A language barrier has not kept Swedish band Dungen from finding ample success in America.
The band has performed at Bonnaroo and Coachella; played on Late Night With Conan O’Brien; and won the acclaim of American music critics. The band’s psychedelic rock sound has much to like, and at times will head into progressive rock and even free-form jazz.
The band will be appearing at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Aug. 19.
During a recent phone interview during a tour stop in Northern California, frontman Gustav Ejstes expressed happiness about again touring in the United States.
“It’s amazing, and we’re truly grateful every time we get to play here again,” Ejstes said. “We enjoy being here where it’s super-warm. We were by the coast last night, and it was a little chilly, but it’s very beautiful, and there are a lot of great people here.”
In 2013, the band was asked to compose a score for a film. This led to the band’s latest LP, last year’s Häxan.
“We received a request from the Swedish Film Institute. We got the request in the spring of 2013, and we had a few options of films to pick from,” Ejstes said. “I couldn’t participate much during this period, because I had a new daughter, but the other guys picked this movie, a beautiful animated film from 1926 called The Adventures of Prince Achmed. … They thought (the score) was good, and then we decided to make a record out of it.
“We decided from the beginning not to do it chronologically. We handed over a bag of tapes to the producer and said, ‘Make this into a 40-minute-long LP,’ and he took the material and made it like a collage. It’s the score, and it’s all chopped up.”
Ejstes said it was not that difficult to create the score.
“The film is so beautiful itself,” he said. “It’s a lot of themes for different characters and elements in the film. Every time we play it, it feels like there’s something different, because that’s how play. But in our live sets, we can extend stuff and jam a lot. That happened a lot when we recorded this (too).”
Ejstes at times struggled with his English, and his Swedish accent was quite thick. Even though Dungen sings in Swedish, he said American audiences don’t seem too bothered by the language barrier.
“I try not to think about too much, especially when we’re playing live, and we’re on tour,” he said. “… When we’re playing live, you get used to the fact that it’s working, and there are people we meet who explain to us that the language is a big part of it, and the barrier is (actually) a plus. For me, it’s very important to write good lyrics, and I put a lot of effort into it. When we play in Sweden, there are people who understand what I’m saying, but lyrically, I think music is so much about making your own stories in songs.
“People ask me all the time what the songs are about, and I don’t like to tell them. Some people are like, ‘That song must be about my cat!’ and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, sure, it’s a cat song.’”
At Pappy and Harriet’s, Dungen will be performing Häxan in its entirety, plus songs from the regular discography.
“I don’t know what to expect. Everything feels like it’s so exotic and far different from the norm that we’re used to. I try to just float down the stream and try not to fall out of the boat.”
Dungen will perform with Shadow Band at 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 19, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.