The Higher Elevations

The Protestant Work Ethic

Interview w/ Niklas Gustafsson

By Christopher Duda
(SugarBuzz Toronto)

band pixs by Anders Sköld

SugarBuzz Magazine

Fourteen songs of what is destined to be lauded in the distant future as a classic slab of pop craftsmanship. Many an aural enthusiast might beseech the honour or glory upon these unassuming potentates. Less of a parallel can be drawn in the sand to fellow countrymen “The Soundtrack of Our Lives.” The Higher Elevations eyes bulging with repletion have dragged razor blades to bestow the sacred life source on the altar of Paul Weller and maybe a tad bit of gothic honour on Robert Smith. The Higher Elevations have found their niche with a strong sense of haunting composition, infectious repetition, and soulful harmony.

May the Higher Elevations have the world fidgeting in tremulous fluttering ecstasy? Rejoice!!! and be lifted to another astral plane.

An interview with frontman Niklas Gustafsson from The Higher Elevations-by Christopher Duda

1. Each release takes on a different persona or personality like a newborn child once released into this cold cold world. How do you feel about this release now that it is out there in the world? Do you feel different about it now then when you were recording it?

I am happier with it now than then, due to a bit of perspective. We are very proud of the new album, naturally. It's a bit different from the last one but I am sure people liking this one will like both albums, and vice versa, don't you think?

2. Whom are your influences? I hear a lot of The Cure and The Jam on this current cd. Did you ever listen to either band?

Both groups were among my favourites when I grew up. Still listening to The Cure occasionally. And buying their albums.

3. How did the process of recording this cd differ from the previous?

It was a bit less of a group effort, I must say. I had basically the entire album planned preceding the recording, so I produced it with Mattias, who's not in the group, instead of the whole group producing it, like last time.

I asked the others for demos of new songs and then tinkered away on them on my own, finding new melodies and lyrics to go with it.

We spent only a couple of days playing together in the studio. Then Mattias and I choose to work on it on our own with the others contributing now and then. 'The Protestant Work Ethic' is my vision of Max Weber's theory. It's just transformed into pop songs. It's a very working class vision. Next time, maybe we will explore the upper class sociologically...

4. How would you feel if you became a cult band and did not become understood until 20 years down the timeline?

If this happens I hope I live to see it. Moreover, I hope I have prepared a new album as well as having a box set to cash in on it...

5. Rumour has it that the pair of legs adorning the inside cover of the cd insert are yours! Is this true?

Definitely! It took me a good hour of thorough shaving though.

6. What was the most influential Swedish band on your band?

I am not sure there is one. I can only speak for myself but I mainly enjoy new wave groups, like Television and The Only Ones, and garage rock - as well as a lot of new stuff of course. I guess I would have to say ABBA, then. Yes, ABBA. You can laugh, but it's all in the melodies.

7. Does it get tiring reading comparisons to "The Soundtrack Of Our Lives"?

Not really. It could be much worse, like being compared to Eggstone.

8. Where do you see the band in 10 years?

I have no idea. Maybe I am still at it, but I'm sure a bit of renewal among the other members will be necessary. Maybe I have transformed into a Swedish Mark E Smith with 40 different line-ups in the baggage.

9. Has cracking the North American market been an uphill battle?

I will know the answer to that when we have cracked it. I'll give you a ring!

SugarBuzz Magazine