The End: Jonas Bjerre of Mew on Endings and Death

"I'd like to be a giraffe. I'm kind of average height and I think it might be cool to see the world from a little higher up."

Jul 14, 2017 Issue #60 - Father John Misty Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern (for Under the Radar) Bookmark and Share


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To end out the week, we ask Mew frontman Jonas Bjerre some questions about endings and death. The Danish band formed way back in 1995, releasing their debut album, A Triumph for Man two years later in 1997. But it was 2003's Frengers that first garnered them international attention, with 2005's And the Glass Handed Kites further growing their audience outside of Denmark thanks to songs such as "Special" and "Why Are You Looking Grave?" (which featured the guest vocals of Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis). Founding bassist Johan Wohlert temporarily left the band in 2006 to focus on his family, skipping 2009's No More Stories, but rejoining for 2015's + -. Alas the return of the full original lineup, including founding drummer Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen and founding guitarist Bo Madsen, was short lived, as Madsen left the band in 2015 after the release of + -. The band's latest album, Visuals, is thus their first without Madsen. Throughout the lineup changes Mew's sound has remained a consistent, but unique mix of art rock, dream pop, and prog rock, with Bjerre's unmistakable high-pitched voice and the band's soaring guitars anchoring their signature sound. Read on as Bjerre discusses how he'd like to die, what song he'd like played at his funeral, his concepts of heaven and hell, and his favorite endings to books, TV shows, and movies.

How would you like to die and what age would you like to be?

It depends on my level of fatigue. I'd like to live long, and I'm sure science can help out with staying fresh. I would like to not know beforehand, but still have some inkling so that I can make amends with the universe, and say goodbye to my family. And I'd like my brain to flood my whole system with naturally occurring N, N-DMT, you know, to see what that's like.

What song would you like to be playing at your deathbed?

By that time I will hopefully have discovered an even larger library of good music, and will have a more informed opinion on the matter. But if I am dying tomorrow, please put on "The Man With the Child In His Eyes" by Kate Bush.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

I'd like someone with a beautiful, disarming voice, to sing some sad Danish lullaby, maybe "Solen er så rød, mor" by Carl Nielsen and Harald Bergstedt. For some reason, classic Danish lullabies are so incredibly melancholy, even though they are meant for kids. That would make for a good cry. Crying is a bit scary when you're a grown person; because you are so close to yourself, to the real you, when you do. But it brings you back to an essential part of yourself that you really don't want to lose.

What's your favorite ending to a movie?

The Lives of Others:

"Shall I gift-wrap it?"

"No, it's for me."

What's your favorite last line in a book?

"To tell you all this." - The Half Brother by Lars Saabye Christensen. But you really need to read it in its context. I recommend you read the whole book.

What's your favorite series finale episode of a TV show?

It would be a tie between The Sopranos and Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Sopranos because the abrupt silencing of Steve Perry's unparalleled, soaring, immortal voice really felt like death. Star Trek, in the moment where Captain Picard surprises his crew in joining their poker game, then looks around with a knowing, sad smile and says, "I should have done this a long time ago," and Deanna Troi says, "You were always welcome." It brings a tear to my eye right now just thinking about it.

What's your favorite last song on an album?

"Gouge Away" on Pixies' Doolittle.

What's your favorite last album by a band who then broke up?

A lot of them have put their bands back together again. Maybe Talk Talk's Laughing Stock.

What's your favorite way a band broke up?

Oh, man I don't know. Any band that did so in an amicable way.

Whose passing has most affected you?

My grandmother.

If you were on death row, what would you like your last meal to be?

Sushi. Don't wanna feel heavy when I go.

What's your concept of the afterlife?

I believe in the many-worlds interpretation first proposed by Hugh Everett III in 1957, in which particles can be in super-positions, resulting in what is referred to as "amplified weirdness," ultimately splitting us into infinite versions of ourselves, across infinite parallel universes. This means that the "you" that you experience is only an infinitely small fraction of possible yous, and that all the other possible yous exist as much as "you" do, even though you have no way of sensing this. But what happens when all versions die? Probably nothing.

What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists?

The deeply satisfying feeling of pure consciousness.

What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

Eternal pain and suffering. And being forced to eat sour cream, I really don't care for that stuff.

If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as?

I'd like to be a giraffe. I'm kind of average height and I think it might be cool to see the world from a little higher up. But it's probably gonna be turtle time for me. At least they live for a pretty long time.

What role or achievement would you most like to be remembered for?

Being the best me that I could be!

What would you like your last words to be?

I love you all.

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's Spring 2017 Issue (April/May/June 2017), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

 

 

 

 

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Christian
July 18th 2017
7:08am

Thank you for sharing this conversation/interview!
I’d like to read a real conversation between Jonas and someone, rather then reading a one way question = answer dialog, love to read the deepness of such conversations.