16 Jun 2000

P, C & C order room service (I): Brainpool is working on a rock opera

According to Expressen and The Daily Roxette, the band Brainpool has been working on a rock opera for 6 months already. They have left their record company, Epic.

David Birde is now working by an advertising agency. He is responsible for the opera’s libretto and explains it in Expressen:
The opera will be set in the present and will satirize and criticize the economy-centered society that has grown so strong during the last 12 months”.
The rock opera is due to be ready next year. The band is hoping that Philip Zandé would be the director. The music of the opera will be first released as a CD.

Brainpool is a guitar-pop band coming from Lund, southern Sweden. Brainpool was first “found” by Per’s record company Jimmy Fun Music. Brainpool’s members, especially bassist Christoffer Lundquist and Jens Jansson, have been working with Per and Roxette since Per’s solo album in 1997. In fact, Brainpool's work could be delayed for some time as Christoffer Lundquist could tour with Per Gessle, Marie Fredriksson and Clarence Öfwerman promoting Roxette in the United States this summer.

Not only were we constantly terrified of being criticized and disliked. We also carried around a musical self-image that wasn’t quite accurate. We thought our sound was rawer and harder than it actually was. Our music was, on the contrary, quite wimpy, something I’ m proud of today. I think it only adds to its qualities. But our sense of identity was probably all wrong. My mother is an extreme case. Once when she held a seminar at University, she received standing ovations because she was so brilliant and she burst out of the room in tears because she was convinced that they were making fun of her! At the height of Brainpool’s career I had a similar feeling of that the audience at any moment would see through us. That they suddenly would realize what idiots we were!

Once we’d lost our fame, commercial aspects weren’t relevant and we could afford to be a little more experimental. But even then the music industry wanted us to keep producing hits and with everyone constantly interfering, it just wasn’t any fun anymore. It became clear that the only option the band had, was to do it our own way and have as much fun as we could in the process. That’s when we decided to leave our record label and music publisher.

We had already decide to go ahead with it but it was a somewhat bizarre incident what coaxed us into taking it seriously: we heard rumours that Tore Johansson from Tambourine Studios also had plans of writing a rock opera. That made us panic a bit. You can’t be the second established artist to write a rock opera, especially not in Sweden. You’re either the first to do it, or you don’t do it at all! So we sat down in a bar to gather our strength and then David Birde called a journalist to announce that Brainpool was about to write a rock opera. The idea was that once we made our plans official we would have to complete the project!
Chris Lundquist (Junk Musik)
Christoffer Lundquist
- Junk Musik

When we first started out in the mid 90’s, our genre of music was very popular. Once that musical era had faded away, people were no longer interested in guys playing pop music. We’ve been making music together since the age of 19 or 20. It would be really strange to give all of that up without any real reason. If one were to randomly pick people out of the population and ask them about us, most of them would probably not know who we were or that we still exist and a handful would describe us as the band who released “Bandstarter” in ’95.

The most common procedure is to release a pop album and receive some reviews and get it played on various radio and TV stations and then it’s either a bestseller or a commercial flop. And that’s it. It’s become natural to view pop music as a short-lived consumer product and expect bands to churn out new records, preferably every year. To a certain extent this was what we wanted to avoid. Instead of just producing a new hit song, we wanted to write something lasting and more self-contained. A work of art, if you like, even though that sounds ridiculous!
Jens Jansson (Junk Musik)
Jens Jansson - Junk Musik

It all started with the audience losing interest in us and soon after that the media weren’t interested either. And before too long the record label and our band were fed up with each other. You pretty soon realize that you’re not desirable anymore.

When you have a record contract, you can just go along with whatever is expected of you. In our case we started off with trying to live up to the expectations but later on we broke with all of that. Neither of which was very wise but it’s all very hard to handle.

There’s no point in clinging to the hope that you’ll somehow regain your popularity. Most bands that find themselves in that situation usually break up and form new bands, or quit playing music altogether. The reason we continued as a band was that we still enjoyed playing together and rather obstinately hung on to each other, as well as the band name!

It all started as a joke: “one of these days we’ll write a rock opera!” The “rock opera” genre is still very repulsive to a lot of people but back then just about everyone hated the idea of us writing one. It felt good to tell people of our plan, because they just couldn’t understand why the hell we –of all people – wanted to do this! Why couldn’t we just quit the band and get ourselves proper jobs? And then to add to their frustration the damn thing took forever to complete! Everyone around us was expecting us to give up.
David Birde (Junk Musik)
David Birde - Junk Musik