I liked the album on first listen. It was very different from the type of music I would usually listen to, but it was catchy and cool and had a certain edge I couldn't quite put my finger on. Obviously, it was all programmed drums... Or was it?!
Amazed to find out that a drummer had played everything, I was completely blown away at the boundaries being broken; I mean, it was common for drum machines and programmed drums to try to emulate real acoustic kits. And electric drums were really making a mark in music as an instrument completely unique of acoustic drums
The advent of triggering, samples and loops had already happened and was becoming ever so more popular, cheap and easy to use... But a drummer emulating a drum machine?! A real live drummer doing that! And fooling me!!?! (I was young and naive and thought I knew everything about everything - only now am I realising how much there is still left to learn...)
Anyway, this moment in musical and drumming history was a massive turning point for me personally. I honestly think that this drummer, Bengt Lagerberg, and his recording on Gran Turismo, was the single most inspirational moment in my career.
So, it was with ultimate honour that I got to speak with Bengt Lagerberg himself...
Bengt Lagerberg: Hello! Thanks for having me! Well, I´m 38 years old, I live in Malmö, Sweden with my wife and three sons. I have been playing the drums since I was around 15, most notably in The Cardigans.
Dzn: In 1998, you recorded the album "Gran Turismo" with The Cardigans. I remember reading an interview with you somewhere at the time, in which you said something about how you wanted to emulate a drum machine on the record. This is very intriguing to me as a recording artist; can you clarify what you actually said and what you meant...?
BL: Gran Turismo is an album we wanted to sound more modern than the previous ones. Also we wanted a more dark feeling to it. I remember we listened to a lot of albums trying to find production references. Amongst others we listened to albums by Depeche Mode. Since neither our band, nor our producer Tore Johansson had any experience in programming drum-loops or working with drum-machines, and also we wanted everybody in the band playing our instruments, we thought it would be a good idea to have me play patterns in a really monotone way, like a drum loop.
At the start of the recording process, Tore invested in a Pro Tools rig. It was a trial and error kind of start, with recording and reading the manual simultaneously. After a while he learned how to loop parts of the drum tracks.
Dzn: Gran Turismo was The Cardigans 4th studio album. Had you been in the band from the start?
BL: Yes, the band was born in october of 1992, and I was in from the start.
Dzn: So can you say why you think this album, in particular, was so successful?
BL: I think there are a couple of reasons; we were lucky to have two great songs as singles (My Favourite Game and Erase/Rewind). We had a record company that believed the album had a commercial potential and thus worked hard to promote it. We as a band worked hard as well, promoting and touring constantly.
Also I think we were lucky to come out with this album at the right time. The production did sound kind of modern, and I guess so thought a lot of people. I can´t say it was groundbreaking, but it definately was something new for the Cardigans and it had something special and up to date.
Dzn: How about before that time; How long had you been playing before your "big break"? And had you been in any bands before The Cardigans?
BL: Well the band started in october of 1992. Quite early on we started recording demos that we sent to record companies and also to Tore Johansson who we knew had produced an album that we really liked with the band Eggstone. That album (In San Diego) was recorded in Tambourine Studios in Malmö. It was Tore and Eggstone who run the studio, and we thought it would be nice to perhaps get a chance to go there an record a single. Tore invited us, and at the same time (in the summer of 1993) a record company got back to us and wanted to release a single (Rise and Shine).
It´s hard to say when the "big break" came. Everything happened quite fast for us. We felt it was huge getting a recording deal in just 6 months.
And I did have a band before the Cardigans called Dykare och Giraff (Diver and Giraffe) with two friends and one of my older brothers. It was mainly a cover band doing songs by The Clash, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Petty. We never did any recordings though...
Dzn: What would you consider to be your first “success” in music?
BL: Actually my first musical instrument was the Bassoon. My grandfather was an organist and a cantor. When I was around 13 years old we did a little tour in churches playing at confirmations. This for me was a really nice experience, and I guess I felt successful performing music in front of an audience.
Dzn: Would you describe this as a “defining moment” in your career?
BL: Well I guess in a way. The feeling of doing my best in front of an audience was a strong one (even though the reactions from the audience was none(!)).
Dzn: You’ve talked about success; have there been any failures, defeats or bad times you can tell us about?
BL: Actually no failures or defeats, but we have had bad times. This has been when we´ve worked to much. When you release something new, you´re really eager to talk about this, and you´re really greatful if people show interest. For us, with the huge success we´ve had, we got to talk a lot! After a while one starts to get bored with the sound of ones voice, and it feels like everything is being said by a robot. Then the eagerness to talk about the new release is gone. This has happened quite a lot to us I must admit. If you compare the amount of time, there´s been so much talking and so little performing.
For me personally though, this has never affected the performances which have always been fun!
Dzn: How did you combat that problem?
BL: By telling myself I´m spoiled and in a very sought-after position as a musician.
Dzn: Onto equipment! For all those gear-heads out there, what kit (drums/cymbals/anything else you would like to mention) do you play?
BL: Actually I have thirteen kits. It´s crazy, I know, but when on tour, we often went to vintage music stores, and there would often be really nice kits which I never could resist buying... Especially in the States they could be found at good prices too.
The first I got on tour was actually in Sapporo, Japan. It´s a Ludwig Vista Lite, red, white and blue, and that is probably the kit I have used most live.
When recording our albums we´ve used a lot of different kits, or parts of kits, and in many cases the kit used would be drums from maybe five different kits. All to have the perfect sound to a specific song.
So I don´t stick to one favourite, but I have noticed that the Vista Lite (which are made of plexi glass) tend to sound the same regardless of temperature or humidity. This is a good thing. Also they are beautiful when the stage lights come on...
As for cymbals, I use a Paiste 2002 Ride that I´ve had forever, and Zildjian crashes and hi-hats from the 70s. They are very dirty and sound great.
Dzn: With the advent of new technology on what seems to be a daily basis, what modern technology do you incorporate into your:
BL: At home in my apartment I have a Roland V-drum kit which is great since it does not disturb the neighbours or the family.
In the rehearsal space I don´t have any new technology, only my old drums.
Dzn: b) Live performance?
BL: With the Gran Turismo album, we used backing tracks with additional drums and some other sounds. Also we used trigger mics on the drums with drum sounds from that album. When mixing these trigged sounds with the acoustic drums you get a very nice and powerful sound that really suits the live adaptation of that album.
On later tours I played with a click-track in my ears to some songs.
Dzn: c) Recording?
BL: No new technology there really.
Dzn: And now you play drums for the band "Brothers Of End". Can you tell us more about this band?
BL: Yes! We are a three piece band consisting of my fellow Cardigan Lasse and an old friend of ours named Mattias Areskog (who also played in my first band Dykare och Giraff). We have released two albums and are currently working on a third. The music is quite mellow with a lot of harmonies. Our record company-guy calls our music "fine-indie" and that is something to agree with!
Of course you can find our music both on iTunes and Spotify. Also you can order our albums on vinyl on our homepage:
Our ambition is a simple one; we enjoy playing music together as much as we enjoy spending time together. We have no commercial expectations what so ever, and we don´t tour a lot.
Dzn: Do you have any other jobs than "drummer"? Is this a financial necessity or because you enjoy a diverse lifestyle?
BL: Yes, I have a day-job. It´s in a store called Byggfabriken. Byggfabriken manufactures a large range of products for renovation, restoration and decoration for old and semi-modern buildings and interiors in a Scandinavian tradition.
I work there both because I enjoy a diverse lifestyle, but also out of financial necessity.
Dzn: Is there any other news you can tell us about?
BL: Actually, The Cardigans are doing a couple of shows this summer. We were asked by the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden to perform the whole Gran Turismo album live. We thought it sounded like a really nice idea so we´ll be doing that festival and a few others. We haven´t played together since the fall of 2006, so I´m really looking forward to it!
Dzn: I feel honoured to have spoken with someone who completely changed the way I thought about playing drums. Thank you so much Bengt. Good luck with Brothers Of End. And enjoy the Cardigans shows this summer...