Well, we toured there a couple of years ago and it was really an amazing tour. It was really, really cool. It’s very clear that we have a fairly loyal fan base there. So, it was a great experience to do that tour, and I think that a lot of the energy we had from that tour was a big part of why we wanted to just keep going, to keep writing to not just take it easy for a while after it was done. We had some ideas, we had a lot of good energy and we didn’t want to go away again as we usually do, into some dark studio for like four years. We finally have something new. Basically we just kind of reevaluated the whole thing we do, and decided to really focus on not procrastinating unnecessarily about things. So it was kind of an experience for us to see if we could make an album a bit faster and without so much second guessing all the time. It was an overall really positive experience.
Was the thinking behind that to capture the creative momentum you guys felt at the time? Or is it a thing where, you’re all getting a little older and you realize that time is a precious thing and we could all go at any moment? I ask because some of the themes in some of the songs in the new album seem to be very reflective, like they come from a perspective of people who have a little life experience under their belt.
Sure, yeah. It was a bit of both really. One thing was that we have gotten a little tired of is slaving over things for a long time. I mean, sometimes it really pays off, but often times, you have the initial idea, and that’s really the thing. And then we come up with that and we tend to reevaluate it for years. Then, eventually, it becomes something, but it might not be what it was at first, and you might not even know if it’s better. Because you’re so used to it by then. You can’t really decide anymore. I’ve felt sometimes, especially on some of the albums that were quite difficult to finish, that once we went out on tour, you couldn’t really remember what the appeal was to the song. You kind of worked on it for four years and you can’t even remember anymore what the attraction was.
You just become kind saturated with it, you know?
Yeah, yeah, of course.
And I’m kind of used to that by now, but when you then go out and play in front of an audience, it’s obviously a different thing because they give it back to you and you hear it through their ears. You experience it through them, then it comes back to you.