You might not have heard of the band Peter, Bjorn and John, but you've probably heard the group's biggest hit, "Young Folks," a catchy hipster song driven by a killer melodic whistle. The Swedish indie-rock band, whose energetic live shows led to an opening slot on Depeche Mode's 2009-10 "Tour of the Universe," performs Friday night (Sept. 23) at the intimate Bardot club in Midtown Miami (3456 N. Miami Ave.) in support of its sixth album, “Gimme Some.” Drummer and backing vocalist John Eriksson talked to Miami.com about the show.
How's the tour going so far?
It's going really well, and we're looking forward to coming to Miami. It's so funny - I thought about it the other day: When I was a kid, like 10 years old up in the north of Sweden, it's snowing like all year, almost - I was watching "Miami Vice," and it was a Saturday night and I was dreaming about being in Miami. So we're looking forward to seeing the actual city where "Miami Vice" was shot.
So this is your first time in Miami?
Yeah, I was in Cuba a couple of years ago and I asked one of the tour bus guys to take me in his boat to Miami, but he wouldn't do it.
Your show in Miami is at a very small venue. Do you guys prefer that over, say, opening for Depeche Mode or other huge shows like that?
Yeah, I think it was during the Depeche tour when we played some really small venues at nighttime. We played at Madison Square Garden and then went to a super-small rock club in New York and did a small show. And that energy with a small-venue rock atmosphere, we tried to pinpoint during this tour. So we're playing smaller venues - like in Chicago, we played four shows in small venues instead of one show in a big venue, so we wanted the venues to be, like, punk-y, and it's hard to do that in a theater. You can't get that sweat and the vibe. And we love for people to get up onstage.
Can we expect a lot of the new album at the show?
Yeah, but we try to incorporate old songs, like songs from [2009's] "Living Thing," which was a record that had kind of a hip-hop sense. We rearranged some of those songs to sound like garage rock - it's gonna be new versions of old songs. But I promise "Young Folks" is gonna sound like it was before - you can't change that to a thrash-metal song, or people will get furious.
Speaking of "Young Folks," how much did that change your life?
If we didn't have that song, we'd still be working other jobs, I think.
So who's the whistler on that song?
Actually, no one, because it's hard to whistle in that pitch. It's a mix of two whistles and then we transposed the pitch with computers. It's actually impossible to whistle like that.
For the new album "Gimme Some," is it true you guys tried to make it really punk rock, but it didn't work?
Yeah, I think we sometimes think stuff about ourselves that we can't do. What we do best is pop and indie-pop. We tried to make it punk-y, but Peter's voice is so smooth. He can't just sing like Sid Vicious or make it sound angry - it only made him angry [laughs].
Your songs are very melodic. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
The Buzzcocks always combined that punk-y vibe with pop melodies, so them and The Damned. And further back, of course The Beatles and Rolling Stones and Van Halen. Peter knows everything about The Beatles - if there was a TV show competition, he would probably win it all.