With lifestyle complexities and technological advances that pull us away from life’s simple pleasures, the three piece band, Turn off Your Television, has a rather simple message: “Don’t get stuck in modern society.” It’s not often I’m convinced that living in pure mediocrity is beneficial to the artistic temperament, but I was pleasantly persuaded having talked to Jon Rinneby, ToYT’s producer. Besides, it’s not like Jon and bandmates, Stellan and Erik, have a choice in a country where citizens favor “something in between” rather than “over the top.”
Their eponymous album is a compilation of varying styles of ambient rock infused folk ballads that take you on emotional highs and lows, but never reach extremes. “Turn off Your Television” is a cohesive yet laid back debut that croons a soothing ambiance and tactfully brings together the mysterious imagery and metaphor that in itself is an interpretive and pleasant art form that pleasantly questions humanity’s definition of happiness in this technologically driven world.
Only if Jon could get himself on a plane, he could bring Turn off Your Television to the U.K. and the U.S and show us exactly why we’re anticipating this up and comer.
Musebox: I understand what is implied by your band’s name, Turn off Your Television. We’re glued to the screens and essentially getting fatter and fatter as we sit there. But, then again, I’d say that these days laptops are probably one of the largest culprits (no pun intended). What about this compelled you to choose your name?
Jon Rinneby: We are not trying to make a statement with our name, like ,”throw your TV out the window and go outside,” or anything. It’s just a name. I guess what we are trying to say, if anything, is, “Don’t get stuck in modern society”. But that really doesn’t matter too much either.
MB: What do you think about the fact that music education programs throughout grade schools are one of the first programs to be cut due to budget constraints?
Jon Rinneby: It sucks. I’ve worked as music teacher for many years and I’m well aware of this situation. Music, or any art for that matter, isn’t a “real subject” to most schools and politicians. That’s the problem. If you or your kids really are into music you better look up a good music school instead. Actually I’ve quit my job as a teacher just this summer to focus on what is important in my life – music.
MB: Since you’ve recently quit your job, how are you managing to survive, considering the fact that in reality, living like “rock/pop stars” doesn’t always mean that the money is flowing in as often as you’d like?
Jon Rinneby: Good question, maybe you can help me out?! Seriously though, I’m a pretty good studio technician; I’ve been working in my own studio helping other bands and artists out. I have managed to get by so far, but I’m not very rich though.
MB: If you weren’t Swedish and living in Sweden, Turn off Your Television wouldn’t be who they are. You’re propelled into a depressed mode that spurns creativity. Would you give Sweden up to reach what you’re “yearning for,” which is, “having it all” as you reference in your song, “Never Rusting Symphony”?
Jon Rinneby: First of all, and now I speak for my self only, I don’t like to travel! So leaving Sweden isn’t really an option. I guess you could call me a “safety addict.” Both Stellan (bass & harmonica) and Erik (drums & backing vocals) love to travel, so I guess we have to meet half way someday (one way or another). To address “Yearning for something…,” I guess its more about not knowing what you want, while still knowing that you want “something”
MB: Is touring outside of Sweden, namely in the US or the UK, in your plan?
Jon Rinneby: Actually, yes! We are just looking for the right opportunity, so to speak. But since I ‘m afraid of flying (among other things) this might be a bit of a problem. Thankfully we have worked out a “water proof” plan, that includes pills and other stuff…
MB: I feel like after listening to your album, I’m pleasantly exhausted, having been enlightened with the hunger that you have to become something more. Can you briefly tell me what the Swedish life is like that makes you feel this way? What’s so “moderate” about the Swedish lifestyles?
Jon Rinneby: Hehe. That’s a tough one. In Sweden nothing is really “over the top.” Rather, everything is kind of “something in between.” Just take milk in Sweden for example. We have three different kinds of milk: low fat, medium, and whole. Guess which is one the most popular? Yep, medium of course! This is the way I perceive Sweden… But still, I love this country more than anything else. It’s this strange and ambivalent feeling that is the root/foundation to our music, and that’s why we sound the way we do – kind of happy but still, in a way, sad.
MB: What about the 60s, 70s, 80s brings you back to influences in those past eras? The optimistic tend to look toward the future, so from your perspective is there a hint of pessimism about the future?
Jon Rinneby: Not the 80s for fucks sake! The 90s are it.
Well, as a band we are not pessimistic about the future. In fact it looks very shiny. But if you look at the bigger picture, one is right to be a little “worried”. Not all things wwere good back in the day either. I mean what would you do without an iPhone?!
MB: Ha why not the 80s? But also, what is something that you’re worried about?
Jon Rinneby: Name one good thing coming out of the 80s (other than the obvious – ripped jeans).
I’m worried about a lot of things actually, mostly stupid stuff like flying, traveling by train, riding elevators and such. One thing i don’t worry about (and now I speak for the whole band) is the future. It’s exciting not knowing what’s coming next!
MB: What old guitars are in your arsenal? What about your self professed old microphones from telephone poles or shotgun shells? What’s that about?
Jon Rinneby: I have some old Swedish acoustic guitar’s from the 50s and 60s that sound very special; not necessarily in a traditional good way, but they sound honest. If you ever come across a “Bjärton” in America, get one!
My fascination for strange microphones started when i first head Sparklehorse. It was after a revelation that “bad things can sound so good.” I then started to collect old microphones and even ordered some special onces from the u.s, which included a microphone made out of a shotgun shell. It sounds wonderful, but it’s really small though!
MB: What unknown musicians are you currently listening to?
Jon Rinneby: Hmm lately Chief, Fountains of Wayne and Cocoon. Well, I guess they are kind of famous…
MB: Is there anything you’re working on that you’d like to tell your fans about?
Jon Rinneby: Sure. In the coming weeks we are gonna do a live acoustic video recording of a new song called “Broken glass”. I might even use one of my old guitars! Keep your eyes open.
MB: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Jon Rinneby: Nope! Kidding. Do your own thing!