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The Cardigans (London, 1996)

The Cardigans (London, 1996)





Upstairs, one of the most successful current alternative pop-rock acts in the world was just chilling out before the show. I was allowed to interview part of the band (namely the bass player, Magnus Sveningsson and the keyboard player Lars-Olof Johansson), but not the songstress herself, Nina Persson. The guys I was to meet with were sitting down in a corner, on the floor. Half-way across the room lay Nina, her back towards us, apparently sleeping.

At one point, the drummer Bengt Lagerberg also answered a few questions, though he didn’t have to.

CZB: Have you been to London before?

Cardigans (the interview is just starting; I try to make out the voice off the microcassette): Lots of times.

CZB: How did you meet? How did the group start?

Cardigans: We lived in a quiet, small town: Jonkopping, between Malmo and Stockholm. We just got together at school.

CZB: Define your style of music.

Cardigans: I guess it’s just – we think we make just pop music. There are of course some influences from the 60′s or the 70′s but thet’s mostly because of our studio equipment and the instruments we use

CZB: Where re you coming from right now?

Cardigans: Portsmouth.

CZB: Tell me about each other.

Bengt Lagerberg (bass, Cardigans): Lars plays keyboard and acoustic guitar and backing vocals. He’s a funny person and a fun person and he makes us laugh.

Lars-Olof Johansson (keyboards, Cardigans): Bengt, the drummer… we’ve been friends before. I didn’t know anyone else in the band. He’s a quiet and calm person.

CZB: Are you the spokesperson for the band?

Lars-Olof Johansson (keyboards, Cardigans): No, that is Nina … I don’t know if she is sleeping or not – when we are together, we are like a family – so in the end you don’t know what you see in each other. We are like a family in a love-hate relationship.

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): I’m probably the one who talks most in the band, a lot of shit – but good things as well.

CZB: If you weren’t into the music, what would you be doing now?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): I used to work with children before; I would probably still be doing that. I would probably try to play in a band on weekends and try to be famous. I am very happy with the situation right now. This is a dream come true.

CZB: Have you got your music into the US yet?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): I don’t think that we should be so popular there. Mercury Records are working really hard, we’ve sold some records there – but a lot of artists spend a lot of time thinking about how big they want to be and what is the best position to be taken to make it big in America. I don’t think about that. For me it is more important to play concerts than to think about how many records to sell – so I try to have a good time and play as good as possible and keep a good atmosphere in the band and to have good friends, because it’s quite hard work and tiring, traveling around. We work really hard to keep our friendship working.

CZB: What are your hobbies?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): I like to buy a lot of records, clothes, books.

CZB: What do you enjoy listening to?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): Lots of different things. I think The Prodigy is a very good techno artist. I think Elvis Presley is the best singer in the world. ABBA is one of the best groups ever and I really like the band called Tindersticks. They are very sad musically and come from London. There are lots of good artists everywhere; you just have to have open ears to all kinds of styles to find what’s good in every style.

CZB: Who’s your favorite author?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): I really liked John Steinbeck.

CZB: What is your greatest fear?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): Drowning. Going on boats in really rough waters and having to survive… or snakes. I don’t like snakes either.

CZB: How did you start playing the bass guitar?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): I started playing drums when I was 15. We wanted to start a band and play at a party at school… and we had two drummers and no bass player… so I chose to play the bass guitar instead – and that way I could play in front of the front row of girls – which the drummer cannot do – so that is a good thing.

CZB: If there is a girl in the front row watching you carefully, do you try to get to know her or do you keep away from the fans?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): Normally, we do not invite people into our dressing room after the show but we actually did it a few nights ago in Manchester and I got one girl’s address, so this was actually one of the first times. I’m not really experienced at picking up girls at concerts… maybe I should just start doing it … I don’t know.

CZBLars, when did you start playing the guitar and keyboards?

Lars-Olof Johansson (keyboards, Cardigans): I was about 10 years old when I started playing the keyboards. I started playing the guitar when I was in a group, basically after I started listening to Neil Young, which I like very much.

CZB: What did your parents say when you told them you were going to play in a rock band?

Lars-Olof Johansson (keyboards, Cardigans): My mother was very happy.

CZB: Who would you like to meet?

Lars-Olof Johansson (keyboards, Cardigans): My girlfriend. It’s not easy being on the road for longer periods of time.

CZB: What was the first gig you went to?

Lars-Olof Johansson (keyboards, Cardigans): Some British band…

CZB: What was it like being on-stage for the first time?

Lars-Olof Johansson (keyboards, Cardigans): I was so nervous; I thought my stomach would turn inside-out. I still get nervous before going out on-stage.

CZB: What is your greatest fear?

Lars-Olof Johansson (keyboards, Cardigans): I am a fearless man.

CZB: When did you start playing keyboards again?

Lars-Olof Johansson (keyboards, Cardigans): When I joined the band I was just playing guitar and then we got a new picture of the sound we wanted to have and I started playing keyboards again. Now I play the guitar and keyboards on-stage. Peter is the fifth member of the band; he’s the songwriter.

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): When he thinks about music, when he’s working with music, he’s so much into it, so he gets very hard to be with – there is just so much on his mind – because we can’t really understand how he wants things to sound, because we can’t look into his head – it’s really hard to understand him sometimes but he’s been making all the music for all of our three albums. He’s only 22 but he’s very good.

CZB: And the lyrics?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): I wrote most of the lyrics for most of the first two albums and now Nina writes almost 80% of all of our songs but we don’t write together that much. We work separately and then help each other.

CZBBengt, what are your hobbies?

Bengt Lagerberg (drummer, Cardigans): I like being at home in my apartment by myself and cook delicious dinners.

CZB: What’s your favorite food?

Bengt Lagerberg (drummer, Cardigans): Fresh fish and I also like listening to music, all sorts of music but mainly rock’n'roll.

CZB: What is Sweden like?

Bengt Lagerberg (drummer, Cardigans): It’s a huge country, with a small population and a lot of space. We have quite extreme climates. Our borders are very far North. In the Winter it gets to -30C, in the Summer it gets to +35C. The environment is still very fresh, there is no pollution – but it’s coming.

CZB: How did you start playing the drums?

Bengt Lagerberg (drummer, Cardigans): A friend of mine played the drums and I spent a lot of time over at his house and I tried his drums and I liked it, so I bought myself a set of drums and started playing. My brother and some of his friends and me started a band before I joined the Cardigans.

CZB: What is your favorite city?

Bengt Lagerberg (drummer, Cardigans): To play in, must be Dublin. That’s where we enjoy playing the most. People in Dublin are the best, the way they jump around to the music; everybody that plays in Dublin knows that.

CZB: What are your plans for the future? Are you thinking of the next album?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): We haven’t thought about the next album. What we know is that we’re playing London tonight, and then in December we’ll be starting our third European Tour in the Czech Republic … going through Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland… then we’re off to Llos Angeles to record radio sessions, after which we’ll spend Christmas with our families, and then come New Year’s Eve, we’ll be off to Japan after which we’ll be starting our North American Tour, and maybe go to South America or Australia but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. Then we’ll be looking forward to the Summer Festivals in Europe … and maybe in August 1997 we’ll be taking a break and go on holidays but we can’t plan for any new songs until then. I write the songs but they’re not ready yet. I also have a hobby project and have composed several instrumentals but they might not be good for the Cardigans.

CZB: What have you heard about Romania?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): Dracula ! When they’re competing at Olympic Sports, it is often very confusing for us because they wear the same colors as we do… yellow shirts, blue trousers … you’ve got a good football team, a couple of good players … I don’t know anything about ice hockey in Romania … The capital is Bucharest.

CZB: Have you thought of a future concert in Romania?

Magnus Sveningsson (bass, Cardigans): You should talk to our manager about that. We have a lot of work for next year.

Interview by: RiCo

This was my third interview with international artists.


  • Nina Persson – vocals
  • Peter Svensson - guitar
  • Bengt Lagerberg – drums
  • Magnus Sveningsson – bass
  • Lasse Johansson – keyboard, acoustic guitar


  • Emmerdale (1994)
  • Life (1995)
  • First Band On The Moon (1996)
  • Gran Turismo (1998)
  • Gran Turismo Overdrive (1999)
  • A Camp (A Camp, Nina Persson’s solo project, 2001)
  • I Sing Because Of You (Righteous Boy – Magnus Sveningsson’s solo project, 2002)
  • Long Gone Before Daylight (2003)
  • Super Extra Gravity (2005)


Photo Gallery. The Cardigans. 1996
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