When José González completed his touring duties for his sophomore solo album in 2008, he shifted his focus to Junip, a trio formed with two of his close childhood friends Elias Araya (percussion) and Tobias Winterkorn (keys).
José and Elias befriended each other in grade school and began playing in hardcore bands in their native Gothenburg, Sweden as teenagers. There they met Tobias who’d been playing in assorted metal and hardcore bands, and the trio discovered a mutual desire to shed the rigid constraints of hardcore and explore more refined and experimental sounds. Just as the band was beginning to gel, José’s solo career exploded, as fans and critics discovered a successor to the ethereal and forlorn Nick Drake and Elliott Smith.
José’s global success as a solo artist – he’s sold over a million records - kept Junip on the backburner, until now. More then 10 years on, the band finally released their debut LP Fields (Mute Records) in September, and just wrapped their second U.S. tour in six months. Much like José’s solo live sets which are far more intense than his recorded output might suggest, Junip’s sets are positively transcendent – expertly-crafted rhythmic mantras swirl, build, and unravel, opening third eyes everywhere. The sound breathes as if it were alive – it’s music radiating such organic warmth that it could only be conjured by old familiars speaking unspoken languages. That this is Junip’s debut seems downright impossible.
The final U.S. date was at NYC’s Irving Plaza on the eve of Thanksgiving, and Big Ass Lens and Perry Rome Productions were there to document it and speak to the band about what it all means. The band will next tour Europe and Australia, with a brief return home to Gothenburg in between for Tobias to finally meet his youngest of three children, a son born while Junip was touring the Mid-West just two weeks ago.
Produced by BAL and Perry Rome Productions
Interview + Words by Ryan Henriquez
Additional Photography by Brian Butnick