Introducing: Peter Bjorn and John’s “Drama King”

A music video premiere, plus an essay about it by drummer John Eriksson.

Who the hell wants to be himself all the time? Not me. Sometimes when I’m forced to talk about something that I have created, I almost start to feel sick. (A feeling similar to when you have been drinking way too much coffee or when you’ve been eating too much cheese). When you use the word “I” too many times in a row, you end up losing the grip on reality.

 In one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Stellan Skarsgård plays the role of some kind of a mollusk. His character has literally hit the wall, his human body has morphed with the hull of a pirate ship and his face is a mess of mussels and seaweed. When I saw the movie, I experienced a warm feeling of happiness when the creature started speaking, because as soon as it opened its mouth, the only thing I could see was Stellan. It doesn’t matter if Stellan Skarsgård plays the role of a coldblooded secret agent, a scientist, a rough-around-the-edges tennis coach, or a mollusk — what I hear and see is always Stellan, and that is beautiful. In spite of all the make-up, Stellan always shines through. 

In the video for “Drama King,” my alter-ego “John” plays the part of a schizophrenic, dim figure that plays electric bass and hits himself in the face. The weird thing was that my alter-ego felt more at ease seeing that bearded eccentric in the mirror, than seeing himself. Seeing the duplicated reflections of his real face was like seeing the shards of another person.

Because, often, you get so tired of yourself. Oh, my god. Writing the word “I” again and again doesn’t feel good. When auto-fiction runs on autopilot, you might get lost. You could end up ping-ponging between a bad comedy and a sad tragedy. More often, the most important thing isn’t what it feels like to you; a lot of times, it is better to listen than to talk.

Lately I’ve been reminded that your presence is enhanced when you cut the “I” out of the equation. Be it in a conversation, or when a band decision has to be made, or when writing a lyric. Especially when writing a lyric. So, in my lyrics, I’m not myself anymore. For three minutes I am a narcissistic poet, for four minutes I am an indifferent photographer in LA who can’t be present or, as in “Drama King,” I play the part of an actor.

In the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the only thing that keeps Stellan Skarsgård’s character alive, is him hoping to see his son again. Family is everything. Everything else is just an act.

(Photo Credit: Johan Bergmark

It’s hard to survive in the music business, but Peter Bjorn and John have done that and then some. The Swedish indie-pop trio have been triumphing via their pitch-perfect alchemy of varying sounds and styles for two decades now, and their ninth album Endless Dream is but the latest proof of the unique creative chemistry that Peter Morén, Bjorn Yttling, and John Eriksson have successfully worked with for so long. Every PB&J album sounds like falling in love with music for the first time, and the deceptively light confections contained on Endless Dream is the trio’s latest romance.

(Photo Credit: Johan Bergmark)