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Interview: The Sounds

posted November 23, 2011, 7:34 pm by Ben Oliver | Filed Under Editorial, General Interest, Interviews | comment 2 Comments

Tags: The Sounds


We got to talk to Félix Rodríguez from Sweeden’s The Sounds.  The Sounds are a Swedish Indie Rock band.   Formed in Helsingborg in 1999, the group’s musical style has been compared to New Wave acts such as Blondie, The Cars, the Epoxies , and Missing Persons.  Contributing photojournalist Michelle Pelissero was able to chat with Felix, and capture some captivating photos of the live show. You can see the rest of her pictures here.

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How did you guys start as a group? How did you decide to get into music?

I’ve been into the music since I was four. We always had a lot of instruments, my dad, mom and brother played. I used to play with brother like death metal music. I play guitar now in the band, but I used to play drums with him. Just in general I’ve been into music since day one. How we started a band was, it was in 1998 it was me and Johan the base player, we have been friends since we were 10 playing random sports like Tennis and Soccer. We got bored of that. We lived in a small city in Sweden, so there’s not much to do. I guess you do sports or music. So we started to be more interested in music. He played in another band, we started to hang out together and just started talking about starting a band. So we did, and we knew the drummer from his neighbor and Maja was in the same art class as me.

Did everyone have the same musical interests?

We all come from a different world, Maja was more into Hole and Smashing Pumpkins, stuff like that. I was more into other poppier stuff, hip-hop and electronica. We always blended everything I guess.

Where did the album title “Something To Die For” come from?

That comes from, I think not our mentality but the way we live. The way we want to spread our message. For us, that’s a strong title with a positive meaning. For us we’ve always believed in what we’ve done and never let anyone tell us what we can or can’t achieve. Nowadays I think it’s important for people to actually believe in themselves and try to do something positive. We found that together making music. That’s the only thing we’ve been doing for 13 years. I wouldn’t kill myself if we couldn’t play, that’s not what we mean. It means that if you believe in something you should show that to the world. It could be someone you love, for religion, or whatever you do. For us it’s been music, we have a strong passion. So that’s what that title represents.

Is there a meaning behind the “Dance with the Devil” music video?

That was the director’s fault, it was his idea. We wanted to do something a little bit different than just a regular music video. Sometimes when you see a video there’s a story that maybe doesn’t really represent what the message is, I guess in this one we just wanted to do a different video. I don’t think it’s a hidden message with a girl in a gas mask and guns. It was like we’re going to have dancers with guns and this girl’s going to try and save you. Yea that sounds odd.

I read that you started releasing your albums on your own independent label. Why did you start doing that and what were the hardships and successes you saw from doing that?

I think that we needed to be more independent than we were before. We’ve always been really involved in the process. We just wanted to cut away at all the middle hands, we didn’t really need them because we’ve been building our career through fans by word of mouth. It’s the fans that have been building our career it’s not the record label. We never needed to have a big record label. How it is nowadays, it’s tougher and tougher for bands with all the deals that record labels give new bands. I don’t understand how they can survive. We felt like we wanted to do this on our own, we wanted to work with people that wanted to work with us because they like us people and like our music, not because they like the paychecks. If you’re stuck in a system sometimes, which you can be in a big label, and you don’t feel comfortable there it’s not going to be a healthy relationship for anyone. And our band just felt like we wanted to do everything ourselves. So we do everything ourselves now. Every album we do, we record ourselves and obviously pay for it, and you know just do whatever we do if someone out there likes it we can have a joint venture.

So you shop labels?

Yeah. I mean now we have a label that we are going to stay with, but on “Crossing the Rubicon” we did the same thing, we created our own label and we found a record label that wanted to sign us for two albums but we only did one because it didn’t really work out. I’m really relieved that we can do that. Not many bands can. You have to build up a career to be able to do that. This is our album, this is our record label, we can basically just do what the fuck we want. No one can tell us what to do and we don’t really care if radio plays us or not, because they’ve never played us before. We just do what we want to do.

How did you select this tours’ support, like the Limousines?

We always pick support acts. I remember this tour I was talking to John our manager and he was like ‘we have different bands that might be good for you to bring on tour’ and we got on youtube and watched some videos and listened to songs. They’re great, they are actually better live than they are on YouTube. So we brought them on the tour and everyone is really happy, and Kids at the Bar as well. We want to have a night that’s not just two or three bands, we want to have a night to where you walk in the door it will be a party that will continue all night long. They really bring a lot to the table. They play cool music, they DJ really awesome. It’s a good vibe in the room that builds up a better crowd for us when we walk out.

Who are your favorite bands right now?

I don’t know, I’m horrible at that question. I’ve been listening to Lil Wayne’s new album, I like it, he does pretty cool stuff. Far away from The Sounds. It’s fun to listen to new stuff I guess.

What are your goals for this band?

To still have fun. Just have fun and do what we’re here to do. Trying to have a healthy relationship, you know of what we built together and we’re really a happy family now. We have a good time, we want to keep writing music, we want to meet our fans and we just really want to keep being in that mood. Even thought the business is going down, our fans, we won’t let them down. It’s still fun to do.

Do you have any funny tour stories from this tour or others?

I forget so much stuff on the road. I remember one time, it was a long time ago 2004 maybe, we had a pretty fucked up tour manager. Back then we didn’t really know much about touring or the world. We just lived in the moment. We had this unhealthy tour manager that was supplying us with…not good stuff…and we were in Brooklyn and there was a shootout. Someone got stabbed. There were a bunch of gangbangers walking around shooting people. The tour manager he was pretty fucked up so he has this Samurai sword in his bunk. So he jumps out of the bed and just runs out of the bus in his underwear and t-shirt and says “I’m a master swordsman” and he tried to fight them with his sword. We were like “holy fuck”. Nothing happened to him but it’s a funny story now. Back then I guess we were also pretty fucked up, we weren’t really paying attention but to run out in Brooklyn when there’s a shootout with a Samurai sword isn’t the brightest thing.

He was trying to protect you guys. Haha

That he did. He was like a body guard with a Samurai sword.

The first time you came to the US was it hard to transition?

The first time we got here, it’s such a big country, I think we first played the bigger cities like New York. The first time we came here we came through a funded trip from the government. It was called Expo Music Sweden.  The government does it every year, or at least they used to do it, they might have problems with that now. Every year they brought over maybe five bands to the states and we were one of those five bands. So they set up showcases in different cities, New York, Chicago, L.A., San Diego just to show that we’re Sweed, this is our music, this is the best in the country right now. Which I think is a great thing for a country to do. That was the first time. That was the bigger cities. The huge difference from that was when you actually tour the whole country. When you’re criss crossing up and down, because this country is like many countries. One state from another can be such a big difference. We didn’t really know what to expect. We didn’t know how our music would translate, but we started to get a buzz really quick. Actually we got a record deal before we came over here. It was the guitar player from Smashing Pumpkins, he heard about us and we met him in Sweden. We became friends and then signed us to his little label. So he kind of brought us here and helped us start to tour, but everything was just a good experience. To come to the States as a Swedish band, I think I can speak for every artist that’s something you want to do. This is the biggest nation in the world. Rock and Roll was invented here, you know. We really look up to the states. Sweden is pretty Americanized. I don’t mind being big in Germany or Japan, or whatever but it’s the States that everyone wants to be able to tour. So we had high hopes, we didn’t really know what to expect but we got a little buzz and just kept coming back. I think why we made it here, and we’re still here is because we saw and understood in the early days if you want to make it here you have to be devoted. You have to be willing to leave some markets out. We were not in Europe for years, Sweden and the States. Not so much Europe, because we really needed to build this on our own. You know play a venue that holds 50 people, then the next time 100 people and move on up. We understood that in the early days that if you want to make it here and be successful you have to devote a lot of time. So that’s what we did.

You obviously did a good job, because you’ve toured with No Doubt and tons of huge bands.

Yea we did. No Doubt, that was an amazing tour, they’re great guys. Me and Jasper became very good friends with Tony Kanal, the base player of No Doubt. We’ve been writing some songs with him as well. It’s fun to meet people in the business that are on a much higher level, but you are still on the same level when it comes to making music and understanding how to create stuff. He’s a fun guy, we’re fun guys and then everything else besides that doesn’t really matter. It’s fun to try new things with new people.

Do you do most of the writing or is it a collaborative effort?

On the first album it was more of a band rehearsing together in a small room, you know just playing instruments and coming up with ideas. Then we translated that into more writing in front of computers, programming and sitting more and writing instead of just being the band together. Since we are always on tour doing like 200 days a year you can’t really hang out together. Trying to create stuff, that doesn’t work. So now we sit more in front of computers. Now it’s mostly me and Jasper that write the music and lyrics and then you know everyone always has an opinion, but it’s us that write it.

So you write most of your music on computers now–you don’t jam as much?

We don’t jam. I mean, we jam but in a different way. Nowadays a computer is an instrument and sometimes maybe he sits and does something on the computer and then maybe I walk in and take over and try to do something. Jasper and I jam, but we don’t jam as a band.

How often are you in the studio?

I’m there as often as I want. We have computers and keyboards so we can write on the road but it’s fun when you’re in your own studio and have all your own equipment.

Where do you record?

In Sweden. We record in our own studio. On the last album we flew over a sound engineer to help us out.

That outside opinion is good.

Yea, yea, yea because sometimes you get blind. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes, for example the song that we have on this album, “Better Off Dead”, I refused to listen to anyone because I know there were some people involved that were thinking…maybe it’s too long, maybe that doesn’t make sense. I don’t really care. That song makes sense in my head. That song actually turned out to be a lot of people’s favorite. That’s when I refused to compromise. I’m not going to listen to you, or you, or you, we’re just going to do it this way.  That song was a trip. It was many different layers of many different decades I was in. It’s inspired by a lot of electronic music because I used to go to a lot of raves back in the 90’s, crazy rave parties. That feeling, that claustrophobic feeling you can get when going to clubs like that. I wanted to blend in with The Sounds, and it’s not really a Sounds song but it becomes a Sounds song if we do it, you know. That’s my personal favorite. That’s a song I was born to do, but we weren’t able to do it and now we can.

You can see the rest of Michelle’s pictures here.

Comments

2 Responses to “Interview: The Sounds”

  1. Profile photo of Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford on November 25th, 2011 10:40 am

    seem very individualistic, gonna check em out!

  2. Profile photo of Ben Oliver Ben Oliver on November 25th, 2011 2:07 pm

    I think you would like them I bet you have probably heard one of their songs before, just didn’t know it.

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