Monday, March 29, 2010

Danish Rockers Kashmir Talk Nerves, New York, and Recording with David Bowie

It's the last night of Danish rock band Kashmir's three-week North American tour, and I'm sitting at New York's Mercury Lounge Thursday with drummer Asger Techau (pictured second from left) and bassist Mads Tunebjerg (far right).

"We were a little insecure about how the tour was going to go," Techau admits, citing the band's nerves on how their new record would be received.

But Techau had no reason to worry.

Outside of the venue, a line wraps around the block for the band who count David Bowie, Lou Reed and most recently Raphael Saadiq, as fans.

"Raphael likes music for its quality, not its genre," Techau says, recalling a recent L.A. day when Saadiq invited the band to his studio to hang out.

"We were kind of surprised because his music is very different from ours," Tunebjerg says. "We had a show later that day and he came to see it."

Bowie and Reed's support - which includes vocal appearances on 2005's No Balance Palace - was a little more jolting.

"We were working with Bowie's long-time [producer] Tony Visconti, and at one point we started to joke that it'd be cool to have Bowie sing on 'The Cynic'," explains Techau.

"It was a bit of a joke, cause obviously that would never happen. And then Tony was like, 'I'll ask him.' So one day Tony wrote an email to Bowie, 'How would you feel about maybe singing on this song?' And he just replied, 'I would have no problem doing that.' We were speechless."

"In 2005, Bowie hadn't been doing many recordings so he was very much in the mood for it," Tunebjerg recalls.

"In the studio, he said 'Tony, just roll the tape for me. I'm going to try and have a go at it.' He knew the song, he had it on his iPod. He had one or two runs and he was there. Me and Kasper [Eistrup] were sitting on the sofa. We couldn't move or speak because the atmosphere was so intense."

"A lot of the lyrics were written and recorded in New York, " Techau added, "so it seemed only fitting that we could get Mr. New York Lou Reed to recite that poem."

"Our intention was not to get Bowie or Reed on the album," Tunebjerg wants to make clear. "It just kind of happened."

A fan spots us and asks if Kashmir are going to play "Stillboy," their latest single in Denmark. Techau gives him a straight "yes."

"Kasper traveled a lot in order to write material for Trespassers," Tunebjerg explains, of the record that came out last month. "We would actually send him off to finish his work, cause he was kind of getting distracted in Copenhagen. He's so easily distracted. He's the first one to admit that."

While outside, a group of dudes make their way to the front of the line boasting only passports. "We came here from Denmark today," they tell the bouncer.

When I tell the band about this, they giggle.

"I hope they at least combined it with a vacation," Techau says. "We have a Denmark tour coming up."

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