Les Big Byrd Makes New York Debut

Photo: Courtesy of Dennis Wernersson
Photo: Courtesy of Dennis Wernersson
Photo: Courtesy of Dennis Wernersson

Les Big Byrd may be a new band, and their May 2015 run may be their first trip to North America, but its members are hardly new to the music business. Founding members Joakim Åhlund and Frans Johannson both have experienced international success, with Ahland being part of Caesars and also Teddybears, and Johannson being a member of the Rick Rubin-signed Fireside.

Joakim (a.k.a. Jocke) took the time to answer some questions for Downtown Magazine, discussing the band’s past, present, and future.

Downtown Magazine’s Darren Paltrowitz: How would you describe Les Big Byrd to someone who hasn’t yet heard the band?

Joakim Åhlund of Les Big Byrd: We’re a band from Stockholm, Sweden, and we play music with groove, rhythm, atmosphere, and melodies. We’re like rhythmic, motorik live drums and guitar, analogue synths and pumping monotonous basslines. And vocals. Some of the vocals are in Swedish, some in English. I really love it when people come to our gigs and dance. That’s what we’re trying to do live, get people to tune in to the groove, zone out, and dance.

D: At this point, some people may only be familiar with your band because of your previous involvement with Caesars and Frans playing with Fireside.  Is that okay with you?  Do you personally look back on your time with Caesars with positivity?

J: Absolutely, I think we made some really cool songs with Caesars and those were crazy times. If they even remember us, perhaps people will recognize a little bit of Caesars in what we do with Les Big Byrd, like the more psychedelic sides of it.

Photo: Courtesy of Dennis Wernersson
Photo: Courtesy of Dennis Wernersson

D: Having collaborated with Robyn and Håkan Hellström as a songwriter, and Refused and The International Noise Conspiracy as a music video director, what made you want to get back out there as a performer?

J: I love to play music with my mates, and I love the idea of having a band that’s well trimmed together and tight. Like when you get to that almost telepathical level when you do things simultaneously without any verbal communication, like you’re four different limbs on one body, all moving together. I don’t really see it as “performing” actually, that sound more like theatre or something Madonna would do, we’re just jamming.

D: Your first trip to North America as a band includes stops at Cake Shop and Baby’s All Alright.  How does your live show compare to your studio recordings?

J: It’s a little more improvisational, songs can stretch out a little longer and they’re not always exactly like on the records. It’s like the song is a theme and we can jam around that. Plus, live is more sweaty.

D: If everything went the way you hoped with these upcoming U.S. shows, what would the future look like for Les Big Byrd?  Lots of touring, because you love being out there?  Or less touring with more studio work?

J: We love both playing live and creating in the studio, we’ll divide the time between both. But we really prefer doing smaller club shows generally, we’re not really looking to be the biggest band in the world — just the best.

D: Finally, Jocke, any last words for the kids?

J: Read the book “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, it makes you question our whole human society, yourself and everything. And it’s always good to question stuff that is just fed to as “the norm” or finished solutions. And listen to the Swedish band Uran on Höga Nord Rekords from Gothenburg, they’re really great.


Les Big Byrd will be playing on May 11th at Baby’s All Right and on May 12th at the Cake Shop.

by: Darren Paltrowitz