by Joanna Orland & Isla MC
I’m rather ashamed to admit it now that I’ve seen them in action, but I’d never heard of The Sounds before this year’s Roskilde festival. Well, someone’s been missing out because they’re pretty fucking cool. Hot front-woman Maja rocks the Annie Lennox-style androgyny and has a belting voice. And, as much as the band may deny their 80s influences, they can do a power ballad better than Berlin can (quite well). Not to mention the synths.
We met Sounds drummer Fredrik for a chat at Roskilde on the Friday (the ONLY day it didn’t rain). Here’s what he had to say for himself, more or less:
How did you guys first meet?
We’re all from a pretty small town in Sweden (Helsingborg). Johan (bass) and Felix (guitar) knew each other when they were kids, they played soccer or something together. Years later, me and Johan were living in the same neighbourhood and he asked me to be in the band. Maja and Felix went to the same art school so he asked her to be in the band. A year later we met Jesper (synths) at a festival in Sweden. That was in 1999.
How has your sound changed over the years?
In the beginning, when you don’t know how to write songs that well, you focus more on making a whole lot of noise. I think we’re becoming better and better at songwriting. We know much more what we want these days, especially in the studio. In the beginning we knew how to play live, but we didn’t really know what we were doing in the studio. We had to put our trust in the people working with us, but they didn’t always have the same vision of how we were going to sound. But these days we’re much more in control.
Your first album was recorded in Sweden and your second in America. What were the differences?
Well, they were two totally different records. Recording the first album was quite easy – all the songs were written and played over 100 times live. But for the second album we spent three months in the studio just doing stuff because we didn’t have 100 shows behind us. Also, the first time we were in a much smaller studio. No one wants to spend any money on a band no one’s heard about.
Why do you think you’ve achieved such popularity in America? (The band feature on the Snakes on a Plane soundtrack and played at Bam Margera’s wedding. Random!)
For a year and a half we devoted all our time to playing in America. Most Sweden bands go to America and play a couple of shows, but we kept going and going.
How do you feel about being labelled New Wave?
Well, we don’t really agree with that label, but that’s what the media does – puts things into boxes. We wouldn’t say our sound was really 80s – we have so many influences, we listen to a lot of reggae and stuff.
With music downloads being at the forefront of the industry, do you feel the pressure to make each song a single?
No, I think digital music is good for bands to get exposure and develop their fanbase. But people get bored and will want something new. Our next album will definitely be an ‘album’.
If you could describe The Sounds in one word?