“Vivid” is the first word The Mary Onettes front-man Philip Ekström used to describe his band's image, with their third album release, Hit The Waves—made in collaboration with producer Dan Lissvik (Young Galaxy, Taken by Trees). The word certainly applies to the band’s single “Evil Coast,” where Eckström’s harrowing, soulful, and emotive voice coupled with bold instrumentation paints a picture of despair at the same time as sublime beauty.
Although the single seems like a breakthrough to many U.S. listeners, this Swedish band has been together for almost ten years. Ekström, however, would rather say five, referring to the moment before their 2007 self-titled debut when the name ‘The Mary Onettes’ finally stuck. “Before that we were the same members but didn’t have that name,” Ekström mentioned when we sat down after a private acoustic performance at NYC’s Cake Shop. “We were just trying to find some meaning in what we were doing.”
Hit the Waves indicates this pivotal transformation in the band’s identity, with “Evil Coast” as an alluring initial single. We caught Ekström at the end of his solo mini-tour promoting the March US release of the new album and discussed being Big in Brazil, shooting the new music video, and where the real “evil coast” may be.
Welcome to New York! I hear last time you tried to make it out here it was during the Icelandic Volcano crisis a couple years back, and now you’re here on an acoustic solo tour. How has that been so far?
PE Well, we’ve been here a couple times, but the last time with the volcano and all that. They wanted me to come back here but we couldn’t bring the whole band unfortunately. [Performing solo] is a totally new and different kind of thing, and cool in a way.
We appreciate you filming this personal performance of “Evil Coast” for us. What’s the song about?
PE Well, the “evil coast” is more of a place in my mind. I wrote that song in my mother’s summer house, that we go to sometimes, and at that point when I was going there and writing that song I had this feeling that I had to escape from the “evil coast” of my mind. It might sound a little cheesy, but I feel like every human being has some kind of “evil coast”— a place that’s windy and the waves come crashing in.
Tell us about going to Brazil to film the video.
PE It was a tour that was scheduled a few years before we actually went over. I’m not so comfortable about flying [sic], so we cancelled the tour in 2009-2010, we didn’t have the time. We took a pause. So, now we thought 2013 would be a good time to go there. We have a huge crowd there! We went to São Paulo – it was amazing!
The power of the Internet at work. Brazil doesn’t necessarily seem like a place that would inspire the “Evil Coast” video. How did that come about?
PE I remember my brother was telling me “Oh, we should use this footage we shot [on a Super 8] for the ‘Evil Coast’ song!” He thought maybe the Brazilian crowd would think badly about us going to Brazil for the “evil” coast, but it was just beautiful pictures that worked well together with the song.
Hit the Waves is out now available from Labrador Records.
Performed By Philip Ekström of The Mary Onettes Producer Spencer Morgan Taylor 2nd Camera Josh Goleman Groomer Laura de Leon (Joe Management) Wardrobe Assistant Wyatt Allgeier Equipment ROOT [EQ] Location Cake Shop, NYC