Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ The Great Dictators

The Great Dictators
Photo by Bjørn Rosenquist

We are loving Copenhagen, Denmark seven-piece The Great Dictators. Not only is the folk-rock-band admired for “dark, dreamy, beards”, yet also their uniquely dark and mysterious folk music. With the upcoming release of their debut album Liars (dropping in early 2014), we caught up with vocalist Dragut Lugalzagosi and keyboardist Kasper Husted to talk about making a ballsy album, their songwriting process, life-changing records, and zombies.

AMBY: Hello The Great Dictators, thanks for speaking with us today! Please introduce yourselves to AMBY.

Dragut: Thank you for having us! I’m Dragut, lead singer.

Kasper:
And I’m Kasper and I play the keyboards in the band.

AMBY: There are seven members in the band. What’s the songwriting process like with such a large group?

Kasper: Dragut writes all of our songs, and then brings them to the band, usually with some ideas for how a bass line might go or how the rhythmic feel of the song might be etc. We then all work on making them sound as good as possible together… Changing things up, putting in little bits and pieces and so on, until it feels right.

Dragut: Yeah, I feel very privileged to be in a band where all the members trust me completely with the songs I write. It’s a huge help, cause the songwriting process can be tough at times. When a sentence, melody, chord progression etc. doesn’t want to play ball, it can easily compromise your sanity. After I’ve been working on a song quite intensely, I might forget to put on my pants the next morning or something like that.

AMBY: If you had to describe the band in one word, what would that word be?

Kasper: Romance.

Dragut: Satan.

AMBY: Does hailing from Copenhagen have an influence on your sound? And if so, how?

Kasper: Yeah, I think there’s a certain melancholy and sort of atmospheric bent to many Scandinavian bands. Copenhagen is a cold and spacious city, not many tall buildings, open skies, long nights, it rubs off.

Dragut: Definitely. Yuck. But inspiring.

AMBY: Who inspires your addictive gloomy, dark-folk?

Kasper: So many things… I was listening to a shit-ton of Harry Nilsson while we were making ‘Liars’. I know our guitar player Hans Martin was too.

Dragut: And I was watching a lot of horror movies during that period, so that might also have influenced the record.

AMBY: Your first single Sleep was just released. What are the band’s plans to celebrate the release of the track?

Kasper: Throwing a big party in Copenhagen with our friends!

Dragut: Hell yes.

Kasper: We also have an incredible music video coming out for it.

AMBY: In February 2014, you release your debut album Liars! What can fans expect to hear from the record?

Dragut: We wanted to make an epic and ballsy album instead of just putting 10 singles out there.

Kasper: I think it’s a very dark and sort of moody record, with this undercurrent of very palpable optimism. And I really think all the songs go together very well, it really feels like an album, in the old-fashioned sense. It’s a trip… a slow-building, gloomy, grandiose trip.

AMBY: Are there any groups from Denmark we should keep our eyes on?

Kasper: Boho Dancer are doing amazing things. Hell is in Hello is another criminally underrated project, with just a very cool and weird retro-futuristic soft-rock sound. Check them out!

Dragut: Less Win. Very cool kids.

AMBY: Which three albums changed your life?

Dragut: ‘Doolittle’ by Pixies, ‘Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven’ by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and ‘Poet, Fool or Bum’ by Lee Hazlewood.

Kasper: Oh fuck. I don’t know. I would say Weezer’s ‘Blue Album’, The Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds’, in a big, big way, aaaand… maybe The Dismemberment Plan’s ‘Emergency & I’.

AMBY: What’s your favourite release of the year so far?

Dragut: ‘Sleeper’ by Ty Segall.

Kasper: I really wanted the Dismemberment Plan to come out with my favorite record of the year, but that didn’t happen. I think ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ by Vampire Weekend is the most consistently great thing I have heard this year – it was a big “oh shit”-moment to have that come out while we were making a record. I also really liked Mikal Cronin’s ‘MCII’.

AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about The Great Dictators that nobody knows yet?

Kasper: Our bass player Mikkel is the best pizza chef in Copenhagen.

Dragut: We all believe that zombies will take over the world quite soon.

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Thank you The Great Dictators, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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