Emanuel Lundgren isn’t from Barcelona. In fact, Lundgren — the lead singer and mastermind behind pop-rock band I’m From Barcelona — isn’t even Spanish.
Hailing from Jonkoping, Sweden, I’m From Barcelona consists of Lundgren and 28 collaborators and owes its name to “Fawlty Towers,” a British television series that featured a bumbling waiter whose catch phrase was, “I’m from Barcelona.”
On Thursday, May 1, the band will add to its international cache when it plays a show at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple in Fort Greene.
And despite having been to Brooklyn only once, Lundgren was just as excited as local music fans when he discussed playing the temple.
“Sometimes there are venues like that in Sweden, but for me this is exciting,” he said. “I’m a bit nerdy about brotherhoods like the Masons. It’s very interesting, and I can’t wait to look inside the building and see what I can find.”
But while Lundgren is interested in the location, fans will be pouring into the hall to hear his band. According to Doug DeFalco, who booked the show at the Masonic Temple, tickets are selling briskly, especially since I’m from Barcelona is only playing five shows in the United States.
“Their sugary, sweet songs of hope, optimism and fun, are also a real reflection of what wonderful human beings they are,” said DeFalco. “It’s always an exciting moment when I can book an act that I know will not only put on a thoroughly enjoyable show, but that I will look forward to being with before, during and after the show. These are some real sweet Swedes.”
Despite the band’s popularity, however, working with over two-dozen musicians hasn’t always been easy for Lundgren.
It’s nearly impossible for everyone to tour at the same time — the last time the band was stateside, 20 members were able to make it — and writing songs as a group is a feat yet to be accomplished.
“It’s hard to sit around the campfire and do a song with 30 writers. I would love to do that, and I’m looking forward to making that happen at one point, but for now, it’s a lot of my ideas that I present to the band and that take form when we meet,” said Lundgren. “For me, it’s always hard. When you write a book, there aren’t five authors. The best songs also take a very short time to write, so it can happen at any time — it’s hard to sit down and plan to write a song. I’d like to learn to do that, though. It sounds fun to write songs together.”
What the band is doing, however, seems to be working out well.
Lundgren attributed the upbeat songs to thinking about childhood as he wrote them, and attempting to steer clear of traps he saw other songwriters fall into.
“When we made the record, it was a way for me to describe the feeling of being in love without writing love songs,” he said. “For me, it’s more interesting to describe a feeling without saying ‘boy-meets-girl.’”
Since the group released “Let Me Introduce My Friends,” its 13-song debut record, in March 2007, it’s been a hit with record buyers and DJs alike.
One track, “We’re From Barcelona,” with a catchy pop hook and sing-along chorus, took the band beyond the indie rock sphere and made it a mainstay in dance clubs.
The full, cheery sound is exactly what Lundgren imagined, he said, when he first decided to form the band.
“I had a vacation from my day job — I was a Web designer — and I was in a band at the time, but I wanted to do something else. In a band you can’t always form your own groove; I wanted to bring in saxophones and have fun,” he explained. “I decided to gather friends — I didn’t care if they had played for long, and I had no idea how it would sound — but I just wanted to record songs. After we did the first demo, I thought we should do a gig in our town and that [would be] it. Boy, was I wrong.”
“After the first song, when I heard a roar and the applause, I felt that this was something different,” said Lundgren. “Everyone in the band has such a good vibe and people sang along at the first gig even though we hadn’t finished our demo. That’s when I said, ‘let’s not stop this train here.’”
With 29 members, I’m From Barcelona can’t help but have a big, full sound. But what does a Swedish band with a Spanish name and an army of musicians really sound like? GO Brooklyn analyzed the band’s debut record, “Let Me Introduce My Friends,” to prepare you for the band’s May 1 show at the Masonic Temple in Fort Greene.
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“Let Me Introduce My Friends,” I’m From Barcelona’s debut record — a smart, poppy gem. The band’s Brooklyn appearance is not to be missed.
I’m from Barcelona will play at 8 pm on May 1 at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple (317 Clermont Ave. at Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene). Tickets are $10. For information, visit www.masonicboom.com.