Dungen's Swedish Psych Rock Settles In

Gustav Ejstes talks cult-followings, making a living and arena bands

Maybe if Dungen (doon-yen) sang in English, they would have more fans.

Forget that. It’s their native tongue that makes them that much more unique and authentic. Their sound recalls Pink Floyd, Serge Gainsbourg and Jethro Tull as well as newer artists like Tame Impala and Black Mountain.

Prior to Dungen’s show at the Casbah on Friday, Aug. 18, I spoke with lead singer/songwriter Gustav Ejstes over the phone as the band made their way through the redwoods. With poor cell service and his strong Swedish accent, conversation was difficult at times, but the 37-year-old frontman’s patience and gratitude made things easier.

Based out of Stockholm, the Swedish psychedelic prog-rock band has enjoyed a strong cult-following since the beginning of their 15+ year existence.

“We have some people that are extremely loyal,” Ejstes said. “I’ll see some people from the stage and think, ‘This is the sixth time I’ve seen you.’”

Dungen’s sound has grown and matured with each album -- more progressive and more experimental -- but they’re popularity really hasn’t shown the same results.

“Yeah, we’ve been pretty much playing the same size venues since we started touring,” he said.

Ejstes laughed at me when I asked jokingly if Dungen wanted to be like a U2 or a Coldplay: “I mean, that’s everyone’s goal I guess. But for me, personally, I like to be on stage to feel the connection with the audience. I would say the perfect show, for me, would be a 500-cap place where you can really get into that,” he said.

Back home in Sweden, Ejstes and the rest of the band have multiple side-projects and are able to make a living off of music. I mean, what more could you want? He realizes how great is to be able to do what he loves full-time.

“It feels really good to be able to keep doing this. We’ve been touring the states since 2005, and it’s good to be able to be back here.”

Dungen headline the Casbah on Friday, Aug. 18. Get tickets here. 

Musician, people-pleaser, lover, fighter and writer Matthew Craig Burke has been spewing musical words of wisdom since never. He lives off of peanut butter sandwiches, beer and Beck Hansen. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.

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