Universal Poplab: The Electronic Autumn Interview

by Jennifer Last

Doors at eight. Interview with the one and only Christer Lundberg from Universal Poplab a couple of minutes later. I recognize the red hat (very handsome) from a far distance. I’m quite nervous for some reason. Very unnecessary, since I’ve met him several times before. But this is different. Christer to me is what Morrissey is to him. Role model. Inspiration. Maybe someday, if I’m lucky, I might be as successful as him when it comes to journalism and writing. Fingers crossed.

We enter the VIP area. Loud music and people talking (more like shouting, actually) makes it a bit difficult to do a proper interview. And I’m naive enough to believe that my cellphone, which usually is smart as hell, will be able to sort our voices from all the noise. To quote Morrissey: It’s really laughable.

Who are Universal Poplab?, you might wonder. Well, only one of the greatest bands in Sweden. They were formed on a cold January night (at least I assume it was cold – it’s Sweden we’re talking about here) in 2002. Two of the three members, Christer Lundberg and Paul Lachenardiére, decided to create some synthpop art, wanting to do something that no one has ever done before. Two years later, they released their debut album, Universal Poplab, featuring the amazing cover of We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful made famous by Morrissey. In 2006, now with the additional member Hans Olsson Brookes, they released Uprising. The single, I Could Say I’m Sorry, was played a lot on the radio and gave Universal Poplab a whole new name. It’s very catchy. You’ll love it, I promise. Give it a try! Another two years later, their third and latest album, Seeds, was brought to us. Oh, the joy! The best one by far. Check out Another Last Time; which, according to Christer, is the one song they enjoy the most to play live. And now what? 2008 is a long time ago. We want more!

So what happens now?
We have half a record, which is completely done and ha=s been for four years. Sooner or later, we will finish it. Right now, it kind of feels like each show is some sort of comeback. And we thought tonight would be a small birthday party for Sebastian Hess [owner of the record company, Wonderland Records], so I’m getting the feeling that we may be a bit unprepared.

You’ve mentioned that you only do this for fun nowadays; that you’ve given up on the whole synth career thing. When is it fun and when is it more of a burden?
It’s never fun to become disappointed, and we only do shows where there’s no risk of being so. For me, tonight is fun. We’re playing some old songs and we know that the audience will enjoy it.

UP4I’m uncomfortably stressed, since I only have 15 minutes to get the answers I want. Getting lost in my notebook, which I don’t really need. But better safe than sorry, they say. Why is my heart freakishly pounding? I wish I would have said yes when Christer asked if we ought to move to a more quiet place. But noooo, I’m being an idiot again. “My phone will do the work.” Yeah, right.
And the interview continues.

If you would describe your music with a colour, which colour would it be?
A fireworky colour. Like a mix between silver and red. I don’t know why. Our music has always been that colour to me.

And with a feeling?
You can’t really describe our music with one feeling only. But it’s an obvious mix between melancholy and ecstasy. At least, that’s what we’re trying to do. It’s a mission impossible.

Do you ever suffer from stage fright?
Not right now, and I probably won’t until the next album is released. ‘Cause there’s no use doing another album if it’s not better than the last one.

In hindsight, is there any song you feel less proud of?
All our songs have turned out the way we want them to turn out, so there’s no song I’m not proud of. However, I feel like there are some songs that may not be suitable for that specific album.

Do you have any special routines before you go on stage?
I used to sleep before our concerts, but I don’t have time for that now. So now I just drink beer and hang out with people. A lot more fun!

Tick, tick, tick.
Time is up. The band has to go on-stage. My heart doesn’t settle until long after the show. They are that good, and I am that driven to share it.

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