The story behind the song

It all started with the guitar intro. Guitar in open D tuning and capo on seventh fret. Played around with that figure back and forth, added a minor chord to it and in a couple of minutes I think the chorus was there as well. A song that was pretty quick to write in other words…

Even the lyrics, that sometimes may take considerable time to get right, was quite quick to write. For some reason that line “she is the queen of the dark and obscene” was almost immediately on my tongue as I started to play the chords of the song. And all of a sudden, after repeating that line over and over again for some time, the following line was just self-evident… “I am the king of swing”.

So here we are. The first new single from the new album, to be released in a couple of weeks – King of swing. A song which contrast much of the sound and character on the last album. An up-tempo, somewhat mad and musically playful song with touches of both bluegrass folk and singer/songwriter pop.

I think I had just rediscovered the Stones album Exile on Main Street at the time I started to record the song. Much of the inspiration and ideas I think stem from that album. The raw production, with a lot of instrument competing in the sound space, the energy and the mix of pop, rock and traditional American music.

The recording of the song was rather straightforward, although the character of the song has changed a bit on the way. As so many times before it started with me recording the guitar to a click. Then I think I added some electronic drums as well as a synth bass. Actually, the song has past a phase with a more electronic arrangement. There was a synth bass, a heavy, twisted and pumping bass drum and a sort of monotonic synth pad figure in the background. Pretty cool sound but in the end we felt that we lost some of the energy and feeling that was brought into the song by the interwoven and sprawling acoustic instrument – the guitars, the banjo and the piano.

After a first song-take Nicke added the banjo, which gives so much character to the song. Then we thought that it would be nice to try a piano. And in one take Nicke recorded that rather anarchistic but completely charming piano. We saw it as a preliminary take that would be replaced by a “real one” later on, but the more we listen to the song we felt that the first take just had the magic of the moment, and it is still there and gives a whole lot of character to the final version of the song…

Two electric guitars where then added and we recorded a final version of the lead vocals. As with the banjo, that vocal-take was first seen as a preliminary one, a one-take just to improve the first version of the vocals. But with time we all agreed upon the fact that the vocal-take really had something worth keeping, something that couldn’t be reproduced in another take. So, that’s the vocals you will hear on the final version. I think that is something that characterizes much of the new album – many one-takes, first takes and a lot of spontaneity.

When mixing and finalizing the song we strived to keep the feeling of instruments and vocals competing for attention all thru the song. A production that resembles a live situation with inspired and playful musicians, and which really keeps the energetic and spontaneous feeling of the song. Or at least we really hope it does…
You will be able to judge yourselves in a couple of weeks when King of Swing is released.