SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — “What happened to Kings of Convenience” was, until recently, a prominent search result that would appear when looking up info on the Norwegian indie-pop folk duo.
Largely quiet since the release of their last album, the band recently broke their silence with “Peace Or Love,” Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe’s first album together in 12 years.
The duo picked up exactly where they left off, returning with a bundle of warm melodies familiar in their earlier albums, their official debut “Quiet is the New Loud” in 2001, “Riot on an Empty Street” in 2004, and 2009’s “Declaration of Independence.”
Hailing from Bergen, a city in Norway’s southwestern coast, Øye and Bøe first bonded with each other in school. Their first musical collaboration was a comedic song about a gym teacher who reminded them of a “failed colonel” attempting to drill soldier-like disciplines into kids.
“Quiet is the New Loud” was praised for its clean and intimate lyrics and evocative acoustic sounds and the pair became sought-after acts on the festival circuit before disappearing.
In an interview, the duo discussed the long gap in recordings and how their music and friendship withstand the test of time.
Remarks have been edited for clarity and brevity.
AP: “Peace Or Love” is your first album in 12 years! What have you been up to? What took so long?
BØE: Many, many different reasons. We both have busy lives. I have three kids. We’ve toured a lot. So we have been active. We spent a lot of time making the album, that’s for sure. We spent almost five years recording this.
ØYE: It’s a bit like, you know, when you talk about dog years and cat years, like one Kings of Convenience year is four years. Because me and Eirik, we never spend more than three months of a year together, so to speak, and that’s something that comes very natural in order to keep the band going because if we would have to be in a band 12 months of the year, we probably would start arguing a lot more. And then maybe we would be we will be in a big fight and maybe the band will be over. We figured out that if we do about three months every year of the band, then we can keep on going for a very long time.
AP: Why did you pick “Rocky Trail” from the album as a pre-released single?
BØE: It sounds like a very representative song. That’s a very familiar sound, I think, to people who know our old songs. So when you choose songs for a single, they have to be songs that both appeal to people who already love your music, but they should also appeal to people who’ve never heard your music before and “Rocky Trail” seemed to be a song of that kind.
AP: Apart from Kings of Convenience, you were in the band The Whitest Boy Alive. The tunes and vibes of the two groups are very different. How would you define yourself between those two personas?
ØYE: The Whitest Boy Alive was created in Berlin. And it was a period of my life when I was going out a lot to nightclubs. So a lot of the songs from The Whitest Boy Alive was created while sitting in a club, hearing a loud boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and singing on top of it while Kings of Convenience music was mainly made a lot in Bergen basically playing acoustic guitar, so it came from a very, very different atmosphere.
AP: Which atmosphere are you more comfortable with?
ØYE: Well, I mean, now I have an incredible problem with my ears. I have this thing called tinnitus, so for me, now, I sit every day in my house here in Italy and I play acoustic guitar and it’s something that my ears still enjoy very much while dance music is very difficult for me to enjoy. So, for that reason, The Whitest Boy Alive is a band that has become a smaller and smaller part of my life because it doesn’t represent my life anymore. I mean, I still love that music we made, and I still love to play with those guys. But with again, with Kings of Convenience, we have more longevity because the project is more friendly to the body.
AP: You guys have been really successful ever since your debut. Do you ever feel pressure about that?
ØYE: If we want to release something, we don’t want it to be a disappointment. So then you have to make sure that it’s as good or better than what you put out before. And maybe that is the main reason why it’s taken such a long time to put out this album because we don’t know, and we feel very often unsure in the moment when we are recording, because when you listen to a song fifty times, maybe you don’t hear the essence anymore of it. You hear a lot of details that could annoy you or frustrate you. But if you take a long break, you can have more of a perspective.
I mean, nobody wants to listen to music that sounds complicated and frustrating to play. You want to listen to someone who is just, you know, very in tune with their own fingers and voice and is just very comfortable singing.
AP: What you just said about being comfortable is interesting because every cafe here plays “Cayman Islands” from your previous album.
BØE: It’s funny how we actually thought about this in the very beginning. We thought ‘let’s make music that can be played in cafes.’ So we’ll make it without drums and percussion because that’s usually what gets loud and annoying when you’re in a cafe or a restaurant. So we made music without drums and percussion so it could be played in cafes. And here we are.
Follow Associated Press entertainment journalist Juwon Park at twitter.com/juwonreports