Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells? We put The Cardigans’ Nina Persson to the test

1: In the ‘My Favourite Game’ video, what contest does the radio DJ announce is happening?

“Oh, I don’t know this one actually.”

WRONG. The local state fair is holding a pig weighing competition.

“(Disbelieving) Really? For the record, that isn’t to do with memory loss – it’s not knowing it in the first place. That shoot was humongous with a huge budget, with stunt people, car crashes, explosions, helicopters and all that crazy Hollywood stuff. We were shooting in the Mojave Desert, which was so hot, people were feeding me hydration tablets. Working with Jonas Åkerlund, we knew it would be controversial. We did four different endings with various degrees of violence but funnily, we got banned in Europe because I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. I was decapitated in some versions. In others, I was knocked over and dying, but that’s what really offended people!”

 

 

2: Name the four Black Sabbath/Ozzy Osbourne tunes you’ve covered.

“Actually, we’ve done three: ‘Iron Man’, ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ and ‘Mr Crowley’.”

And ‘Changes’…

“Oh, so it is four! You’re right. Damn! I don’t know how you would rate my answer…”

CORRECT-ISH. HALF A POINT.

“Ozzy sent us flowers and came to one of our shows in LA in the ‘90s and brought his whole family – Kelly, Jack and Sharon – backstage as guests. He was into it. He said our cover was the creepiest thing he ever heard – high praise from him!”

What’s been the Ozziest thing you’ve done?
“When I was recording the ‘Gran Turismo’ record, we were in a house in the countryside and I sat in my own room in the attic recording vocals and I found a dead bat and I kept it and put it up in front of my desk while I was working. I’d sing to it. (Laughs) I didn’t bite the head off it, sadly.”

3: When you appeared on Beverly Hills90210, which character hosted the graduation party you played ‘Lovefool’ and ‘Been It’ at?

“Oh, it was Kelly’s dad”.

CORRECT. It was Bill Taylor.

“It was in its prime, and the episode’s director was [‘90s heartthrob] Jason Priestley, who played Brandon. At the time, we thought we were too cool for 90210 but when we were there, we couldn’t help but be super-amazed and starstruck, thinking it was really fun.”

What else did you think you were too cool for?

“One thing I regret – we were fucking idiots! – was we turned down a request to submit a song for a James Bond movie. That was the height of arrogance (Laughs). We have a song ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ and I was a big force in not wanting to submit it because I feared we’d end up working even more than we did and I was exhausted. I was lobbying for not doing it and it’s one of my biggest mistakes. Sheryl Crow ended up doing the theme. It speaks about how tired I was that I couldn’t make good judgments anymore. Now I’d jump at it, but then I even bickered and complained about the fact we said yes to the Tom Jones collaboration. I was embarrassed about certain things. Very dumb. I wasn’t cool.”

 

Talking of which….

4: What did number did ‘Burning Down The House’, your collaboration with Tom Jones, reach in the UK charts?

“I don’t know because I didn’t follow the charts. Did it do well?”

WRONG. It went in at number 7.

“That’s pretty good!”

Did Tom live up to expectations?

“I mean, my expectations were low because I wasn’t a particularly huge fan – or rather I hadn’t listened to much Tom Jones. But he was amazing. We’d sit up late into the night with him, drinking brandy and smoking cigars. We enjoyed some good wines travelling with him – we shared that interest in drinking! (Laughs)”

For a bonus half-point, what do women famously hurl at Tom Jones during gigs?

“People who go to Tom Jones shows wouldn’t be bra-throwers, would they? Is it knickers?”

CORRECT

“I had a pair of men’s trunks thrown at me once.”

5: Which iconic British comedy duo did you work with in 2000?

“Oh, that was when I did the theme to their show Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). We did a video together. I never actually knew their names – I’d just call them by their character names, so Randall and Hopkirk (Laughs)”

WRONG. It was Vic Reeves (Hopkirk) and Bob Mortimer (Randall). Your vocal version of the theme appears in the episode ‘Revenge Of The Bog People’. Heard your music played anywhere more unusual than that?

“I was once trying on bras when ‘Lovefool’ came on in the shop and two teenage girls in the changing rooms next to me started singing along really loudly. I couldn’t decide whether to wait there until they left or pull up the curtain – ta-da! – and sing along. (Laughs) It was really awkward.”

 

6: Which band that you once supported did you upset when you joked that you should headline over them in Japan because you’d sold more records than them there?

“Blur.”

CORRECT

“They were mad at us for so many reasons! It was funny. It wasn’t the only reason. We were very annoying at the time so I don’t blame them – and they were easily-annoyed people (Laughs). But I’ve met them since and they were lovely. It was one of our first tours supporting a band. We brought an entourage of 20 people and that annoyed the hell out of them. Then that whole comment – which was meant to be very funny – just came across as arrogant.”

Were you Team Blur or Oasis in the ‘90s?

“Definitely Blur! I’ve never understood Oasis. When Oasis played one of their first Swedish festivals, I thought I was hooking up with Liam. While we were flirting and checking out each other from afar, I was sure that it was Liam Gallagher trying to pick me up – but it turned out to be a Swedish guy who looked a lot like Liam. The Swedish guy was such a terrible boyfriend actually that I bet even Liam Gallagher would have been a better one!”

7: In 2000, you graced the cover of Melody Maker alongside which other frontwoman?

“Debbie Harry”

CORRECT

“That was amazing. I’ve always been a huge fan and she’s super-cool and a sweetheart. The shtick was she was the old version of me and I was the new version of her. I still have her then-phone number. She’s probably changed her number several times since but I’ve kept it my contact book as a memory that I had it for a while (Laughs).”

Have you been surprised by any current pop stars that have claimed to be influenced by you?

“Well, it’s wonderful that Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child are fans. I felt I was lacking role models – there weren’t that many women back then I could draw inspiration from – so I’m slightly jealous of the climate now of super-cool young women.”

 

8: Your debut album, ‘Emmerdale’, is named after the ITV soap. Until 1994, where was the show set?

“Arrggghhh….I’m going to guess Cornwall?”

WRONG. It was Beckindale, a fictional village in the Yorkshire Dales.

“I had no idea. Wait, you said until 1994…was it set in Cornwall after that?”

No. After ’94, it was set in Emmerdale, a fictional village in the Yorkshire Dales.

“Aggghhh! Of course!”

Were you ever asked to cameo in it?

“No, but we would have done it in a second! With bells on! It was something my grandma watched – it was broadcast daily here in Sweden. We were Anglophiles and thought it was a beautiful word. But we didn’t watch it. It was for old folks. There was something very safe about it – foggy fields and damp wool. We wanted that stereotypical feeling of the English countryside. We were super cultural-appropriators and had no idea what we were getting into!.”

 

 

9: Which Canadian superstar used parts of ‘Lovefool’ for a 2009 single?

“Justin Bieber.”

CORRECT. On the track ‘Love Me’

“It was early in Justin’s career, so we hadn’t heard of him. Our management sent an email with the song attached asking: ‘Are you going to allow this?’. I remember listening to it and being like: ‘Hell no!’ Our management persuaded us to reconsider, insisting ‘he’s a fast-rising star and it might be good for you – there might be money!’. We’ve been very protective of ‘Lovefool’ and have said yes to hardly anything – I’m not Bieber-bashing!”

 

The Cardigans guitarist Peter Svensson now writes pop songs for the likes of The Weeknd,  Ariana Grande and Carly Rae Jepsen. Ever heard one of his tracks and thought ‘I wish he’d kept that for us’?

“There are some I think are amazing. But the funny thing is, when I’ve heard them for the first time in a shop or whatever, I’ve stopped in my tracks thinking: ‘Is this The Cardigans?’, and waiting for my own voice. I can really feel his style in them.”

 

10: Which ‘80s pop star covered ‘Erase/Rewind’?

“Wow! I’ve no idea.”

WRONG. It’s Sabrina, of ‘Boys (Summertime Love)’ semi-fame.

“(Excited) Really? No! You’re kidding! I remember her! That’s amazing to me! I need to find it. What does it sound like? It’s a camp dance track? That song can totally be put in that costume. It’s sort of built up like that.”

Any chance of a Cardigans cover of ‘Boys’ at the ‘Gran Turismo’ twentieth anniversary gigs?

(Laughs) I’d love to do that. That song’s really simple too – it would feel like a nice break for me in the show.”

 

The verdict: 5/10

“I thought I would remember much less. I don’t have a great memory for detail. I’m off to find that Sabrina cover!”

Playing Gran Turismo In Full: The Cardigans tour begins at the O2 Apollo in Manchester on December 3rd.