“There are many riots to join in life, and for us it has grown even clearer lately that what drives us the most is to make music that can infuse others with courage.”
Join The Riot! The Swedish indie quintet stands for powerful, energetic and epic pop music that puts you in a good mood and lets you move your feet to the rhythm but can also make you sink into reveries and drift away fantasizing. Besides all the power of their music, the five Stockholmians never forget that certain dash of dreaminess that makes their style.
After Henrik, Jonas, André and Simon had formed the band in 2013 (fifth member Patrik joined in 2015), they experienced a rapid development. Only two years after their formation they packed their bags to set out for a tour through China. In the Middle Kingdom, Join The Riot and their music were met with enthusiasm, what made them return for two more tours the next two years. With a growing Chinese fan base, the sympathetic Swedes even headlined China’s biggest rock festival, the MIDI modern festival, in 2017. Some of the experiences they’ve had over there were captured in the music videos for “Buckle Up” and “X My Heart“.
Join The Riot started the new year with the release of their new EP “Echo” that is said to “take you on a voyage deeper into the core soul of the band”. And, in fact, with songs like “X My Heart” and “Echo”, this EP seems more intimate than its predecessors. One thing is for sure: it’s about time now to get to know a little more about this band. We talked to them about their relations to China, their new EP and what’s to expect from them in the future.
NBN: Your band’s name is ‘Join The Riot’ – what’s behind that? I mean what riot is there to join? Or in other words: What ideals are you fighting for?
JTR: Thank you! That is a really good question and actually the first time anyone has ever asked us that after almost five years. At first and foremost it’s a musical riot. We are a band that makes pop music, for ourselves and hopefully for others to enjoy. But as time has gone by it feels like the name itself has started to create a greater meaning for us, both musically but also in our daily lives. There are many riots to join in life, and for us it has grown even clearer lately that what drives us the most is to make music that can infuse others with courage, to wake their aspiration and join their own individual riot, whatever it may be.
NBN: Your music has been compared to the sound of Coldplay, Phoenix and Empire of the Sun and you also name these bands as sources of inspiration. What else inspires you with your dreamy, yet powerful sound?
It’s funny you mention it, because we got a similar question the other day and it got us thinking. Last few years we haven’t actually been listening that much to Coldplay etc. I mean, we have listened to them a fair amount like any other pop music fan, but we haven’t really been influenced by them more than that we perhaps refense listen how they have mixed a kick drum or a snare sometimes. Nowadays it feels more like, even though their work create the building block of our musical spine, we are searching deeper inside of us to find and explore new landscapes. I think that’s why we always write and release a wide mix of songs, but we are constantly aware of where we want to go with them, to get that Join The Riot touch.
NBN: You started the band in 2013 and played a tour in China in 2015. Things went pretty fast it seems. What has happened in those two years and how did China come about?
Yeah, it was a really intense period in our lives. Right after we came back from the first tour we went straight into the studio and recorded our debut album, in the “Glass Cage Of Emotions” project. We did a lot of gigs in Sweden and also another tour to China, and after that we’ve put most of our energy on writing new stuff and renewing ourselves. The whole China endeavour came about when we met Pai Cong (Vibration Music), a former rock star and a great manager and PR strategist, who seemed to love our music and believed our stuff would work really well over there.
NBN: After 2015 you played even more shows in China in 2016 and 2017. How did the Chinese audiences receive and accept you? In your music video for ‘Buckle Up’, a kind of documentary about the first tour, it just looks awesome. Were there rough times, too?
Yeah, the film material from China is amazing, Ben Dowie who shot it is a real genius. To be honest there was a lot of rough times too. We were in a constant insomnia mode, travelling the whole country with gigs practically every day. But the response from the chinese audience was completely overwhelming and made every drop of sweat and tears worth it.
NBN: Any insides into the Chinese music scene you can share with us?
Actually they’re into hip-hop right now and before that it was punk. We never seem to catch a break, hehe. One great thing is that they still sell records, and that’s pretty cool! But they also got their own versions of all the music streaming services we have over here, however we heard that Spotify is coming there very soon as well, which we’re looking forward to.
NBN: You already announced the title of your forthcoming album – ‘Jing Jin Ji’. To me, that indicates that China has left a lasting impression on you guys. Am I right with that? If yes, will it be noticeable musically or lyrically?
Yes, that’s correct. We we’re already working on an album with a really big sound, and when we heard about the Jing Jin Ji city project, we felt it had a connection to the album. Maybe we have been influenced subconsciously by everything that is so much bigger over there compared to home, just take a look at their enormous train stations built to fit thousands of people at the same time. Or perhaps we have been drawn to China just because of our sound. Could be a combination of both, but the music would probably have sounded a bit different if we never had gone there. And we’re just blown away by the thought of building a mega city that’s gonna be the biggest thing the world have ever seen.
NBN: Okay, let’s talk about you being masters of PR. For the release of your song ‘Karotte’ you organized a 10-hour-tour through Stockholm and sent out letters, containing carrots. That story even made it into the Aftonbladet. Your debut EP ‘Buckle Up’ was released on surfboard-shaped flash drives and you even tuned a real surfboard up with a USB-stick to literally release your EP on it. On a surf board (how cool is that?!). 2015 you let everyone watch you record your debut album in a display window in the centre of Stockholm. What’s next? And how do you come up with these ideas?
Even though music is our main passion, we find great enjoyment in coming up with funny and creative concepts… you should just see our music video idea list! Usually it’s all about observing your surroundings and being open to combine two or several ideas to come up with your own unique take on it. At this point we can’t reveal our next master plan, but we can promise you won’t be disappointed. And if you ever receive a letter from Mars, don’t be surprised!
NBN: Your latest release is still very fresh. On the 12th of January you shared your new EP ‘Echo’ with the world. Pompous arena hymns come together with sensitive ballads. I got especially hooked by ‘X My Heart’. What’s the story to it? Because it definitely sounds like it has one.
Nice to hear you like that particular song, it’s actually the band favourite these days. ‘X My Heart’ was the starting point of the ‘Echo’ EP. The story is about the journey of life, our choices and promises to ourselves and others. But it’s also about feeling down when you least expect it and how hard it can be escaping from that feeling. You can cross half of the world, being among your best friends and still be low or heart broken. The song was inspired by our tours in China, so it felt quite natural shooting the music video over there.
NBN: One outlook on the future. What are you up to in 2018? Will China be paid another visit?
Would definitely be fun going back, and fact is we just signed our first record deal over there, so we’ll see what happens next! Right now we’re in the middle of releasing Echo, but we’re also working on putting together our follow up. Hopefully we will have more stuff to release later this year and we are ready to do as many gigs as we can. And who knows, maybe we’ll start checking off that grand music video list of ours.