First Aid Kit Dishes on Playing Bob Dylan Tribute at Newport Folk Fest, Their Love For Chipotle & More
In the lyrics of "My Silver Lining," the first single from Swedish folk/americana duo First Aid Kit's most recent album Stay Gold (its first on Columbia), sisters Klara, 22, and Johanna, 24, sing in perfect harmony: "I won't take the easy road, the easy road, the easy road/Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on."
And those lyrics were felt wholeheartedly when the pitch-perfect siblings performed three tracks at CBS' midtown Manhattan studio for a segment on CBS This Morning: Saturday (Aug. 8).
Klara and Johanna waited in the green room before taping, while the band sound-checked on bossa nova classic "The Girl From Ipanema." Sporting hippie-chic white linen outfits paired with a striking red lip, the sisters looked straight out of '70s Laurel Canyon -- and their close bond was felt even through a window, as Klara tied her sister's dress.
And again, while testing mics, Johanna -- in her best Kermit the Frog voice -- jokingly sang, "Show me my…," a challenge Klara quickly matched with her own throat-y vocal, with an off-pitch "silver lining."
But during their performance, the sisters dropped into tight renditions of album cuts "My Silver Lining," "Master Pretender" and title track "Stay Gold," with the TV screens in the studio and the stage backdrop illuminating a moving picture of an open road. It was the perfect accompaniment for the group's desert-friendly cocktail of rolling drums, sleepy synths and soaring harmonies.
Billboard spoke with Klara and Johanna on set following their performance about their hectic touring schedule, their love of Chipotle, and what it was like to join the 50th anniversary Bob Dylan tribute at Newport Folk Festival.
You've been on the festival circuit all summer. Do you have any advice for how to cope with the tough demands?
We just try to have as much fun as we can. We have to stop being control freaks, because anything can happen at festivals. People in the crowd can leave at any moment to go watch another band. We let everything go and embrace the fact that summer touring is a crazy adventure. We have a really intense set list with a lot of head-banging and pretty harmonizing, because that's what we're all about!
Do you prefer festival shows or intimate gigs?
It all depends on the setting and on who shows up. Our music does fit really well in intimate settings. We like it when we can really connect with every single person in the audience. Sometimes festivals can be dreadful, to be honest. When you don't have time to soundcheck or when it's poorly organized ... it can be tough. However, it can also be incredibly rewarding.
I imagine the Newport Folk Festival felt like home for you -- what was that experience like?
Newport Folk Festival was magical! It was only our second time there, but it strangely almost felt like home. It's such a legendary festival. All of our musical heroes have played there before. You can sense their presence still lingering in the air. Musically, the lineup was right up our alley. There were so many bands we wanted to see we couldn't believe it. We saw a little bit of Laura Marling -- she's our favorite, so badass. And because it's been 50 years ago since the famous set where Bob Dylan played the electric guitar for the first time at Newport, there was a Bob Dylan tribute that closed the festival. We got to take part in it! We joined Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, Dawes and a bunch of other bands who we are huge fans of on stage. It was very surreal and a moment we will treasure for a long time to come.
What are your touring essentials?
We always have a notebook and pens handy. We use it for writing down ideas for lyrics, drawing and just general thoughts we have while traveling. We bring a bunch of poetry books for inspiration. We also always have portable speakers with us so we can play our favorite music really loud in our dressing room. It gets us in the right mood for our shows. We bring dry shampoo with us, because unfortunately showers aren't always available and hair can get pretty gross on tour. We try to bring comfortable clothing and good walking shoes as well. When we're traveling all the time we want to feel relaxed and we want to be able to go on long walks and explore the cities we're playing in.
Do you have a favorite American restaurant/fast food chain?
We're addicted to Chipotle. We go there pretty much every other day while on tour in America. On this tour we've already been there like five times. It's just so fresh and healthy. It's impossible to get good Mexican food in Sweden -- especially guacamole -- so we try to indulge in it was much as we can when we're over here.
What are some of the albums you've been listening to lately on the tour bus? Any new favorites?
We love the new Tallest Man on Earth record, Dark Bird is Home. He's a fellow Swede and a good friend of ours. This is his fourth record and the first one where he has a full band. It's gorgeous and grows with every listen. We also love the latest Father John Misty record, as well as Courtney Barnett, Florence + The Machine and Sufjan Stevens. A recent discovery is the singer-songwriter Natalie Prass, from Richmond, Va. She's made the most beautiful record full with heartfelt songs. Highly recommended.
Are you already working on the follow-up to Stay Gold? Anything you can share?
We are indeed working on something new, but we don't want to reveal any details about the songs or the sound just yet. We're going on a break pretty soon to gather new inspiration and write more material. It's a very exciting time for us right now. We feel like we're in a good place.