When you think of Switzerland, many clichés come to mind but not that many bands or artists. You could list the likes of Kleenex, Celtic Frost, Yello, and of course frighteningly intense industrialists The Young Gods, but none of them are particularly great, are they? However, with acts like BOY showing there’s a new wave of Swiss music to enjoy, could Switzerland be the new Sweden? With a forthcoming series of showcases, Zurich Sounds, in London in August set to expose us to what the country’s got to offer, it seems the perfect opportunity to have a closer look at some of the other acts on the bill. Today, we introduce you to The Legendary Lightness.
A four-piece from Zurich, The Legendary Lightness give us gentle pop and folk music with added depth from rich, deep baritone guitars and swells of organ, that recall The New Year and Bedhead at their most laid back, and echoes of some of the greats like Crosby, Stills, Nash &Young; add to that a bit of the jangle of Big Star, and it’s coming together quite nicely. The band came together after spending time in other acts that hadn’t fully explored the joys of melody, and already have one album under their belts, the wonderfully-titled Ancient Greek Breakfast Club, recorded in a castle in the Pyrenees. Made up of three guys who all drum, and joined by a fourth member from whom they “stole” a Wurlitzer organ from once upon a time, it bears the question, how do they divide up the musical responsibilities? We spoke to the man who won the honour of drumming outright in the band, Dominic Oppliger, to find out a bit more…
Hello there, The Legendary Lightness, and how are you? Do tell us who makes up the band, and how long have you been together?
Hey Andrew, it’s Dominic here, I’m doing great. The Legendary Lightness are:
Daniel Hobi (Songwriting, Guitar, Vocals)
Dominik Huber (Guitar, Wurlitzer, Vocals)
Dominic Oppliger (Percussion, Glockenspiel, Melodica, Vocals)
Daniel Nievergelt (Guitar, Bass)
Dani H. and Domi H. started playing together in 2008. I joined them beginning 2010. Dani N. joined at the end of that same year.
Where are you all from?
We all grew up around Zurich and have been living here most of our lives.
Your bio suggests the band is formed of three drummers, so how did you come to dividing up musical responsibilities?
Like most things in life, it all just happened along the way. Dani Hobi, Domi Huber and I were all drummers in rock bands but had been playing other instruments and writing songs for years. For this project Dani H. writes all the songs and lyrics. Domi H. is a music wizard who has been playing a lot of different instruments in different bands for a long time. Me, I’m trying to keep a steady beat going and throw in some Glockenspiel highlights every once in a while. And Dani N. brings in some of his calm magic and soul. I think everyone tries to play what he thinks connects the best to the respective heart of each song.
And as it also suggests, do you really record in a castle in the Pyrenees?
Yes, the last album was recorded in a castle in the south of France. Dani H. and Domi H. went there in early 2010 to record all the songs. Apparently the guys froze their butts off in the cold, nearly unheated, castle. The recordings turned out great, I think.
Where does the name The Legendary Lightness come from? Is it connected to The Unbearable Lightness of Being?
I think it’s rather connected to a Samsonite suitcase that bears this name. It’s definitely legendary uncool. Which, on the other hand, is damned cool.
Who are your musical influences? There’s a bit of folk-rock in there (CSN&Y, maybe some Fleet Foxes) but there’s also downbeat element that makes me think of The National and slowcore bands.
Whenever in the car, what we sing along to the loudest must be Neil Young’s Harvest.
Tell us about your debut album Ancient Greek Breakfast Club; where does the title come from and what does it refer to?
I can only speculate how the two goofs with the ice cold butts came up with this monster of an album title when they were in France. I can imagine that they got drunk one night and made up album titles that no radio DJ in Switzerland would be able to pronounce correctly. [Allegedly, the title came from a group of British pensioners who met at the castle regularly to read Homer and Shakespeare to each other].
Do the songs you’re recording for your new record differ in any way from that album?
Yes, they’re different. Maybe it sounds more like a 4 piece band now. We recorded all the basic tracks live in a studio in Zurich. I think the new recordings sound more like warm butt music than cold butt music.
You’ve toured extensively in Switzerland and Germany but you’re playing in London in August – have you played in the UK before? Are you looking forward to it?
No, with this project none of us has played in the UK before. We’re very much looking forward to the show!
What can we expect from a TLL live show? Is it easy to replicate the deep sound of the album – there’s a lot of instrumentation on there to love, like baritone guitar and Wurlitzer, are there musicians that you look to for inspiration when playing those instruments?
Oh thanks! Well, the live set-up differs from the one on the album. We try to create that same calm and warm mood in our live shows. But overall, it probably has a little more edge to it and also a little more drive than on the album. Also there are some new songs that bring in other musical styles.
Influences: I don’t know anything about Dani H.’s influences but I’m pretty sure Domi H. is strongly influenced by the Animal of the Muppet Show when playing the Wurlitzer piano.
You’re also supporting Mazzy Star soon; are you fans of the band?
What can you tell us about your label Anker Platten?
Anker Platten is two guys from Basel who did a great job for us on the last album!
When can we hear the next album?
The release of the next album is scheduled for January 2013.
The Legendary Lightness will play two free gigs at the Zurich Sounds showcase on 03 August at 6pm and 8.45pm. More details here.