The Sounds (02 septembre 2006)

Entrevue de Melissa Hetu avec Maja et Frederick

Le groupe suédois THE SOUNDS était de passage à Montréal dans le cadre du Vans Warped Tour le 13 août dernier. Le groupe a lancé son deuxième album intitulé Dying To Say This To You au printemps dernier et ce, avec beaucoup de succès. PunkMeUp a eu la chance de s’entretenir avec la chanteuse et le batteur du groupe Maja Ivarsson et Fredrik Nilsson.

[MELISSA] How would you summarize your Warped Tour experience? Being an international band?

[MAJA] It’s good for us, I remember last time we did Warped Tour, it was the last tour we did on our first record and all the influences we got from being on this tour is what helped shape our new material. So I guess that on this tour, we’re going to be picking up some influences like we did on the first one, so for us it’s all good. It’s always good to be exposed to different kinds of music. Just like the kids on this tour, they are exposed to different kinds of music because we are there and we don’t sound like everybody else.

[MELISSA] How has it felt like to be that “different” band on the tour this summer?

[FREDRIK] I think it’s a good thing for us and I think it’s always rewarding to do different stuff. I know that when we’ll do the next tour in the States we probably won’t play with any of these bands again, so it’s nice to do different things, we learn from it. Sometimes it’s nice to mix big venues and small venues, be the big band, be the support band. I like doing different things all the time because it keeps me focused.

[MELISSA] I heard you guys did some DJ sets during the tour, was that a way to integrate yourselves with the rest of the bands throughout the summer?

[MAJA] I mean usually I don’t go out and DJ as much because if I go out every day of the week, then I can’t sing the next day. I would say that’s the worst part about being the singer. I would love to play guitar sometimes so that I could go out and do stuff. But at the same time, the guys in the band they really like doing stuff like that and they always have been even if we’re home or have a day off. That’s what they like to do even in their spare time. I think they just did it for fun this summer to get free drinks actually (laughs).

[FREDRIK] We also have a job that’s hard to put aside, you can’t ever really stop thinking about it. In one way or another you’re always working. Decisions constantly have to be made, your thinking about stuff; the title of a song, the drawing for a new t-shirts, there’s always something you think about.

[MELISSA] I saw your set in yesterday in Barrie and saw that you guys are really energetic on stage. You guys seem to really like playing live. How important is it to have a good time on stage? To entertain your fans?

[MAJA] I think that’s the most important thing to have in this job. Of course we should write some good songs, because if you write some good songs, you can release an album and the only reason why we would want to release an album is to go out and play pretty much. If you go on stage and look like you don’t care and don’t think it’s fun, then of course the people are going to feel insecure and wonder why they are even there. “If she doesn’t like it, then I don’t know if I like it!” It’s my number one responsibility to put on a good show. Of course I get a lot of attention because I’m the lead singer, but that’s good because it gives me a lot of responsibility and I like that responsibility on stage. I really try to embrace it and do the best that I can. I think we can pull it off pretty well, almost every show is a good show, but I must admit the one in Toronto you saw yesterday was pretty lame, I’m sorry!

[MELISSA] You guys were like one of the first bands to play yesterday, is that hard?

[FREDRIK] Yeah it was really early and the night before was a DJ night!

[MAJA] We were in pretty bad shape but at the same time, we have a pretty high standard for ourselves. Even the worst show for us, is pretty high up I think.

[MELISSA] What would you say is the biggest difference between your first record and Dying To Say This To You?

[MAJA] I think what’s most different from the first album is that we grew up a little bit. We were kids, we met in high school and that’s what we have been doing since then so of course the first album is a little bit more about it being like “That’s fucking great, we’re in a rock n’ roll band! Let’s get fucking drunk tonight! Let’s dance our ass off tonight!” That’s what we were like. But now, we did grow up a little bit and from spending five or six years together and living in a bus or playing shows like this almost every day, we’ve been to hell and back. You need to write about that too, it’s not just about the happy and good times. What I really like is when the lyrics can be darker but the melody or the song is upbeat. It’s a weird twist to it. I think we also separated the guitar-based songs from the electronic songs a bit more. We felt like even though we could add a keyboard line to this rock song, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This time we thought like, if it is an electronic song, maybe we should just have electronic drums and not make it some sort of mix. So I think we separated those two a little bit. But at the end of the day, I think it sounds like a THE SOUNDS song. It’s not a completely different sound.

[FREDRIK] You know the last three years, we’ve been touring and we really got to see the world so we now have different environments and situations to compare with, not just the way the world is in our hometown.

[MELISSA] You guys co-produced the album. Is it important for you guys to be very hands-on and be in control of what’s happening?

[MAJA] It’s soo important! That was a very good lesson that we learned from recording this second album. At the beginning, we actually thought that we could actually give it away to somebody and that he will have exactly the same image as we have of this certain song but at the end of the day we realized that this is not what we wanted. Two weeks into it we kind of freaked out and realized this is not the way we want to have it and we need to do something about it. So that’s when we decided and understood that we needed to be just as much part of it as the producer. We can’t just let everything go to somebody else and say this is yours and you can do whatever you want with it because this is our music, we made this music. We want to know what the end result’s going to be, what it’s going to sound like. We want to be responsible for it.

[MELISSA] Would you say you guys are perfectionists in the studio or just even in general? You seem to set the bar very high for yourselves…

[MAJA] I don’t know because we’re kind of not sloppy people but relaxed people. However we know exactly what we want.

[FREDRIK] I think we were never one of those studio bands that spend a lot of time in the studio and really strive in the studio but I think that as time goes by, we get better and better and enjoy being in the studio more and more. I think we can become a really good studio band as well as well as being a good live band. I think we’re always making progress though.

[MAJA] You know I didn’t sing before I joined this band, I was a guitar player. Everybody has learned as the years go by that you get better. None of us were really good at anything when we started out. The only thing that we knew we could do well is perform. I think that now we’re better performers, we play our instruments better and I sing better. I think that’s the natural progression.

[MELISSA] How much of an influence does where you are from have on your music?

[FREDRIK] I guess it would have, yeah.

[MAJA] I think being a Swede does affect you. You’ve been brought up in a Swedish environment of music. I think Swedes in general, we’ve been brought up with good music like for example ABBA. For me, ABBA is almost holy. If you listen to the songs, if you could go into the studio and even just listen to each sound, whoever recorded it is a fucking genious! It’s just a really great band and they’ve got really great melodies and simple hooks.

[FREDRIK] They have the perfect product without being a finished assembled product. They didn’t have a boy-band recipe but they had the perfect pop songs with the perfect pop arrangements. They were two guys married with two girls…everything was soo happy!

[MAJA] You know we’ve been listening to those songs before we knew what it meant. We didn’t even know English. As kids, we’d be listening to Dancing Queen too many times, even though you didn’t even know what the song was about. I think we’ve been brought up with good music and also at the time, the government in Sweden, in the 70s and the 80s, invested a lot of money so that school children could be able to play instruments. We had good social care. I picked up a French horn when I was eight years old, he got to play the drums as a teenager and I don’t think he had to pay a lot of money for that because it was through school. I think that those things helps kids develop and appreciate playing your own music, that it’s not just something that you can see on MTV because you can do it yourself. Rehearshal spaces in Sweden are not as expensive as they are here so there are a lot of reasons why there are a lot of good Swedish bands out there from this generation. We have like THE HIVES and SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES because we had a good foundation way back. The unfortunate thing right now is that the government, they want to save money. They’re still harvesting the fruit from those years but they aren’t putting any new seeds in…you know what I’m saying? I don’t know what’s going to happen later on. I don’t think we’ll have as many good Swedish bands and that’s sad!

[MELISSA] Even here in Canada, they’re taking out all the music programs from the schools.

[MAJA] That’s bullshit!

[FREDRIK] You know for some kids, that’s the only hour in the day they only enjoy!

[MAJA] You know, music helped me a lot! I was an angry kid. I wanted revenge for everything but I think that being able to play and getting all that negative energy out of me and do something positive out of it…I can look fierce, I can spit and swear but it’s still with a glimpse in your eye. At the end of the day, I feel very happy, I’m relieved and don’t want to fight anybody. So I think kids need that.

[MELISSA] To finish off, I was reading your biography and in it they write that you guys have a lot of attitude. Do you guys have a mission? Is there something that THE SOUNDS would like to accomplish?

[MAJA] I think the mission of THE SOUNDS is pretty much, like we said, it’s soo easy to put somebody down, you can do that in a split second. I can say something really nasty…but it’s really hard to build somebody up! I think that’s what we do and we do it really well. A lot of people who come to our shows say that they were in a bad mood before but that now they are fucking happy. So if we can kill one hour of boredom, and boredom is a pretty powerful negative thing, if you can kill that by listening to our songs and going to our shows, then it’s mission acoomplish. And at the same time, just write good music. Good songwriting is our number one mission. Quality music. Like we said in another interview, we don’t have a political agenda. We’re still surrounded by a very political world and if affects you for sure and some of the lyrics are about that but it’s not really our main mission that we want to sing about the world. I think we build people up in a good way, we don’t put them down!

Un gros merci à Maja et Fredrik d’avoir jasé avec nous ainsi qu’à Guillaume Audy et Donald Robbins de Waner Music Canada sans qui s’est entretient n’aurait pas été possible.

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