At some point over the last few months, you may have watched television. And while watching, maybe you happened to see a commercial for Apple's new iPod Shuffle, where a bunch of silhouettes shimmy to a raucous, '60s-style party tune called "Jerk It Out."
That song was not written by some old-school Merseybeat act like Gerry and the Pacemakers or the Searchers — though it sounds an awful lot like it was. No, "Jerk It Out" was actually penned about three years ago by four Swedish dudes in a band called Caesars. And because of that iPod spot, Caesars are famous the world over — almost a decade after they released their first album back home.
"This album [the just-released Paper Tigers] is the fourth album we've put out in Sweden," guitarist Joakim Ahlund laughed. "But lately, things have really been happening for us, thanks to this one stupid party tune."
From what Ahlund has heard, the series of events went something like this: A DJ at a San Francisco radio station heard the tune three years ago when it was first released on their album 39 Minutes Of Bliss (In An Otherwise Meaningless World). He quit his job for a gig at Apple, and one day during a brainstorming session, the tune popped back into his head, and Steve Jobs gave it the thumbs-up.
"That's just what someone told me, though," Ahlund said. "I could be totally wrong."
He's much clearer on the origins of the song. It came from years clubbing in Stockholm, hitting tiny after-hours clubs that played old soul 45s. He and his bandmates — vocalist Cesar Vidal, bassist David Lindqvist and drummer Nino Keller — were instantly hooked and knew that they had to try their hand at capturing that same crackling, good-times magic captured on wax.
"The music that people were playing in these clubs was upbeat and dancey, and so we started fooling around, trying to recreate those songs that were about launching new dances, like 'do the mashed potato' or 'do the jerk,' " he explained. "And what we came up with is kind of like the remains of old soul music. It was white guys trying to play funky soul."
The tune became a smash in Sweden and the U.K., and "jerking it out" became a favorite club activity — although not a particularly well-choreographed one.
"Jerking it out is not about doing your preset choreography. People can do it in different ways," Ahlund said. "Your way of jerking it out might be to roll around on the floor and fake an epileptic fit. It is about freaking out a bit and letting off some steam. It's just great, efficient party music. It's one of the few things that can get my bony ass out on the dance floor."
And now Ahlund and the rest of Caesars are bringing it all to America. On June 2, they'll launch a U.S. tour in Los Angeles, and they hope you'll bring your dancing shoes.
"I'm really looking forward to coming over. We've had some really great times in the U.S. before, and now hopefully there will be more people coming out and looking to have a good time," Ahlund said. "And if they only come out to hear the iPod song, that's fine too. We'll never complain about that. We'd rather be a one-hit wonder than a no-hit wonder, you know?"