Sounding Off

6.2.2009

By Derek de Koff

You're a little accident-prone yourself, right?
Yeah, I once broke three ribs jumping off a monitor. Breaking your ribs -- there's nothing you can really do about it. It takes a month or two to heal. I got some pills, at least.

Well, that's good.
[Laughs] Yeah!

Any fanatical behavior from your fans? Any obsessive Number One fans?
Crazy things happen everywhere we go. Our favorite fans are a couple that actually met at a Sounds show and fell in love. Their names are Vengie and Alfredo, and they got married three years ago. They've been doing road trips to follow us around, and about a year ago she got pregnant. They named the baby Maja! They are super-cool. We hung out all day when they came to El Paso and we had a picnic.

You wrote your second album in a crazed state and under a very tight deadline. Did you write Crossing The Rubicon with a gun to your head, or did you guys take a bit more time?
Our approach was the exact opposite of the way we made the last album. We had a lot more time and a lot more songs to choose from -- almost 25 songs, not finished, but just demos or ideas, and it was a much more comfortable process for us. All the pre-production was in Sweden, so we went to work every day for a couple months, and when we had all the material done, we went to New York and then Los Angeles and recorded 15 songs. 12 of those we picked for the album. We've never worked that way before, using different studios and different producers, and I was a little nervous in the beginning because I was scared the album was going to sound more scattered and wasn't going to be of a piece. This time, we paid for everything ourselves. We didn't have any record label to influence how the record was going to sound, so it was important for us to make it as good as it could possibly be.

What happened to your previous labels?
Well, now we're on a U.S. label called Original Signal Recordings and they're super-cool guys. We dropped everyone we had before starting the recording process, except for Warner Music in Sweden. The others have all sucked, so we kicked them all out to find people who are passionate about music and love what they're doing. With most labels, they still get a paycheck and really couldn't care less about how the album does. It's important for us to work with people who live for music. We put so much passion into what we do, and it's heartbreaking when you see that the other side isn't doing the same. Original Signal Recordings are a company underneath Universal and Motown, but they're independent. They still have all those resources, but you're not trapped in some giant corporation. It took some time to find them, but now everything feels perfect. I think it's going to be a good relationship.

From the vampire film Let The Right One In to The Sounds and bands like The Knife and The Hives, it seems like Sweden is light years away from American culture. I've never been to Sweden, but what's going on over there right now that's causing this? Is it a fluke?
A flu?

A fluke!
It's not the swine flu -- it's the Swede flu! Sweden's a very small country with only 9 million people. Not many people speak Swedish so we need to communicate with the rest of the world. We're taught English very early on, at the age of 9 or 10. When I was a kid, I was allowed to try out different classical instruments and the government paid for it. I was playing French horn as a kid, and my mom didn't have to pay. We got free lessons in school. In Junior High, there was an electric guitar, a bass guitar and drums, and you were allowed to play with them during your lunch break. You could start a band, and even after you're finished with school, it's not that hard or expensive to do. You can apply for grants and the government will help you pay for your rehearsal space. They want to take care of their bands in Sweden, but I think that's about to change. This was in the '80s and '90s. I hope they're still doing that for young kids in school. Bands like ABBA or Roxette opened a lot of doors. You can look at these guys and say, 'You don't have to come from the U.K. or U.S. in order to get your band heard.' And I hope we're doing that, as well.

Any other bands from Sweden that we might not be aware of over here that you could recommend?
Definitely! Check out an artist called Name Your Pet, it's very electronic and very cool. I think you'll love it! And listen to First Aid Kit: they're two young sisters who were signed to the record label that The Knife started, Rabid Records. It's folksy, with a lot of guitar and piano and vocal harmonies. It's not as electronic, but it's very mysterious.

The Sounds will be performing on The Late Show with David Letterman on June 15th. Their third album, Crossing The Rubicon, is now in stores. For tour dates,
head here.

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