The American rock band The Last Internationale is currently on tour in Europe, and on June 5 they played their first show ever in Sweden, at Gröna Lund in Stockholm. Their debut album ‘We Will Reign’ was released in 2014, and now their second album ‘Soul On Fire’ will be released in a few months. The band was formed in New York by lead guitarist Edgey Pires and vocalist Delila Paz, and since last year their third band member is the Swedish drummer Andreas Brobjer. Rockbladet got the opportunity to talk to the band just before their gig in Stockholm, to find out more about them and their music. Rockbladet’s reporter and photographer both enjoyed the chat with the friendly band members.
First of all, what is The Last Internationale about? How did it all start?
- Delila and I started years ago in New York City. We were the only ones that were interested in the same kind of music among people our age. Not many people were into music like Woodie Guthrie and Pete Seeger, but we had just gotten into it at the same time. All my friends were bumping Biggie (The Notorious B.I.G.) and stuff like that, and so was I, I grew up on Hip hop and modern bands. I don’t know where we discovered blues and folk, but now it’s almost like a new religion! No one I know had ever heard of that stuff, except for Delila, says Edgey, laughing a little.
- We had this awakening in ourselves in music at the same time, but we didn’t know each other, and then we met. We were both discovering music. It was old music from decades before. A part of our American heritage I guess, but I didn’t know it, says Delila.
How did you first meet each other?
- We lived one town over from each other, and there’s a coffee shop that’s the only cool spot to hang out in... Edgey begins.
- Otherwise there are just pizza places and gas stations… Delila continues.
- We ran into each other at the coffee shop a few times. Delila was singing with a band one night and I heard her voice, and then she found out I played guitar. It just happened very organically, it was like “Hey, let’s get together and write a song!” Then we would just hang out and listen to music, says Edgey.
- We’re still kind of doing the same thing! says Delila.
When is your new album going to be released?
- We released one song called Hard Times already. The album is finished with mastering and mixing and all that stuff, and it will be released in a few months! explains Delila.
Is your new record going to be different from the first one?
- I think so. It definitely is different! says Edgey.
- Sonically, I think it’s very different! We produced it ourselves, so it’s much more raw. We were very particular in how we wanted the sonics to come across. More like we sound live, which is like an assault in a wall of sound, with more distortion and stuff like that, says Delila.
- All the decisions in the studio were based on emotions, there was nothing thought out. In the studio we would ask ourselves “How does this feel?” and we wouldn’t turn down any crazy ideas. We had some insane ideas, but we would just do it all. We felt that “if it sounds good, if you feel emotional, if you cry hearing it or if you get goosebumps, we keep it!” I think that was the formula for this record, if there was a formula, says Edgey.
What inspires you when you write the music?
- Every day is different, and we write a little bit almost every day. Being on the road inspires us. This past album I started listening to a lot more soul music like Al Green, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, so those guys totally inspired the last album, which makes it a little different from the album before, says Delila.
- The influences and inspiration come from anywhere and everywhere. Literally a song could be written while setting up our equipment or getting on to a plane, or it could be something a little bit more heartfelt like reading a story in a paper or hearing people’s stories. It really could be anything, or it could be very personal. I think the the new record we’re recording was written during a very tumultuous time in our career, we were going through lot of stuff, so it’s a very personal record. We’re starting to open up and get personal in our songwriting, says Edgey.
- It was more emotional now! Delila agrees.
Do you have some kind of message when you write the lyrics?
- Hmmm… There is a lot of messages! says Edgey, laughing. Everything is a message! Well, we get categorized as a political band, and it’s not that we don’t like the category. We certainly don’t shy from our opinions, we have opinions! Strong opinions! We’re not afraid to say them, and we say them with music and on stage, or what have you. I think the whole purpose of being an artist, or a human being in general, is that if you have an opinion, don’t be afraid to say it! Especially in the sphere of art, don’t be afraid to mix your political opinions with your vocation. All the greatest athletes and musicians have done it in the past, and that’s why I have been inspired by Muhammad Ali. I just don’t think you should leave your own thoughts or your own identity at the door when you’re creating any kind of art. I think that’s just silly! Most artists today live in a culture of fear. They are scared of losing endorsement or not being liked by their fans, and they are scared of not getting signed, or the label dropping them. It’s the most insane thing I could possibly think of! Just be yourself! says Edgey decisively.
Some of our biggest fans do not share our political beliefs, I will tell you that, Edgey continues. They don’t! We even had skinheads coming out to our shows. One time we had this thing when we pass the mike to the audience. I encouraged a guy to take the mike, but he said “Trust me, you don’t want me to! I don’t believe in a thing you’re saying, but I like your spirit. That’s why I’m here!”
- When we started the band a few years back, we were playing every week at this biker bar near Seattle. They loved our music, but we didn’t realize until a while later that some of these guys were real racists, says Delila.
- It’s a weird group though, because the motorcycle gang is considered one of the top ten most violent gangs in America, but they were like the sweetest people… The nicest guys! I kind of understood the so called outlaw mentality, and I guess that’s why they liked our band. We would play outlaw songs at the time, especially a lot of Johnny Cash, and country stuff as well, says Edgey.
What usually comes first when you write your songs, the lyrics or the melody?
- That’s always different! says Delila.
- It’s chaos! laughs Edgey.
- Yeah, it’s pretty chaotic! Delila agrees, and she continues: I like writing like that. I’m always humming and singing so a melody usually comes first, but it could be a thought or a feeling. It depends on whether we’re writing together or if one of us comes up with something. Writing is always very interesting and exciting because I never know what’s going to come out.
- I think what we cherish most is something we took for granted, and that is silence. Uninterrupted silence! Everytime we’re going to write either the phone rings or someone knocks on the door… It’s like “Just leave me alone for five hours!” It’s so hard to get that, and I think that’s what we miss the most. I think that’s why I like flying now, nobody can get in touch with you! says Edgey, laughing.
You mentioned a couple of musicians, but were you inspired by any other bands when you started your band?
- Actually, when we started I never imagined being in a band, says Delila, laughing. I loved bands, but I never thought of us being in one. I guess all the influences were there though, and it just made sense.
- Neither did I! I felt that we could never do anything that’s organized, so I thought “Why be in a band, it will just fall apart in two days anyway!” laughs Edgey.
- We’re always on the verge to avoid disaster! says Delila, laughing. But then we will come back and we’re okay!
- Finally, we’re very good at keeping it together, says Edgey. I think that’s why we get along with Andreas so well! He’s kind of got the same energy we do. It has almost fallen apart, but it just comes together somehow when it’s stage time. The amp starts working!
Yeah, speaking of that… How did the band end up with a Swedish drummer?
- I moved to Los Angeles when I was eighteen, and last year I got a call from Edgey. He had heard about me from a music connection in L.A, and it was very easy. We got together and we jammed, and the next thing you know, we’re on tour! We were going up the coast and down the coast, and we got along really well. It just felt right! We like the trio, it’s not complicated, and we all have the same kind of personality. I just think it’s a perfect fit! It’s just destiny, I would call it, says Andreas.
Do you think there is a difference between the American audiences and the European ones?
- I can give you a good story! Do you want to know the differences? asks Edgey, smiling. We played a show in the south of France. It was a rocking show, people from all different towns came out, it was awesome! The bartender was super friendly, but by the end of the show he was completely drunk. He was slurring his words, but he spoke English and I understood what he was saying. I don’t know how, but we got into some kind of philosophical conversation, and he was literally quoting philosophers like Thoreau or Foucault. I said to him “So you’re telling me that the average person, like your friends, know all this?” He answered “Yeah, man! It’s common sense!” I said to myself “Alright, there is a difference between America and Europe! Your drunk bartenders are quoting Bakunin!” Edgey laughs and then he continues: Anyway, the audiences in the US are normally calmer than they are in Europe, they don’t go nuts. Except for Texas. Playing in Texas is great!
- A lot of our fans in Europe will come up to me after the show and talk about the lyrics, which doesn’t happen as much in the US. They actually want to know exactly what we were talking about. In the US, for the most part, people tell us they love the rock music and the emotions, but they are not asking about the lyrics as much, says Delila.
- I think there are a lot of factors going into this, says Edgey. It may not seem connected to the actual shows and how people react to the music, but I think it absolutely is. There is a different culture in the US. They are not taught how to think critically in school, but people in Europe, like my cousins in Portugal, are trained to do so from an early age.
I have realized that people who like this band don’t necessarily have exactly the same views, but I don’t want to be in a band where I try to make people to think like me! This is welcome to everybody and anybody, Edgey concludes.
Check out the video "Hard Times" from the upcoming album "Soul On Fire":