Scandinavian rockers Factory Brains released their sophomore effort, the sprawling yet engaging ‘Hard Labor’ in February, and followed it up with the excellent single ‘Down The River’, in which the Stockholm mob headed out to Brooklyn to record the video.
Taking cues from bands such as Band of Horses and even latter day Gaslight Anthem, the Americana-tinged rockers play heart-on-sleeve rock music, yet also throw in some incidental jazz and indie elements, making ‘Hard Labor’ something of an unconventional listen.
And, of course, there’s the single ‘Down the River’, which is something more straightforward but arguably the outstanding cut from the record. Already Heard got the lowdown on one of the continent’s most exciting up-and-coming acts, with Factory Brains’ Niclas Edhenholm taking time out to answer some questions.
AH: For the uninitiated, can you give us some details as to the history of Factory Brains?
Niclas Edhenholm: Factory Brains was formed during our time in high school and we’ve been at it ever since.
We released our debut album ‘Love Like Hours’ in 2012 and did some touring with Rival Sons and Graveyard to promote the album. A short time after that we started to work on ‘Hard Labor’ which took a long time. The album itself was recorded and mixed rather quickly but we took some time finding the right label to release it. In February this year we got the chance to follow The Temperance Movement on a leg of their European tour and as soon as we returned home to Stockholm we finally got to release our latest effort: ‘Hard Labor’
AH: ‘Hard Labor’ has quite a few different things going on – for example, the incidental/jazz tones to ‘Now I Know’, so what’s the songwriting process like for you guys?
NE: The songwriting process is usually pretty simple. I just sit down and write song after song in the comfort of my own kitchen, but when we reach those interesting places with the arrangements or find those incidental jazz tones that you mention, it’s because of the band all together. We usually work out the structures and sounds of each song as a group and in my opinion that’s when we also end up with the best results, like ‘Coffee Break’ or ‘Fork In The Road’.
AH: Why did you decide to write in English and what challenges does that present – if any?
NE: Since at least 80% of the music we listen to is in English we just naturally clung to that language as well. There’s definitely some challenges when you don’t write in your own language but the hardest part for us is probably how to pronounce the words while we sing. Hopefully some people might mistake us for singing in some weird dialect whenever we’re off.
AH: although there’s some quite mighty riffs, there’s some real hooks too – ‘Modern Day’, for example is a real toe-tapper with a killer chorus – how do you marry these two sides of the band, or does it come quite naturally?
NE: Sometimes catchy melodies just come up in your head and there’s really nothing you can do about it. And since Factory Brains is all about putting out music that comes from within we felt that it would be wrong to ignore our more pop-oriented songs. We didn’t want ‘Hard Labor’ to embrace and live up to any specific genre, so putting for example ‘Modern Day’ next to the much more acid-rock ‘Now I Know’ was never a big issue for us. So in lesser words I guess you could say that it all comes rather naturally.
AH: How has your songwriting developed over time? ‘Hard Labor’ isn’t your first album so how have things changed?
NE: The songwriting has developed a lot compared to our debut album ‘Love Like Hours. On that first record we really just wrote what we were able to write and with the strong purpose to fit the songs into a live set. The second time around we wanted to create a more classic album with stronger material and a bigger depth than we had on the first record. This, of course, led to a longer writing period and also a larger number of songs to choose from. As the main songwriter for the band I also developed a bigger routine around my writing which meant that I would sit down at least a couple of hours each day trying to get something out of my head, good or bad.
AH: What was it like filming the video for ‘Down The River’ in Brooklyn? Whose dog was featured in the video?
NE: Filming the video in New York Brooklyn was an amazing experience and we were so glad that we got the chance to do it. American culture has really had a big impact on our music so being able to go over there and just soak it all in was a big deal for us. The dog (called Lady) belongs to one of the actors in video. I’m not going to tell you who though, just in case there’s any pet thieves amongst your readers!
AH: ’Down The River’ is not typical of the songs on Hard Labor – it’s a little more ‘classic’, so what made you decide to release it as a single?
‘Down The River’ was released as a single because we felt that it was the emotional centerpiece of the album. The song really breathes all of the heart and soul of the album and that’s what we wanted people to hear.
AH: What does the rest of 2016 have in store for Factory Brains?
NE: We are currently on tour throughout Scandinavia as support for Graveyard. Following that we’re hopefully going to do some more touring and start laying the foundations for our third album.
‘Hard Labor’ by Factory Brains is out now on Wild Kingdom Records/Sound Pollution.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair) | Photo Credit: Adam Holmkvist