Figurines : Q&A

<img src="" alt=" " />On the last day of their North American tour, drummer Kristian Volden and bassist Mads Kjærgaard of Denmark’s Figurines spent a moment with QRO....

  In the talk, Volden and Kjærgaard told of North American ‘music freaks’, why they kept the flaws in their latest record, When the Deer Wore Blue (QRO review), the Copenhagen music scene, the departure of original bassist, Andreas Toft, being hauled at out of their cars by the Oregon police, and more…

QRO: This is the last date on your North American tour.  How has it been?

Kristian Volden: It’s been good.  It’s been hard on us, this time around.

Mads Kjærgaard: We had a lot of problem in the beginning of the tour, after Montreal.  So we had to cancel Vancouver and Portland.  Our bus in Seattle broke down somewhere on its way up there, from Austin.  So we used two regular cars for four or five shows.

KV: We rented an RV for ourselves.  It kind of drives like a boat.

QRO: For some reason, that area is like ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ for bands.

MK: We almost got arrested on the border at 2 A.M.  We were on our way from Seattle to Salt Lake City, the border of Idaho and Oregon.

KV: It was actually in Oregon.  Some truck driver, apparently, thought that he had seen us sitting with a gun.  So the police pulled us over, and as soon as the policemen found out that there were weapons involved, we got out one by one, put our arms in the air and walked backwards, handcuffed, on our knees, everything.  It was crazy.

We’re kind of hoping to see that on Cops.

QRO: What about New York?

KV: Halloween, I don’t know if it hadn’t have been Halloween, whether there would have been more people.  But no, it was a great audience.

QRO: Did you guys wear costumes or anything?

KV: We had fake blood, corn syrup, that kind of thing.

QRO: Is this your first ‘headlining’ U.S. tour?

KV: Second.

MK: A year ago.

KV: I think we actually may have played Mercury (QRO venue review) on the exact [same] date, last year, for CMJ.  I guess CMJ was later.

QRO: How does this tour compare to last year’s tour?

KV: Hmm…  I don’t know…

MK: It’s a tour?

KV: We had some problems.

MK: That kind of stunk.

KV: It was kind of hard work, being on tour all the time.

QRO: How does this compare to your previous American tour with Tapes ‘N Tapes and Cold War Kids?

MK: There was a lot more… people there, obviously.

KV: It’s pretty much the same deal.  I guess when you’re headlining, you go on stage last.  But it was great; there was a lot of buzz about all three bands.  That’s the stuff I remember, will remember.

QRO: How do Europe and North America compare, audiences, venues, or things like that?

MK: I think that people in America, they seem to be like ‘music freaks’, like nerdy about music.  People really fix in on music; they know what’s going on, divided into small groups.  Over in Europe, if you love music, you know about a lot of things about music, a lot of bands.

KV: I think, maybe, in general, in and around Europe, going on tour in Europe, I don’t know how much sense it makes, it costs money.  Over here, just being able to make a living…

QRO: From here, you do a couple of French and Belgian dates, then open for Kaiser Chiefs in Scandinavia.  How did you get in touch with The Kaiser Chiefs?

MK: Their drummer [Nick Hodgson], he apparently liked us, and their manager got in contact with our manager.  We played with them at the Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, in June.

QRO: And why the shows in France and Belgium?

MK: The new record is out in France; it’s like an ‘industry’ thing.  I think it’s just promo for the record.

QRO: You’re going to play Oslo and Stockholm, as well as Copenhagen.  When you play in Norway or Sweden, is that more of a ‘home’ crowd than say, in France, or do you only get that feeling in Denmark?

KV: This is our first French gig, so it definitely doesn’t feel like home.

MK: The big cities in Scandinavia, they know about us.  We can’t tour, though.

KV: We’ve played way more shows in Denmark.

QRO: What’s it been like, now that When the Deer Wore Blue is out?

MK: We’ve had a lot to do.

KV: We’ve done some media…

MK: Which we’re not used to.

QRO: What was the recording process like for Deer?

KV: We recorded it in Sweden, in a forest.

MK: It was only the studio and us.  And nothing else.

KV: We recorded it on tape, analog.  So everything was basically, a lot of flaws, here and there, but we decided to keep it.

MK: Because it’s so organic.

KV: No fixes or anything.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it kind of loses its personality some times.

QRO: How was making Deer different than making your previous two full-lengths, Skeleton (2005) and Shake a Mountain (2003)?

KV: Well, Skeleton, we recorded bass and drums, and then afterwards, we just took five or six weekends where we would go.

QRO: There’s delay between Deer coming out in the states (September) and back home (July).  Is that weird, or is that normal?

MK: We get record labels in every country.  That’s just natural.  In the U.K., it’s not out yet, and that’s because Skeleton recently came out, in May.

KV: It got released in April of 2005, but the releases, we’re kind of able to do one long tour, instead of us playing for a month, and then two weeks again.

The tour has been going on for two months.

QRO: You just made a video for “The Air We Breathe”.  What was that like?

MK: Lots of balloons…

KV: The band just got one scene.  [Christian Hjelm, singer/guitarist] was in front of the camera, the whole way.

QRO: How did it compare with making other videos, like that of Deer’s “Let’s Head Out”?

MK: That was in London.

KV: You get tired, being outside all the time, going on the roof, and doing a playback thing.  People are watching you.

QRO: What is the Danish music community like?  Is it particularly tight-knit?

MK: Denmark’s a very small country.

QRO: So you all know each other anyway?

MK: In some ways, yeah. 

Copenhagen is the largest city.  Everybody knows each other in a way; we’ve all met each other, somehow.

KV: Except, I guess, the metal bands.

MK: They’ve got their own community.

QRO: Does the Copenhagen scene get much spillover from Malmö, across the bridge in Sweden?

KV: That’s where we recorded Skeleton.

MK: I know there’s like an ‘exchange program’ going on, bands will come to Malmö to play, and back, but that’s a new thing.  I don’t know that much about it.

We’re going to play there, actually.  Some guy, a radio host, gonna play a club, promoting Danish music.

KV: One of the best things about Malmö is that it’s Sweden, and a lot of bands play there.  I saw Built To Spill there.  That was an amazing show.

QRO: You’ve had a #1 hit in Denmark, “Bright”.  How do you balance your success at home with efforts in the larger world?

KV: We’ve played to 1200 people in Denmark, and maybe forty people here.  I guess we’re just realistic about it, just knowing.

QRO: I know that in Sweden and Canada, musicians can get state support.  Is the same true in Denmark?

KV: Yeah, you can.  We’ve gained a lot.

MK: It’s something called ‘Music Export Denmark’ – We’ve basically got a ‘Rock Council’ in Denmark.

QRO: How did the band all meet?

KV: Our former bassist [Andreas Toft], and our lead singer, they met back in the nineties.  Actually, they met a bit earlier than that.  So I started playing the drums.

When our former bass player left, [Kjærgaard] had already been playing on tour, some guitar.

QRO: Do you know why Andreas left?

KV: Well, it’s kind of a mixture of him not really enjoying it, this very unstable situation, him wanting to stop touring.  I guess that’s pretty normal.

QRO: When does a Danish band decide to start singing in English?

KV: It’s been like that.

QRO: Are there Danish bands that sing in Danish?

KV: Yeah, but that’s more rarely.

QRO: Are there any songs you really like playing live?

MK: I like to play “Drove You Miles”, from the new album.

I think, in general, we like to play the new stuff.  ‘Cause we’ve played the old songs for a long time.

KV: Thousands of times…


It’s fun to play new stuff.  It’s new to us, as well, playing it, so that’s exciting.

QRO: Are there any songs you don’t like playing live, just don’t play anymore, or can’t, because of some sort of arrangement?

MK: I get a little nervous about “The Air We Breathe”, sometimes, because of the harmonies.


There aren’t really songs that we can’t play.  There are songs that we don’t remember, but I guess we’d be able to.

  There are old songs that probably don’t fit as well as the new stuff.  That’s mainly why we don’t play that.  Plus, the first album was more than four years ago…

QRO: What cities have you really liked playing in?

MK: Minneapolis was actually very fun.  We’ve got friends there.  Seattle…

KV: Boston…

MK: Chicago…

KV: Berlin…

MK: Our hometown, Alborg.  That’s in the northern part of Denmark, Jutland.  We played a show there, our families…

QRO: Is there any places that you haven’t been that you want to?

MK: Australia, China…

KV: Japan, Thailand…

There’s lots of places I want to go, but a lot of them probably don’t have scenes.

Figurines playing "Let's Head Out" live @ Mercury Lounge, New York, NY, on November 1st, 2007:

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