On Line-Up Changes And Finally Making It To Oz Thanks To Mewstralia

18 November 2015 | 3:25 pm | Mark Hebblewhite

"We've been a band since we were in the eighth grade and sometimes people just need some time out, you know."

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Jonas Bjerre is a pretty knowledgeable guy — despite chatting in a language not his own. But even he was unaware that Australia has recently displayed a great appetite for all things Danish. "Wow, really? That's pretty cool," he replies when told of 
's success and the local canonisation of Danish cuisine and architecture. "I suspect the TV shows are driving it which is a bit embarrassing because when people talk about them I have to admit I don't watch a lot of television," he laughs. "I think I need to be more patriotic and watch Danish television."

"I do know that people around the world know much more Danish music than before," he adds. "It used to be unheard of for Danish bands to tour other countries. We didn't have the history that Sweden had for musical exports, but nowadays a lot of Danish bands are doing well. And I'm really happy that people know about what a great music scene there is in Denmark."

One thing the quietly spoken Dane is aware of however is the long campaign by Mew's Australian fans to get the band to our shores. As Bjerre explains, it's been a long time coming. "It's kind of sad really because we've wanted to come for so many years," he says. "What's more, we knew that we had people who wanted us to come. We have an Australian fan site called Mewstralia whose members were really instrumental in making it all happen, and they really stuck in there because there were some disappointments along the way when we nearly made it but it didn't quite happen."

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"We have an Australian fan site called Mewstralia whose members were really instrumental in making it all happen."

Despite the wait, Mew don't intend to get fancy with their setlist. Instead they plan to stick with their tried and true method of song selection. "We'll probably just play the songs we enjoy the most at the time, that's usually how it goes," laughs Bjerre. "We do enjoy playing the songs that people have fallen in love in with, but really the variations in the setlist just reflect how we feel at the time. That said, we usually end up playing something off every album anyway, but maybe not from the very first album because we've changed our songwriting a lot and those songs aren't really representative of where we are today."

There's no doubt that in 2015 Mew are a very different band from the youngsters that started out in 1995. But really, the Danish trio is also a very different band to the one touring just a few short years ago with a number of recent line-up changes. In 2014 original bassist Johan Wohlert returned to the fold after seven years in the wilderness. Even more shockingly, in July of this year Mew announced that despite having just unveiled their new album +/-  to the world, that founding member and guitarist Bo Madsen had decided to leave the band. 

"We have had some changes in Mew," confirms Bjerre. "Johan is back on bass and he was very involved in our last album and of course some months ago our original guitarist left the band. It has taken some getting used to these changes but we're really happy as a band to have the new album done and to be back on the road touring. We've just come back from an American tour and of course we are looking forward to countries like Australia."

Bjerre is philosophical in explaining the rationale, or indeed lack of rationale, behind the line-up changes. "We've been a band since we were in the eighth grade and sometimes people just need some time out, you know. As far as Bo is concerned, there were a lot of personal things going on and I must admit it's still hard for me to talk about it. But life changes sometimes and stuff changes in people's personal lives, so I think a lot of factors played into him leaving the band." 

So the door isn't completely closed for Masden's return? "Um, yeah, it's hard to say. I think I'll leave it at that."

Apart from line-up changes the band's new LP +/- also sees them enter new musical territory. "It's a hard album to describe," offers Bjerre. "Unlike many of our other albums we didn't really put too much of a frame around it — we didn't try to conceptualise it — we just went for it and wrote a bunch of songs and really just allowed each one of them to take the form it wanted to take. It's a very diverse album with elements of everything we've done before. It's got everything from really experimental material right through to very simple rock songs. All the songs though lend themselves well to the live stage and they are all fun to play."