Having just returned to his native Stockholm, Peter Moren was feeling invigorated, yet oddly despondent.
His Swedish quirk-pop trio Peter Bjorn and John recently played several sold-out shows in New York and Los Angeles and is in San Francisco this week. Their adorably daffy duet with Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman, “Young Folks,” has already been featured on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
“I want to do music, and if I can do it for a living for a while, then that’s great,” the guitarist/vocalist says. “But maybe it might be good to have something to fall back on, as well.”
Moren does. A curious career he was forced to waive last year, a few courses away from landing his degree. He confesses, “I was going to library school, to become a librarian. Graduation is not so far away, actually, but right now so much is happening with the band, I don’t have the time to do it properly. So I’m giving it a rest for awhile.”
It wasn’t that easy. In Sweden, he says, “You have to add on two whole years of Information Science. And as part of the education, I tried out as a trainee in something called the Stately Archive of Sound and Pictures, and it’s an archive for everything that’s been released, like movies, CDs, broadcast radio and television shows, all made in Sweden. And I liked it very much, because you get to listen to a lot of stuff because you have to file it in the right category. So I listened to a lot of horrible music, and it was quite funny.”
But he says the Stately Archive held “a lot of weird surprises, because we got everybody’s homemade CDs, as well. As long as somebody is selling it at the gigs or wherever, you get it.”
That could be why PBJ’s new “Writer’s Block” album — their third — is so disarmingly good, a surprise that only starts with “Young Folks.” Sometimes Phil Spector-ish (“Amsterdam,” “Objects of My Affection”), sometimes New Zealand-pop quirky (an homage to “The Chills”), the CD, which hit stores in February, is like manna from heaven for starving pop fans sick of “American Idol” approximations.
With bassist/keyboardist Bjorn Yttling and drummer John Eriksson, Moren pieces melodies together in a home studio, citing as influences everything from Bob Dylan and Lou Reed to Gershwin, Richard Thompson and the Go Betweens.
How did the artist arrive at whistling the “Young Folks” hook? “A lot of things with this record were totally happy accidents, nothing pre-rehearsed,” he says. “And that song was a piano bit that Bjorn had, a slow Duke Ellington thing which we made funkier with bongos and drums. And whistling was just a way for us to remember the melody because we didn’t have a synthesizer at that moment — we just kept it because it sounded so good.”
Peter Bjorn and John
Where: Bimbo’s, 1025 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today
Contact: (415) 474-0365 or www.tickets.com