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Jakob Mind (Rotten Mind / Agent Attitude)
The more I played Jakob Mind‘s new solo album ‘The One Who Got Away’ the more I wanted to know about it. A quick message later and Jakob Arvidsson had kindly said he’d answer my questions:
SW: Reviews about Rotten Mind often mention bands such as Dead Boys, Buzzcocks, The Undertones and 60’s garage sounds such as The Velvet Underground as an influence. No doubt these comparisons will be there once ‘The One Who Got Away’ is on general release. Is this merely a coincidence or are you a fan of those, and similar, bands?
JA: it’s definitely bands I regularly listen to so probably not a coincidence. I mean I’m not trying to sound like those bands but I listen to them a lot so maybe that shines through.
SW: Each of the four Rotten Mind albums seem, to my ears anyway, to make subtle steps away from straight forward anger towards a more catchy power pop/punk sound and an overall more coherent feel. Lyrics with a wider range of feelings covering anger, love, loss that aren’t simply yelled but delivered in a way that the emotion is more obvious before you even focus on the actual words. ‘The One Who Got Away’ seems like a natural progression of this. A fair point? Or me barking up the wrong tree completely?
JA: That sounds about right. It’s hard for me to review my own stuff in that way, you know? But I’d like to think we always takes steps forward and getting better at what we do. I think we always try to do something different from what we did before, not sure if we always succeed but at least we try. With this record I didn’t think much about anything, it is what it is, so maybe it’s a progression that’s just natural from playing music for a few years now.
SW: Did you have these songs already written? Was it always your intention to keep them to yourself until word got out and you knew the demand was there for a release or were they destined to appear in one form or another on a future Rotten Mind release?
JA: Some of the songs were written before and I’d always had different songs in my catalogue. Some songs don’t really fit Rotten Mind and that was the first songs that I recorded for this album. After I did that I felt it was easier to write stuff for this project as I kinda “felt” the sound a bit more. Some might say it sounds like Rotten Mind but I definitely think it has a different feeling to it.
SW: Releasing a solo album allows you to completely focus on your own feelings and sounds. How was this given that other band members weren’t around to influence what you were doing?
JA: It was quite easy actually. I kinda built the song in my head and just recorded it. Of course some things would’ve been better if I would’ve discussed things with the band but I think that’s the right feeling for this album. It’s very simple and nothing really takes over, it’s more focused on the melodies and not on specific instruments or stuff like that.
SW: As for the songs themselves – you’ve said that over the last year or so you’ve had to deal with the loss of friends, losing jobs, and the thoughts and feelings you’ve experienced during a period of time unlike any other. Stand outs for me, and ones I’d love to know a little more about, are the following:
The title track –
JA: It’s basically about choosing not to live a “normal” life with a steady job etc and instead do things the way I want to. It’s up for interpretation for everyone.
SW: ‘Watch The City Burn’, which we know deals with your thoughts and feelings following the loss of a close friend.
JA: Yeah I wrote that one for one of my best friends who passed away last year. It’s about what we used to do when we were like 18-19 years old and kinda what it felt like at the time. We felt like we owned the city and could do whatever we wanted to.
SW: ‘7 days’ – a few words telling what it’s about would be great.
JA: I know it could be read as a love story but it’s more a story about touring and being away from loved ones etc.
SW: ‘Let Them Know’ wouldn’t be out of place on one of those great 60’s black and white music programmes such as Ready Steady Go – a real 60’s garage vibe. What’s the focus of the lyrics?
JA: I wrote that basically on the spot when we recorded it. It’s stupid. I have a favorite bar in Uppsala and it’s packed almost every day of the week and a friend of mine and I talked about if it would be possible for us regulars to book a table there so we wouldn’t have to be there so early every day. Unfortunately they don’t do that.
SW: ‘Little Evil One’ – the instrumental that’s the perfect soundtrack to a long, solo road trip in the middle of the night. To me it’s a track that causes me to just stop and think and brings forward fairly strong feelings surrounding a couple of particularly low points I’ve been through. Yet at the same time it’s also upbeat with a real feeling of moving forward. Did it just feel right as a track without lyrics? What does it mean to you?
JA: I actually wrote that for Rotten Mind at first and it was supposed to have vocals on it. But when we recorded it it just felt right to do that way. The title is from a few years back at that named bar we always hung out at. We got two Jakobs in the group, so some guys started to call me the little evil one. Don’t know why.
SW: ‘Little Evil One’ also seems to split the album neatly into two halves, the first full of driving, fast paced, high energy, melodic punk. Following ‘Little Evil One’ there seems to be a more experimental sound with ‘On The Floor’ and a more emotionally charged, lighter feeling to ‘You Wanted Me To Hang Around You’. Can you tell me a little more about them?
JA: I just wanted to have a different sound to “on the floor” and yeah I guess it feels a little heavier in a way. It’s not really fast. I’ve always wanted to do more songs with that kind of simple drumming so it was cool to try it. “You (Wanted Me To Hang Around You)” is a cover of Gary Valentine. It’s a song maybe not a lot of people have heard but it’s so great. I thought it would be perfect for this album and I’m really happy with it.
SW: Finally, ‘I Don’t Want To Be (Around) You’ is another perfect track to play at maximum volume before heading out to a gig or when heading home after a night out. But who don’t you want to be (around) and why not?
JA: Just people, you know? I’ve met a lot of people and they’re just a waste of time. I’ve met a lot of cool people as well of course, but sometimes you just meet people and you can’t understand what their problem is.
SW: One of the great things about music is that everyone is free to interpret songs as they wish. What causes one person to scream out in anger might make another break down and weep. Often these feelings are not what the person who wrote the songs was trying say at all. And as I said I’m often immediately struck by the music long before the lyrics sink in. So my apologies if my ideas are way off the mark of what you intended.
JA: No not at all! These questions are honestly the most relevant I’ve gotten in years. Most interviews are like “where are you from?” or “how long have you played together?” so this is refreshing to be honest.
SW: Will people eventually get to hear these songs played live?
JA: I certainly hope so. I have a few people that wants to play these songs with me so if I get the chance to play I will do it. But my focus will be on Rotten Mind when it comes to touring and stuff like that.
SW: And, once we see the back of Covid, are we likely to see you, with or without Rotten Mind, heading over to the UK?
JA: I would love to. Anyone wanna book us for a tour we’d love to come over!
“The One Who Got Away” is released on Lövely Records on April 16th and can be pre-ordered from Bandcamp here in both digital and limited edition clear vinyl formats, but you’ll need to be quick to get the latter. At the time of writing less than 20% were left. For those not living in Sweden Lövely Records have arranged a very favourable postage rate to Europe, the US and around the globe.